I've been to DC twice. Once on a personal vacation and once as a chaperone for 94 eigth graders! My advice, by a day pass for the metro ($8 per person per day). It's easy to use and goes everywhere! It's a lot faster than driving since there is so much traffic. Have a plan before you go of what you want to see because there is SO much, you'll never get it all done.
Here are my favorite destinations:
FDR memorial: not the most popular, but gorgeous! Lots of waterfalls and beautiful sculptures. The memorial is like a walking history tour.
National art gallery: they let you take pictures!! A great collection of art, you could spend all day here. The museum store is also huge with a great selection.
Holocaust museum: this museum has 22 hours of information. There is some pretty heavy stuff in here, so use discretion with children. Anything very graphic is behind a wall.
Lincoln memorial: make sure you stand in the spot where Martin Luther King Jr. made his "I have a dream" speech!
Newseum: real chunk of the Berlin wall, tons of information. Make sure you check out the movie (great special effects with moving chairs). The gift shop is also really nice. You can film your own newscast for $8 complete with a teleprompter and green-screen.
National Cathedral: beautiful and huge! Check out the stained glass window with the moon rock in it!
Natural history: of course, see the Hope diamond! The gift shops are very very cool. There is a ton of stuff to see and interact with in here. The stuffed animals are pretty cool. There are some really exotic animals in there.
Whitehouse: worth a drive-by, but it's a lot smaller than you'd think.
Naval museum: unless you're really into boats, skip it. You can tour a battleship though, which is kind of cool.
Cheap souveneirs: beware of t-shirts that fall apart and knock-offs.
Washington monument: for the money, it's not that great. You can't see anything unless it is a very clear day.
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Best Suited For: Families
Best Time to Travel Here: Anytime