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Kids and adults alike will enjoy a visit to the National Zoo. With thousands of animals, everything from Giant Pandas to a Giant Octopus, as well as plenty of snacks and other diversions, this Smithsonian park should be a family trip to remember. Admission is free. During the summer, the grounds are open from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m., and they close two hours earlier from October to April. The nearest MetroRail station is Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan on the Red Line, less than half a mile south of the Zoo on Connecticut Ave.
The historic and still operating National Mall Carousel is another favorite for children. It’s located in front of the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall, near the Smithsonian MetroRail station. Concessions are available nearby.
On a nice day, take the kids to the Sculpture Garden, located on the Mall outside of the National Gallery of Art. They will have fun playing around the entertaining art and dipping in the fountain. During the winter, the family can enjoy skating on the ice rink here, and concessions are served year-round at the Pavilion Cafe.
Children will also find many entertaining and educational exhibits at the various Smithsonian museums, such as touching a moon rock at the National Air and Space Museum or seeing a recreated wooly mammoth at the National Museum of Natural History. Don't forget Kermit the Frog and Judy Garland's red ruby slippers! Admission to all Smithsonian museums is free.
Also free is a visit to the Washington DC waterfront. The Washington Channel of the Potomac River is less than a mile south of the National Air & Space Museum on 7th Street. There’s a short riverwalk that is splendid rain or shine. At one end is the famous seafood market where you can see an amazing array of edibles from the sea. if you like, buy some of the cooked delicacies for a picnic. At the other end you’ll discover the Titanic Women’s Memorial to the men who gave their lives on the Titanic so that women and children could live. Along the walk, admire the variety of boats docked at Capital Yacht Club, Gangplank Marina, and Odyssey Cruises. When you need refreshment, check out Cantina Marina, a little cafe/bar right on the river with outstanding views.