How To Explore SE DC With Your Kids

Washington, DC is a city divided into four quadrants by the US Capitol Building. You cannot be a loud and proud DC resident until you’ve invested in each quadrant. Being born in a hospital in the heart of the city, I want Addy to look back on visits to all quadrants as she grows.

Inspired by this conviction, we set out to explore Southeast DC recently. In just an afternoon and a three mile radius, here’s what we did:

Anacostia Community Museum

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(A grand entrance to the museum with free parking)

The lesser known museum in the Smithsonian collection is not to be overlooked, especially if raising educated and empathetic children is your goal. It’s free to the public, and comes with a plethora of free parking spots, a novelty in the District.

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(Arguably one of DC’s best murals inside the museum)

The current exhibit is small; it will take you fifteen minutes to walk through, but its minutes you can use to teach your children about the Latino community and how they master community organizing. As you experience the museum, the exhibits invite you to interact asking you questions about identity, community and advocacy. Once you learn about justice, process the experience at the quiet park with picnic tables right outside the museum.

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(Beautiful architecture throughout the museum)

 Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church

Skip mass and go straight to the wide, open parking lot just three blocks from the Anacostia Community Museum. On one of DC’s highest hills, it offers the best view of the city in the District. Even staying behind the “no trespassing” signs, offers a breathtaking scene of the city’s buildings hugging the Washington Monument and the US Capitol Building.

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(The best view of DC within the city)

Frederick Douglass House

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(Frederick Douglass’ house)

A short drive down the hill from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church is the historic home of abolitionist and human rights activist, Frederick Douglass. Every week day, the National Park Services offer five tours at 9AM, 12:15PM, 1:15PM, 3PM, and 4PM. Each group is limited to ten people and a booking fee of $1.50 is all that’s required.

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(“The Growlery” behind Douglass’ house)

Once you learn a little about the hero Frederick Douglass was at the visitors center, you’ll walk up the hill for a thirty minute tour with a ranger (Your children will love his/her ranger hat!). It’s a small house, but it’s on a hill overlooking the city. Be sure you visit the little cabin (called “The Growlery”) in the back before walking back. If you take the ramp down, look for the hidden bench and sign the journal underneath.

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(Challenge your kids to find the hidden bench and sign the journal underneath)

Francis A. Gregory Library

Close to the Maryland border in Fairfax Village, is one of DC Public Library’s most beautiful buildings. It’s designed by David Adjaye, who rose to fame for designing the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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(Beautifully designed library)

While impressing architects throughout the country, it still maintains a small town feel. It’s well lit and the staff very helpful and friendly. We were asked twice by different staff if we’d like to sign up for the monthly free book program.

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(Impressive natural light)

As you explore, take your kids to the second floor for a fun kids section and a play area for babies.

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(Even at seven months, Addy loved the library’s play area)

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