Spring Bucket List: The Best Things To Do in DC with Kids this Spring
Spring has sprung in Washington, DC! That means it's time to put away the coats and hats and head outdoors. There are so many things to do in DC to take advantage of the mild temperatures and the extra daylight. The cherry blossoms are blooming, spring festivals are in full swing, mini golf courses are opening back up, and the parks and playgrounds are beckoning. And on those rainy spring days, there are plenty of indoor options like museums and family-friendly shows.
Read on for our list of 25 things to do in DC and its surrounding areas this spring. The list includes spring activities in Maryland, Northern Virginia, and the city itself for families and kids of all ages. Get on out and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the season!
Spring Activities Near DC for Kids and Families
Take in the beauty of DC's iconic cherry blossoms. Photo courtesy of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Facebook
1. See the Cherry Blossoms
The famous Washington, DC cherry blossoms are a symbol of spring in the area, and they are truly a sight to behold. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, which takes place every spring from mid to late March through mid April, provides many fun ways to celebrate and enjoy the blossoms, including the Blossom Kite Festival and Petalpaloooza. But you can also marvel at the flowers on your own at one of 11 great places to see the cherry blossoms.
2. Go to a Spring Festival
Spring brings many other festivals to the DC region than just the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which means you can find one to suit just about any interest. Bookworms should head to the Annapolis Book Festival or the Gaithersburg Book Festival in Maryland. Art lovers will love the Arlington Festival of the Arts in Virginia. And the whole family can find something to love at Washington National Cathedral's Flower Mart and the Anacostia River Festival in DC.
3. Explore DC's Famous Monuments and Memorials
Spring is the perfect time to stroll around the National Mall and Memorial Parks. Since you won't have to rush indoors to escape the cold or to get relief from the heat, you can cover more ground and really spend time at each monument. Hint: This is the perfect thing to do after seeing the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin!
Lee-Fendall House is one place to hunt for eggs this spring. Photo courtesy of leefendallhouse.org
4. Go On an Easter Egg Hunt
Easter egg hunts are back in full swing in the DC area, giving families lots of options. Kids can hunt for eggs in the garden of the Lee-Fendall House in Alexandria, at Butler's Orchard in Germantown, Maryland, or at one of many other Easter egg hunts near Washington, DC.
5. Meet the Easter Bunny
The Easter Bunny hops into town this spring, and there are plenty of places in DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia for families to meet and take pictures with him (or her). Try one of these Easter brunches and other places to get Easter Bunny pictures near DC.
Check out the Children's Garden at the US Botanic Garden. Photo courtesy of usbg.gov
6. Stroll through a Botanical Garden
There is no better time to visit the DC area's many botanical gardens than spring, when flowers and trees are bursting into life after a long winter. Try the US National Arboretum and the US Botanic Garden in DC; Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland; and Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia.
7. Feast On a Mother's Day Brunch
Whether you're looking for a fancy affair or a more laid-back vibe, the DC area has plenty of restaurants that serve a delicious Mother's Day brunch. If you don't feel like going out, help your kiddos whip up one of these Mother's Day brunch recipes kids can make—or just stay in bed and let someone else give them a hand!
8. Relax at a Winery, Beer Garden, or Brewery
Sometimes parents just want—no, need—to unwind with a cold beverage while the kids run around and play. They can do just that at a number of kid-friendly wineries, beer gardens, and breweries near Washington, DC. Some of them offer live music and other entertainment, and many even welcome dogs!
Follow the yellow brick road to the Wizard of Oz-themed playground at Watkins Regional Park. Photo courtesy of playlsi.com
9. Head to a Playground
The DC area has some pretty fantastic playgrounds that will appeal to a variety of ages. See how many of our must-visit destination playgrounds you can cross off your spring bucket list, or check out one of these DC-area playgrounds that received upgrades in 2020 or 2021. Enjoy some fresh air while your child blows off steam!
10. Go Camping
Ah, spring... the perfect time to head into the great outdoors to enjoy nature with your family. Whether you like to brave the elements and pitch a tent or you're more of a cozy-cabin kind of camper, there are plenty of family-friendly campgrounds within a four-hour drive of DC. These campgrounds offer a wide range of outdoor activities and fit a variety of budgets.
Test your skills at the country's oldest continually operating mini golf course. Photo courtesy of East Potomac Mini Golf
11. Play a Round of Mini Golf
What better way to spend a gorgeous spring afternoon than challenging your family to a round of putt-putt? Head to one of the area's many great mini golf courses, including the only remaining course in Washington, DC itself—East Potomac Mini Golf. The 18-hole course, which opened in 1931, is on the National Register of Historic Places and is the oldest continuously operating miniature golf course in the country.
12. Take a Day Trip
A spring Saturday or Sunday is a great time to take a day trip to explore a nearby city or town. Stroll around historic Clifton, Virginia; go antiquing in Kensington, Maryland, or see how many of our 25 fun things to do in Fairfax, Virginia with kids you can cross of the list.
Have fun with language at Planet Word. Photo courtesy of the museum
13. Visit a Museum
Rainy spring days call for indoor activities, like visiting a museum. The beauty of DC is that there are so many free (yes, free) museums for families to explore, like the Smithsonian museums, Planet Word and the National Museum of the United States Army at Fort Belvoir. And then there are museums that aren't free but are well worth the ticket price, like the National Children's Museum, the International Spy Museum, and the National Building Museum.
14. Take a Hike
With all of the state, national, and local parks in the DC area; as well as miles and miles of gorgeous hiking trails; your family could take a different hike every day this spring and still not do them all. Try one of the hikes listed in our roundup of 12 fall hikes near Washington, DC and see how different it looks with spring in full bloom!
Canoeing is one of the many activities at Fort Washington Park. Photo courtesy of the park's Facebook page
15. Explore Fort Washington Park
This hidden gem of a national park in Prince George's County, Maryland is more like an outdoor museum than a park. Families can tour a historic fort, visit a lighthouse, bike or hike on the trails, and more.
16. Step Inside a Hit TV Show
The FRIENDS Experience is in Washington, DC from March 17 through June 5, 2022, and if you and your tweens or teens are fans of the show, it's a can't-miss. Check out our review of the FRIENDS Experience in New York City for all of the deets. Could you be more excited?
17. Roll on Over to a Skate Park
Break out the helmets, knee pads, and elbow pads and take your skateboarder or inline skater to one of the many great skate parks near DC. A few to try are the Skate Park at RFK Campus; Wakefield Skate Park in Annandale, Virginia; and Bowie Skate Park in Maryland.
18. Hit the Water
It may not be warm enough to go swimming just yet, but you can still enjoy the DC area's many rivers and lakes. Paddleboard, kayak, and canoe rentals open back up in April or May. If you'd rather pedal than paddle, the Tidal Basin's famous paddle boats are available for rent beginning in April, offering spectacular views of the cherry blossoms from the Potomac River.
Take the kids out to a ballgame to cheer on the Washington Nationals. Photo courtesy of federalbaseball.com
19. Root, Root, Root for the Home Team
The boys are back in town this spring... the Washington Nationals, that is. Head to Nationals Park to cheer them on and enjoy kid-friendly activities like a play structure and the opportunity to run the bases after every Sunday afternoon home game. Be sure to sign your kids up for the Jr. Nationals Kids Club. For a more low-key baseball experience, take the kids to cheer on a minor-league team like the Fredericksburg Nationals, or even a local high school or Little League team.
20. Pick Spring Flowers
Bring some spring into your home by picking fresh tulips and daffodils at Burnside Farms in Nokesville, Virginia. Pack a picnic, and don't forget your camera—the flower fields make for spectacular photo ops!
Visit the giant panda family at the Smithsonian National Zoo. Photo courtesy of Pinterest
21. Go to the Zoo
Smithsonian's National Zoo is famous (and free), but there are other, smaller zoos in the DC area where families can interact with animals in a unique way. Roer's Zoofari in Reston, Virginia, offers self-drive and walking tours where guests can see bison, llamas, deer, and more, and also pet and feed farm animals. Leesburg Animal Park in Virginia also has plenty of petting and feeding opportunities, live animal shows, and exotic-animal exhibits with camels, squirrel monkeys, zebras, and more.
22. Tour the Embassies
Passport DC, a monthlong event that takes place every May, includes fun programming by 70 embassies and a variety of DC's cultural institutions. A highlight is the free Around the World Embassy Tour, when more than 50 embassies open their doors to visitors to share the food, dance, music, art, fashion, innovations, and goods from their countries. Families can travel the world in just one day!
23. See a Live Show
The DC area offers many opportunities to introduce kids to live theater. Check out the spring calendar for the Kennedy Center's performances for young audiences, George Mason University's Center for the Arts, Imagination Stage in Bethesda, and Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo.
Related: 7 Great Carousels Near DC for Kids
Ride the Americana-themed carousel at National Harbor. Photo courtesy of nationalharbor.com
24. Have Fun at National Harbor
This waterfront town in Maryland has so many things for kids and families to do when the weather is nice. Soar 180 feet above the Potomac River on the giant Capital Wheel. Take a spin on the Americana-themed carousel, then play on the neighboring playground. Dip your toes into the sand at the Beach. And enjoy one of the many spring events that take place at National Harbor, including the Sakura Sunday Festival in April, part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
25. Visit a Nature Center
Nature centers are like mini zoos where kids can get up close to reptiles, amphibians, fish, and other small animals. They also offer plenty of hands-on activities, crafts, and fun spring programming like animal feedings. And the best part is, many of them are free! A few to try: National Wildlife Visitor Center and Croydon Creek Nature Center in Maryland, Hidden Oaks Nature Center and Hidden Pond Nature Center in Northern Virginia, and Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium in DC.