DC Area Reviews

I've started reviewing and rating our local DC area adventures. These ratings are based on:
  • young children's opportunities at the location
  • convenience of location for area parents
  • affordability
  • feasibility and logistics of taking kids
Click on the red links for the full write-ups and photos!

Whispers & Shouts Rating Scale: 

5 Shouts:  Absolutely recommend it
4 Shouts:  Cool, totally worth your time
3 Shouts:  Fun but probably won’t do it again
2 Shouts:  Nothing special, definitely not worth the effort
1 Shout:   Only one semi-redeeming quality—overall no good
0 Shouts:  Completely stupid, don't bother

National Museum of American History  5 SHOUTS! 

  • amazing transportation exhibit for kids who love trains and cars!
  • free
  • close to Federal Triangle metro station
  • place to eat your own snack/lunch
  • big family bathrooms!
  • stroller friendly
Don't try to do too much. Pick one or two exhibits per outing.


The National Aquariums: DC and Baltimore

DC location:    3 SHOUTS
  • small
  • perfect short tour for little ones (18months- 2yrs)
  • overpriced for adults
  • close to Federal Triangle metro station
  • kind of creepy (it's in a basement)
  • no place to eat
Don't have high expectations-- it's a short outing and can be fun for the little ones

Baltimore location:   4 SHOUTS

  • amazingly huge with impressive exhibits and animals
  • located at the Inner Harbor with restaurants and shops
  • a bit of a drive from DC/NOVA-- big time commitment 
  • the dolphin show ROCKS!
  • can bring your own food
  • big stroller check-in area (no strollers allowed)
  • expensive, but worth it if you can stay awhile
Pace yourself-- know what you want to see the most and go there first
See the dolphin show! Avoid in the summer on the weekends

National Air and Space: Udvar-Hazy location    5 SHOUTS!  

  • awesome collection and celebration of human flight
  • Space Shuttle Discovery on display 
  • big spaces for kids to run around
  • stroller friendly
  • can bring your own lunch/snack
  • free, but $15 to park, free parking 4-5 (closing) every day
  • monthly science Saturday festivities
It's cool, but the observation tower isn't worth a super-long wait if you ask me.

National Museum of Natural History    5 SHOUTS!

  • awesome mammals exhibits that little kids like
  • free
  • super cool insect zoo with daily hands-on activities like touching bugs
  • butterfly pavilion costs extra but is free on Tuesdays
  • bring your own snack/lunch
  • near Federal Triangle metro stop
Pace yourself and prioritize what you want to see
Don't go in the summer if you can avoid it!

Children's Museum of Richmond    4 SHOUTS

  • 4 shouts only because it's in Richmond, which is about a two hour drive from NOVA/DC
  • tons of creative art projects to do for free
  • hands-on everything in a little town-- school, car repair, tv station, market, doctor, etc.
  • bring your own food/snack
  • free for Bank of America card-holders on the first Saturday of each month
Allow a lot of time and bring extra clothes (water tables and art projects)

Playseum: DC location    5 SHOUTS!

  • right by Eastern Market metro station
  • set up like a little city
  • used books are for sale in matching themed rooms (animal books in pet store, etc.)
  • bring your own food (no food for sale) or eat a restaurant nearby
  • tickets are for the whole day so you can leave and come back
  • reasonably priced-- especially if you can dedicate a good deal of hours there
Bring a friend and her/his kids too. There's opportunity to actually talk to another adult because there's so much for kids to do on their own. 

National Building Museum   4 SHOUTS

  • beautiful atrium for kids to run around/eat in
  • amazing section for kids to build Legos
  • Building Zone is great spot for kids but can get crowded and time is limited
  • kind of expensive in comparison to the free Smithsonian museums, but not bad
  • a bit of a walk from Metro Center station, fairly close to Chinatown/Gallery Place station
Know what you want to see before you go. This is a must for Lego fans!

Heritage Farm Museum     5 SHOUTS!                                  

  • great rainy day activity (all indoors in one room)
  • a lot of hands-on for kids
  • interesting adult displays 
  • inexpensive
  • you have to drive, but for little kids (2-4) the hands-on time is worth it
  • unique
  • bring food, but you can only eat outside-- no food for sale
You can call ahead to have a group teatime

Washington Nationals' Game 5 SHOUTS!
  • close to Navy Yard metro station
  • inexpensive if you find a special promotion online (they often have them)
  • great way to spend a family night, if you like baseball
  • stroller check
  • you can bring your own food in!
  • $10 parking off 8th St Exit if you're willing to walk a few blocks
If you have little ones and it's a day game, try to buy covered seats
Washington Capitals' Game  3 SHOUTS
  • hugely expensive tickets
  • super cool experience if you and your kids like hockey
  • extremely loud
  • close to Metro Center station and Chinatown/Gallery Place station
  • kids 2 and under can enter for free if you put them on your lap
Bring ear protection and warn your kids of the sudden noise when the Caps score.
National Zoo  5 (conditonal) SHOUTS!
  • free!
  • Metro accessible
  • bring a stroller, or rent one
  • stay away from in the summer!
  • bring your own food and drinks-- pretty expensive food for the quality
Know what you want to see before you come, or decide right when you get there so you can pace yourself and make the most of the trip. You must pick a good time to visit or you might hate it. (mid week in the fall, spring, or warm winter day is best)
Shenandoah National Park Day Trip  5 SHOUTS!  
  • $15/car
  • 1-2 hour drive from NOVA/DC
  • Beautiful!
  • Some hiking options for young children
Check the website out before you go to know what you'd like to do and see. Stop at the Apple House for warm apple donuts on the way there or back!
Clemyjontri Park 5 SHOUTS!

  • Free
  • open 7am-dusk
  • in Great Falls-- not metro accessible
  • one of the most unusual playgrounds in the world!
  • kids with and without disabilities play alongside each other
Don't go on a hot and/or sunny day! Not much shade, and it's on a rubber turf.

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