Gathering the family together for a photo that captures a moment in time has been a tradition in our culture for centuries. While studios are a quick and easy way to accomplish the family photo, it’s nice to have a different spot to capture a moment. These areas in DC are perfect for whichever type of scenery you’d like to capture and will get you in and out in no time. Remember to bring a camera with a timer and a tripod so that everyone can be in the image.

Gravelly Point Park
George Washington Parkway
Arlington, VA 22202

Located adjacent to Reagan National Airport, Gravelly Point Park is one of DC’s hidden gems. The location is near the end of the runway, so with Reagan’s constant air traffic, you’ll easily be able to marvel at the site of large planes landing seemingly close to you. There are many options for family photos. You can grab one where the backdrop is facing the airport with planes rising in the distance. Or if you want to opt for the iconic DC skyline in the back, you can easily see the Washington Monument and other memorials across the Potomac from this area. Parking is tough on the weekends, so opt for a midweek shot if you can. Afternoons are best to capture the light.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial
900 Ohio Drive SW
Washington, DC 200024
(202) 426-6841 

The Jefferson Memorial is one of DC’s most popular icons. With the steps leading up to the domed structure made entirely of marble, the light white colors provide the perfect backdrop for a family photo. The steps leading up to the memorial makes it easy for those of varying height to all be seen. After taking shots on the stairs, turn around for a shot in front of the Tidal Basin with the Washington Monument in the background. Another great shot can be had at the top of the memorial facing out. In between the columns of the memorial, a peak out to the Washington Monument can be a nice addition to the background. Photos at the Jefferson Memorial are best taken in the morning or afternoon. Once dusk starts to approach, it’s too dim for many cameras.

National Harbor
165 Waterfront St.
National Harbor, MD 20745
(877) 628-5427

National Harbor is a quick stop off the beltway for a great picture on the Potomac. There’s a sandy beach area by the water to snap that family photo. The area is open with no trees around, so you’re sure to get the perfect lighting conditions. On the beach, there’s a sculpture call “The Awakening,” which is a five-piece sculpture of a bearded man rising out of the sand that makes for a fun, quirky picture. Once you’ve captured that perfect family photo with lots of smiles, opt for a fun photo mimicking the man in the sand or just playing around. On the weekends it can be crowded with other families and kids, so if you’re looking for that stand-alone shot, be sure to get there early. Afterwards, there are plenty of places to eat and even a carousel to enjoy.

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US National Arboretum
3501 New York Ave. NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 245-2726

Nothing says gorgeous backdrop to highlight your family more than nature. The US National Arboretum is a perfect place to take pictures of natural beauty without having to leave the city. Free to the public, the 446 acres of living trees, shrubs and flowers gives you plenty of choices. You can take a family picture together and one with each family member by their favorite green. One of the most popularly photographed places is the Capital Columns display. These pillars were originally at the Capitol and are now a perfect frame for a family photo with the reflecting pool in front. Because of sequester cuts, the arboretum is now open only Friday to Monday and is closed Tuesday to Thursday.

White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500
(202) 456-1111

There’s no DC icon better suited for a family photo than the White House. With the public viewing area situated many yards from the home on the South Lawn, it’s easy to get the perfect shot with any camera, big or small. A popular place to snap a shot and hope to catch a glimpse of the President or one of the many dignitaries that may visit, there’s always someone around to take a quick shot of your and your family. Just know that you may have a Secret Service man or two in your family photo.

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Jamie Hardin is the counter-culture Washingtonian in the know. Inspired by food, sustainability issues, and public health, she prides herself on finding DC’s off-the-beaten path treasures. When she isn’t enjoying organic food or reducing her carbon footprint, Jamie’s traveling on her scooter or walking her two pit bulls. Her work can be found at