A skip-gen trip skips the middle generation and doesn’t include them on the journey. Typically, the trip consists of one or both grandparents and one or more grandchildren. When my granddaughter turned 16, we decided it was time to take a weeklong trip just the two of us, our first skip-gen trip. This excursion has fond memories as we explored our mutual interests together.
We decided on Washington D.C. because it had the types of attractions we were looking for and non-stop flights from our hometown of Lansing, Michigan.
With so much to see and do in Washington, D.C., we decided to focus on our interests — art and history. Having been to Washington, D.C. several times on my own, I didn’t mind exploring the attractions my granddaughter most wanted to see, and I ended up introducing her to a couple of my favorite restaurants.
Her mother doesn’t enjoy museums, and we love them, so it made sense to include some of those focusing on history and art on our itinerary. While I knew my granddaughter was artistic, I was surprised by how much she knew about and enjoyed history.
Even if your grandchild doesn’t specifically enjoy history or art, you’ll find enough other factors in these seven stops to convince you these are the best places to explore with your teenage grandchildren in Washington, D.C.
1. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum was on our list as a must-see stop for my granddaughter. I had never been, and we wanted to share this experience. However, she studied the Holocaust in school, so I knew the subject was familiar.
Be aware that the museum’s website suggests the main exhibits are for sixth-grade students and above. However, they have a display on the first floor for those in fourth grade and above, Remember the Children: Daniel’s Story.
The museum’s permanent main exhibit, the Holocaust, features videos, artifacts, and personal stories. In addition, they feature other displays — American Witnesses and Americans and the Holocaust that brought the museum home to us as Americans.
You will need a timed entry ticket, but they are available online at no charge. Most likely, you’ll want to spend half a day at the museum.
Pro Tip: Reference Materials
You’ll want to ensure that your teen has learned about the Holocaust before your visit. The website is excellent for learning before, during, and after your visit.
Preparing your teen for this experience is essential for success. For additional helpful tips, read 11 Tips For Visiting The Holocaust Memorial Museum In Washington, D.C.
2. The National Mall
Part of the National Parks Service, The National Mall stretches from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, with the green space stretching for two miles. While you’ll find many monuments, memorials, and museums on the National Mall, here are some monuments and memorials on my teen granddaughter’s must-see list.
Memorable Places To Visit On The National Mall:
The Lincoln Memorial sits at the west end of the National Mall by the Reflecting Pool. The Memorial honors Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States.
Ride the elevator 50 stories to the top of the Washington Monument for a view of the area that, on a clear day, is 25 miles. The Washington Monument is the world’s tallest freestanding stone structure.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
My granddaughter met a Vietnam veteran at the memorial, where he shared some of his fascinating stories, which made history come alive for her. So while you aren’t guaranteed to meet someone there who lived through the war, you may have the same good fortune.
Although the Jefferson Memorial sits on the National Mall’s Tidal Basin, visiting it is still a distance from the other Memorials. The best way to reach the Jefferson Memorial is via the metro lines or bus.
We decided we wanted to see the beautifully lit monuments at night too. If you’re a photographer, the night images make an excellent addition to your portfolio. I suggest you take an organized night tour for additional safety. They offer security in numbers, a night viewing of all the main monuments and buildings, and a narrative for more information on their history.
Pro Tip: Get The App
There’s an app for that! Check out the National Park Service app and search for the National Mall for additional planning information.
To increase your fun, check out these 9 Tips For Experiencing The National Mall In Washington, D.C
3. National Gallery Of Art
Due to my granddaughter’s interest in art, the National Gallery of Art was one of our high-priority stops. Before you go, check out their website to see what special activities are happening. While we were there, they offered complimentary sketch booklets and artist pencils. This gift made our time there special as she used it to sketch a couple of her favorite sculptures.
The National Gallery is large, so plan your visit to determine your must-see items. For example, we had seen a Monet exhibit in our home state and then saw one of the same paintings in their home at the National Gallery. That solidified the connection with traveling exhibits and added to the fun.
Pro Tip: Tours
We love guided tours at museums, and the National Gallery offers several tours daily at no charge. Check the schedule on their website, as the tours offered change regularly.
4. Logan Tavern
Located in the Logan Circle neighborhood, Logan Tavern was a restaurant my teen wanted to return to throughout our stay. The restaurant features American cuisine with a twist. For example, you might find the all-American meatloaf topped with a spicy curry sauce.
They have their 13-acre organic farm in Maryland, Eatwell Natural Farm, and I believe this makes the difference in the taste of their food. They grow fruits and vegetables without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The ingredients are genuinely farm fresh.
The menu shows vegetarian and vegan dishes. One vegan offering Korean Vegan Beef Bowl features beyond meat, rice, lettuce, and red peppers, topped with a sprinkling of green onions. It features a sauce of sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and sriracha.
What To Order At Logan Tavern:
- Farmstand Sammie
- LT Signature Burger
- Classic Meatloaf
- Mango Key Lime Pie
Pro Tip: Dining Out In D.C.
Besides serving lunch and dinner, Logan Tavern serves brunch on the weekends. For some other restaurant recommendations, check out The 7 Best Restaurants in Washington, D.C.
5. Smithsonian Museums
The Smithsonian Museum is a collection of 17 museums, galleries, and the National Zoo. The interests of your grandchild will determine which of these museums are best suited to your family. These museums combine history and art, making them the perfect addition to your travel plans. The only problem was the large number of choices we had. We visited the National Portrait Gallery and found a perfect blend of history and art. The museum features 225 years of history told through portraits of Americans. You’ll see presidents, entertainers, and sports figures and connect them to their place in America’s history.
More Smithsonian Museums:
- Natural History Museum
- Air and Space Museum
- American History Museum
- The Castle
- African Art Museum
- American Indian Museum
Pro Tip: Budget Stretcher
The Smithsonian museums have free admission for everyone, so adding one of these museums to your itinerary will stretch your budget and your mind.
Since college was looming on the horizon for my 16-year-old granddaughter, I thought a trip to D.C.’s oldest neighborhood, Georgetown, and the home of Georgetown University was appropriate. The area has cobblestone streets and an abundance of art galleries.
Plus, I wanted an excuse for a return visit to the restaurant Clyde’s. My last visit was more than 25 years ago, but I still fondly recalled the saloon-style chili with beans. It’s a simple version, slightly spicy and sweet. Topped with onion, cheddar, and sour cream. Yes, simple yet memorable.
Clyde’s evolved from an American neighborhood bar to the current farm-to-fork dining. One of the first in Washington, D.C., to define their food as sustainable and locally raised. Many Sunday afternoon guests came with young children to enjoy a casual, family-friendly atmosphere.
Clyde’s is a good option with many choices if your teen is experimenting with a vegan or vegetarian diet. Some vegetarian options are the tempura cauliflower and the truffle veggie burger, which is also gluten-friendly.
At Clyde’s, the décor has plenty to capture your attention. Plane propellers adorn the walls while model airplanes suspend from the ceiling. The aeronautic theme persists, with framed pictures of aircraft and aeronautical-themed advertising.
What To Order At Clyde’s:
- Croque Madame
- Clyde’s Chili
- Clyde’s Classic Burger
- The Crab Tower
Pro Tip: Wine
You can enjoy three bottles of wine at Clyde’s without a corkage fee. In my book, that’s a fantastic value add.
8. Arlington National Cemetery
My granddaughter insisted that we visit Arlington National Cemetery, which surprised me. I was hesitant because it isn’t in Washington, D.C. proper, but rather Arlington, Virginia, so it would take a bit more effort to get there. Additionally, I have some mobility challenges, and I wasn’t sure how I would manage the extensive grounds. I was afraid she would be disappointed, but it was her trip, so we went. We were glad we did.
My concerns about mobility challenges proved unfounded. They offer live-narrated tram tours in a hop-on, hop-off style. In addition, they make four stops at Arlington House, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, President John F. Kennedy’s gravesite, and the John J. Pershing gravesite.
Be Sure To See:
- The Welcome Center
- The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
- President John F. Kennedy’s Grave
Pro Tip: Cemetery Etiquette
To make the cemetery visit successful, take some time in advance to explain proper etiquette at cemeteries, especially in areas like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
If you’d like to visit while the cherry blossoms are in bloom, look at The Country’s Most Famous Cherry Blossom Festival Starts This Month, Everything You Need To Know.