You love them. You hate them. Your brother and sister are coming with your parents for Colonials Weekend.
While Colonials Weekend is chock-full of activities for your parents, you won’t want to leave your siblings in the dorm where they can reveal embarrassing childhood memories to your new friends. If you want to spend some quality time with them before the weekend ends (or just want to get them out of your hair), here are options for any age.
3001 Connecticut Ave. NW
Just like its museums, the National Zoo is another D.C. rite of passage that you will not want to miss, particularly since the birth of its new panda cub Bei Bei this past month. Though Bei Bei will not be on display until early 2016 (you can still catch a glimpse of him on the Panda Cam), younger siblings can see a variety of other animals – from reptiles to bison.
They can also partake in the zoo’s “How Do You Zoo?” program, conducting research in the Small Mammal House and helping zoo staff examine animal skeletons. Though this program ranges from $18-$25 per participant, like all other Smithsonian museums and institutions, admission to the zoo is free.
National Building Museum
401 F St.
Perhaps D.C.’s most kid-friendly museum is the National Building Museum, which features activities for kids (and adults) of all ages, from creating architectural patterns to partaking in an upgraded game of eye spy and playing in hands-on exhibits.
There is also a handful of special exhibits happening during Colonials Weekend, including “Scaling Washington,” which features photographs taken by artist Colin Winterbottom that document the restoration of the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral after an earthquake. “Investigating Where We Live” is an exhibit targeted toward older children that displays the explorations of teens throughout the city.
Glen Echo Park
7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo, Md.
You’ll need a car to get to this spot, but it will be worth it. Located near Bethesda, Md., Glen Echo Park is home to art classes, puppet shows and fun amusement rides, including a restored carousel originally from the 1920s.
Bonus: The park also has a recently opened aquarium and a handful of diverse art galleries (we recommend catching photography exhibits “The Extras: From the Streets” and “Antiquarian Lens: Wet Plate Collodion and Albumen Prints,” which closes right after Colonials Weekend).
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
301 14th St. SW
Your siblings will love discovering how money is made at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, where they can take a tour, learn about the process from design to engraving to packaging and even share their ideas on which woman should be on the upcoming redesigned $10 bill. Tickets are not required for the off-peak season (September-February) and tours leave every 15 minutes from 9 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
U.S. National Arboretum
3501 New York Ave. NE
With more than 400 acres of woods, trails and gardens, the arboretum is the perfect scenic spot to picnic or just spend some much-needed family time. Other than being home to these natural wonders, the beautiful National Bonsai Museum also resides in the arboretum, celebrating the art of the Japanese bonsai through three pavilions with about 150 total plants.
Admission to the arboretum and museum is completely free, but you may want to spend an extra few dollars for a tram tour – $4 for adults and $2 for kids between four and 16. The arboretum is also hosting a free Family Fun Day on Saturday with outdoor activities for all ages.