Happy 4th of July—in Washington D.C.! Family travel tips from Mrs. Obama

Happy 4th of July—in Washington D.C.! Family travel tips from Mrs. Obama

By on July 4th, 2013

Celebrate America’s birthday in the nation’s capital by staying active and letting the kids choose, says First Lady Michelle Obama.

Fireworks over the Capitol? It’s hard to imagine a better place to spend the 4th of July holiday with the kids than in Washington, D.C.

A bonus: Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC is within walking distance to some of the best family attractions, has an indoor pool and welcomes kids. But don’t take it from me. Listen to the First Lady.

Courtesy Tribune Media Services

Courtesy Tribune Media Services

I asked Michelle Obama—who’s taking on childhood obesity—how families can be more active this summer while, say, touring a city such as D.C. She suggests letting the kids lead the way: “Find something they enjoy, then join in!” For the President, his wife and their two daughters, Sasha and Malia, that’s cycling.

“Barack and I love to bike with the girls when we can, and it’s a great way to (see) a new place,” Mrs. Obama says. “Going on a long walk is also a great way to explore a new city or new neighborhoods… We are our kids’ first and best role models, so if we’re getting active and enjoying it, they will, too.”

If you’re like the Obamas, then consider a bike tour of the National Mall monuments. The kids I took loved seeing the sites that way.

Bike-tour-Lincoln

(For more summertime fun ideas, read my Taking the Kids Very Best Family Vacation Ideas.)

And about those fireworks: the No. 1 question the Four Seasons concierge gets asked by visiting families during the 4th of July is, where to see the fireworks?
- At the hotel, Presidential Room 617
- At the Capitol’s West Lawn (where the National Symphony Orchestra is)
- At the Lincoln Memorial
- Or have the concierge reserve a private space for your and your family.

You might not realize this, but one of the most fantastic things about D.C. is that the city has more free attractions than anywhere in the U.S.—and some pretty special, original things to do and see. Even the wonderful National Zoo, with its famous pandas, is free. Your family will love the “Asia Trail” where the pandas live. Watch them play with their special toys with treats inside!

It doesn’t matter if the kids get bored or tired in the middle of a big museum like the Smithsonian National Museum of American History; just head outdoors to the National Mall and let them turn a few cartwheels. You can return—gratis—to any of the 19 Smithsonian museums any time. (Be sure to peruse the special Smithsonian Kids website before you go.)

A rainy day is the best time to visit the National Mall because “no one’s there,” said 11-year-old Sean from suburban, VA, one of many children I interviewed for my newest Kid’s Guide to Washington DC .

The United States Capitol at the end of the National Mall in Washington, DC, seen at sunset

As for those free attractions, here are six more:
*The African American Heritage Trail
*A free daily performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
*Rock Creek Park: 1,754 acres of woodlands where you can join in a ranger program, check out the night sky at the Rock Creek Park Nature Center/Planetarium—the only planetarium operated by the National Park Service—play tennis, rent a canoe or kayak or horseback ride.
*Jazz in the Garden concerts on Fridays in summer at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden
*A free walking tour with DC by Foot
*Kids’ Farm at the national zoo. Kids can talk to zoo keepers and help groom alpacas, donkeys and goats.
Got the camera handy?

Read more about Washington, D.C. in Four Seasons Magazine

Four Seasons Hotel Washington DC

Read our “Concierge Recommendations” for Washington, D.C. in Four Seasons Magazine

Header Image Courtesy of Tribune Media Services

Post Author
Eileen Ogintz

Eileen Ogintz writes the widely syndicated column Taking the Kids and is the creator of www.takingthekids.com. She is the author of the new series of Kids Guides to New York, Orlando and Washington D.C. from Globe Pequot. For more summer vacation ideas, visit the TAKING THE KIDS SPECIAL SUMMER VACATION SECTION.

View all posts from Eileen
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