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The KFDC Guide to Visiting the National Museum of African American History & Culture with Kids

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The National Museum of African American History & Culture is easily one of the most remarkable and powerful attractions DC has received in recent years. Since it opened last September, timed entry passes to visit have been some of the most sought after tickets in town. It was number one on my Top 16 of 2016. It’s been lauded as a must-see by many reputable sources.

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So, you might be wondering why it’s taken me so long to post a write-up about something so outstanding. There’s good reason: While I visited the museum within days of its debut, I opted to go on my own that first time. I wanted to really take it all in and “prep” for a visit with my kids, since I knew there would be a lot to cover, and that some of it would be pretty heavy. And it was important to me that Owen and Sasha also visit before covering it here on the blog, so I could offer a true perspective on experiencing it with school-aged kids. We finally visited together a few weeks ago, just in time to post while it’s still Black History Month — though, of course, an outing there is relevant and important anytime.


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What’s Appropriate for Kids
Based on our experience, plus conversations I’ve had with friends who have been with children of various ages, I’d say that, generally, the whole museum is probably best for kids in third grade and up. Even then, that depends on their maturity, interest in history, reading level, and sensitivity to sad and scary topics. That said, there are parts that children of all ages will enjoy on some level, but there are areas that you might want to avoid entirely if you’re with a young child or an older kid who may be uncomfortable with grim and graphic elements. I would also suggest some discussion about the museum before your visit — what is there and why — even if they’ve learned about it in school.


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The Lay of the Land
The NMAAHC is huge. There are three concourses on the lower level alone that cover the history of slavery, segregation, and the civil rights movement in America, and there are several levels of exhibitions, theaters, interactive areas, even a café above that. The layout is thoughtfully configured, reflecting the timeline and tone of the exhibits. The earliest and most somber of them are on the lower levels, and as you move up, time progresses and the mood rises with it. The top floors are uplifting, inspiring, and hopeful.


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What to See and Do

History Galleries
If your kids can handle it based on my recommendations above, these exhibitions below ground level detailing the story of slavery, the struggle for human rights, and the road to freedom and equality are important to see. A range of displays, artifacts, multimedia and interactive components, and large installations make up this area. There is a lot to read and see, and it can be tedious to cover all of it. On my own, I viewed quite a bit, but not nearly all of it. With the kids, we casually strolled through it all — Owen (11) was extremely interested and stopped to read a lot, while it took the larger, interactive parts to capture Sasha’s (8) attention. I made sure to avoid an exhibit about Emmitt Till, the only one I thought would be too much even for Owen.

A few stand-outs:
– A gallery with fragments from an 18th century slave ship
– The 19th century Point of Pine slave cabin dismantled in South Carolina and reconstructed in the museum
– Woolworth’s Lunch Counter, where visitors can sit at a counter with touchscreen displays that ask what they would do in different civil rights tested situations
– The Share Your Story booth that welcomes guests to talk about their own experiences on video and view the stories of others
– Displays featuring pieces from 60’s protests to Obama’s campaign materials

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Explore More! Interactives
Most ages can enjoy this area on the second floor, where you can get hands (and feet!) on with a variety of interactive installations. The Step Afrika demo area is like Just Dance but with actual members of the stomping dance group leading in a video of step moves that you copy. There is a touch screen wall that details items in the museum collection as you tap on images. Kids can sit in a 1940’s Buick and choose safe options for a trip South. Other interactive table tops let them explore even more.

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Sports: Leveling the Playing Field
One of the most exciting exhibitions in the museum, this area celebrates the achievements and contributions of African Americans in the sporting world. Every professional sport is represented with a bronze statue of a famous athlete along with compelling videos with commentary from players, coaches, and journalists. Photos and displays highlighting big moments and iconic athletes are also interesting and fun to view. And one of the most striking pieces of all is a statue of the 1968 Olympics Black Power Salute. It’s on view as you walk into the sports area and such a powerful piece in the exhibition.

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Musical Crossroads
This exhibition showcases African American musicians and the influence of their music in our culture. It’s lively, joyful, and fun! See Chuck Berry’s red Cadillac, Public Enemy’s boombox, Sammy Davis Jr.’s tap shoes, old concert posters, videos of great musicians performing in iconic settings, the Mothership! The whole area is a trove of nostalgia, and my kids were great sports for indulging my ramblings about seeing Prince in concert during high school, P-Funk on New Year’s Eve in college, and how Michael Jackson lighting up the sidewalk in the Billy Jean video was special effects genius. The exhibit has hands-on opportunities, too. There’s a station where you can play producer and mix music on a touch screen sound board. And don’t miss browsing in the record store, where you can flip through album covers (there’s such a distinct feeling of satisfaction to it!) and listen to songs on a digital music table.

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Sweet Home Café
I haven’t had a chance to eat in the museum’s restaurant, but I’ve heard good things about it. The menu includes both traditional and more contemporary cuisines of the Africa American people. Dishes are made mostly from scratch and with locally sourced ingredients.

*There are many more exhibits to see within the Community and Culture galleries on the upper levels that highlight significant places, people, and African American contributions to the arts, television, and film. See them all if you can (i.e., your kids stay interested and you have time), but if not, the suggestions above will likely be most appealing to your kids.

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How to See It
It’s still tough to get passes to the museum — timed entry tickets are sold out through April, though you can try for same day — so you’ll want to make the most of your visit there. Touring with children might take some strategy, so knowing what is appropriate for them individually is important. If your kids can and want to tour the entire museum, I recommend starting at the bottom and working your way up to get the experience of seeing history unfold. However, if areas are crowded, and it’s easier to jump around, that wouldn’t take away from your visit at all. With young children, head straight upstairs to the sports, culture, and interactive areas. And if you want to see the lower levels, but don’t want to bring little ones with you, try to visit the museum with another adult, and you can switch off hanging with kiddos upstairs and touring on your own downstairs.


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I have to make note, too, of the beautiful architecture and design. The intricate lattice metal design on the outside of the bulding is meant to recall the ironwork crafted by slaves in Louisiana, South Carolina, and elsewhere. Take time to view it both from the outside and indoors. And as you stroll through the vast space, catch views of the Washington Monument and other attractions on the National Mall from deliberately placed windows.


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The National Museum of African American History & Culture is truly a powerful experience, at once poignant and celebratory, heartbreaking and hopeful. It’s a must-see for children and adults alike and, really, for everyone.

The Museum is open daily from 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free, but by timed entry passes. Advance passes are unavailable through April, but up to four(4) same-day timed entry passes are available online everyday starting at 6:30am until they run out. A limited number of walk-up passes are also available beginning at 1pm on weekdays. The Museum is located at 1400 Constitution Avenue, NW. The closest Metro stop is Smithsonian on the Blue/Orange line.

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Filed under All ages, Art, DC, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Museums, Ongoing, Weekdays, Weekend

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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Filed under All ages, DC, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Virginia, Weekdays, Winter

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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Valentine’s Day-Inspired Activities Around the DMV

Graffiti art with heart created by Mr. Brainwash at Union Market's Dock5

Graffiti art with heart created by Mr. Brainwash at Union Market’s Dock5



Do you *heart* celebrating Valentine’s Day with your little (and big) sweeties? Here are some activities happening around the area over the next week that you’re all bound to love. Happy V-Day!

Library Love
Where: DC Public Libraries
When: Various dates
Admission: Free

Join story times, craft sessions, and sing-alongs at some of the city’s libraries; Valentine’s Day-themed activities are taking places on several dates over the next week. Find one that your child will love here.

Skate Date in the Village: Pop-Up Roller Rink
Where: Village at Leesburg
When: February 10-14, 1-9pm (Sunday, 1-5pm)
Admission: Free

Grab your Valentine for a Skate Date in the Village! Go for a spin in a pop-up roller skating rink in the heart of Village at Leesburg all Valentine’s Day weekend. Enjoy merchant specials, surprise treats and a maybe even a fun date night. BONUS: There will be Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 4-9pm! (Rides pick up at Altar’d State.)

Sip, Sew & Art Pre-Valentine’s Day Pop-up (KidFree Suggestion!)
Where: West Elm Pop-up/Lab 1270 @ Union Market
When: February 10, 6:30-9pm
Admission: $40

Sip Some, Sew Some and Create Some! Participants will use a sewing machine to make a pillow (no sewing experience needed). Once your pillow is completed, you can tap into your inner artist skills by creating a Valentine’s Day greeting card. All materials including sewing machines are provided. Light refreshments will be served.

DIY Valentines
Where: National Postal Museum
When: February 11, 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 one to love. 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.

Unshrink My Heart
Where: Brentwood Arts Exchange
When: February 11, 2pm
Admission: Free

The arts and crafts icon, Shrinky Dinks, from the 80’s is back! And nothing says “love” like a hand-made pre-shrunk Valentine. Families are invited to create beautiful jewelry, key chains, and other Valentine’s Day gifts for their loved ones. Children will receive their first 2 sheets of blank Shrinky Dinks free, additional sheets will be available to purchase for 50 cents each.

Valentine’s Day Treats for the Birds
Where: Meadowside Nature Center
When: February 11
Admission: $6

This is the time of year when birds could use a little help finding food. Join staff to identify some common winter birds and make them a few treats from household items. Adults must accompany children.

Valentine’ Day Crafts & Cookies
Where: Michael’s
When: February 11
Admission: Varies by session

Head to a Michael’s location for some creative Valentine’s fun. The arts & crafts supply store is hosting drop-in workshops over the next week for cookies, crafts, & more — all with a love theme. Search the website to find a store near you.

Love in Every Language
Where: Sackler Gallery
When: February 11 & 12, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

All ages are welcome to enjoy a digital slideshow of images of love in Asian art. Use that as inspiration to create Valentine’s Day cards with woodblock prints that say “love” in more than a dozen Asian languages and fold heart-shaped origami.

The Power of Chocolate
Where: National Museum of the American Indian
When: February 11-12
Admission: Free

So, it’s not a Valentine’s Day activity, per se, but the timing of this festival focusing on chocolate likely isn’t a coincidence. The story of chocolate begins with a small tree that has its roots deep in the world of Mesoamerican culture, and you can join the NMAI to celebrate 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.

Animal Valentines
Where: Hidden Oaks Nature Center
When: February 12, 1:30-2:15pm
Admission: $7

Play musical valentines and critter sweetheart games as you learn how animals find a mate. Meet live animals at the Nature Center and make an animal valentine craft. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Recommended for ages 4-8.

Valentines Tea and Chocolate
Where:Brookside Gardens
When: February 12, 2-4pm
Admission: $12

Parents and children can celebrate with love, tea, and chocolates. Enjoy a variety of tea, treats, learn about chocolate, taste chocolate treats, plus make a valentine and a tea cup floral arrangement for yourself or a loved one!

Valentine Tea and Poetry
Where: Ellanor C. Lawrence Park
When: February 12, 3-4pm
Admission: $8

Enjoy poetry and tea at the Machen Farm at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park with your little sweetheart. A costumed interpreter shares a Walney mystery love poem and invites you to write your own while dining on mint tea and sugar cookies. Frame your poem in the style of a childhood Valentine. Children must be accompanied by a registered adult. For ages 2 and up.

Love on Ice (with Kids or KidFree)
Where: Canal Park Ice Rink
When: February 14
Admission: Details below

Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday, which conveniently is two-for-one skating at the ice rink — two can skate for the price of one from 4-6pm. Canal Park is also hosting Valentine’s Couple Skate. The rink will be romantically decorated, a capella groups from neighboring universities will perform lovely tunes, and couples can take the memories with them by snapping photos at a photo booth. For a $60 packaged deal, couples can enjoy a pre-fixe dinner for two at il Parco including a bottle of sparkling wine plus skate admission.

Brunch and Skate (with Kids or KidFree)
Where: Washington Harbour
When: February 11 & 12
Admission: $35/person

Enjoy a champagne brunch and some skating at the Washington Harbour. Bring the kids to dine with you (minus the bubbly, of course) at Nick’s Riverside Grill, then glide the day away at the ice rink. The package includes a two-course brunch menu, a bottle of champagne for every two guests, a carafe of OJ, and ice skating. If you go on Sunday, look for a deal on skating admission for the kids from CertifiKid.

All You Need Is Love 5: A Tribute to The Beatles & Love Songs (KidFree Suggestion!)
Where: Jammin Java
When: February 12
Admission: $16

Are you in love, looking for love, or scorning love? Either way, this is how love songs are meant to be heard — intimate and stripped down. Jammin Java’s official Valentine’s tradition is back by popular demand. Anthony Fiacco, Todd Wright and Luke Brindley pay homage to the group that influenced every musician out there with covers of your favorite Beatles love songs as well as originals of their own. Three singer/songwriters sharing the stage, telling stories, and playing songs, it’s like seeing the best local musicians singing your favorite songs in your living room.

Wild Love
Where: City Wildlife
When: February 12
Admission: Free

Take advantage of this rare occasion to visit City Wildlife, the animal rescue and rehabilitation center, as it’s the only time they open their doors to the public. join the Valentine’s Day celebration and tour the facility, enjoy some goodies and get a gift for your Valentine. You can also show your love for DC’s wildlife and help fulfill the organization’s wish list.

Spread Your Wings
Where: iFly Loudoun
When: Discount on purchase through February 14
Admission: Rates vary

Take flight and get your heart racing with sheer exhilaration this Valentine’s Day. iFly, the indoor sky diving experience, is offering a special promotion to celebrate. Use the promo code VDAY17 at checkout and get $20 OFF on the Spread Your Wings for Two and Spread Your Wings Return packages.

Seeing Deeper: Love to the World
Where: Washington National Cathedral
When: February 14, 6:30-8:30pm
Admission: Free

On Valentine’s Day, bring your family, friends or that Special Someone to weave messages of love to the world in this interactive art exhibit. Sized for the grandeur of the Cathedral and the intimacy of human connection, we’ll provide art supplies (or bust that yarn stash!) to help you build a collective expression of love. Or, find your own way to fill the space—explore the depth and breadth of the Cathedral’s space, find a nook for quiet contemplation.



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Filed under All ages, Animals, Annual, Art, Date Night, DC, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Festival, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

The Weekend Round-Up: February 3-5

Any visit to Annmarie Sculpture Garden should include play time in the Fairy Lolly

Any visit to Annmarie Sculpture Garden should include play time in the Fairy Lolly



Keep the Chinese New Year celebrations going or get the Valentine-inspired fun started. Catch some live entertainment in the cozy comfort of a theatre or get outdoors for nature explorations. Scope out sweet rides or go for a spin on ice. Enjoy story time and crafts or (w)hoop it up at a basketball game. Whatever your family’s interests, there’s bound to be activities and events to indulge them. Happy Weekend!

Chinese New Year Family Day
Where: Kennedy Center
When: Saturday, 10:30am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Bring your entire family to a fun-filled day of activities and entertainment for all ages. Learn the arts of paper cutting, Beijing-style appliqué, calligraphy, sugar and bottle painting, “bristle dolls,” and Chinese makeup. Play dress up and snap pictures at the Chinese costume trunk. Enjoy performances by Beijing acrobats and Chinese musicians. And much more!

Chocolate Lovers Festival
Where: City of Fairfax
When: Saturday & Sunday,
Admission: Depends on activities

The City of Fairfax presents its annual festival centered around one of the most wonderful things in the world: Chocolate! There will be all kinds of activities for all ages throughout the weekend, both chocolate and non-chocolate themed — tastings, story time, puppet shows, face painting, chocolate challenges, a chocolate caper mock trial, and much more. The schedule of events has details.

Celebrate La Chandeleur!
Where: Hillwood Museum
When: Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $18/adult, $12/member, $5/child, free under 3

La Chandeleur, also known as Crêpe Day, marks the halfway point between winter and spring. In France, families celebrate by eating crêpes, which are round and golden, like the springtime sun. Hillwood and Alliance Française de Washington invite families to celebrate this holiday in festive French fashion amidst Hillwood’s spectacular gardens, magnificent mansion, and exquisite French treasures.

Washington Auto Show
Where: Washington Convention Center
When: Friday, 12-10pm; Saturday, 10am -10pm; Sunday 10am – 7pm
Admission: $12/adults, $5/ages 6-12, free for 5 and under

The annual Washington Auto Show is parked at the Washington Convention Center for one more weekend. And if there’s any “grown-up” event that is equally fun for all ages, this is it. The Auto Show is like a Truck Touch, but with automobiles — more than 700 of them! — on display for guests to check out. Other activities, like Ride ‘n Drives and celeb appearances, give guests even more to do and see. There will also be fun especially for kids and pop-ins by some of their favorite characters along with the autos. This post about one of our experiences at a past show has more about what to expect.

Archi-Builder Studio Series
Where: District Architecture Center
When: Saturday, 9am – 12pm
Admission: $75/5-week series

Kids ages 9-14 who love drawing houses, building structures, designing a pillow fort might consider signing up for this. This multi-series architectural program engages students in the design process used by architects to build scale models of habitable spaces of their own imagining. At each session, young architects will work in teams to learn processes and techniques to progress their ideas into a final design.

hiSTORYtime
Where: National Museum of American History
When: Saturday, 11am
Admission: Free

Early learners ages 0-6 and their caregivers will have the chance to hear a story and participate in hands-on activities and crafts inspired by objects from the museum’s collection at this weekly program. Saturdays in February are all about things that go! Join for stories about transportation, and enjoy games, crafts, and activities inspired by objects in the museum that help us travel.

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

* Ella Enchanted opens at Adventure Theatre this weekend!
* Reserve free tickets to see Magician Brian Curry, this week’s Saturday Morning at the National performer
* Experience Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions at Strathmore on Saturday
* Hamlette puts a twist on the Shakespearean classic as it open at The Keegan Theatre
* Goldilocks is the latest Main Stage show at The Puppet Co.
* And Dragon Babies is the featured Tiny Tots performance on Sunday
* Mr. Jon and Friends are playing the Saturday morning show at Jammin Java
* Watch Blue Sky Puppet Theatre perform at the Avalon Theatre in Alexandria, the first show in this season’s Family Matinee series
* Little ones will be delighted by Blue at Imagination Stage
* The Folger Theatre presents As You Like It
* Make it a KidFree night out at Arena Stage where ROE recently opened

Crush-Worthy Classroom Valentine Workshop
Where: The Paper Source
When: Saturday, 11am – 1pm
Admission: $25

Kids ages 8 and up can grab their BFF and some glitter for a workshop that will give them heart eyes! Make 5 – 6 Valentines for your classmates, friends, and family using your favorite stickers, stamps, washi tape, and more! A 10% off coupon will be provided with the class. Buy two seats at the same time and save 10% off each seat.

Valentine Crafts
Where: Michael’s
When: Saturday, times vary
Admission: $2

Head to a Michael’s location for some creative Valentine’s fun. The arts & crafts supply store is hosting drop-in workshops this weekend (and next) for children to make cards and decor — all with a love theme. Search the website to find a store near you.

YA Book Launch Party
Where: Hooray for Books
When: Friday, 7pm
Admission: Free

Calling all YA Bookworms! New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley will be launching her newest YA novel Our Own Private Universe, a thoughtful look at the search for self that comes with adolescence, complicated by the intersection of race, religion, and orientation. They will also have brownies, books, and general merriment.

Hawks and Owls                           
Where: Buddie Ford Nature Center
When: Saturday, 2 – 3pm
Admission: $5/resident, $10/non-resident

Discover the important work of the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia from a raptor expert through a live hawk and owl presentation. Recommended for ages 5 & up, and all children must be accompanied by an adult. Read a KFC review of Buddie Ford here.

Weekend Walk in the Woods
Where: Woodend Nature Sanctuary
When: Saturday, 9-10am
Admission: Free

Take a hike — and advantage of the Audubon Naturalist Society’s free monthly family program. On the first Saturday of each month from 9-10am, join Master Naturalists for a nature hike around Woodend Sanctuary. Each outing has a unique and exciting natural history theme that’s appropriate for family members of all ages. Be prepared to hike in sneakers. Meet in the gazebo by the main house. Read a KFDC review of Woodend Nature Sanctuary.

Valentine Photo Box
Where: The Home Depot
When: Saturday, 9am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Join the home improvement store’s weekly hands-on workshop and build a Valentine-themed photo box, perfect for keeping photos of loved ones front and center. Once the box is built, kids can decorate it with paint and stickers. Along with their craft, all participants receive a certificate of achievement, a workshop apron, and a commemorative pin (while supplies last). Register here.

Chinese New Year Celebration
Where: Port Discovery
When: Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $14.95/ages two and up

Celebrate the Chinese New Year and commemorate the year of the Rooster at Port Discovery. Learn, experience, and participate in traditions surrounding the Chinese New Year celebration, including the Lion Dance (complete with a paper mache lion, drums, and cymbals), performances from the Gina Ling Dancers, festive rooster and dragon-themed art projects, Happy Fortunes, and Chinese New Year Lucky Charms. Also learn about Calligraphy and Chopstick training and enjoy a live petting zoo from Wildlife Adventures.

Marine MRE Cook-Off
Where: National Museum of the Marine Corps
When: Saturday, 2-4pm
Admission: Free

Watch a couple of marine chefs vie for the coveted Golden Canteen Cup as they pull two MREs (Meals Ready-to-Eat) from a box and combine them to create one meal. MRE’s are intended to be consumed by the military when traditional food is not readily available, each packing about 1200 calories and containing a main course, side dish, dessert or snack, bread, spread, beverage mix, utensils, a heater, beverage mixing bag and more. It’s like Top Chef, military-style!

Maple Sugaring Days
Where: Brookside Nature Center in Wheaton
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: $6

Be a part of the maple sugaring process and help collect the sap from trees, watch as its boiled down into sweet maple syrup, and enjoy a taste! This program takes place every Thursday Saturday, and Sunday in February at select times. Sessions fill up, so register now! This event is also offered in Spanish.

World Wetlands Day
Where: Huntley Meadows Park
When: Saturday, 12-2pm
Admission: $8 Free

Get a little nature fix at this hidden spot in Alexandria. The park will be showcasing the importance and beauty of wetlands with presentation and education stations, a guided wetland walk, and crafts for participants ages four and older. Learn why these unique ecosystems are significant to people, plants, and animals and how the Huntley Meadows wetland was formed. Head home with ideas about what you can do to help protect these fading treasures. Read a KFDC review of Huntley Meadows.

Lunar New Year Celebration
Where: Potomac Mills
When: Saturday, 1-3pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the Year of the Rooster with an afternoon of festivities for shoppers at Potomac Mills. Stop by the Grand Court to experience the celebratory events, including Chinese Dance, the iconic Lion Dance, a Fashion Show, traditional Chinese music, the Guzheng, food samples, and much more.

Love Rocks! Family Dance Party
Where: Port Discovery
When: Saturday, 6-9pm
Admission: $18/members, $20/non-members

Bring the whole family to the Love Rocks! Family Dance Party on Saturday! The special night out will be filled with Valentine’s-themed fun. Dance along to tunes from DJ Holly, become your most-loved character with face painting fun, create Valentine’s crafts and art projects, and explore three floors of fun exhibits that are sure to get hearts pumping. Food and beverages included.

Chinese New Year Celebration
Where: Sackler Gallery and Ripley Center
When: Sunday, 11am – 5pm
Admission: Free

Ring in the Year of the Rooster with art! The Sackler’s third annual Chinese New Year celebration features free attractions for all ages highlighting contemporary performers and artists from Beijing. See Chinese opera and acrobatics, create Year of the Rooster-themed crafts, see demos of traditional Chinese art, and try your hand at projects, too. Chinese food will also be available for purchase. 

Recreation on Ice
Where: Local ice rinks
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

Warm up with a quintessential cold weather activity! Lace up the ice skates and get gliding at one of many outdoor rinks in the area. Enjoy art as you skate at the Sculpture Garden; circle the rink at Washington Harbour; meander the paths at Canal Park; or do some shopping then skate at Pentagon Row, Tyson’s Corner, Veteran’s Plaza, Rockville Town Square, or Reston Town Center. This post has details on both alfresco and indoor ice skating options in the area. And I recommend checking Certifikid for admission deals.

Watch the Wizards
Where: Verizon Center
When: Saturday, 7pm
Admission: Ticket prices vary

The Wizards will be hosting at home this weekend with a game Saturday night. Catch them at the Verizon Center against New Orleans. And be sure to look for a ticket deal through Certifikid — along with the discount seats, you’ll also get a Wizards T-shirt!

Full STEAM Ahead: Creative Compost
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center
When Sunday, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

Bring the preschool set the artLAB for hands-on investigations and challenges! This free program is designed to help children explore, observe, ask questions, and make predictions as they create and play. Plan to stay beyond the session to explore the beautiful grounds, play in the Fairy Lolly, and check out the art. Read a KFDC review about Annmarie Sculpture Garden.

DC, Inside & Out
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

Looking for ways to stay active and entertained without a chill in the air? Then The Great Indoors post, a list of over 80 ideas for places to go inside, should have you covered. And if you prefer the outdoors no matter the weather, The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids, has a bunch of recommendations, too.

Find Reviews on Outdoor Gear at GearWeAre.com!

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