National Children's Museum, Washington DC

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National Children's Museum Reviews
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36 reviews
  • I have not been to this place in over a year now. The main reason is the lack of things to do for the kids to explain things. It's a small venue so if you don't like crowds it's not for you. Pricing w...  more »
  • Disappointed to say to the least. We added this our "things to do" while visiting family in DC. We have a 1 year old, 2 year old and 8 year old. Our Children's museum at home (Portsmouth, VA) has alwa...  more »
  • I've visited 4 times over 2 years, with toddlers. While there are appealing elements, like the live 15 minute shows/plays, overall, it's too small to hold any interest beyond about an hour's visit, wh...  more »
  • The only real problem with this museum is the expectations of visitors. It really shouldn't be known as the "National Children's Museum" because that really sets the tone for something completely different along the lines of Baltimore's Port Discovery or the children's museums in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. This place is nothing like that and the website could do a better job of communicating what this place is and isn't. I think people would enjoy it much more if they knew what they were in for when they got there. Instead they're expecting something much more and feeling let down. It's a one story museum, with two main rooms, a small "theater" and some activity rooms down a hall. There are no water features, no huge climb through play structures, none of what you'd expect from a larger children's museum. That said, it's very well done. My three year old had a great time playing with the crane, the fire truck, and the blocks. He loved the preschool area and making crafts. My five year old was able to understand that the crane exhibit was about how goods get to market from around the world, how the fire truck tied into the 911 call center, and how the blocks could be used to create some of the different types of homes in that center. We were there for three hours and could easily have stayed at least another hour--we didn't manage to see everything, not because there was so much to do (there's not, it is a small museum) but because my kids were so engrossed in the activities. Two major advantages this place has over other, larger museums--it's easy to find a staff member if you need one and--at least the day we went--there were no crowds at all. Larger children's museums often feel overrun with unsupervised kids roaming free and trampling the little ones. There were maybe a half-dozen or so other families there with us at any time during the day. This isn't a "destination museum;" I wouldn't drive to DC just to see this place, but if you live nearby or are in the area anyways, it's definitely worth a visit. Plus, there's plenty of other things to see around National Harbor--you could easily spend a day with small kids in the area.
  • If one wonders why the museum is housed in the lobby of the Wyndham hotel, the reality of budget constraints of PG County and by congress face you immediately. There was supposed to be a brand new building dedicated to the museum itself, but that's far from what we get now. There are still hopes that their "outdoor" facility will come to realization sometime this year. It really needs it. My school-aged children found some interest in the world themes (food, travel, trade and clothing) and I found this section the most thought-provoking. Beyond this there was not much that sparked the kids' interest. There were a coupe of classroom-style areas in the back teaching paper bead necklace making and there was a very nice area where toddlers only are allowed. The whole tour was about half hour and left my kids less than impressed, not to mention my anxiety of where else to take them to make the drive to the harbor worthwhile. Sorry to say I ended up checking out the very expensive and frigid Shrek on Ice exhibit across the road. And at the end my kids had the most fun running around the awakening sculpture at the sand park. Children's National has far to go to solidify itself as a national museum. When it does, it will certainly get great reviews.
  • I Should have read the reviews first. The negative reviews were unfortunately spot on. Very small exhibits with old and used toys/activities. Took my 8 and 6 year old niece and nephew. I made sure to have them read every exhibit they played in to hear the educational and cultural value, but the exhibits really weren't even fun. The pizza parlor, international kitchen, and fire truck kept their (and my) attention for a few minutes, but got boring very quickly. Honestly, $10 a person is complete a JOKE. It should be free. Unless you live nearby, it truly isn't worth the drive. Highly disappointed.
  • The toddler Sesame Street-themed area is adorable and lots of fun, but that is the only draw to this museum. Now that our daughter is walking, she is unable to participate in one of the most interactive sections, the crawler "exhibit." While I am in favor of having a section just for young babies, the museum doesn't have much else to offer. We assumed it would be as interesting as all the other associated museums, but this one is truly lacking. Some of the standard exhibits that are present at Port Discovery in Baltimore, The Erie Children's Museum, and the DuPage Children's Museum are entirely absent from this museum. The museum is very clean and staff have always been friendly and pleasant.
  • Having very fond memories of visits to the old Capitol Children's Museum when our sons were young, we were excited to take our two grandchildren (ages 2 and 5). We couldn't have been more disappointed in the overall lack of content and creativity of the displays. Our granddaughter commented that the small Melissa & Doug play store at home is more fun. The entire museum appears to be the product of a lack of funding, and that they nevertheless wanted to re-establish a presence. This was a mistake in my opinion, as it falls far short of the original children's museum that it replaces. I would go so far as to say it is shameful to call it the National Children's Museum, and am embarrassed for visitors to the area. Compared to other Children's Museums I'm familiar with (Please Touch in Philadelphia and The Magic House in St. Louis), this one is strictly 3rd rate. I will say it is clean and the staff was plentiful and very nice and friendly.

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