Reach New Heights of Fun at ClimbZone


There was a lot of good buzz surrounding ClimbZone before the kids and I went ourselves. Both friends and KFDC readers raved about the new indoor climbing center in Laurel, Md. And when a place gets that kind of hype, my expectations are high.

A first look at the awesome space

A first look at the awesome space

We finally made it there on a recent snow day, and I knew from the moment we walked in, that we wouldn’t be disappointed. One look at the enormous facility filled literally floor to ceiling with colorful themed climbing walls and moon bounces, and we were ready to get in on the fun. I had booked and paid for our session and filled out waivers in advance online (which I highly recommend), so check-in was quick and easy. We stashed our coats and bags in an area of tables (there are also lockers where you can store things securely), then got help with our harnesses and a quick orientation on clipping in and rappelling. After that, we were free to play.



You really have to experience ClimbZone for yourself to fully comprehend just how unique and impressive it is. The walls are equipped with all kinds of cool and whimsical themes that make getting to the top even more thrilling than your usual jaunt up a wall. Climbers can ascend Mt. Rushmore, reach the Jolly Roger on a pirate ship, conquer a game of Tetris, shimmy up a giant guitar, scale Jack’s bean stalk, negotiate a rope wall, and experience peak fun on a variety of other climbing areas.



Climbzone uses a state-of-the-art hydraulic auto-belaying system, so guests can climb on their own (read more about it here). The kids did need some help clipping in and out at the beginning, but they were going it alone by the end of our visit. Another great feature of the themed walls is that the hand and foot holds are part of the design, so most are easier to grasp and step on than a regular climbing wall. The climbs are still quite challenging, though; there were only a few that the kids ascended completely (and I often rappelled down at 3/4 of the way when acrophobia started kicking in).



When kids need a break from climbing, there are a few moon bounces for jumping around. There’s also a section with tables for when you want to hang out and have a bite — bring along a picnic lunch or buy snacks and drinks there. They also have special areas that you can reserve for birthday parties. And to round out an already awesome experience, the staff is great. From check-in to gearing up and orientation to assistance on the walls to packing up, they’re all very friendly and helpful.


ClimbZone is located at 13200 Mid Atlantic Boulevard in Laurel, Md. Sessions are three hours long (we used up just about every second of ours) and cost $25/ages 6 and up, $12/ages 2-5, free for 2 and under (also free to spectate). The rate is a little steep, but worth every penny, especially on a foul weather day when we were all itching for some active fun. Walk-ins are welcome, though booking climb time is recommended. Parent supervision is required for all children 12 and under. Hours vary a bit throughout the week, so check the schedule before you go.

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Filed under All ages, Indoor Play, Maryland, Play, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: March 9-13

A giant caterpillar encounter in the Insect Zoo at the Natural History Museum

A giant caterpillar encounter in the Insect Zoo at the Natural History Museum

Monday - We’re supposed to get some glorious weather, so get out and do something — anything! — to savor it. Pick from this list of the best places in the DC area to enjoy the day outdoors with the kids. And I recommend waterproof footwear, because even though the air is warm(er) and dry, the ground will still be soggy.

Tuesday - Visit one of DC’s tried and true for kids: The National Museum of Natural History. With exhibits to indulge all kinds of interests, you really can’t go wrong. Gawk at the beasts in the Hall of Mammals, hold live creatures in the Insect Zoo, learn about early humans, watch an IMAX movie, and be sure to take advantage of FREE entry on Tuesdays to the Butterfly Pavilion! (Tip: Get tickets when you arrive, since entry is timed, and yours may not begin right away.) Admission to the museum is free, but films are $9. The museum is open 10am – 5:30pm.

Wednesday - Pick & Paint some pottery at Jimmy Potters Studio and Workshop. Visit the website in advance to book a session at either the Fairfax location (open 11am – 7pm) or Arlington studio (open 3:30-6:30pm). Cost depends on the project.

Thursday - Join a class especially for preschoolers (ages 2-5) at Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens. Explore a new mansion room or garden each week through make believe, art projects, and imaginative play. During the three-session Treasure Quest series, children will enter a world of wonder as they hunt for hidden gems, gold, and magnificent treasures that glitter and sparkle. The series is $30 per child with one accompanying adult, or you can pay $12 per class ($10/members). Classes are 10:30-11:15am on March 12, 19, & 26.

Friday - Take your tot to a kiddie pop concert at Discovery Theater’s Jammin’ at the Smithsonian series. Children’s entertainer Bari Koral will perform a creative blend of music and movement that’ll get the audience on their little feet. Showtimes are 10:15am and 11:30am. Tickets are $3-8.

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Filed under All ages, Art, Class, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Virginia, Weekdays, Winter

The Weekend Round-Up: March 7-8


What could have been a dreary snow day stuck inside the house turned out to be one of the most memorable and fun times had this winter. Yes, we joined the much publicized sled-in at the Capitol yesterday. And while we didn’t spearhead the charge (thanks for that, Tim Krepp and Lyndsey Medsker!), it was a thrill to join friends and neighbors for a stand-up-(or would that be slide down?)-for-what-we-believe-in moment, a perfect, lighthearted way to show our kids that, in some instances, it’s okay to question the rules. And as we all share stories, images, and videos of our children from local and national new sources covering the feel-good story of the week, I’m reminded why I love this city so much. (All that said, I still can’t wait for the sun and slightly warmer weather that’s coming along with these recommended activities.) Happy Weekend!

Intersections Festival
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by Performance

It’s the final weekend of the Atlas Performing Arts Center’s 6th annual festival of the arts, and there will be several performances and activities for the entire family to enjoy: Sunny and Licorice from Arts on the Horizon, a free Boogie Babes show, a performance by Pace Setters Dance, a theatre and percussive dance show from The Phenix, free cafe concerts on Saturday, and even more. Visit the Intersections website for show times, descriptions, and ticket info.

When: Sunday, 3pm (reception at 4pm)
Admission: $15

Join The Washinton Ballet for the recently launched series, theNEWmovement: rising stars of The Washington Ballet Studio Company featuring TWB’s Studio Company, an aspirant dancer group poised to become the dance stars of the future. Sunday’s one-hour program of funky, fancy and energetic choreography will feature music by Jay-Z, “musical explorer” Debruit, and scores taken from classics including Peter Pan, The Nutcracker, ALICE (in wonderland), Swan Lake, and Giselle.

An Anniversary for Abe
Where: Lincoln Memorial & Washington Monument Grounds
When: Saturday
Admission: Free

Celebrate the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural address with activities that honor the 16th POTUS. See a reenactment of the event at the Lincoln Memorial during a ceremony from 9:30-11:30am. Then enjoy family activities highlighting life in Washington during the Civil War. The Washington Monument grounds will be the scene of four activity stations from 12-5pm that will explore different aspects of life in the capital city during the war.

Alexandria St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Where: Old Town Alexandria
When: Saturday, 12pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the Irish holiday a a bit early in Old Town Alexandria. Pre-parade festivities begin at noon, and the annual procession kicks off at 12:30pm at Alfred and King Streets, then winds through Old Town, showcasing elected officials, Irish Ambassadors, military commanders, scout troops, high school bands, and local celebrities.

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

* Encore Stage & Studio’s production of The Three Musketeers opens this weekend (look for a deal on tickets)
* Wiley and the Hairy Man is on the Imagination Stage (look for a deal on tickets)
* Into the Woods is also at the the Bethesda theatre
* Catch a performance of Petit Rouge, A Cajun Red Riding Hood at Adventure Theatre (look for a deal on tickets)
* Happenstance Theatre’s The Maestro is this week’s Saturday Morning at the National show
* Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp are entertaining audiences at The Puppet Co. at Glen Echo Park
* And Dragon Babies is the featured Tiny Tots show at the puppet theatre
* AndyRoo and the AndyRooniverse is playing the Saturday morning show at Jammin’ Java

Are You Ready for Some Futbol?
Where: RFK Stadium
When: Saturday, 3pm
Admission: Ticket prices vary

The DC United kicks off the new season at home with a match against the Montreal Impact on Saturday afternoon. Right now, you can get a Home Opener Bundle, which includes a tickets + an Adidas beanie for $25. And if you need to catch up on the local soccer scoop, check out the DC United website for a refresher.

Journey to Space
Where: National Air & Space Museum
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $9/adult, $7.50/youth

Go on a 3D adventure with NASA at the Air & Space Museum’s newest IMAX movie! Journey to Space 3D lets you travel with the astronauts to explore the outer limits. See how they prep for missions and live and work in space. Learn about the importance of the International Space Station. And discover what NASA and the space community are working toward now.

Recreation on Ice
Where: Local Ice Rinks
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by rink

The weather might not be a good indicator, but the ice skating season is quickly winding down. The next week is your last chance to glide at many local outdoor rinks (a couple have already closed for the season). If you want to get in some double axle practice, work on your speed skills, or just make a few leisurely rounds on the ice, see where you can do so in this post listing local rinks.

Persian New Year Celebration
Where: Freer | Sackler Gallery
When: Saturday, 11 am – 5 pm
Admission: Free

Dance, play, and feast your way into the Persian New Year at the Freer and Sackler Galleries. The museums’ seventh annual Nowruz celebration features free attractions for all ages, including “fire” jumping, storytelling, face painting, calligraphy, crafts, a photo booth, games, and more.

Kids in the Kitchen
Where: YMCA National Capital
When: Saturday, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

The Junior League of Washington is hosting their annual spring event that showcases ways kids can eat smart and make healthy lifestyle choices. Enjoy a fun-filled day of games, crafts, hands-on learning, and exciting prizes – all to celebrate and promote nutritional literacy. Local chefs will present healthy cooking demos, fitness experts will lead kids in high-energy exercise sessions, and certified nutritionists will be on hand to answer questions. The Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures Mobile Dental Van will also provide free dental screenings for kids up to age 12.

STEM Symposium
Where: The Nysmith School
When: Saturday, 9am – 3pm
Admission: Free, registration requested

This all-day free event will include exciting exhibits, inspiring speakers, and panel experts who will highlight just how vital it is to engage parents, students, teachers, corporate/government execs and non-profit representatives alike in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) education and careers. Activities for the day will include hands-on experiments for children, government and industry exhibitors, student science fair projects and panel discussions with STEM stakeholders. Attendees will also be able to find information about government and industry STEM-related high school and college internships. The Nysmith school is located at 13625 EDS Drive in Herndon, Va.

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 Susan B. Anthony and complete a hands-on activity. The story is usually read at 1, 2 and 3pm on Saturday and at 2, 3 and 4pm on Sunday. 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.

The Ins & Outs of DC
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

Along with special events suggested above, DC is full of mainstay attractions that are just as exceptional as the one-off happenings. Looking for ways to stay active and entertained, yet still warm? Then The Great Indoors post, a list of over 60 ideas for places to go inside, should have you covered. And if you find exploring in the cool air exhilarating, The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids, has a bunch of recommendations, too.

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Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Festival, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Parade, Seasonal, Sports, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend, Winter

Giveaway: Enter to Win a Week of Tennis Camp from RDUTennis!


Do your kids want to take a swing at a new sport or hone their skills on the tennis court? A new camp coming to the DC area this summer will give them just those opportunities. Even better, you have a chance to win a weeklong session for your child to attend!

RDUTennis, LLC has already established itself as a leader in tennis instruction in North Carolina. The organization is the largest tennis management service in the Tarheel State, offering both youth and adult programs year-round. And now they are expanding north, partnering with American and Trinity Washington Universities here in DC this summer. Both venues will be offering tennis instruction from RDUTennis staff members, all of whom possess tremendous background and knowledge of the game.

American University camp will operate for two consecutive weeks as a half-day camp option from 9am – 1pm daily. Trinity Washington University camp will be operating for five weeks as a full or half-day camp option in weeklong sessions. Trinity Washington will serve as a tennis camp with other sports and amenities offered as a break from the courts.

For pricing, camp details, schedules, and registration, visit the RDU Tennis website. Inquires can be addressed to Brian Rosenthal at

Giveaway: To enter for a chance to win a week of tennis camp at Trinty Washington University with RDUTennis simply leave a comment below, telling me your favorite summer activity (remember that season when it’s warm and ice-free?). The winner can choose from any of the camp session weeks of 6/22, 7/6, 7/13, 7/20, and 8/10. To be eligible, you must like KidFriendly DC on Facebook and subscribe to the blog (enter your email address in the “Sign me Up!” box on the left side bar). This giveaway will run through March 15, and a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by RDUTennis LLC, however, I only promote programs, services, and events that I truly believe in and/or think would appeal to KFDC readers.


Filed under Camp, DC, Giveaway, Outdoor, Professional Service, Seasonal, Sports, Summer, Weekdays

Where to Play on the Weekdays: March 2-6

Lichtenstein's House I at the NGA Sculpture Garden is a fun optical illusion to view

Lichtenstein’s House I at the NGA Sculpture Garden is a fun optical illusion to view

Monday - Celebrate the birthday of one of the most beloved authors, Dr. Seuss. Many libraries are hosting special programs in his honor, or you can just go check out and read some of his kiddie masterpieces. This early KFDC post has background on the local library experience and links to public libraries around the area.

Tuesday - Explore the rainforest with National Geographic at Tyson’s Corner Center. Their monthly Kids’ Club event welcomes children to learn in a fun, interactive setting. Music, snacks, crafts, balloon animals, a special Rain Forest Puppet Show, and more activities for all ages can be enjoyed from 11am – 1pm. Admission is free.

Wednesday - With rising temps in the forecast, spend time outdoors AND see some art at the National Gallery of Art and Hirshhorn Sculpture Gardens. Both areas on the National Mall showcase bold, quirky works that children often find appealing. If rainy deters from al fresco art viewing, just head inside the museums instead! Admission is free to both.

Thursday - Learn about the history of flight at the College Park Aviation Museum. It’s a perfect place for young visitors with eye-popping displays and hands-on fun. They can view early airplanes up close, dress up like aviators, create flight-inspired art, and more. Keep an eye on the runway right outside the floor-to-ceiling windows — you might see planes take off and land at the College Park Airport, the oldest continuously operating airport in the world! Open daily 10am – 5pm. Admission is $4/adults, $2/children, free for ages 2 and under.

Friday - Go for a swim! It doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside when there are plenty of indoor pools in the area that are open to the public. Wilson Aquatic Center in NW is popular, and Deanwood in NE even has a slide. In Maryland, Rollingcrest in PG County has a special preschool area, and there are several indoor aquatic facilities in Montgomery County. In Northern Virginia, Arlington County has a few indoor public pools, and there’s one in Alexandria, too. Be sure to check schedules for open swim times at all of them, and I recommend calling ahead to make sure there are no weather-related closings.

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Filed under All ages, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Ongoing, Outdoor, Virginia, Weekdays, Winter