Where to Play on the Weekdays: April 6-10

One of several root sculptures at the US Botanic Garden

One of several root sculptures at the US Botanic Garden

Monday - It’s going to be a gorgeous spring day! Get out and enjoy it.

Tuesday - Get to the root of things at the U.S. Botanic Garden. The new “Exposed” exhibit showcases the importance of roots through visually stunning root representations in the East Gallery and a few cool sculptures out front (one that’s even climbable!). After that, stroll through the plant collections inside and, if weather permits, wander around the National Garden outdoors. It’s all as interesting as is it lovely. Hours are 10am – 5pm. Admission is free. Read more about the USBG here.

Wednesday - Wander, play, and relax at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria. Be sure to stop in the Horticultural Center and pick up instructions for a kids’ scavenger hunt to add some extra fun to the outing. Hours are 9am – 4:30pm. Admission is free.

Thursday - Glimpse the past and future all at once at National Capital Trolley Museum, which is open on Thursdays and Fridays 10am – 2pm through May 15 (also Saturdays and Sundays). See a collection of old street cars from the region and other parts of the world and get an idea of what’s coming to H Street NE very soon. Along with viewing the exhibits, you can also take a street car ride into the woods! Admission is $5/child, $7/adult.

Friday - Catch a performance of Sinbad: The Untold Tale at Imagination Stage. Showtime is 10:30am. Tickets are $10-25.

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Filed under All ages, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Spring, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays

The Weekend Round-Up: April 4-5

Ignite your Natitude

Ignite your Natitude

It’s a holiday weekend, but there’s plenty to do beyond egg hunts and bunny hopping. Root for the home team, celebrate cherry blossom season, enjoy some live entertainment, check out a museum exhibit, or find some great local places to hang outdoors or have fun inside. Happy Weekend!

Welcome Back, Nats!
Where: Nationals Park
When: Saturday, 1:05pm
Admission: Ticket prices vary

Warm up for Monday’s season home opener at an exhibition game this weekend. The Nats host the Yankees on Saturday afternoon, and you still can score tickets to go. And don’t forget to sign up for the Jr. Nationals Kids Club, which offers all kinds of awesome goodies for children – read more about it here.

Eggcellent Celebrations
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by event

Egg hunts, Easter bunny visits, and more spring fun to celebrate Easter and the season are happening all around the area. Even if you’re not big on the holiday, there are attractions beyond bunnies and candy-filled eggs for the whole fam. Enjoy loads of fun at Ticonderoga Farm’s Spring Easter Festival, go on an egg-sploration at Madam Tussauds, fill a basket at an Eggstravagnza, feast at Pinstripes, or find another event where you can celebrate here.

Lantern Making Family Day
Where: Canal Park
When: Saturday, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Bring the whole family to construct Japanese lanterns at the Capitol Riverfront area park. There will be two sessions of the activity, at 10am and 12pm. Moonbouncing and Japanese cultural activities will also be happening throughout the event for kids to enjoy.

Cherry Blossom Family Celebration
Where: Smithsonian American Art Museum
When: Saturday, 11:30am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate cherry blossom season with the Smithsonian American Art Museum! Enjoy traditional Japanese music and dance performances while you make tatebanko (Japanese paper dioramas) with guests from the Freer | Sackler. Fold origami birds and learn about preparing your garden for the spring from Smithsonian Gardens.

Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival
Where: Southwest Waterfront, 600 Water Street SW
When: Saturday, 1-9pm
Admission: Free

This annual Cherry Blossom Festival event takes place along the river. It’s an all-day and part-evening affair with free live music and family-friendly festivities, including water-related activities, cultural experiences, and delicious foods. The grand finale will begin at 8:30pm when the Fireworks Show lights up the night sky.

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

* It’s opening weekend for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz at Adventure Theatre!
* Arts on the Horizon presents Blossom’s Rainbow at The Atlas on Saturday
* Jack and the Beanstalk is at The Puppet Co. at Glen Echo Park
* And Bunny Business is the featured Tiny Tots show at the puppet theatre
* See Blue on the Imagination Stage

Baby Loves Disco
Where: Jammin’ Java
When: Saturday, 11am (doors open 10:30am)
Admission: $12

11am is the new 11pm at this disco! Join the family dance party at the live music venue in Vienna, Va. The fun will feature BLD’s signature DJ and MC, along with all kinds of kids activities. The MC will pump up the crowd, and the DJ will spin G-rated dance tunes, while kids and parents get groovin’.

Baysox Fun Fest
Where: Prince George’s Stadium
When: Saturday
Admission: Free

The Nats aren’t the only baseball team to celebrate this weekend. The Bowie Baysox, one of our local minor league teams, is hosting their annual Free Family FunFest this weekend. Rides and games in Louie’s Kids Park, music on the concourse, a scavenger hunt, art activities, appearances by the Orioles Bird, and more all-ages fun will get everyone excited for the new baseball season.

Fish Sock Workshop
When: Saturday, 10am -1pm
Admission: Free

Help with preparations for the Anacostia River Festival (April 180 at a Fish Windsock Workshop, where you can create fish flags that will be attached to poles on the back of bikes for a Fish Bike Parade at the festival that is expected to be a beautiful and memorable sight. ArtReach and Illumination Coaltion are hosting workshops, including this one at THEARC on Saturday, to create the flags inspired by the Japanese tradition of creating carp-shaped windsocks known as “Koinobori.” The workshops are FREE, open to all ages, and for everyone regardless of creative experience.

Family Nature Walk
Where: Woodend Nature Sanctuary
When: Saturday, 9am
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 will have a unique and exciting natural history theme that’s appropriate for family members of all ages. Be prepared to hike in sneakers and don’t forget your water bottle. Meet at the amphitheater by the main house.

Go Monster Fish
Where: National Geographic Museum
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $11/adults, $7/ages 5-12, free for 4 and under

Discover some of the behemoth creatures that lurk in the world’s rivers at the National Geographic Museum’s brand new exhibit. Monster Fish: In Search of the Last River Giants just opened and is both visually compelling and full of cool interactives. Life-size sculptures of monster fish and games that are fun and educational will appeal to guests of all ages. While you’re at the museum, check out the Spinosaurus — your admission fee gets you access to all exhibits.

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

Drop in at the Portrait Gallery to listen to a story about poet Walt Whitman during National Poetry Month 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.

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

Update: Acton DC Will Offer Fourth Grade in the 2015-2016 School Year


In response to demand from families, the first class of Acton DC, a new elementary school opening near the National Cathedral this fall, will now be made up of first, second, third, AND fourth graders. I first posted about Acton a couple of months ago. You can read more about the school, including an interview with its founders, here.

Learn more at an information session April 18 or May 9.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Acton Academy of Washington, DC, however, I only promote events, activities, and programs that I truly believe in and/or think would appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under DC, Educational, Gradeschoolers, School Event, Sponsored Post

Tips for Families Viewing the Cherry Blossoms (2015)


[Note: Since the Capital Weather Gang just pronounced winter over, effective today, it seemed like a good time to reprise the cherry blossom post. This was originally written in 2011 (hence, the now outdated Lost reference) and has been updated every year since. And because the tips always apply, I'm re-posting yet again, just with a couple more minor updates.]

Taking the family to the National Mall to see some pretty flowers sounds easy enough. If only it actually was. The cherry blossom peak, predicted to occur April 11-14 this year, is one of the best times to visit DC. The city is at its most beautiful, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival provides loads of fun activities. But viewing the famous blooms can also be a bit challenging without being aware of a few things. Here are seven recommendations to consider if seeing the cherry blossoms is on your family’s spring agenda.

1. Don’t drive if you value your sanity. Take the Metro, ride the bus, bike, walk, jet pack. Get here however you can, just leave the car at home. Traffic is beyond frustrating during the cherry blossom peak, and your chances of finding decent parking are about as good as hitting the Powerball with Hurley’s numbers (okay, slight exaggeration, but it is hard). The masses descend on Washington, DC, this time of year, and way too many do so in their vehicles. Besides, kids love riding the Metro—it’s like an urban version of Hogwarts Express. The Smithsonian stop on the Blue/Orange Line is mere minutes from all of the blossom action, but it’s also guaranteed to be crowded. Consider riding to L’Enfant on Yellow/Green, Federal Center on Blue/Orange, or even a stop downtown or in Penn Quarter and taking a nice stroll to the blossoms. *If you absolutely must drive and need parking you might find a spot in Hains Point, where there is free and metered parking, then walk or take a shuttle ($1/person) to the Tidal Basin. Your best bet, though, might be to find a garage in the downtown or Penn Quarter area, then walk or Metro to the National Mall.

Flying among the flowers

Flying among the flowers

2. Visit on a weekday if you have the flexibility. Crowds are significantly smaller from Monday to Friday, so you can stroll around the Tidal Basin at a nice pace, and public transportation won’t be nearly as packed (though it still will be more crowded than usual). But if the kids are in school or daycare during the week, think about going later in the day. The National Mall and monuments look beautiful at sunset, and the blossoms make it even more sublime. In the same vein, if you can go super early, the morning light on the Mall makes for quite a picturesque setting, too.

3. Consider using a child carrier instead of a stroller for little ones. This is especially applicable if you take the Metro, since elevator lines can be very long and slow-going. I learned my lesson several years ago on a weekday and ended up taking my daughter out of the stroller and carrying both on the escalator, which was probably as unsafe as it was difficult. Even if you don’t take Metro, a carrier is still a wise option. Navigating crowded walkways while pushing a pram takes focus, and you could end up spending more time concentrating on not rolling over others’ heels than enjoying the sights you came to see. It’s a bonus for wee ones, too — perched on your back, your babe will get a better view of the blossoms.

Blooms along the Tidal Basin

Blooms along the Tidal Basin

4. Check the National Cherry Blossom Festival schedule, so you can plan your visit accordingly. Some of the city’s most anticipated events are part of the annual celebration. While the Blossom Kite Festival already took place, there are still a bunch of fun happenings to look forward to, the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks, Cherry Blossom Family Celebration, National Cherry Blossom Parade, Sakura Matsuri among them. All events take place close by the blossoms or an easy Metro ride away. See this post for dates and details on the best events for families.

5. Get a new view of the blossoms and enjoy a fun activity from the comfort of a cruise on the Potomac. Several companies offer boat rides along the river, many of them specifically for the season when the cherry trees are in bloom. Capitol River Cruises, Potomac Riverboat Company, and Odyssey Cruises are a few to check out. Though before you go straight to the websites, look for a deal on Goldstar, Groupon, LivingSocial, or Certifikid. We’ve gotten great offers that way. You can also opt for a paddleboat excursion on the Tidal Basin and navigate the waters yourself.

Playing under blossoms at the Arboretum

Playing under blossoms at the Arboretum

6. Seek out other spots to see the cherry blossoms if you don’t want to deal with crowds and chaos around the Tidal Basin and National Mall. Several places around the DC-Metro area are well known for their annual cherry blossom displays. When I worked in Bethesda many years ago, it was an annual tradition for my colleagues and I to take a drive through Kenwood, a lovely neighborhood between Little Falls Parkway and River Road with cherry tree-lined streets. The National Arboretum also has a nice collection of the trees and offers a beautiful, peaceful environment in which to view them in bloom. For even more suggestions for cherry blossoms minus the crowds, check out this Washington Post feature from last year.

7. Have your camera ready to take advantage of some of the best photo ops DC offers. The peak colors plus the monuments are about as iconic as you can get when photographing Washington. Get your kids to sit still — or even let them run and play for a fun candid — and you’ve got this year’s holiday card.

Can't beat the blossom backdrop for photos

Can’t beat the blossom backdrop for photos

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Filed under All ages, Annual, DC, Festival, Free

Where to Play on the Weekdays: March 30 – April 3

A hangar full of eye-popping displays at the U.S. Navy Museum

A hangar full of eye-popping displays at the U.S. Navy Museum

Monday - See an amazing collection of model ships, peer into a real periscope, sit in the gun seats of old fighter planes, view naval artifacts hundreds of years old, and much more at the U.S. Navy Museum. Located on the Navy base in southeast DC, it’s a treasure trove of fascinating exhibits. Hours are 9am – 5pm. Admission is free.

Tuesday - Make your way up to Baltimore to visit the Maryland Science Center, where you can explore a variety of cool hands-on exhibits, play in the Kids Room, see an IMAX movie (including the brand new Tornado Alley), and much more. Hours are 10am – 5pm. Admission is $18.95/adults, $15.95/ages 3+, free for 2 and under. (I suggest checking out their membership options — if your family visits just three times in a year, it’s worth it. Plus, there’s reciprocity with other museums around the country.)

Wednesday - Catch a show on strings at Glen Echo Park. The Puppet Co. presents Bunny Business in celebration of spring and the upcoming holiday. Showtime is 10am. Tickets are $5.

Thursday - Celebrate Kids’ Farm Month at the National Zoo. Throughout April, there will be special activities and events for visitors everyday — animal encounters, keeper talks, and demonstrations. See the website for the daily schedule. Admission to the Zoo is free, but parking in the lot can be pricey. You can ride Metro to the Woodley Park or Cleveland Park stops (it’s s short walk from both) or try to find street parking nearby.

Friday - Visit the National Arboretum on one of the two weekdays it’s open to the public (it’s closed Tuesday – Thursday). Tour the plant collections, check out the Washington Youth Garden and play in the natural playground, romp at the old Capitol columns, see the details of the bonzais. There are acres upon acres to explore! Hours are 8am – 5pm, and admission is free.

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Filed under All ages, Animals, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Outdoor, Spring, Theatre, Weekdays