The Best Educational Virtual Field Trips to Washington DC
Are you ready to take an awesome virtual field trip to Washington DC? It’s one of the many virtual field trips for middle school I highly recommend for tweens and their families.
Our nation’s capital is a place where you can get up close and personal with American history and government. History comes alive for visitors thanks to its beautiful architecture, historical artifacts, thought-provoking museums, inspiring art, and more.
While it may not be possible for you to visit DC in person, you can still take in the wonder of the city from the comfort of your home thanks to the many virtual tours available.
If you’re studying American history in your homeschool, you’ll definitely want to add some of these amazing educational places to your lesson plans.
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Let’s Take a Virtual Field Trip to Washington DC
There is so much to see and do in Washington, so I’ve separated the virtual tours and field trips into categories to help you navigate this list. That way you can go directly to the type of place you want to visit.
Below, you’ll find links to museums, government buildings, memorials, and more. Your teen will be amazed at how much is packed into this small city on the East Coast.
Use the Table of Contents above to help you move throughout the list.
While this is not a full and complete list of everything you can see virtually in Washington, it’s a great place to start your journey.
American Government Sites
The White House
The White House is an iconic symbol, not only of our government but of our country. You’ll definitely want to add a visit to this location to your American history or government lesson plans.
- Get a close-up view of the White House through the Google Arts & Culture collection.
- View videos and tours of 1600 Penn, what President Obama referred to as “the People’s House.”
- Tour the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
The United States Capitol
When you tour the United States Capitol, you get to see where both the Senate and the House of Representatives meet and work. It’s also a pretty amazing structure.
The United States Supreme Court
- Take this tour and see where the highest court in our country is located.
- Hear oral arguments and read transcripts of cases that the Supreme Court Justices have ruled on.
- Check out their main site to learn all about the Supreme Court.
The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is essentially our national library. One of its major functions is to serve as a resource for the United States Congress. Our representatives use it as a research library. With well over 170 million items, it’s the largest library in the world and contains some pretty cool treasures.
The National Archives
- While “visiting” the National Archives, you’ll have access to important documents, records, and photos. It’s where you’ll find the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
- There are also helpful activities and tools you can use to teach civics or American history in your homeschool.
- They also have a helpful YouTube channel.
Take a Virtual Field Trip to Washington’s Monuments and Memorials
Washington is home to a number of monuments and memorials. These famous landmarks are inspiring and definitely worth viewing.
The Washington Monument was built in honor of George Washington. This famous obelisk is located right in the middle of the National Mall. At 155 feet, it’s the world’s largest stone structure.
Just past the 36 stone columns, inside the Lincoln Memorial, is the 19-foot statue of Abraham Lincoln. Etched in stone on the walls are two of his famous speeches – the Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address.
On the Potomac River Tidal Basin, the Jefferson Memorial houses the 19-foot statue of Thomas Jefferson. This memorial features a domed roof and contains carved excerpts from the Declaration of Independence.
Vietnam War Memorial
The Vietnam War Memorial honors those who fought, lost their lives and were missing in action during the Vietnam war. It consists of a statue, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, and the famously moving Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. It’s an incredibly powerful war memorial.
Korean War Veterans Memorial
Erected to honor those who fought and died during the Korean War, the Korean War Veterans Memorial is a beautiful monument. It consists of large walls and a pool of remembrance. Etched onto the walls are images of troops traveling by sea, land, and air. Soldiers representing the various armed forces stand in the center.
- The WWII Memorial was the first national memorial built to honor the 16 million U.S. military who served in the war, the 400,000+ soldiers who died, and everyone who supported the war effort. This open memorial has 56 granite columns that represent national unity.
- You’ll find a comprehensive teacher’s manual that includes activities, projects, and information to help you teach your tween about WWII.
- There’s also an arts and culture tour of this and the other war memorials.
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
Carved in his likeness, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial was built to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his incredible life, legacy, and struggle for freedom and equality for all. Engraved throughout the memorial are his own powerful words.
Here are even more online resources you can use to study his life and legacy.
American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial
The American Disabled Veterans Memorial is the first national memorial to honor veterans who are living with permanent disabilities due to their service. Soldiers tell their story on the glass panels through their words and images. You can take a 360-degree tour here.
The Navy Memorial includes a beautiful memorial plaza and interactive visitor’s center that all honor those men and women who served in the Sea Services.
While many people think that the Smithsonian is one museum in D.C., the Smithsonian Institution is actually a huge complex that includes a wide variety of museums, research centers, and educational opportunities.
Below, you’ll find some of the most popular locations that are perfect for older kids.
The Smithsonian Institution Building or “the Castle” is home to the Smithsonian Visitor Center.
The National Zoological Park
The National Zoo is one of the most famous zoos in the country. It is home to over 2,000 animals, one of the most popular being the panda. On their website, they have a bunch of wildlife and conservation activities you can do at home. Plus, some of the animals have their own webcams, so you can see them whenever you’d like.
National Air & Space Museum
- One of the most popular museums is the Air & Space Museum. This is where you’ll find everything related to space, aviation, and exploration.
- They have amazing exhibits you can view online.
- You can also use their great activities and learning guides in your science lesson plans.
National Museum of Natural History
- A favorite of ours is definitely the Natural History Museum. This museum houses a massive collection of taxidermied animals, animal skeletons, mummies, and gems.
- They have a bunch of virtual tours, interactive webcasts, and other teaching resources you can use in your homeschool.
- Tour the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
National Gallery of Art
- With over 150,000 works of art, the National Gallery of Art is an impressive museum. You can view much of the collection online, including sculptures, drawings, and photographs along with some very famous paintings.
- They have a number of wonderful lessons and activities you can use as part of your art lessons for tweens.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum wholly dedicated to the lives of African Americans by preserving and sharing their history and culture. It houses over 36,000 artifacts split into a wide variety of categories.
National Museum of American History
- With over 1.8 million items in their collection, the American History Museum is an enormous museum. It’s dedicated to preserving all kinds of artifacts from our American life.
- The eclectic exhibition is fun to peruse and includes things like the original Star-Spangled Banner, Abraham Lincoln’s top hat, Dorthy’s ruby slippers, Julia Child’s kitchen, and the gowns of the First Ladies.
- There are a ton of items to view online and they also have a bunch of learning resources you can use at home.
National Museum of the American Indian
- The National Museum of the American Indian honors Native Americans, their culture, and their heritage. It houses one of the largest collections of Native artifacts.
- They have an impressive number of online exhibits and instructional resources that will help your teen learn more about Native Americans and their important stories and history.
National Portrait Gallery
- The National Portrait Gallery houses the portraits of famous individuals who have helped shaped our country. It is also home to the complete collection of presidential portraits.
- View over 3,800 works of art from home, including the First Ladies, Portraits of African Americans, our American Origins, and more.
- Take a look at their distance learning tools and resources they offer that you can use in your home school.
- Interact with the museum through online programs and workshops.
Smithsonian American Art Museum
- The Museum of American Art is the first national American Art collection. It spans our entire history and is dedicated to the preservation, collection, and exhibition of American art. It contains a wide variety of mediums from both past and present.
- Visit the museum at home with their virtual tour.
- The museum offers quite a few teacher guides and resources you can use at home with your kids.
Smithsonian National Museum of African Art
- National Museum of African Art is the premier national museum dedicated to the preservation, collection, and exhibition of African art. Their impressive collection spans decades and is dedicated to celebrating modern artists.
- They also have quite a few activities and workshops you can do at home to interact with the museum.
Smithsonian National Postal Museum
- From stamps to the history of the Postal Service, the National Postal Museum is full of information related to our nation’s postal history from Colonial times to the present. Stamps have honored every part of our world, innovations, leaders, art, and more. Everyone can learn something from our postal stamps, both past, and present.
- There are a number of virtual exhibitions you can explore.
- Use their free educational resources to help your tween learn more about stamps and the postal service.
The Smithsonian Gardens cover over 180 acres of natural plants and fauna and is dedicated to immersing people in the beauty and importance of horticulture.
- The majority of these amazing museums are found on the National Mall, some of the most famous acres in Washington.
- You can view the mall in real-time through this webcam.
- See panoramic views of the National Mall.
- While you’re learning about the National Mall, download this Junior Ranger Activity Booklet to make your lessons more interactive. You won’t be able to do all of the activities virtually, there are plenty you can add to your lesson plans.
Other Museums in Washington D.C. That Have Virtual Tours
Aside from the Smithsonian, there are some amazing and unique museums in Washington that you should tour from home.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- In my opinion, no museum is more moving than the Holocaust Museum. It is full of personal tales from those who were witness to this horrible period of history, propaganda used to sway views, personal artifacts, and even piles of things taken from the Jews as they traveled to the concentration camps.
- View their online exhibitions about WWII, the Holocaust, and other genocides from around the world.
- Utilize their online tools to teach your tweens about the holocaust.
National Museum of Women in the Arts
- The National Museum of Women in the Arts is the only extensive museum of its kind, dedicated to promoting women through various art mediums.
- You can use these See for Yourself cards to tour and interact with their collection.
- They also offer curriculum and resource guides you can use to teach your older kids about women’s contributions to art, spanning decades.
National Geographic Museum
- The National Geographic Society and Museum champions the fields of science, exploration, and storytelling.
- It has quite a few of its past events available online and an amazing virtual tour of its Jane Goodall exhibit.
- This site offers a ton of student resources you can use in your homeschool. From student experiences to classroom resources, you’ll find plenty to use in your geography lesson plans.
National Guard Educational Foundation Museum
Take a tour of the National Guard Museum and learn about the history of the American National Guard.
International Spy Museum
Check out the world of espionage and intelligence through virtual workshops and learning tools at the International Spy Museum.
National Building Museum
If your tween is interested in architecture, check out the National Building Museum. You can see many items from its collection, plus use their teaching resources to help your kids learn about engineering and architecture.
Virtual Tours of Washington DC Historic Sites
Spend some time checking out these interesting tours of some of D.C.’s historic sites.
Frederick Douglass Home
Tour the Washington home of Frederick Douglass, that’s now a National Historic Site.
Take a look at the oldest Botanic Garden in our country and see why George Washington thought it was important for Washington DC to have a place like this to promote plants and educate the public about their benefits.
As part of your study on Abraham Lincoln, take a tour of Ford’s Theatre and see where President Lincoln was assassinated. Use their resources to teach your tween about Abraham Lincoln’s life, death, and legacy.
Take an Embassy Row Tour. There’s also an alphabetical listing of the more than 170 foreign embassies you can use to jump directly to a country’s specific embassy page.
The National Cathedral
The National Cathedral is a beautiful church, inspired by 14th Century English Gothic architecture. You can virtually tour some of the interior and exterior of this remarkable gem. One of our favorites was the gallery showing some of the most unique gargoyles sitting atop the cathedral.
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has a digital stage where you can watch certain previous performances.
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
See how paper money is made at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Their site will walk you through how money gets designed, printed, cut, sorted, and inspected for defects.
Arlington National Cemetery
Located just outside the city, no study of Washington DC is complete without learning about the Arlington National Cemetery. Explore the hallowed grounds at home and check out their education program to learn more about the importance of this memorial as well as the men and women who are buried here.
As I said, there are a ton of things in Washington DC that you can see and do all from the comfort of your home. Add some of these sites to your history lesson plans to engage your tween.
Best Resources to Use During Your Virtual Field Trip to Washington DC
- Ben’s Guide to the U.S. Government will give you the tools and activities you need to teach your tween about our government and how it works.
- With this book, teens can learn 1,000 Facts About the White House.
- The History Channel walks you through the Great Monuments of Washington D.C. on this DVD.
- Work together to build this 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle highlighting the famous landmarks in Washington DC.
- Even though you’re not visiting in person, this laminated map, featuring Washington’s Historical Sites will help you feel like you’re really there.
- Challenge your tween with this US Capitol 3D Puzzle.
- This DVD will take your family on a tour of Washington DC, specifically for kids.
- Part informational, part activity book, this resource will help you expand your lessons on Washington, DC.
- Use this Secret Washington D.C. guide to learn even more about this great town.
More Virtual Field Trips for Teens
- Learn all about virtual field trips for middle school.
- Tour all kinds of famous landmarks and cool sites in New York City.
- Choose one of these educational virtual field trips. This list includes locations to learn about art, history, animals, nature, and famous sites from around the globe.
- See the beauty of our national parks from the comfort of home.
- Take a virtual tour of the Alamo and then add some of the suggested activities and resources to your history lessons.
Are you excited to take a virtual field trip to Washington DC? What’s going to be your first stop?