Category Archives: Birthday Parties

Explore the Local Environment at Buddie Ford Nature Center

Watching a skink eat a cricket

Watching a skink eat a cricket



I really enjoy hearing from you guys. And not just with feedback about my blog, positive or otherwise (luckily it’s been more of the former than the latter). I especially love when readers let me know about a place or activity in the area that we haven’t yet experienced.

That’s how I learned about Buddie Ford Nature Center. A few weeks ago when I shared The Great Indoors list on Facebook, as I do every now and then when it’s been updated, someone left a comment letting me know about the facility in Alexandria. She called it the “best nature center in the area” and also mentioned they might have to reduce hours due to lack of traffic.

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That was about all I needed to know. When something is recommended as the best, my interest is piqued. And when a great place isn’t getting the attention it deserves, I like to help out with that if I can. So, I made a point to visit with the kids over the winter break to check it out for ourselves.

As soon as we walked into Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center on an early Wednesday afternoon, I understood. The large space is filled with exhibits that catch the eye immediately, all of them showcasing the nature and wildlife of the local environment, yet we were the only visitors there. We took advantage and quickly got started exploring it all.

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While I was drawn to the many terrariums housing creatures found in the nearby woods, the kids went straight for a table topped with items to examine under a microscope and view on a large monitor. They were fascinated by close-ups of snake skin, shells, feathers, rocks and other objects collected from the outdoors nearby.

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In fact, there are interactive opportunities all around the huge room. There’s a cute area for little ones with a small activity table and plastic animals to play with. There’s a challenge to spot all the toads in a tank. A “Please Touch” table lets guests check out larger items from the outdoors up close. And there’s a nice sun room to stroll through to see all kind of plants and “chat” with Rio the sun conure.

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But one of the best things about Buddie Ford is the staff, who are incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. They gave us a little meet and greet with some of the creatures, let the kids help feed the turtles, pointed out some neat things to see (like the skink mid-cricket meal), and shared interesting information about the collection on view, including neat facts about the wildlife and how they acquired some of them. They work with kids quite a bit, hosting an after school program and school field trips as well as offering birthday parties.

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The staff also let us know about Dora Kelley Nature Park adjacent to the Nature Center that is easily accessed right off the parking lot. So after our nature center visit, we headed over for a short hike. A paved mile-long trail winds through the woods and marshland of the 50-acre wildlife sanctuary. It’s a nice stroll, and you can keep an eye out for some of the animals and plants you just learned about. (Be sure to pick up a trail guide while you’re at the nature center to help.)

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So, I owe KFDC reader Lis a huge thank you for this one. I agree: Buddie Ford does rank among the area’s best nature centers and is absolutely worth a visit!

Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Sanctuary and Dora Kelley Nature Park are located at 5750 Sanger Avenue in Alexandria, VA. Hours are 10am – 5pm Wednesday – Saturday, and 1-5pm on Sunday. Admission is free.


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Filed under All ages, Animals, Birthday Parties, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

The KFDC Top 16 of 2016

The Mothership at the National Museum of African American History and Culture

The Mothership at the National Museum of African American History and Culture



This year is really getting a bad rap, and I can’t say it isn’t warranted. But while 2016 wasn’t generally stellar, there were some pretty great moments, including on the KFDC front. Here’s a recap of the best of them, our Top 16 of 2016. What were some of your family’s faves of the past year? Let us know in the comments below!

The NMAAHC is a Must Do

The NMAAHC is a Must Do

1. National Museum of African American History & Culture
The newest addition to the National Mall is one of the most remarkable attractions to open in DC in recent years. As I shared in a Facebook post about my visit there, the museum is “phenomenal, an emotional experience that is at once heartbreaking, poignant, uplifting, and hopeful.” I’ll be posting a full write-up after Owen and Sasha visit soon — I was on my own that first time — but for now, take my word that this should top your DC Must Do list. And FYI: While advance passes are unavailable until April, it’s now easier to get them same-day — a limited number are up for grabs online starting at 6:30am daily.


I believe I can fly...

I believe I can fly…

2. Soaring at iFly Loudon
I flew! Like, in the air as if I’d just jumped out of an airplane, except I didn’t have to risk my life and conquer what’s probably my biggest fear. iFly, the simulated skydiving experience is so much fun and such an incredible rush. Flights take place in a vertical wind tunnel, where a smooth cushion of air enables people to float (read my post for more details on how it works). While it’s a pricey venture, it’s worth it in my opinion, but perhaps for a special occasion. Which is just what we’re planning for the kids’ upcoming birthdays (shhhh!).


Hangin' at the Obamas

Hangin’ at the Obamas

3. White House Tour
Considering the many, many years I’ve lived in DC and all the adventures I’ve experienced in this city, you’d think surely I’d been in the White House at some point. Nope. Until our family visited last week for the Christmas tour, I’d only been to the gardens outside. Even the kids had already been! So, although we only got to stroll through the East Wing to view the seasonal decor, it was a mini thrill for me to finally go. And the timing was perfect. 🙂


Over 16,000 diapers bundled that day!

Over 16,000 diapers bundled that day!

4. Volunteering at DC Diaper Bank
This amazing organization started by local mom, Corinne Cannon, provides diapers and other essential items to families in need. Even better, volunteers of all ages are welcome to help make this possible. I had been aware of DC Diaper Bank for years and had promoted their drives and Boogie Babes shows, but we had never volunteered at the warehouse ourseleves. That changed this fall when we spent a morning there helping bundle and stack diapers — over 16,000 of them just that day! — along with a great crew of volunteers from little ones to grandparents. It was great way for the kids to actively give back, and we’re planning to make it a regular thing. If you’re interested in volunteering, sign up here.


Happiest girls on the Hill

Happiest girls on the Hill

5. Snowzilla
Now, this was a perfect storm. The Blizzard of 2016 blew through DC, blanketing the area with two feet of snow. The good kind of snow — soft, dry, and fluffy, not wet and slushy. Then it blew out, and a beautiful, sunny day followed. And what seemed like all of the people of DC got out their sleds and headed to the U.S. Capitol, where the sledding ban was lifted (not that it ever stopped us, anyway), so we could enjoy some quintessential winter fun at one of our city’s country’s most iconic spots. But all around the area, folks were enjoying Snowzilla’s remains, as seen in the Snowzilla Photo Contest. A couple of days later it was 60 degrees and sunny, and while the snow melted swiftly, the memories of a couple fantastic days are permanent.


They escaped -- and had a blast!

They escaped — and had a blast!

6. Escape Lounge Birthday Party
Owen turned the big 1-0 this year, and we wanted to celebrate the milestone with something unique, befitting a newly-minted adventurous tween and his crew of like-minded friends. A party at The Escape Lounge was the key to an excellent birthday bash. The H Street venue offers interactive escape experiences, where guests solve a series of clues to make their way out of a locked room. It was a blast for everyone, and I know several people who have booked parties there on our recommendation and enjoyed it just as much. I know even more folks who have gone just for a fun escape adventure and loved it, too!


New neighbor at the NGA

New neighbor at the NGA

7. Reopening of the East Building
Many of us really missed the National Gallery of Art’s modern and contemporary collections while the east wing was closed for renovations. But the wait for them to return was worth it. The upgrade didn’t just enhance the interior; it also added over 12,000 feet of space. There is now a rooftop with views of the Capitol, Smithsonian Castle, and downtown DC, as well as two tower galleries — one of them dedicated to Alexander Calder’s mobiles, the other showcasing Mark Rothko’s abstract works. Both wonderful additions to an already remarkable place. And, of course, there’s the giant blue Cockrel sculpture, which had to be one of the most Instagrammed DC attractions this past year.


Concert in a living room

Concert in a living room

8. Sofar Sounds
This one is filed under the KidFree section of the blog, where you can find recommendations for things to do when you’re sans children. Sofar Sounds is a unique concert series that offers both a nice, intimate setting to see a show along with a fun element of surprise. See, you don’t know who will be performing until you get to the venue. Which could be anywhere — someone’s living room, a shop, a warehouse, even a museum. And you don’t find out the location until shortly before the show. It’s all about discovering and enjoying new music and mingling with others (including the performers!) who are interested in the same. A cool experience, indeed. Keep it in mind for your next evening out.


What a wonderful spin

What a wonderful spin

9. Carousel at Arena Stage
The Rodgers and Hammerstein classic that ran (or make that spun!) at Arena Stage was my favorite of all the shows we saw this year (and we caught quite a few). Owen and I saw the musical this fall just days after the election, and it was a great boost to the spirits during a really intense time; we were both completely captivated and moved by the show. Brilliant performances by a talented cast, a simple yet beautiful theatre-in-the-round-setting, and a story that is emotional and hopeful made for a great theatre experience. And a neat side bit: The next week when Sasha and I went to The Secret Garden, we saw the leads of Carousel there. I was totally star-struck, but think I managed not to seem like a freak when I gushed to them about how much I loved their show.


A perfect Mother's Day at Quiet Waters

A perfect Mother’s Day at Quiet Waters

10. Quiet Waters Park
We discovered this fantastic locale in Annapolis kind of literally by accident when a wreck on the Bay Bridge thwarted our Mother’s Day plans for an Eastern Shore hike. That serendipitous element is partly what made the outing special. The other part is the park itself and the myriad options for outdoor recreation there — hiking, biking, paddling, picnicking, art explorations, and just hanging out in a really beautiful natural setting. And because it’s in Annapolis, you have to pair it with a crab feast, which is a huge bonus anytime.


Get a peek at this exhibit

Get a peek at this exhibit

11. Ragnar Kjartansson at the Hirshhorn
This exhibit is a must-see for modern art fans. The mix of performance art, video installations, paintings, dioramas, and more inspired works is beautiful and bizarre and moving. My favorite installation called The Visitors, is absolutely mesmerizing and just unlike anything I’ve seen before. I should note that I’ve heard mixed things about young children seeing it — some have been captivated, while others were totally freaked out. (But the beauty of visiting museums on the National Mall is how easy it is find another to visit if one doesn’t work out.) The exhibition is only running through January 8, 2017, so go soon!


They dig Yosemite

They dig Yosemite

12. KFDC Does Cali
So, it’s not in DC, and I didn’t write about it on the blog, but our vacation in California this summer was easily a standout for us this year. We spent time in San Francisco, saw some old DC friends who’ve moved out there, and spent time on the gorgeous coast at Half Moon Bay. But the highlight of the trip was the Yosemite leg, inspired by both Obama’s Every Kid in a Park initiative that gave every 4th grader a free National Park Pass as well as the National Park Service Centennial. It was the first visit to Yosemite for all of us, and it was even more spectacular than I ever could have imagined.


Only in DC

Only in DC

13. Biking Field Trip to the Capitol
A couple of things make this one special. First, I love that it stemmed from a program launched last year to introduce DCPS 2nd grade students to biking as fitness. Sasha’s PE teacher continued it this year, and combined it with an excellent field trip to the U.S. Capitol, where the class got to take a tour. Yes, we rode bikes to the Capitol for a school field trip! That “Only in DC” element is also why I love this. There aren’t many cities, or neighborhoods for that matter, where you can ride down the street with a class of 7-year-olds to one of the most iconic places in the country for a really fun and educational outing. It’s just one of so many reasons why our kids are so lucky to grow up here.


Just another day at the Yards

Just another day at the Yards

14. Light Yards
Yards Park seems to have become the place that embraces the zany — and I so dig that. In this case it was an event over a couple of weekends that featured creative and inspired light installations. The first evening we went, there were large sculptures constructed of steel and light with a display pulsing to the beat of a live DJ set along with an oversized Lite-Brite — rave-y and family-friendly at the same time. The next weekend there were giant luminescent bunnies to ogle and a whole event with fun kid stuff, to boot. The kids were wowed, and I always appreciate an opportunity to show them what great and wild things can come from imagination.


Huzzah for Ren Fest!

Huzzah for Ren Fest!

15. Maryland Renaissance Festival Because, Ren Fest. 🙂










Take ride down Sing Street

Take ride down Sing Street

16. Sing Street
So, this one is pretty random and I’ve never mentioned it anywhere KFDC related before, but I really wanted to give this movie a shout out, because it was practically our anthem this year. Owen discovered this film back in January, and we all watched it together and loved it. If you haven’t seen Sing Street yet, put it at the top of your movie list. (It’s rated PG-13 — you can read the Common Sense Media review here.) The story set in the 80’s about a boy in Dublin starting a band with his friends to impress a girl is fun, dramatic, innocently romantic, and heartwarming. And the soundtrack, featuring both 80’s hits and original tunes, is absolutely brilliant. The new songs especially. I can almost guarantee you’ll be singing, “The boot’s on the other foot now…” after watching.


And there it is, the Top 16 of 2016. Don’t forget to let us know your tops of the year, too!

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Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, Birthday Parties, Date Night, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Festival, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Movies, Music, Outdoor, Park, Theatre, Virginia

Sample a Class, Sign up for a Session at CityDance POP! @ Tenleytown DC

Photo credit: media4artists

Photo credit: media4artists



Is your tiny dancer ready to move, groove, and have fun? Or maybe you are? CityDance POP! offers classes for all ages in a variety of genres! Conveniently located in Upper Northwest DC, POP! is THE destination for high quality, fast-paced fun.

POP! has more than 20 dance classes for all ages, starting as early as 15 months, including: Mommy & Me, Creative Movement, Pre-Ballet, Jazz, Hip-Hop, African, Break Dancing, Contemporary, Zumba and more. See the schedule below for days, times, and rates. Register by December 31 and use the code EARLY16 for 10% of.

Want to try a FREE class to get a feel for POP! before you commit to a whole session? RSVP to ivy@citydance.net with the subject line KidFriendly DC!

Something else to note: The space available to rent for birthday parties! Email ivy@citydance.net for more details.

CityDance POP! is located at 4435 Wisconsin Avenue NW 20016 in Tenleytown. Metro: Tenley/AU (Red Line). For more information contact tenley@citydance.net or call 202.545.7207.

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CITYDANCE POP! Spring SCHEDULE:

January 30- June 10, 2017 (18 Weeks)

Ongoing Enrollment

MONDAY
Jazz (Age 7-10) | 3:45-4:45pm | $425
Jazz (Age 11-17) | 4:45-5:45pm | $425
Hip Hop (Age 11-17) | 5:45-6:45pm | $425
Adult Contemporary Jazz | 7:00-8:00pm | $270

TUESDAY
Pre-Ballet | (Age 5-6) | 4:00-4:45pm $346
Beginning Ballet | (Age 7-9) | 4:45-5:45pm $425
Adult Zumba | 6:30-7:30pm | $324

WEDNESDAY
Creative Movement (Age 2.5-3) | 10:30-11:15am | $346
Break Dance/B Boy (Age 6-10) | 3:45-4:45pm | $425
Break Dance/Hip Hop (Age 11-17) | 4:45-5:45pm | $425
Adult Fit Hop | 7:00-8:00pm | $324

THURSDAY
Creative Movement (Age 3-4) | 10:30-11:15am | $346
Creative Movement (Age 3-5) | 4:00-4:45pm | $346
Hip Hop (Age 8-10) | 4:45-5:45pm | $425
Jazz (Age 8-10) | 5:45-6:45pm | $425

FRIDAY
*Mommy & Me (Age 15 mos-2.5) | 1:30-2:00pm
Pre-Ballet (Age 5-6) | 4:00-4:45pm | $346
Jazz (Age 11-17) | 4:45-5:45pm | $425
Contemporary African (Age 11-17) | 5:45-6:45pm | $425

*2 Sessions / $140 per session
*Session = 9 classes

SATURDAY
Creative Movement (Age 3-5) | 9:00-9:45am | $346
Hip Hop (Age 4-6) | 9:45-10:30am | $346
Hip Hop (Age 6-8) | 10:30-11:30am $425


This post is sponsored by CityDance, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think would appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under All ages, Birthday Parties, Class, DC, Parents, Professional Service, Sponsored Post, Weekdays, Weekend

Unleash Your Child’s Inner Artist at a P Street Gallerie & Pop-Up Birthday Party!

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Are you looking for a unique party venue to celebrate your child’s special day? Then plan to paint on P Street in Georgetown! P Street Gallerie and Pop-up now offers children’s painting parties for up to 14 guests (they like to call them artists!). Your young artist can enjoy painting with friends in an actual gallery.

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The beautiful space is transformed into an art studio for party guests to unleash their artist within. Featuring whitewashed hardwood floors, gallery-class lighting, and high ceilings, it’s the perfect backdrop to host an art-inspired special day for your child. Paint party packages include freestyle painting, music, pizza, and kid-friendly beverages. The best part: Every child goes home with a completed acrylic on canvas masterpiece!

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The Fan Favorite party package includes two hours of painting, pizza, and cake cutting. All of the art supplies are included, and each artist leaves with an art-inspired gift bag along with their completed masterpiece. You can also opt for popular a la carte items, including specialty cakes and cupcakes.

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Explore the complete list of signature painting party packages on the P Street Gallerie & Pop-Up website or call (202) 333-4868 to start planning your child’s next birthday celebration!

Enjoy 10% OFF! Mention you heard about parties at P Street Gallerie and Pop-Up from KidFriendly DC and enjoy 10% off any Children’s Painting Party package hosted now through December 31, 2016.

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P Street Gallerie and Pop-Up is a modern contemporary art gallery where the art is as varied and diverse as the people who collect it. The Gallerie is located at 3235 P Street NW at P and Wisconsin Avenues.


This post is sponsored by P Street Gallerie & Pop-Up, however, I only promote places, programs, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under Art, Birthday Parties, DC, Gradeschoolers, Party, Preteens, Teens, Tweens, Weekend

A Birthday Party Giveaway, Classes, & Open House from My Gym Bethesda & My Gym Potomac!

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Yes, you read that right… it’s a birthday party giveaway! One lucky KFDC reader has a chance to win a celebration for their child at My Gym Bethesda or My Gym Potomac, an opportunity you definitely don’t want to pass up.

Parties at My Gym Bethesda and My Gym Potomac cater to both kids and parents. Tailored to delight each birthday boy or girl, they take special song and game requests and incorporate them into activities that reflect their regular offerings for families. Even better, they include just about everything — set up, decor, staff to lead activities and serve refreshments, and clean up — so parents can relax and enjoy the celebration along with their child.

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Three levels of birthday party packages are available, Grand, Deluxe, and Preimer. All of them give party-goers exclusive use of the space.

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Birthday packages are just part of the great offerings from My Gym Potomac and My Gym Bethesda. They also have age appropriate classes for ages 3 months to 10 years. There are Mommy and Me movement and music classes for babies and preschoolers, and older kids love tumbling, sports, and parkour classes. Plus, they have school holiday camps and special events. Read more about everything offered at My Gym Bethesda and My Gym Potomac.

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You can all go scope it all out for yourself! This Saturday, September 10, My Gym Bethesda and My Gym Potomac are hosting their Free and Fun Fall Open House. From 9:30am – 1:30pm, stop by either location to learn more about their programs and parties firsthand, meet the staff, and get the year’s best prices when you sign up!

My Gym Bethesda is located at 5110 Ridgefield Road and My Gym Potomac is located at 11325 Seven Locks Road.

* * * * *

Giveaway: For a chance to win a Grand Birthday Party package at My Gym Bethesda or My Gym Potomac, simply leave a comment below telling me what theme your child would pick for a birthday party. To be eligible to win, you must like My Gym Bethesda or My Gym Potomac on Facebook and follow KidFriendly DC on Facebook as well. This giveaway will run through Friday, September 16, 2016, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by My Gym Bethesda and My Gym Potomac, however, I only promote places, programs, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under All ages, Birthday Parties, Camp, Indoor Play, Maryland, Ongoing, Party, Professional Service, Sponsored Post, Weekdays, Weekend