Exploring Washington, DC with teens? The nation’s capital is a fun and educational place to visit and has lots of great attractions to appeal to all ages. To plan a successful trip with teenagers, be sure to gear your activities to their interests and include time to explore historic neighborhoods and enjoy some live entertainment. The following guide provides information about the top tourist attractions for teens as well as recreational activities.
Best Museums for Teens
- National Museum of Natural History - The museum appeals to a wide range of interests. Popular displays include dinosaur skeletons, an enormous collection of natural gems and minerals, artifacts of early man, an insect zoo, a live coral reef and much more.
- National Museum of American History - Bring what you've learned in history class to life and see artifacts dating back to Colonial America. Be sure to visit the Star Spangled Banner exhibit, America on the Move, American Enterprise, The American Presidency, and temporary exhibits.
- Holocaust Memorial Museum - Teens will be emotionally moved by the permanent exhibition that presents the history of the Holocaust, the annihilation of 6 million European Jews By Nazi Germany from 1933 – 1945.
- National Air & Space Museum - See an IMAX film, crawl into a flight simulator and be awestruck by the hundreds of artifacts including the original Wright 1903 Flyer, the "Spirit of St. Louis," and the Apollo 11 command module.
- National Portrait Gallery - The museum's permanent collection houses America's Presidents, the nation’s only complete collection of presidential portraits outside the White House. Traveling exhibits vary but be sure to check out the " In Memoriam" display to public figures who have recently died.
- Mount Vernon Estate - The estate of George Washington is a "must see" and at least a half-day trip to Northern Virginia. Visit the estate and learn all about the life of America's first leader.
- Bureau of Engraving - The attraction is fun for all ages. See how money is made.
- Newseum - The museum of news is one of the best attractions in the nation's capital. The exhibition galleries explore news history, electronic news, photojournalism, world news and how the media have covered major historical events. Teens especially enjoy the hands-on broadcasting studio.
- International Spy Museum - The museum of espionage is especially popular with teenagers. Explore the permanent collection or participate in a hands-on experience called Operation Spy.
- Madame Tussauds - The world-renowned wax museum features an array of exhibits, interactive experiences and wax figures.
The national monuments are truly spectacular and fun to explore day or night. Teens enjoy taking a walking tour of the city, visiting the monuments and memorials and learning about the historic figures who have most influenced America. During the warmer months of the year, teens enjoy paddle boating on the Tidal Basin in front of the Jefferson Memorial.
Another great place to visit is Arlington National Cemetery, America's largest burial ground with the gravesites of more than 250,000 American servicemen and historical figures.
Best Sightseeing Tours for Teens
Exploring DC Neighborhoods
Washington, DC has a variety of fascinating neighborhoods with interesting architecture and fun places to eat and shop. Neighborhoods that have the widest appeal for teens include Georgetown, Penn Quarter, Dupont Circle and Alexandria, Virginia.
When visiting Washington, DC, it is a great time to learn more about how the federal government operates. You can take tours of the White House (arranged in advance or visit the White House Visitor Center), the U.S. Capitol, and the Supreme Court.
Also, visit the National Archives and see the original documents of the U.S. Constitution.
- Under 21 Clubs - Washington DC Nightlife for All Ages
- Top 10 Concert Venues in Washington, DC
- IMAX Movie Theaters
- Annual Festivals
Sports and Outdoor Recreation
- Attend a baseball game at Nationals Stadium or a football game at FedEx Field
- Ride a bicycle – See a guide to the best bike trails in the Washington, DC area
- Rent a kayak – See a guide to kayaking in Washington, DC
- Enjoy the outdoors-have a picnic or go for a hike at one of the parks in Washington, DC