Where to Play on the Weekdays: September 2-5

Getting cozy at the National Building Museum's PLAY WORK BUILD exhibit

Getting cozy at the National Building Museum’s PLAY WORK BUILD exhibit



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Tuesday - Beat the heat on what’s probably going to be one of the hottest days this summer at the National Building Museum. The Book of the Month program invites children to a special storytime in the Building Zone. During this session, there will be readings of Tools Rules by Aaron Meshon. Stay to romp in the play space for kids, head upstairs to the PLAY WORK BUILD exhibit, or hang out in the magnificent Great Hall. Book of the Month runs from 10am – 12pm, admission is $3/person. Admission to other exhibits is $8/adult, $5/child. Museum hours are 10am – 5pm.

Wednesday - Spend the morning grooving with the Boogie Babes! After a brief hiatus, they are back with kiddie entertainment at Union Market presenting Unos, dos, tres…con Andres. Showtime is 10:30am, admission is $5/child. (You can also catch Mr. Skip at Eastern Market on Thursday and The Singing Lizard at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on Friday.) Later on, skip the cooking and eat pizza at a family-friendly happy hour at Mellow Mushroom in Adams Morgan. Some toys provided, plus you can BYO! Your host will be Moms Clean Air Force, an organization that fights climate change with mom-power. The DC Field Organizer will be happy to chat with moms and dads about how to get involved in the organization in ways big and small. Drop in anytime between 4:30-7pm. RSVPs appreciated to jhantman@momscleanairforce.org.

Thursday - Enjoy reading, singing, and fun at The Plaza at City Center’s Kids Corner! The weekly program promotes early language and literacy skills through stories, songs, rhymes, and other delights for kids — bubbles, parachutes and coloring — with a librarian from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Starts at 11am, and admission is free. The Plaza is located at I Street between 9th & 10th Streets NW.

Friday - Get a nature fix, indoors and out, at Long Branch Nature Center. Peek inside terrariums for a close look at snakes, turtles, frogs, and toads, and see fish swim in a small indoor pond. If weather permits, continue your viewing outdoors at the larger pond and hike the nearby trails. Hours are 10am – 5pm (Tuesday – Saturday, 1-5pm Sunday), and admission is free.


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The Weekend Round-Up: August 29 – September 1

Make Revel Grove your happy place

Make Revel Grove your happy place

If the start of school didn’t mark the unofficial end of summer, then Labor Day weekend will take the cake. Many of the season’s quintessential activities come to a close after this, but that doesn’t mean the fun ends, too. As you savor the last of summer joys, start welcoming some of the delights of fall…and find plenty DC mainstays to enjoy in between. Happy Long Weekend!

National Book Festival
Where: Washington Convention Center
When: Saturday, 10am – 10pm
Admission: Free

One of DC’s biggest annual events is happening this weekend — a few weeks earlier than usual and a change of location, but it’s going to be just as good. The 2014 Library of Congress National Book Festival will feature more than 100 authors, poets, and illustrators from every literary genre. There will be book readings, Q&A’s, fun for kids, book signings, and more reading-related activities for all. For a glimpse of what to expect, see this post about our experience there a couple of years ago.

Season Finales
Where: Various locales
When: Through Monday
Admission: Varies by activity

This weekend is the last for many pursuits that we’ve been enjoying all summer long, outdoor swimming, concerts and movies under the stars, The Big Maze among them. If you’re hoping to get in one final jazz show in the Sculpture Garden, a romp through the Building Museum’s labyrinth, or a day at an outdoor public pool, then check out the Summer 2014 guide, which has details on all of those diversions and many more.

Hear the Blues
Where: Carter Barron Amphitheater
When: Saturday, 12-7:30pm
Admission: $10/member, $15/non-members

Head to the outdoor stage in Rock Creek Park for the 26th Annual DC Blues Festival. Along with the line-up of performers, there will be musical workshops throughout the day, where both children and adults can learn about Blues music. Kids will especially enjoy instrument and vocal workshops, including an instrument petting zoo. View the schedule of both musical acts and extra fun here.

Ren Fest!
Where: Revel Grove, Crownsville, Md.
When: Saturday, Sunday, & Monday
Admission: $17/adults, $10/ages 7-18

The merriment continues at Revel Grove in Crownesville, MD. On weekends through October 19, you can time trip at the charming medieval village that hosts the annual Maryland Renaissance Festival. For more details on what you will find there, check out this post about the event.

Show Time
Where: Local Theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

* A super waaaay, to spend some time together: The Fresh Beat Band concert at Wolf Trap on Saturday (look for discount tickets)
* Children’s fave Rocknoceros is playing a special Labor Day show at Jammin’ Java
* The Puppet Co. presents Little Red Riding Hood & the 3 Little Pigs on the Main Stage for its final weekend
* Animal Crackers and Old MacDonald’s Farm are the featured Tiny Tots shows at the Glen Echo puppet theatre
* Be wowed by Cirque de Soleil’s Amaluna at National Harbor
* The hit stage version of Dirty Dancing is at the National Theatre (look for discount tickets)
* Catch a colorful show as Pinkalicious is performed at Adventure Theatre before it closes after this weekend.

How ‘Bout Them Apples?
Where: Area farms
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

The apple picking season has begun! Several farms in the area have opened their orchards for guests to start gathering. This list of area farms and orchards offering pick-your-own opportunities was posted awhile back, but all of the locales are still recommended, and links and festival dates have been updated as the apples are ready for harvest once again. I always recommend calling ahead to be sure the pickings are good the day you plan to go.

Page-to-Stage Festival
Where: Kennedy Center
When: Saturday, Sunday, & Monday
Admission: Free

More than 40 theater companies will present readings and rehearsals of plays and musicals during the Kennedy Center’s 13th annual Page-to-Stage Festival. And they are all free and open to the public. Performances will take place at several venues around DC, and there are a few that are family-friendly, including Adventure Theatre’s Garfield, the Musical with Cattitude, The Millennium Stage performance In His Own Words: A Concert in Tribute to Walter Dean Myers, and My Creative Spirit’s Kidz at Play. See the schedule for details and the full list of shows.

Virginia Scottish Games
Where: The Plains, Virginia
When: Saturday & Sunday, 9am – 9pm
Admission: $20adults, $5/ages 5-12, free for under 5

Celebrate Scottish heritage at this annual fair featuring everything from music and dance to sports and game to food and cars, even Scottish dogs. Much of it will be showcased through competition, but there is plenty that all visitors can partake in, too. Two-day adult passes are available for $30. Festival gates will close at 6pm both days, but concerts will continue until 9pm.

Labor Day Concert at the Capitol
Where: West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building
When: Sunday, 8pm
Admission: Free

The National Symphony Orchestra continues its annual Labor Day Weekend tradition with a free concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Led by Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke, this year’s program explores American music from TV, movies, and beloved Broadway musicals, and features Emmy Award–winning actress and singer Nicole Parker and Broadway and opera sensation Christopher Johnstone. Gates open to the public at 3pm, and if the 8pm show is too late, you can catch the open dress rehearsal at 3:30pm. In the case of inclement weather, the concert will be moved to the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. You can call the NSO Summer Concert Hotline at 202.416.8114 after 2:30pm for updates.

The Big Dig
Where: Great Country Farms
When: Saturday & Sunday, 9am – 6pm
Admission: $12/adult, $10/child

Great Country Farm’s annual Potato Harvest takes place this Saturday and Sunday. Take the scenic drive out to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains early for all-you-can-eat pancakes topped with homemade fruit syrups, then hop on a hayride that will take you out to u-pick fields where you can dig for gold — Yukon gold potatoes, that is. Breakfast is served from 9am – 12pm, and the hayrides run all day, but the fun doesn’t have to stop there. Along with breakfast and the Dig, admission includes access to the rest of the farm’s attractions, including a cow train, mazes, barnyard petting area, pick your own fields, and more. Visit the website for more information and directions.

Where the Buffalo Roam
Where: National Zoo
When: Starting Saturday
Admission: Free

In celebration of the National Zoo’s 125th Anniversary, the National Zoo is bringing back the animal that inspired its founding and helped spark the conservation movement, the American bison. The Zoo started in 1887 as an exhibit on the National Mall behind the Castle featuring American bison and a handful of species native to North America. To mark this anniversary, two bison will be taking up residence at the National Zoo — they will be located adjacent to the Zoo in Your Backyard Exhibit and the lower entrance to Asia Trail. Welcome them with a visit!

Ice Cream at George’s Place
Where: Mount Vernon Estate
When: Saturday, 10:30am – 12:30pm
Admission: $17/adults, $8/ages 6-11, free for 5 and under

Get a glimpse of culinary life in the 18th century through ice cream making demos at Mount Vernon. The special program takes place every Saturday in August, so this is your last chance to check it out. Visitors can watch as costumed staff make one of George Washington’s favorite desserts using reproduction period equipment to emulate ice cream-making process of the olden times.

The Ins & Outs
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

If you’re just looking for things to do outdoors or inside, depending on the weather or simply your preference, these posts are chock full of evergreen pursuits:
The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids
The Great Indoors

DC United vs. New York Red Bulls
Where: RFK Stadium
When: Sunday, 2:30pm
Admission: Tickets start at $25

It’s Kids Day at the DC United game! Along with an exciting match at RFK, there will be lots of extras for young fans — activities and a play area located behind Section 222. Start enjoying them at 1:30pm when stadium gates open, but get to the parking lot even earlier for tailgating and Food Trucks.


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The 2014 Library of Congress National Book Festival

natl_book_fest

This one snuck up on me, as it usually happens in late September and most years has taken place on the National Mall. But no matter where or when the annual Library of Congress National Book Festival occurs, it’s an event worth clearing time for in your weekend schedule.

That time would be this Saturday, August 30, from 10am – 10pm. For the first year ever, the Festival will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. It will be run much like it has been for the last 13 years with various pavilions highlighting the works of over 100 authors, illustrators, and poets.

Book enthusiasts, young and old, come from all over for a day of reading-related activities. Pavilions categorized by genre — Children, Teens, Picture Books, Contemporary Life, Culinary Arts, Fiction & Mystery, History & Biography, Poetry & Prose, Science and Special Programs — host presentations, book signings, photo ops with writers (and costumed PBS characters), and more exciting experiences for guests.

The Pavilion of the States salutes the literary traditions of all 50 states plus the territories the Library of Congress Pavilion provides an inside look into the workings of the world’s largest library, and a Book Sales Pavilion gives guests an opportunity to purchase selected reads — and possibly have them signed by the authors. The Let’s Read America Pavilion offers lots of activities for children and families to enjoy, including story time, live entertainment, and arts & crafts. New this year is an International pavilion featuring artists from around the world as well as evening hours, when special programs will occur.

If your children love books, chances are an author of one of their favorite stories will be there (Andrea Beaty, author of the much loved Iggy Peck Architect and Rosie Revere Engineer is among the presenters!). And there’s bound to be a writer — or many — that parents will be excited about, too. Have a look for yourself and start planning your Festival experience!

The National Book Festival will be held at the Washington Convention Center on Saturday, August 30, from 10am to 10pm. Admission is free.


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Where to Play on the Weekdays: August 25-29

A peaceful moment at the National Arboretum

A peaceful moment at the National Arboretum



Monday - Visit the National Arboretum on one of the two weekdays it’s open to the public (it’s closed Tuesday – Thursday). Tour the plant collections, visit the Washington Youth Garden and play in the natural playground, romp at the old Capitol columns, see the details of the bonzais. There are acres upon acres to explore! Hours are 8am – 5pm, and admission is free.

Tuesday - Play in the sprays at Canal Park. The recreational space in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood has both a gentle, shallow fountain that is perfect for really little ones, plus a bigger one for more enthusiastic play where the ice rink is in the winter. Admission is free. Grab a bite to eat at the Park Tavern on premises at another nearby eatery (there are options right across the street and food trucks often in the area), or pack lunch for a picnic.

Wednesday - See a show especially for little ones at The Puppet Co. Mother Goose Caboose is this week’s Tiny Tots, where the lights stay on and doors stay open during performances for the youngest audiences. Showtime is 10am. Tickets are $5 for everyone, including babies. Plan to hang out at Glen Echo Park for some fun on the playground afterwards.

Thursday - Go play at Clemyjontri, the brilliantly colored, sprawling playground in McLean that accommodates kids of all abilities. Hours are 7am to dusk, and admission is free.

Friday - Get creative at a National Portrait Gallery Open Studio Friday session. All ages are welcome to explore a different art medium each week with all kinds of fun projects. Drop in anytime from 1-4pm. Admission is free.


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The Weekend Round-Up: August 22-24

Scaling a castle wall is a possibility this weekend

Scaling a castle wall is a possibility this weekend





The old “time flies when you’re having fun” adage has been confirmed by this summer break. It seems like yesterday the kids gleefully left school, ready for camp and seasonal adventures. But here we are, two fun-filled months later, in the last weekend before they head back to class again. Good timing, though, because there are plenty of ways to get in a good last hurrah (or, in one case, huzzah!) of the summer. Happy Weekend!

Huzzah for Ren Fest!
Where: Revel Grove in Crownsville, Md
When: Saturday & Sunday, 10am – 7pm
Admission: $17/adults, $15/seniors, free for 11 and under

The best — or my very favorite, anyway — annual event of the area begins this weekend! The Maryland Renaissance Festival is a fantastic day trip back to medieval times that appeals to all ages and sensibilities. Enjoy jousting matches, kids shows, cheeky comedy, tight rope walkers, jugglers, puppetry, Celtic music… and that’s just some of the live entertainment. There are also pony rides, a pirate playground, a giant slide, and all kinds of fun, fascinating things to see. Walk among knights, maidens, pirates, and villagers in puffy shirts in a 16th-century village as you chomp on turkey legs and down cups of mead. The Faire runs every weekend through October 17, and this weekend kids ages 11 and under get in for FREE. Huzzah!

Happy 1st Birthday, Bao Bao!
Where: National Zoo
When: Saturday, 11am – 2pm
Admission: Free

It was a year ago this time that we were all glued to our screens as the Zoo’s webcam followed the new baby panda’s every move. To mark the milestone, Bao Bao and Mei Xiang will receive a specially made frozen cake at 11:30am, and keepers will give panda talks at 11am and 1:30pm. And guests can enjoy complimentary dandan (dahn-dahn) noodles (a cold dish from Sichuan province where the China Conservation and Research Center in Wolong is located) on a first-come first-served basis. Bearitos® healthy snacks, and its signature mascot, Louie, are also helping fellow bear, Bao Bao, celebrate her first birthday party. Join them at the National Zoo on Saturday at the entrance to the Asia Trail as they ring in Bao Bao’s new year. The Bearitos Bear Den will offer fun games, giveaways and, of course, Bearitos samples for the whole family.

DCPS Beautification Day
Where: DC Public Schools
When: Saturday, 9am – 1pm
Admission: Free

Help local schools get ready for the new year as DCPS holds its 10th annual Beautification Day on Saturday. DCPS needs volunteers for a variety of projects to help clean up and spruce up schools in preparation for the first day of school. Activities will include gardening and landscaping, organizing books and libraries, painting, flower planting and more. Volunteers are needed at nearly 100 schools city-wide. This is a great opportunity to contribute to neighborhood schools. For more info, to volunteer, or donate supplies, go here.

Logan Chugs into Town
Where: Barston’s Child’s Play
When: Saturday, 2pm
Admission: Free

All Aboard! Barstons Child’s Play in DC is celebrating the arrival of Thomas & Friends’ newest engine, Logan, with a special family friendly welcome bash. The newest engine to Sodor is a limited-release being introduced to the Thomas crew. Little engineers are invited to test out the all new Thomas Wooden Railway track sets in person as well as participate in family-fun Thomas-themed activities. Each attending family will also be entered for the chance to win some great Thomas & Friends prizes. Barston’s is located at at 5536 Connecticut Ave. NW.

Nats vs. Giants
Where: Nationals Park
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Admission: Ticket prices vary

It’s a weekend of home games for the Nats as they host the San Francisco Giants. There are games tonight at 7:05pm, Saturday at 4:05pm, and Sunday at 1:35pm. Take advantage of the Harris Teeter Family Fun Pack and Kids Run the Bases invites young fans ages 4-12 to do just that after Sunday’s game.

Summer Fun
Where: Throughout the area
When: All weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

There’s not much time left to enjoy some of the best activities of the season. Outdoor pools and spraygrounds, music and movies in the open air, mini golf and carousels rides at local parks and museums, or a good ol’ crab feast. The Summer 2014 guide has all the inspiration you need to eke out the most of the summer wind-down.

Show Time
Where: Local Theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

* Children’s musician Brady Rymer is playing the Saturday morning show at Jammin’ Java
* The Puppet Co. presents Little Red Riding Hood & the 3 Little Pigs on the Main Stage
* Clowning Around and Bunny Business are the The Puppet Co.’s featured Tiny Tots shows
* Be wowed by Cirque de Soleil’s Amaluna at National Harbor
* Synetic Theatre’s Miraculous Magic Ballon is this week’s free Saturday Morning at the National performance
* Catch a colorful show as Pinkalicious is performed at Adventure Theatre

Canstruction
Where: National Building Museum
When: Through September 5
Admission: Free

This design/build competition features amazing structures made entirely of canned goods by local architecture and construction teams, benefitting the Capital Area Food Bank. This year, teams build off of the theme “play with your food.” See entries on display in the Great Hall starting Saturday through September 5. (De-Canstruction takes place on September 6 as the teams disassemble their entries to donate the canned food used in their projects.)

Sing-a-long Sound of Music
Where: Wolf Trap
When: Saturday, 7:30
Admission: $25-38

A few of your favorite things are back! Quickly becoming a Wolf Trap tradition, this Oscar-winning movie will be shown on HUGE screens in-house and on the lawn, accompanied by an audience sing-a-long. Be sure to dress in your Sound of Music best – the sing-a-long is paired with an unforgettable costume contest.

BlackRock Open House
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts
When: Saturday, 10am -1pm
Admission: Free

Help BlackRock Center kick off its 2013-14 season at an Open House on Saturday. Join them for a complimentary day of fun and activities for the whole family and get a taste of all that BlackRock offers, from sample classes in dance, music, theater, and art to exciting performances and exhibits in their gallery. There will also be a “Discover BlackRock” Scavenger Hunt; opportunities to try ballet, piano, printmaking, painting and more; tours of the center; arts and crafts activities; performances by Rolie Polie Guacamole; and a cupcake toast to welcome the season.

Battle of Bladensburg Commemoration
Where: Bladensburg Waterfront Park
When: Saturday, 11am – 9pm
Admission: Free

Festivities will start with a dedication of the new monument, followed by a Grand Procession into Bladensburg Waterfront Park, then conclude with a thrilling battle re-enactment! Throughout the day enjoy the activities from trade demonstrations to boat rides to live entertainment – fun for kids and adults alike!

Wags n’ Whiskers
Where: Village at Shirlington
When: Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

This animal-centric event a community-oriented event for animal loving shoppers of all ages to spend an afternoon at The Village at Shirlington with their pet. The event will feature demonstrations, exhibitions, pet portrait photos, children’s activities, live music, and more along with Village at Shirlington merchant specials and free giveaways.

Dragon Boat Regatta
Where: Southwest Waterfront
When: Saturday, 8am – 5pm
Admission: Free

The 3rd annual National Harbor Dragon Boat Regatta takes place on Saturday. This family-friendly event will feature the best premier and local dragon boat teams from along the east coast racing in multiple distances over the course of the day. The event is free to the public to watch and will highlight this wonderful example of Asian culture.

Meet the Peeps
Where: Pasture Raised Eggs Farm
When: Saturday, 12-5pm
Admission: Free

Fluffy baby peeps will be making their debut at Pasture Raised Eggs’ farm in Purceville. These balls of fluff on toothpick salmon colored legs will fearlessly explore their environment (and you) looking for food, water and shelter. You are invited to come stop the farm to meet the peeps, feed the laying hens treats, and see if you can spot all 300 trout in the pond. At noon a Q&A session will answer visitors’ questions.

Ice Cream at George’s Place
Where: Mount Vernon Estate
When: Saturday, 10:30am – 12:30pm
Admission: $17/adults, $8/ages 6-11, free for 5 and under

Get a glimpse of culinary life in the 18th century through ice cream making demos every Saturday in August at Mount Vernon. Visitors can watch as costumed staff make one of George Washington’s favorite desserts using reproduction period equipment to emulate ice cream-making process of the olden times.

Big Fun at the Big Maze
Where: National Building Museum
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $10/adult, $5/age 3-11 members; $16/adult, $13/age 3-11 non-members

You have just over a week left to experience this super cool installation at one of our favorite museums. It looms up to 18 feet high in the Great Hall and measures 60 feet by 60 feet. Within there are twists and turns and dead ends, all formed by finely constructed walls of maple plywood at varying heights. Navigating it is a blast, especially for the kids, and viewed from upper levels, it’s like a work of art. Read more about it and get a glimpse here.

The Lego Movie en Español
Where: Mosaic District
When: Sunday, 5pm
Admission: Free

Language Stars, the national leader in early childhood foreign language, will host the first annual Language Stars Family Foreign Language Film Festival this Sunday to expose children and their families to movies in other languages. The debut film, The LEGO® Movie, will be played in Spanish with English subtitles. Based on the LEGO line of construction toys, the film tells the story of an ordinary LEGO construction worker who is prophesised to save the LEGO universe from an evil tyrant bent on gluing it into eternal stasis.

Drum Circle
Where: Meridian Hill Park, upper pavilion
When: Sunday, 3:30-6:30pm
Admission: Free

This weekly drumming circle doubles as a veritable amusement park for kids and is filled with good sights, plus picnicking, for everyone. This summer there’s been hammocks and tightropes, hula hooping and soccer pick-up, practitioners of ‘aerial yoga’ doing their thing, and more. Plus this coming Sunday you can find Moms Clean Air Force, an organization that fights climate change with mom-power, there too — with a big earth parachute for the kids. MCAF’s DC Field Organizer will be happy to chat with moms and dads about how to get involved in the organization. Look for the red balloons. Can’t make it? Attend another MCAF social around town. RSVPs appreciated to jhantman@momscleanairforce.org.

The Great Indoors
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

It appears there may be a disruption in the streak of sublime weekends we’ve been having (ie, rain in the forecast), so keep the list of indoor activities handy. It’s stacked with ideas for ongoing pursuits that will keep you sheltered from the elements.


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