Where to Play on the Weekdays: July 6-10

Make a wish at Annmarie Sculpture Gardens...

Make a wish at Annmarie Sculpture Gardens…



Monday - Go for a “swim” at the National Building Museum, where The BEACH just opened for the summer! The unique installation covers 10,000 square feet and includes an “ocean” of nearly one million recyclable translucent plastic balls, and visitors are welcome to take a dip or chill out by the shore’s edge. Admission is $5/youth member, $10/adult member and $13/youth non-member, $16/adult non-member, and it probably doesn’t hurt to reserve tickets in advance. Museum hours are 10am – 5pm.

Tuesday - Head to Capitol Hill for outdoor parachute play, hula hooping, puppetry, capoeira and more at the Play-In for Climate Action sponsored by Moms Clean Air Force. Enjoy activities and musical acts, including Ms. Cacie and Baba Ras D while standing with hundreds of families calling for the government to help slow down climate change for our kids’ sake. Register and view line-up here, and see comprehensive Q&As here. Event is rain or shine (pre-registrants will be advised of an indoor location in case of bad weather). Admission is free.

Wednesday - Go on an art exploration at the Kreeger Museum’s First Studio program 10-11am. The series, designed for ages 3-5, invites children to explore the paintings, sculpture, and architecture of the museum with a gallery tour, analysis of works of art, a story, and a hands-on art-making experience. Class size is limited, so pre-registration is required. Admission is $7, adult companions are free. If the class fills up or your kids have aged out, check out some art on your own at the museum or the National Gallery on the National Mall.

Thursday - See Secret Agent 23 Skidoo at Strathmore’s Backyard Theatre for Children. The annual summer music series for kids kicks off this week and will take place every Thursday through July. Performances are at 9:30am and 11:30am. Tickets are $8.

Friday - Take a day trip out to Solomons, Md, to the Annmarie Sculpture Gardens for an enchanting array of artistic delights. View eye-popping works, both indoors and out, hunt for fairy houses, play in the Fairy Lolly, and create some of your own art with inspiration from all you see there. Trust me, it’s worth the hour-plus drive. Hours are 9am – 5pm in the gardens, 10am – 5pm at the arts center. Admission is $5/adult, $3/ages 6-17, free for 5 and under.

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Filed under All ages, Art, DC, Educational, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Seasonal, Summer, Theatre, Weekdays

Artistic Delights and Fairy Inspiration at Annmarie Sculpture Gardens

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Every now and then our explorations take us places that are extraordinary. Destinations that have me asking myself how in the world it took me so long to hear about them, let alone visit. Spots that engage and enchant and make us want stay as long as we possibly can, and have me planning a return trip before we even leave.

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Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Art Center is one of those very places. A few weeks ago, my friend Jody texted me a link, asking if I knew of a park she heard was amazing. I clicked through to read about a “magicalicious exhibit of more than 50 handmade fairy and gnome houses” at what looked like a gorgeous sculpture garden. I saw that it was located in Solomons, Md, just over an hour’s drive from DC, and put it on my mental bucket list of summer adventures.

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Just a few days later, I took Sasha to a birthday party where she adored decorating a small fairy house, which prompted another friend to tell us about the same fantastic place to see the small, whimsical dwellings. Two mentions within in a week? It was a sign from the fairies that we needed to go soon, and within just days of kicking off our stretch of summer leisure, we headed southeast for the second time to experience Annmarie Sculpture Gardens for ourselves.

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They don’t waste any time at Annmarie; the art adventure begins upon arrival. The entrance gates, posts made of colorful ceramics, are actually part of the permanent collection and a subtle indication of the delights to come. It gets even better going into the parking area, where a fantastic sculptural fountain sits in the center of the drive. Eager to see more, we headed into the John Dennis Murray Arts Building next to the lot to pay admission and get the scoop on gardens.

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Walking into the art center is a wonderful, eye-popping thrill. There is art everywhere — on the walls, atop stands throughout the spacious room, hanging from the ceiling, even lined up on the floor. A dress-up area filled with fanciful garb and accessories — think tutus, suits of “armor,” funky hats, lots of sparkly pieces — welcomes guests to try on, even adorn themselves for the duration of their visit.

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Friendly staff greeted us, gave us maps for the gardens and fairy houses, and explained the lay of the land. As I was paying admission, the kids were already getting started on an art activity at a small station nearby. A sheet of questions prompted them to create, draw, and characterize superheros, which they could hang up on the wall. We then headed out the other end of the building to the gardens. Just outside the doors is an area with several tables, where we decided to have the lunch we packed before starting to explore. It was a perfect picnic spot with lovely views of the woods and gardens.

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By the time we finished eating, we were all quite eager to begin our garden and fairy house tour and wasted no time hitting the trail. A paved path loops through the grounds, and most of the works are located just off of it, though some you have to seek out more than others — which adds a little challenge to the venture.

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Some of the works are part of the permanent collection, and many more are on loan from the Hirshhorn, National Gallery of Art, and other private collections. But walking among them in this setting, surrounded by tall leafy trees and sounds of nature, is a much different experience than a sculpture tour on the National Mall.

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And then there are the fairy houses. The adorable collection of little whimsical abodes for sprite-like creatures is there only through the summer, all of them selected from many submissions in an annual fairy house building contest. And they are just fantastic. Created by all ages, individuals and groups, each one has a different theme, but together they are a brilliant showcase of imagination and craftiness.

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The path starts and ends at the arts center, and along with the sculptures and houses, we encountered lots of other delights on the route — tree pops, birdhouses, even a turtle. At the end, we stopped at a table outside the art center, where guests were encouraged to paint rocks for a display coming soon.

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We finished the art tour, but our Annmarie visit wasn’t nearly done. We headed back into the arts center, so the kids could dress up and get ready to play in the Fairy Lolly, probably the most enchanting playground I’ve ever seen. Amid a large clearing in the woods are colorful little houses, trees decorated with flowers and ribbons, lofty teepees, a fairy stage, a music area, and painted tree stumps. Adirondak chairs are scattered about if you want to relax and take it all in while the kids play. It’s incredible, and we easily could have spent the rest of our visit there, but there was even more to enjoy.

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Back inside, we went to the artLab, a “creative reuse center for all ages.” Essentially, it’s an art studio, where guests are not just welcome, but encouraged to make some of their own art using any of the materials, most of them recycled, in the lab. It’s a fantastic space to create art — organized, but not too tidy, making you feel like it’s okay to color outside the lines and think outside the box. A colorful mosaic of recyclable pieces decorates one wall, and other fun art is displayed around the room. There are suggestions and steps for crafts, but everything is self-guided. We all worked on some projects — bottle cap robots, bean art, painting — to cap off our visit. It was a perfect way to end our Annmarie outing: creating art after being so inspired it.

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Annmarie Sculpture Garden is located in Solomons, Md, just over an hour from DC. The gardens are open 9am – 5pm, the Arts Building 10am – 5pm. Hours may vary by season or in case of an event, so it’s always good to check before you go. Admission is $5/adult, $3/ages 6-17, free for 5 and under. They also offer classes and camps, and host various events throughout the year (I’ll start keeping you posted!).

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Filed under All ages, Art, Exhibit, Maryland, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Weekdays, Weekend

The Weekend Round-Up: July 3-5

American flag LEGO build at the American History Musuem -- see it on display through summer!

American flag LEGO build at the American History Musuem — see it on display through summer!



Independence Day celebrations are the main events, and there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the holiday weekend — live entertainment, seasonal fun, an indoor “beach,” baseball, butterflies, and the Women’s World Cup on the big screen (go, USA!) among them. The Everyday Play page has even more ideas (but check to make sure places are open during the holiday). Happy Weekend! And have a safe and happy 4th of July!

Come Fourth!
Where: Around the area
When: Saturday, July 4th!
Admission: Varies by activity

Our lovely city is one of the most exciting places to be this time of year, as people from all over the world come to celebrate America’s birthday. And from fireworks on the Mall and concerts at the Capitol to special events at George Washington’s house and the home of the Declaration of Independence to neighborhood parades and ballpark fun, they (and you!) won’t be let down. This post details on the many ways to celebrate July 4th in DC.

American Innovation
Where: National Museum of American History
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

Enjoy the Grand Opening Week of a brand new wing at the American History Museum! The 45,000-square-foot area features exhibitions that explore the history of American business and showcase “hot spots” of invention. The much loved (and missed) Spark!Lab is also back, and along with the Object Project space, has all kinds of cool, hands-on activities and exhibits for all ages. There will also be special programs and demos taking place during this opening week — see the schedule here for details.

Joys of Summer
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

Get your summer on this holiday weekend with a host of activities exclusive to this time of year — outdoor swimming, spray ground play, concerts under the stars, movies al fresco. Go here for the full scoop on these joys of summer, and keep in mind that some regular events might not be happening due to the holiday.

Hit the Beach
Where: National Building Museum
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: $5-16 (see details below)

First there was indoor mini-golf, last year it was a giant maze. This summer, the National Building Museum is riding the seasonal wave and bringing The BEACH to the Great Hall and they are debuting it on Saturday! The installation opens July 4 and will cover 10,000 square feet and include an “ocean” of nearly one million recyclable translucent plastic balls. Visitors are welcome to “swim” in the ocean or spend an afternoon at the “shore’s” edge. Admission is $5/youth member, $10/adult member and $13/youth non-member, $16/adult non-member.

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

San Fran comes to DC, as the Nats host the Cubs all weekend. See Freedom Fireworks after the game on Friday (6:05pm), catch part of the Patriotic Series on Independence Day Saturday (11:05pm) and take advantage of the Steven Strasbourg bobblehead promo on Sunday (8:08pm). Be sure to check out these tips for doing a Nats game for less as you plan.

Smithonian Folklife Festival
Where: National Mall at 3rd-4th Streets
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

The annual Festival celebrating living cultural heritage and community traditions is underway. Visitors of all ages will have ample opportunity to discover and explore the culture of Peru through special exhibits, workshops, performances, exhibits, demos, and more, including plenty of activities especially children. For specifics, see the festival schedule. And it all takes place right on the National Mall where you can easily pop into museums in case of rain.

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

* Cat-ch Garfield: The Musical with Cattitude at Adventure Theatre
* Fly away to Neverland at a spectacular performance of Peter Pan in the ThreeSixty Theatre at Tysons
* Experience Double Trouble on the Imagination Stage
* And little ones will live Aquarium, just opening at the Bethesda theater
* Take the fam to Shakespeare in the park as Chesapeake Shakespeare Company presents The Comedy of Errors at Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park
* See a show on strings at The Puppet Co. where Snow White and the 7 Dwarves is the current main stage production
* And Mother Goose Caboose is the featured Tiny Tots show at the puppet theatre
* IMPOSSIBLE: A Happenstance Circus is wowing audiences at the Round House Theatre

Root for the Baysox
Where: Prince George’s Stadium
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: Ticket prices vary

See baseball on a smaller scale at a Bowie Baysox game! Saturday is their Red, White, and BOOM Independence Day celebration with a post-game fireworks display. On Sunday, go Back to Future as they celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary.

Wings of Fancy
Where: Brookside Gardens
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $8/ages 13 and up, $5/3-12, free ages 0-2

Walk amid a garden of butterflies at Brookside Garden’s amazing Wings of Fancy exhibit, back this year through September 25 after being closed last summer during renovations. The seasonal display featuring live butterflies and caterpillars from all over the world is sure to delight! Read about a KFDC experience at the exhibit. Plan to tour the rest of Brookside’s lovely grounds while you’re there and see if there are any other special kids’ programs to enjoy.

Women’s World Cup Finals
Where: National Harbor
When: Sunday, 7pm
Admission: Free

A World Cup win by the Women’s U.S. Soccer team would be a perfect way to cap off America’s birthday weekend! And you can watch the big match against Japan on the really big screen at National Harbor, where they’ll be hosting a watch party on the waterfront Jumbotron, an 18’ x 32’ foot LED screen, on Sunday. It’s located on the plaza, and guests are welcome to bring lawn chairs and watch from there or grab a meal and drinks and watch from Redstone American Grill’s outdoor patio.


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Giveaway: Enter to Win Tickets to Garfield at Adventure Theatre!

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Garfield: The Musical with Cattitude is on stage now at Adventure Theatre through August 23, and I’ve got a Family 4-Pack of tickets to see it for one lucky KFDC reader!

Garfield, a chubby and sarcastic tabby cat fantasizes about having the most amazing birthday in the history of birthdays. But, it seems that all his friends – Arlene, Odie, Jon and even his nemesis, Nermal, seem to have forgotten. Feeling rejected, Garfield ventures out to find adventure, but quickly learns that “home is where the heart… and the food is.

“A summer must-see for any kid!”- DCTheatreScene.com

Garfield: The Musical With Cattitude packs in enough laughs and songs to keep even that famously grumpy cat satisfied.” –DCMetroTheaterArts.com”

Based on the characters created by Jim Davis, the one-hour show is recommended for all ages. Performances are on Saturdays and Sundays at 11am, 2pm, and 4:30pm. Tickets are $19.50.

*Save $4.50 per ticket in the 2015-2016 season with a Flexpass! For more information, visit the website or call 301-634-2270.


GIVEAWAY: For a chance to win a Family 4-Pack of tickets to see Garfield: The Musical with Cattitude at Adventure Theatre, simply leave a comment telling me the activity you and your kids have enjoyed most so far this summer. To be eligible, you must subscribe to the KFDC blog (see sign-up on upper left side) and like KidFriendly DC on Facebook. The giveaway will run through Sunday, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Adventure Theatre, however, I only promote programs, events, and services that I truly believe in and/or think would appeal to KFDC readers.


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Filed under All ages, Contest, Giveaway, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, Summer, Theatre, Weekend

New Summer Activity that Local Families are Raving About

[Note: This post is exclusive to KidFriendly DC and announces the launch of an exciting new summer activity for local families. It was written by the folks at the Kiddovate Foundation.]

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If you are looking for a fun summer activity to do WITH your kids, we’ve found it. It’s not a camp, class, or cookout. And it doesn’t require driving, diving, or dishing out cash. It’s something you can do at home, for free, with the whole family. And your kids will LOVE IT.

Sounds impossible, but it’s true! KidFriendly DC was among the first to learn about the launch of The Kiddovate Family Challenge! Check out this video to see this month’s challenge yourself — the KidFriendly DC crew was eager to jump in, and your kids will be, too!

The Kiddovate Family Challenge is an exciting family activity that encourages kids and parents to work together to solve monthly creative challenges. Imagine building a rubber band powered vehicle, innovating a new kind of firework, or using recyclable materials to construct the ultimate toy store. These are the types of challenges that families participate in each month, and winners receive great prizes from big time sponsors. (In July, the sponsor is Six Flags America!)

Parents feel great about participating in Kiddovate’s STEAM-based challenges; and kids are so engaged that they will actually turn off their iPads and start building! Besides being fun and engaging for the whole family, the Kiddovate Family Challenge inspires innovative thinking, teamwork, collaboration, and hands-on building with everyday materials like old shoe boxes, egg cartons, and empty toilet paper tubes. Seriously, you have to see this video.

The Kiddovate Family Challenge is subscription based, but it’s super cheap when compared to alternative activities, or even movie tickets! For just $4.99 per month your family gets access to the monthly challenge and you become eligible to win fantastic prizes geared at creating even more family fun.

Great news for KidFriendly DC readers, if you sign up for the Kiddovate Family Challenge soon, the first month (July) is free! Please don’t miss out on the chance to join in the fun and ignite a flurry of creativity and innovation in your own home.

Again, check out this video to see this month’s challenge. Spoiler alert: You and your kids will be designing and prototyping a totally innovative water park experience. You guessed it, winners receive AWESOME prize package to Six Flags America.

Sign up for the Kiddovate Family Challenge today to have so much fun “making a splash” with your kids.

Yes, the prizes and recognition are great. But, beyond that, your family wins something priceless: time together as a family, making memories and having fun. It might sound simple, even cheesy, but in a fast paced world where turnover and timelines move at a rapid pace, taking time to roll up your sleeves and engage with your kids is a precious commodity. Challenging yourself to listen to your kids’ ideas and help bring them to life can be transformative in a family.

So, “take the plunge” and start making waves with this awesome family-friendly activity, from the folks at Kiddovate who are working hard to help today’s kids become tomorrow’s innovators.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Kiddovate Foundation, however, I only promote services, events, and programs that I truly believe in and/or think would appeal to KFDC readers.


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Filed under All ages, DC, Sponsored Post