Distance from Charlotte: 400 miles
It's not hard to find kid-friendly options in Washington, D.C. In this museum-packed city, there are educational exhibits, a beautiful aquarium, and the National Zoo, home of the famed giant pandas. The trick of this trip, though, is to find the stuff that kids will get a kick out of and adults get to enjoy, too. A perfect spot for youngsters and grown-ups alike is the W Washington (from $350 per night, starwoodhotels.com), located just across the street from the White House in a historic building that was recently reinvented as a sophisticated hotel. Children get the benefit of short walks to the Mall, with its museums, monuments, and outdoor entertainment. Meanwhile, Mom and Dad get to indulge in luxuries like twenty- four-hour in-room dining by Jean-Georges and the chic — and relaxing — Bliss Spa. The W is even friendly for Fido, with the Pets Are Welcome (PAW) program that offers amenities for your pets and allows them to stay for $25 extra per day, plus $100 additional cleaning fee. If
you’ve got bigger kids, consider the Dupont Hotel (from $193 per night, doylecollection.com), a few miles away in Dupont Circle. After a recent $52 million refurbishment, this modern hotel in a hip neighborhood offers gorgeous modern rooms with views of tree-filled streets and nearby cafés. A few steps from the hotel’s front door you’ll find leafy parks, family-friendly restaurants (try Lauriol Plaza), and the city’s coziest bookshop. The hardest part is deciding where to go first. —Sarah Crosland
At the International Spy Museum (spymuseum.org), families explore exhibits that focus on espionage from around the world in Operation Spy, a one-hour interactive game in which guests pretend to be spies trying to recover a missing nuclear device. A walk through the museum shows the history of intelligence during the world wars, artifacts from famous spies, and films about the challenges facing today’s spies. Plus, there’s plenty of gadgetry and puzzles for entertaining even your littlest James Bond wannabe.
While there’s not much of a children’s book selection, older kids will love the stacks of colorful books and carefully chosen titles in the ultimate neighborhood bookshop, Kramerbooks (kramers.com). After you’ve picked your next read, stop in the attached Afterwords Café & Grill (kramers.com), which offers breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, desserts, and coffee. You’ll enjoy the people-watching opportunities through the giant windows into the Dupont Circle neighborhood. Your kids will enjoy the banana chocolate chip cake.
In D.C., indulging in a juicy burger doesn’t mean sacrificing on culinary excellence. In Arlington, a short walk across the Potomac from Georgetown, families can visit Ray’s Hell Burger (703-841- 0001), the casual burger joint where President Obama took Russian President Medvedev. Over on Capitol Hill you’ll find Top Chef alum Spike Mendelsohn’s restaurant, Good Stuff Eatery (goodstuffeatery.com). Here, Mendelsohn is flipping creative burgers and serving up hand-cut fries and handspun ice cream, giving those with a sweet tooth a chance to indulge, too.