Things to Do With Kids When It’s Super-Hot Outside

You can wear out your kids without anyone getting heatstroke.

Photograph by KatarzynaBialasiewicz. Photograph by Elle Riley Photography. Illustrations by Koren Shadmi Bruce Wentworth of Wentworth Architects & Builders designed this Capitol Hill kitchen to maximize every bit of space. Photograph by Ron Blunt; kitchen designed by Wentworth Studio. Photograph by Hongqi Zhang/Alamy. Photograph by Carlene Thomas. The nursing lounge at Nationals Park. Photographs courtesy the Washington Nationals. Get to a sprayground. Now. Photograph by Nadezda Murmakova/

At this point in Washington’s seemingly never-ending August, you’ve dragged your little ones to the public pool six times already, and the last thing you want to do is spend the afternoon sweating onto the park swings. Again. But there’s no need to suffer in the sun. Here are five ideas for wearing out those kiddos (Inside! In the air conditioning! Or at least in water!) when the summer’s swelter is wearing out its welcome.

LEARN: The Natural History Museum and the Air & Space Museum are no-brainers for kids. But those aren’t the only museums worth a visit—even if exhibits aren’t your child’s thing, try the National Museum of the American Indian’s ImagiNATIONs Activity Center (where kids can weave baskets and sit in full-size tipis) or the Building Museum’s Building Zone (where kids can construct towers and drive play bulldozers). Older children might like off-the-beaten-path museums such as the International Spy Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, or College Park Aviation Museum.

CLIMB: The first stateside location of this New Zealand import, Laurel’s indoor ClimbZone space features themed climbing walls (scale to the top of Jack’s beanstalk or navigate a giant spider web, your pick) in a colorful, family-focused environment. $12 children ages two through five, $25 children six and older.

JUMP: More than 50 trampolines link together to form a huge—as in, nearly 15,000 square feet huge—open field of indoor jumping at Springfield’s Flight trampoline park. Kids taller than 46 inches can jump throughout the park, but littler kids can hop around the “Kiddie Court” or visit during the hours designated for the under-6 set. $15 for 60 minutes during Open Jump, $10 for children six and younger during Kid Flight.

SPLASH: If you must, must do something outside, at least make it a sprayground. Less intense than a full-fledged water park—and free!—our area offers plenty of options for letting kids cool down with a good soak. Try Arlington’s Lyon Village Park, Fairfax’s Mosaic District, Georgetown Waterfront, or Yards Park for some easy splashing. Find details on water playgrounds on Arlington County’s site and the DC Department of Parks and Recreation’s site.

BOWL: Head to Georgetown’s posh bowling alley Pinstripes for its kid-friendly “Tots Playtime,” which, despite the name, is for any kid under 12. Weekdays 10 AM to noon. $5 per child/game.