Awesome/unusual places for 4-year-old in DC?
August 5, 2014 8:10 AM   Subscribe

What are some really magical and unusual places to visit/things to do with a 4-year-old for fun in DC? He's visited most of the usual museums/zoos etc. (including 826 DC) that would be good for kids. Also acceptable are magical and unusual things happening at one of the usual places :-).
posted by shivohum to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (14 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
They have a maze at the National Building Museum until September.
posted by smackfu at 8:23 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

You've been to Glen Echo, with the train and the puppet show etc?
posted by OmieWise at 8:23 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sunday drum circle at Meridian Hill Park.
posted by rabidsegue at 8:30 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The maze looks neat!

And yes on Glen Echo, but that is a great suggestion.
posted by shivohum at 8:31 AM on August 5, 2014

If it's on the way from or to something, my nephew thought the Albert Einstein Memorial at the National Academy of Sciences was the craziest thing ever.

If you've never seen it, the pictures on that page don't really do it justice.
posted by sevenless at 8:40 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I know this is not at all unusual, but if you're a resident you may never have been on one of those cheesy double-decker bus tours - I found my nephews loved that bus at that age. MIght actually be *more* fun with a kid who recognizes parts of the city they've seen before.
posted by bluedeans at 8:49 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can do some good train spotting from the Union Station parking garage.

If he's into planes, or even if he isn't particularly, Gravelly Point is a lot of fun for a picnic. Watching the planes come in is astounding.
posted by OmieWise at 8:55 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can rent a kayak in Georgetown for surprisingly little money and go paddling around the Potomac looking at the backsides of monuments.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:13 AM on August 5, 2014

The National Arboretum is rarely crowded and fun for kids who like weird nature stuff.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:16 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was coming in to recommend the National Arboretum, but Potomac Avenue beet me to the punch. I would recommend waiting until they finish renovations on the koi pond, as that is one of the coolest things for kids. Supposedly due to be completed "this summer." The bonsai exhibits are also really neat and kind of magical.

Also: Rock Creek Park planetarium, and if you want to get out of town a little ways, the Patuxent River Park/Jug Bay Wetlands complex has a lot on offer--small but interesting Rural Life Museum, hiking, and canoe/kayak rental.
posted by drlith at 10:33 AM on August 5, 2014

My 6 and 3 year old boys LOVED the free, outdoor echo chamber at the Canadian Consulate:

From Wikipedia: "The 'Rotunda of the Provinces' on the embassy courtyard's southeast corner has a domed roof that is supported by 12 columns, one for each of the ten provinces and two territories in existence in 1989. If a person is standing in the center of the area under the dome, any noise they make is reflected and focused back. The magnified volume is only appreciated by the person in the centre. Persons at the perimeter do not experience the same effect."

This is a very boring description of what was actually a solid 30 minutes of boys running around in circles, yelling their heads off and laughing (blessedly, not actually that loud for a spectating parent if one stands on the perimeter). The effect is quite dramatic.
posted by Ausamor at 1:12 PM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's actually the Embassy, and while the kids are having fun making noise there, the adults can appreciate the adjacent Spirit of Haida Gwaii statue, aka The Black Canoe.
posted by Rash at 1:38 PM on August 5, 2014

If you are near the carousel on the mall (and while it is not so unusual it is a favorite) there is an outdoor art sculpture garden on the way to the National American Indian Museum that has an unusual mirrored room by Dan Graham that makes it appear that you are in or out of the room with optical illusions. The whole sculpture garden is worth a visit.
posted by RoadScholar at 7:15 AM on August 6, 2014

Dumbarton Oaks is basically The Secret Garden in real life. There are cool pebble mosaics, mini amphitheaters, rose gardens, a balcony that looks out over an unexpected swimming pool, etc. You can
posted by ostro at 12:32 PM on August 6, 2014

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