Despite the onset of winter here in the Mid-Atlantic, educational opportunities for your children don’t have to be limited to their classroom or your living room. Here are five great places where your kids will love learning — and are easy to access anywhere from southeast Pennsylvania to central Virginia.
1. The National Building Museum, Washington, D.C.
Located in the heart of D.C., the National Building Museum is the kind of place where you’ll be learning right along with the kiddos. Check out the “House and Home” exhibit, where your family can see the how building standards, construction materials and home improvement solutions like roof replacements have changed over the years. Hands-on everyday activities and feature exhibits will keep those tireless toddlers to tweens learning through play throughout the day.
2. The National Aquarium, Baltimore, Md.
About an hour’s drive north of Washington, D.C., The National Aquarium is considered one of the best aquariums in the country. Have fun as a family while learning the importance of aquatic life and conservation. Stimulate your senses watching one of the aquarium’s 4D Immersion Theater films. Visit the living seashore exhibit where your family can get their hands wet in the two animal touch pools. You can even schedule a close encounter with a bottlenose dolphin!
3. Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Va.
Colonial Williamsburg is where history comes to life. The Revolutionary City gives a glimpse of life during the American Revolution all with the most historically accurate details available. Every bit of this town is a throwback to the way life was in the late 18th century. The townspeople even speak in period dialect! Be sure to catch a fife and drum march, watch a burly blacksmith hammer horseshoes into shape, bounce your way through a carriage ride, help fire a cannon and tour the governor’s swank mansion.
4. The Hershey Story, Hershey, Pa.
You won’t have any trouble getting the chocolate lovers in your family to The Hershey Story Museum. Learn the history of Hershey’s chocolate and the rags-to-riches story of Milton S. Hershey. Spend a sweet time in the chocolate lab where you’ll explore the art and science of chocolate-making — and you’ll get to enjoy your tasty creation. Or, forget all that educational stuff and go straight to a chocolate tasting where you’ll sample and learn about chocolates from around the world.
5. Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C.
If you’re feeling ambitious and love the outdoors, Rock Creek Park’s 1,700 acres offer a million things to see and do. Here are a few favorites:
Smithsonian National Zoo (FREE admission!)
Rock Creek Nature Center and Planetarium (Don’t forget to get your passport and stamps!)
Rock Creek Park Horse Center (Trail rides, pony rides or lessons)
Peirce Mill (Be sure to check out a milling demonstration)
Rock Creek Park is also a stone’s throw from the National Mall, home to some of the most impressive monuments in the entire world, the Smithsonian museums and trails that meander from the Potomac to the top of Capitol Hill — and it’s all free. That’s something every parent can appreciate.