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National WWII Memorial

National WWII Memorial

Between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial is one of DC’s newer landmarks. It opened in 2004 to honor the 16 million people who served in the country’s armed forces during World War II. The fountains, pillars and plaques form a circle that’s particularly impressive when it’s lit up at night. Don’t miss the obvious photo op: you in front of the pillar with your home state’s name engraved on it. 960 1280

Bruce Yuanyue Bi/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images  

Newseum

Newseum

Read all about it at this museum, whose new building near the National Mall opened in 2008. It examines both world events through the eyes of the media and the history of journalism itself. Among its 15 galleries are sections of the Berlin Wall, stories about First Amendment rights, multimedia exhibits on the digital revolution, and front pages from American and international newspapers. In the Interactive Newsroom, visitors can test their own reporting skills to create a newspaper story or a TV news broadcast. 960 1280

Winiker/Photolibrary/Getty Images  

Jefferson Memorial

Jefferson Memorial

This monument for the author of the Declaration of Independence and third president cuts a fine silhouette from across the Tidal Basin. The view is especially beautiful in the spring when the cherry trees around the water’s edge are in bloom. Don’t start the trek around to the memorial unless you’re wearing comfortable shoes — the walk is longer than it looks. But on the way, you can also check the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, which opened in 2011, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial off your list. Or get a different perspective in the summer by renting a paddleboat on the Tidal Basin. 960 1280

Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images  

National Zoo

National Zoo

Bao Bao may be growing up, but it’s still exciting to see the young panda and her parents, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. The cub, born Aug. 23, 2013, will eventually be sent to China, but in the meantime, visitors are lining up to catch a glimpse of her playing or eating. While Bao Bao is the main attraction, she isn’t the only baby at the free Smithsonian zoo: The big cats exhibit features a pair of Sumatran tiger cubs, also born in August 2013, and 6 African lion cubs, born in 2 litters in early 2014. And of course, you can’t miss the gorillas, orangutans, Asian elephants, American bison and hundreds of other animals. 960 1280

The Washington Post/Getty Images  

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The reflective, black granite wall honors American soldiers who died or went missing in the Vietnam War, and it is inscribed with more than 58,000 names. Even if no one you know is listed there, take a contemplative moment to grasp the enormity of it all. For those who are looking for a specific name, there are alphabetical catalogs at the memorial entrances that give a panel and row number for each person. 960 1280

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images  

Eastern Market

Eastern Market

This is not your typical neighborhood farmers market. While Eastern Market, located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, does offer fresh produce and flowers, it also lines up vendors selling everything from furniture and jewelry to cakes and pottery. The indoor section is open every day except Monday, but on the weekends, the market moves outside, too, and becomes a gathering place with live music and local food. Why bother with one of those “I Heart DC” T-shirts when you can shop for a unique, handmade souvenir? 960 1280

Maddie Meyer  

Georgetown

Georgetown

There’s plenty to explore in one of DC’s oldest and most famous neighborhoods. Stroll along cobblestone sidewalks and imagine all the history that has been viewed through the windows of those row houses. Go on a shopping spree on M Street, where you’ll find both big-name retailers and intimate boutiques. But don’t spend all your money: You’ll need to have some left so you can indulge in the amazing dining and nightlife options in the area. Start with appetizers and cocktails on the waterfront while enjoying a beautiful view of the Potomac. 960 1280

Hisham Ibrahim  

Washington Monument

Washington Monument

The 555-foot obelisk dedicated to George Washington towers over the city and can be spotted even from Virginia. It was closed for repairs after being damaged in a 5.8-magnitude earthquake in August 2011, but the landmark finally reopened in May 2014. Free tickets to go inside and ride to the top are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Or you can simply bask in its glory with a picnic or a game of catch on the surrounding lawn. 960 1280

Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images  

International Spy Museum

International Spy Museum

Examine all the evidence as you make your way through the largest collection of international spy-related artifacts on public display. Visitors will learn about the role espionage has played throughout history, from Moses to Stalin, and see the tools of the trade, including tiny cameras, hidden messages, concealed weapons and more. Wannabe agents can sign up for Operation Spy, an interactive experience that challenges participants to find the clues and crack the case. 960 1280

Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images  

East Potomac Golf Course

East Potomac Golf Course

Even if you can’t hit the fairway to save your life, at least you’ll get a great view of the monuments when you tee it up at East Potomac. Its 36 holes, split among the appropriately named Red, White and Blue courses, crisscross an island right next to the Tidal Basin. The site is also a great place to work on your swing on the heated driving range in the winter, see the cheerful cherry blossoms in the spring, or bring the family for a round of mini-golf in the summer. 960 1280

Bloomberg/Getty Images  

Museums on the National Mall

Museums on the National Mall

The great thing about the National Mall is that you can roam in and out of the 10-plus museums as you please — entry to them is free. Check out an exhibit at the National Gallery of Art (pictured); pop into the Air and Space Museum to see the Wright brothers’ plane; and swing by the Museum of American History to examine the flag that inspired the national anthem, Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, and Michelle Obama’s 2009 inauguration dress. Spend as much or as little time as you want in each spot without wasting the cost of admission. And in between, find a grassy spot to sit and people-watch under the imposing shadow of the Capitol. 960 1280

Luke1138/iStock/Getty Images  

Old Ebbitt Grill

Old Ebbitt Grill

When you’re ready to refuel for more DC adventures, stop for a meal or a drink at the city’s oldest saloon. The Old Ebbitt Grill was established in 1856 on the edge of Chinatown. The current location on 15th Street is just a block from the White House. It’s a popular spot for politicos, and even presidents including Ulysses S. Grant and Teddy Roosevelt are said to have frequented the bar. The restaurant is known for its oysters, but it also serves breakfast and a wide selection of entrees and sandwiches. 960 1280

Jason Colston/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images  

Kennedy Center

Kennedy Center

Long day of sightseeing? Sit back and soak up some culture at one of several venues inside the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Concerts by the National Symphony Orchestra, free shows on the Millennium Stage, blockbuster Broadway tours such as Wicked and The Book of Mormon — the schedule has something for everyone. After the last curtain call, make sure to venture up to the roof deck, where you can get a panoramic view of the city all lit up.  960 1280

Hisham Ibrahim/Photolibrary/Getty Images  

US National Arboretum

US National Arboretum

This 446-acre site features a number of gardens and collections that can be traversed via car, bike, bus tour, tram or foot. Escape the city life among the dogwoods, azaleas, ferns and magnolias — you’re even allowed to bring your dog. Don’t miss the bonsai museum or the Capitol columns, 22 pillars that became part of the Capitol building in 1828. They were removed 30 years later because they couldn’t sufficiently support the dome, which was built bigger than planned. The columns didn’t make their way to the arboretum until the 1980s, but they have become the site’s most photographed feature.  960 1280

Bob Balestri/iStock/Getty Images  

Ford’s Theatre

Ford’s Theatre

Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865. Visit the on-site museum, which details his presidency and assassination, and the Petersen House across the street, where he was taken for treatment and ultimately died a few hours later. Ford’s Theatre is also still a working performance venue, so if you like a little entertainment with your history lesson, get tickets for a show. 960 1280

Paul Whitfield/Doorling Kindersley/Getty Images  

Supreme Court

Supreme Court

For visitors who are interested in the law and the actual procedures of the federal government, a stop at the US Supreme Court is a must. If you’re lucky, you’ll be there on a day of oral arguments, which are open to the public. Regardless, though, visitors can tour the building, view the current exhibitions and, when the court is not in session, check the schedule of courtroom lectures. Just note that the building is closed on Saturdays and Sundays, so leave it off your weekend itinerary. 960 1280

Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images  

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery

Venture across the river into Virginia to explore this moving site, whose 624 acres honor those who served the United States. The peaceful, beautiful landscape is dotted with more than 400,000 graves, including those of prominent figures such as Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court justice, and Pierre Charles L’Enfant, who designed the layout of Washington, DC. You’ll also want to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Eternal Flame burning at the gravesite of John F. Kennedy, one of only 2 presidents buried in Arlington National Cemetery (the other is William Taft).  960 1280

Peter Gridley/Photographer’s Choice/Getty Images  

Epcot Center, Walt Disney World
1) Go on a Multi-Generational Family Cruise

1) Go on a Multi-Generational Family Cruise

Whether you set sail for the Caribbean on a large ship, like Royal Caribbean’s new Anthem of the Seas, or explore Alaska’s Inner Passage on-board a small ship, like the Admiralty Dream with Alaska Dream Cruises, it’s a must to cruise as a family. Enjoy on-ship activities together, like waterslides and hands-on programs, then disembark at each port for horseback riding, kayaking and exploration. A cruise is ideal for a multi-generational vacation, so invite grandparents along for the fun. 960 1280
2) Visit the Most Famous Mouse in the World

2) Visit the Most Famous Mouse in the World

Every family should visit Walt Disney World at least once for the rides, character meet-and-greets, parades and magic that is uniquely Disney. Spend time at each of the four parks, including Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom, as well as Disney Springs. Seeing Cinderella’s castle in-person is truly indescribable. Stay on-property for Extra Magic Hours, which allow guests to arrive early or stay late at a different park each day. 960 1280
3) Take a National Park Vacation

3) Take a National Park Vacation

The National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2016, so there’s no better time to introduce your children to our national parks. Peer into the Grand Canyon or watch Old Faithful erupt at Yellowstone. Pick up a Junior Ranger activity booklet at visitors centers so your kids can earn a badge at each national park. Kick the experience up a notch by booking with an outfitter like Tracks & Trails, which sets you up in an RV, arranges your camp sites and provides a personalized itinerary. 960 1280

Erin Gifford  

4) Explore Our Nation’s Capital

4) Explore Our Nation’s Capital

Every child should visit Washington, DC, to see our government in action. Take a tour of the U.S. Capitol and spend time in the House or Senate Gallery, peering down on legislators as they craft our nation’s laws. Head to the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, then take a public tour of the White House (you’ll need to submit a tour request ahead of time through your Member of Congress). 960 1280
5) Take a Family Road Trip

5) Take a Family Road Trip

There’s nothing like piling into the minivan and taking a family road trip. It’s family bonding at its finest. Spend at least a week or two on the road and make stops at Instagram-worthy roadside attractions, like Wall Drug in South Dakota and Foamhenge in Virginia. Travel up the scenic coastline of California from Los Angeles to the Redwoods. Opt for a historical road trip from Boston to Washington, DC, making stops along the way in Mystic, CT, Gettysburg, PA, and Philadelphia. 960 1280
6) See the Big Apple and Lady Liberty

6) See the Big Apple and Lady Liberty

From watching a Broadway show to taking in the views from the top of the Empire State Building to marveling at Times Square all lit up a night, the New York City is a place that every child should visit. Take the ferry to Ellis Island and climb all 354 steps to the crown of the Statue of Liberty. Once back on the ground, take a ranger tour at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum for a look at what it was like coming to America and seeing Lady Liberty for the first time.  960 1280

Erin Gifford  

7) Take a Family Heritage Trip

7) Take a Family Heritage Trip

Before your kids spread their wings and go out into the world, they should learn about and visit where they’re from. Do some research (a site similar to Ancestry.com can help) and plan a trip to the place where your family first lay down its roots. Beyond countries and villages, dig deeper to seek out the farms where family once lived and the cemeteries where they are buried today. Family Tree Tours offers private and group genealogy tours to see how and where your ancestors lived. 960 1280
8) Do Volunteer Work Abroad

8) Do Volunteer Work Abroad

Take your kids to see a part of the world where children are less privileged – without cell phones, iPads, even regular access to clean water – to put their own lives in perspective. Projects Abroad organizes short-term volunteer programs overseas for students as young as 16 to travel and work during school breaks. Or give back as a family during a cruise through a non-profit like Together for Good, which lists opportunities with schools, orphanages and shelters in the Caribbean and Mexico. 960 1280

Projects Abroad  

9) Try an Adventure by Train

9) Try an Adventure by Train

There’s something magical about traveling by train, experiencing the landscape of America through the big windows of a railcar. Vacations by Rail offers one- and two-week rail trips that enable families to experience national parks and urban destinations such as Boston and Chicago. Or head up to Alaska and board a train with the Alaska Railroad, which pairs train travel with stops for dog sledding, day cruises, even iceberg hikes and river floats. 960 1280
10) Go Camping

10) Go Camping

Get your kids out into the great outdoors for tent camping, foil recipes, s’mores and hiking. Start out at a campground, not at a backcountry site, and keep the adventure gadget-free (as best as you can). Many campgrounds, particularly KOA and Jellystone Park sites, have swimming pools and playgrounds, even mini golf courses. However, you may want to have some activities in your back pocket, like these 10 Fun Camping Games for Kids (scavenger hunts, obstacle courses, etc.). 960 1280
Kyoto, Japan
Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece

Watching the sun set over the brilliant blue Aegean Sea from your own private terrace in Santorini? Pure romance. The only thing that could top this postcard-worthy moment? Never having to leave. 960 1280

Tatakis / iStock / Getty Images  

The Maldives

The Maldives

The most romantic archipelago on earth? The Maldives, of course. Feel like you are in your own private paradise with a stay in one of the overwater bungalows strung along the crystal-clear turquoise sea. Bask on the private white-sand beaches, feeling like you and your S.O. are in a world of your own.  960 1280

Getty Images  

Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

Nothing says romance more than watching the sunset from Florence’s Piazzale Michelangelo. After a day ogling frescos in the numerous museums in Florence and sipping Chianti in outdoor cafes, you’d have to be dead not to feel a little amorous here in one of the most romantic cities in the world.  960 1280

istock  

Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai, Hawaii

Say aloha to romance on Kauai, Hawaii’s least-developed island. Kauai is a favorite for those that want to get away from the crowds and enjoy secluded, natural beaches. Get your heart pumping on a hike through the lush mountains or with a private dip in the waterfalls. 960 1280

Stockbyte / Getty Images  

Carmel, California

Carmel, California

If you like rugged coastlines and isolated beaches, Carmel, CA, is calling your name. Hop in the car for a romantic road trip down the picturesque Pacific Coast Highway to this famed beach hideaway. A former artists' colony, Carmel is now a romantic refuge for those who desire a slow paced beach escape. 960 1280

a_hornung / iStock / Getty Images  

St. Moritz, Switzerland

St. Moritz, Switzerland

This Swiss resort town, famous for its “champagne climate,” is ideal for cosmopolitan couples seeking an alpine adventure. Picture a day skiing amongst snow-capped peaks, followed by an equally heart-pounding evening snuggled up on a horse-drawn carriage ride along the frozen lake. 960 1280

JJS-Pepite / iStock / Getty Images  

Quebec City, Quebec

Quebec City, Quebec

Dreaming of a cozy winter getaway? If you and your partner aren’t afraid of a little cold then head to Quebec City,a charming French-Canadian city full of snow-covered streets, romantic restaurants and plenty of fireplaces to cuddle up by.  960 1280

Getty Images  

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia

Only have time for a long romantic weekend stateside? A popular weekend escape for couples, Savannah puts on the Southern charm with its Spanish moss-covered canopies, cozy B&Bs and tucked-away restaurants. 960 1280

DWalker44 / iStock / Getty Images  

Islamorada, Florida

Islamorada, Florida

Think you can’t get away from tourists in Florida? Nestled in upper Florida Keys, Islamorada is a world away from the rowdy crowds in Key West. Named “Purple Isle” by its Spanish explorers, this hidden gem is known for its seductive sunsets and luxury resorts. 960 1280

Philip Lange  

Majorca, Spain

Majorca, Spain

Hollywood’s elite have been spotted canoodling on Majorca, the largest of Spain's Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. With its unspoiled golden sand beaches and intimate boutique hotels it is easy to see why this island inspires romance.   960 1280

Getty Images  

Koh Tao, Thailand

Koh Tao, Thailand

This tiny island in Thailand, known for its world-class scuba diving, beckons couples looking for a romantic tropical getaway. Relax on the quiet beaches or learn how to scuba dive as a couple. Then in the evening watch spectacular sunsets from lantern-lit restaurants that line the beach. 960 1280

luk7811 / iStock / Getty Images  

The Berkshires

The Berkshires

Historically a haven for writers and artists, this New England getaway nestled in picturesque rolling mountains is perfect for culture and nature lovers. Listen to classical music at Tanglewood, summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, or take a tour of Edith Wharton’s Gilded Age mansion. 960 1280

Bajker / iStock / Getty Images  

Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto, Japan

Could you think of a more romantic boat ride than along Kyoto’s cherry blossom-lined Okazaki Canal during spring? The cherry blossoms are very symbolic in Japan – the Japanese believe the short blooming cycle of the blossoms is a metaphor for life – an annual reminder that time is precious. So plan this romantic trip of a lifetime with your partner now.   960 1280

Getty Images  

Paris

Paris

We’d be remiss if we left Paris off this list. From sidewalk cafes perfect for getting cozy to some of the world’s most passionate art, Paris is synonymous with romance. Who hasn’t fallen in love here? 960 1280

iSailorr / iStock / Getty Images  

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