Category Archives: Maryland

The Weekend: December 30-January 1

monument_sunset

The sun is setting on 2016, and we’ll be hitting the metaphorical refresh button when it rises on Sunday. So just like last weekend, I’m keeping this round-up simple as we emerge from the hoopla of the holidays (and the past year, for that matter) and possibly get into more as we welcome 2017. There are still some seasonal events going on and plenty of things to do around town, but not too many special one-time happenings aside from New Year’s activities, which we’ve got covered. Those along with these go-to posts will keep your crew entertained over the next few days. And be sure to follow KFDC on Facebook in case I share any last minute news. Happy Weekend and a very Happy New Year to all!

Ring in the New Year, Family-Style

The KFDC 2016 Guide to the Best of the Holidays in DC

Winter Entertainment

Everyday Play

The Great Indoors

Indoor Playgrounds

The Best Places in the DC Area to Spend A Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids

Skaters Gonna Skate: Where to Hit the Ice this Season

Walks in the Woods

*Be sure to check out the just posted KFDC Top 16 of 2016 to see what we enjoyed most this past year, and let us know your faves, too!

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Filed under All ages, Annual, DC, Free, Holidays, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, Outdoor, Seasonal, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend, Winter

The KFDC Top 16 of 2016

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

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



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

The NMAAHC is a Must Do

The NMAAHC is a Must Do

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


I believe I can fly...

I believe I can fly…

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


Hangin' at the Obamas

Hangin’ at the Obamas

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


Over 16,000 diapers bundled that day!

Over 16,000 diapers bundled that day!

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


Happiest girls on the Hill

Happiest girls on the Hill

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


They escaped -- and had a blast!

They escaped — and had a blast!

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


New neighbor at the NGA

New neighbor at the NGA

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


Concert in a living room

Concert in a living room

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


What a wonderful spin

What a wonderful spin

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


A perfect Mother's Day at Quiet Waters

A perfect Mother’s Day at Quiet Waters

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


Get a peek at this exhibit

Get a peek at this exhibit

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


They dig Yosemite

They dig Yosemite

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


Only in DC

Only in DC

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


Just another day at the Yards

Just another day at the Yards

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


Huzzah for Ren Fest!

Huzzah for Ren Fest!

15. Maryland Renaissance Festival Because, Ren Fest. 🙂










Take ride down Sing Street

Take ride down Sing Street

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


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

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Where to Play on the Weekdays: December 26-30

Checking out some of the Q?rius collection

Checking out some of the Q?rius collection



Monday – Take advantage of The Beauvoir School’s Winter Break and head to their fantastic playground, open to the public when class is not in session. Open all day. Admission is free.

Tuesday – Hit the trail for a hike. It should be a great day for it as the mercury rises a bit. Riverbend Park in Great Falls, Huntley Meadows in Alexandria, and Roosevelt Island are all great for tramping with kids. And this post has even more recommendations for local walks in the woods.

Wednesday – Head up to Baltimore on a Winter Break day off! Learn about the city’s early business days at the Museum of Industry. The Inner Harbor attraction highlights the trades and people that helped build the port city through exhibits that showcase relics from the past and recreate various industry environments. Hours are 10am – 4pm (Tuesday – Sunday). Admission is $12/adult, $7/ages 7-12, free for 6 and under. If you prefer some fresh air, take a tour of Fort McHenry, birthplace of the National Anthem. The park is open 9am – 5pm. Admission is $10/adult, children 15 and under are free.

Thursday – Get Q?rius at the National Museum of Natural History. During winter break, the interactive and experiential learning space opens earlier at 10am (instead of 2pm). Visitors can view up close — and in many cases handle — real artifacts and specimens from the museum’s collections. It’s recommended for ages 11 and up, but some younger ages could also enjoy it. For really little ones, there is Q?rius Jr: A Discovery Room for more age-appropriate exploring. And, of course, there’s the whole rest of the museum for everyone. Hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free.

Friday – Reach new heights of fun at ClimbZone in Laurel, MD. Kids and adults will have a blast scaling the many colorful, whimsically-themed walls at the new indoor climbing center. Hours are 10am – 9pm (10am – 8pm other weekdays). Admission is $25/ages 6 and up, $12/5 and under for a three-hour session.

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Filed under All ages, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Indoor Play, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Virginia, Weekdays, Winter

The Weekend: December 23-25

It's Christmukkah Time!

It’s Christmukkah Time!



It’s become an annual tradition to simplify a bit over these holiday weekends, both to give myself a little break and because there’s a limited selection of one-off events during this time. There are still plenty of activities to enjoy — mostly DC mainstays and holiday events — you just won’t see all the details here. This list of links, though, will get your holiday weekend adventures started. Merry Christmukkah to all…and to all, a Happy Weekend!

The KFDC 2016 Guide to the Best of the Holidays in DC
*Holiday Shows
*Model Trains
*Special Events
*Chanukah
*Light Displays

Winter Entertainment

Everyday Play

The Great Indoors

Indoor Playgrounds

The Best Places in the DC Area to Spend A Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids

Skaters Gonna Skate: Where to Hit the Ice this Season

Walks in the Woods

A few specific ideas…

See Waterskiing Santa on Christmas Eve!

The National Memorial Lighting

A tradition for many who don’t celebrate Christmas — go out for Chinese food and a movie.

Season’s Greenings at the Botanic Garden

GLOW with it in Georgetown

Christmas at George W’s Old Digs


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Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, Chanukah, Christmas, DC, Exhibit, Free, Holidays, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Seasonal, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend, Winter

Ring in the New Year, Family-Style

The 12pm ball drop at Noon Yards Eve

The 12pm ball drop at Noon Yards Eve



If you thought New Year’s Eve celebrations were a thing of the pre-kids past, think again! There are several great ways to ring in 2017 around the area that don’t just welcome, but center around the younger set. Here’s where you and your crew can get in on the fun. Happy New Year!

Noon Yards Eve
Where: The Yards Park
When: 10am – 1pm
Admission: Free

The Yards is once again hosting its Noon Yards Eve festival to ring in 2017! The fourth annual event will transform the park into a family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration, complete with fun for both kids and adults. Activities will include music and dancing, balloon artists, bouncy inflatables, trackless train rides, face painters, kids crafts, and a big balloon drop at 12pm.

First Night Alexandria
Where: Old Town
When: Starting at 1pm
Admission: $30, kids 12 and under are free

Fun and entertainment will be in abundance at the area’s largest family-friendy New Year’s Eve celebration. There will be more than 100 performances on indoor stages throughout Old Town Alexandria, with entertainment from a variety of genres. Among the many kids activities will be live entertainment, face painting, story time, balloon sculptures, interactive art activities, and much more. The evening will conclude with a spectacular fireworks display on the Potomac River at the foot of King Street. For details on where shows will take place, see the schedule on the website.

Rocknoceros New Year’s Eve Party
Where: Jammin Java
When: 11am & 2pm
Admission: $10

For the 10th straight year, the widely popular band that always gets kids rockin’ will be playing a special New Year’s Eve gig at Jammin Java. Sing along to some of your favorite tunes and enjoy the full menu of food and drinks while you’re there. Opt for lunchtime show at 11am, or go in the afternoon at 2pm. Doors open half-hour before the show and general admission seating is on a first come, first served basis.

The Celebration of Centuries
Where: Medieval Times
When: 3:30pm (doors open at 2pm)
Admission: $39.95/adult, $29.95/child (look for discount)

Experience an epic afternoon of fun and celebration as you countdown to 2017. Along with a four-course feast and thrilling jousting action, there will be special activities for the occasion — knight training, face painting, and a princess storytime will make the day extra exciting a for young revelers.

Noontime New Year: Snow Ball!
Where: Port Discovery
When: 9:30am – 5pm
Admission: $13.95

Join the children’s museum in Baltimore for a Snow Ball at its annual Noontime New Year Celebration. Kids are encouraged to dress up in their favorite costumes and count down to the New Year at 12 noon with Eric Energy! Toast 2017 with juice and cookies and enjoy a fun day of programs and performances! Be sure to check the schedule for timing of specific events.

Midnight Noon
Where: Maryland Science Center
When: 10am – 2pm
Admission: $20.95/adult, $16.95/3-12, free for 2 and under

The Maryland Science Center’s New Year’s Eve family extravaganza will transform the midnight tradition into one the kids can enjoy. The 9th annual Midnight Noon will give kids the opportunity to see the ball drop before bedtime. Guests can dance their way into a very happy “Noon” Year — Grammy-nominated Baltimore kids band Milkshake will take to the stage at 11:30am. Visitors can also decorate party hats, construct noise makers, and more. And the rest of the Science Center will be open for exploration, too!

Watch Night New Year’s Eve Celebration
Where: West Broad Street in Falls Church
When: 7pm – Midnight
Admission: Free

Ring in the New Year with free, family-friendly festivities at Falls Church’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration. Enjoy food, music, singing, dancing, entertainment, performances and interactive festivities that appeal to all ages. Highlights include a children’s scavenger hunt, a wide variety of inflatables, free balloons, karaoke, face painting, caricaturist drawings, and restaurants with special Walking Watch Night Menus at local restaurants. The evening concludes at midnight with the traditional countdown and lowering of the City of Falls Church Star. All events take place within a four-block area that begins on the 100 Block of West Broad Street. A free shuttle bus stops at each venue and the East Falls Church Metro throughout the evening, including a shuttle from the East Falls Church Metro station.

Family Game Night at Garden in Lights
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden
When: 6-9pm
Admission: $6/ages 5 and up, free for 4 and under

Celebrate the final evening of 2016 in Calvert County! Enjoy Annmarie’s spectacular holiday light show in the gardens, then head inside to play a variety of family-friendly games. Wonderful friends from High Tide Games in Lexington Park, Play-n-Trade Games in Lusby, and PaxSpace in California will all be there with a wide variety of interactive games. Guests can also tour the game exhibit, enjoy a Holiday I Spy game, and a disco ball will be spinning, so you can do some dancing, too! Plus, refreshments will be available from the cafe.

Family Fun Entertainment on the Eastern Shore
Where: Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay
When: Thursday – Friday
Admission: See room rates on website

How about an easy getaway to ring in 2017? The Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay is offering special family-friendly activities to celebrate the new year. An inflatable fun house, arcade games, a kids’ karaoke and dance party, dive-in movie-watching from the comfort of an indoor pool, and an early ball drop are just some of the festivities hotel guests can enjoy. And there’s even more fun for adults — find details here.

Swoosh into 2017
Where: Ski Liberty
When: 5pm – 1am
Admission: Lift tickets start at

Hit the slopes to ring in the new year! Ski Liberty’s celebration will include late-night skiing and snowboarding until 1am, fireworks at midnight, and a variety of special events happening around the resort. New for this year, enjoy a decadent fixe prix dinner at Ike’s Chophouse. There is also a special, by reservations only, party at Boulder Ridge with Snow Tubing from 10pm to 1am. Find something for everyone and every age!

Glide into 2017
Where: Local ice rinks
When: Throughout the day & evening
Admission: Varies by rink

Skate under the stars to celebrate the start of the new year. Gliding on ice surrounded by twinkling lights, art sculptures, and the hubbub of people in festive spirits is a fun, active way to revel. Join a special event like Rock & Skate at Washington Harbour or just do your own thang. Be sure to check times for each rink, as hours may change for the holiday.

New Years Night Lights
Where: Around the area
When: After dark
Admission: Varies by locale

Start your own family New Year’s Eve tradition with a seasonal treat: Bundle up for a stroll or take a drive through one of several spectacular light displays! Most of the light shows that dazzle this time of year are open on New Year’s Eve. Combine an outing to see them with dinner out — this guide from Edible DC has suggestions on where to eat nearby all the holiday lights. If you’re enjoying it from the comfort of a car, pack a thermous of hot chocolate, yummy snacks, and prepare a festive playlist for the ride.

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