National Children's Museum DC: Diego and Dora play zone with boat, rocket ship and constellation zone.

National Children’s Museum DC: A Real Mom Review

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Looking for a children’s museum in the DC area? The National Children’s Museum in DC has officially opened after five years. The new DC Children’s Museum is 33,000 square feet of interactive and STEAM-focused exhibits—science, technology, engineering, arts, and math—with an emphasis on combined digital and hands-on learning aimed at children from the ages of 0-12. The museum features hands-on experiments, interactive exhibits, fun learning centers, athletic zones and a massive climbing structure with 50- foot metal slide. Many of the exhibits are tech-focused for even the littlest innovators.

Dream Machine: A large climbing exhibit with slide, stairs, domes, and white net climbs at the National Children's Museum DC

Where is the National Children’s Museum DC located?

The National Children’s Museum DC is located in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center at 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest.


How do I get to the children’s museum Washington DC?

Driving to the children’s museum DC area: Park at the Ronald Reagan Building (starting price is $20 for 1-2 hours). The parking entrances require your car to pass through security, so don’t forget to stop at the guard gate for a quick inspection.

Proceed down to the public parking. If you can’t find a spot, free valet is provided, so feel free to use it.
Locate the elevators and then head to the Concourse level (there are helpful tickets located at the elevator so you don’t forget where you’ve parked).

Once at the concourse level, follow the signs to the metro. You’ll see the entrance to the left just as you pass a security checkpoint. This is their current entrance location as of March 2020. Eventually, the entrance will be on the top floor and kids can enter directly into the Dream Machine.

Taking the Metro: The entrance is steps away from Federal Triangle metro station and three blocks from Metro Center. Nearby bus routes include 30N, 30S, 32, 33, 34, 36, D6, and P6.


What is the current National Children’s Museum ticket price?

Tickets cost $10.95 for all children (age 1 and older) and adults. Click HERE to purchase yours from the National Children’s Museum website.

All tickets are timed entry and it is highly suggested that you purchase your ticket ahead of time because there are limited tickets available for same-day purchase.

There are currently no discounts for military, teachers or seniors.  


What is the current National Children’s Museum membership price?

Membership packages range from $130 for a one-year admission for two adults and all the children in the household and up to $1,000 for exclusive access and VIP events.

At the cost of $11 per person, if you have more than 5 people in your family, you’ll recoup your cost in only two visits.


When is the Children’s Museum DC open?

They are open from 9:30 AM till 4:30 PM, the last entry is 3:30 PM. They are closed on all major holidays.


What should I expect from a visit to the kid’s museum DC?

As soon as you enter, you’ll pass through a bag check, so be ready. Then your tickets will be scanned (for advanced purchase) or you can purchase tickets at the desk. A waiver is required to enter and you are not able to complete a waiver online, at this time. Once that is complete, kids are off to explore.

National Children's Museum DC entrance with staff to check tickets, tablets to complete waivers and bag check.

Note: There aren’t any bands, stamps or tickets unlike other museums where adults and children are checked before exiting. There is security montioring the play areas and staff.

There are multiple areas to visit. Currently, all of the open exhibits are on one floor, minus the two-story climbing structure. Each exhibit is individually reviewed to give visitors an idea of what to expect during their visit and to determine if the children’s museum in DC would meet their family’s needs. So without further ado, let’s check out the new children’s museum, Washington DC.

Re-entry: You are able to exit and re-enter, just let a staff member know.


Dream Machine:

A three-level climbing structure with fiberglass spheres, white net climbing tunnels and metal slides that whisk children down to the bottom. It is the National Children’s Museum DC crown jewel.

Dream Machine: A large climbing exhibit with slide, stairs, domes, and white net climbs at the National Children's Museum DC

The large climbing structure is for ages 5 and up. Please remove your shoes at the entrance (cubbies are provided for storage).

If you have smaller children, there is a smaller climbing structure with a slide for their enjoyment so that everyone can enjoy their visit to the new kid’s museum DC.

Also located near the Dream Machine is a bubble maker where children can pull a chain and put themselves inside a bubble. There are also bubbles on the ground floor with various interactive displays inside.


Innovation Sandbox Green Screen: (Sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association)

Located close to the Dream Machine, children will delight with donning capes and masks to venture into a world of superpowers. Children can toss leaves at the flick of their arms, bounce rainbows between their hands, create clouds, shoot lightning bolts and toss snowballs as they move around the stage. The images change on the screen as the children interact with the immersive digital experience. Don’t miss the Winter mode, if you stay still, you’ll turn into a little frozen ice cube that you can break out of.

Interactive green screen where children can interact with the displays by moving their hands and body. The screen changes from spring/summer, winter and thunderstorms.

Climate Action Heroes:

Next to the green screen is a fun diagram printed on the group where children can answer different questions to find out which superpower they would fall into, “arbor avengers” to “mighty meteorologists.”


Paw Patrol:

It’s time to build, fly and put some fire out with the paw patrol friends Rubble, Skye and Marshall. Push the button by Rubble and he will ask you to build a tower or construct a bridge. Skye delights little learners with her air-powered machine where scarves can fly high. Lastly, Marshall needs help to put out the fire with the air cannons. Paw Patrol is on a roll!


Sponge Bob:

Interested in being an anchor for your own TV show? Adjust the camera and hit record! Make your own clip with Sponge Bob and his friends, then add some stickers and email it to your friend.

Sponge Bob exhibit where children can record a short film. There is a large pineapple where kids can enter.

Slime Zone:

Squish, stomp, and venture into the world of slime. Don’t worry parents, it’s all safely stored in the floors, walls, and displays.

Slime zone with slime built into the floors, walls and ceiling.

Little Dreamers Toddler/Baby Zone:

Located next to the Paw Patrol zone, parents with younger children will enjoy a dedicated area where the littlest explorers can discover, read, crawl and search for hidden coves. The lights are soft and the materials are inviting. There are many sensory opportunities and a small dress-up area.

There is a nursing room located in the toddler/baby zone. It features small soft toys for siblings, a comfortable chair and peaceful décor.


Data Science Alley:

Children delight with pom-poms flying through tubes and popping out over their heads. Change the wind pattern by closing and opening vents throughout the display. See if you can figure out where the pom-pom will pop out next!

The national children's museum washington dc exhibit on air control and flow. Air is pushed into different tubes and drops pom poms overhead.

Continue your data collection at the Washington children’s museum by using magnets to measure your friends and see who is the tallest or the shortest. Then jump to measure the distance between your height and how high you can jump.

What is your highest point. Grab a magnet and jump to see how high you can place the magnet on the wall.

Little Movers:

This is the second area for the littlest visitors. Build those fine motor skills in a safe soft play area.


Sports Zones:

Learn how to throw the perfect curveball, hit a waffle ball off the t-ball mount into a screen (digital baseball field) or score some points in basketball. Little sports fans will enjoy the science and tech versions of the activities.


Miniature Car Race:

Little inventors can build a wooden car with a variety of materials and then race it down the track. Scientists can adjust the track in order to decrease or increase speed as well as redesign their car to see what happens.


Tinkerers Studio:

This open studio with glass walls is part arts/crafts studio and part innovators classroom. The workspace is dual purpose with craft materials as well as laptops for coding projects. It is mostly utilized by field trips and workshops, but there are also unguided opportunities to create. The national children’s museum, Washington DC also offers free field trips for Title I public and charter schools in the DC area, funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Craft and computer studio with multiple desks and chairs. Art supplies are along the wall.

Current Visiting Hall Exhibition: Nickelodeon’s Dora and Diego: Let’s Explore!

Children will delight with their favorite tv show friends to explore fun interactive exhibits. Climb aboard a boat to help the pirate piggies share their treasure, dress up as an animal rescuer and help to save the jungle animals or climb around rock walls and along hidden trails.

Learning about space by adding constellations to the night sky, zoom down a space slide or help to drive a rocket ship.


Love STEM toys? Check out our favorites.


Weekly Events:

STEAM + storytime: Read along, sing, and play! We invite our smallest dreamers (ages 1-3) to investigate colors, numbers, and more every Wednesday from 10:00-10:30 am.


Birthday Parties:

Looking for a unique birthday party location with fun for everyone? A maximum of 30 guests can enjoy a visit to the children’s museum with a dedicated private space for food/fun and birthday celebrations. Birthday parties are only available on Saturday mornings at 9:30 am or in the afternoon at 1:30 pm. Email the museum to enquire about their three package options ranging from $425-$600. https://nationalchildrensmuseum.org/birthday-parties/


Overall Thoughts:

With so many wonderful children’s museums throughout the United States, it can be hard not to compare them. Check out the table below comparing the National Children’s Museum in DC, the Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore the Children’s Museum of Richmond, VA.

National Children’s MuseumPort Discovery Children’s MuseumChildren’s Museum of Richmond
$10.95 pp$17.95 (Discounts available)$9 (Discounts available)
33,000 sq feet80,000 sq feet44,000 sq feet
Handicapped Accessible, Sensory DaysHandicapped Accessible, Sensory SundaysFree Parking
Exhibits: Climbing Zones, Race Car, Interactive Green Screen, Dora and Diego Animal Rescue, Paw Patrol Rescue, Sports, SpongeBob Film Recording, Science and Toddler Area. Exhibits: Climbing Zones, Captain of a Cargo Ship, Chef in a Diner, Studio Workshop, Theater/Music/Dance, Grocery Store and Gas station, Sports Zone, Egypt Adventure, Puzzles/Games, water play zone and Toddler Area.Exhibits: Art Zone, Carousel, Hospital/Ambulance, Farm, Tree House, School House, Service Station, Water Play, TV studio, Bank, Books, Cave, Dig Pit, Children’s Garden, and Toddler Area.

FAQ:

Can I bring in my own food to the new National Children’s Museum DC? Yes, there are tables available in the center of the museum with trash cans.

Are there nursing facilities at the Washington children’s museum? Yes, there is a nursing room located in the baby/toddler zone with a plush chair, space for siblings and privacy.

Is food available for purchase? There will be, but the café is currently closed. There is a large food court located in the Ronald Reagan Building that you are able to use. You will have to pass through security to enter the food court.

Can I access the exhibits in a wheelchair? Yes! All of the exhibits are wheelchair friendly, meaning access for everyone. There is an elevator to access the two floors.

Is there stroller parking? Yes, there is stroller parking located just beyond the concourse level entrance. It is located inside the museum.

What is offered for children with Autism? There are two rooms with low levels of light, sensory experiences and calming colors. You can also ask for a sensory backpack with noise-reduction headphones and fidget toys at no cost.

Looking for a quieter, less crowded experience? On select Saturdays, the Museum opens its doors early for children with sensory sensitivities or developmental disabilities and their families.

My child is hearing impaired, is there anything I should know about visiting the national children’s museum Washington DC? All audio devices feature closed captioning.

I want to book a field trip, where can I get more information? Click here to learn more about field trips.

Where can I find more photos of the National Children’s museum in DC? Check out the gallery below!

I created this travel blog to help other families to explore the world with their kid. I hope this review inspires you to visit the new National Children’s Museum DC. Feel free to reach out with any questions about this review or updates as the museum expands.

Leave me a comment or find me on Facebook or Instagram. Ready to plan another adventure? Head back to my homepage to discover more of our favorite places to travel with kids around the globe.

Check out more posts about traveling in the United States.

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4 thoughts on “National Children’s Museum DC: A Real Mom Review”

  1. Haven’t been to the DC children’s museum. It looks a lot smaller then I thought it would be, or is that cause not everything is open yet?

    Tip: within 1,5 hrs drive from DC in Harrisonburg (Shenandoah Valley) is an amazing children’s museum! It’s a total hidden gem, which totally took us by surprise.

    1. It is quite a bit smaller than most of the children’s museums we have been to, but still worth a visit. Thanks for the tip!

    1. That’s a good question. It really depends on the child, but the museum is certainly geared for a toddler to lower elementary ages. Building the car for the race track, learning how to throw a curveball, climbing around in the large climbing structure and playing some of the interactive games might last for about an hour. I hope that helps.

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