Category Archives: All ages

The Library of Congress: A Local & National Treasure for All Ages

The magnificent Great Hall at the Library of Congress

The magnificent Great Hall at the Library of Congress



Recently, I realized I had yet to post a write-up about the Library of Congress. Which is kind of surprising given that we live just blocks away, within walking distance, and it’s one of DC’s most iconic, fascinating, beautiful attractions that makes for a great outing with kids.

We don’t visit all that frequently, but we’ve spent a decent amount of time there over the years. I used to pop in more when the kids were little to stroll around the grand space, and Sasha and I would occasionally attend story time on Fridays at the Young Readers Center. And while I’ve mentioned it here and there over the years to recommend those regular book readings and other special events for families, there’s been no KFDC dedicated post. Until now.

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It was the recent announcement of new Saturday hours at the Young Readers Center that brought this to my attention. Dedicated to readers from babies to teens, visitors are welcome to explore the collection of books and enjoy both regular and occasional special programs for kids and parents. On the shelves you’ll find everything from board and picture books to early reader chapter books to middle reader series and YA novels. And while you can’t check them out of the library, guests are free to settle in there with a good read.

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Within a such palatial, stately building, the space is a nice, cozy place to hang out and read with kiddos (or let older kids read on their own). Plenty of comfy seating and even stuffed animals to snuggle with are available. There are also small toys around for little ones to play with as they explore. The Young Readers Center is open Monday through Saturday 9am – 4:30pm, and hosts a free story time every Friday at 10am (space is limited to 50 people, so plan accordingly).

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Don’t make that your only stop on an outing to the Library of Congress! There is so much to see and do beyond that — it’s the largest library in the world, after all. The magnificent architecture and stunning design alone will wow visitors young and old. Stand in the Great Hall and look around — you’ll see lots of other people gazing up at the ornate ceilings, reading inscriptions on walls, examining sculptures and paintings and even the beautiful floors, and just wandering around marveling at it all. There are interactives where you can get information about the significance, history, and artistry of the various features. And two very popular displays are a Giant Bible of Mainz and an original Gutenberg Bible.

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From the Great Hall, you can easily access Thomas Jefferson’s Library, a reconstruction of the president’s library arranged in the same particular order he preferred. There are 2,000 volumes from his original collection, plus another 3,000 or so that match those destroyed in an 1851 fire at the Capitol. It’s a huge and impressive treasury of books!

Taking in the view ofthe Main Reading Room

Taking in the view ofthe Main Reading Room

Another must-see is the Main Reading Room, which you can’t actually enter without a special pass but can view from an overlook. The vast space has ceilings 160 feet high and at the center of its dome is a mural depicting twelve figures representing “the countries, cultures, and eras that contributed to the development of Western civilization as understood in 1897.” Be sure to also take a look around at the bronze statues representing great influences in various subjects. (This area is accessible to researchers ages 16 and up. Go here to learn more.)

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The exhibit Exploring the Early Americas contains an interesting collection of rare maps, paintings, and artifacts. Show kids what explorers thought the world looked like centuries ago, and get a close look at a case of ceramic flasks and vessels sculpted with faces and symbolic designs.

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There are even more exhibits downstairs that change out seasonally. Recently, paraphernalia highlighting presidents and the women’s movement were showcased. Follow the long hallway and you’ll come to the Bob Hope and American Variety exhibit and the American Folk Life Center. There is even a room of pianos dedicated to Gerswhin.

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I should note that all of this is in the Thomas Jefferson Building, one of three that make up the entire Library of Congress. It’s great to explore on your own, but guided tours are also available hourly every day beginning at 10:30am until 3:30pm (2:30pm on Saturdays). You can also check the calendar for any other programs taking place.

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And if you’re feeling ambitious about your day out, take the tunnel from the Library to the U.S. Capitol Building. Yes, you can follow a long underground hallway to the Capitol Visitor Center and embark on a whole new tour there!

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The Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building is located on First Street SE, between Independence Avenue and East Capitol Street. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9am – 4:30pm. Admission is free.


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Where to Play on the Weekdays: February 13-17

Strike up some fun at Pinstripes!

Strike up some fun at Pinstripes!



Monday – Go bowling! It’s a great indoor activity for what’s forecast to be a cold, windy day. Take advantage of Kids Bowling at Pinstripes in Georgetown, where from 10am – 12pm Monday – Thursday, kids can bowl for $3/hour ($3/shoe rental) and parents are free (limit 4 kids per adult). Eat while you bowl or stay after for lunch — they have a good kids menu and a pretty extensive main menu, too.

Tuesday – Take a Valentine’s Day hike at Riverbend Park. The Great Falls locale may not be as popular as its national park neighbor, but it’s just as fantastic a place to enjoy some time in nature — especially with kids. Trails are mellow for little hikers, the views are lovely, there are plenty of nice picnic spots, and admission is free. And if you want to see the magnificent falls up river, they’re an easy two-mile walk in the woods away. You’ll love it, I promise. 🙂 Riverbend Park hours are 7am to dusk.

Wednesday – Join the Boogie Babes for a special February pop-up show at the Miracle Theatre on Barracks Row. with Mr. Skip will lead the musical fun starting at 10:30am. Admission is $6, free for siblings 6 months and under. Plan to grab lunch at one of many eateries on 8th Street SE or stop by District Doughnut for a treat!

Thursday – Experiment with hands-on fun at the Children’s Science Center Lab at Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax. Kids of all ages can explore a variety of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) concepts through fun, engaging interactive exhibits and activities. Hours are 10am – 6pm. Admission is $12 (under 2 are free).

Friday – Enjoy a free screening of One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure at the Einstein Planetarium in the National Air & Space Museum. Showtime is 10:30am every Friday (and Sunday, plus the first Saturday of every month). It only lasts about 20 minutes, so explore the many impressive exhibits and discover How Things Fly, a room full of hands-on activities with major kid appeal, while you’re there. Museum hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free.

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Giveaway! Celebrate Valentine’s Day Family-Style with Whole Foods Market

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Who says Valentine’s Day has to be a couples-only holiday? Not me! Celebrating with the people — big and little — I love most is what makes it special in my book. In fact, I never really made much of the day until I had kids and thought it would be sweet to mark the occasion with them. Along with enjoying Valentine’s-inspired activities around the area, we usually exchange homemade cards and enjoy some treats.

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This year, however, we had an early family celebration with the help of Whole Foods Market and some great offers they have for the holiday. Rib-eye steaks and lobster tails are on sale along with beautiful flowers, bubbly, chocolates, and lots of other Whole Foods items to make for a festive — and delicious — feast.

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Our family-style “Valentine’s Day” dinner included the surf & turf, a nice bottle of De ChancenyCremant de Loire Brut for Levi and me (sparkling water for the kids), a pepperoni pizza with the topping shaped like a heart, and a salad to get our veggies. We all savored some of everything, and had plenty of leftovers to enjoy later, too.

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We ended the meal on a sweet note — Lake Champlain chocolates in cute heart shaped boxes that made nice little gifts for Owen and Sasha. And a gorgeous bouquet of roses is a present for all of us that we can continue to enjoy beyond our lovely, little celebration.

Ready to get your Valentine’s Day celebration started? Go to SHOP.WFM.COM to do some pre-shopping!

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Giveaway: Want to try some of these Whole Foods Market specials – on them? You have a chance to win a $50 Whole Foods Gift Card! Enter on the KidFriendly DC Facebook Page – simply like the post and leave a comment. The giveaway will run through February 14, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Whole Foods Market, however, I only promote places programs, and services that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.


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The Weekend Round-Up: February 11-12

A close look at a Ganesha statue at the Sackler Gallery, where families can enjoy a special art workshop this weekend

A close look at a Ganesha statue at the Sackler Gallery, where families can enjoy a special art workshop this weekend



So much to love about this weekend’s happenings! Opt for a Valentine’s Day-themed activity, celebrate Black History Month, immerse in adventure at a brand new exhibit, enjoy live entertainment, join a nature program… These are just some highlights among many options for fun with your kiddos. Happy Weekend!

DIY Valentines
Where: National Postal Museum
When: Saturday, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Love is in the details at the Postal Museum’s annual Valentine’s Day Card Workshop. We’ve attended this event several times, so I can tell you firsthand it’s love-ly. They’ll have pretty papers and neat valentine-themed stamps, all you need to bring is your creativity to decorate your card. Visit the museum’s stamp store and send the cards to your loved ones with a special Postal Museum postmark. And for more about the museum, see this KFDC post.

The Power of Chocolate
Where: National Museum of the American Indian
When: Saturday & Sunday, 10:30am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

The story of chocolate begins with a small tree that has its roots deep in the world of Mesoamerican culture. Join us for a celebration of one of the world’s most beloved foods. Explore the rich history and ongoing story of chocolate by grinding chocolate, creating a vase with Maya glyphs and learning more about the science, art and culture of chocolate.

More Activities to Love
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

Love is in the air — and at places all around DC this weekend! Events and activities to celebrate Valentine’s Day range from story time and crafts to skate dates to nature programs to tea time. And all of them are sure to be especially sweet. This post has the scoop on all of them.

Earth Explorers
Where: National Geographic Museum
When: Throughout the weekend, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $12/adult, $10/ages 5-12, under 5 are free

Witness animal migrations from a hot air balloon, submerse into the deep sea to study marine life, discover new species in the rain forest, gear up for a polar expedition. These are all adventures — simulated ones, anyway — to be experienced at the Nat Geo Museum’s newest exhibition that offers a glimpse into the work and passion of explorers in the field. Full of hands-on displays and interactive installations, it’s informative and inspiring. Best for elementary school ages and up, but younger children can enjoy it, too.

NOAA Open House
Where: NOAA Silver Spring Campus
When: Saturday, 9am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Explore your world and learn how NOAA—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—takes the pulse of the planet every day and protects and manages ocean and coastal resources. Join NOAA at the Silver Spring campus for a series of free activities, including engaging talks by NOAA experts, interactive exhibits, special tours, and hands-on activities for ages 5 and up. Meet and talk with scientists, weather forecasters, hurricane hunters, and others who work to understand our environment, protect life and property, and conserve and protect natural resources. Note: A government-issued photo ID is required for adults. Check the website for a list of acceptable forms of ID.

African American Pioneers in Aviation and Space
Where: National Air & Space Museum
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Each February, the museum celebrates the significant contributions African Americans have made to flight and space exploration despite the overwhelming obstacles they had to overcome. Enjoy presentations, hands-on activities, and stories. Learn about African American astronauts, pilots, and scientists of the past and present and their accomplishments.

Carnival Family Day
Where: Anacostia Community Museum
When: Saturday, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

In celebration of the exhibition Gateways, the public is invited to enjoy live entertainment, face painting, mask making, storytelling, and other activities for the kids at this popular annual museum event. See the schedule of the day’s events here.

African-Americans at Walney Walking Tour
Where: Ellanor C. Lawrence Park
When: Saturday, 11am
Admission: $6

In this interactive walking tour, learn the names and stories of the many African-American families who lived here in slavery and in freedom. The one-hour program is recommended for ages 6 and up. Children must be accompanied by a registered adult.

More Black History Month Celebrations
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

February is Black History Month, and there are events and activities throughout the DC area to celebrate it. Museum programs (including an entire museum!), special tours and exhibits, story time sessions, and are be enlightening and fun for all ages. See where they’re happening this weekend.

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

* Ella Enchanted is on stage at Adventure Theatre
* Reserve free tickets to see Skher Brown and the Dancing Warriors Ensemble, this week’s Saturday Morning at the National performer
* Hamlette puts a twist on the Shakespearean classic at The Keegan Theatre
* The Freshest Snow Whyte just opensed at Imagination Stage
* Goldilocks is the latest Main Stage show at The Puppet Co.
* And Snow Show is the featured Tiny Tots performance on Sunday
* Steve Songs is playing two shows at Jammin Java on Saturday
* Watch The Great Zucchini with Barry the Magician perform at the Avalon Theatre in Alexandria
* Little ones will enjoy Kitchen Adventures with Encore Stage & Studio
* The Folger Theatre presents As You Like It
* Make it a KidFree night as Shakespeare Theatre Company presents King Charles III at Sidney Harman Hall

DC National Girls and Women in Sports Day Expo
Where:Deanwood Recreation and Aquatic Center
When: Saturday, 10:30am – 4pm
Admission: Free

“Expanding Opportunity” is the theme of this expo and will be one of more than 1,000 events taking place across the country for National Girls and Women in Sports Day. Decades of research show that girls who play sports have better health, higher self-esteem, greater academic achievement, stronger leadership skills, and greater economic opportunity. All District young women and their parents are invited to this event that will showcase up to 40 local vendors, organizations, and programs dedicated to sports and activity opportunities for girls and young women.

Baltimore, Hon!
Where: Baltimore attractions
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Zip up I-95 for some fun in our sister city, where there are several great places to spend a day off. Play the day away at Port Discovery. Explore the exhibits and loads of hands-on activities at the Maryland Science Center. See some of the quirkiest, coolest art around at the American Visionary Art Museum. Get an eyeful of the underwater world at the National Aquarium. Or learn about Baltimore’s early business days at the Museum of Industry.

Fables Rule!
Where: Silver Spring Library
When: Saturday, 2:30pm
Admission: Free

Diane Macklin returns to the library, presenting “Fables Rule,” with interactive storytelling and a new twist to classic tales that illustrate valuable lessons. This will take place on the third floor, and the Silver Spring Library is located at 900 Wayne Avenue in Silver Spring.

Books Alive!
Where: Wheaton Library Interim Branch
When: Saturday, 2pm
Admission: Free, but tickets required

InterAct Story Theatre kicks off a monthly series of fun family safaris through books! Executive and Artistic Director Ali Oliver-Krueger will lead these interactive workshop for kids and parents, exploring a different age-appropriate children’s book through creative drama, then bringing them to life by acting them out in their own words. Stick around after the workshop to explore Wheaton Library’s children’s library and embark on a new reading adventure with your kids!  The program is best for ages 4 and up. Tickets are limited, and you have to register through the Wheaton Library Interim Branch to get your them — visit in-person or by calling 240.777.0678 to sign up.

Light The Way At The Pearl
Where: The Pearl in Silver Spring
When: Saturday, 4:30-8:30pm
Admission: Free

This event that celebrates the opening of The Pearl, luxury apartments in Silver Spring, also welcomes the public to check out some imaginative art! Light the Way is illuminating Silver Spring with a wholly original art installation. Designed by DC artist Kelly Towles, this inflatable light sculpture 45 feet in diameter playfully reinterprets the concept of a meditation labyrinth. Step inside, explore and contemplate, surrounded by trees and light, and then reemerge with a renewed sense of happiness, harmony and peace. There will also be music and cooking demos and food, and cocktails for purchase. The Pearl is located at 180 High Park Lane in Silver Spring.

4th Annual Waterfowl Festival
Where: Black Hill Visitors Center
When: Sunday, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

Bring the whole family for a day filled with activities, demonstrations and exhibits to celebrate the wondrous water birds that call Little Seneca Lake home. Enjoy an original DUCKumentary, lectures on bird conservation, gorgeous carved wood decoys made right before your eyes and make-and-create opportunities for even the littlest birders. Join guided birding excursions to catch a glimpse of marine ducks, swans and maybe even the Black Hill bald eagles! 

Mid-Winter Play Day
Where: Takoma Park Community Center
When: Sunday, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

Put some play in your Sunday afternoon with Let’s Play Takoma and the Takoma Park Recreation Department. The variety of indoor entertainment will include Bach 2 Rock bands, local band Outer Body Llama, Zumbini, cookie decorating, board games and crafts, dress-up, puzzles, and more. All ages are welcome to enjoy it all.

Opt Outside
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

It looks like this weekend’s weather — temps in 60’s! — could lend itself to some activity outside. And you’ve got your pick of places around the DC-Metro for outdoor adventures. Visit the Zoo, take a hike, explore a historic site, hit a playground, or see what else there is to do alfresco in this post with tons of ideas recreation in the fresh air. But if there’s rain or you prefer your fun under shelter, The Great Indoors list has you covered.

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Local Events & Activities to Celebrate Black History Month

A Statue of the famous 1968 Olympics Black Power salute at the African American History & Culture Museum

A Statue of the famous 1968 Olympics Black Power salute at the African American History & Culture Museum



February is Black History Month, and there are events and activities throughout the DC area to celebrate it. Museum programs (including an entire museum), special tours and exhibits, story time sessions, and more will be enlightening and fun for all ages. Here’s where they’re happening over the next few weeks.

Tour the NMAAHC
Where: National Museum of African American History & Culture
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free

If you can get in, this is the best place to learn about black history and culture in America. (This was #1 in my Top 16 of 2016… and now that I’ve taken the kids, will be doing a write-up about it very soon!) It’s a tough ticket to get right now — museum admission is still by timed entry passes — but it is possible to get same-day tickets. They are available online everyday starting at 6:30am until they run out.

African American Pioneers in Aviation and Space
Where: National Air & Space Museum
When: February 11
Admission: Free

Each February, the museum celebrates the significant contributions African Americans have made to flight and space exploration despite the overwhelming obstacles they had to overcome. Enjoy presentations, hands-on activities, and stories. Learn about African American astronauts, pilots, and scientists of the past and present and their accomplishments.

Slave Life Tour
Where: Mount Vernon
When: Daily through February, 11:30am
Admission: $20/adult, $10/ages 6-11, free for 5 and under (+ $4/exhibit)

Tack this on to a visit to George Washington’s estate. The 60-minute guided walking tour highlights the lives and contributions of the enslaved community who built and operated Mount Vernon. In 1799, more than 300 slaves lived and worked on the five farms that made up Washington’s 8,000-acre plantation. Listen to their stories and learn more about their daily life at Mount Vernon. Visit the refurbished slave quarters and view reproduction clothing, tools, furniture, cookware, ceramics, toys, and personal accessories that represent their experiences.

Celebrate Frederick Douglass’ Birthday
Where: Frederick Douglass Historic Site
When: February 18-19; Ongoing
Admission: Free ($1.50/house tour)

Celebrate the 199th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ birth with the National Park Service and its community partners. The estate in Anacostia where Douglass lived for nearly the last 20 years of his life is now a historic site that welcomes the public to tour, and every year they host a birthday event in his honor. This year’s programs and activities explore the significance of the visual, performing, and culinary arts in Frederick Douglass’s life. You can also go other times — the grounds are always open to visitors, though you need to make reservations to tour the house.

African-Americans at Walney Walking Tour
Where: Ellanor C. Lawrence Park
When: February 11, 11am & February 19, 2pm
Admission: $6

In this interactive walking tour, learn the names and stories of the many African-American families who lived here in slavery and in freedom. The one-hour program is recommended for ages 6 and up. Children must be accompanied by a registered adult. Sign up for Feb. 11 here and Feb. 19 here.

Portrait Story Days
Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: Most Saturdays, 1-4pm & Sundays, 2-5pm
Admission: Free

Drop in to the Portrait Gallery to listen to a story from friends at the DC Public Library about a notable person featured in the collection and complete a hands-on art project. All through February, the program highlights black Americans in honor of Black History Month. Read more about the program and museum here.

Civil Rights at 50
Where: Newseum
When: Through January 2, 2018
Admission: $24.95/adult, $14.95/ages 7-18, free for 6 and under (look for a discount)

This new exhibit explores the civil rights events of 1967, when black Americans used their First Amendment freedoms to challenge police brutality, economic inequality and the Vietnam War amid deadly riots and the rise of the Black Panther Party. This exhibit is probably better for older kids.

Jim Crow on Streetcars
Where: National Trolley Museum
When: Through February, Saturdays & Sundays, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $7/adult, $5/child

In recognition of Black History Month, the Museum presents this temporary exhibit. Learn about the nature of segregation aboard the cars in 19th century New York, the efforts to black the practice as it developed across the South, and the eventual success in opening employment opportunities.

Celebration: Black History Month 2017
Where: PG County Parks
When: Throughout February
Admission: Varies by activity

Celebrate and honor African American heritage during Black History Month with PG County Parks and Recreation. From performances to history lessons to tours, there are plenty of exciting events and activities planned throughout the area. For a complete listing of Black History Month events, go here.

Montgomery Parks Celebrates Black History Month
Where: Josiah Henson Park
When: February 25 & 26
Admission: Free

Montgomery Parks will celebrate Black History Month during the last weekend in February with free, educational events that highlight the stories, struggles, and successes of African Americans. Events include free guided tours of the park, the screening of a PBS documentary about the park, and the annual spoken word poetry event, “Lyrical Rhythms: The Sounds of Freedom.”

Hidden Figures
Where: Local movie theaters
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by theater

Playing in theaters now, this film that tells the story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program is inspiring and a perfect movie pick during Black History Month. Common Sense Media says it’s appropriate for ages 10 and up, but I’d say kids a little younger could watch it, too.


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