Party at George’s Place! (And More Presidential Pursuits for the Long Weekend)


Is it any surprise that President’s Day is a big holiday ’round these parts? There are scores of events and activities happening this weekend to celebrate George Washington and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays. So many they warrant a whole post. Here’s where you can pay tribute to our 1st and 16th POTUS’ and have some fun with the kids.

Happy 283rd Birthday, George!
Where: Mount Vernon
When: Saturday, Sunday, & Monday
Admission: $17/adult, $9/ages 6-11, free for 5 and under

Join “General Washington” for a sample of his favorite breakfast, hoecakes swimming in butter and honey, on Saturday & Sunday from 9am – 12pm. Afterwards, mingle with more costumed characters from Washington’s world and enjoy other activities, including some dancing with the 18th-century stars on the Bowling Green. On Monday, there will be syrup-making and dance demos along with ceremonial wreathlayings to honor Washington. Note that admission is free on Monday, 2/16, but I can tell you from experience that a lot of folks show up to take advantage of the complimentary entry and to celebrate George’s big day.

Presidential Portraits
Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

View portraits of every American President — the National Portrait Gallery is one of the only places you can do that! In addition to the permanent collection, the museum will also display 3-D busts of President Barack Obama as well as rarely seen works of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Sunday, February 15, will be a day of special fun, as the gallery hosts a President-themed Family Day (see below) with activities for all ages.

Presidential Family Fun Day
Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: February 15, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate President’s Day weekend during a patriotic family day at the National Portrait Gallery. Enjoy a variety of crafts and performances dedicated to our nation’s famous past-leaders: Meet Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in person and enjoy several art activities like Presidential Polaroids and picture frame making. There will also be entertainment by the local a capella group, “Snowday,” photo ops with the Washington Nationals Racing Presidents, and more.

Celebrate George!
Where: Tudor House
When: February 16, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free for members, $10/non-members

Spend time with the first president on his 283rd birthday with a visit to the home of Mrs. Washington’s descendants. Tudor Place, usually closed Mondays, opens one Monday a year to share tours and seldom exhibited highlights of its noted Washington Collection. See gifts and legacies from the Washingtons, including portraits, items from Mount Vernon, furniture from General Washington’s Revolutionary War headquarters tent, and one of the only personal letters remaining from George to Martha. After your tour, try your hand at writing “presidentially,” with a quill pen (and expert help!).

President Lincoln Exhibit Opening
Where: Newseum
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $22.95/adults, $13.95/ages 7-18, free for 6 and under

The Newseum is debuting a new exhibit just in time for President’s Day. “President Lincoln Is Dead: The New York Herald Reports the Assassination,” marks the 150th anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. The exhibit features an unparalleled collection of all seven editions issued by the Herald on April 15, 1865, chronicling the shooting of the president at Ford’s Theatre, his death, the hunt for his assassin, and the swearing-in of the new president.Displayed together for the first time since 1865, the collection begins with the 2am edition, which contained the first Associated Press report that Lincoln had been shot. It also includes a recently discovered 8:45am “extra” that was one of the first newspapers to report the president’s death. Look for a ticket discount here.

George Washington Birthday Parade
Where: Old Town Alexandria, Kind & Royal Streets
When: February 16, 1-3pm
Admission: Free

Alexandria hosts the largest parade in the country celebrating George Washington’s birthday with marching bands, historic re-enactment troops and more. Bundle up to watch the procession will travel through Old Town. See the website for more info and route details.

Stop by Abe’s Old Digs
Where: President Lincoln’s Cottage
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $15/adult, $6/ages 6-12, free for 5 and under

There’s no special event, but this seems like a good way to honor our 16th POTUS for President’s Day. Located on the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) campus in northwest DC, the cottage was Abraham Lincoln’s country home and workplace, where he spent one quarter of his presidency. Admission includes the Cottage tour, an innovative small group tour in which a professional guide uses “historical voices” and images through multimedia technology to bring the stories of Abraham Lincoln and his family to life. Hours are Monday – Saturday 9:30am – 4:30pm, and Sunday 10:30am – 4:30pm.

Wax Presidential
Where: Madame Tussaud’s
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: From $12.10/adult, $9.60/child

Get up close and personal with all 44 POTUS at Madame Tussauds in downtown DC. The Presidents Gallery, exclusive to that location, is comprised of 14 themed rooms that include interactive exhibits along with the sculptures. If you plan to go, be sure to book online for ticket discounts.

Special Presidents’ Day Tour
Where: National Museum of Health and Medicine
When: February 16, 1pm
Admission: Free

“The Nation’s Medical Museum–Meeting Challenges through Innovation”: is a free, docent-led introductory tour highlighting the remarkable changes in American medicine over the past 150 years, with a special focus on military medicine and presidential care. Reservations recommended, but not required.

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A DC “Secret” Uncovered: The Franciscan Monastery in Brookland


It’s not often that I read lists revealing “hidden treasures” in DC and actually learn something I didn’t previously know. And I’m not saying that in a yay-me-I-know-everything kind of way. I mean, think about what I do, this blog. I make it my business, literally, to keep up with these things. Plus, I have lived in DC for a Really. Long. Time. Much longer than the average transient-inclined Washingtonian, so I’ve been around. On top of that, I simply enjoy discovering new places and adventures around the area. For me, it’s fun and keeps life interesting.


So back in October, when Thrillist published a round-up of 13 DC Secrets You Had No Idea Existed provided by the Prince of Petworth, I was psyched (and super impressed). There actually were several spots listed that I wasn’t aware of until I read the piece. I quickly checked off five of the thirteen as “been there, done that” and recognized a couple of others even though I hadn’t yet experienced them. But the remaining six had me intrigued — and, admittedly, feeling like I might be losing my edge. A reality check like that is good thing, though, since it’s often just the motivation needed to get on it. Not to mention, the prospect of going to some new, cool places is always exciting.


Hence, I am making it my business, both personally and professionally, to uncover those “secrets” that evaded me for so long and have vowed to visit the rest of the 13. This mission has actually been in progress since reading that Thrillist article, but I’m only now starting to post about my findings. And it’s lucky #13 on the list, The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America, that is kicking off the series.


The “Oasis of Peace” in Brookland consists of the Memorial Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the centerpiece of the Monastery, beautifully manicured grounds immediately surrounding it, and a lovely garden area adjacent to that. The Rosary Portico, long concrete open air passageways, run along the perimeter of the inner grounds, the inside walls adorned with Christian symbols and ceramic plaques bearing the Angelic Greeting in nearly 200 ancient and modern languages. Between the portico and the Church, there are a few statues as well as a greenhouse and a little fish pond, all very pleasant to stroll among.



And here I feel compelled to note that I’m in no way trying to push any kind of religious agenda. In fact, I’m Jewish, and a mildly practicing one, at that. But I do appreciate a beautiful, interesting, peaceful place, and the Franciscan Monastery is that and then some.



We first visited in the fall and enjoyed touring the grounds around the Church, but the gates to the garden were locked for some reason, and we weren’t sure about going inside. So, on the recent unseasonably awesome 60-degree day, I took Sasha and a friend with me to explore some more.




On the south side of the portico are gates that lead to the garden. Stairs and a ramp lead down to a gorgeous area where there is a grotto commemorating the agony of Christ, a replica of the Tomb of the Virgin Mary, and other religious shrines, all within a lovely plant and tree-filled area. I did have to remind Sasha and Celina that it was a very special place for many people and that the “caves” were not places for them to chase each other. It’s easy to see how the sights are exciting to them, and they loved the garden, too. If it’s that pretty in the winter, I can only imagine how gorgeous it is in the spring when the flowers (lots of roses, apparently) are in bloom.


Along with wandering the grounds outside, we popped into the Church, too. Tours are available, but we just walked around on our own, taking in the spectacular architecture and design of the cathedral.




Photos don’t begin to do this place justice. You’ll just have to go experience it for yourself.

The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America is located at 1400 Quincy Street NE in the Brookland neighborhood of DC. Monastery hours are 9am – 5pm Monday through Friday, 9am – 6pm on Saturday, and 8am – 5pm on Sunday. Garden hours are 9am – 4:45pm daily. Guided Garden Tours take place every Saturday during the summer at 11am and 12pm. Admission is free.


*If you’re looking for a bite to eat before or after visiting, I highly recommend Brookland’s Finest located at 12th & Jackson Streets NE. Delicious food, great vibe, and very kid-friendly.

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Giveaway: Get Ready for Valentine’s Day with the Help of UrbanSitter


If you’re planning a date night to celebrate Valentine’s Day, one of the essentials in preparing is booking a babysitter. But with the holiday falling on a Saturday night this year, it’s bound to be tougher than usual to nail down child care. Not to worry, because UrbanSitter has you covered.

UrbanSitter is an online and mobile service for parents and sitters to connect through people they know by harnessing the power of social media. Using graphs like Facebook and LinkedIn to help parents find sitters through friends means that trust is built in. Parents can see which sitters their friends have hired and liked. And, because time is a prized possession to most parents, they can efficiently book a sitter online in minutes.

I first wrote about UrbanSitter a couple of years ago, and you can read the post about our experience using the service. But here’s the rundown on how it works: UrbanSitter leverages members’ social graphs to surface babysitters to whom they have a real-world connection through people they trust, and then offers profile info and a video clip coupled with valuable marketplace data about each sitter’s performance (reviews from parents who’ve booked her/him, number of repeat families, how quickly they respond to booking requests, special skills, etc). UrbanSitter also facilitates the booking in real-time (ala OpenTable) and the payment (ala Uber). Parents can opt for subscriptions or a pay-as-you-go fee. There is also a subscription offering for sitters.

To learn more and sign up with UrbanSitter, visit the website.

Now go plan that date night!

Giveaway: TEN KidFriendly DC readers can win $50 in credit to use toward babysitting with UrbanSitter! Simply leave a comment below telling me your favorite date night restaurant in the area. To be eligible, you must be a new UrbanSitter customer (go here to sign up for a FREE account) and you must like KidFriendly DC on Facebook. Since you’ll want to get your Valentine’s Day sitter booked soon, this giveaway will only run until 3pm tomorrow, Tuesday, February 10 (but credit can be used through March 31, 2015). All winners will be notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!

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


Filed under Child Care, Date Night, DC, Giveaway, Holidays, Maryland, Parents, Professional Service, Sponsored Post, Virginia

Where to Play on the Weekdays: February 9-13

Skating in the city at Canal Park

Skating in the city at Canal Park

Monday - Rise + Rhyme at Busboys and Poets in Hyattsville, Md. The weekly series welcomes children and caregivers to enjoy a morning of performances and stories from 9:30-11am. A $5 cash donation is suggested.

Tuesday - Head out to Dulles for Air & Space exploration beyond the District. The Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center showcases flight artifacts they can’t fit into the museum on the Mall. See all kinds of air and space crafts, pretend to pilot in a flight simulator, get hands-on in a discovery station, and much more. Hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free, but parking is $15.

Wednesday - Go ice skating! The Washington Harbour Ice Rink is a good one for newbie skaters with push penguins to help them along. Admission is $10/adult, $9/child, $5/skate rentals. Hours are 12-9pm. Take advantage of being in Georgetown and grab a bite at one of the many eateries there. If the location isn’t convenient for you, find another ice rink in the area.

Thursday - Stop by Blick, the art supply store, to create some art for Valentine’s Day. Blick locations around the country are hosting a one-day hand block printing event, where customers can make their own Valentine prints or cards — for free! There is a Blick in DC at 1250 I Street NW.

Friday - Take advantage of another opportunity to do some crafting for the holiday at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s SweetARTs & Valentines workshop. Drop in the Kogod Courtyard to design a personalized card for free. Or, if you want to get fancy, make a corsage for $10 (while supplies last, until 5pm). Hours are 11:30am – 7pm.

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The Weekend Round-Up: February 7-8

Ready for a winter hike at Roosevelt Island

Ready for a winter hike at Roosevelt Island

You’ve got some tough decisions here. With so many great events going on this weekend, it’ll be hard to choose which to do. Pick from museum programs that feature everything from black history to handmade Valentine to drones to local teen poets. LOL at a comedy show geared to kids. Celebrate something sweet at a chocolate festival or Crepe Day. See some live entertainment — a play, puppet show, or concert. And with warmer days in the forecast, get out for some fun al fresco — who knows how long it will last? Whatever you opt for, have a Happy Weekend!

DIY Valentines
Where: National Postal Museum
When: February 7, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

Love is in the details at the Postal Museum’s annual Valentine’s Day Card Workshop. We’ve attended this event several times, so I can tell you firsthand it’s love-ly. They’ll have pretty papers and neat valentine-themed stamps, all you need to bring is your creativity to decorate your card. Visit the museum’s stamp store and send the cards to your loved ones with a special Postal Museum postmark. And for more about the museum, see this KFDC post.

Eye in the Sky: Game of Drones Family Day
Where National Building Museum
When: Saturday, 11am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Drones have been in the news quite a bit lately, but few people really know how they are designed, built, and operated. You’ll be able to count yourself among that group after Saturday’s event. Join the National Building Museum and International Spy Museum and the DC Drone User Group to discover the secrets of drones. Local drone makers will demonstrate their wares and show families the inner workings of their drones as well as their special spy skills. A spy mission challenge will take place in which drone makers will guide their drones through a series of secret spy missions to see whose drone is the stealthiest.

Black History Month Family Day: Rising Up
Where: National Museum of American History
When: Saturday, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Bring the whole family to the Smithsonian’s kickoff celebration of Black History! The full day of activities is inspired by the exhibition Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College which features murals by prominent African American artist Hale Woodruff that portray significant events in the journey of African Americans from slavery to freedom. The festival includes hands-on activities, family gallery tours, musical performances and a genealogy workshop led by Karen Bennett Harmon, the artist’s grand-niece and a genealogist for the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The Land of Chocolate
Where: City of Fairfax
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: Depends on activities

The City of Fairfax presents its annual festival centered around one of the most wonderful things in the world: Chocolate. There will be all kinds of activities for all ages throughout the weekend, both chocolate and non-chocolate themed — tastings, story time, puppet shows, face painting, chocolate challenges, a chocolate caper mock trial, and much more. The events list on the website has details.

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.

Celebrate La Chandeleur!
Where: Hillwood Estate, Museum, & Gardens
When: Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $12/members, $18/non-members, $5/ages 2-18, free under 2

In France, La Chandeleur, also known as “Crêpe Day,” is celebrated with food and games. Alliance Francaise de Washington and Hillwood invite families to join in the tradition in festive French fashion by eating crêpes, listening to classic tales inspired by scenes from La Fontaine fables that are pictured on tapestries covering French chairs on display in the mansion, and experiencing the exciting culture of Brittany, where crêpes originated. Embark on a quest to discover French treasures in Hillwood’s mansion and decorate a plate in fanciful designs and flourishes inspired by the estate’s French Sèvres porcelain.

ComedySportz for Kids
Where: DC Improv
When: Saturday, 2pm
Admission: $10

Have a laugh with your kids as ComedySportz makes them the stars of the show! The comedy troupe specializes in short-form improv games, and this show features child-sized versions of them, hosted by a ComedySportz Kidz Coach. We caught one of these shows when it was hosted in Arlington a couple of years ago, and the kids couldn’t stop cackling at the off-the-cuff performance and loved the chance to be part of it, too (so much that Owen had one of his birthday parties there). Doors open at 1:30pm, the show starts at 2pm, and it lasts about an hour. DC Improv is located at 1140 Connecticut Avenue NW.

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

* Catch a performance of Petit Rouge, A Cajun Red Riding Hood at Adventure Theatre
* Join the Circus! at The Puppet Co. at Glen Echo Park
* Mother Goose Caboose is the featured Tiny Tots show at the puppet theatre
* Blue Sky Puppet Theatre is performing at Avalon Theatre Saturday morning
* Enjoy the NSO Teddy Bear Concert: Two Divas and a Bear! at the Kennedy Center
* Mockingbird is still running there, too
* Synetic Theatre’s Music Box is this week’s free Saturday Morning at the National performance
* Kindiemusicdc presents Junior Jams: Marsha Goodman-Wood at the Foundation Gallery and Liveroom in Kensington
* Black Violin will rock the house at BlackRock Center for the Arts on Sunday

Family Valentine Crafts
Where: Michael’s
When: February 7, 10am – 12pm & 1-4pm
Admission: $2/string art, $10/Valentine box

Head to a Michael’s location for some Valentine’s crafting. In the morning, drop in with little makers for string art valentines with yarn (for ages 3 and up). Later on, bring the whole family to create something special for next weekend’s holiday: Decorate a Valentine’s Day mailbox to hold cards from classmates, friends, and sweethearts. Cost for both activities includes supplies.

Hometown Hoops
Where: Area colleges
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: Varies

With so many universities in the area, there’s always some college hoops action to enjoy on the weekends. Both the GWU men’s and women’s teams host Dayton this weekend, the men tonight (tickets here). The lady Terps host Nebraska on Sunday (tickets here) and the women on Sunday (tickets here). The Hoya women play Villanova on Sunday (tickets here). And the George Mason Patriots women are playing the Davidson Wildcats on Sunday (tickets here).

Winterfest Children’s Carnival
Where: Learning Center for Young Children
When: Saturday, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Help support an area preschool and enjoy a fun day with the fam! Learning Center for Young Children, a non-profit cooperative preschool, is hosting a huge, fun, family-friendly event on Saturday. The Banjo Man Frank Cassel will provide live entertainment ($3 tickets for his three performances will be sold at the door). Festivities for kids include a moon bounce, face painting, crafts, and carnival games. A family photo booth will capture the memories and a silent auction will offer a chance to sample some of the area’s best restaurants, entertainment, and services. Lunch by Armand’s Pizza and gourmet desserts will be for sale. (Note: The snow date is February 21.) The Preschool is located inside the Warner Memorial Presbyterian Church at 10123 Connecticut Avenue in Kensington, MD.

Skate Under the Sky
Where: Local ice rinks
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

With warmer temps in the forecast, it’ll be a great time to get gliding at local outdoor rinks. Skate amid art at the Sculpture Garden; join Canal Park’s Cartoon Skate on Saturday from 10am – 12pm; skate by the Potomac at Washington Harbour; or shop then skate at Pentagon Row, Veteran’s Plaza, Tyson’s Corner, or Reston Town Center. This post has details on both alfresco and indoor ice skating options in the area.

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 poet, writer, and art collector George Washington Carver and complete a hands-on activity. The story will be 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.

DC Teen Poetry Slam
Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: Saturday, 4-6pm
Admission: Free

Listen to twenty of the area’s most talented teenaged poets perform their original poetry in the Kogod Courtyard in this elimination-style performance poetry competition. The top scoring youth poets, as determined by judges from the audience, will earn a spot in the Grand Slam Finals and a chance to become members of the 2015 DC Youth Slam Team. All performing poets qualified earlier in the year; this is not an open mic event.

Takoma Mid-Winter Play Day
Where: Takoma Park Community Center
When: Sunday, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

Put some play in your Sunday afternoon with Let’s Play Takoma and the Takoma Park Recreation Department. The variety of indoor entertainment will include a Bach to Rock band, a yoga “join in” demo, fun activities from the Girl Scouts, board games, dress-up, face painting, table tennis and pool, and much more. All ages are welcome to enjoy it all.

Magic Show
Where: Olive Branch Way at Oseh Shalom
When: Sunday, 2-3:30
Admission: $8

Derek Jasper, an accomplished magician and expert in deception that is perfect for any performance setting. Derek began studying magic at a young age and since then, he has spent well over a decade enchanting audiences of all sizes. His expertise lies in sleight of hand magic and Derek has been recognized by some of the top magicians and performers in the business. Derek’s repertoire is guaranteed to amaze the audience whether he is on stage, sitting at a table, or strolling through a crowd. Derek continues to travel and perform to bring magic to audiences across the United States. Olive Branch Way at Oseh Shalom is located at 7515 Olive Branch Way in Laurel, MD.

Go OUTSIDE & Play!
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

When the mercury “soars” into the 50′s after some of the biting, wind chilled days we’ve had lately, I’d be remiss not to encourage you to get out for some activity outside. Take a hike at Great Falls, Huntley Meadows, Rock Creek, Turkey Run, or Roosevelt Island. Get a winter perspective of the National Arboretum or Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Watch airplanes take off or land at Gravelly point. Visit the animals at the National Zoo or Oxon Hill Farm. See history on the Potomac at Fort Washington Park. Stroll the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks, Meadowlark, or Green Spring Gardens. Find details about all of these ideas in the post about The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids.

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