Visit my daughter’s birthplace: Washington DC (Part Two)

** Yesterday we enjoyed Part One of the DC Traveler‘s guest post about family travel to Washington, DC, and today I’m excited to bring you Part Two…. **

Imagine your kid’s face just inches away from a 14-foot tiger shark, with its massive razor-sharp teeth. Luckily, there’ll be a thin pane of glass between them, but that’s how close you can get to a swimming shark at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

Tiger shark at the National Aquarium in Baltimore (courtesy the Aquarium)

Plus, what kid wouldn’t love the dolphin show? For the younger ones, there’s always “Nemo” and “Dori” in the Caribbean reef fish tanks.

The National Aquarium is about an hour from DC by car or train. It’s best to order your tickets online in advance; the Aquarium staggers visitor entry to manage the crowds, so the wait between purchasing your ticket at the window and actual admission can be a couple of hours on weekends and during busy periods.

National Aquarium in Baltimore
501 East Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21202

If you can’t get your kids to turn off their iPods for anything, check out the Hard Rock Café, just down the street from Ford’s Theatre (the infamous site where President Abraham Lincoln was shot.)

Hard Rock memorabilia includes (perhaps along with the over-priced cheeseburger) a black leather costume worn by Gene Simmons of KISS, a Lenny Kravitz Les Paul guitar, and even the saxophone that the newly elected President, Bill Clinton, played at his Inaugural Ball in 1993.

Hard Rock Café
999 E. Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004

What kid doesn’t like cold, hard cash? The Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, DC offers a 45-minute tour of their money printing facility, where you can watch various denominations of U.S. currency being printed while you stand only feet away from millions and millions of dollars.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing
14th & C Streets, SW
Washington DC 20228

For some GREAT photo ops with smaller kids, just about a mile from the National Mall along the beautiful Potomac River is East Potomac Park. At the end of the park on the peninsula is Hains Point, and there you’ll find the giant sculpture “The Awakening.”

The Awakening, an outdoor sculpture at Hains Point, Washington DC (courtesy Jon Rochetti)It’s a mostly buried 100-foot tall sculpture of a man who appears to be struggling to free himself, with only his face, a hand, arm, leg and foot exposed above ground. Kids love to play on it while parents take photos. It’s also a great place to let the children run around after a day inside countless museums.

Hains Point – The Awakening
East Potomac Park
About ¾ miles south of 1090 Ohio Dr. SW, at the end of Hains Point
Washington, DC 20001

Besides these fun activities, don’t forget there’s always:
– Riding (or climbing) to the top of the Washington Monument
– Seeing The Declaration of Independence at The National Archives
– Stopping by the Lincoln, Jefferson and FDR Memorials
– Spending time at the National Museum of Natural History
– Visiting the pandas at The National Zoo
– Seeing the falls at Great Falls National Park, our version of Niagara Falls
– Watching the Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery
– Catch a game, depending on the season. DC is home to the MLB Nationals, the NFL Redskins, the NHL Capitols, the Wizards of the NBA or the MLS DC United. Finding tickets, even the day of the game, can be easier than you think.

If your kids have never ridden on a subway, take the Metro around DC. Make sure to ride in the first car, and grab the front row seats as the train travels underground. Even getting to your destination can be fun!!

** Thanks very much to Jon for his guest posts, and check out The DC Traveler for more ideas if you plan to travel with kids to Washington, DC. **

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