Category Archives: Ongoing

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

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The National Museum of African American History & Culture is easily one of the most remarkable and powerful attractions DC has received in recent years. Since it opened last September, timed entry passes to visit have been some of the most sought after tickets in town. It was number one on my Top 16 of 2016. It’s been lauded as a must-see by many reputable sources.

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So, you might be wondering why it’s taken me so long to post a write-up about something so outstanding. There’s good reason: While I visited the museum within days of its debut, I opted to go on my own that first time. I wanted to really take it all in and “prep” for a visit with my kids, since I knew there would be a lot to cover, and that some of it would be pretty heavy. And it was important to me that Owen and Sasha also visit before covering it here on the blog, so I could offer a true perspective on experiencing it with school-aged kids. We finally visited together a few weeks ago, just in time to post while it’s still Black History Month — though, of course, an outing there is relevant and important anytime.


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What’s Appropriate for Kids
Based on our experience, plus conversations I’ve had with friends who have been with children of various ages, I’d say that, generally, the whole museum is probably best for kids in third grade and up. Even then, that depends on their maturity, interest in history, reading level, and sensitivity to sad and scary topics. That said, there are parts that children of all ages will enjoy on some level, but there are areas that you might want to avoid entirely if you’re with a young child or an older kid who may be uncomfortable with grim and graphic elements. I would also suggest some discussion about the museum before your visit — what is there and why — even if they’ve learned about it in school.


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The Lay of the Land
The NMAAHC is huge. There are three concourses on the lower level alone that cover the history of slavery, segregation, and the civil rights movement in America, and there are several levels of exhibitions, theaters, interactive areas, even a café above that. The layout is thoughtfully configured, reflecting the timeline and tone of the exhibits. The earliest and most somber of them are on the lower levels, and as you move up, time progresses and the mood rises with it. The top floors are uplifting, inspiring, and hopeful.


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What to See and Do

History Galleries
If your kids can handle it based on my recommendations above, these exhibitions below ground level detailing the story of slavery, the struggle for human rights, and the road to freedom and equality are important to see. A range of displays, artifacts, multimedia and interactive components, and large installations make up this area. There is a lot to read and see, and it can be tedious to cover all of it. On my own, I viewed quite a bit, but not nearly all of it. With the kids, we casually strolled through it all — Owen (11) was extremely interested and stopped to read a lot, while it took the larger, interactive parts to capture Sasha’s (8) attention. I made sure to avoid an exhibit about Emmitt Till, the only one I thought would be too much even for Owen.

A few stand-outs:
– A gallery with fragments from an 18th century slave ship
– The 19th century Point of Pine slave cabin dismantled in South Carolina and reconstructed in the museum
– Woolworth’s Lunch Counter, where visitors can sit at a counter with touchscreen displays that ask what they would do in different civil rights tested situations
– The Share Your Story booth that welcomes guests to talk about their own experiences on video and view the stories of others
– Displays featuring pieces from 60’s protests to Obama’s campaign materials

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Explore More! Interactives
Most ages can enjoy this area on the second floor, where you can get hands (and feet!) on with a variety of interactive installations. The Step Afrika demo area is like Just Dance but with actual members of the stomping dance group leading in a video of step moves that you copy. There is a touch screen wall that details items in the museum collection as you tap on images. Kids can sit in a 1940’s Buick and choose safe options for a trip South. Other interactive table tops let them explore even more.

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Sports: Leveling the Playing Field
One of the most exciting exhibitions in the museum, this area celebrates the achievements and contributions of African Americans in the sporting world. Every professional sport is represented with a bronze statue of a famous athlete along with compelling videos with commentary from players, coaches, and journalists. Photos and displays highlighting big moments and iconic athletes are also interesting and fun to view. And one of the most striking pieces of all is a statue of the 1968 Olympics Black Power Salute. It’s on view as you walk into the sports area and such a powerful piece in the exhibition.

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Musical Crossroads
This exhibition showcases African American musicians and the influence of their music in our culture. It’s lively, joyful, and fun! See Chuck Berry’s red Cadillac, Public Enemy’s boombox, Sammy Davis Jr.’s tap shoes, old concert posters, videos of great musicians performing in iconic settings, the Mothership! The whole area is a trove of nostalgia, and my kids were great sports for indulging my ramblings about seeing Prince in concert during high school, P-Funk on New Year’s Eve in college, and how Michael Jackson lighting up the sidewalk in the Billy Jean video was special effects genius. The exhibit has hands-on opportunities, too. There’s a station where you can play producer and mix music on a touch screen sound board. And don’t miss browsing in the record store, where you can flip through album covers (there’s such a distinct feeling of satisfaction to it!) and listen to songs on a digital music table.

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Sweet Home Café
I haven’t had a chance to eat in the museum’s restaurant, but I’ve heard good things about it. The menu includes both traditional and more contemporary cuisines of the Africa American people. Dishes are made mostly from scratch and with locally sourced ingredients.

*There are many more exhibits to see within the Community and Culture galleries on the upper levels that highlight significant places, people, and African American contributions to the arts, television, and film. See them all if you can (i.e., your kids stay interested and you have time), but if not, the suggestions above will likely be most appealing to your kids.

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How to See It
It’s still tough to get passes to the museum — timed entry tickets are sold out through April, though you can try for same day — so you’ll want to make the most of your visit there. Touring with children might take some strategy, so knowing what is appropriate for them individually is important. If your kids can and want to tour the entire museum, I recommend starting at the bottom and working your way up to get the experience of seeing history unfold. However, if areas are crowded, and it’s easier to jump around, that wouldn’t take away from your visit at all. With young children, head straight upstairs to the sports, culture, and interactive areas. And if you want to see the lower levels, but don’t want to bring little ones with you, try to visit the museum with another adult, and you can switch off hanging with kiddos upstairs and touring on your own downstairs.


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I have to make note, too, of the beautiful architecture and design. The intricate lattice metal design on the outside of the bulding is meant to recall the ironwork crafted by slaves in Louisiana, South Carolina, and elsewhere. Take time to view it both from the outside and indoors. And as you stroll through the vast space, catch views of the Washington Monument and other attractions on the National Mall from deliberately placed windows.


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The National Museum of African American History & Culture is truly a powerful experience, at once poignant and celebratory, heartbreaking and hopeful. It’s a must-see for children and adults alike and, really, for everyone.

The Museum is open daily from 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free, but by timed entry passes. Advance passes are unavailable through April, but up to four(4) same-day timed entry passes are available online everyday starting at 6:30am until they run out. A limited number of walk-up passes are also available beginning at 1pm on weekdays. The Museum is located at 1400 Constitution Avenue, NW. The closest Metro stop is Smithsonian on the Blue/Orange line.

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Filed under All ages, Art, DC, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Museums, Ongoing, Weekdays, Weekend

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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Filed under All ages, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Library of Congress, Museums, Ongoing, Weekdays, Weekend

The Weekend Round-Up: February 3-5

Any visit to Annmarie Sculpture Garden should include play time in the Fairy Lolly

Any visit to Annmarie Sculpture Garden should include play time in the Fairy Lolly



Keep the Chinese New Year celebrations going or get the Valentine-inspired fun started. Catch some live entertainment in the cozy comfort of a theatre or get outdoors for nature explorations. Scope out sweet rides or go for a spin on ice. Enjoy story time and crafts or (w)hoop it up at a basketball game. Whatever your family’s interests, there’s bound to be activities and events to indulge them. Happy Weekend!

Chinese New Year Family Day
Where: Kennedy Center
When: Saturday, 10:30am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Bring your entire family to a fun-filled day of activities and entertainment for all ages. Learn the arts of paper cutting, Beijing-style appliqué, calligraphy, sugar and bottle painting, “bristle dolls,” and Chinese makeup. Play dress up and snap pictures at the Chinese costume trunk. Enjoy performances by Beijing acrobats and Chinese musicians. And much more!

Chocolate Lovers Festival
Where: City of Fairfax
When: Saturday & Sunday,
Admission: Depends on activities

The City of Fairfax presents its annual festival centered around one of the most wonderful things in the world: Chocolate! There will be all kinds of activities for all ages throughout the weekend, both chocolate and non-chocolate themed — tastings, story time, puppet shows, face painting, chocolate challenges, a chocolate caper mock trial, and much more. The schedule of events has details.

Celebrate La Chandeleur!
Where: Hillwood Museum
When: Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $18/adult, $12/member, $5/child, free under 3

La Chandeleur, also known as Crêpe Day, marks the halfway point between winter and spring. In France, families celebrate by eating crêpes, which are round and golden, like the springtime sun. Hillwood and Alliance Française de Washington invite families to celebrate this holiday in festive French fashion amidst Hillwood’s spectacular gardens, magnificent mansion, and exquisite French treasures.

Washington Auto Show
Where: Washington Convention Center
When: Friday, 12-10pm; Saturday, 10am -10pm; Sunday 10am – 7pm
Admission: $12/adults, $5/ages 6-12, free for 5 and under

The annual Washington Auto Show is parked at the Washington Convention Center for one more weekend. And if there’s any “grown-up” event that is equally fun for all ages, this is it. The Auto Show is like a Truck Touch, but with automobiles — more than 700 of them! — on display for guests to check out. Other activities, like Ride ‘n Drives and celeb appearances, give guests even more to do and see. There will also be fun especially for kids and pop-ins by some of their favorite characters along with the autos. This post about one of our experiences at a past show has more about what to expect.

Archi-Builder Studio Series
Where: District Architecture Center
When: Saturday, 9am – 12pm
Admission: $75/5-week series

Kids ages 9-14 who love drawing houses, building structures, designing a pillow fort might consider signing up for this. This multi-series architectural program engages students in the design process used by architects to build scale models of habitable spaces of their own imagining. At each session, young architects will work in teams to learn processes and techniques to progress their ideas into a final design.

hiSTORYtime
Where: National Museum of American History
When: Saturday, 11am
Admission: Free

Early learners ages 0-6 and their caregivers will have the chance to hear a story and participate in hands-on activities and crafts inspired by objects from the museum’s collection at this weekly program. Saturdays in February are all about things that go! Join for stories about transportation, and enjoy games, crafts, and activities inspired by objects in the museum that help us travel.

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

* Ella Enchanted opens at Adventure Theatre this weekend!
* Reserve free tickets to see Magician Brian Curry, this week’s Saturday Morning at the National performer
* Experience Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions at Strathmore on Saturday
* Hamlette puts a twist on the Shakespearean classic as it open at The Keegan Theatre
* Goldilocks is the latest Main Stage show at The Puppet Co.
* And Dragon Babies is the featured Tiny Tots performance on Sunday
* Mr. Jon and Friends are playing the Saturday morning show at Jammin Java
* Watch Blue Sky Puppet Theatre perform at the Avalon Theatre in Alexandria, the first show in this season’s Family Matinee series
* Little ones will be delighted by Blue at Imagination Stage
* The Folger Theatre presents As You Like It
* Make it a KidFree night out at Arena Stage where ROE recently opened

Crush-Worthy Classroom Valentine Workshop
Where: The Paper Source
When: Saturday, 11am – 1pm
Admission: $25

Kids ages 8 and up can grab their BFF and some glitter for a workshop that will give them heart eyes! Make 5 – 6 Valentines for your classmates, friends, and family using your favorite stickers, stamps, washi tape, and more! A 10% off coupon will be provided with the class. Buy two seats at the same time and save 10% off each seat.

Valentine Crafts
Where: Michael’s
When: Saturday, times vary
Admission: $2

Head to a Michael’s location for some creative Valentine’s fun. The arts & crafts supply store is hosting drop-in workshops this weekend (and next) for children to make cards and decor — all with a love theme. Search the website to find a store near you.

YA Book Launch Party
Where: Hooray for Books
When: Friday, 7pm
Admission: Free

Calling all YA Bookworms! New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley will be launching her newest YA novel Our Own Private Universe, a thoughtful look at the search for self that comes with adolescence, complicated by the intersection of race, religion, and orientation. They will also have brownies, books, and general merriment.

Hawks and Owls                           
Where: Buddie Ford Nature Center
When: Saturday, 2 – 3pm
Admission: $5/resident, $10/non-resident

Discover the important work of the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia from a raptor expert through a live hawk and owl presentation. Recommended for ages 5 & up, and all children must be accompanied by an adult. Read a KFC review of Buddie Ford here.

Weekend Walk in the Woods
Where: Woodend Nature Sanctuary
When: Saturday, 9-10am
Admission: Free

Take a hike — and advantage of the Audubon Naturalist Society’s free monthly family program. On the first Saturday of each month from 9-10am, join Master Naturalists for a nature hike around Woodend Sanctuary. Each outing has a unique and exciting natural history theme that’s appropriate for family members of all ages. Be prepared to hike in sneakers. Meet in the gazebo by the main house. Read a KFDC review of Woodend Nature Sanctuary.

Valentine Photo Box
Where: The Home Depot
When: Saturday, 9am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Join the home improvement store’s weekly hands-on workshop and build a Valentine-themed photo box, perfect for keeping photos of loved ones front and center. Once the box is built, kids can decorate it with paint and stickers. Along with their craft, all participants receive a certificate of achievement, a workshop apron, and a commemorative pin (while supplies last). Register here.

Chinese New Year Celebration
Where: Port Discovery
When: Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $14.95/ages two and up

Celebrate the Chinese New Year and commemorate the year of the Rooster at Port Discovery. Learn, experience, and participate in traditions surrounding the Chinese New Year celebration, including the Lion Dance (complete with a paper mache lion, drums, and cymbals), performances from the Gina Ling Dancers, festive rooster and dragon-themed art projects, Happy Fortunes, and Chinese New Year Lucky Charms. Also learn about Calligraphy and Chopstick training and enjoy a live petting zoo from Wildlife Adventures.

Marine MRE Cook-Off
Where: National Museum of the Marine Corps
When: Saturday, 2-4pm
Admission: Free

Watch a couple of marine chefs vie for the coveted Golden Canteen Cup as they pull two MREs (Meals Ready-to-Eat) from a box and combine them to create one meal. MRE’s are intended to be consumed by the military when traditional food is not readily available, each packing about 1200 calories and containing a main course, side dish, dessert or snack, bread, spread, beverage mix, utensils, a heater, beverage mixing bag and more. It’s like Top Chef, military-style!

Maple Sugaring Days
Where: Brookside Nature Center in Wheaton
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: $6

Be a part of the maple sugaring process and help collect the sap from trees, watch as its boiled down into sweet maple syrup, and enjoy a taste! This program takes place every Thursday Saturday, and Sunday in February at select times. Sessions fill up, so register now! This event is also offered in Spanish.

World Wetlands Day
Where: Huntley Meadows Park
When: Saturday, 12-2pm
Admission: $8 Free

Get a little nature fix at this hidden spot in Alexandria. The park will be showcasing the importance and beauty of wetlands with presentation and education stations, a guided wetland walk, and crafts for participants ages four and older. Learn why these unique ecosystems are significant to people, plants, and animals and how the Huntley Meadows wetland was formed. Head home with ideas about what you can do to help protect these fading treasures. Read a KFDC review of Huntley Meadows.

Lunar New Year Celebration
Where: Potomac Mills
When: Saturday, 1-3pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the Year of the Rooster with an afternoon of festivities for shoppers at Potomac Mills. Stop by the Grand Court to experience the celebratory events, including Chinese Dance, the iconic Lion Dance, a Fashion Show, traditional Chinese music, the Guzheng, food samples, and much more.

Love Rocks! Family Dance Party
Where: Port Discovery
When: Saturday, 6-9pm
Admission: $18/members, $20/non-members

Bring the whole family to the Love Rocks! Family Dance Party on Saturday! The special night out will be filled with Valentine’s-themed fun. Dance along to tunes from DJ Holly, become your most-loved character with face painting fun, create Valentine’s crafts and art projects, and explore three floors of fun exhibits that are sure to get hearts pumping. Food and beverages included.

Chinese New Year Celebration
Where: Sackler Gallery and Ripley Center
When: Sunday, 11am – 5pm
Admission: Free

Ring in the Year of the Rooster with art! The Sackler’s third annual Chinese New Year celebration features free attractions for all ages highlighting contemporary performers and artists from Beijing. See Chinese opera and acrobatics, create Year of the Rooster-themed crafts, see demos of traditional Chinese art, and try your hand at projects, too. Chinese food will also be available for purchase. 

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

Warm up with a quintessential cold weather activity! Lace up the ice skates and get gliding at one of many outdoor rinks in the area. Enjoy art as you skate at the Sculpture Garden; circle the rink at Washington Harbour; meander the paths at Canal Park; or do some shopping then skate at Pentagon Row, Tyson’s Corner, Veteran’s Plaza, Rockville Town Square, or Reston Town Center. This post has details on both alfresco and indoor ice skating options in the area. And I recommend checking Certifikid for admission deals.

Watch the Wizards
Where: Verizon Center
When: Saturday, 7pm
Admission: Ticket prices vary

The Wizards will be hosting at home this weekend with a game Saturday night. Catch them at the Verizon Center against New Orleans. And be sure to look for a ticket deal through Certifikid — along with the discount seats, you’ll also get a Wizards T-shirt!

Full STEAM Ahead: Creative Compost
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center
When Sunday, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

Bring the preschool set the artLAB for hands-on investigations and challenges! This free program is designed to help children explore, observe, ask questions, and make predictions as they create and play. Plan to stay beyond the session to explore the beautiful grounds, play in the Fairy Lolly, and check out the art. Read a KFDC review about Annmarie Sculpture Garden.

DC, Inside & Out
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

Looking for ways to stay active and entertained without a chill in the air? Then The Great Indoors post, a list of over 80 ideas for places to go inside, should have you covered. And if you prefer the outdoors no matter the weather, The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids, has a bunch of recommendations, too.

Find Reviews on Outdoor Gear at GearWeAre.com!

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Take a Nature Break at Prince William Forest Park

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My kids are funny when it comes to hiking. Sometimes they are gung-ho, but every now and then when I suggest we hit the trail, there’s a little protest: “But it’s just walking!” is something I’ve heard more than once.

Then I explain that it’s much more than just walking. It’s observing the nature around us, enjoying some active recreation, getting out of the bustling city for peaceful surrounds, unplugging, spending quality time together. I relish a good hike and, at the risk of sounding eye rollingly cheesy, think it’s the perfect thing for a mini reboot. Taking even a little break from our busy, hurried city life to slow down and connect is good for all of us.

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The thing is, I can almost always guarantee that even when there is initial resistance to the hiking plan, they end up being happy trampers. (“Mom, you were right…” is not uncommon either 😉 ). Once we get to our destination, they’re excited to be there — racing each other down the path, looking out for wildlife, finding a perfect walking stick, and just exploring the environment around us.

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When we visited Prince Washington Forest Park in Northern Virginia this past fall, they were actually quite amenable to the idea. This mostly had to do with the fact that Owen had just been there for Nature Bridge , a three-day outdoor education program with school, and loved the location. I had been there myself a year before for a trail race and recalled it being a beautiful park with varied terrain and interesting trails. Collective enthusiasm to go someplace is never a bad thing!

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Prince William Forest Park stretches over 15,000 acres in Northern Virginia. The largest protected green space in the DC-Metro area, there are over 37 miles of trails to hike, plus miles of paved and gravel paths to cycle, rivers for fishing, and cabins and tent sites for camping.

There is a $7 entrance fee per vehicle (or $5 for walk- and bike-ins) that we paid at the Visitor Center upon our arrival. While we were there, we picked up a trail map, checked out the exhibits, and learned a little more about the park’s nature and history. A couple of tidbits: The area was significant strategic point in the Civil War, and during the Great Depression when the park was called the Chopawamsic Recreation Area, it housed children’s relief camps.

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There are a few trail heads near the Visitor Center, and trails within the park are as short as a half mile and as long as almost 10. Many connect, so you can extend your hike and explore different areas. Our jaunt along the Laurel Loop Trail took us through the woods, which were vibrant with fall colors at the time, and along the Quantico Creek. Owen pointed out some of the spots he visited on his school trip, like a beaver dam and small waterfall, and we had a picnic lunch by the water.

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Then we hopped onto another trail that took us deeper into the woods, and eventually to small cemetery. We learned that there over 40 family cemeteries in the park, mostly from the late 19th and early 20th century, but some even earlier. It’s important to respect these sites and also illegal to alter them in any way. You can read about a couple of them here.

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While we didn’t see much wildlife besides birds, squirrels, and fish, plenty do live there. Deer, beavers, and black bears (!) are some of the other mammals you might encounter. And sightings of snakes, turtles, and frogs are pretty common.

The variety in trails makes Prince William Forest Park a great place to hike with young children, since there are plenty of short, flat trails. And if you’re with older kids who want more of a challenge, there are longer and more difficult trails, too. You even can make it a weekend trip — cabins are available May – October, and tent sites May – November. Whether you overnight it or just go for a few hours, it makes for a great escape from the city.

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Prince William Forest Park is located in Triangle, VA, about a 45 minute drive from DC. It’s open daily from sunrise to sunset. The Visitor Center is open 8am – 4pm November – February, and 9am – 5pm March – October. Admission is $7/car or $5/walk- or bike-in.


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Filed under All ages, Animals, Educational, Exhibit, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: January 9-13

Taking in the view at Kenilworth Aquatic Garden

Taking in the view at Kenilworth Aquatic Garden





Monday – Jump with joy at Flight Trampoline Park in Springfield, VA. This bouncy nirvana hosts Kid Flight sessions, when the whole park is open only to children under the age of 6, from 10am – 2pm Monday through Friday. Special pricing starts at $8/30 minutes ($10/hour), and an accompanying adult jumps free! I recommend buying tickets and submitting waivers online in advance to save time when you get there.

Tuesday – Take your toddlers to story hour at East City Bookshop on Capitol Hill. The children’s book readings are perfect for future readers ages 0-4. The session starts at 11am, and admission is free. After, browse the inventory then grab a lunch at one of many nearby eateries.

Wednesday – Join wacky citizen-scientist Professor Wingnut and his friend Seymour Seagull as they explore the amazing science of flight! This show presented by Discovery Theater fittingly takes places at the National Air & Space Museum. Tickets are still available for the 1pm performance (on Thursday, too!) and cost $3-8, depending on age. If they sell out, you can catch a different kind of show at the museum’s Albert Einstein Planetarium or just explore the amazing space 😉 . Museum hours are 10am – 5:30pm, and admission is free.

Thursday – Enjoy what will hopefully be a warmer, sunnier day at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Go on a nature walk among the ponds filled with giant lily pads and other interesting marsh plants and look for geese, great blue herons, turtles, frogs, and tiny fish on the way. Open 8am – 4pm this time of year, and at 2pm you can join a Garden Walk with a park ranger. Admission is free.

Friday – Explore the local environment from the comfort of the indoors at Buddie Ford Nature Center, which I just posted about last week. The facility in Alexandria boasts fascinating exhibits (including live creatures!), hands-on activities, and a staff of friendly and knowledgeable naturalists that all ages will appreciate. And if weather permits, continue the fun outdoors with a short hike at the adjacent Dora Kelley Nature Park. Buddie Ford hours are 10am – 5pm. Admission is free.


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