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Top 10 Things To Do With Your Teen in Washington D.C

Planning a vacation with a teenager can sometimes be a challenging task, as their interests and attitudes change like the wind. However, when it comes to Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital offers a treasure trove of experiences that cater to all age groups. There are so many fun things to do with teens in Washington D.C..

A few months ago, we took a two-day trip to Washington DC with our teen. It was a quick trip and we cannot wait to go again. Even still, we were able to enjoy several sites in just 2 days. With its rich history, iconic landmarks, vibrant culture, and diverse attractions, Washington, D.C. is the perfect destination for a two-day adventure with a teenager. Let’s embark on an exciting journey through the city and discover the top 10 things to do with your teen in Washington D.C! Thank you to my teen who wrote this post from his own perspective.

teenager washington dc 2 day itinerary

Before you embark on your trip to Washington D.C., we have a hot tip for the best luggage for a short trip. Our trip was only 2 days and we did not want to check a bag.  Luckily for us, we had been gifted a Conmigo Ulti Bag.  This really did elevate our trip. We had never heard of such a bag, but it will be essential for short and long trips alike. Our trip with our teen to Washington DC was a very long cross-country trip. Having this bag made things so much easier. We will be sharing about this bag more when we share about gifts for traveling teens, but please check out the site if you are looking for travel gear. The ULTI™ messenger bag, a full-featured messenger style travel bag with a multi-purpose pull-out
seat cushion that also serves as a detachable portfolio/TSA-approved electronics sleeve.

conmigo messenger bag tsa compliant press photo

Things to Do with Teenagers in Washington D.C.


Take the Big Bus Tour around D.C

Big Bus tours are one of the most efficient ways to get to know a new city and see all the sites. You’ll see all of the nation’s capital on an unforgettable big bus tour in Washington, D.C. Hop on and off for an exciting journey that takes you through the iconic landmarks and historic sites that have shaped American history. From the majestic Capitol Building to the solemnity of the Lincoln Memorial, each stop on this guided tour offers a profound glimpse into the country’s past and its enduring spirit. As the big bus glides through the bustling streets, you’ll be treated to stunning panoramic views of the White House, the Smithsonian museums, and the Washington Monument. Knowledgeable and friendly guides enrich the experience with fascinating anecdotes and captivating stories, giving you a deeper appreciation for the city’s significance. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a first-time visitor, or a seasoned local, this big bus tour promises an immersive and enlightening exploration of Washington, D.C.’s most cherished treasures. I personally loved the Big Bus Tour because you’re able to see the coolest parts of Washington D.C without having to walk around. It was also a good tour because it gave you a lot of historical information when you reached each landmark.

Visit The Spy Museum

spy museum washington dc

A visit to the Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. was the number one destination many friends told us about. The Washington D. C. Spy museum is one of the few museums that does have an admission fee, but it is well worth it. Located in the heart of the nation’s capital, this unique museum offers an immersive experience that allows visitors to step into the shoes of real-life spies and learn about their daring missions throughout history. From Cold War espionage to modern cyber warfare, the exhibits showcase an extensive collection of spy gadgets, covert communication devices, and clever disguises that will leave you marveling at the ingenuity of the human mind. Interactive displays and engaging activities invite you to test your own spy skills, cracking codes and unraveling mysteries. As you delve deeper into the secretive world of intelligence operations, you’ll gain a newfound appreciation for the courage and intelligence of the men and women who dedicated their lives to protecting their nations’ interests. Whether you’re a spy enthusiast or just curious about the shadowy world of espionage, the Spy Museum promises an unforgettable and enlightening experience for visitors of all ages.

Visit the Smithsonian Museum of American History

Smithsonian Museum of American History

A visit to the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. is an opportunity to walk through the rich tapestry of America’s past. Located on the National Mall, this iconic institution houses an extraordinary collection of artifacts that bring to life the nation’s history, culture, and identity. From the Star-Spangled Banner that inspired the national anthem to the original First Ladies’ gowns, each exhibit tells a compelling story of America’s triumphs and challenges. Delve into the history of the Civil Rights Movement, witness the technological innovations that shaped the modern world, and explore the diverse cultural heritage of the American people. The museum’s immersive exhibits, interactive displays, and engaging programs make learning both enjoyable and enlightening for visitors of all ages. As you wander through the galleries, you’ll gain a profound appreciation for the achievements and struggles that have shaped the United States into the vibrant and resilient nation it is today. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or a curious traveler, the Smithsonian Museum of American History offers an unforgettable and inspiring experience that celebrates the nation’s remarkable journey through time.

Visit the Capitol Building

Capitol Building

Visiting the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. is a truly awe-inspiring experience that immerses you in the heart of American democracy. It is a rare day for you to not see a protest or march at the Capitol of the United States. As you approach the grandiose structure with its iconic dome, you cannot deny this is a historic monument. Inside, you’ll embark on a guided tour that takes you through the hallowed halls of Congress, where countless historic decisions have been made. Admire the breathtaking Rotunda with its magnificent ceiling and statues honoring key figures in American history. The knowledgeable guides provide captivating insights into the building’s architecture, art, and the legislative process that shapes the nation’s laws. As you stand in the very chambers where important debates have occurred, you can’t help but feel a profound connection to the past and the future of the United States. A visit to the Capitol Building is a testament to the nation’s ideals, and an experience that will leave you with a renewed appreciation for the democratic principles that govern our country.

Visit A Food Vendor

My favorite part was visiting “Food Truck Row”. Hunger strikes teens with a vengeance while exploring new cities.Washington, D.C. is no exception. Luckily for myself, and all teens the food vendors offer a delectable array of options to satisfy your cravings. From bustling food trucks to charming market stalls, the city’s food vendors are a culinary adventure waiting to be savored. Delight in the aroma of international cuisines wafting through the air as you stroll through the lively streets. Whether you’re craving mouthwatering tacos, juicy burgers, authentic ethnic dishes, or indulgent desserts, the food vendors have something to appease every palate. The best part is the chance to experience the city’s diverse culinary scene while enjoying your meal alfresco, surrounded by the buzz of the nation’s capital. Grab a delicious bite, find a cozy spot, and relish the taste of D.C. one savory or sweet bite at a time.

Visit The Vietnam Memorial

Vietnam War Memorial

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was the first thing I asked to see when I heard we would be visiting Visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. is a deeply moving experience. The memorial, designed as a black granite wall, bears the names of over 58,000 men and women who sacrificed their lives or remain missing during the Vietnam War. As you approach the reflective surface, the solemnity and gravity of the site become palpable. The names etched into the wall evoke a profound sense of loss and sacrifice, reminding visitors of the human toll of war. The wall’s design, seemingly endless and unyielding, symbolizes the enduring impact of this historical conflict on American society. Visitors often leave behind personal mementos and tributes to honor their loved ones or to pay respects to those they never knew. The Vietnam Memorial serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of remembering and honoring those who served and highlights the significance of peace and reconciliation in our shared history.

Visit The Lincoln Memorial

lincoln memorial

Visiting the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. is a humbling and awe-inspiring experience that pays tribute to America’s most beloved President. As you ascend the grand staircase, the majestic statue of Abraham Lincoln presiding over the Reflecting Pool comes into view, exuding a sense of strength and wisdom. The larger-than-life presence of the 16th President of the United States is a powerful reminder of his enduring impact on the nation’s history. Inside the memorial, the Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural Address, etched into the walls, serve as enduring testaments to Lincoln’s profound vision for a united and just America. The ambiance is both serene and contemplative, inviting visitors to reflect on the ideals of freedom, equality, and justice that Lincoln championed. From the memorial’s steps, visitors are treated to a panoramic view of the National Mall, showcasing the magnificence of the nation’s capital. A visit to the Lincoln Memorial is not just a glimpse into the past but also a reminder of the timeless values that continue to shape the American identity. Seeing the Lincoln Memorial was perhaps one of my favorite experiences when I visited D.C. Seeing the Memorial in person was unforgettable. The Memorial itself is much bigger than it looks on TV or in books, it is definitely worth the visit. 

Visit The White House

the whitehouse

Visiting the White House in Washington, D.C. is a rare opportunity to step into the heart of American politics and history. As you approach the iconic building, its neoclassical architecture and grandeur leave an indelible impression. The White House has been the residence and workplace of every U.S. President since John Adams in 1800, making it one of the most historically significant structures in the country. While public tours inside the White House are limited and require advance arrangements, a stroll along the perimeter of the South Lawn offers a glimpse of its magnificence. The surrounding Lafayette Square and nearby Ellipse provide excellent vantage points for photos and a chance to take in the building’s beauty. Standing before the White House, one can’t help but marvel at the weight of history and the decisions that have shaped the nation, making it a must-see landmark for anyone exploring the nation’s capital.

Visit the National Gallery of Art

national gallery of art

 Not all teens love an art museum, but visiting the National Gallery of Art is free! Teens may not want to spend all day in an art gallery, but be sure to visit and see the most iconic art works in person. Visiting the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is an artistic journey that captivates the senses and ignites the imagination. As you step into the grandiose West Building, you are greeted by an impressive collection of masterpieces from renowned artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, and Rembrandt. The East Building complements the experience with its modern and contemporary art exhibits, featuring works by artists like Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock. Wander through the galleries filled with diverse art forms, from classical sculptures to captivating impressionist paintings. The museum’s serene sculpture garden provides a tranquil escape amidst the city’s bustle. Whether you’re an art connoisseur or a casual admirer, the National Gallery of Art offers a cultural feast that leaves visitors enriched and inspired by the beauty and creativity of human expression.

Visit The Washington Monument

washington monument

Visiting the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. is a majestic experience that symbolizes the nation’s enduring spirit and ideals. As you approach the iconic obelisk, its towering presence commands attention, standing tall as a tribute to America’s first President, George Washington. Ascending the monument’s elevator offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city’s grandeur, with the White House, Lincoln Memorial, and Capitol Building visible from the observation deck. The monument’s simplicity and elegance embody the unity and strength that has shaped the United States. At night, the monument illuminates the sky, casting a radiant glow over the National Mall. As visitors walk the grounds surrounding the Washington Monument, they can’t help but feel a profound connection to the nation’s history and the principles it stands for, making it a quintessential stop on any journey through the heart of America’s capital. Seeing the Washington Monument was a breathtaking experience for me, because I never realized the history behind the monument. It was interesting to see how the monument is actually a different color on one half, because it was only halfway finished. It is definitely worth it to check out some of the history of the Washington Monument. 

Overall, visiting Washington D.C is an unforgettable experience. It is full of historical landmarks, and interesting museums, and the city is full of places with delicious food.If you bring a teenager, these 10 ideas are perfect for making sure that you and your teenager have a great time. If you’re taking an East Coast Trip, be sure to check out 8 things to do in New York City with kids!

Until Next Time ~ Kate
Categories:  Travel

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