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Best for Kids in Washington DC

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Great Falls Park, straddling both banks of the Potomac River, offers stunning views. The more attractive side of the park lies in Virginia. Rushing whitewater pours through steep, jagged crevices into a narrow gorge. Photographers, hikers, and nature-lovers find much to enjoy here. The park offers many trails, and the towpath of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal parallels the river. Fishing is allowed, but only with a valid permit. Kayaking, canoeing and rafting is recommended for advanced outdoors-men only. The Maryland side also features Great Falls Tavern with displays of canal history. One-hour round trip barge excursions are offered on a restored stretch of the canal from April to November.

The symbol of the city of Washington DC, this 555-foot (169-meter) marble obelisk on the National Mall honors the nation's first president, George Washington. The cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid in 1848, but construction was not completed until 1884. About one-third of the way up the obelisk is a visible change in the marble, evidence of the onset of the Civil War. Construction was halted during the war, and when the builders returned to the same quarry to complete the project afterward, enough time had passed to cause a significant change in the color. An emblem of the United States and an icon of the nation, the Washington Monument is a moving sight, its elegant form mirrored in the Reflecting Pool of the Lincoln Monument nearby.

Visit the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center to take a look at Blackbird, the fastest jet-plane in the world; or the famous space vehicle Discovery that has completed 39 space missions to date. The center is an extension of the National Air And Space Museum and displays aeronautical equipment and aircrafts to the public. There are two hangars and an Observation Tower that provides a panoramic view of the adjacent Washington Dulles International Airport. Also, it is here that the Airbus IMAX Theater is located. The center also lets visitors take a look at various restoration projects. A visit to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is informative and insightful for children and adults alike.

Dating back to 1946, the National Air and Space Museum is home to quite a few aircraft that narrate fascinating stories. Everything from the iconic Wright Brothers' Flyer and Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis to World War II planes and Apollo 11 is displayed here, attracting history aficionados, science buffs and aviation fans alike. you also have the option of using the audio-visual aid to understand the technical aspects. Also found here is the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater where you can marvel at aircraft and space films on the five-story screen. Apart from that, the National Air and Space Museum also has the original Star Trek model of the USS Enterprise on display, which is a special attraction.

Along the city's waterfront is the wonderful Yards Park that opened in September 2010. A stunning example of how urban planning can play such a vital role in ensuring that city-dwellers enjoy their time in the city, this park comes replete with fountains, a pool, jogging tracks, biking trails, waterside lawns, shopping spots, cafes, bars and more. A special platform has been constructed to host outdoor events like concerts, community get-togethers, dog shows and festivals.

This former amusement park changed its focus from thrilling rides to artistic amusements, many of which are directed at families. A beautiful hand-carved carousel is the only ride still operating in the park, now administered by the National Park Service. Visitors will find plenty of entertainment ranging from performances at the Puppet Company Playhouse to children's stories at the Adventure Theatre. Dances like swing, square-dancing and the waltz, among others, are held at the Spanish Ballroom.

The Huntley Meadows Nature Center in the Hybla Valley of Virginia, is a wetland park. Established since 1975, the park is home to a variety of wildlife, especially birds. Visitors can make use of observation decks to spot wildlife or walk along designated trails. Various creeks run through the vast expanse of the park and one can find beaver dams built across them at many places. The visitor center provides more information about the flora and fauna residing in the park.

Hemlock Overlook Regional Park has something exciting for everyone. The park serves as an outdoor education center that teaches visitors about the natural world - and how to survive in it. Other activities that can be reserved include ropes courses, rock climbing and kayaking. It is important to note that members of the public must make a reservation to join these activities. However, you do not need a reservation to use the park's beautiful hiking and horseback riding trails.

Established in 1910, the National Museum of Natural History aims to inform people about the natural history of earth through its exhibits. Nestled somewhere within this museum is the famous Hope Diamond, which has gained notoriety for supposedly carrying a curse. Apart from that, some of the museum's popular galleries include The Discovery Room, Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals, Dinosaurs/Hall of Paleobiology, Insect Zoo, Teleology: Hall of Bones, Ocean Hall, Hall of Human Origins and many more.

Banneker Pool is one of the most popular public pools in the Washington DC area. Lovers of swimming flock to the pool to beat the summer heat, enroll their kids in swimming classes, and swim laps. If you happen to be in the DC area and fancy a dip, this pool is the place to do it. Not the greatest swimmer in the world? No worries - the large outdoor pool can accommodate all abilities and all ages so you can have a safe, fun time no matter what.

The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden is located just a short walk from the National Gallery of Art. The garden features sculptures from the National Gallery's collection, as well as pieces from traveling exhibitions. Sit down on a bench and marvel at the fusion of man-made and natural beauty that this garden affords. The garden also contains a large water fountain that is transformed into an ice rink in the winter, and a cafe where visitors can grab a pastry to enjoy among the sculptures and flowers.

A popular outdoor destination for children, college students and nature lovers, this park lies north of Georgetown. Woodlands surround a recreation area with tennis courts, picnic tables and a playground. Special features include a boxwood maze and Lovers Lane, a cobblestone walkway on the west side of the park. To explore more elaborately designed grounds and an elegant estate, visit Dumbarton Oaks next door. Admission is free.

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