Category Archives: Eats

The Weekend Round-Up: April 14-16

Tulips abloom at Burnside Farm

Tulips a bloomin’ at Burnside Farm



It may be Easter weekend, but there’s way more going on than egg hunts and bunnies (though there are plenty of them, too). Have fun at Nationals Park — and in national parks. Go to a flower filled festival. Join a bird walk or bike ride. See a show. Enjoy some recreation on the water. Fling some discs on a course…. These are just some of many ways to enjoy the next few days — and some QT with the kids. Happy Weekend!

Tiptoe Through the Tulips
Where: Burnside Farm
When: Friday 10am – 6pm, Saturday & Sunday 9am – 6pm
Admission: $6/Friday $8/Weekend

Experience Holland in Haymarket, VA! The bloom has begun at Burnside Farm, where their annual Festival of Spring showcases the season’s flowers. Stroll through the giant fields that contain over 50 different varieties of flowers in a rainbow of colors and pick your own to enjoy at home: $1 for 2 daffodils, $1 per tulip.) Be sure to have your camera handy. Along with the flowers, there are bouncy features, a playhouse area, cornhole games, and authentic Dutch wooden shoes to try on, concessions for sale, and a picnic area.

Egg-cellent Celebrations
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by event

Egg hunts, bunny visits, and more spring fun to celebrate Easter and the season are happening all around the area. Even if you’re not big on the holiday, there are attractions beyond bunnies and candy-filled eggs for the whole fam. Join a Bird Egg-stravaganza at Woodend, hunt amid storybook installations at Clark’s Elioak, enjoy loads of spring fun at Ticonderoga Farm, hop on a Bunny Train, fill a basket at an Eggstravagnza, feast at Pinstripes, or find another event where you can celebrate here.

Nats vs. Phillies
Where: Nationals Park
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Admission: Ticket prices vary

The Nats host the Phillies all weekend with games Friday evening and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Sunday’s game is going to be extra egg-citing. Not only is it Kids Day, Screech’s Birthday, and Kids Run the Bases, after the game young fans can join the first-ever egg hunt in the outfield at Nationals Park! This requires purchase of a special ticket, and adults must buy it, too (though the hunt is just for kids). Be sure to check out these KFDC tips for doing a Nats game without breaking the bank. And consider signing up for the Jr. Nationals Kids Club, too.

Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival
Where: Southwest Waterfront
When: April 15, 2-9:30pm
Admission: Free

The final event of the National Cherry Blossom Festival takes place on the Southwest Waterfront at the District Wharf and the Titanic Memorial. It’s an afternoon and part-evening affair with free live music and family-friendly festivities, including water-related activities, cultural experiences, and delicious foods. The grand finale will begin at 8:30pm when the National Cherry Blossom Festival Fireworks Show lights up the night sky.

Bluebells at the Bend
Where: Riverbend Park
When: Saturday, 10am – 2pm
Admission: $7

Celebrate the Virginia Bluebells as they blanket the banks of the Potomac River at Riverbend Park. Bring the whole family for fun including games, music, wildflower walks, wagon rides, live animals, and more. Read more about Riverbend in this KFDC post. And to see what else is going on at other Fairfax County Parks, go here.

Free Parking
Where: National Parks
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: FREE!

It’s National Parks Week through April 23, so there will be no entrance fee at national parks where they usually charge to get in this weekend and next. Take advantage of complimentary admission and celebrate our parks by visiting a local natural treasure. Hit the trail at Shenandoah or Great Falls, take a ride on Skyline Drive, explore Fort McHenry, or visit Harpers Ferry. For more ideas of places to visit, see the National Park Service website.

Breakin’
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

Spring Break is winding down for some kids, but just kicking off for others (incuding mine!), and there are a bunch of great ways to take advantage of the time off from school. See a special exhibit, hit the beach, take a cool day trip or overnight, and more. Check out the guide with ideas for where to go and what to do around DC during Spring Break 2017.

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

* Your wish for all-ages entertainment has been granted: Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp is at Adventure Theatre
* The Three Billy Goats Gruff is on the Main Stage at The Puppet Co.
* And Bunny Business is this week’s featured Tiny Tots show
* Ragtime is running at Ford’s Theatre, a historic DC etertainment venue
* The Broadway hit Chicago is at the Kennedy Center for one more weekend
* A Raisin in the Sun at Arena Stage is a great option with older kids or for a date night

Spring Bird Walk
Where: Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
When: Sunday, 8-10am
Admission: Free

Bird nerds and those who enjoy a nature walk in a lovely place can join the National Park Service every Sunday in April and May from 8-10am to explore Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and Marsh to find resident birds and arriving spring migrants from the tropics. Binoculars and gird guides provided. Meet at the Visitor Center.

Ride with Recess Outings
Where: Capitol Hill
When: Saturday & Sunday, 10-11:30am
Admission: $30-40

Join Recess Outings on a bike ride! If you’ve just starting to cycle with little ones in tow, the Precious Cargo ride on Saturday is an introduction to biking with toddlers. On Sunday, To Market, To Market is designed for anyone up for a leisurely exploration of DC, with world-class markets serving as the bookends along the route as you meander from Eastern Market to Union Market and back again. Get more details about both rides here.

Furnished with a Firelock
Where: Claude Moore Colonial Farm
When: Saturday, 1-4pm
Admission: $5/adult, $3/child, free for 2 and under

Learn about the militia in Colonial Virginia right before the American Revolution at this new educational and fun event. Witness the sights and sounds of an 18th century militia encampment and help the soldiers with their camp duties – then fall in to learn the manual of arms.

Go with the Flow
Where: Potomac, Anacostia, South, & Patuxent Rivers
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by boathouse

Enjoy the weekend on the water, where you can paddle and explore! A bunch of places around the area that rent kayaks, canoes, rowboats, and pontoons have opened for the season! Fletcher’s Boathouse is a popular place to go, and you can also row from Key Bridge Boathouse, which just opened for the season. Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis has paddling options. And if you’re up for a bigger excursion, you can rent your own pontoon at Solomons Island.

Disc Golf
Where: Local parks
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

Hit the links, the chain links, that is! Disc golf is a great way to enjoy a day outdoors with the family. Read about one of our outings playing the Frisbee-Golf combo. We’ve also enjoyed it at Seneca Creek State Park and Burke Lake Park. Not only is disc golf fun and challenging, the courses are set up in pretty places with lots of opportunities for more active recreation.

Out and About
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Between the glorious weather and the blooming everything (it seems, right?), it’s a great time to be outdoors. Plan for some al fresco adventures — the round-up of The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids has ideas galore!

***Good Stuff to Know***
* There’s an awesome giveaway going on right now to celebrate Mother’s Day coming up. Enter here for a chance to win a $200 gift card to Bliss Spa and $100 in babysitting credit from Chime by Sittercity (note: it doesn’t have to be used on Mother’s Day)!
* Thomas the Tank Engine & friends are rolling into Baltimore for Day Out With Thomas at the B&O Railroad Museum April 28-30 and May 5-7. (Note: The giveaway has ended, but find ticket links in the post).
* There are lots of great shows coming to local stages this season — save your seats in advance!
* We dig the The Brig! The family-friendly beer garden near Barracks Row has a nice selection of brews, good food, live music on Saturdays, and a 25-foot screen for viewing sports games. Yay.


Leave a Comment

Filed under 2017, All ages, Annual, DC, Eats, Educational, Farm, Festival, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Sports, Spring, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend

The Best Events of the 2017 Cherry Blossom Season for Families

blossoms_picnic

There’s much more to cherry blossom season in DC than just the famous flowers. The National Cherry Blossom Festival makes it a great celebration with all kinds of events over several weeks, plus there are even more blossom-inspired happenings that aren’t part of the official festival. Here are the best of them for families to help plan for a peak blossom experience. And be sure to check out this post, too, with tips for cherry blossom viewing. Happy spring!

Cultural Performances
Where: Tidal Basin Welcome Area
When: March 15 – April 2
Admission: Free

Catch live entertainment as you take in views of the blossoms! During the bloom season and most of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, there will be music and dance performances on a special stage set up at the Tidal Basin Welcome Area. Enjoy them daily starting March 15 from 12-6pm.

Cherry Blossom Celebration
Where: Smithsonian American Art Museum
When: March 25
Admission: Free

Celebration of Japanese culture in the beauitful Kogod Courtyard! A taiko drumming performance will kick off the day, followed by Japanese music and dance performances, face painting, and cherry-blossom themed crafts. Make your own tatebanko (a Japanese paper diorama) with friends from the Smithsonian’s Freer|Sackler Gallery, go on a scavenger hunt to find spring themed artworks, and more!

Japanese Culture Day
Where: Library of Congress Young Readers Center
When: March 25
Admission: Free

Learn about Japanese culture as you create origami artwork creation, try on kimonos, and enjoy more other activities. Cherry Blossom princesses from the last few years will instruct children in the art of tiara-making. At 11am and 1:30pm, the Japan-America Society of Washington, DC, will present “Japan-In-A-Suitcase,” a program about Japanese life and culture. Following each of these presentations, there will be a karate demonstration along with other attractions. Children can also explore the Library’s Young Readers Center, which is full of current and classic children’s literature – read more about it here.

Friendship Between Nations Family Day
Where: National Archives
When: March 25, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Join the National Archives for a fun, activity filled day exploring the many ways countries show their friendship, such as the gift of the cherry blossoms from Japan to the US. Investigate treaties, learn about some of the crazy gifts countries have given, and participate in interactive activities designed for the entire family to enjoy.

Kites of Asia Heritage Family Day
Where: National Air & Space Museum
When: March 25, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Get ready for the Blossom Kite Festival and celebrate spring and Asian heritage! At the Air & Space Museum’s annual event, you can talk to kite experts, see pan-Asian kite displays, marvel at indoor kite flying, make your own kite, and maybe even take a dance lesson!

Go fly a kite on the National Mall!

Go fly a kite on the National Mall!

Blossom Kite Festival
Where: Washington Monument Grounds
When: April 1, 10am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

Go fly a kite! Seriously. The Kite Festival is probably my favorite event of the blossom season. The sight of thousands of kites in all colors, shapes, and sizes soaring around the Washington Monument is truly a sight to behold. It’s magical for kids — and even for me as a jaded adult! The sails you see flying at the Festival each spring range from simple to pretty darn creative. Dragons, sharks, butterflies, giant soccer balls, even some that look like big, beautiful origami works way outnumber your basic diamond. And anyone can go fly their kites, so BYO or make one there at an activity station. There’s a competition aspect to the event, too; expert kite enthusiasts will wow crowds with cool stunts, and prizes will be awarded to winners of various categories such as most beautiful, funniest, and aerodynamics.

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue, 7th – 17th Streets NW
When: April 8, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

The pinnacle of cherry blossom festivities is easily the parade. Thousands of people line Constitution Avenue every year to watch the spectacle of lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, and a variety of performers travel down Constitution Avenue. Tickets for grandstand seats are available for $20, but you can stake out a spot along the curb for free. Plan to arrive early to get a good view — the crowds come out for this one, especially if it’s a pretty spring day.

Sakura Matsuri
Where: M Street & New Jersey Ave. SE
When: April 8, 10:30am – 6pm
Admission: $8/ages 13 and up in advance, free for 12 and under

Following the Cherry Blossom parade, many folks head over to Sakura Matsuri, the Japanese Street Festival that is America’s largest one-day exhibition of Japanese culture. There will be live music and dance performances, all kinds of Asian and Western foods, martial arts demos, Japanese art, and more. All at a new location in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. Be prepared for a crowd.

Family Workshop: Japanese Woodblock Printing
Where: Sackler Gallery
When: April 8-9, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

In celebration of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, join the Sackler for opening weekend of Inventing Utamaro and free family activities! In this Open Studio, witness firsthand the beauty and complexity of Japanese woodblock prints. Take a family-friendly tour (offered at 12:30pm and 2:30pm) of the exhibition, then explore traditional tools and papers. A teaching artist demonstrates transferring designs to a block, carving, and basic printing techniques. Come prepared to get your hands inky. All ages welcome!

Anacostia River Festival
Where: Anacostia Park
When: April 9
Admission: Free

The National Park Service and the 11th Street Bridge Park present the 3rd annual Anacostia River Festival, also a premier event of the 2017 National Cherry Blossom Festival! Celebrate the Anacostia River with some fun outdoor recreation! Explore the river by canoe, ride in a bike parade, play lawn games with your family, and experience Southeast DC’s local arts scene. This year they’re celebrating biking in the District with trail rides, safety classes, quick bike tune ups, and special bike activities for all ages.

Family Afternoon: Design with Nature
Where: National Building Museum
When: April 9, 11am – 2pm
Admission: Free

All ages can drop in for creative hands-on activities, a community garden design project, and opportunities to learn about Japanese art and design. See how nature is intentionally integrated into the built world, different ways people design with nature, and how nature can inspire design in and around built spaces. Learn about symbolism of the natural world across cultures and make connections between springtime symbolism, design, nature, and the built world they live in.

Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival
Where: Southwest Waterfront
When: April 15, 2-9:30pm
Admission: Free

This event that takes place along the District Wharf and the Titanic Memorial on the Southwest Waterfront is one of the last of the festival this year. It’s an afternoon and part-evening affair with free live music and family-friendly festivities, including water-related activities, cultural experiences, and delicious foods. The grand finale will begin at 8:30pm when the National Cherry Blossom Festival Fireworks Show lights up the night sky.


Leave a Comment

Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, DC, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Festival, Free, Live Entertainment, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Parade, Park, Seasonal, Spring, Weekdays, Weekend

The Weekend Round-Up: March 4-5

Theatrics at the Folger Shakespeare Library, where there's a special program for kids this weekend

Theatrics at the Folger Shakespeare Library, where there’s a special program for kids this weekend



nasm_stem_magic

After a nice teaser of spring, it’s going to feel a little more like winter this weekend, but that won’t affect your family fun. Stay cozy inside at a performing arts fest, theatre workshop, museum program, summer camp preview, IMAX movie, or live show. And if you want to bundle up and bask in the sunshine, there are always lots of great activities to enjoy outside. Happy Weekend!

Intersect with the Performing Arts
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by show (includes free fun!)

There’s more family programming at the INTERSECTIONS Festival this weekend, most of it on Saturday. See Jane Franklin Dance perform The Big Meow. Catch the In Series’ presentation, Duke Ellington’s Neighborhood. Capitol Tap and House of Tap performs Feel the Beat Through Your Feet! Clown Cabaret brings The Heist to the stage. And Saturday morning from 10am – 12pm, the Zip Zap Circus will bring FREE fun and entertainment to the Atlas lobby! These are just the most kid-friendly shows — the whole line-up throughout the Festival is worth checking out by grown-ups.

The Inside Scoop
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

As the mercury drops toward temps more normal for this time of year, you might be seeking out fun indoors. This post lists more than 80 suggestions for things to do, most them mainstays around DC, and just about all of them KFDC tried and tested.

Family Shabbat Clusters
Where: DCJCC
When: Friday
Admission: $36

Celebrate Shabbat your way! Family Shabbat Clusters are groups of people that get together to celebrate Shabbat once a month and are a great way to make new friends and start traditions. Every Shabbat Cluster season starts with a Kickoff Dinner at the EDCJCC for all participants. Register here.

Shake(speare) Up Your Saturday
Where: Folger Shakespeare Library
When: Saturday, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free, but registration required

Join the Folger’s family program that takes place the first Saturday of every month. In this “Courtly Meetings & Country Greetings” session, imagine yourself in the two worlds of As You Like It, the court of Duke Frederick and the Forest of Arden. Ages 5-7 at 10-11am, and ages 8-14 at 11am – 12pm. Go here to sign up.

Alexandria St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Where: Old Town Alexandria
When: Saturday, 12:30pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the Irish holiday a a bit early in Old Town Alexandria. Pre-parade festivities begin in the morning, and the annual procession kicks off at 12:30pm at Alfred and King Streets, then winds through Old Town, showcasing elected officials, Irish Ambassadors, military commanders, scout troops, high school bands, and local celebrities.

Recycled Cycles for Sale!
Where: Big Bear Cafe
When: Saturday, 10am whiles supplies lasts
Admission: Free

Spring is coming and with it, great cycling weather, so now is the best time to make sure you have a quality ride that meets your needs. Well, just in time, Phoenix Bikes, a non-profit youth program and community bike shop in Arlington, VA, will be selling a large inventory of quality, refurbished bikes and new bike gear along with friends Gearin’ Up Bicycles and Bikes for the World. Check out the sale for a great deal on a bike that benefits local non-profits and be ready to ride this spring…truly a win-win!

Apollo on the Move
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15

Explore how Apollo 11 and the Moon landing transformed our lives 50 years ago and continues to influence space exploration and inspire people today and into the future. Go inside the Museum’s Restoration Hangar where staff work to conserve, restore, and preserve spacecraft and aircraft. See the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia undergoing conservation treatment and meet the experts who care for the artifact. Talk to experts who moved the Command Module Columbia from DC to Chantilly, VA, and learn about the preparation that goes into moving large artifacts. This is a unique opportunity for all ages to enjoy!

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

* Ella Enchanted is on stage at Adventure Theatre
* Reserve free tickets for Mister G, this week’s Saturday morning at the National performance
* Jack and the Beanstalk in on the Main Stage at The Puppet Co.
* And Tiny Tots Sing-a-Long is this week’s featured Tiny Tots show
* Join a Saturday Family Jazz Session at Strathmore
* The Freshest Snow Whyte just opensed at Imagination Stage
* Dan Zanes “Song Gusto Hour” with Claudia Eliaza is the Saturday morning show at Jammin Java

Earth Explorers
Where: National Geographic Museum
When: Throughout the weekend, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $15/adult, $10/ages 5-12, under 5 are free
(look for a discount)

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

Suit Up!: Working in Space
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15

Join the Air & Space Museum in Chantilly for Making STEM Magic, a weekly program that introduces young visitors to engineering in a fun and creative way. On Saturdays this month… Space: the final frontier, and the most dangerous. Want to be an astronaut? Learn how to suit up and protect yourself from the dangers of space in the March design challenge.

Lil’ Kickers Open House
Where: Merritt Academy
When: Sunday, 11am – 12:30pm
Admission: Free

Sample a soccer program for kids! Lil’ Kickers will be providing mini classes throughout the morning for children to experience their program. This is the second of several Open House Events at their four locations. Merrit Academy is located at 9211 Arlington Boulevard, Fairfax, VA 22031

Theatre Camp Open House
Where: Highwood Theatre
When: Saturday, 11am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Learn about this one-of-a-kind summer camp in downtown Silver Spring and then some at this Open House. Meet the teachers, see the space, enter raffles, and hear all about what’s coming up this summer. From Art Squared (with 3D Printing, Improv, Digital Music, and more) to technical theatre, musical theatre, and acting, they’ve got something for everyone in grades K-12.

Cocoa & Craft in the Park
Where: Hidden Oaks Nature Center
Whne: Saturday, 1-3pm
Admission: $6

Crafts, cocoa, and nature all in one outing! Stay and play for 20 minutes or more as you sip cocoa and create up to three crafts at the Nature Center. There are new craft kits each month. For ages 2 -12, and children younger than 10 must be accompanied and assisted by an adult.

DREAM BIG IMAX 3D
Where: Air & Space Museum & Udzar-Hazy Center
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $9/adult, $8/senior, $7.50/ages 2-12

With some rain in the forecast, a movie at a museum will be a great plan. This latest film on local giant screens promotes the E in STEM. From the world’s tallest buildings to underwater robots to footbridges in Haiti to a solar car race across Australia, DREAM BIG celebrates the human ingenuity behind engineering marvels big and small and highlights how engineers push the limits of innovation in unexpected and amazing ways. View the trailer here. And, of course, plan to explore the museum while you’re there!

Are You Ready for Some Fútbol?
Where: RFK Stadium
When: Saturday, 7pm
Admission Ticket proces vary

DC United kicks off a new season this weekend as they host Kansas City Sporting for the first match of the regular season. The game is a Heineken Green & Red Star Matchday, which means adults can enjoy a special promo: One ticket, one drink for $20 with the code HEINEKEN when you purchase online. And if you need to catch up on the local soccer scoop, check out the DC United website for a refresher.

KidFree Entertainment
Where: Lanburgh Theatre & Sidney Harman Hall
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Ticket prices vary

Shakespeare Theatre Company presents two productions to applaud right now! The Select (The Sun Also Rises) brings a Hemingway classic to the Lansburgh Theatre stage with a cleverly directed and superbly acted show. And King Charles III is a thought-provoking drama that pits the monarchy against parliament, putting England in a national conflict that is, coincidentally, timely and familiar. I’ve seen and recommend both – best for a KidFree outing, but older tweens and teens could enjoy them, too.

Nowruz: A Persian New Year Celebration
Where: Sackler Gallery
When: Sunday, 11am – 5pm
Admission: Free

Ring in the Persian New Year at the annual Nowruz celebration! Free attractions for all ages include storytelling, hands-on art activities, live music, film screenings, calligraphy, food, and the featured exhibition Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan.

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

This could ve the last good skating weekend of the season, so take advantage whileyou can! Enjoy art as you skate at the Sculpture Garden; circle the rink at Washington Harbour; 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 a heads-up that Canal Park closed early this season!

Cool Hikes
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Bundle up for a walk in the woods. See the flowers that popped up with warmer temps, tramp in places with scenic views, hike and explore history at interesting locales, and enjoy a day of active fun. This post has a a bunch of recommendations for good walks in the woods with the kids.

**PLAN AHEAD**
A few new KFDC posts will help you prepare for some of DC’s most currently popular pursuits:
* Read a review of the Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors exhibit at the Hirshhorn to get an idea of what to expect and tips for visiting with kids
* The KFDC Guide to the National Museum of African American History & Culture will help you navigate one of the city’s most remarkable new attractions with children
* The cherry blossoms are expected to peak March 14-17, and KFDC has the scoop for making the most of your bloom viewing experience


Leave a Comment

Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, DC, Eats, Educational, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Parade, Seasonal, Sports, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend, Winter

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

nmaac_musiccrossroads

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.

nmaahc_doi


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.


nmaahc_musicvideo

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.


nmaahc_main

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.


nmaac_sign

nmaahc_owen

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 everything. 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

nmaac_cabin

nmaahc_lunchcounter

nmaac_menu

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.

nmaahc_stepafrika

nmaac_touchscreen

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.

nmaahc_blackpower

nmaahc_shawnee

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.

nmaahc_car

nmaahc_mixmusic

nmaahc_recordstore

nmaac_sugarhill


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.

nmaac_wiz

nmaahc_hopeschool


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.


mnaahc_design

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.


nmaahc_monumentview

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.

nmaac_mothership


2 Comments

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.

Leave a Comment

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