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Family-Friendly Nighttime Activities in DC

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If you’re looking to navigate nightlife in the Nation’s Capital but have some youngsters in tow, here are our suggestions for a night out on the town the whole family can enjoy!

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  • Entertainment Entertainment


Witness a magic show like no other. This venue features not one but two highly-skilled prestidigitators performing tricks involving sleight of hand, vanishing, crowd participation and all of it with a healthy dose of humor thrown in. This entertaining mix of fantastic and funny is great for kids and the kid at heart.


Do you remember your first sleepover when you were a kid? All that excitement at the prospect of building the most epic blanket fort and being able to stay up past your bedtime? Now you can relive those fun-filled times for yourself and your child at one of four different sleepovers that take place inside four of the Smithsonian family museums. Participating museums include the American History, Natural History, and Air & Space museums as well as the National Portrait Gallery. Parents and their kids are left to unravel mysteries like locating missing artifacts and getting hands-on experience with aircraft both past and present. Tours, games, crafts, and more are also provided! It’s like living inside your own choose-your-own-adventure book!



This theater stands as one of the most iconic and important as any in the United States dating as far back as the Civil War. In the latter half of the 20th century, this grand theater was resurrected and, subsequently, was embellished with a modern, interactive museum. Check the events calendar and see what they’ve got going on. Kid-friendly programming is scheduled throughout their season along with full-length plays by some of the theater’s most prominent auteurs.



With locations in Georgetown and nearby Alexandria, Virginia, these real-time, interactive adventures have enjoyed a huge surge in popularity. The gist is that you must first decide which room you would like to take your challenge. There are many of them, decorated with every detail to best create the world the room is supposed to inhabit. Friday the 13th, Titanic, Ghostbusters, Curse of the Mummy and Sherlock Holmes are all themes that you can explore with your fellow code-crackers and puzzle-solvers. Clues are laid about the room and it is up to you and some solid teamwork to solve the mystery and make your escape. Children 5 – 13 years of age can play for free on Mondays at the Alexandria location. For larger groups and families, you are also able to rent out one of the rooms and have it all to yourselves. This is a super fun way to get some quality family bonding!


Discover why Monuments by Moonlight is rated one of DC’s Top 20 Best Kept Secrets. All the cherished monuments you’ve read about in books, seen in movies, and learned about in school, exude a life of their own on this night tour. Witness Abraham Lincoln bathed in light as he surveys the National Mall. Stand before The Marine Corps War Memorial, a bronze sculpture depicting the indelible photograph of the day five Marines and one Navy corpsman raised the American flag after a crucial victory in the Battle of Iwo Jima. The glowing dome and grand columns of the Capitol Building and so much more await you on this enchanted excursion through past and present. Learning about American history has never been this much fun. This tour is suitable for all ages!


As a cheerful harbinger of the holiday season, it’s hard to beat ZooLights at DC’s famed National Zoo. Barring an exceptionally cold snap and a few specific dates like Christmas, this wonderful display of over 500,000 LED lights is open nightly from November 27 to January 1 (except December 24, 25 and 31). This outing is ideal for just about anyone from couples to families with young children with plenty to see and do like hopping a ride on the National Zoo Choo-Choo. This trackless train takes you to where the big cats are kept for prime views of the light extravaganza. Snow day or not, you can take the plunge down a 150-foot track for some exhilarating tubing. Catch the light show set to music and wind down after a perfect evening on the park’s carousel. With animals, light shows, rides and a night under the stars, there’s something for the whole family!



For the most cutting-edge gaming technology, augmented or virtual reality is at the head of the pack. The strides being made in constructing digital environments that behave like the real world have been swift over the last few years and now you can enter that world with a trip to this high-tech arcade. Unlike conventional arcades that have wall-to-wall machines, this new breed only has three games you can play. There’s “Mario Kart,” in which four drivers compete in this classic game. But this version allows for 360-degree views. The “car” underneath you moves, and you grab your turtle shells and other weapons with your hands, then fling them at people. There’s also a fun and easy robot shoot-em-up and a very challenging skiing game that children of all ages (that includes you too, mom and dad) can enjoy!


As far as night time diversions go, some things just never go out of style. Heading out to your local movieplex for some choice escapism for a couple of hours is definitely one of those things. When in DC, the preferred destination for such an outing is the E Street Cinema. Widely regarded as the best movie theater in the city, the genres and films screened here range from classic and first-run to documentaries and independent films. You won’t have to worry about finding a parking space or feeding the meter while you’re inside either as the theater will validate the parking on premises so long as it does not exceed a three-hour period. Going to the movies with the fam is always a special time particularly in a theater that makes you feel at home. Can you smell the popcorn popping yet?


If you’ve ever entertained the notion to unleash your inner Monet or Picasso but have always been reluctant to do so, now’s your chance to take brush to canvas and create something that is totally ‘you.’ This all-ages restaurant/bar/art class encourages artists of all skill levels, even no skill level, to sign up for a particular painting challenge and see it through with the help of certified art instructors. Landscapes, portraits, still-lifes, virtually anything you can think of can be created here for works of art that will occupy a prominent place in your home. Exploring your boundless creativity is a beautiful thing regardless of your age, especially when you do it with those you love.


National Geographic opens its doors for a night of fun and exploration. These special monthly events feature live stories from National Geographic Explorers, fun interactive activities, live music, food, and drink specials. Teaching your children about the natural world that surrounds them is a gift that will stay with them, and you, for a lifetime.



A relatively newly built stadium that debuted during the 2008 season, Nationals Park is the first LEED-certified green major professional sports stadium in the United States. It is also a very fan-friendly ballpark, with wide concourses and good field views from just about any seat. Don’t pass up one of DC’s legendary half-smoke hot dogs soaked and smothered in the District’s famous chili! Enjoy America’s national pastime and a great tradition with your family!


With over 30 years as a valued member of the DC community, Old Town Trolley Tours knows the District inside and out. With many stops on the itinerary, we’ll take you to the very best of DC from revered monuments to world-class museums and the best part is you’ll be able to see it all at your own pace. Check out this video and see why our Hop-On Hop-Off tours are considered among the best in the world!

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