A Weekend in D.C.
If you and your family are in town for a weekend and have a full Saturday and Sunday, check the museum and federal building schedules to make sure that they are open on the weekends — most museums are. If you have White House tickets, they would be for early Saturday morning, and that would be your first stop.
The only weekend day White House tours are given is Saturday from 7:30
If possible, try to find a hotel downtown or near the National Mall (L'Enfant Plaza Hotel, Holiday Inn Downtown, Red Roof Inn, or the Hotel Monaco), so you can do as much as possible in a short amount of time, and if your kids get tired, you can race back to the hotel for a nap.Saturday
Once you check into your hotel, either head toward Union Station and take the D.C. Ducks or Old Town Trolley tour of the city, or head to the Mall and hop on the Tourmobile. Sit with the kids and let the wise and entertaining tour operators give you and your family a grand overview of the sites. Then you can get your kids to help you decide what you'll see over the rest of the weekend. You may not be able to fit everything into the schedule, but it's nice to see what's out there and how close some of the places are to each other.
If you take the Tourmobile or Old Town Trolley, you can hop on and off, and you might want to make that your day, visiting some of the museums on the Mall and some of the sites. D.C. Ducks is a three-hour tour that goes on both land and sea in those wonderful amphibious vehicles from World War II. It hands out duck noisemakers, which are charmers for kids, and the kids can keep them as mementos (and annoy you in the car on your way back home).
After a hard day of sightseeing the monuments and the museums, your kids may not be ready to call it a night, but you might be tired. An easy dinner and a movie can be found at Union Station, where there's a nine-theater multiplex and a food court that offers everything from 1950s-style diner burgers to quiche Lorraine to cannolis for dessert.
If you have not elected to hop on and off, you might want to spend an afternoon in one of the Mall museums until it closes. You can have dinner at Red Sage (café and chili bar), at ESPN Zone, the Hard Rock Cafe, or TGI Friday's.
Then either go on a nighttime exploration of the Washington Monument (if you have a ticket and it's summertime) or catch a movie at Union Station — there are nine theaters — or even in your hotel room on pay-per-view.Sunday
Eat breakfast in your hotel, and then head to the National Zoo. It is a must-see for families with children. Get there early so you can catch a museum later in the afternoon. If it is Sunday, and you are so inclined, you might want to catch a morning service at the National Cathedral, which is close to the zoo, where you can see the Darth Vader gargoyle and the moon-rock stained-glass window (or just pop in there to take a look).
The zoo will take about three or four hours to see. Plan on eating lunch there. Then you can take a cab downtown and do a late afternoon walk-through of the International Spy Museum. If there's some time left, you can quickly pop into Ford's Theatre (where President Lincoln was shot) and then cross the street to look at the Petersen House, where Lincoln died. You can have dinner at Zola or Zaytinya, or even Poste in the nearby Hotel Monaco, or try one of the fabulous restaurants in nearby Chinatown.
In the evening, check with your hotel concierge or head to Union Station, and take a bus tour of the memorials at night — Lincoln and Jefferson are spectacular all lit up, and the Vietnam Wall has a unique power after dark.