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Kid-Friendly Guide to Arlington, VA

With swaths of green spaces, one-of-a-kind historical and educational attractions, and dining options to delight the pickiest of eaters, Arlington has plenty of experiences for all sorts of families. We've asked Arlington residents for their favorite kid-approved activities, and put together the ultimate guide that the whole family will love.

Fill Their Minds

Take the kids to Arlington National Cemetery where the entire family can learn about the USA’s military history and visit the graves of U.S. heroes. Experience the time-honored Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Afterward, you can visit the horse stables of The Old Guard at nearby Joint Base Myer–Henderson Hall.

Learn about drugs and drug law enforcement at the DEA Museum & Visitor Center where kids can become DEA Junior Special Agents. However, the museum is currently closed for renovations until Fall 2020.

Get Them Outside

Potomac Overlook Regional Park & Nature Center
Potomac Overlook Regional Park & Nature Center/Photo Credit: Jake McGuire

Arlington has nearly 100 miles of paved trails, making it the perfect place to rent bikes as a family and go out for a ride. You can take a walk or a bike ride along the Mount Vernon Trail to Gravelly Point and watch planes fly to and from nearby Reagan National Airport.

Arlington is full of local parks with playgrounds, nature centers and interactive exhibits. A local favorite, Upton Hill Regional Park has a water park, batting cages, hiking trails and mini golf.

The wooded, 38-acre Gulf Branch Nature Center & Park is a sensory experience for your tots with a log cabin, interactive exhibits and a working blacksmith’s forge. If you're short on time, work out their energy at one of the more urban area’s playgrounds like Quincy Park near Virginia Square and Rocky Run Park in Clarendon.

Feed Them

Pizza at Matchbox
Matchbox/Photo Credit: @kaleyrector/Instagram

For pizza in a family-friendly atmosphere, Matchbox and California Pizza Kitchen in Pentagon City are popular with families, as is Fire Works Pizza in Courthouse.

For American flavor, head to Clarendon favorites Silver Diner, which serves up reinvented classics and many kid favorites, and Texas Jack's Barbecue, named the "best barbecue joint in the D.C. area" in 2018 by the Washington Post. The Cheesecake Factory in Clarendon is always a family favorite with a massive menu (and serving sizes!), it offers something for everyone.

For a delicious brunch, try The Liberty Tavern or Tupelo Honey.

For Mexican, the sprawling Uncle Julio’s Rio Grande Café in Ballston is your spot.

If you're in search of burgers, Big Buns Damn Good Burgers' locations in Ballston and Shirlington are popular spots that are great for kids.

Spoil Them

Pick up some new duds or cool gadgets for your brood at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. Take a shopping break at Sugar Factory where you can score a King Kong sundae fit for a dozen people.

For some local flavor, head to Clarendon creamery Nicecream. Watch your kids’ eyes widen as their ice cream is flash-frozen before their eyes with liquid nitrogen, resulting in a fresh and delicious treat.

A few blocks away find toys, clothes and D.C.-inspired gifts at the locally owned Kinder Haus Toys. Another favorite toy shop, One, Two Kangaroo stocks up on adorable toys and games for kids of all ages in Shirlington.

Keep Them Entertained

Take the whole crew to a free outdoor concert at the Lubber Run Amphitheater in the summer. Year-round, play at Ballston Quarter, a hub for family fun with shopping, dozens of places to eat (everything from barbecue to dumplings) and lots to keep the whole crew entertained.

Bring the kiddos to Punch Bowl Social for bowling, an arcade, karaoke and more. Cater to your tiny tots at Nook, where they can play and learn in a modern environment. Try hands-on cooking classes for your burgeoning chefs at soon-to-open Cookology.

Signature Theatre performs at the Lubber Run Amphitheater
Lubber Run Amphitheater/Photo Credit: Caitlin Moore

Take your kids for a spin on the ice at the MedStar Capitals Iceplex where the Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals practice —they even have an area where the kiddos can get signed autographs from their favorite players.

We have countless activities to keep your kids entertained without emptying your wallet. Our neighborhoods are lively, walkable and well-marked--easy to get around for visitors of all ages. Our hotels offer great value (with rates averaging 20% lower than properties in downtown D.C.), and many have suite options to make room for the whole clan.

Author: Talia Salem