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More Than Museums: The Ultimate Washington DC Family Vacation


Washington DC museums and attractions paired with outdoor excursions and adventures available in Harpers Ferry create an opportunity for the ultimate Washington, DC family vacation. The area’s diverse attractions are suitable for families of all ages and interests. Most of all, the combination of the outdoors, history, and intellectual stimulation encourages families to create lasting memories through experiences. This mix of cultural exploration in the city and thrilling outdoor adventures in Harpers Ferry offers something for everyone. From museums to zoos, historical sites to ziplining, it’s sure to be a trip filled with unforgettable memories.


These attractions top our list of must-do family activities in Washington, DC:


Explore Washington DC Museums

Exploring the rich history and culture of Washington, DC through its museums and iconic landmarks is a must for any visitor. The hands-on learning experiences at the National Children’s Museum and the immersive journey through flight history at the National Air and Space Museum are bound to be a hit with families. The National Zoo also offers a wonderful opportunity for animal enthusiasts to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most endangered species.

Immerse the family in hands-on learning and play at the National Children’s Museum where children will experience a variety of tactile engagement exhibits and guided instructor-led activities. At the National Air and Space Museum, families will experience the history of flight, from airplanes to rocket ships with the option to view an educational imax presentation. The National Museum of Natural History provides opportunities to learn about the history of the planet through various interactive exhibits and artifacts that shed light on the past, present, and future, confronting the big questions in nature, science and society. At the National Museum of American History, guests will view preserved artifacts reflecting the heritage of the United States socially, politically, culturally, scientifically, and throughout military history.


Visit the National Zoo

At Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Biology Institute  animal lovers will be captivated by The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Biology Institute which is home to over 2,000 animals, including some of the world’s most endangered species. Popular attractions include the Giant Panda Habitat and Elephant Trails. Engage with the animals by observing feeding demonstrations and interactive educational programs. Other popular attractions include the Wyland Mural, Me and the Bee Playground and the Speedwell Conservation Carousel. Also, be sure to follow along with the Animal Adventure Guide for a guided tour of short stops throughout the zoo to supplement the educational experience. 

 Explore the National Mall’s Outdoor Attractions

The National Mall, with its impressive monuments and scenic views, is the perfect place for leisurely strolls, picnics, and soaking in the historic atmosphere. The cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin add an extra touch of beauty, especially in the spring.



Venture Beyond


Venturing to Harpers Ferry provides a welcome balance to the intellectual stimulation of the city. The town’s blend of outdoor adventure, Civil War history, and scenic beauty is truly special. River Riders’ offerings, from tubing to ziplining, provide plenty of opportunities for exciting family bonding experiences. And with options for lodging ranging from traditional tent sites to cozy cabins, there’s a perfect accommodation for every family’s preferences.



Harpers Ferry Adventures

Introducing Harpers Ferry, the picturesque, historical town nestled at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Home of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, John Brown’s Fort, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Harpers Ferry is the perfect destination for outdoor adventure, Civil War history, and riverfront relaxation and lodging. 

Topping the list of outdoor outfitters, River Riders has been providing thrilling outdoor family adventures since 1987. Alluring attractions include: 

  • River Tubing – Guests choose from white water or flat water tubing. 
  • White Water Rafting – Guests may choose from traditional white water rafting or a guided kayaking tour.
  • Ziplining – Options include the Canopy Tour, Outdoor Adventure Park, or the children’s Chicken Little Zip Tour.
  • E-Biking – Explore Harpers Ferry trails, tourism and restaurants by electronic bike.
  • Snow Tubing – Winter provides the opportunity to glide down the largest snow tubing slope in the region. 
  • Cabin Rentals, Camping, and Vacation Home Rentals – Lodging is available year-round with the option to rent a traditional tent site, cabin, or vacation home. 

Whether families are drawn to Washington, DC and find themselves in Harpers Ferry, or vice versa, this itinerary promises a vibrant world of family fun and exploration. This itinerary showcases how a family vacation can offer a well-rounded experience, with a mix of education, physical activity, and relaxation. It’s clear that both Washington, DC and Harpers Ferry have a lot to offer, and combining the two provides a truly unforgettable adventure. Here’s to hoping that many families get the chance to embark on this incredible journey!

Book your family vacation today!


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