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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



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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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Giveaway! DREAM BIG in IMAX 3D at the National Air & Space Museum

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DREAM BIG: Engineering Our World is the latest film to grace the giant screen at the National Air & Space Museum. Promoting the E in STEM, the movie was produced to offer a fresh perspective on engineering, show the creativity and compassion of engineers, and inspire kids of all backgrounds to want to become engineers. 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.

The kids and I recently caught a screening, and we all left impressed and inspired. I especially appreciated that it featured several women engineers and their accomplishments. There was mention at the beginning of an aim to get more little girls interested in STEM, which excited Sasha. She actually said excitedly, “That’s me!” and was thoroughly engaged until the end. Owen was completely captivated and particularly fascinated by an engineer who works in Haiti building footbridges for needy communities. When the credits started rolling, he pulled off his 3D glasses and exclaimed, “That was awesome! I want to be an engineer!”

DREAM BIG: Engineering Our World in IMAX 3D opens at the National Air and Space Museum’s Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater in Washington, DC, and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center’s Airbus IMAX Theater in Chantilly, VA on February 17, 2017. It’s rated G, and run time is 42 minutes. Tickets are $9/adult, $8/senior, $7.50/ages 2-12 and available online or at Box Office. You can also try to win a 4-Pack through the giveaway below!

* * * * *

Giveaway: For a chance to win a Family 4-Pack of tickets to see DREAM BIG: Engineering Our World at the National Air and Space Museum’s Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater or the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center’s Airbus IMAX Theater, simply leave a comment below naming an engineering feat you find fascinating (a building, bridge, etc.). To be eligible, you must like KidFriendly DC on Facebook, and you can get an extra entry by entering there, too. This giveaway will run through February 23, 2017, then a winner will be drawn at random and announced shortly thereafter. Good luck!


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Smithsonian Enterprises, however, I only promote services, events, and programs that I truly believe in and/or think would appeal to KFDC readers.

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Local Events & Activities to Celebrate Black History Month

A Statue of the famous 1968 Olympics Black Power salute at the African American History & Culture Museum

A Statue of the famous 1968 Olympics Black Power salute at the African American History & Culture Museum



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. Here’s where they’re happening over the next few weeks.

Tour the NMAAHC
Where: National Museum of African American History & Culture
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free

If you can get in, this is the best place to learn about black history and culture in America. (This was #1 in my Top 16 of 2016… and now that I’ve taken the kids, will be doing a write-up about it very soon!) It’s a tough ticket to get right now — museum admission is still by timed entry passes — but it is possible to get same-day tickets. They are available online everyday starting at 6:30am until they run out.

African American Pioneers in Aviation and Space
Where: National Air & Space Museum
When: February 11
Admission: Free

Each February, the museum celebrates the significant contributions African Americans have made to flight and space exploration despite the overwhelming obstacles they had to overcome. Enjoy presentations, hands-on activities, and stories. Learn about African American astronauts, pilots, and scientists of the past and present and their accomplishments.

Slave Life Tour
Where: Mount Vernon
When: Daily through February, 11:30am
Admission: $20/adult, $10/ages 6-11, free for 5 and under (+ $4/exhibit)

Tack this on to a visit to George Washington’s estate. The 60-minute guided walking tour highlights the lives and contributions of the enslaved community who built and operated Mount Vernon. In 1799, more than 300 slaves lived and worked on the five farms that made up Washington’s 8,000-acre plantation. Listen to their stories and learn more about their daily life at Mount Vernon. Visit the refurbished slave quarters and view reproduction clothing, tools, furniture, cookware, ceramics, toys, and personal accessories that represent their experiences.

Celebrate Frederick Douglass’ Birthday
Where: Frederick Douglass Historic Site
When: February 18-19; Ongoing
Admission: Free ($1.50/house tour)

Celebrate the 199th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ birth with the National Park Service and its community partners. 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. You can also go other times — the grounds are always open to visitors, though you need to make reservations to tour the house.

African-Americans at Walney Walking Tour
Where: Ellanor C. Lawrence Park
When: February 11, 11am & February 19, 2pm
Admission: $6

In this interactive walking tour, learn the names and stories of the many African-American families who lived here in slavery and in freedom. The one-hour program is recommended for ages 6 and up. Children must be accompanied by a registered adult. Sign up for Feb. 11 here and Feb. 19 here.

Portrait Story Days
Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: Most Saturdays, 1-4pm & Sundays, 2-5pm
Admission: Free

Drop in to the Portrait Gallery to listen to a story from friends at the DC Public Library about a notable person featured in the collection and complete a hands-on art project. All through February, the program highlights black Americans in honor of Black History Month. Read more about the program and museum here.

Civil Rights at 50
Where: Newseum
When: Through January 2, 2018
Admission: $24.95/adult, $14.95/ages 7-18, free for 6 and under (look for a discount)

This new exhibit explores the civil rights events of 1967, when black Americans used their First Amendment freedoms to challenge police brutality, economic inequality and the Vietnam War amid deadly riots and the rise of the Black Panther Party. This exhibit is probably better for older kids.

Jim Crow on Streetcars
Where: National Trolley Museum
When: Through February, Saturdays & Sundays, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $7/adult, $5/child

In recognition of Black History Month, the Museum presents this temporary exhibit. Learn about the nature of segregation aboard the cars in 19th century New York, the efforts to black the practice as it developed across the South, and the eventual success in opening employment opportunities.

Celebration: Black History Month 2017
Where: PG County Parks
When: Throughout February
Admission: Varies by activity

Celebrate and honor African American heritage during Black History Month with PG County Parks and Recreation. From performances to history lessons to tours, there are plenty of exciting events and activities planned throughout the area. For a complete listing of Black History Month events, go here.

Montgomery Parks Celebrates Black History Month
Where: Josiah Henson Park
When: February 25 & 26
Admission: Free

Montgomery Parks will celebrate Black History Month during the last weekend in February with free, educational events that highlight the stories, struggles, and successes of African Americans. Events include free guided tours of the park, the screening of a PBS documentary about the park, and the annual spoken word poetry event, “Lyrical Rhythms: The Sounds of Freedom.”

Hidden Figures
Where: Local movie theaters
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by theater

Playing in theaters now, this film that tells the story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program is inspiring and a perfect movie pick during Black History Month. Common Sense Media says it’s appropriate for ages 10 and up, but I’d say kids a little younger could watch it, too.


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Where to Play on the Weekdays: January 2-6

Exploring pointillism at an Open Studio Friday session

Exploring pointillism at an Open Studio Friday session



Monday – Go see a movie on the really big screen. You’ve got your choice of several IMAX films playing right now: Dinosaurs Alive 3D, Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Secret Ocean 3D, and National Parks Adventure 3D are all playing at the Natural History Museum’s Johnson IMAX Theater. And the Air & Space Museum’s Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater presents A Beautiful Planet 3D, Journey to the Stars 3D, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Tickets are $9/adults, $8/seniors, $7.50/youth ($15/adult, $13.50/youth for Rogue One). Be sure to check schedules for showtimes. And, of course, plan for some time before or after to explore the museums, too.

Tuesday – Venture up to Baltimore for a day of play and learning at Port Discovery. Several levels full of awesome hands-on exhibits will keep the kids entertained for hours! Open 9:30am – 4:30pm. Admission is $14.95 for ages 2 and up, free for under 2. And if you think you might go a few time this year, I recommend checking out their membership options.

Wednesday – Explore the grounds and play in the gardens, particularly the Children’s Garden, at River Farm. The American Horticulture Society’s headquarters overlooking the Potomac River in Alexandria are as lovely as they are fun. Hours are 9am – 5pm. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

Thursday – Enjoy a musical morning with Boogie Babes as they bring kiddie entertainment to Eastern Market at 10:30am. Admission is $6/child, and siblings 6 months and under are free. Plan on lunch after at the market or nearby — there are lots of options for a tasty bite.

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

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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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