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This is a list of things to do in Washington DC with kids and also add to the Pack Up and Go reviews online.
Please note I am teaming up with The United QuestSM Card to promote the spontaneity of travel, but all opinions are my own.
It’s been a long year of changes and challenges but as my family [and the rest of the world] makes its triumphant return to the world of travel, we’re stepping out into familiar, yet new, territory. That means trying new things too! For us, that means embracing the spontaneity of travel and pursuing a quest all our own. Earlier this year, the United Quest Card launched with tons of travel benefits.
It’s been the perfect accompaniment to our lives and builds excitement for future trips while infusing an element of surprise!
It’s through the United Quest Card and their collaboration with Pack Up + Go, that I had the pleasure of taking one of the coolest, most memorable trips ever with my family. You guys know I love to share so I’ll try to make this one of the more detailed Pack Up + Go reviews out there.
So let’s dive into it!
Table of Contents
- PACK UP + GO REVIEWS
- OUR TRIP WITH PACK UP + GO
- TOP FIVE THINGS TO DO IN WASHINGTON DC
PACK UP + GO REVIEWS
WHAT IS PACK UP + GO AND HOW DOES IT WORK
Pack Up + Go at its core is a travel agency but what makes it special is that it fully embraces the element of surprise. Imagine the only planning you do for an entire vacation is filling out a form, packing up your items, and then simply going. That’s how Pack Up + Go works! They provide a customized domestic trip with an added element of surprise by selecting the destination of their choice, based on your preferences.
Please note that health and safety is Pack Up + Go’s primary concern. They follow all the necessary health and safety precautions for safe travel. They are focused on staying informed of new travel restrictions and updates about current travel conditions. Check out their Travel Advisory page for any travel alerts that may arise.
You submit a form with your desired travel dates, your interests, past and upcoming trips, and any other notes you want them to know. The rest is taken care of by their trip booking specialists that piece together every detail of your domestic trip from where to go, how to get there, where to eat, and more. And if you aren’t sure what your interests are, that’s perfect too! Just provide a few details and they will take care of the rest.
I can practically hear all the type A personalities like myself freaking out through the screen. I know it’s a lot to put responsibility for a family trip in the hands of someone else but trust me – it’s worth it! You end up with a unique journey with some things you’ve always wanted to do and some things that you love but just don’t know yet. Not only are they thorough but they’re incredibly communicative and think of everything. They’re also available 24/7 should an issue arise. almost around the clock should an issue arise. It’s an unforgettable experience that allows you to relax and simply celebrate the return to travel.
Pack Up + Go is a great option for everyone but especially for busy parents who want the fun of the vacation without the minutiae of planning.
A WEEK BEFORE YOUR PACK UP + GO TRIP
A week before your Pack Up + Go trip, you’ll receive an email the day of your trip with some basic information on your trip. Don’t worry – they give you enough information to plan around your trip but not enough to spoil the surprise. [Trust me, Phil tried VERY hard to figure it out and was completely wrong haha].
- The weather forecast
- Recommended items to take with you [you know – for the “pack up” part of Pack Up + Go]
- What time you need to get to the airport to catch your flight if you are flying
A FEW DAYS BEFORE YOUR PACK UP + GO TRIP
A few days before your Pack Up + Go trip, they’ll send you an envelope in the mail. You aren’t to open it until the day of your trip, but it is nice they send it ahead of time to avoid issues due to postage delays.
We found out the day it arrived that the very first sheet inside the package says, “No Peeking!” How did we find that out you ask? Because Phil put it up to the light to see if he could peel any hints! [I told you he tried VERY hard to figure it out haha]. I thought this was a very nice touch and showed the extra level of detail they put into maintaining the surprise.
THE DAY OF YOUR PACK UP + GO TRIP
This is the fun part! On the day of your Pack Up + Go trip, you can open your envelope to get all the details of where you’re going. We opted to open ours at the airport to maximize the surprise, but you can choose to open it at home too. You’ll also receive an email with digital copies of what’s in the envelope, so you don’t have to worry about losing or forgetting it.
Our pre-trip envelope covered so much, including:
- Our flight information
- Transportation information to get to/from our hotel
- Our hotel information
- Our recommended itinerary
- Dinner suggestions [including reservations they made on our behalf]
- Uber credit
- Local events calendar
- An interactive map of the neighborhood/city we were in
- Contact information for their Traveler Support Team
DURING YOUR PACK UP + GO TRIP
During your Pack Up + Go trip, the lovely trip booking specialists will be pretty hands off. They are always responsive and quick to help should an issue arise but otherwise you are left to your own devices to enjoy your trip. I personally loved this! It gives you the structure for a fun weekend out of town but the flexibility to put a spin on it that only you can provide.
OUR TRIP WITH PACK UP + GO
Our pre-trip survey to Pack Up + Go specified that we love heritage trips and they really came through with recommendations! Our surprise domestic destination was Washington, DC. This wasn’t our first visit to the city [in fact, it is one of our top recommended mother daughter trips on a budget] but this was our first one with specially curated recommendations to match our interests. And let me tell you – it was phenomenal! We had an absolute blast. As a special treat, I’m sharing just a little of what we did during our trip.
Want to know what to do in Washington DC with kids? Read on to find out!
TOP FIVE THINGS TO DO IN WASHINGTON DC
View Government Buildings
Washington DC is of course the capital city of the United States of America. That means it has an abundance of government buildings – some that families will find more interesting than others.
The White House
It’s not a visit to Washington DC without a stop at the infamous White House. Let the building serve as an iconic backdrop to a family picture. Or arrange for a visit to tour the interior.
Tours of the White House are notoriously difficult to get. If you aren’t able to snag a ticket, no worries! Visit the White House Visitor’s Center across the street. It is practically a miniature museum with exhibits explaining the history of the building, detailing all the presidents of the US, and more. There’s also a gift store as part of the visitor’s center where you can get one-of-a-kind memorabilia.
The Capitol Building
This large landmark is where a lot of important decisions for the country take place. So it’s only fitting that the US Capitol be included as a thing to do in Washington DC with kids. Try to catch it when the flag is raised; that means that a legislative session is in progress. Cool, right? At the time of writing this post, the US Capitol building is closed to tours but it’s still an impressive sight to see from the exterior. There’s also a pretty expansive green space right outside where the kids [and the adults] can run off some steam.
Visit the Monuments
Washington DC is the mecca of United States history and nothing pays more tribute to that than the different monuments in the city. So when looking for things to do in Washington DC with kids, visiting the city’s monuments tops the list.
Most of the monuments are located on the National Mall and in relatively close proximity to each other. If you’re down to get your steps in, then you can walk to and from each one. It’d just be a lot of steps. Our family found walking the entire area difficult so if that’s not for you, there are other options like the DC Circulator or the Capital Bikeshare.
I mentioned that we aren’t super heavy walkers in our Pre-Trip survey so Pack Up + Go handled this limitation by booking a Monuments and Memorials Tour with Fat Tire Tours. We ended up not doing this tour [more on that later] but it was a great pick because they offered options for the kids too!
Visit the Smithsonian Museums
Washington DC is home to some of the world’s finest museums. And the best part is that they’re free! All of the Smithsonian Museums are designed to be interactive, family-friendly, and educational. I haven’t made my way through all of them [yet!] but you can find a complete listing of all the Smithsonian Museums here.
Our favorites are:
- National Museum of African American History and Culture [this is seriously the best museum I’ve ever been to. I don’t say that lightly and I’ve been to quite a few. The best ever.]
- National Museum of Natural History [this is a large museum so wear comfortable shoes but there is so much to see that it can take up a full day on its own]
- National Portrait Gallery [be sure to get their scavenger hunt before you explore the museum]
Be sure to check out some of the food trucks outside the museums and scattered around the National Mall! Some of them are insta-famous.
Take a Specialized Guided Tour
As previously mentioned, we’ve been to Washington DC quite a few times and never thought about taking a guided tour. Turns out, when visiting Washington DC with kids, it is the easiest and most time effective way to explore the city. We never would have considered it without the expertise of Pack Up + Go!
They booked us on an African-American History Tour with USA Guided Tours that took us around the city showing some of the cultural hubs for Black people in DC. We saw everything from the Lincoln Memorial to Howard University to the US Capitol to Ben’s Chili Bowl. It also included admission to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It was a great and informative way to learn about the history of African Americans in Washington DC.
Take a Trip to Mount Vernon
When a last-minute weather concern required us to modify one of our trip activities, Pack Up + Go booked us on a tour of Mount Vernon. I’d heard of the place but had not been. Can I just say that it was my absolute favorite thing to do in Washington DC with kids?
For those not familiar, Mount Vernon is the preserved estate of George Washington, the first President of the United States [and the city’s namesake]. Visitors are allowed to tour the estate, learn more about life there, and even view his actual burial site. When you’re there, you’re literally walking through history. In addition to the grounds themselves, there is a small museum included with admission. It walks you through some of the things you learn while exploring the estate with more interactive exhibits, short films, and more.
The family and I found the entire place to be utterly fascinating and learned so much! For example, did you know George Washington’s favorite food was hoecakes slathered in butter? You can even try those at their on-site restaurant along with other traditional Southern cuisine classics.
I simply cannot recommend this trip enough and we never would have visited it without the specialized help from Pack Up + Go.
WHERE TO EAT IN WASHINGTON DC
Thanks to The United QuestSM Card, I earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining. That really came in handy because there are so many yummy food options in DC! Pack Up + Go provided a pretty comprehensive dining guide for us to use but also left room for us to find options on our own. We did a mix of both and took full advantage of delivery services too [yes, you even earn miles for delivered food too!].
So here are our recommendations of places to eat in Washington, DC with kids:
- Food trucks on the National Mall – During museum business hours, tons of food trucks line the streets around the National Mall. There are plenty to choose from and they serve everything from hot dogs to ice cream to gyros. [Tip: Look for the ones with the long lines – they are usually Instagram famous]
- The Capital Burger – Yummy burgers in the heart of downtown DC? Yes, please! Bug said her kids’ burger was one of the best she’s eaten. With their short wait times and extensive kids’ menu, they’re a great option for dining with kids.
- Le Pain Quotidien – This place is handy for a quick pastry and coffee while you’re on the way to see the sights.
Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant – This is the restaurant that’s on-site at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate so it technically isn’t in DC but it is well worth the trip! They serve all kinds of Southern classics and even include dishes that were reported to be George Washington’s favorites. It’s a little on the pricey side but you can totally offset that cost by earning 2 miles per $1 spent!
Bonus: With our United Quest card, we earned 3 miles per $1 spent on United purchases so we let Bug pick up a few treats on the plane too!
Also, if your feet are tired from exploring all day, just remember plenty of eateries in the city that deliver via DoorDash. With your Chase Quest United Card, you can get a free year of DashPass that waives your delivery fees on eligible orders!
PACK UP + GO COSTS
Let’s talk about the budget [after all, it is a crucial part of vacation planning for families]. Our travel budget for Pack Up + Go was $5,000 for our group of three [Princess couldn’t make this particular trip].
Our $5,000 budget covered:
- Three round trip airfare tickets from IAH
- Private transfer to and from the airport with Execucar
- 3 nights at a five-star hotel
- A specialized Black history tour with US Tours
- A bike tour of the monuments with Fat Tire
- $100 Uber credit [we used most of ours to go to Mount Vernon]
- $500 Peace of Mind Assurance [which covered our last minute change to Mount Vernon]
They provided several postponement and cancellation options including trip insurance coverage called Peace of Mind Assurance. The Peace of Mind Assurance is completely optional but came in handy for us! We had a last-minute emergency that we thought would require us to reschedule our trip. Pack Up + Go assured us that it wouldn’t be a problem.
We ended up not rescheduling but did use the insurance during the trip to change our bike tour [due to weather] to a day trip to Mount Vernon. It was too late to get a refund from the bike tour but our trip booking specialist from Pack Up + Go was able to use the insurance to book an alternate activity for us without any out-of-pocket cost for us.
They cover budgeting pretty extensively on their website and even have a Pack Up + Go budget guide that I found very helpful.