Things to Do in Washington DC with Teens During Your Vacation

Home to several colleges and countless children of Congressmen and Ambassadors, Washington, D.C. is a very teen-friendly city.

There are a lot of options for shopping, dining, and things to do that specifically cater to teens, as well as fun family activities that won’t elicit the eye rolling.

If you’re looking for things to do in Washington DC with teens, check out our list of the top attractions and activities, including…

  • The Capital Wheel
  • Newseum
  • Madame Tussauds DC
  • Bike and Roll DC Bike Rentals
  • and more…

Save on Admission to Attractions Teens Will Love

Many of these teen-friendly DC attractions are available on the Washington DC Explorer Pass®.

Choose as you go from dozens of top attractions and save up to 40% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.

See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.

Take a Spin on the Capital Wheel

The Capital Wheel Observation DeckHead down to National Harbor and take a ride on The Capital Wheel, a 180-foot-tall observation wheel that showcases the best of DC’s cityscape from a unique vantage point.

In addition to some pretty sweet aerial views of the city – perfect Insta right there – you’ll also be able to see the Washington Monument, the Capitol Building, and more.

Don’t forget to snag some Wolfgang Puck concessions while you’re on board!

Since you’re in the National Harbor area, leave yourself time to explore. There are some fun restaurants like the popular Rosa Mexicano, a brewery (if you’re got any kids over 21), and even a nearby outlet mall.

Getting In: The Capital Wheel tickets are available on the Washington DC Explorer Pass.

Visit the Museums

Image Credit: Sam Kittner/Newseum

Image Credit: Sam Kittner/Newseum

Not all museums are created equal, and some are bound to feel a little boring to antsy teens. As parents will know, the trick is to find something they’re interested in and run with it.

Check out the Newseum! The Newseum is one of Washington, D.C.’s most unique museums. As an institution dedicated solely to the presence and influence of news media in the modern world

Do they really want to do nothing besides gush over celebrities all day? Pay a visit to Madame Tussauds.

There are also a plethora of Smithsonian Institution museums scattered throughout the city (although most of them are located on the National Mall). They’re a great option if you’re worried a teen might lose interest quickly – admission is free!

Getting In: The below museums are available on the Washington DC Explorer Pass

Go for a Bike Ride

It can be challenging to find activities the whole family will enjoy, but we’re pretty sure a good old-fashioned bike ride is one of them.

Rent a bike from Bike and Roll DC and pedal around scenic neighborhoods and lovely waterfronts.

If you visit during cherry blossom season, you’ll be treated to some of the most beautiful outdoor sights in the entire city.

Biking is also really big with the local commuters, so you’ll find that most major streets in Northwest are really bike friendly.

Plus, the area on the National Mall and around the Tidal Basin makes for some great cycling as well.

Getting In: Bike and Roll DC Bike Rentals are available on the Washington DC Explorer Pass.

Go on a Sightseeing Cruise

Washington-Monuments-Cruise-1While we all know there can be some really stuffy sightseeing tours (not to mention those really embarrassing ones where you’re following some guy holding an umbrella and everyone knows you’re a tourist), there are also some fun options.

Choose a sightseeing cruise instead of a traditional tour, and see the DC waterfront area in all of its glory. Especially on a sunny day, you’ll really enjoy the sights of DC from the Lincoln Memorial to the Kennedy Center and more.

It’s the perfect way for teens to see the major highlights of the city, too, all while enjoying a leisurely cruise.

Getting In: Washington Monuments Cruise tickets are available on the Washington DC Explorer Pass.

Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens

Hillwood-Estate-Museum-and-Gardnes-5For those of you with outdoorsy teens or those who collect endless botanical images on their Pinterest and Instagram, a visit to the Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens is a smart choice. Bonus points if they have a thing for historical fiction!

Come here to stroll through their peaceful and beautiful gardens, explore the gorgeous historic home, and roam the fascinating museum. It’s got so much to offer that it will appeal to teens with different interests.

Getting In: Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens tickets are available on the Washington DC Explorer Pass.

Do Some Shopping

M street, the shopping mecca.

M street, the shopping mecca. Image credit: Georgetown community Facebook page.

It’s a safe assumption that teenage girls (and teen boys, too!) love to shop. Head to Georgetown and let them loose on M Street.

They’ll find tons to love and some pretty reasonable prices within their budget.

Fans of comics will love Fantom Comics in Dupont Circle, and the whole family will enjoy a stroll through the Pentagon City Mall. Big readers should check out Kramerbooks, East City Bookshop, and/or Politics & Prose.

More reading: check out our post on where to find some of the best shopping in DC.

Check out the Dining Scene

Among other things, teens can also be really picky eaters. If you’re struggling to find a restaurant that appeals to their new interest in vegetarianism or, conversely, a refusal to eat healthy food, try a few of these suggestions.

Teens who prefer an all veggie diet will love the “eco-chic” Sweetgreen restaurant, with locations throughout the city. District Tacos is a favorite with Tex-Mex lovers, and locals delight in the indulgent food at Ben’s Chili Bowl. And for the teens who eat nothing but pizza? Matchbox in Chinatown is a safe bet.

Or, find out where the local food trucks are each day and try out new cuisine.

Save on Admission

While by no means exhaustive, this list is a pretty good start for planning a teen-friendly vacation to Washington, D.C.

Remember, while you’re looking for things to do in Washington DC with teens, you can save up to 40% on combined admission prices with the Washington DC Explorer Pass®.

Washington DC Explorer Pass

The information contained in this post, to the best of the author's knowledge, was accurate at time of publishing. We do our best to ensure and maintain the accuracy of this information.

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