History Meets Style at an American Girl Fashion Show (+ Giveaway!)


Girls and their families, friends, and favorite dolls are invited to celebrate the experience of being a girl as the Junior League of Northern Virginia (JNLV) hosts its 3rd annual American Girl Fashion Show. Themed “Styles of Today and Yesterday,” the colorful presentation of historical and contemporary fashions will take place this weekend, April 23-24, at the Sheraton Pentagon City.

A total of five fashion shows — three on Saturday and two on Sunday — will feature more than 200 girls from throughout the DC-Metro region. Guests at each show will enjoy elegant refreshments, enter to win door prizes, and learn how clothing has changed over the years to reflect history, culture, and girls’ individual styles.

Individual tickets, ranging from $40-50, and seven different group packages starting at $119, are available for purchase through the JLNV website. Attendees may also pre-order exclusive American Girl merchandise for pick up on-site, including items exclusive to American Girl Fashion Shows®, as well as reserve a spot for their dolls at an American Girl Fashion Show® Doll hair salon.

Proceeds from the sale of both tickets and merchandise support the JLNV’s community initiatives focused on empowering families to make healthy eating and active living a priority. Their community programs offer hands-on leadership development opportunities for members and directly benefit the Northern Virginia community.

The American Girl Fashion Show will take place on April 23 at 10am, 1pm, and 4pm, and on April 24 at 11am and 2pm. All shows will be held at the Sheraton Pentagon City located at 900 South Orme Street, Arlington, VA. Tickets are available for purchase online.

Giveaway: Do you have an American Girl Doll fan who would love to attend this event? Here is your chance to win two free tickets (1 adult, 1 child). To enter, simply leave a comment telling me the name of your child’s favorite doll. To be eligible you must like KidFriendly DC on Facebook and subscribe to the KFDC blog (see sign-up near the top left). This giveaway will run until Wednesday, April 20, at 5pm, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!


Filed under All ages, Annual, Charity, Educational, Giveaway, Spring, Virginia, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: April 18-22

Monkey around on the Hains Point playground

Monkey around on the Hains Point playground

Monday - Play, picnic, and enjoy the surrounding scenery at Hains Point. Drive all the way down, almost to the tip, to reach the playgrounds. They’re set amid a large grassy area with picnic tables and bathrooms right there, too. And the spot offers great views of the rivers and airplanes taking off and landing at DCA. Admission is free.

Tuesday - Make it a beach day at Flag Ponds Nature Park. The water may not be quite warm enough for swimming, but there’s still plenty to enjoy. Build sandcastles on the Chesapeake shore, visit the nature center, have a picnic, spot wildlife in the woods, and definitely do some fossil hunting — the park is a great place to search for shark teeth and other prehistoric remnants. Hours are 9am – 4pm (beach closes at 3:30pm), admission is $6/car.

Wednesday - Get a dose of Holland in Haymarket, VA, at Burnside Farms’ Festival of Spring. The blooming tulips are absolutely stunning, stretching along acres of fields in a striking array of colors and varieties. Even better, you can pick your own to bring the beauty home ($1 per stem). Hours are 10am – 6pm. Admission is $6.

Thursday - Experience WONDER at the Renwick Gallery while it’s still on view — the galleries on the second floor of the exhibit are only on view for a few more weeks. Even if you’ve already seen it, a repeat look is just as enchanting. And if it’s your first time, well, you’re in for quite a treat. Hours are 10am- 5:30pm. Admission is free.

Friday - See a show on strings at The Puppet Co., where Sleeping Beauty is the current Main Stage production. Show time is 10:30am. Tickets are $10. If weather permits, plan to stay for picnic lunch (BYO) and play time on the Glen Echo Park playground.

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Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, DC, Exhibit, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Play, Seasonal, Spring, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays

The Weekend Round-Up: April 16-17

Everything's coming up tulips at Burnside Farm

Everything’s coming up tulips at Burnside Farm

Hanna Andersson

Seasonal celebrations, educational festivals, live entertainment, outdoor adventures, and much more… these fabulous spring days will be bursting with fun — and this round-up has details on all of it. Happy Weekend!

USA Science & Engineering Expo
Where: Walter E. Washington Convention Center
When: Saturday, 10am – 6pm & Sunday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

If your child has any inkling of interest in science and engineering, likes to do hands-on experiments, see fascinating live demos, or talk first-hand with the experts, then chances are very good that they will dig this event. (And so will you, parents.) Over 3,000 interactive exhibits and 150 stage shows will highlight all kinds of science-related topics in fun, engaging, exciting ways. Attendees can suit up in astronaut gear, explore the science of music, see 3-D printers at work, hold eight-legged creatures, solve science and math mysteries, check out rockets and robots, discover renewable energy sources of the future, and much, much, much more! There will also be some awesome entertainment (see below) that adults will be just as excited about as the kids!

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue, 7th – 17th Streets NW
When: April 16, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

This parade is for many the pinnacle of the Cherry Blossom Festival and a fantastic grand finale for the seasonal celebration. Thousands of people line Constitution Avenue every year to watch the spectacle of lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, and a variety of performers travel down it. Tickets for grandstand seats are available for $20, but you can stake out a spot along the curb for free. Plan to arrive early to get a good view — the crowds come out for this one, especially if it’s a pretty spring day.

Sakura Matsuri
Where: M Street & New Jersey Ave. SE
When: April 16, 10:30am – 6pm
Admission: $8/ages 13 and up in advance, free for 12 and under

Following the Cherry Blossom parade, many folks head right over to Sakura Matsuri, the Japanese Street Festival that is America’s largest one-day exhibition of Japanese culture. There will be live music and dance performances, all kinds of Asian and Western foods, martial arts demos, Japanese art, and more. All at a new location in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. Be prepared for a crowd.

Make a Little Birdhouse in Your Soul
Where: Walter E. Washington Convention Center
When: Saturday, 1pm & 4pm
Admission: Free

They Might Be Giants is definitely going to rock when they play two free shows this Saturday as part of the USA Science & Engineering Festival. And if you’re thinking it’s odd that one of our generation’s bands is performing at an event for kids, then you need to brush up on your children’s music. TMBG are award-winning artists — in the kids’ music genre. But given that their fun, alternative sound spans the generations, you can bet that kids young and old will have a blast.

Tiptoe Through the Tulips
Where: Burnside Farm
When: Friday 10am – 6pm, Saturday & Sunday 9am – 6pm
Admission: $8

Experience Holland in Haymarket, Va! The bloom has begun at Burnside Farm, where their annual Festival of Spring showcases the season’s flowers. Stroll through the giant fields that contain over 50 different varieties of flowers in a rainbow of colors and pick your own to enjoy at home: $1 for 2 daffodils, $1 per tulip.) Be sure to have your camera handy. (Note: This first weekend is the smallest bloom, so if you can only visit once this spring, you may want to wait a week or two.) Along with the flowers, there concessions are also for sale.

Bluebells at the Bend
Where: Riverbend Park
When: Saturday, 10am – 2pm
Admission: $5

Celebrate the Virginia Bluebells as they blanket the banks of the Potomac River at Riverbend Park. Bring the whole family for fun including games, music, wildflower walks, wagon rides, live animals, and more! And to see what else is going on at other Fairfax County Parks, go here.

Free Parking
Where: National Parks
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: FREE!

It’s National Park Week through April 24, so there will be no entrance fee at National Parks where they usually charge to get in. Take advantage of complimentary admission and celebrate our parks by visiting a local natural treasure. Hit the trail at Shenandoah or Great Falls, take a ride on Skyline Drive, or visit Harpers Ferry. For more ideas of places to visit, see the National Park Service website.

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

* Looking for Roberto Clemente just opened on the Imagination Stage
* Reserve free tickets to see NRITYA: Rhythms of India, this week’s Saturday Morning at the National performance
* The Billy Jonas Band is playing the Saturday show at Jammin’ Java
* It’s opening weekend for Sleeping Beauty at The Puppet Co.
* And Clowning Around is the featured Tiny Tots show there
* NextStop Theatre’s production of Snow White begins this weekend
* The Gardens Figure Skating Club presents Peter Pan on Ice at the Gardens Ice Rink in Laurel
* See Teatro Hugo y Ines at the BlackRock Center for the Arts on Sunday

The Swedish Circus is Coming!
Where: Meridian Park
When: Saturday, 3-5pm
Admission: Free

Join the Embassy of Sweden and Cirkus Cirkör for free circus trial sessions in the park! Try juggling, acrobatics, and tight wire walking — all at your own level. The timid participant becomes courageous; the smallest participant becomes the strongest! No preparation or special clothes needed. Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Earth Day Plant Sale & Picnic
Where: Tudor Place
When: Sunday, 12-3pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day and help Tudor Place kick off their Annual Plant Sale by supporting conservation and education at Tudor Place. For one day only, the grounds will be open for picnicking. Enjoy the historic gardens and browse a range of flowering and native sun to shade perennials. Varieties for sale will include toads lily, lambs ear, columbine, anise and more to add to your own garden. Tropical and house plants also for sale!

Presidential Cars at the Capitol
Where: National Mall
When: Through April 26
Admission: Free

The Historic Vehicle Association (HVA) Cars at the Capital is hosting its second Cars at the Capitol, a display of Presidential Cars at the National Mall. The event features two iconic presidential cars as it begins the documentation of the vehicles into the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) and National Historic Vehicle Register. Until April 19, you can view President Taft’s 1909 Steam Car on the Mall between the National Gallery of Art and National Air & Space Museum. President Reagan’s 1962 Willys ‘Jeep’ CJ-6 will be there April 20-26.

Family Workshop: Paper Trails
Where: Sackler Gallery
When Saturday, 1–4pm
Admission: Free

In celebration of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, explore the importance of paper across Asian artmaking traditions. With educators from the Freer|Sackler and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, use traditional Japanese papers and bookmaking tools and techniques to create your own artist’s book. This program is designed for children ages 6–12 and adults to enjoy together. Registration opens March 15 at 12 pm.

DC United vs. Toronto FC
Where: RFK Stadium
When: Saturday, 5pm
Admission: Ticket prices vary

Kick it at a soccer game as the DC United host Toronto FC on Saturday evening. Be sure to stop by the Fan Zone in section 222 for a variety of kids activities. For some extra goodies just for young fans, join the Kids Club!

Market & More in Brookland
Where: Monroe Street Market
When: Saturday, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

The Brookland & Edgewood communities kick off a schedule of spring events this Saturday its first Brookland’s Monroe Street Farmers Market. Special activities and performances by Only Make Believe, plus a one-year anniversary celebration for The Bike Rack DC and Filter Coffeehouse & Espresso Bar will be among the festivities to enjoy this weekend.

Something Fishy Going On
Where: Claude Moore Colonial Farm
When: Saturday, 10am – 4:30pm
Admission: $3/adult, $2/child

Join the Farm Family at Claude Moore as they clean and salt their yearly catch of herring – guests are invited to help scale, clean, and pack the fish into jars. Tour the rest of the grounds while you’re there, and learn about the important contributions the Potomac River made in colonial era Virginia.

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. Every hill, town, building, locomotive, rail car, and industry in the 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.

Squad Up
Where: RESPECT by PRSVR Lifestyle Boutique
When: Saturday, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

Washington, DC’s fashion scene has something to celebrate! The newest RESPECT by PRSVR Lifestyle Boutique is opening in the historic Shepherd Park neighborhood at 7610 Georgia Ave NW and there will be a pop-up BBQ to celebrate the first weekend. Shop kids clothes and enjoy a cookout with al the cool kids and their parents.

Anacostia River Festival
Where: Anacostia Park
When: Sunday, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the connection of people to parks as the National Park Service and the 11th Street Bridge Park present the second annual Anacostia River Festival. Enjoy kayaking, boating, fishing workshops, hands-on art projects, musical performances, bike parades, and other unique programs engaging families with the river, its history, and ecology.

The Magic of Books
Where: Kensington Town Hall
When: Sunday, 3-5pm
Admission: $5/person, $20/family

Have some fun as you help support the Noyes Children’s Library Foundation Make MORE Noyes Campaign, a partnership between the Foundation and Montgomery County that is funding a major renovation of the historic library. The Magic of Books will feature a magic show by Joe Romano, a renowned performer who has entertained audiences at the White House and at a Read Across America celebration with Michelle Obama. Recommended for ages 3-10, but all ages are welcome.

The Great DC Outdoors
Where: Throughout the area
When: All weekend long
Admission:Varies by Locale

The superb spring weather is beckoning! You’ve got your pick of spots around the DC-Metro to get outside and enjoy it. Take a hike, hit a playground, explore a garden, visit animals, or see what else there is to do al fresco in this post with tons of ideas for fun in the fresh air.

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Filed under All ages, Animals, Annual, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Festival, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Spring, Theatre, Trains, Virginia, Weekend

Jump for Joy with this Sport Bounce Giveaway!


Hooray for active play! Sport Bounce, the indoor play space full of giant inflatables and more kiddie fun, is giving away FIVE free open bounce passes PLUS a $25 Starbucks gift card to THREE lucky KidFriendlyDC readers (total value $75 each)!

Voted “Best Place to Have a Birthday Party” by Loudoun and Fairfax parents, Sport Bounce is an area favorite party place for kids 2-10. Sport Bounce is not open to the public during parties, so your time on the inflatables is just for your group! You’ll have access to your very own party room the entire time. Sport Bounce’s exclusive “Big Red Chair Photo” and massive jumping pillow are just a couple of the reasons many families book their parties here year after year. Go here to see what’s included and get more info on making your child’s next party a truly memorable celebration.

Sport Bounce is located at 44710 Cape Court, Suite #116 in Ashburn, VA. Open Bounce admission is $10/ages 2 and up, $6/8-23 months. Children must be 18 months to use any of the inflatables.

For more about Sport Bounce, see this post about a KFDC experience there.

Giveaway: For a chance to win one of the 5-Packs + Starbucks Gift Card Packages, simply leave a comment telling me your favorite Starbucks beverage. To be eligible, you must like KidFriendly DC on Facebook and subscribe to the KFDC blog (see sign-up near the top left). The giveaway will run through next Thursday, April 21, then three winners will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Sport Bounce of Loudoun, however, I only promote programs, products, and services that I truly believe in and/or think would appeal to KFDC readers.


Filed under Birthday Parties, Free, Gradeschoolers, Indoor Play, Preschoolers, Sponsored Post, Toddlers, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Soar with the Wind at iFLY Loudoun


A little tidbit of info about me: I am afraid of heights. Like heart-dropping-into-stomach, knees-turning-to-rubber scared anytime there is more than about 15 feet of space between the ground and my feet. I have mini panic attacks when my kids venture within 10 feet of a mountain’s edge on a hike, always opt for the aisle seat, and have to resort to my happy place when riding in glass elevators.

This doesn’t stop me from pursuing activities that frighten the bejeezus out of me. I’ve zipped hundreds of feet in the air over rainforest dangling from a wire, repelled over cliffs, even ridden a mule into the Grand Canyon (yes, put my life literally on the back of an ass as it slowly trod the rugged path, about a foot of trail between us and a 7,000-foot drop into the red rock abyss). Because while these pursuits are desperately terrifying, I also find them amazingly exhilarating. And I believe it’s important to veer from our comfort zones now and then and, as they say, conquer our fears.

However. One thing I will never, ever, ever, ever opt to do is skydive. No matter how thrilling or boundary-pushing it may be, or what a transcendental experience flying in the sky would offer… nope. Just the thought of hurling myself out of an airplane with the earth thousands of feet below makes me, ironically, want to hurl.

So, when iFLY Loudoun reached out to introduce their new simulated skydiving experience location I was immediately intrigued. I had never heard of this before. I could experience the feeling of flying without having to step foot in (then out of) an airplane? And it would be indoors with a “safety net” below? Sign me up!

If this is new to you as well, here’s how this is possible: Flights take place in a vertical wind tunnel, where a smooth cushion of air enables people to float. This air is created by high-powered fans at the top of the tunnel that draw air through the flight chamber, then push it back down the sides and underneath, then up again, lifting flyers. An operator just outside the chamber controls the speed of the wind, adjusting for the flyer’s weight and skill level.


When I first arrived at the big blue structure right off a main road in Ashburn, VA, I was still clueless about the inner workings with all of my focus on the idea that I was going to fly. I was greeted by very friendly staff and taken on a little tour. In the lobby is the front desk, where guests can register as well as several kiosks for signing up and viewing and purchasing photos and videos after flights. There is also gear for sale for those who want iFLY souvenirs.


All of the action takes place on the second floor. The large wind tunnel is at the center, with spectator benches just outside and an equipment area, a small classroom, restrooms, and a party room on the perimeter. The space seems compact compared to the building, but once you learn how it works, you can see how the facility is essentially built around the wind tunnel.


They didn’t waste any time getting my session started, and my instructor, Trevor, took me into a classroom to give me a rundown of what to expect, demonstrate the body position for flying, and show me hand signals he would use to direct me in the tunnel (he would also be in there) — signs for bending my legs, straightening them, relaxing, and keeping my head up. He also answered all of my questions and was very reassuring and enthusiastic, which quelled any nervousness I had.

Flight suits for all sizes

Flight suits for all sizes

The lesson took about 10 minutes, and from there I suited up in my flight suit, helmet, ear plugs, and goggles, stowed my belongings in a locker, and prepared for lift off. Really, it was quick and easy as that, and in no time I entered the wind tunnel by leaning over and letting Trevor guide me. Before I knew it, I was flying.



And, yowza, was it exhilarating! Any trepidation I may have had immediately disappeared once I felt the air lift and carry me. The wind blew loud and hard, but I barely noticed because I was so caught up in the thrill of it. I was flying! I spun around the tunnel, sometimes dropped a bit when I was out of position, lifted up again. Trevor helped with hand signals and some guidance, re-positioning as needed. I could not stop smiling, which was great, but also odd because it felt simultaneously like I was drooling and my mouth was drying out.


There was a small audience during my session, as iFly welcomes folks to come in just to spectate. While I probably wasn’t the most exciting guest to watch, some flyers are skydiving enthusiasts who use the wind tunnel to practice skills and tricks, putting on a good show. While I took a break from one of my flights, Trevor jumped in a demonstrated just how artistic one can get in the air — quite an impressive show!

I took four flights, each lasting up to about 90 seconds, but it seems like they go on much longer. On the last two flights, Trevor flew with me and guided us high into the tunnel, at least 30 feet up and easily the most fun and exciting part of the experience. I didn’t for one second feel unsafe or disoriented. It seemed like I could gently bounce around on the wind forever. But, alas, my session came to an end.


If there’s anything dangerous about iFLY, it’s probably that you could get hooked — and it’s not a cheap hobby. I’m already thinking about when I can go back with the rest of my crew. Anyone age 3 to 103 can experience the thrill, as long as they weigh less than 250 lbs, are not pregnant, and generally have good health and fitness (those with neck and back issues should consult a doctor first).

This may be a special occasion kind of adventure, since it’s a bit of a splurge: Pricing starts at $79.95/person for 2 flights, and there are also Family Packs and group rates available. (All worth it, in my opinion!) There is also a Kids Club, which offers discounts for multiple sessions.

And if you’re looking for a fantastic, unique way to celebrate a birthday, they also offer parties. Packages include a party coordinator for your event, a flight training class, all the necessary gear, hands-on instruction with each flyer, and a video of the flight session. Extras include a party room, catering, and a few more services. Contact iFLY for details.


One quick tip: if you have long hair, be sure to tie it back tightly! My hair band must have been loose, because it came off during my flight, and my hair was a tangled mess afterwards. It took a lot of conditioner and slighting painful combing to get it back to normal.

iFLY Loudon is located at 20315 Commonwealth Center Drive in Ashburn, VA. Hours are Monday-Thursday 10am – 10pm, Friday 10am – 11pm, Saturday 9am – 11pm, and Sunday 9am – 10pm. It’s best to book in advance, they recommend a week ahead.

So, are you ready to fly?! Here’s a better look at what to expect…

Disclosure: iFLY Loudoun invited me in for a complimentary flight session, however, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own, and I only promote programs, products, and services that I truly believe in and/or think would appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under Indoor Play, Sports, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend