Are you looking for a frum summer trip? Or perhaps you’re tired of your usual Shidduch dating places? Or do you need a fun frum family vacation with nearby minyanim and kosher food? Browse through our itinerary posts so you can enjoy kosher family outings, or Kosher dates, without the stress of planning!
Its streets are lined with history — and lots of parks, educational museums, and free tourist attractions. It’s no wonder that DC is a perennial favorite for family vacations, especially for families with school-age kids. With frum communities sprinkled throughout and nearby the area, DC is a classic and convenient destination for frum families.
Daven shachris at Kesher Israel Georgetown Synagogue. (Check out
https://www.kesher.org/calendar for daily shachris and mincha/maariv times.) Then start your trip at the Lincoln Memorial, an outdoor memorial commemorating America’s assassinated 16th President who preserved the Union during the Civil War and ended slavery. But don’t worry about forgetting your history — rangers are on duty to answer questions, and there are also restrooms and a gift shop. Challenge your children to walk from one side of the monument to the other, while observing Lincon’s eyes. (They seem to have a Mona Lisa effect and follow you as you move.)
Tip: There are endless step to get up the top, so if you have a stroller or wheelchair with you, ask a park ranger to guide you to the elevator. For the rest of the kids, running up the steps is part of the Lincoln Memorial experience!
Next, check out the Jefferson Memorial. You can walk over — it’ll take you about 25 minutes, but if you’re still tired from climbing all those steps, try an Uber (9-minute drive) or the Metro (23 minutes). The Jefferson Memorial is a majestic, striking building with an unmatched view of the DC skyline and a serene tidal basin in front of it. The bronze statue inside is nothing special, but the simple stone renditions of famous Jefferson quotes give this place a majesty and significance. There is an underground area with bathrooms and a gift shop. Take the time now to enjoy a picnic lunch in the sun as you sit on the steps. And of course you’ll need to take those classic (clichéd?) pictures, cupping your hands in the air with the Washington monuments in the distant background, creating the photographic illusion that you are holding up the monument.
Now that you covered two classic monuments, you can enjoy one of the excellent (and free!) Smithsonian
Museums. We love the Air and Space Museum, which is a 25-minute walk from the Jefferson memorial
(9-minute Uber, 23-minute Metro). The museum has extensive coverage of all aspects of flight — from
the early years of flight to the two world wars to space exploration. The Einstein planetarium and IMAX
are extraordinary. There are lots of life-sized displays — if your kids are fascinated by astronauts, outer
space, or airplanes, this is your place! You can spend about three hours here.
If you still have time after the Air and Space Museum, you can visit another Smithsonian Museum, since they’re all in the same area. The Museum of Natural History is a great option with lots to see and touch for all ages. The displays are creative and engaging and include mummies, dinosaurs, the Hope diamond, and lots more. They have several gift shops inside. (The museum is next to the Washington Monument, which is closed until 2019, so make a mental note to return next year.)
Don’t forget Mincha/maariv at Kesher Israel. For dinner, Charbar is close by and they make delicious brisket. It’s a reasonably priced restaurant and they can deliver straight to your hotel, if you want to feel pampered. Ask for their seasoned fries with your main. Delish!
Start out with a visit to the White House. We recommend booking a (free) White House Tour, which needs to be reserved in advance through your Senator or Congressman. (If you plan on doing this trip, try to reserve a slot as early as possible.) You get to tour the lower floors of the White House and your kids will be proud to brag about it when they get back to school. (Don’t hold your breath, but the president does make rare surprise visits to the White House tour groups.) The White house tour takes up to 45 minutes and is self-guided, (although there are plenty of Secret Service agents everywhere, so don’t get any ideas about sneaking into the president’s confidential stuff!). There are personnel in every room to answer questions you may have.
Tip: have your kids prepare in advance a list of question to ask the White House staff about the president or the White House. Try asking the Secret Service agents if they can tell you about the secret underground tunnels and rooms beneath the White House.
After the tour, pick up some salads or sandwiches from Soupergirl, which is an awesome little vegetarian restaurant, but they have no seating. (They make amazing soups too, for when you’re not on the go.)
Armed with lunch, you can now head to The National Zoo (11-minute Uber, 10-minute Metro + a 10-minute walk) which is fantastic and free! It’s a huge, free zoo with many close-up opportunities. Be prepared to walk — the zoo is big, and there are some hills, but it’s packed with interesting exhibits .They offer a nice mix of indoor and outdoor exhibits to give you a break from the heat. They have one of the world’s best panda exhibits — you can literally stand within a few feet from the pandas!
The zoo may be free, but parking is pricey ($25). Depending on the size of your family, though, it may be cheaper to pay for parking than the Metro.
TIP: Even if you’re normally frugal, splurge for a map of the zoo (they charge a donation fee). The place
is too big to navigate on your own.
If you’re not into zoos, you can also checkout Ford’s Theater (free) or the Spy Museum, (Adult $23, Youth 7-11 $15, kids under 7 free) which is great for boys! At Ford’s Theatre you can take a free ranger-led tour of the historical building where President Lincoln was assassinated, and watch a short live presentation about what happened. When you leave the theater itself, take the time to cross the road to the next exhibit, which follows the events that took place after the shooting.
The Spy Museum is an interesting museum that will help you better understand how spying is essential to a country’s defense, and that all countries always spy on each other — and always have. It’s best for ages 9 and up. The place does get crowded during vacation seasons, so if you are claustrophobic, you may want to postpone your visit to this museum until 2019 when they will be moving to a new, more spacious location.
Tip: Make sure to pick up the kids’ spy game at the front desk when you purchase your tickets. You
follow clues in a fun hunt throughout the museum. Great entertainment for children.
Alternatively, if you absolutely loved the Air and Space Museum on Day 1, then you can drive to the other half of it that’s called Udvar-Hazy in nearby Virginia (which has plenty of free parking in case you didn’t take our advice about public transportation!)
Overall, Washington DC is a great trip location for Frum families, especially with school age kids. It’s fun, educational, and offers lots of low/no cost attractions, and has great Kosher food and shuls nearby.
The Churchill Hotel is conveniently located right near the Lubavitch Shul.
Alternatively, you can stay in the Georgetown Suites. If you plan to stay over Shabbos, this hotel is very accommodating by offering rooms on the lower floors and helping Shomer Shabbos guests get into the stairways and the rooms on Shabbos.
Parking in DC is always challenging. Many streets are completely closed to parking. Your best bet is to park on the perimeter and use a combination of the efficient Metro subway system and/or Uber or local taxis, which are abundant. The Metro can be a fun part of the experience and it’s clean and easy to navigate, even for the spatially challenged among us! Note that Metro fares vary based on time of day and destination, but two children under age five may travel for free with each fare-paying adult.The Metro is a fun part of the experience and it’s clean and easy to navigate, even for the spacially challenged among us! 😉
Charbar is a delicious kosher restaurant located 2142 L St NW, Washington, DC. Check out their website (charbardc.com) to order online. (They even offer a Kosher L’pesach menu!) They also sell delicious Shabbos takeout cuisine.
For a lighter meal, you can pick up some salads or sandwiches from Soupergirl. They’re a great little
vegetarian restaurant, but they have no seating. (They make excellent soups too, for when you’re not on
the go.) They have two locations in DC: 1829 M Street NW and 314 Carroll Street NW
Kosher Israel and Chabad both usually put up Sukkahs, so you can bring your food there on Succos.
You can also drive to nearby Silver Spring to visit Max’s (casual fleishig + Middle Eastern options such
as falafel and schwarma) or Ben Yehuda (pizza).
The Trippo Hippo Team
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