Whether you want to pay tribute to those who have served or are looking for ways to keep the kids entertained on the day off from school, these suggestions should have you covered. And if you’ve got the scoop on any other special events going on, feel free to mention it in the comments.
Tour the Memorials
Where: National Mall
When: Throughout the day
Observe the holiday by visiting the sites that honor our nation’s veterans. Make the rounds on the Mall at your leisure or attend special ceremonies — they will take place at the World War II Memorial at 9am and at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at 1pm, and the Korean War Memorial is a short walk from both. Keep in mind that the Mall will be getting crowded as folks start arriving for the Concert for Valor, so prepare accordingly.
National Veterans Day Ceremony
Where: Arlington Cemetery
Observances begin at 10:30am with a prelude concert, followed by a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at 11am. The program then continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater. Free and open to the public, attendees are encouraged to get there early. Read more about Arlington Cemetery in this post about a visit there.
Mount Vernon Salutes Veterans
Where: Mount Vernon
When: 9am – 4pm
Admission: Free for military; $17/adult, $8/child, free for under 5
Special activities at George Washington’s former estate include a wreath laying ceremony and patriotic community concerts along with the regular tours and programs. Mount Vernon honors all active duty, former, or retired military personnel with free admission, plus a concert by the all-veteran barbershop chorus, The Harmony Heritage Singers.
Navy Museum Tour
Where: U.S. Navy Museum
When: 10am – 5pm
There may not be a special event happening, but it’s an apropos day to visit the museum dedicated to the history of the Navy. The fascinating displays range from replicas to the real thing — model ships, genuine periscopes, images from major exhibitions, and much more. Be sure to read this post about our experience there for more insight and an inside look.
Where: National Parks
When: All day
It’s the last fee free day of the year for national parks, which means there’s no entrance fee where they usually charge to get in. Take advantage of complimentary admission and the day off from school; hit the trail at Shenandoah or Great Falls, take a ride on Skyline Drive to see the mountains covered in autumn colors, or visit Harpers Ferry.
Right Up Your Alley
Where: Pinstripes of Georgetown
When: 10am – 12pm
Take advantage of Tots Playtime at Pinstripes in Georgetown. From 10am – 12pm most weekdays, ALL kids can bowl for just $5, and parents are free (limit 4 kids per adult)! Stay after for lunch — they have a kids menu and a pretty extensive main menu, too.
Where: International Spy Museum
When: 10am – 6pm
Admission: $21.95/adult, $14.95/ages 7-11, free for 6 and under
Devise a plan to explore the intriguing world of espionage. Since the Spy Museum would best be enjoyed by school aged kids and older, the day off from school is a great time to go. Be sure to check Goldstar for discounted tickets.
Go Nat Geo
Where: National Geographic Museum
When: 10am – 6pm
Admission: $11/adult, $7/ages 5-12, free for 4 and under
Experience two interactive exhibits recommended for all ages. “Spinosaurus” and “Food: Our Global Kitchen” are currently at the Nat Geo Museum, and right now adults can get a discount on admission to visit them.
Where: Flight Trampoline Park
When: 10am – 9pm
Admission: Varies by age & length of session
Bounce on over to the trampoline park in Springfield for a super fun jump session. Be sure to check the schedule, as times vary by age. I recommend buying tickets and filling out waivers in advance to avoid lines when you get there.
Concert for Valor
Where: National Mall
Bruuuuuce! And Rhianna and Dave Grohl and Eminem and The Black Keys and Metallica and Carrie Underwood and even more artists will all be performing to pay tribute to our nation’s veterans. There will also be special appearances by other celebs including Oprah, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Will Smith, and Steven Spielberg. If you and the kids are up for a late night and braving the crowds — over 80,000 people are expected to attend — it’s a rare opportunity to see a lot of big acts and stars all in one show, though what you actually see from your spot way, way back may just be a speck on the stage. (FYI – it’s also going to be shown live on HBO.) You can find tips on getting and being there here.