2015 Independence Day Celebrations

Capitol Hill's "little" neighborhood parade

Capitol Hill’s “little” neighborhood parade

What better place to celebrate Independence Day than in our nation’s capital? I mean, the actual Declaration of Independence is housed (and will be read!) here, and celebrations take place place among some of the country’s most iconic landmarks. And the excitement doesn’t stop there. From fireworks on the National Mall and concerts at the Capitol to special events at George Washington’s house to neighborhood parades and ballpark fun, there are loads of ways to revel on July 4th in DC. Here are details on a bunch of them. Happy Independence Day!

National Independence Day Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue NW, 7th-17th Streets
When: July 4, 11:45am
Admission: Free

Many national holidays get a parade in DC, and July 4th is no exception. Scores of spectators are expected to line the Constitution Avenue sidewalks to watch the procession celebrating Independence Day make its way from 7th to 17th Streets. Marching bands, floats, giant balloons, equestrian groups, drill teams, and military units will be among the pageantry. Stake out your spot along the route early, as this event attracts hundreds of thousands of viewers every year.

Independence Day Celebration on the Mall
Where: National Mall
When: July 4, all day (and evening)
Admission: Free

After the parade (even earlier for some), the National Mall will begin filling up for a day of July 4th festivities — the Smithsonian Folklife Festival from 3rd to 4th Streets, Junior Ranger activities, concerts, and more. And the grand finale of it all: At 9:09pm, the sky above will explode with color when the amazing iconic fireworks display. Fireworks will be launched from the Reflecting Pool area, so plan accordingly.

A Capitol Fourth
Where: West Lawn on the Capitol
When: July 4, 8pm; gates open at 3pm
Admission: Free

Down past the other end of the Mall, A Capitol Fourth, the annual Independence Day concert that airs live on PBS, will feature even more musical pageantry. Barry Manilow is headlining this year’s show, and there will also be appearances and performances by Alabama, KC and The Sunshine Band, Nicole Scherzinger, Hunter Hayes, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Choral Arts Society, the U.S. Army Band, and many more exciting acts. And Bradley Whiteford will be the new host. (KFDC tip: Enjoy the show with less crowds at the dress rehearsal on July 3 – same time and place!)

An American Celebration
Where: Mount Vernon
When: July 4, 8am – 5pm
Admission: $17/adults, $9/ages 6-11, free for ages 5 and under.

The home of George Washington salutes the first commander-in-chief with a dazzling display of made-for-daytime fireworks during its annual Independence Day event. Visitors will be treated to spectacular smoke fireworks in patriotic colors fired over the Potomac River. The event also includes an inspirational naturalization ceremony for 100 new citizens, military reenactments, a special wreathlaying ceremony, and a visit from the “first” first couple, “General and Mrs. Washington.” See the full schedule of events here.

America’s Pastime
Where: Nationals Park
When: July 4, 11:05am
Admission: Ticket prices vary

A day at the ballpark is about as all-American as it gets when it comes to sports, and you can experience it and celebrate the holiday at Nationals Park. Catch the July 4 game against the San Francisco Giants, which is part of the 2015 Patriotic Series which honors members of the military. And be sure to check this post about ways to save on a Nats game.

Falls Church 4th of July Celebration
Where: George Mason High School
When: July 4, 7pm
Admission: Free

The City of Falls Church Recreation and Parks Department will present its annual free July 4th Celebration at George Mason High School (7124 Leesburg Pike). Musical entertainment begins at 7pm with a live performance by the Beach Bumz, with fireworks following at 9:20pm. Blankets and flat-based chairs are allowed for seating on the field. Food and drinks will be sold on site.

Neighborhood Parades
Where: Throughout the area
When: Most on July 4, times vary
Admission: Free

Keep it close to home at a community celebration. You likely are aware of July 4th events taking place in your neighborhood or nearby, but if you’re still looking for a hyperlocal fête, check out this list of parades around town.

Star-Spangled Spectacular
Where: Oregon Ridge State Park
When: July 3 & 4
Admission: $9-18

For something a little different than the usual DC July 4th festivities, head north to Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville, Md, on Friday or Saturday. You can spread out a blanket or set up chairs on the sloping green lawn amidst a gorgeous setting as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs their Star-Spangled Spectacular, culminating with a magnificent fireworks display. The starbursts in the sky as a live symphony plays is truly magical. The park opens at 5pm, and the show begins at 8pm both days. Be sure to note these parking instructions, as on–site parking is $15, but you can park off site and take a shuttle for free.

Fourth of July at the National Archives
Where: National Archives
When: July 4, 8am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate July 4th at the National Archives Building with a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence. There will also be historical guests, patriotic music, and family activities from 11am – 4pm. The full schedule of events is available on the National Archives website.

Rockville 4th of July Celebration
Where: Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park
When: July 4, 7-9:45pm
Admission: Free

Rockville’s Independence Day Celebration is hosted by the Mayor and Council of Rockville at Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park in King Farm. Join in a night of music, entertainment and fireworks. See the website for the lineup of entertainment and parking information.

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Filed under All ages, Annual, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Festival, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Parade, Seasonal, Summer, Virginia, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: June 29 – July 3

Fancy some butterflies at Brookside Gardens

Fancy some butterflies at Brookside Gardens

Monday - Hit the beach! Not only is it going to be a great day for it, I just posted about our fantastic day trip to Flag Ponds Nature Park in Lusby, Md. Hours are 9am – 6pm. Admission is $6/car.

Tuesday - Head to the Ellipse for the first day of the World Children’s Festival. The annual event celebrates creativity, diversity, and unity with several days of all kinds of cool programs for children. Check out the schedule for details. Admission is free.

Wednesday - Attend the grand opening of the brand new Innovation Wing at the National Museum of American History. Festivities will begin with a 10:30am ribbon cutting, and there will be special hands-on activities in the Spark!Lab, demonstrations, and music throughout the day. Admission is free.

Thursday - Walk amid a garden of butterflies at Brookside Garden’s amazing Wings of Fancy exhibit, back this year July 1 – September 25 after being closed last summer during renovations. The seasonal display featuring live butterflies and caterpillars from all over the world is sure to delight! Hours are 10am – 4pm. Admission is $8/ages 13 and up, $5/3-12, free ages 0-2 (admission to the rest of Brookside is free). Read about a KFDC experience at the exhibit.

Friday - Catch a performance of Double Trouble (a stage version of The Parent Trap) at Imagination Stage. Showtime is 10:30am. Tickets start at $12.

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Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Festival, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Summer, Theatre, Weekdays

The Weekend Round-Up: June 26-28


From big, exciting events to mellower pursuits, you’ve got your pick of ways to enjoy the weekend. And with a mixed forecast, the list of indoor activities and post about outdoor places are good ones to keep on hand, too. Happy Weekend!

Smithonian Folklife Festival
Where: National Mall near the American Indian Museum
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

The annual Festival celebrating living cultural heritage and community traditions is underway. Visitors of all ages will have ample opportunity to discover and explore the culture of Peru through special exhibits, workshops, performances, exhibits, demos, and more, including plenty of activities especially children. For specifics, see the festival schedule. And it all takes place right on the National Mall where you can easily pop into museums in case of rain.

Lovin’ Summer
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 be enjoyed all weekend long (as long as the weather cooperates, anyway). Get the full scoop on all of these joys of summer.

National Capital Barbeque Battle
Where: Pennsylvania Avenue NW
When: Saturday 11am – 9pm & Sunday, 11am – 7:30pm
Admission: $15/adults, free for ages 12 and under

Join one of the biggest summer barbeques around as the Safeway National Capital Barbeque Battle returns to pit some of the nation’s best barbequers against each other as they compete for big prizes. The reward for attendees: Samples from all the entrants (plus, more food), live music, cooking demos, kids’ fun, and more. It all takes place along Pennsylvania Avenue NW, from 9th to 14th Streets.

Heritage Days
Where: Various locales in Montgomery County
When: Saturday & Sunday, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the history, culture, and natural beauty of Montgomery County, MD, as more than 30 historic sites welcome visitors for guided tours, re-creations of historic events, children’s activities, and more — all free of charge. Be sure to check the list of places on the website, as some are only participating for one day.

World Police & Fire Games
Where: Various DC-Metro locations
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

This weekend is the start of the second largest multi-sport event in the world! The World Police and Fire Games include over 60 sports and first-responder-specific activities will take place throughout Fairfax County and the general DC Metro area from June 26 – July 5. Watch challenges like the firemen’s ladder climb & muster and police service dog events. Visit the website for details on events and locations.

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

* Cat-ch Garfield: The Musical with Cattitude at Adventure Theatre
* The Chamber Dance Company is performing a special Family Matinee show on
* Fly away to Neverland with Peter Pan in the ThreeSixty Theatre at Tysons
* Experience Double Trouble on the Imagination Stage
* And little ones will live Aquarium, just opening at the Bethesda theater
* Curtis Blues: Delta Blues kicks off the summer season of the Saturday Morning at the National series
* Take the fam to Shakespeare in the park as Chesapeake Shakespeare Company presents The Comedy of Errors at Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park
* See a show on strings at The Puppet Co. where Snow White and the 7 Dwarves is the current main stage production
* And Baby Bear’s Birthday is the featured Tiny Tots show at the puppet theatre
* The Imagination Movers are playing a special concert at the Maryland Zoo on Sunday
* IMPOSSIBLE: A Happenstance Circus opens this weekend at the Round House Theatre
* Rocknocerous is playing an album release show on Saturday morning at Jammin’ Java

Magic of Spying
Where: International Spy Museum
When: Saturday, 2-3pm
Admission: $10

In the real-life world of espionage, spies often call upon the art of magic and illusion to distract the enemy, make evidence disappear, and escape unnoticed. Join professional magician, Peter Wood, as he demonstrates the art of misdirection, sleight of hand, and other illusions used by skilled spies. This one of a kind performance, custom-designed for the Spy Museum, is guaranteed to fascinate children and adults alike. Recommended for ages 6 and up.

Where: Wakefield Park – Annandale, VA
When: Friday & Saturday
Admission: Free for spectators

Want to see some amazing skating tricks and skills or show off some of your (or your kids’) own? SkateFest is an epic event full of skateboarding, free gear, and a ton of the most legendary prizes to ever hit the DC Metro area. The weekend celebrates Go Skateboarding Day with family friendly activities for all ages: music, games, food, giveaways, skateboard vendor tents, and Sk8 For A Cause, a Skate Competition all to benefit Children’s National Medical Center. Friday is a registration/prelim day with some extra activities, and the main festival take place on Saturday. See the online schedule for specifics.

Beachy Keen
Where: Flag Ponds Nature Park
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $6/car

It looks like we’ll have at least one nice day this weekend, so why not hit the beach? There are several places within day trip-distance from DC that are great for sand and surf…and fossil hunting. (That’s right, many spots in the Calvert Cliffs area are well known for shark teeth finds.) We just spent a day at Flag Ponds Nature Park and loved it. This new post has all the details, plus a bit of info about another fave (though a pricey one) out that way, Brownie’s Beach.

Big Screen, Baby
Where: Local movie theaters
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Ticket prices vary by theater

Give the kids some screen time at a movie! Catch an IMAX at the Natural History or Air & Space Museums — Dinosaurs Alive! 3D is sure to enthrall dino lovers. We recently saw Inside Out and Pitch Perfect 2 and loved both (you won’t stop singing the tunes from the latter). And Max and Jurassic World are some other family films out right now. Find out what’s playing at a theater near you.

Savor Alexandria
Where: Oronoco Bay Park
When: Saturday, 12-6pm
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s Food & Wine Festival may sound like a grown-up event – and the main festivity is, for the most part – but there will be activities for little ones, too. The festival will showcase some of the best of Alexandria’s restaurants and Virginia wineries. And to complement it all will be live entertainment, a children’s corner (moon bounce, arts & crafts, and more), and cooking demos. While admission is free, you will need to purchase tickets to sample food and wine – $20 for 8 tickets, $20 for the wine garden. Rain or shine.

Feasting on Film
Where: National Gallery of Art
When: Saturday, 10:30am & Sunday, 11:30am
Admission: Free

Give the kids a taste of documentaries at the National Gallery. In these screenings, children from around the world invite you into their homes, food, community, and culture through a series of delicious documentary shorts films from the series There’s No Food Like My Food, which documents customs and cuisine from across the continents.

Portrait Story Days & Discoveries
Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: Saturday, 1-4pm & Sunday, 2-5pm
Admission: Free

Drop in at the Portrait Gallery to listen to a story about American Olympic swimmer, Gertrude Ederle – the first woman to swim across the English Channel in 1926, and complete a hands-on activity. When you’re done there, pick up a Portrait Discovery Kit to explore the museum. For more about the program, see this post about one of our experiences there.

Ah Love Kids Who Cook Competition
Where: Mosaic District
When: Sunday, 11am – 5pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy some culinary fun with cause! With a portion of the day’s sales benefiting nonprofit Martha’s Table, Ah Love Kids Who Cook will bring teams of kids ages 8-12 together for some fun cooking competition led by panels of judges from the culinary industry and mentors to help the children as they explore the different available ingredients. Through each one-hour round of competition kids will be asked to make an appetizer, main dish, and dessert. More importantly they’ll learn about healthy food options, being creative with food, and helping others who don’t have enough to eat.


Filed under All ages, Annual, Charity, DC, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Festival, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Summer, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend

Beach Fun & Fossil Hunting at Flag Ponds Nature Park


We had an incredibly busy spring. Between multiple sports, ballet, the school play, and other random commitments, it seemed like someone always needed to be somewhere — practices, games, lessons, rehearsals — and our “chill” time was rather limited.

So, I’ve decided to make up for it these first two weeks of summer break. Instead of the kids starting camp right away as they usually do when the school year ends, we’re slowing things down and, save for a couple of drop-in camp days, relishing some carefree, undemanding time together. This includes lazy, loungy mornings, heading out whenever we’re ready with no worry of being tardy. Bathing suits and towels are part of our everyday wardrobe and gear. And we’re planning fun adventures that take advantage of the season and are best enjoyed in immersive, unhurried fashion.


We kicked off our stretch of leisure in the most apropos way possible: By hitting the beach, of course. And we did so with a bit of serendipity. The original plan was to visit our go-to, easy-from-DC beach destination, Bayfront Park aka Brownie’s Beach. (And here I have to confess that I’ve never posted about it because the friend that introduced me to it years ago asked me not to share with the masses, but it’s apparently become better known, and for good reason.) It’s a fantastic little spot in Chesapeake Beach, MD, with a small but nice stretch of sand, gentle shallow water, and the Calvert Cliffs edging the shoreline. But the best part is the fossil hunting. It’s one of the beaches known for shark teeth finds, and they are aplenty at Brownie’s — scoop up a handful of small shells and rocks near the water, wash away the sand, pick through, and you’re practically guaranteed to find a few small fossils in the mix.

Younger days at Brownie's Beach

Younger days at Brownie’s Beach

Anyway, when I mentioned to a friend that we were going to Brownie’s, she informed me they now charge a pretty steep admission fee for non-residents of Calvert County ($16/adult, $9/child). However, as luck would have it, my friend Rebecca at Not-So-SAHM had just posted about a visit to Flag Ponds Nature Park, also out that way. It sounded nice — the $6 per carload admission fee a big plus — so we coordinated with friends, packed up beach gear and a picnic, and headed southeast.


Flag Ponds is just an hour’s drive from the city, a straight shot out Pennsylvania Avenue. Really, you drive out PA Ave., which becomes Rt. 4 (but has a several other names along the way), and stay on that until you make a left onto Flag Ponds Parkway. A park ranger at a small trailer collected the entrance fee and directed us to a parking lot up the road. Next to the lot is a Visitor Center, and while we didn’t go in, I read that it’s interesting with displays of sea, plant, and wildlife that you might find in the area.


Skink sighting!

Skink sighting!

The beach is about a half-mile walk down a dirt road from the lot, so we had bit of a load to carry with a cooler and our gear. There are tables near the parking lot where you can eat, but we were set on a beach picnic. (I recommend bringing a rolling cooler and stacking the rest of your stuff on it.) The road winds through a lovely wooded area, and you can hear bird calls and maybe catch a neat wildlife sighting, like the skink we spied. Near the end of the road, a narrow boardwalk leads to the sand, and there are restrooms and a rinsing shower right before you cross to the open beach area.



The beach at Flag Ponds is fairly expansive (much bigger than Brownie’s), which has its pros and cons — more to explore, but more space for wandering children. It’s quite picturesque with a wide expanse of sand, sea grass blowing along the dunes, and pond-like inlets formed by sand washing in. We initially set up near one of the ponds, but quickly realized the water was kind of mucky and full of dead crabs, so we relocated to the outer edge of the beach close to the water. It’s very shallow, so the kids could easily swim and play, and with lots of shells and pebbles along the shoreline, it’s good for fossil hunting.



Even though it was a hot day, there was a nice breeze blowing, and swimming kept us cool. The kids had a blast playing in the water and sand and taking nature walks to collect dead crabs and an eel(!).


Owen joined me for some fossil hunting, though I probably enjoy finding shark teeth more than my kids and spent a lot of time sitting right at the shoreline grabbing handfuls of shells and sifting through them for fossil treasures — it’s quite therapeutic! However, I only found two shark teeth, much less than I would usually find at Brownie’s, something to keep in mind if that’s your main mission.



After a good few hours of sun and surf, we decided to call it a day. On the way back to the car, we encountered a park ranger, who gave us the lowdown on the trails within the park. Apparently, there are a a few gentle mile-longish hikes that lead to ponds and wind through the woods.

With a great beach day in the books, we headed back to the city, thoroughly satisfied with a terrific start to our leisurely fortnight. And it gets even better, so be sure to check back here soon…

Flag Ponds Nature Park is located at 1525 Flag Ponds Parkway in Lusby, Md. Hours are 9am – 6pm. Admission is $6/car.


Filed under All ages, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend

Giveaway: Enter for a Chance to Win Tickets to Dinosaurs Alive! 3D


Dinosaurs Alive! 3D started taking audiences on a big adventure at the National Museum of Natural History’s Samuel C. Johnson IMAX® Theater last month. The film follows some of the world’s preeminent paleontologists as they uncover evidence that the descendants of dinosaurs still walk (or fly) among us. Along the way, they explore some of the greatest dinosaur finds in history…and the magic of the movies brings them alive on the big screen.

Are you ready to join the adventure, too? You have a chance to win a 4-Pack of tickets to see Dinosaurs Alive! 3D. Or you can guarantee your prehistoric journey and purchase them online or at the Box Office. It’s playing daily with several showings throughout the day.

Giveaway: For a chance to win the 4-Pack of tickets to see Dinosaurs Alive! 3D at the Samuel C. Johnson IMAX® Theater, simply leave a comment below telling me your child’s favorite thing to see at the National Museum of Natural History. To be eligible, you must be a KFDC blog subscriber (sign up in the upper left sidebar) and “like” KidFriendly DC on Facebook. The giveaway will run through Thursday, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified 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.


Filed under DC, Giveaway, Movies, Museums, Sponsored Post, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend