Our Favorite Libraries in the DC Area

Washington D.C.

happyly approved

Check out these kid friendly spaces.

These libraries are worth a visit whether you're a local or you're just stopping in the city! 

The Library of Congress

LOC is the largest library in the world. With its vast trove of multimedia resources – including millions of books, recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps and manuscripts – it deserves the top spot on our list. This library is the oldest federal institution and a great place to imbue kids with a sense of wonder.

Folger Shakespeare Library

This impressive spot offers programs that make the great playwright’s works accessible and fun for children of all ages. The free Shake Up Your Saturday event series has hour-long programs for children ages four through eleven. The Folger also has free walk-in tours and free exhibitions. 

Tenley-Friendship Neighborhood Library

This D.C. public library hosts multiple events for children of all ages each day. Many of these, like the Story Time series, incorporate physical activity to engage the mind and body simultaneously. Be sure to get your tickets at the Children’s Desk, which starts distributing them an hour before the start of the storytime.

Chevy Chase Neighborhood Library

This next D.C. public library also hosts the Story Time series, with regular time slots for pre-crawlers, one-year-olds, toddlers 18-36 months and 3-5-year-olds and a variety of other fun programs.

Georgetown Neighborhood Library

This fantastic DC library offers the same storytime series as the other D.C. libraries, plus events that cater to a wide array of kids’ interests. These events showcase comic books, teach video game strategy and design and introduce musical instruments, to name a few. 

Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library

The last (but not least) of the D.C. libraries to make our list is just two blocks from the Cleveland Park Station on the Red Line. The modern and eco-friendly library stands apart with its aesthetically pleasing design and ample green space for kids to enjoy. There are a ton of programming options.

Arlington Central Library

This library in Arlington has a number of kid-friendly, free events. Animal lovers will delight in its Paws to Read program, which pairs children in Kindergarten through fifth grade with a dog to practice reading in a stress-free environment. The American Girl Lending Program teaches young girls about different eras in American history. Story Time is very popular so get there early!. 

Arlington Public Library - Columbia Pike Branch Library

The Columbia Pike Branch Library is smaller than Central Library but has plenty of reading nooks for kids, plus stuffed animals and educational toys to keep them entertained. This branch also has a popular summer reading program for students below fifth grade. 

Arlington Public Library - Shirlington

The new Shirlington Library location opened in 2007 and is located in a lively neighborhood with neighboring shops and restaurants. There are reading programs, storytimes and activity clubs, as well as Paws to Read, a program designed to encourage reluctant readers to build confidence through the nonjudgmental attention of dogs.

Alexandria Library – Charles E. Beatley Jr. Central Library

The Charles E. Beatley Jr. Central Library was built in 2000 and hosts fun and intellectually stimulating events for kids nearly every day. Children can earn prizes for reading books, get homework help and play literary games here. The Parents Corner provides books that aides kids and parents as they navigate challenges.

Alexandria Library – Kate Waller Barrett Branch Library

Story time at this renovated branch incorporates songs, games and activities, and the first week of every month features a children’s book retold with yoga geared toward toddlers and kids 2 and over. The library is beautiful with a lovely garden. It is located in Old Town, so there is much to do nearby.

Fairfax County Library – Sherwood Regional

Located between Richmond Highway and Fort Hunt Road,  this library is well-outfitted for kids. A separate room for kids is adjacent to the children’s section, and two educational computer stations with headphones sit between them.  As is true for all Fairfax County libraries, there is a reading program with rewards.

Fairfax County Library - John Marshall

John Marshall Library in the Rose Hill Community of Alexandria in Fairfax County reopened in 2018 to excited reviews. The library closed for about 18 months for renovation and drastically improved on many levels, including more light, technology, meeting spaces, beautiful gardens and a much more welcoming children’s area. in addition to a variety of storytime options, the library hosts “Playdate Cafe” for socialization every Friday.

Montgomery County Library - Connie Morella Branch

The Connie Morella Library has 20-30 minute long Storytimes with “books, songs, rhymes and bounces” to bring texts to life, thwarting boredom and inviting the audience to immerse themselves in the story. Events aim to instill in attendees a “lifelong love of learning”.

Montgomery County Library - Rockville Memorial

This library features a huge play area for kids outside the entrance, which encourages little ones to run free before or after quiet time inside. The children’s section is well stocked, airy, and very clean. There are a variety of storytimes, and on the second floor there is a fairly new public “makerspace,” which is a community center.

Click here for the full blog which includes additional details including parking for each location!


Randi Banks
Washington, D.C.
Randi (Betts) Banks grew up in New York and graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She moved to Washington, D.C. more than thirteen years ago with her husband, Eaghmon, and they love to explore the area and seek out adventure, now with their two young children along for the ride. Growing up right near the beach, they are happiest when on or near the water, so exploring the rivers, lakes, and streams in the greater DC area is a favorite pastime for their family. In addition to serving as one of the Washington, DC area ambassadors, Randi is also the Editor in Chief of happyly.
More activities by Randi
A playground, separate climbing area and space to wander near Old Town, Alexandria.
In Old Town, Alexandria this park has beautiful river views.
Perfect space for little ones close to Old Town.


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