Category Archives: DC

Where to Play on the Weekdays: September 19-23

Exploring the National Gallery of Art

Exploring the National Gallery of Art



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Monday – Discover the history of flight at the College Park Aviation Museum. It’s a perfect place for young visitors, with eye-popping displays and hands-on fun. They can view early airplanes up close, dress up like aviators, create flight-inspired art, and much more. Keep an eye on the runway right outside the floor-to-ceiling windows — you might see planes take off and land at the College Park Airport, the oldest continuously operating airport in the world! Open daily 10am – 5pm. Admission is $4/adults, $2/children, free for ages 2 and under.

Tuesday – Get another, but different museum of experience at the National Gallery of Art. Head to the West Wing as most of the East is still under renovation, but be sure to take the “sparkly walkway” in between the two — that’s often kids’ favorite part (adults love it, too). Stroll among sculptures and stop to view works by many of the masters. There’s a cafe in the museum, but I recommend heading elsewhere for better value or BYO. Museum hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free.

Wednesday – Enjoy a musical morning with Boogie Babes as they bring kiddie entertainment to The Angelika Pop-Up @ Union Market at 10:30am. Admission is $5/child, and siblings 6 months and under are free. And did you know the program is now run by the DC Diaper Bank? Proceeds from the shows support the organization’s mission to help families in need. (FYI: You can also catch Boogie Babes shows at The Atlas Performing Arts Center on Mondays and Eastern Market on Thursdays.)

Thursday – Celebrate the official start of the new season at a fall festival! The Pumpkin Village Fall Fest at Leesburg Animal Park runs daily, and weekdays are a great time to go when you won’t encounter crowds. Slides, wagon rides, moon bounces, a maze, and pedal carts are among the seasonal fun. And, of course, animals are part of the mix with pony rides and furry friends to pet and feed. It’s open 9:30am – 6pm. Admission is $12.95/adult, $9.95/ages 2-12, and free for children under 2.

Friday – Play in the sprays at Canal Park. The recreational space in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood in southeast DC 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 Il Parco on premises or at another nearby eatery — there are options right across the street and food trucks in parked right in the area often — or pack lunch for a picnic.


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The Weekend Round-Up: September 16-18

How will you enjoy the last official weekend of summer?

How will you enjoy the last official weekend of summer?



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You can eke out the last bit of summer or start focusing on fall (or both!) with this round-up of special events and activities. Taking place indoors and out, in the heart of the city to farms miles beyond, there’s fun to indulge all interests — and seasons. Happy Weekend!

Celebrate from City Streets Country Farms
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by event

Fall may not have officially started, but seasonal festivals have begun at several area farms, on H Street (see below), and in locales that recall historic times (huzzah!). And they’re welcoming visitors for all kinds of fun. Get details on all of them in this guide to autumn celebrations around the area.

Truckaroo
Where: The Bullpen at Half Street Fairgrounds
When: Friday, 11am – 11pm
Admission: Free

Go for lunch, an after school snack, or al fresco dinner and stay awhile for entertainment and fun! Truckeroo, the food truck festival showcasing local eats on wheels, features tons of food options along with live music, games for all ages, and tasty beverages (for adults). Kids and canines are always welcome to enjoy it all, too!

Colonial Market Fair
Where: Mount Vernon
When: Saturday & Sunday, 9am – 5pm
Admission: $17/adult, $9/child, free for ages 5 and under

At George Washington’s old digs, they re-create a lively early-American marketplace with demonstrations, crafts, and entertainment for all. Artisans from across the nation show off their trades and sell their wares, while family entertainment delights audiences with 18th-century amusements. Try your hand at 18th century cricket — demonstrations and cricket games will be played throughout the weekend. General Washington will preside many festivities. And concession will be available from the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant stands. (Note: Admission prices listed above are online only; they are slightly higher there.)

The National Garden 10th Anniversary
Where: U.S. Botanic Garden
When: Saturday,
Admission: Free

Help the USBG celebrate the 10th Anniversary of their very own National Garden! Highlighting the three-acres of garden space adjacent to the Conservatory, the day-long festival showcases the amazing diversity of American plants through the Mid-Atlantic Regional Garden, Rose Garden, and Butterfly Garden with special activities and programs. Highlights will include tasty treats with native plants, rose garden tours, hands-on activities for all ages, and much more! Read a little more about the National Garden in this KFDC post.

Gimme an H!
Where: H Street NE
When: Saturday, 1-6pm
Admission: Free

The annual festival on northeast DC’s thriving corridor is always a big one. If you don’t mind crowds, there is a lot to see and do. The event features loads of live entertainment, including a kids stage; art exhibits; food trucks; crafts for sale by local vendors; fashion shows; dancin’ in the street; and kids’ activities, including face painting, story telling, and moon bounces. I recommend taking public transportation there — parking is guaranteed to be difficult.

Fiesta DC
Where: Constitution Ave. & Pennsylvania Ave. NW
When: Saturday, 1-5:30pm & Sunday, 11am – 7pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Latino culture all weekend long! on Saturday, catch the parade along Constitution Avenue from the at the 45th Annual Fiesta DC. It all starts with the Parade of Nations along Constitution Ave. NW from 7th to 14th Streets. On Sunday, head to the festival on Pennsylvania Ave. NW from 3rd to 7th Streets to enjoy live performances, children’s activities, international cuisine, vendors, and much more!

King Street Art Festival
Where: Old Town Alexandria, King & Union Streets
When: Saturday 10am – 7pm & Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free

The King Street Art Festival returns for its 14th year with live music, special programming, and more than 200 artists’ work available for purchase at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. Shop and learn about the works, try some art activities for all ages, and enjoy live entertainment, too. And the annual Ice Cream Bowl Fundraiser will be back! Purchase one of 1,000+ hand-made bowls created by the talented and prolific artists of The Art League’s Ceramics Department and enjoy local artisan ice cream from Artfully Chocolate in Alexandria – all for only $15 per bowl. Proceeds go to benefit The Art League’s Ceramics department.

ARTSFest
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden
When: Saturday & Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $6/adult, free for ages 11 and under

Head out to Solomons, MD, for an art-filled experience at a magical place! Browse and shop more than 165 artist booths throughout gardens and in the arts building. Enjoy entertainment from more than 30 performers on two stages. Kids will love activities in the Discovery Tent and Zany Zone, plus creative free-play in the gorgeous Fairy Lolly, the Studio School, and the Children’s Garden. Street performers — stilt walkers, mimes, live statues, and more — will entertain and mesmerize. There’s something for everyone at this anniversary celebration of the visual, performing, and creative arts. For more about Annmarie Sculpture Garden, see this KFDC post.

One Gold Coin–una moneda del oro
Where: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission:$12.50/adult, $10/ages 4-11, free for 3 and under

Catch a performance of this favorite for young audiences from InterAct Story Theatre! One Gold Coin–una moneda de oro is a fun and engaging play for kids and families about the power of giving. Performed in English and Spanish with lots of audience participation, it’s a show that all ages can enjoy.

Lego Family Day
Where: Smithsonian American Art Museum
When: Saturday, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Bring your budding architects to the Kogod Courtyard for a day of LEGOs, where they can use problem-solving skills and imagination to make works of art and architecture at LEGO building stations. Recreate some of the museum’s famous sculptures on display in the galleries or build your own new designs! Get inspired by the USPTO’s LEGO model of the museum’s historic building, which was home to the U.S. Patent Office in the 19th century.

Women in Aviation & Space
Where: National Air & Space Museum
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Throughout the history of aviation and space exploration, women have fought to be on equal terms with their male counterparts. At this family day, enjoy learning about the significant contributions women have made despite the many challenges they faced. The day will feature presentations by women in the field, hands-on activities, and stories.

Honey Harvest Festival
Where: Brookside Gardens & Nature Center
When: Saturday, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Brookside will be buzzing with fun on Saturday! Join them and the Maryland State Beekeepers Association to celebrate honeybees and pollinators. Talk to beekeepers, watch honey being harvested, buy local honey and bee products, plus enjoy family-friendly activities, live music, and crafts.

Monarch Fiesta
Where: Black Hill Visitors Center
When: Saturday, 11am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the monarch butterfly’s amazing and inspiring metamorphosis and incredible journey to Mexico. Join us for music, food, dance, hands-on art, native plant sales, and plenty of opportunities to get up close with monarch butterflies. Participate in monarch tagging and learn about their habitats, and what you can do to make a difference.

Dulles Plane PullWhere: Dulles Airport
When: Saturday, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Airplane tug o’ war, anyone? This annual event is Special Olympics Virginia’s “heaviest” fundraiser, pitting teams of 25 against one another to see who can pull a 164,000+ pound Airbus 12 feet the fastest. And the public is invited to watch it all go down. Along with the tug o’ airplane, there will be live music, a car show, military and civilian aircraft displays, business exhibits, and children’s games and entertainment. Gates open at 10:30am. Go here for directions and parking information.

Georgetown Community Day
Where: Georgetown University, 37th & O Streets NW
When: Saturday,
Admission: Free

Join the Georgetown community for a day of fun and family-friendly activities! Enjoy the celebration where there will be free food, face painting, moonbounces, and so much more. The community fair will include tables from local schools, community organizations, and University departments with information, giveaways, and more.

All Aboard for a Model Train Open House
Where: Historic Vienna Depot of the W&OD Railroad
When: Saturday, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

Chug on down to Vienna to watch model train and trolley activities that realistically depict an actual railroad that existed in North Carolina in the 1950′s, the Western North Carolina (WNC). Every hill, town, building, locomotive, rail car, and industry in this layout is modeled after those places and things as they looked in that era. Well, almost everything. To satisfy popular demand, expect an occasional sighting of Thomas the Tank Engine (and a few of his friends) chugging around among the bigger steam and diesel locomotives. The Vienna Depot is located at 231 Dominion Road NE in Vienna, Virginia just down the street from the red caboose.

Ren Fest
Where: Revel’s Grove in Crownsville, Md
When: Saturday, Sunday, & Monday
Admission: $22/ages 16 and up, $10/ages 7-15, free for 6 and under

Enjoy the bounty of merriment at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. The annual faire recalls medieval times with a village full of fun and entertainment for the whole family. This is one of my very favorite events in the DC area, and it could very well become one of yours, too. Huzzah!

A Rainbow Rockin’ Morning
Where: Jammin Java
When: Saturday, 10:30am
Admission: $8/person, $25/4-pack

Get ready to rock the rainbow at a concert especially for kids! The talented Rainbow Rock tunesters will entertain the kiddie crowd with a combination of classic and original children’s songs from their CD “Meet the Rainbow.”

Let Down Your Hair!
Where: The Puppet Co.
When: Saturday & Sunday, 11:30am & 1pm
Admission: $10

It’s opening weekend for Rapunzel at the puppet theater in Glen Echo Park. Recommended for ages 3.5-9 years old, the show uses “coloring-book” charm and the simplicity of hand puppets in this production designed to delight its younger audiences. And really little ones can enjoy Old MacDonald’s Farm, the featured Tiny Tots show on Saturday morning.

18th Century I Do’s
Where: Claude Moore Colonial Farm
When: Saturday, 1-4pm
Admission: $3/adult, $2/ages 3-12, free for 2 & under

The Claude Moore Colonial Farm family and their neighbors cordially invite you to celebrate with them on this joyous occasion. Witness an 18th century-style outdoor wedding ceremony. You can even dance with the bride and groom afterward and taste an authentic 18th century wedding cake! It’s an outing as fun as is it educational.

Family Workshop: Afghan Fighter Kites
Where: Sackler Gallery
When: Saturday and Sunday, 11am – 1pm & 2-4pm
Admission: Free

Children ages 6-12 and adults are invited to visit the exhibit Turquoise Mountain with teaching artist Mukhtar Ziarmal and learn about kite fighting, a popular activity for kids in Afghanistan. Then return to the classroom to collaborate with family and friends on constructing and decorating your own kite. Register in advance.

Mid-Autumn Festival
Where: Leesburg Premium Outlets
When: Saturday, 2-4pm
Admission: Free

Moon madness! Area trendsetters can look forward to a festive afternoon in honor of the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrating the moon at its brightest and roundest point. Shoppers of all ages are invited to the Food Court to enjoy savory mooncake samples, construct one-of-a-kind lotus lanterns, and take advantage of extra-holiday savings on festive fall fashions!

Lantern Walk
Where: Yards Park
When: Saturday, 6:30-9:3pm
Admission: Free

Inspired by the story of African American families who built their homes in historic neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River by candlelight after returning home from a long day’s work, this Lantern Walk is hosted by 1th Street Bridge Park and Washington Performing Arts. Create a lantern and join for an evening of performances celebrating the community!

ZooFiesta
Where: National Zoo
When: Sunday, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

¡Celebramos! Celebrate Hispanic Heritage month at ZooFiesta! See animal demonstrations and learn about animals native to Latin America, such as golden lion tamarins, sloths, Andean bears, and anteaters. Meet Zoo experts and learn how they are working to save these species and more. Family activities include animal feedings, arts and crafts, musical entertainment, educational activities highlighting conservation research in Central and South America, and authentic gourmet cuisine at a Latin American inspired food bazaar. Bring the whole familia!

Cavalcade of Streetcars
Where: National Capital Trolley Museum
When: Sunday, 12-5pm
Admission: $7/ages 18 and up, $5/ages 2-17

Hop on for a day of fun! Along with the museum’s array of exhibits, enjoy trolley rides on several of the cars from the museum’s collection. This event only happens a few times a year so take advantage while you can!

Spin through Glen Echo History
Where: Glen Echo Park
When: Sunday,
Admission: $25/adult, free for ages 9 and under

Join Oscura Society DC as they go for a spin and learn about the Dentzel Carousel of Glen Echo Park. Field agent Julie Seigel will lead a tour the grounds, and National Park Service Ranger Janet Greene will illuminate the remnants of the amusement park and share how the carousel itself served as a site of protest during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. Historian and co-founder of the National Carousel Association Barbara Fahs Charles will discuss the creation and twenty-year long restoration of the Dentzel Carousel. Afterward, guests will be treated to a group ride and a small picnic!

Pirates & Princesses, Sea & Tea
Where: Pirate Adventures, Annapolis
When: Sunday
Admission: $27, $12/ages 2 and under

Ahoy, your little majesties! Pirate Adventures is teaming up with Party Time Princesses for an event to please both young buccaneers and royalty. Ariel and Tinkerbell will be visiting the Pirate Adventures party room on Sunday, giving patrons a chance to mingle them after an excursion on the Chesapeake. The Meet and Greet, including a Princess Tea Party, will be available after the 9:30am cruise and before the 12:30pm cruise. Enjoy photo ops, singing songs, and tea and treats as part of the special fun!

Walks in the Woods
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Hit the trail with the fam to enjoy the nice weather and some quality time. See very beginnings of autumn hues, tramp in places with scenic views, hike and explore history at interesting locales, and enjoy a day of active fun. This post, started in the early KFDC days and updated several times since, has a a bunch of recommendations for good walks in the woods with the kids.


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From City Streets to Country Farms, Fall Celebrations Around the DMV

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Fall is on its way and so are the scores of festivals that come along with it. They celebrate everything from the season to city neighborhoods to books to cuisine to historic times. Have a blast on the farm, savor local food and culture, go medieval or colonial — all amidst brilliant autumn scenery in the cool, crisp air. Some of the fun has already started, and even more will begin over the next few weeks. This list of celebrations, ordered by start date, will help you plan for it all. Happy Fall!

Maryland Renaissance Festival
Where: Revel Grove in Crownsville, MD
When: Weekends through October 23
Admission: Thru 9/11: $19/ages 16 and up, $8/ages 7-15. 9/22-10/23: $24/ages 16 and up, $10/ages 7-15. Free for ages 6 and under

This medieval time trip began in late August and gets a big endorsement from me as one of the best annual events in the area. You just can’t beat the amazing variety of entertainment — exciting jousting matches, cheeky comedy shows, fire eaters, sword swallowers, tight rope walkers and other balancing acts, jugglers, musical performances, puppetry, plus slides, play areas, and games. And walking among knights, maidens, pirates, and villagers in Revel Grove, the charming location that resembles a 16th-century village, as you chomp on turkey legs and down cups of “mead” is an immensely fun and interesting jaunt back in time that any age can enjoy. Get a glimpse of and a little more background on the event here and here, both previous posts about my love of Ren Fest.

Montpelier Farms Fall Festival
Where: Upper Marlboro, MD
When: Weekends September 3 – November 6
Admission: $10/ages 13 and up, $8/ages 3-12 (look for a deal here

Enjoy all of the staples of a fall festival on the farm — pumpkins, hayrides, animals, hill slides, and more. They also offer field trips and birthday parties, something to keep in mind for autumn-born children. And a tip based on our experience there: Do not, I repeat, do not miss the corn maze. It’s EPIC.

Fall Weekends at Clark’s Elioak Farm
Where: Ellicott City, MD
When: Ongoing; Pumpkin patch open September 17 – October 31
Admission: $5, babies 1 and under are free

This fairytale of a farm doesn’t have a special fall festival per se, but with so many activities, including seasonal delights like pumpkins, cider, and Halloween fun, it’s like a celebration all the time. And it all takes place on the sprawling grounds adorned with installations practically straight out of a storybook (they were actually salvaged from The Enchanted Forest, an old Ellicott City amusement park). Kids can sit on a wall with Humpty, Peek in the Three Bears’ windows, climb aboard Cinderella’s pumpkin coach, explore the Old Woman’s shoe. If that’s not enough, there are hayrides, cow train rides, slides, farm animals to pet, a pumpkin patch, the pine tree maze, and more. On fall weekends, guests can also enjoy special activities like pumpkin coloring and crafts, a teddy bear visit, and gem mining. Face painting and pit beef are also available on Saturdays and Sundays.

Hartland Orchard Fall Festival Weekends
Where: Markham, VA
When: Weekends September 10 – October 30
Admission: $10/ages 3 and up, free for ages 2 and under

Hartland’s long list of opportunities for amusement include hayrides, pumpkin patches, a 60-foot slide, a corn maze, duck and pig races, and pony rides (some activities cost extra). On September 17, be sure to don your coolest accessory for “Cape Day” — everyone who wears a cape, superhero or not, gets $2 off admission. And FYI: The apple picking comes highly recommended.

H Street Festival
Where: H Street NE, WDC
When: September 17, 12-7pm
Admission: Free

The annual festival on northeast DC’s thriving hip corridor is always huge If you don’t mind crowds, there is tons to see and do. The event features loads of live entertainment, including a kids stage; cool art exhibits; food trucks; crafts for sale by local vendors; fashion shows; dancin’ in the street; and kids’ activities, including face painting, story telling, and moon bounces. Public transportation is recommended, as parking is guaranteed to be difficult.

Colonial Market & Fair
Where: Mount Vernon, VA
When: September 17-18
Admission: $17/adults, $8/kids 6-11, children 5 and under are free

At George Washington’s old stomping grounds, they re-create a lively early-American marketplace with demonstrations, crafts and entertainment. More than forty juried artisans from across the nation will demonstrate their trades and sell their wares, while two stages of family entertainment delight audiences with 18th-century amusements. Try your hand at 18th century cricket — demonstrations and cricket games will be played throughout the weekend. General Washington will preside many festivities. And fair fare will be available from the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant concession stands.

Cox Farms Fall Festival
Where: Centreville, VA
When: September 17 – November 8
Admission: $10/weekdays, $15/weekends, $17 prime weekend for ages 2 and up

This festival is HUGE. So big that they actually have a Tips & Resources page on the website to help guests prepare and navigate their way around the sprawling venue that contains seven slides, swings, games, mazes, pumpkins, picnics, live entertainment, farm animals, and lots more. Expect some lines, especially for the giant slides that take you swooping down several humps over a hillside. There is also a Kiddie Zone just for little ones aged 5 and under. Be prepared for a crowd! September 17-18 is a preview weekend, then it opens daily September 24.

Pumpkin Village Fall Fest
Where: Leesburg Animal Park
When: September 17 – November 8
Admission: $12.95/adult, $9.95/ages 2-12, under 2 are free

The animals are usually the main draw at the park, but this time of year, there are activities galore that bring visitors to enjoy some seasonal fun. Slides, wagon rides, moon bounces, a maze, pedal carts, and live entertainment are fall additions. And, of course, animals add to the mix of amusement with pony rides, animals to pet and feed, and even camel rides.

Wayside Farm Fall Fun
Where: Berryville, VA
When: September 17 – October 30
Admission: $10, ages 2 and under are free

The whole family can enjoy hours of farm fun for visitors of all ages. Get lost in the corn maze, watch piggies race, pick a pumpkin, visit farm animals and check out the goat walk, whiz down slide, romp in the play yard. Admission covers all of those activities and even more. Mention KidFriendly DC at the register and get a 20% discount!

Taste of Falls Church
Where: Falls Church
When: September 17
Admission: Free

Falls Church’s annual autumn tradition returns, highlighting the area’s popular restaurants and featuring live entertainment, pony rides, children’s amusements, crafters, businesses and civic organizations. Festival goers can sample cuisine from city restaurant kitchens for $3 per “taste” or 10 “tastes” for $25. The children’s activity tent offers face painting and craft projects. Most rides will also require the purchase of tickets.

National Book Festival
Where: Washington Convention Center
When: September 24
Admission: Free

Book enthusiasts, young and old, come from all over for this annual festival that celebrates reading. Works by more than 120 authors, poets, and illustrators will be showcased and the creators themselves will be at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for special appearances. All genres will be represented on stages — Children, Teens, Picture Books, Contemporary Life, Culinary Arts, Fiction & Mystery, History & Biography, Poetry & Prose, Science and Special Programs — where readings, presentations, book signings, photo ops with writers (and costumed PBS characters), and more exciting experiences for guests will take place. Check out authors scheduled to appear to help plan your day there.

Occoquan Fall Arts & Crafts Show
Where: Mill Street in Occoquan, VA
When: September 24-25
Admission: Free

Plan for a day of family fun as the streets of Occoquan come to life with beautiful art, live music and great food! For the 47th year, the historic town will close its streets and host over 300 contemporary and country crafters and artisans from across the US. Find one-of-a-kind, hand crafted items galore! Located just 20 minutes south of Washington DC, but far from the hustle and bustle of a big city, exhibitors and shoppers alike will enjoy the small town oasis nestled along the Occoquan River.

Fall Pumpkin Festival
Where: Ticonderoga Farm, Chantilly, VA
When: September 24 – October 31
Admission: $9.95/weekdays, $16.95/holiday and weekends

This festival at one of my favorite farms in the area has all the trappings for a great time on the farm: hayrides, swings, Noah’s Ark playground, hillside slides, s’mores roasting, cornshucking demos, a petting farm, a bamboo maze, antique tractors and firetruck, a pumpkin patch, and much, much more. Some features are available weekends only, but there’s more than plenty to keep kids entertained any day of the week. For a peek at it all, see this post about their Winter Festival and this one about a field trip there.

Harvest Festival
Where: Belvedere Plantation
When: September 24 – November 5
Admission: $9.25 – $22.50, depending on day/time (look for a deal here)

The Fredericksburg farm has loads to keep the whole gang entertained for hours. Slides, hayrides, ziplines, pumpkin patch, playground, flower picking, jumping pillow are just some of the attractions that little ones will love. And the Maize Maze, with a rooster path to navigate, is an adventure in itself. Plan to eat there — the Red Rooster Grill offers a variety of grilled favorites to satisfy all appetites.

Harvest Happenings
Where: McLean Community Center
When: September 24
Admission: $5

A fun and exciting day for your whole family, activities include field games, fall-inspired arts & crafts projects, a hands-on educational experience with Squeals on Wheels Traveling Petting Zoo, children’s entertainers, yummy concessions, and pumpkin decorating. All activities are included in the entrance fee with the exception of the purchase of pumpkins for $3 and food concessions.

Jumbo’s Pumpkin Patch
Where: Middletown, MD
When: September 24 – October 31
Admission: Free

Pick out a pumpkin and enjoy other fun activities for little ones at this 131-acre farm. A 15-acre corn maze, pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting, and wagon rides will delight young farm-goers. Concessions and craft shopping are part of the offerings, too.

Fall Adventures at Summers Farm
Where: Frederick, MD
When: September 24 – October 31
Admission: $7.95/weekdays, $11.95/weekends (look for a deal here)

With so much farm fun, there undoubtedly will be something to excite every kid. A pumpkin patch, giant jumping pillows, live entertainment, hay rides, hay slides, pig races, rubber ducks races, straw mountains, a mini obstacle course, even a campfire area if you want to “chill” out. Be sure to check the calendar for any special events going on.

Barracks Row Fall Festival
Where: 8th Street SE, Capitol Hill, WDC
When: September 24
Admission: Free

Showcasing the marine barracks and commerce of 8th Street SE on Capitol Hill, this annual festival is fun for all ages. Enjoy tours of the historic barracks, live entertainment, a petting zoo, food and art vendors, and tons of fun for kids, including the National Symphony Orchestra’s Instrument Petting Zoo, back for another round of musical amusement. A Beer Garden for grown-ups is a bonus.

Autumn Activities
Where: Larriland Farm
When: Late September & through October
Admission: Free

Larriland is best known for their pesticide-free PYO fields, but in the fall, they offer a little more for farm-goers. Take a hayride out to the pumpkin patch to find a potential jack-o-lantern, then play in the Boo Barn or make your way through the corn maze. Hayrides are only offered on weekends, while the barn and maze are open every day the farm is open.

Taste of Georgetown
Where: K Street NW, Wisconsin to Thomas Jefferson
When: October 1, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but pay per taste

In its 23rd year, the Taste of Georgetown will showcase the spectacular cuisine of over 30 of the neighborhood’s premier restaurants, highlighting Georgetown’s culinary personalities and featuring more than 60 delectable dishes to sample, as well as wine pairings. Bring young foodies for free activities including face painting, balloon art, and more fun for kids of all ages. Tasting tickets can be purchased online or at the event.

Taste of Bethesda
Where: Woodmont Triangle
When: October 1, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but you pay for food samples

According to some stats, Bethesda has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the U.S. Accurate or not, DC’s suburban neighbor definitely has a food scene worth celebrating. The 27th year of Bethesda’s famous food and music festival will bring 60 restaurants and five stages of entertainment to the downtown’s Woodmont Triangle. Along with delicious food samples and live entertainment, there will be a kid’s corner for face painting, arts & crafts, and more fun for young ones. Admission is free, and taste tickets are sold on-site in bundles of four tickets for $5. Food servings cost one to four tickets. Ticket sales end at 3:30pm.

Butler’s Orchard Pumpkin Festival
Where: Germantown, MD
When: Weekends October 1-30
Admission: $11, free for children 2 and under

Enjoy a country outing and join Butler’s in celebrating the harvest with traditional autumn activities. An area favorite, kids love jumping in the hayloft, heading out on hayrides, the tube slide, a rubber ducky derby, animal petting area, pony rides, pumpkin picking, corn maze, face painting, and much more. Some activities and food cost extra. Purchase there or bring along a picnic, but be sure to treat the kids – and yourself – to a yummy caramel apple!

Fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival
Where: Great Country Farms, Bluemont, VA
When: October 1-31
Admission: $10/adults $8/kids weekdays, $12/adult $10/kids weekends, ages 2 and under are free

Great Country is known for its awesome festivals, and the Pumpkin Harvest is no exception. Thrills for little people (okay, us grown-ups, too) include P-Rex, the pumpkin eating dinosaur; Rubber Ridge, the tractor tire mountain; the Pumpkin Princess in the pumpkin patch, a giant Pumpkin’ Jumpin’ Pillow; five mazes; 60-foot slides, rope swings, tractor rides, and even more fun in the country. Find a future jack o’ lantern in the pumpkin patch, the largest u-pick patch in the area. See a weekend schedule of activities here.

Fall For Fairfax KidsFest
Where: Fairfax County Government Center, VA
When: October 1-2
Admission: Free

This annual event by Celebrate Fairfax, Inc. includes exciting, interactive, and educational programs, entertainment and activities. Especially designed for families with elementary and pre-K aged children, activities include scarecrow making, pumpkin painting, public safety and recycling-themed exhibits, pony rides, a petting zoo, hay rides, model trains, and the KidWay MidWay with more than a dozen rides, bounces, and attractions. And that’s just for the kids. Adults can enjoy more than 75 exhibits, live entertainment, activities, and great festival food. While admission is free, some rides and concessions will require a fee. And be sure to check back on their website – the live entertainment has yet to be announced, and they usually have some pretty big-name acts perform.

Frederick’s Oktoberfest
Where: Great Frederick Fairgrounds, MD
When: October 1-2
Admission: $7/21+, $5/ages 4-20, free for 3 and under

The Frederick Fairgrounds are transformed into a German village where dancing, live music, children’s events, bratwurst, Oktoberfest bier, German wines, and much more will make for a fun time for all ages. Especially for kids: face painting, pumpkin decorating, scarecrow making, musical entertainment, and they claim they have a few more tricks up their sleeves just to keep everyone surprised. (See a schedule of activities here.) This all benefits Frederick County charities.

Autumn Harvest
Where: Schlagel Farm
When: Weekends in October, 9am – 5pm
Admission: $8/ages 2 and up

The farm known for it’s strawberry picking in spring also welcomes guests to pick out pumpkins in the fall. Hayrides, farm animals to visit, and small slides, and a straw maze give kids a little extra fun, too.

Taste of DC
Where: Pennsylvania Ave., 3rd-7th Streets NW, WDC
When: October 8-9, 12-7pm
Admission: Start at $10

Celebrate the food, wine, and culture of our the city during Columbus Day weekend. Along with the obvious — tastings from more than 50 area restaurants — there will be cooking demos, live entertainment, a beer garden, and an area with activities — dancing, games, storytelling, arts & crafts,and more — especially for kids.

Farm Harvest Days & Carnival Fun
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park
When: October 13-16
Admission: Free, but activities are extra

Fall is a busy — and fun — time on the farm, and you can be part of it at Frying Pan’s annual festival! Carnival fun and games start on run October 13-16 with rides, games, fair food, and more. On Saturday & Sunday, you can also watch the cider press in action, milk a goat, shell corn, peel apples, meet farm animals, and see traditional farm demonstrations.

18th Century Autumn Market Fair
Where: Claude Moore Colonial Farm
When: October 15-16, 11am – 4:30pm
Admission: $8/adult, $3/ages 3-12, under 3 are free

Enjoy the splendor of fall on a living history farm. Warm yourself by the fire while savor crisp local apples, spit roasted chicken, and hearty breads. Watch and participate with period tradesmen like the spinners and blacksmith. Live music, singing and dancing, and games are also among the festivities. And kids will delight in seeing turkeys, pigs, and chickens. Period food, beverages, and wares available for purchase.

Game On, Greater Washington
Where: FedEx Field
When: Saturday,
Admission: Free (but some activities are extra)

The American Diabetes Association is teaming up with the Washington Redskins for this one-of-a-kind festival featuring activities for the entire community, from rappelling and zip lining, to biking and fun runs, and everything in between. Including a ton of family and kid friendly events (kids’ zone with glitter tattoos, inflatable bounce and slide and so much more), the adventure-filled day is designed to raise funds for diabetes education, programs, research and advocacy. Registration fees vary depending on activity but the Kids’ Zone and entrance is free, and it’s an awesome opportunity to check out the Redskins stadium like never before, all while having fun for a good cause.

Fall Festival and Craft Beer Showcase
Where: Cathedral Commons
When: October 22
Admission: Free

Cathedral Commons, the mixed-use development located on Wisconsin Avenue, is hosting its second annual Fall Festival & Craft Beer Showcase. The free community event will feature live entertainment including craft beer tastings, live music, food offerings from neighborhood restaurants, and fall activities for the kids — a pumpkin patch, pumpkin decorating, face painting, and an inflatable slide.

Marker-Miller Orchards Festivals
Where: Winchester, VA
When: Several weekends in October
Admission: Free

There’s a variety of fun to be had throughout the season with a couple of different festivals taking place. The Apple Harvest Festival is October 8-9, offering a weekend of, well, everything apples: 20 varieties of apples, apple cobbler, apple caramel sundaes, plus the wagon rides and cow train for kids. October 22 is their annual Pumpkin Festival, when you can find your own Great Pumpkin and enjoy all the usual festivities at the orchard.

Homestead Farm Fall Festival
Where: Poolesville, MD
When: October – exact dates TBD
Admission: Free, but there are fees for some activities

While Homestead doesn’t have an official festival, the farm embraces the spirit of autumn every year. Tractor rides out to the pumpkin patches, apple picking, hot cider, farm animals, and scarecrows make it a great place to spend a few hours enjoying the season with the family. And the good thing about the lack of a festival, admission is free! You still pay for pumpkins and cider – and their can’t-miss caramel apples.

Have a favorite festival you don’t see listed here? Let us know about it in the comments!


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The 2016 Library of Congress National Book Festival

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Book lovers, mark your calendars! On September 24, readers of all ages are invited to join some of the country’s most celebrated authors for the 16th Annual Library of Congress National Book Festival.

Book enthusiasts, young and old, come from all over for the day of reading-related activities. Works by more than 120 authors, poets, and illustrators will be showcased and the creators themselves will be at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for special appearances.

All genres are represented on stages throughout the festival — Children, Teens, Picture Books, Contemporary Life, Culinary Arts, Fiction & Mystery, History & Biography, Poetry & Prose, Science and Special Programs — where readings, presentations, book signings, photo ops with writers (and costumed PBS characters), and more exciting experiences for guests will take place. And a Book Sales area gives guests an opportunity to purchase selected reads — and possibly have them signed by the authors.

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If your children love books, chances are an author of one of their favorite stories will be there (Andrea Beaty, author of the hugely popular Iggy Peck, Architect and Rosie Revere, Engineer, among them). Kids will also be able to enjoy an array of fun and exciting activities on the Expo Floor. Last year, Sasha had a blast visiting booths representing every state and getting her passport stamped to earn a special souvenir.

Even more, there’s bound to be a writer — or many — that parents will be excited about, too. Joyce Carol Oates, Salmon Rushdie, Lauren Groff, Sarah Vowell, even Stephen King (!) are among the many that will be in attendance. Have a look for yourself at the complete list and start planning your National Book Festival experience. Most presentations are first come, first served — and people do line up early to get seats for the favorites — the Stephen King presentation requires tickets, which are free and will be issued electronically on September 14 at 9am.

The National Book Festival will be held at the Washington Convention Center on Saturday, September 24, from 9am to 10pm. Admission is free. You can read about one of our past visits — including an interview with Magic Treehouse author Mary Pope Osborne! — here.

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Where to Play on the Weekdays: September 12-16

What's not to love about the sculpture gardens on the National Mall?

What’s not to love about the sculpture gardens on the National Mall?



Monday – Enjoy the outdoors on the National Mall. View art al fresco — kids will love the whimsical creations at the National Gallery of Art and Hirshhorn Museum Sculpture Gardens. Stroll along the paths at the Haupt Garden behind the Smithsonian Castle. Take a spin on The Carousel for $3.75 a ride. And, of course, pop into a museum (or two or three) while you’re there.

Tuesday – Venture up to Baltimore for a day of play and learning at Port Discovery. Several levels full of awesome hands-on exhibits will keep the kids entertained for hours! Open 9:30am – 4:30pm. Admission is $14.50 for ages 2 and up (free for under 2).
Update: Port Discovery is closed for exhibit maintenance. Instead, check out the Baltimore Museum of Industry, a fun little time trip through the city’s early business days with lots of interesting, interactive exhibits. Hours are 10am – 4pm (Tuesday – Sunday). Tour on your own — admission is $12/adult, $7/ages 7-12, free for 6 and under — or join the Wee Workers program for preschoolers 10:30-11:30am (free for kids, $5/adults).

Wednesday – Catch a free concert for little ones as the Teddy Bear Band plays a lunchtime show, perfect for children ages 2-5 and their families. Pack some snacks and join the fun in the McLean Central Park Gazebo at the McLean Community Center. Showtime is 12:30pm. Admission is free.

Thursday – Hit the playground at Wheaton Regional Park. Two levels of slides, climbing nets, monkey bars, swings, and more fun features will appeal to all ages and abilities. Pack lunch to eat at nearby picnic tables under the lofty trees. It’s open sunrise to sunset, and admission is free.

Friday – Head to the National Portrait Gallery for some creative fun at an Open Studio Friday session. All ages are welcome to explore a different art medium each week with all kinds of neat projects. Drop in anytime from 1-6pm. Go earlier or stay after to explore the museum’s collections and hang out in the Kogod Courtyard. Museum hours are 11:30am – 7pm. Admission is free. Read more about the Penn Quarter gallery in this KFDC post.


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