How well-equipped is this city for those raising infants/toddlers? Specifically, are there public places to change diapers, maintained playgrounds, etc?
Washington, D.C., is very well equipped and child friendly. Most shops and restaurants provide restroom facilities that have diaper-changing stations. Also, there are plenty of well-maintained parks designed with kids in mind, with lots of playground equipment and sand boxes for children to enjoy as well as large grassy areas for them to play on.
Where can I get a list of reliable childcare providers/nannies?
The Fairfax County Office for Children Child Care Resource System (CCRS), within the Department of Family Services, provides guidelines and referrals for child care within the county. As an alternative, contact your human resources director to find out more information on reliable child care providers and/or nannies.
Discuss any safety issues for children in this city.
As with any city, keeping a mindful eye on your little ones is very important. Children should always be accompanied and supervised by an adult and should never talk to strangers.
What are the most popular kid-friendly attractions in the area?
There is a wide variety of attractions for kids of all ages. The city is packed full of museums, libraries, amusement parks, zoos, aquariums, skiing parks, shows, parades, festivals and much more.
Partial list of fun places for kids and the whole family to enjoy:
- The National Aquarium - The nation's oldest aquarium, it features more than 80 exhibits with over 200 species of saltwater and freshwater marine life, including endangered species.
- Discovery Creek Children's Museum – A wonderful museum where children can learn all about the environment. It includes a living laboratory of science, history and art exploration.
- The National Gallery of Art- This awesome gallery is jam packed with history and exhibits. There are also special programs, events and films just for kids!
- The National Zoo - Part of the Smithsonian Institute, the world’s largest museum and research complex. The Smithsonian includes 16 museums, including the National Zoo. The zoo's mission is to study and protect wild animals and their habitats. Located in the heart of the city, you will be able to see more than 2,700 individual animals (including pandas) and 435 different species.
- Smithsonian Education - Part of the Smithsonian Institute, this museum is a place for kids to explore, discover and learn.
- Pershing Park Ice Rink - This small downtown park, just 2 blocks away from the White House, is very family-oriented, providing a safe arena for young, inexperienced skaters. Adults can also enjoy wonderful nighttime skating under the beautiful lights!
- Rock Creek Park Horse Center – Take a walking trail ride! No horse riding experience is necessary; just come out and enjoy the fresh air and have a day of fun.
- Tidal Basin Peddle Boats - This is a great way to view the Jefferson Memorial and Japanese cherry trees from the water. Enjoy a family outing or take a break for touring and soak up some fun in the sun.
- Busch Gardens of Williamsburg, Virginia - This great amusement park is filled with thrilling rides and attractions, live shows and plenty of good food to eat.
- Gettysburg - Pennsylvania – At this civil war battlefield, you can learn why this battlefield is the most visited, most written about and most intensely studied battle ever recorded.
- Six Flags - Maryland – There are more than 100 thrilling rides, shows and attractions at this amusement park, including eight fun and furious roller coasters.
- Water Country - Williamsburg, Virginia - The mid-Atlantic's largest family water play park, filled with state-of-the-art water rides, as well as live entertainment and lots of shops and restaurants.
- Bike the Sites - The most unique and fun way to see our nation's capital, tours include history, interesting facts and a great bike ride in a wonderful city.
What are the most popular activities for kids after school or on weekends?
The school system provides a wide range of activities for children. Among the most popular are sports, music, languages, dance, ballet and computer fun. Due to the weather, weekend activities vary by season. Kids here also enjoy going to the movies, game arcades and shopping with friends. Also, they like to just hang out with their friends at each others’ homes.
What's it like to be a teenager in this city? Are there any particular challenges I should be aware of as a parent?
Life for teenagers in the D.C. area is similar to teenage life anywhere else. Since a driver's license is available at age 16, U.S. teenagers tend to be more mobile. Parents need to be aware of their teenager(s) as they would wherever they live.
Are there any organizations/social groups in the area that cater exclusively to young people ages 12-17?
Most young people get involved with school clubs, sports, or church youth groups, or they participate in activities they find fun.
I want my child to get the most out of our stay in this country. Are there any specific opportunities to teach young people about the local culture?
The best way for anyone to learn the culture is to jump in and live it. There are often festivals going on that the whole family can enjoy. Cultural diversity is also taught in the school system as well as at any public library. Additionally, there are several local events that occur on a weekly basis that teach young people about the different local cultures. Check with your local library for up-to-date happenings in each area.
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