We are incredibly lucky to live in a Metro area that offers so many unique, enriching resources and experiences for families. I think about this a lot — it was one of my main motives for starting this blog over two years ago, and I’m reminded of it all the time as I discover new places and try new adventures around Washington, DC. But it hit home in another way on Tuesday as I watched the Space Shuttle Discovery fly-by from the National Mall. It may have been a one-time event, but it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And when I think about it, extraordinary opportunities like that are fairly regular here. Those, plus all that is available to us on an everyday basis, is part of what makes living here and raising children here pretty amazing.
And on that
corny reflective note, here’s where you can have some of those experiences, both one-time and everyday, around our dynamic city. Happy Weekend!
Where: Udvar-Hazy Center
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: Free, but parking is $15
If you missed Space Shuttle Discovery’s flyover earlier this week (or even if you got to see it), you still have a chance to be part of the excitement of its arrival in the DC area. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Discovery’s new permanent home, is hosting a Family Weekend to celebrate the shuttle’s retirement there. Special exhibits, programs, and activities will be presented with offerings designed for every age group, from youngsters to older adults. See the website for details.
Where: National Mall
When: Sunday, 12-7pm
Earth Day is celebrated around the globe, but the centerpiece of the event is happening right in our backyards on the National Mall. Civic leaders and celebs will join thousands of people to “Mobilize the Earth,” the theme of this year’s rally. Notable speakers include EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson; DC Mayor Vincent Gray; Rev. Jesse Jackson; Indy Car driver Leilani Münter; Atlanta Falcons fullback, Ovie Mughelli, and members of Congress. There will also be performances by Cheap Trick, Dave Mason, Kicking Daisies, and The Explorers Club. Besides the main stage, there will be tents and booths set up along the Mall with enviro-related activities, exhibits, and more sponsored by green-thinking organizations.
Happy Birthday to the Bard!
Where: Folgers Shakespeare Library
When: Sunday, 12-4pm
‘Tis Shakespeare’s 448th birthday, and the Folger Shakespeare Library is celebrating with an Open House on Sunday afternoon. In true Renaissance fashion, there will be song and dance, jesters and jugglers, and stage combat (workshops, methinks). Especially for children will be fortune telling, quill writing, arts & crafts, a Shakespeare portrait contest, and a giant birthday cake. The event is free and will take place rain or shine. The Library is located at 201 East Capitol Street SE.
Earth Day Party for the Planet
Where: National Zoo
When: Sunday, 11am – 3pm
Celebrate Earth Day and the Zoo’s commitment to green practices. Learn about living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, watch animal demos featuring recycled items for animal enrichment, stop by State Farm’s special children’s area at the Kids’ Farm that promotes reusing, find out how to turn newspaper into a plant pot and take home your own, enjoy original music played on handmade instruments made from locally grown gourds, and much more. For the complete scoop, visit the Zoo’s website.
Where: Dillon S. Ripley Center
When: Daily through June 3, 10am – 5:30pm
The promos for this exhibit claim “Math has never been so sweet!” And I am happy to report that it does not disappoint. With a over 40 unique, interactive experiences, including video games, robotics, movie making, and many more hands-on installments, both kids and adults will want to play (and learn) all day. It’s fun, engaging, and challenging. It’s cool to look at, both as a whole and by individual display. In a nutshell, it is one impressive exhibit. Read a review of our experience there.
ABC’s of Family Biking
Where: Capitol Hill Montessori School at Logan (215 G Street NE)
When: Saturday 11am – 2pm
Kidical Mass DC, WABA and DDOT Safe Routes to School will help interested families learn more about the tools and resources available to help them bike together and offer fun activities for all ages. There will be basic skills classes along with a special new class on biketrains and group riding, a bike decorating station, a clinic on roadside repairs, a display of bikes and equipment used to transport kids, and chance to get tips and tricks from other biking parents.
Eleanor’s Secret/Filmfest DC
Where: Goethe-Institut Washington
When: Saturday, 2:30pm
The 26th annual International Film Festival includes a kids’ offering this. Eleanor’s Secret, a French animated film from an Academy-Award-nominated director, tells the story of a magic library where characters from classic children’s books come alive. The film will be presented in English and is an excellent opportunity for local children to view a film they would not otherwise see.
Eco Art & Design Earth Day Celebration
Where: 3401 Water Street NW
In celebration of Earth Day, Benevolent Media and SCRAP DC present an afternoon of eco-conscious art and design, featuring a pop-up marketplace of local vendors and interactive workshops led by teaching artists dedicated to inspiring “creative reuse” and environmentally sustainable behavior. This event is scheduled as part of The Water Street Project, a multidisciplinary “flash” exhibition housed in a temporary art gallery/creative space in Georgetown, along the newly renovated waterfront. RSVP on Facebook.
Root for the Home Team
Where: Nationals Park
When: Friday 7:05pm, Saturday 1:05pm, Sunday 1:35pm
Admission: Starts at $10
The Nats are hosting the Florida Marlins this weekend, and there are promos that families in particular will enjoy for the two afternoon games. Saturday is a Family Fun Day with special ticket and food packages. Sunday is Kids Opening Day, plus it’s a Signature Sunday, and kids can run the bases after the game. For details on what all this entails, see this post from last week.
Where: Various theaters
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue
Live entertainment options start with Saturday morning at the National with performances by the Coyaba Dance Center. You can also catch The Puppet Co.’s newest production, Pinocchio, or a Tiny Tots for the youngest set. This weekend is the last chance to see Aquarium at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Imagination Stage presents their version of Rapunzel. And Trout Fishing in America is performing at BlackRock Center for the Arts on Saturday.For more details on all of these shows, see this post about spring entertainment.
Where: National Museum of Natural History
When: All Weekend
There are a couple of great additions – one brand new, the other recently opened – to the Natural History Museum’s array of interesting exhibits and entertainment. To the Arctic 3D, a new IMAX film opens at the Samuel C. John Theater today. And the Nature’s Best Photography exhibit features the winning images from the 2011 Windland Smith Rice International Awards, a competition that honors the best in nature and wildlife photography. And for some background on the museum’s permanent collections, see this post.
Fun with the National Children’s Museum
Where: NCM Launch Zone
When: Saturday 11am – 4pm, Sunday 1pm & 2pm
The NCM presents two different programs for kids this weekend. At Earth Day Everyday on Saturday, celebrate with them as they highlight how kids can grow their own gardens and learn how to protect them using natural resources. Guests can decorate their own garden accessories, witness ladybug releases, and meet special guests from Maryland Master Gardeners. On Sunday, see Princess Sunni’s Birthday Dress Rehearsal, a royal celebration during an open dress rehearsal of NCM’s original production of the play. Help the Princess learn about sun safety and complete the Ancient Royal Challenges so she can become Queen. The performance runs approximately 20 minutes and is recommended for ages 3-8.
Explore the Universe Day
Where: National Air & Space Museum
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Discover the wonders of space with a day full of activities at the Air & Space Museum. Guests can join a museum expert for a free, live presentation on the stars in the Albert Einstein Planetarium at 10:30am (seating is limited and will be is first-come, first-served), discuss telescopes with a Galileo re-enactor, chat with expert and amateur astronomers, and gaze at Venus and the Sun from the Museum’s Public Observatory, weather permitting. Other hands-on activities around the museum include a chance to make a solar clock and build an astrolab. Go here for the complete schedule of activities.
The Ins and Outs of DC
Where: All over the area
When: All weekend long
Admission: Varies by adventure
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
Rainy Day Recreation (ie, Indoor Fun)