Category Archives: Ongoing

A Birthday Party Giveaway, Classes, & Open House from My Gym Bethesda & My Gym Potomac!

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Yes, you read that right… it’s a birthday party giveaway! One lucky KFDC reader has a chance to win a celebration for their child at My Gym Bethesda or My Gym Potomac, an opportunity you definitely don’t want to pass up.

Parties at My Gym Bethesda and My Gym Potomac cater to both kids and parents. Tailored to delight each birthday boy or girl, they take special song and game requests and incorporate them into activities that reflect their regular offerings for families. Even better, they include just about everything — set up, decor, staff to lead activities and serve refreshments, and clean up — so parents can relax and enjoy the celebration along with their child.

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Three levels of birthday party packages are available, Grand, Deluxe, and Preimer. All of them give party-goers exclusive use of the space.

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Birthday packages are just part of the great offerings from My Gym Potomac and My Gym Bethesda. They also have age appropriate classes for ages 3 months to 10 years. There are Mommy and Me movement and music classes for babies and preschoolers, and older kids love tumbling, sports, and parkour classes. Plus, they have school holiday camps and special events. Read more about everything offered at My Gym Bethesda and My Gym Potomac.

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You can all go scope it all out for yourself! This Saturday, September 10, My Gym Bethesda and My Gym Potomac are hosting their Free and Fun Fall Open House. From 9:30am – 1:30pm, stop by either location to learn more about their programs and parties firsthand, meet the staff, and get the year’s best prices when you sign up!

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

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Giveaway: For a chance to win a Grand Birthday Party package at My Gym Bethesda or My Gym Potomac, simply leave a comment below telling me what theme your child would pick for a birthday party. To be eligible to win, you must like My Gym Bethesda or My Gym Potomac on Facebook and follow KidFriendly DC on Facebook as well. This giveaway will run through Friday, September 16, 2016, 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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Filed under All ages, Birthday Parties, Camp, Indoor Play, Maryland, Ongoing, Party, Professional Service, Sponsored Post, Weekdays, Weekend

Camping and Hiking and Bears (Oh, My!) in Shenandoah National Park

shenandoah_vista

There are plenty of great destinations for camping with kids within an easy drive from DC, and one of the best is Shenandoah National Park. At nearly 200,000 acres, you really feel immersed in its glorious nature. There are woods and streams, hundreds of miles of hiking trails, lofty waterfalls, breathtaking vistas, and lots of wildlife sightings. And it’s all easily accessible from the city — about a 75-minute drive to the park’s entrance, and not much farther to the nearest campground area.

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Four campgrounds in the park welcome parties of all sizes, and there is one more for groups of seven or more. Earlier this summer, we pitched our tents at Matthew’s Arm, the closest one at mile 22. It’s all car camping, making it easy with kids, plus there are facilities within the area and a general store just a few miles away pretty well stocked with basic groceries, firewood, and souvenirs. We somehow lucked out and snagged a group spot, which accommodated our party of two families nicely, even though we booked it just days ahead. Usually you need to reserve much farther in advance, especially for summer weekends.

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Picnic tables and a fire pit at the campsite made mealtimes convenient. And while we’d bought a cord of firewood at the store, we easily found more in the surrounding woods to keep a fire going well past s’mores time until we were ready to hit the sleeping bags.

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Like all of the campground areas, there is access to nice hiking trails, including one to Overall Run Falls. The hike there and back is about three miles through the lovely woods.

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But it’s what we saw along the way that made it most interesting: Bears!

Hi!

Hi!

We had indication that at least one was nearby before seeing them — scat on the trail that my friend Jody determine was fresh after examining it with a stick (bears do poop on the woods!). Not long after that we saw one on our hike to the waterfall. Then two more on the way back. (And a fourth as we were driving out of the park to head home.)

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Black bear sightings are common in Shenandoah (though I’d never seen them on my many previous visits), and there are a lot of signs and warnings of them in park brochures with tips on encountering them safely. We made noise, kept our distance, and didn’t linger too long. And at the campsite, we made sure to clean food up well and lock it up in the bear-proof bin.

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If you can’t swing an overnight at Shenandoah, it’s still close enough for a day trip. With over 500 miles of trails, there are walks in the woods to suit all ages and hiking levels. You can also just find a great area to hang out and have a picnic or take in the beautiful scenery from your car along Skyline Drive.

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Campgrounds in Shenandoah open in the spring, operating on a first-come, first-served basis until early May, when you can start reserving some sites in advance. Along with campsites, there are also cabins and lodges available. Rates for campsites start at $15/night and can be reserved through recreation.gov.

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Shenandoah National Park is located in Virginia, 75 miles from Washington, DC. Hours vary at facilities, so see the website for details. Admission to the park is $20/vehicle and valid for a week. An annual Shenandoah Pass is $40.

There are several Fee Free days throughout the year, a few still to come in 2016:
August 25-28 – National Park Service Birthday Weekend
September 24 – National Public Lands Day
November 11 – Veterans Day


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Filed under All ages, Animals, DC, Fall, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Spring, Summer, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: August 8-12

Searching for shark teeth along the Potomac shore

Searching for shark teeth along the Potomac shore



Monday – Play paleontologist for a day at Purse State Park, where you can hunt for fossilized shark teeth and other fragments of prehistoric sea creatures. Be sure to check the tide table before you go (select Potomac River and Piney Point), as there’s not much beach at high tide. There are no concessions or facilities there, so plan accordingly. Admission is free.

Tuesday – See a movie for a buck! The Regal Summer Movie Express is still presenting family films for just $1 every Tuesday and Wednesday at participating theaters during the summer. See what’s playing at a theater near you — there are two movie choices every week. All movies start at 10am. In the afternoon, head to MLK Library, where Storyteller Baba C will entertain with his unique blend of interactive storytelling, narrative song, chants, and games celebrating the oral traditions of the African Diaspora. Starts at 4pm, and admission is free.

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 sublime as they are fun. Hours are 9am – 5pm. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

Thursday – Spend a hot day inside a cool museum! Head to Chantilly for Air & Space exploration beyond the National Mall — the Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center showcases even more fascinating artifacts of flight. See all kinds of air and space crafts, pretend to pilot in a flight simulator, get hands-on in a discovery station, and much more. Hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free, but parking is $15.

Friday – Explore the high Potomac “seas” on a Boomerang Family Treasure Hunt Cruise. During the pirate adventure, you’ll help recover stolen treasure from scallywags who pilfered the ship’s booty. A couple of times are available several days a week. Cost is $20/passenger, but Goldstar and Certifikid often have ticket deals available.


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Filed under All ages, DC, Deal, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Summer, Virginia, Weekdays

Walk in the Woods at Woodend Nature Sanctuary

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The second week of summer break was Sasha’s week. Owen had just left for his first sleep away camp adventure (a whole wonderful experience I’ll hopefully touch on more sometime), and I wanted to have a week of quality time with my girl before she started a session of Adventure Theatre’s acting camp (a whole other wonderful experience that I highly recommend).

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It was a nice week of both planned and spontaneous activities, as well as some low key hanging out. We caught a performance of Jumanji, got pedicures, went on bike rides, hit the pool, lunched at Shake Shack, visited the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, popped into the Postal Museum… mostly things we’d done and enjoyed before.

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But one new adventure we had was a trip to Woodend Nature Sanctuary in Chevy Chase. I’d been there for a wedding years ago, but had never visited with the kids. Which is kind of a shame, because it’s a great place to get in touch with nature and do some outdoor exploring close in to the city.

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The 40-acre property is home to the Audubon Naturalist Society, a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to conservation and education. The grounds are open to the public and free to roam daily.

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Stop in the gift shop to pick up a map before you begin your hike, or just park in the lot and wander — it’s not so big that you won’t find your way. And if you want to get guided tour, you can join a Family Nature Walk with a Master Naturalist the first Saturday of the month from 9-10am.

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Woodend Nature Sanctuary is located at 8940 Jones Mill Road in Chevy Chase, MD. The grounds are open daily from dawn to dusk, and admission is free.


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Filed under All ages, Animals, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Maryland, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Weekdays, Weekend

The Weekend Round-Up: July 22-24

Yards Park fountains are a perfect place to cool off on a hot summer evening

Yards Park fountains are a perfect place to cool off on a hot summer evening



Gymboree Sale On Now!


This is going to be the hottest weekend of the summer so far, and this round-up was created accordingly, with ideas that will keep you as cool as the pursuits are fun. And for those who can stand the heat, there are plenty of suggestions that’ll have you covered, too. Happy Weekend!

The Great Indoors
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

This post with over 80 ideas for adventures around the area that take place indoors is a good one to keep handy this weekend. Many are well known attractions, but sometimes we need reminders about even the most obvious spots. You’ll likely find lots of nice surprises listed, too.

Capital Fringe Festival
Where: Various venues
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by performance

The Capital Fringe Festival is in its final weekend and presenting several performances kids will enjoy. Barry Beaver’s Adventures in Happy Valley will keep tots engaged with activities and singing as they learn about giving, sharing, and accepting differences. See a fairytale come to live through opera and dance in Once Upon a Bedtime. A group of teenage girls created and will perform Act Like a GRRRL at MLK Library. And there will be free music from the Fringe Arts Bar Courtyard Jams at various times. Those are just a few shows with the all-ages tag; there are many more for ages 13 and up to entertain tweens and teens. More details and ticket sales are on the Capital Fringe Festival website. And, parents, consider catching a performance for a KidFree night out!

Stories in Art
Where: National Gallery of Art
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: Free

Sail the seas during this session of the National Gallery’s summer program for children. Designed for ages 4-7, the series explores Dutch art through stories and activities inspired by works in the museum, with a focus on seascapes this weekend. There are several time slots available — 10:30am, 11:30am, 12:30pm, and 1:30pm. Sign-in takes place in the West Building Rotunda, beginning at 10am and will continue until all spaces are filled. And they do often fill up, so plan to get there early to register.

Story Time with the Nats
Where: DC Public Libraries
When: Saturday, 11:30am
Admission: Free

Story time will be a big hit on Saturday as a few Nats players host readings at three DC Public Libraries. Starting pitcher Tanner Roark will be at Northeast Library on Capitol Hill, pitcher Shawn Kelley will be at Chevy Chase Library, and a player TBA will be at Anacostia Library. Each session will be followed by a Q&A session between the player and the audience.

Show Time
Where: Local theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

* Go on a wild journey to Jumanji at Adventure Theatre
* See Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods at Wolf Trap where the Pushcart Players are performing Peter and the Wolf
* Encore Stage & Studio presents the classic Mary Poppins by kids for kids
* Reserve free tickets to see Vladimir Goes for the Gold Saturday Morning at the National
* Marsha and the Positrons are also playing a free show at MLK Library on Saturday
* The UniverSoul Circus is wowing audiences at National Harbor (look for discount tickets)
* Imagination Stage and The Washington Ballet bring you The Little Mermaid
* Peter and the Wolf just opened at The Puppet Co.
* And Clowning Around is the featured Tiny Tots show at the puppet theater
* See theatre by kids for kids at Encore’s production of Mary Poppins (look for discount tickets)
* Enjoy a picnic and a play as Chesapeake Shakespeare presents The Three Musketeers at PFI Park in Ellicott City, MD (bonus: kids are FREE)
* Take your teen or make it a date night to see The Bridges of Madison County at the Kennedy Center
* Everybody cut Footloose for the final weekend at Alden Theatre (look for discount tickets)
* Little Ones will enjoy Inside Out, a performance geared toward ages 1-5, at Imagination Stage
* Born for This: The Bebe Winans Story is playing at Arena Stage this summer
* Enjoy a KidFree evening out at a performance of Tweflth Knight at Synetic Theatre
* The Phantom of the Opera is on stage at the Kennedy Center, and its recommended for ages 6 and up (look for discount tickets)

Montgomery County Farm Tour
Where: Montgomery County farms
When: Saturday & Sunday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Learn about agricultural heritage, promote local farms, and indulge in seasonally fresh food as Montgomery County celebrates the 27th Annual Farm Tour and Harvest Sale. Activities will vary from farm to farm, but several will have hayrides, pony rides, music, animals to visit, and other activities planned. All 21 participating farms will be open Saturday, and some will reopen on Sunday, so be sure to check the website for the schedule before you go.

Citi Open Tennis
Where: Rock Creek Park Tennis Center
When: Friday – Sunday
Admission: Ticket start at $10

Enjoy the on-court excitement along with other fun activities as the Citi Open Tennis Tournament wraps up. With the quarterfinals on Friday, the semis on Saturday, and the championship matches on Sunday, the event is sure to serve up some excellent tennis.

Tennis on the Big Screen
Where: National Harbor
When: Saturday & Sunday, 1:30pm
Admission: Free

If you can’t make it to the tennis tourney, head to National Harbor where they’ll be showing the Citi Open on the waterfront Jumbotron. The 18’ x 32’ foot LED screen located on the plaza is great for viewing sports events. Bring lawn chairs to set up on the plaza green, or grab a meal and drinks and watch from a nearby outdoor patio. And if you want to make a day of it at National Harbor, this post details all there is to do there.

Summer Fun
Where: Throughout the area
When: All weekend long
Admission: Varies by activity

Free concerts, outdoor swimming, movies under the stars, sprayground fun. Activities exclusive to the season can all be enjoyed this weekend. The Summer 2016 guide has the whole scoop on all of them.

Fancy This
Where: Brookside Gardens
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $8/ages 13 and up, $5/3-12, free ages 0-2

Walk amid a garden of butterflies at Brookside Garden’s amazing Wings of Fancy exhibit, on view through September 2. The seasonal display featuring live butterflies and caterpillars from all over the world is sure to delight. Read about a KFDC experience at the exhibit. Plan to tour the rest of Brookside’s lovely grounds while you’re there (if it’s not sweltering) and see if there are any other special kids’ programs to enjoy.

Chill with ICEBERGS
Where: National Building Museum
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies, see below

Th Building Museum’s big summer exhibit brings a cool loating sculptures, an environmental narrative, interactive features, and shaved ice treats make ICEBERGS pretty cool to experience. While you probably won’t stay and play for hours like you did at The BEACH last year, it’s definitely worth checking out. Plus, the admission fee gets you into all of the other NMB exhibits, too — Small Stories, PLAY WORK BUILD, and the Building Zone are all great for kids. Cost is $5/youth member, $10/adult member and $13/youth non-member, $16/adult non-member.

Indoor Swim
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by pool

If it’s too darn hot to even hang by the pool, but you want to get in some swim time, hit an indoor pool! There are plenty in the area that are open to the public. Wilson Aquatic Center in NW is popular, and Deanwood in NE even has a slide. In Maryland, Rollingcrest in PG County has a special preschool area, and there are several indoor aquatic facilities in Montgomery County. In Northern Virginia, Arlington County has a few indoor public pools, and there’s one in Alexandria, too. Be sure to check schedules for open swim times at all of them, and I recommend calling ahead to confirm there are no random closings.

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

It’s another weekend at home for the Nats as they host the Padres. There are games tonight, Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon. Check for special promos here. And before you go, get some KFDC tips on doing Nats game without breaking the bank.

Baltimore, Hon!
Where: Inner Harbor Area
When: All Weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

You won’t escape the heat by heading north just 45 minutes, but you’ll find a few wonderful places to take shelter from it where the kids can have a blast. Explore the exhibits and loads of hands-on activities at the Maryland Science Center. See some of the quirkiest, coolest art ever at the American Visionary Art Museum. Play the day away at Port Discovery. Get an eyeful of the underwater world at the National Aquarium. Tour the historic ships at the Inner Harbor. Or view history in the works at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.

Pop-Up Dance Performance
Where: Rosedale Recreation Field
When: Sunday, 3-5pm
Admission: Free

Agora Dance, a new DC dance company, presents two free, 20-minute perfromances on Sunday. And the fun it goes beyond the entertainment! Each performance will be followed by a short Q & A with the dancers, plus cookies from Grassroots Gourmet to nibble while you watch. They’ll be dancing rain or shine – therain or extreme heat location is Rosedale Library – located next to the Rosedale Recreation Field (1701 Gales St. NE).

STEM for a Buck
Where: Children’s Science Center Lab
When: Sunday
Admission: $1

Experiment with science-y fun on the cheap! To celebrate their first birthday, the Children’s Science Center Lab is offering $1 admission on Sunday. Kids can explore a variety of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) concepts through fun, engaging hands-on exhibits and activities. Read more about it in this KFDC post.

Indoor Playgrounds
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

You may have already seen this among The Great Indoors recs, but it’s a good one to spotlight this weekend. When it’s just too darn hot to play outside, but the kids still have a lot of energy to expend, this round-up of play spaces where, in some cases, they can literally bounce off the walls will come in handy.

Day Trip from DC
Where: Around the region
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Get out of dodge for a day for some cool fun in areas that require a bit of a drive, but not one that requires an overnight stay (though you could consider it). Explore the spectacular underground world of stalagmites and stalactites at Luray or Shenandoah Caverns (look for a deal here). Take an ice cream making tour at Turkey Hill in Lancaster, PA. Or venture out to the Calvert Marine Museum to experience fascinating exhibits that highlight the history of the Chesapeake Bay.


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Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, Date Night, DC, Destination from DC, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Festival, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Summer, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend