Category Archives: Free

Where to Play on the Weekdays: February 21-24

Spread your wings at Potomac Overlook Regional Park

Spread your wings at Potomac Overlook Regional Park



ellaenchantedkidfriendlydc

Tuesday – Drop in at the National Museum of American History for Museum ABCs. The program for ages 3-6 and adult companions introduces early learners to the museum collection through letter learning. In February, G is for Gold: Hear a story, make a sparkly craft, and dig for gold! Sessions are 11am – 1pm and 2-4pm, and admission is free. If your child is too young or old for the series, go explore the museum exhibits. (And on other days of the week, take little ones to play in Wegman’s Wonderplace and older kids to Spark!Lab for hands-on fun — both are closed Tuesdays, but open daily otherwise.)

Wednesday – Explore and play, indoors and out, at Potomac Overlook Regional Park in Arlington. Hike the short trails and let the kids romp on the playground. Then visit the nature center where you can see turtles, snakes, and other creatures and learn about the area’s natural environment. Hours are 10am – 5pm. Admission is free.

Thursday – Roam the beautiful grounds and cathedral of the Franciscan Monastery in Brookland. A DC “secret” to many, the site welcomes visitors to stroll through the gardens and tour the church. Hours are 9am – 4:45pm. Admission is free.

Friday – Enjoy the day and some active fun amid the lovely woodsy setting of Cabin John Regional Park. Kids can climb, swing, jump, slide, and run on the sprawling Adventure Playland. The Miniature Train is closed for the season, but the playground alone has plenty to keep children happy. Bring along food for a picnic — several tables are right there, or you can spread out a blanket in a nearby grassy area. Admission is free.

Later on, get a preview of My Gym Potomac and My Gym Bethesda’s spring offerings for kids at a free Open House from 4-7pm! My Gym Bethesda is located at 5110 Ridgefield Road and My Gym Potomac is located at 11325 Seven Locks Road.


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The Weekend Round-Up: February 17-20

A view of the Washington Monument from the African American Museum

A view of the Washington Monument from the African American Museum, a nod to President’s Day and Black History Month in one shot



ellaenchantedkidfriendlydc

It’s probably no surprise that there are scores of fun ways to celebrate President’s Day around DC. But there’s much more going on over the long weekend, too. Enjoy a Black History Month activity, go to the theatre, check out a new, cool exhibit, have a laugh at kids improv, savor the great weather with some outdoor recreation… Read on for details and even more ideas for making most of the extra time off. Happy Weekend!

Get Out
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

When it’s high 60’s and sunny in February, a recommendation to get out and seize the nice day is going to top the round-up. Stroll the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks, day trip and hike at Harpers Ferry, romp on the playground and visit the animals at Watkins Regional Park, take a walk in the woods, go fossil hunting. There are so many ways to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather — read about them all in this post about the best outdoor places around the area.

Party at George’s Place!
Where: Mount Vernon
When: Saturday, Sunday, & Monday
Admission: $17/adult, $9/ages 6-11, free for 5 and under

Celebrate George Washington’s 285th birthday with special festivities at his former digs. Sample his favorite breakfast, mingle with costumed characters from the old days, and enjoy some dancing with the 18th-century. On Monday, there will be syrup-making and dance demos along with ceremonial wreathlayings to honor Washington. Bonus: Admission is free on Monday, but I can tell you from experience that a lot of folks show up to take advantage of the complimentary entry.

Stop by Abe’s, Too
Where: President Lincoln’s Cottage
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $15/adult, $6/ages 6-12, free for 5 and under

There’s no special event, but this seems like a good way to honor our 16th POTUS for President’s Day. Located on the Armed Forces Retirement Home campus in northwest DC, the cottage was Abraham Lincoln’s country home and workplace, where he spent one quarter of his presidency. Admission includes the Cottage tour, an innovative small group tour in which a professional guide uses “historical voices” and images through multimedia technology to bring the stories of Abraham Lincoln and his family to life. It’s recommended for ages 6 and up.

Presidential Family Fun Day
Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: Saturday, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate America’s presidents with games, music, crafts, and a stovepipe-hat workshops led by staff from President Lincoln’s Cottage and a guided tour in the iconic “America’s Presidents” exhibition with Senior Historian David C. Ward. The Nationals’ Racing Presidents from MLB’s Washington Nationals will also attend from 11:30am – 12:30pm.

Discover Engineering Family Day
Where: National Building Museum
When: Saturday, 10am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free ($5 suggested donation)

The Building Museum always hosts great family events, and this annual festival is no exception. Celebrate National Engineers Week as you discover how professional engineers turn ideas into reality and do some engineering and problem solving of your own. Hands-on activities allow kids to explore forces behind roller coasters, build a structure that withstands a tsunami, discover what makes popcorn pop, launch a rocket, and more! We’ve gone several years and have always had a great time. It gets crowded, but there are so many activities available, kids can always be involved in the fun. Recommended for children ages 4-12 with adult supervision.

Happy Birthday, Frederick Douglass!
Where: Frederick Douglass Historic Site
When: Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free ($1.50/house tour)

George and Abe aren’t the only ones with birthdays; Freddy was born in February, too! Celebrate the 199th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ birth with the National Park Service and its community partners as we hear about him more and more. The estate in Anacostia where Douglass lived for nearly the last 20 years of his life is now a historic site that welcomes the public to tour, and every year they host a birthday event in his honor. This year’s programs and activities explore the significance of the visual, performing, and culinary arts in Frederick Douglass’s life.

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

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

President’s Day Weekend Spectacular
Where: Port Discovery
When: Saturday, 10am – 5pm/Sunday, 12-5pm/Monday, 9:30am – 5pm
Admission: $14.95/ages two and up

Enjoy President’s Day Weekend with fun, indoor family-friendly activities that will educate and entertain. On Saturday, there will be lots of train related fun, interactive engineering demos and experiments, and live music from roaming musician, Mr. Norman, and an interactive play of The Little Engine that Could. On Sunday, join in for art projects, Mother Goose on the Loose, Jingle Jangle Music Time, and programs like Kamishibai and The Adventure to the Imagination that will help your imagination go wild! On Monday, Celebrate President’s Day with tunes from DJ Holly, take part in an interactive story time featuring singing, dancing and finger plays, get musical during Jingle Jangle Music Time and in the hands-on Percussion Garden.

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

* Ella Enchanted is on stage at Adventure Theatre
* Join a Saturday Family Jazz Session at Strathmore
* Follow that Fiddle with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center
* The Freshest Snow Whyte just opensed at Imagination Stage
* This weekend is your last chance to seeGoldilocks at The Puppet Co.
* And Snow Show is the featured Tiny Tots performance on Sunday
* Jason Didner & the Jungle Gym are playing the Saturday morning show at Jammin Java
* The Folger Theatre presents As You Like It
* See the American Boychoir perform in Bethesda

DREAM BIG IMAX3D
Where: Air & Space Museum & Udzar-Hazy Center
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $9/adult, $8/senior, $7.50/ages 2-12

The latest film to grace the giant screens at local museums 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.

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).  As described in Model Railroader magazine, 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, VA.

ComedySportz for Kids
Where: DC Improv
When: Saturday, 2:30pm (doors open at 2pm)
Admission: $10

Kids as young as first grade can enjoy this afternoon improv show with ComedySportz, a comedy troupe that specializes in short-form improv games. This show features child-sized versions of those games, hosted by a Kids Coach. Guests will love being able to shout out during a show and some of the older kids will enjoy a chance to go crazy onstage.

Washington Dollar Days
Where: Tudor Place
When: Friday/Saturday/Sunday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: $1

Don’t miss your chance to practice the frugality our founding father approved of: George Washington was born in February, and Tudor Place is celebrating him all month through artifacts, furnishings, and stories, all for just one “Washington dollar!” Tours begin hourly, and it’s recommended you book ahead.

KidFree: King Charles III
Where: Sidney Harman Hall
When: Through March 18
Admission: $64-123 (look for a discount)

Make it a date night at this play that imagines a not too far away future when the Queen is dead and Prince Charles prepares to take the throne. It’s an interesting drama that pits the monarchy against parliament, putting England in a national conflict that is, coincidentally, timely and familiar. For more about the show, Washington City Paper has a good review.

Frozen Day of Play
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center
When: Sunday, 12-4pm
Admission: $4, free for ages 4 and under

Families are invited to a day of play and creativity as we explore the wonders of winter and ice through a variety of art projects, pretend play, investigations, and more! From frosty face painting, to a frozen treasure hunt, to guided winter walks, kids of all ages will delight in this sensory seasonal experience. Drop in and escape the winter blues with lots of fun for all! Read a KFDC write-up about Annmarie.

Earth Explorers
Where: National Geographic Museum
When: Throughout the weekend, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $12/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.

Mommy and Me
Where: Congress Heights Arts & Cultural Center
When: Sunday, 11am – 2pm
Admission:

Join Buffy and Breezy of A. Lauren Design at their first ‘Mommy and Me’ event on Sunday. Enjoy brunch catered by Florida Avenue Grill, along with fun activities to do together — a DIY tulle skirt, face painting, pictures, and more! Contact alaurendesign@gmail.com with any questions and follow @alaurendesign. Tickets can be purchased through EventBrite.

A Local & National Treasure
Where: Library of Congress
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

Explore the largest library in the world and one of DC’s most iconic attractions. Not only does the Library of Congress have a whole great space dedicated to kids, it’s is a trove of knowledge, art, history, and culture – and the public is welcome to enjoy it all. The Young Readers Center only has hours Monday through Saturday, but the rest is open daily. Read more in this very recent KFDC post.

Eco-Explorations
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center
When: Monday, 10-11:00am
Admission: $5/adult, $4/military, $3/youth; free ages 5 & under

Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center, Solomons, Maryland, invites families to come along on an eco-exploration. Staff naturalist, Hester Burch, will lead youngsters and their caregivers on a hands-on exploration of the natural world of Annmarie Garden. This session is all about House cats vs Bobcats: What are the differences and similarities of domesticated and wild felines. As part of Eco-Explorations, kids will make a cat toy to take home. Families are also invited to bring in their own natural treasures to share for show & tell.

Family Fun Lego Day
Where: Bender JCC of Greater Washington
When: Monday, 10am – 1pm
Admission: $8/members,| $10/general public, parents free

Imagine what you’ll create at this fun-filled day with everyone’s favorite childhood building toys. Create and build with Legos and Duplos, play in the Family Gym, enjoy a screening of Trolls, and purchase a pizza lunch!

George Washington Birthday Parade
Where: Old Town Alexandria
When: Monday, 1-3pm
Admission: Free

Alexandria hosts the largest parade in the country celebrating George Washington’s birthday with marching bands, historic re-enactment troops, and more. Bundle up to watch the procession as it travels through Old Town. See the website for more info and route details.

Free Park-ing
Where: National Parks
When: Monday
Admission: Free!

It’s a fee free day at national parks, which means there’s no entrance price where they usually charge to get in. Take advantage of complimentary admission and the day off from school. Explore Prince William Forest Park, go to Fort McHenry, hit the trail at Shenandoah or Great Falls, or visit Harpers Ferry.

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

If you’re looking for fun indoors, or just want more options for activities around town, this post lists more than 80 suggestions for things to do, just about all of them KFDC tried and tested.


***PLAN AHEAD***
Mock Trial for Kids!
Where: Trinity Washington University
When: March 18, 10am – 4:30pm
Admission: $50/child

The Juris Prudence Academy is a one of a kind legal educational program for kids ages 8-12, which will be held on Saturday, March 18, 2017 at Trinity University in Washington, DC. The 90-minute workshop will teach academy students basic legal principles in a collaborative setting. The academy will be guided by a lawyer, and students will participate in a mock trial, applying the principles they have learned in the workshop. Mock trial topics are ones that will be interesting to children, such as the following:
– Should Kids Have the Right to Vote?
– Should Kids be Allowed to Drive at a Younger Age?
– Should School Recess Be Longer?
– Should Kids Have School on Saturdays?
For more information about the Academy, review the FAQs on the event registration page. Scholarship tuition waiver nomination forms are available by emailing academy@jurispprudence.com.


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My Gym Bethesda & My Gym Potomac: Open House & Giveaway!

mygym_openhouse

Are you looking for a class to add some active fun in your child’s schedule this spring? My Gym Potomac and My Gym Bethesda are gearing up for a new season of programs for ages 3 months to 10 years. Not only are they hosting an event for families to check them out, the children’s play and fitness centers are also giving away a session — that’s eight weeks of enrollment — to one lucky KFDC reader for their child to enjoy!

You can get a preview of My Gym Potomac and My Gym Bethesda’s offerings for kids at a free Open House on February 24 from 4-7pm. It’s a great opportunity to meet our teachers and sample the programs — there are Mommy and Me movement and music classes for babies and preschoolers, and tumbling, sports, and parkour classes for older children. The evening will include games and activities, plus discounts on registration!

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

* * * * *

Giveaway: Want a chance to win eight weeks of enrollment for one child in a class at My Gym Potomac or My Gym Bethesda (value of $279)? Simply leave a comment below telling me what activity you’ve enjoyed most this winter so far. Get an extra chance to win by entering on the KidFriendly DC Facebook page, too! The prize includes Lifetime Membership and Unlimited practice and play (free play) during the enrollment period. The winner must start classes by April 31, 2017. Classes are consecutive and pending space available. Contest is open to non-members of My Gym only. This giveaway will run through February 28, 2017, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!


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

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

The magnificent Great Hall at the Library of Congress

The magnificent Great Hall at the Library of Congress



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

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

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

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

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

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

Taking in the view ofthe Main Reading Room

Taking in the view ofthe Main Reading Room

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Where to Play on the Weekdays: February 13-17

Strike up some fun at Pinstripes!

Strike up some fun at Pinstripes!



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

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

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

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

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

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