Hit the Streets Most of the family-friendly attractions in D .C. are free, so there's no pressure to stay all day to get your money's worth. While the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History (dinosaurs galore) and National Air and Space Museum (lunar rockets) are obvious stops on the National Mall, don't miss the National Museum of American History. Kids can see Dorothy's ruby slippers and Harry Potter's Hogwarts robe. "Take breaks by riding the carousel or flying a kite on the mall," suggests Eileen Ogintz, author of The Kid's Guide to Washington, DC. While not near the other main attractions (you'll have to hop on the Metro), the free National Zoo -- with its 2,000 animals, including pandas -- is well worth the hike. Another favorite: The National Portrait Gallery in Chinatown. "We love the big, bright atrium where we can take the kids to see portraits of the presidents," says resident Tricia Bowman Pietravalle, a mom of three. "And if you have a crawler, you'll appreciate that the gallery is mostly carpeted." For a fun meal, try Jaleo, in Penn Quarter, which serves up tapas on a glass-covered foosball table so you can play between courses. Or go celeb-watching at Carmine's Italian restaurant across the street.
Hit the Sheets Just six blocks from the White House, the Hotel Rouge entices kids with animalthemed bathrobes and a goldfish bowl in the room. (Rooms with two Dueen beds start at $149 per night and bunk-bed rooms that sleep up to six start at $219. Use the promo code PARENT for a 10 percent discount; rougehotel.com.) Or stay in nearby Alexandria, Virginia, at The Residence Inn Alexandria Old Town/Duke Street and catch the Metro to D.C. (Rooms with two queen beds start at $109 per night; marriott.com .)