This tour of Washington, DC brought to you by Elizabeth Thorp from Poshbrood.
Our nation's capital, Washington in the District of Columbia, is a family-friendly, beautiful historic city with endless monuments, walks, museums, restaurants and activities to keep your whole brood entertained. Here are just a few of my "must-do" tips for visiting families, a few hotels we love and our favorite places to dine with offspring.
United States Botanic Garden: Steeped in history and rich with tradition, the United States Botanic Garden, established by Congress in 1820, is a living plant museum located on the National Mall across from the U.S. Capitol. The renovated Conservatory showcases an extraordinary state-of-the-art indoor garden with 4,000 seasonal, tropical and subtropical plants. Kids age nine and older will love the Junior Botanist program, where they become an apprentice by using a backpack of exploration to complete adventures throughout the Conservatory. A Children's Garden gives kids a chance to gently handle plants in bloom and play with gardening tools. Best of all? Entry to the U.S. Botanic Garden is free.
International Spy Museum: This is the only public museum in the United States solely dedicated to espionage—where umbrellas are pistols, buttonholes and lipsticks are cameras, and dead rats are microphones. Cue the Mission Impossible music: Spy Museum visitors can become a spy for a day. Kids can adopt a cover, break codes, identify disguised spies and check out the largest collection of international espionage artifacts ever placed on public display. This is a fascinating and educational experience for all ages. Note: you may not take photographs and strollers are not allowed.
Imagination Stage: Founded in 1979 in response to the urgent need for arts education for young people, Imagination Stage is now the largest and most respected multidisciplinary theatre arts organization for young people on the East Coast. Located in Bethesda, Maryland, the theatre offers professional shows (adult actors performing for families and classes) year round. We've been bewitched by Bunnicula, enraptured with Rapunzel and have jammed with Hip-hopia.
Not only will your brood have a blast, but also your visit to the Imagination Stage will help the organization fulfill its mission of making the arts inclusive of and accessible to all children, regardless of their physical, cognitive or financial status.
Explore the Historic Canals: Transporting goods and people by canal dates back to antiquity. The C&O Canal was built because of natural obstructions on the Potomac River. The historic canal begins its 184.5-mile journey to the reaches of Western Maryland in Georgetown. Visitors can travel back in time to the 1870s and enjoy a one-hour narrated trip on a replica canal boat pulled by mule. Explore the beautiful architecture, rich history and vibrant commercial life that Georgetown offers. National historical park rangers in period clothing guide the boat through an eight-foot lift lock as you pass historic buildings along the canal. Tours are seasonal and depart from the Georgetown Visitors Center.
Omni Shoreham Hotel: Just steps away from the National Zoo, Rock Creek Park and the Metro, the Omni Shoreham Hotel is a family-friendly, historic resort in the middle of the city. Since 1930, the Omni Shoreham has played host to presidents, world leaders and inaugural balls, making it a true historic Washington landmark. Omni's Sensational Kids program gives children a backpack filled with fun items designed specifically for them at check in and milk and cookies are delivered to their guest room on the first night. The hotel also has a heated outdoor resort pool, where guests can relax or go for a dip after a long day of sightseeing.
Four Seasons Washington, DC: Nestled in historic Georgetown, the Four Seasons Washington, DC has been beautifully renovated to make it Washington's leading luxury hotel. Its convenient location, attentive service and top-notch hotel amenities have made it a favorite among bigwigs, celebs and fancy families.
Four Seasons' rooms are stunning but not too precious; there are no Ming vases you have to worry about your toddler breaking. The property provides high chairs, pack 'n' plays and child-size bathrobes, as well as baby and children's toiletries, toys, coloring books and board games. The hotel is also a close walk to the Foggy Bottom Metro, and the DC Circulator bus makes regular trips from Georgetown to Union Station to other areas like the Mall and the Zoo. The year-round indoor swimming pool, the award-winning spa and delish restaurants are the icing on the cake!
Hotel Helix: Sprinkle some kid-friendly zing on your next trip to DC with this upbeat Kimpton property in the residential Logan Circle neighborhood in the Arts District. Bright colors, modern layouts and beautiful photography will wow you from check in to checkout. Little guests receive their complimentary backpack of toys and a coloring book with crayons at check in from the KimptonKids program. We love the Bunk Bed Rooms featuring two sleeping areas—one with a king platform bed, the other with bunked twin beds. Helix is completely pet-friendly to furry family members of all sizes, so you can bring Fido, too!
Cactus Cantina: A family-run, sprawling Tex-Mex restaurant just north of the National Cathedral, this is a delicious, fun, relaxed spot for families. Tables are spread throughout several rooms so even on a hopping Saturday night you won't have to wait too long. If you do have a wait, parents can sip excellent margaritas while kids can watch the tortilla machine, play with tortilla dough and check out the "Cowboy and Indian Museum," a glass case of artifacts including antique Stetson hats, boots, chaps, Native American headdresses and a bow-and-arrow set. Our favorite spot during warmer months is the wrap-around veranda. The kids' menu is also a coloring book, and it offers excellent value too.
Serendipity 3: Legendary New York restaurant Serendipity 3 has a Washington, DC outpost on the corner of Wisconsin and M in the heart of Georgetown. Serendipity 3 DC boasts the same characteristic whimsical decor and over-the-top dishes offered at the New York cafe, including the signature Frrrozen Hot Chocolate and the savory Foot-Long Hot Dog. Our brood agrees that the Kobe beef sliders, the chicken potpie and the Reuben are major standouts.
Chef Geoff's: There are three Chef Geoff locations in the DC area: one in downtown DC steps from the White House, one in Tyson's Corner, Virginia, and the original in the Wesley Heights neighborhood off of Wisconsin Avenue. We prefer the Wesley Heights location, which is a perpetual neighborhood hotspot brimming with families who love the gracious service, delicious American fare and innovative kids' menu. Starters include edamame, pineapple skewers and a goldfish cocktail mix. Creative kiddie mocktails like cactus juice with aloe vera, hibiscus syrup and lemon, and "build your own pizza" are highlights; a gluten-free menu is also available. The teeniest of guests can even order "Baby Love" natural pureed baby foods inspired by Chef Geoff's own three small children with Norah O'Donnell, CBS' Chief White House Correspondent.