Where to Play on the Weekdays: June 15-19

Even the restrooms are interesting at the Newseum

Even the restrooms are interesting at the Newseum



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Monday - Exercise your right to free speech! To commemorate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, the Newseum is giving folks the opportunity to literally get on their soapbox and say what’s on their minds. This will take place right outside the museum from 12-1pm in front of the 74-foot-tall stone tablet that bears the 45 words of the First Amendment. You and the kids can take a minute to talk or just listen to others express themselves. And don’t let your visit end there — the Newseum is a great place to explore (one of my very favorite museums in the city)! Hours are 9am – 5pm. Admission is $22.95/adults, $13.95/ages 7-18, free for 6 and under.

Tuesday - Catch a flick for a buck with the Regal Summer Movie Express. At participating Regal theaters, you can watch a family movie for just $1 every Tuesday (and Wednesday) at 10am. At least a couple of area theaters — in Bethesda and Silver Spring — are kicking off the program this week with Nut Job on Tuesday and Annie on Wednesday. The rest will begin showing dollar films next week.

Wednesday - Head to the Tanger Outlets at National Harbor for Mommy and Me, their series that takes place the third Wednesday of each month at 11am. A special mom’s lounge, food samples, and craft activities make it fun for moms and kids alike. Oh, and plan on doing some shopping while you’re there — you’ll also get exclusive discounts to stores! Admission is free.

Thursday - Have some fun on the farm at Frying Pan Park. Visit the animals, take a wagon ride, play on kid-sized tractors and playgrounds, and much more. The locale in Herndon is a guaranteed hit with kids (and parents always rave about it, too). The park is open daily from dawn to dusk, the farm is open 9am – 5pm, wagon rides 10am – 4pm. Admission is free, though the wagon rides cost a little extra.

Friday - Go geocaching! It’s like a scavenger hunt, and a great way to enjoy the outdoors with a little adventure. Even better, you can pick and choose where and when you want to do it. This KFDC post has all you need to know to get started.


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The Weekend Round-Up: June 12-14

Flinging Frisbees at Seneca Creek State Park

Flinging Frisbees at Seneca Creek State Park



From chill to thrills, this weekend has it all. Keep it mellow with some evening fishing, disc golfing, museum hopping, yoga, and easy seasonal pursuits. Go big at the Capital Pride extravaganza, Jazz Fest, Star Wars themed baseball, a faerie festival, or a spectacular race of wacky and whimsical vehicles through the streets of Baltimore. Or try something in between — Shakespeare in the park, National Maker Faire, a kids cycling race, children’s theatre, ongoing Everyday Play around the area. The one thing they all have in common: Fun. Happy Weekend!

Seize the Season
Where: Throughout the area
When: All weekend long
Admission: Varies by activity

Enjoy “summer” with a host of activities that only occur this time of year. Enjoy an open-air concert at one of several series in the area. Go berry picking. Stay cool under the sun at an outdoor pool, sprayground, or water park. Ride mini-trains and carousels at local parks. And much, much more. Check the Summer 2015 guide for details on tons of seasonal pursuits.

Friday Night Fishing
Where: Diamond Teague Park
When: Friday, 5-8pm
Admission: Free

Join Anacostia Riverkeeper at the dock at Diamond Teague Park for catch and release fishing – a wonderful parent/child experience with the Anacostia River. This evening is the first in the series that will take place every Friday through September 4. Diamond Teague Park is located at 100 Potomac Avenue SE, between Nationals Park and Yards Park.

Jazzfest at the Yards
Where: Yards Park
When: Friday & Saturday
Admission: Free on Friday, $45 on Saturday

This two-day blowout of music at Yards Park is part of the DC Jazz Festival. While great jazz performances will be the highlight, there will also be a marketplace, food and drink tastings, and other activities. And don’t forget the fountains and wading pool are always a hit with the kiddos.

Shakespeare In-the-Ruins
Where: Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Admission: $15-38/adult, free for kids

Take the whole fam to see Shakespeare in the park. Chesapeake Shakespeare Company presents The Comedy of Errors, a play appropriate for all ages, with music, slapstick, and physical humor. The production is part of their In-The-Ruins summer series that runs June 12-July 19 (Thursday – Sunday). Even better, kids are free (two for every adult) and picnics are encouraged, as are sturdy shoes for park playtime. FYI: Sunday is Family Fun Day, when gates open 4:30pm, and the performance starts at 6pm. Advance reservation are recommended to ensure seats for everyone.

Capital Pride
Where: Northwest DC & Pennsylvania Ave.
When: Saturday, 4:30-7:30pm & Sunday, 12-7pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate gay pride in our nation’s capitol at the 40th annual Capital Pride Parade and Festival that are expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people. The procession on Saturday kicks off at 4:30pm at 22nd & P Streets NW and will wind its way through Dupont, Logan, and other areas of NW. It’s sure to be a spectacular extravaganza of ornate floats, street performers, music and dancing, glitter and beads, and plenty of reveling. Sunday’s family-friendly festival will feature three stages of live entertainment and will host 300 exhibitors, including local and community groups, national sponsors, local businesses, food vendors, restaurants, and businesses looking to promote their services. It’s all a fun and fabulous opportunity to show support for the LGBTA community and join the celebration.

Air Force Cycling Classic
Where: Clarendon & Crystal City
When: Saturday, 11:30am & Sunday, 11:15am
Admission: Free

The official race is for adults, but kids ages 9 and under can get in on the cycling, too – there are special races just for them along with the main event. The Ethan Klancnik Memorial Kids Race to support the Tay-Sachs Awareness and Prevention Organization will be raced in honor of Ethan Klancnik, who lost his battle with the disease. The Saturday kids races will take place in Clarendon at 11:30am, and Sunday’s will be held in Crystal City around 12:25pm. Multiple heats for different age groups will vary in distance; the older the kids, the further they ride. Participants must bring their own helmets and bikes, and trikes are welcome, too. For details and to register online, visit the Air Force Cycling Classic website.

National Maker Faire
Where: University of the District of Columbia
When: Saturday & Sunday, 11am – 7pm
Admission: Free

Inventors, tinkerers, tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, hobbyists, engineers, students and Makers of all ages will come together in the nation’s capital for the inaugural National Maker Faire. Part science fair and part county fair, the event is an all-ages gathering of curious, inventive people (ie, Makers) to show what they have made and to share what they have learned. It’s also a chance for attendees to interact with technologies, STEM projects, textiles, crafting activities, homemade robots, and more.

Maryland Faerie Festival
Where: Darlington, MD
When: Friday 5pm, Saturday & Sunday, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $5/ages 3-12, $15/ages 12-99

Indulge little faerie dreams at the annual festival inspired by faerie folklore and literature. Apparently, it’s kind of like Renn Fest on a much smaller scale with facets that will delight children, especially those who believe in faeries. Treasure hunts, craft projects, nature walks, and acrobats are some of the activities kids (and adults) will enjoy. Art, crafts, musical performances, and jewelry vendors will appeal to the bigger faeries in the crowd.

Juneteenth
Where: Watkins Regional Park
When: Saturday, 1 – 5pm
Admission: Free, but some activities require a small fee

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. The celebration at Watkins offers a great lineup of culturally inspired dance and musical performances, plus family activities. Face painting, the interactive playground, the animals at the Old Maryland Farm, miniature train and Carousel rides, and mini-golf will all be available, those requiring a fee at discounted prices. There will also be several vendors selling a variety of food.

Tinker Away
Where: National Building Museum
When: Saturday, 1-3pm
Admission: $5 suggested donation

Picture the city of the future — then build it, make it, shape it, and share it! In this unique urban planning project in our historic Great Hall, join fellow makers of all ages and experience levels and create a collective model of an imaginative metropolis. Use unusual and creative materials to solve real urban planning challenges in miniature, or make something original that improves the cityscape. Throughout the program, the city will change as new people add, subtract and build — just like a real city.

May the Force be with Baysox
Where: Prince George’s Stadium
When: Saturday, 6:35pm
Admission: Tickets start at $7

Baseball goes galactic on Saturday as the Bowie Baysox host Star Wars Night on Saturday, as the Baysox take on the Portland Sea Dogs. Enjoy light saber battles and meet your favorite Star Wars heroes & villains in move quality costumes — see Storm Troopers, Darth Vader, Star Wars collectibles and more. Fans are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite Star Wars character, too. A fireworks extravaganza will light up the sky after the game. (FYI: There are games on Friday and Sunday, too!)

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

* Potted Potter, a hilarious act condensing all seven Harry Potter books, is at the Lansburgh Theatre (look for a ticket deal)
* See a show on strings at The Puppet Co. where Cinderella is the current main stage production
* And Baby Bear’s Birthday and Panda-Monium are the featured Tiny Tots shows at the puppet theatre
* Enjoy theatre by kids for kids as Encore Stage & Studio presents Alice in Wonderland
* See Newsies at the National Theatre, on stage through next weekend
* Creative Cauldron presents The Little Prince through June 21
* Tom Chapin is playing a family show Saturday morning at Jammin’ Java

Root for A Fun Festival
Where: U.S. Botanic Garden
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Get to the root of things at the U.S. Botanic Garden, where they’re celebrating the beauty and importance of roots. An offshoot of the Exposed: The Secret Life of Roots exhibit, the Festival of Roots welcomes all ages to explore the wonders of plant parts usually found belowground. Sample vegetable dishes, try out some hands-on root-related activities, and chat an agricultural ecologist and the man behind the preserved plants on display in the East Gallery.

Shawnee Festival
Where: National Museum of the American Indian
When: Friday & Saturday, 10:30am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

Join the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma and the Shawnee Tribe to learn more about the culture, history and contemporary lives of these tribal entities through dance performances, artist demonstrations, music, hands-on activities for families and more.

George Mason Day
Where: Gunston Hall
When: Saturday, 12-5pm
Admission: Free

Join Gunston Hall for a historic event and celebrate the ratification of the Virginia Declaration of Rights! Enjoy a parade on the grounds, sample food from the hearth kitchen, and converse with historic characters about life in the 18th century. Food vendors will be available and activities for children will be offered throughout the day.

Kinetic Sculpture Race
Where: American Visionary Art Museum
When: Sunday, 11am
Admission: Free

You might see giant pink poodles and other outrageous works of art “race” down Charm City streets at the American Visionary Art Museum’s 17th annual Kinetic Sculpture Race. Kinetinauts (the pilots of the moving sculptures) will compete for the Grand East Coast National Mediocre Champion, awarded to the competitor who finishes exactly in the middle (that is the BEST). Vehicles are wacky and whimsical, straight from a lunatic genius imagination and constructed out of all kinds of materials. They may be a small one-person machine or a 50-foot feat of engineering piloted by many. This is one of those spectacles you just have to see for yourself. And for more about the American Visionary Art Museum, see this KFDC post.

Disc Golfin’
Where: Calvert Road or Seneca Creek State Parks
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

Hit the links, the chain links, that is! Disc golf is a great way to enjoy a day outdoors with the family. I wrote about the golf-Frisbee combo and my kids’ first venture with it last fall. They’ve played a few times since then, mostly recently at Seneca Creek. Not only is it fun and challenging, the courses are set up in pretty parks with opportunities for more recreation at both.

Celebration of Textiles
Where: Textile Museum
When: Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free

The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum will host its annual “Celebration of Textiles” festival to immerse visitors of all ages in the world of textiles. The event features art and dress-up activities, live demonstrations by local guilds—including spinning, lace-making and sheep-shearing—international dance and music performances and self-guided tours of textiles on display in the museum.

Love Your Body Yoga Festival
Where: Reston Town Center
When: Sunday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

The 7th annual festival will feature activities for the whole family, including live music, complimentary massages, energy healing demonstrations, healthy food samples, plus opportunities to learn about alternative therapies in addition to yoga such as Reiki, chiropractic, and massage. A Kids Tent will offer fun especially for little ones, including storytelling and laughter yoga. There will also be giveaways and drawings for free yoga classes, massages, and other services.

Ancient Chinese Secret
Where: Panda Gourmet
When: All weekend long
Admission: Depends on how much you order

Take the fam out to eat at a DC “secret” in northeast. Grab a bite after an outing to the National Arboretum, as it’s just minutes down the street. Or go out of your way to make a trip there — the delicious, authentic meal you’ll get is worth it.

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A DC “Secret” Uncovered: Panda Gourmet

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The name might make it sound like it’s just another Chinese take-out restaurant you’d find in the city, yet Panda Gourmet is anything but. This place, among Thrillist’s 13 DC Secrets You Had No Idea Existed, is the real deal. And by that I mean it’s authentic, with dishes that go well beyond your standard American-Chinese fare. But, more importantly, it’s all so delicious.

Just as the title says, I had no idea Panda Gourmet existed until I saw it on that list. That’s why it’s part of my ‘DC “Secret” Uncovered‘ series, the results of my vow to visit with my kids all of the places I wasn’t aware of before reading about them.

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Located in an off-the-beaten-restaurant-path part of Northeast DC at the intersection of Bladensburg Road and New York Avenue in a Days Inn, Panda Gourmet is unassuming to say the least. Who knew a restaurant was even there, let alone a culinary gem like this?

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We actually got our first taste of Panda Gourmet last fall, shortly after the article was published, when we picked up take-out. While yummy, we knew it wasn’t the same experience as eating there. So, we went back with friends on Christmas Eve (in the grand Jewish tradition) for a fantastic holiday dinner. We were seated at a large table with a lazy Susan, perfect for sharing and fun for the kids to turn. And then we went to town, ordering a variety of dishes, some we’d previously had, others we’d read were must-tries, and a couple recommended by the staff. It was all so good, we did a repeat when our same crew returned this past weekend.

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Some favorites: Lamb or beef with cumin, whole fish in a fiery pot (WOW!), double cooked fish, eggplant with hot garlic sauce, tofu with minced beef. The kids like most of these dishes, too, but we’ve also ordered Chinese burgers and dumplings for them. The menu is quite extensive, so finding something picky eaters will enjoy isn’t difficult.

As mentioned above, Panda Gourmet probably isn’t on your regular restaurant route, but it’s location just a few minutes down Bladensburg from the National Arboretum makes it a convenient stop after an outing there. Though I highly recommend going out of your way to eat there, too.

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Panda Gourmet is located at 2700 New York Avenue NE. Turn into the parking lot from Blandensburg, just north of the intersection; if you turn down New York Avenue, you’ll get stuck on the road and will have to go a ways before you can turn around. Hours are 11am – 10pm Sunday – Thursday, and 11:30am – 11pm Friday & Saturday.


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Potted Potter is Pure Comical Magic

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I’m just going to get to the gist of this review of Potted Potter, the Harry Potter parody that condenses all seven books into a 70-minute show. I mean, if the creators can do that, then it seems apropos that I keep this short and sweet, too.

So, in a nutshell: Potted Potter is hilarious! If, like me, you’re a big Harry Potter fan, you likely will love the show. If you don’t know much about the series, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll still enjoy it. (You’re getting a whole synopsis, anyway, right?)

I didn’t know much about the show going into it, just the basic premise that all of the books would be summarized for the stage production, and I was quite curious to see how it would all play out. Turns out the whole thing essentially is a two-man comedy act that does cover the Harry Potter story from book one to book seven, but in a fun, wacky, cheeky (hey, they’re British), unique way. Puppets, masks, Quidditch (with audience participation!), dancing (with a disco ball!), lots of physical comedy, and fantastic improvised moments factored into the show. And the theater was full of laughter the entire time, both in the audience and on stage (I think those guys were cracking each other up, too).

It’s one of those shows you really have to go see for yourself. I promise, it’s worth it. Oh, and Owen and his friend enjoyed it just as much as me. When I asked how they liked it after the show, they practically said in unison, “It was AWESOME!”

Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Potter Experience is on stage at the Landsburgh Theatre through June 21. Tickets range from $39.95 – $99.95. Look for a deal on select seats here. Potter Potter is recommended for ages 6 to Dumbledore.


Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to see Potted Potter, however, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.


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Where to Play on the Weekdays: June 8-12

Take a tour: The Capitol is a great place to visit, even during its

Take a tour: The Capitol is a great place to visit, even during its “facelift”



Monday - Start the week with Storytime with Ms. Laura at Kinder Haus Toys. The Clarendon shop host readings for children every Monday and Friday at 10:30am. Arrive early or linger after to browse the great selection of toys and books.

Tuesday - Take a tour of the Capitol. Even if you can’t get on a guided tour day-of, there still are interesting exhibits and statues to see in the Visitor’s Center, which is open 8:30am – 4:30pm daily. Both admission to the Center and tours are free. And something fun to do as well: Walk the tunnels between the Capitol and Library of Congress to show the kiddos a “secret” way to get from building to building.

Wednesday - Visit Hermione! No, not Harry Potter’s friend, but an exact replica of the ship that brought the Marquis de Lafayette to George Washington with news of full French aid in 1780. The ship has sailed nearly 4,000 miles from France to commemorate the historic voyage and will be docked at the Alexandria Marina June 10-12. Visitors can take tours and enjoy pier-side activities like 18th century craft demos, costumed characters, and music performances. A limited number of FREE tickets will be distributed at 8:30am and 12pm each day at the dock for timed-entry tours. The ship will be open for tours Wednesday 11am – 4pm, Thursday 9am – 4pm, and Friday 9am – 7pm, but the rest of the activities will run 9am – 7pm each day.

Thursday - As the temps rise, stay cool at Georgetown Waterfront Park. Let the kids run through the sprays of the interactive fountain, play on the grassy areas and the in-ground labyrinth, and watch the boats and ducks go by on the river. After (or before, depending on when you go), grab a bite to eat at one of the many nearby eateries.

Friday - Rock out with local kids’ fave Rocknocerous at Jammin’ Java. Plan to eat while you’re there — the full lunch menu will be available. Showtime is 10:30am, doors open at 10am. Tickets are $5.


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