KidFree: Surprise, Secret Music Events with Sofar Sounds

Local bluegrass band By & By performs for Sofar Sounds

Local bluegrass band By & By performs for Sofar Sounds

In case my blog doesn’t make it obvious, I love discovering new adventures and having different kinds of experiences, both with my kids and without. I value my “grown-up” time, whether it’s a night out with my husband or friends, a daytime venture, or just doing something for myself. Having some time sans kids is important for my sanity life balance. I know this is a sentiment echoed by many parents, so I thought I’d put this all together and, every now and then, share some ideas for those “KidFree” occasions. And I’m starting with one of the cooler things I’ve recently experienced: Sofar Sounds.



So, it’s a random Thursday evening, and I’m hanging out at a nondescript row house in the heart of Petworth with a roomful of people I have never met before watching some local bands play. (You know, a typical Thursday night for a mom of two elementary school-aged kids.) And while I’m there for the concert, I didn’t know who would be playing until I arrived at the house. Even more, I didn’t know exactly where it would take place until the day prior.

Broke Royals kick off the concert with a 4-song set

Broke Royals kick off the concert with a 4-song set

What I did know beforehand was that Sofar Sounds, the global music series producing the concert, was right up my alley. When I received an invitation to attend, I learned that Sofar (which stands for ‘Songs from a Room’) creates unique live music experiences through secret shows hosted in intimate spaces. I love live music in small settings as much as I enjoy new, unique adventures. I also really like neat surprises. So, I RSVP’ed a zealous “hellz yeah!” (well, not really, but I was excited), worked out a date to go, then waited over a week for the rest of the details.


That’s not normally how it all works, however. Sofar Sounds hosts these music events in over 250 cities around the world. If you want to attend one in DC or elsewhere, you can see dates and areas of upcoming shows, then you have a couple of options: You can buy a ticket to guarantee entry in many locations or you can apply for a free ticket (though how guests are selected, I’m not sure).

So, the day before my show, I receive an email with an address, arrival time, and a heads-up that the event is BYO and that we’d likely be sitting on the floor in case I want to bring a pillow or something for comfort. I still have no clue what to expect music-wise.


The next day, a friend and I Uber to the address, which turned out to be said rowhouse in Petworth. A Sofar rep greets us and gives us the lowdown on the show. A sign hanging by the door lets us know that By and By, Be Steadwell, and Broke Royals would be the artists performing. I hadn’t heard of any of them, but that’s all part of the adventure — discovering new music. So, we pour our wine (we brought our own cups, too) and take it out on the back deck where other concert-goers and band members are hanging out. People are mingling, and we chat a bit with the Broke Royals lead singer about his day job at the Apple Store.

Guests and band members hang out before the show

Guests and band members hang out before the show

Sofar Sounds gigs aren’t always hosted at a house. The location might be a warehouse, store, pop-up space, office, theater, even a museum. And a cool thing regarding the venue, is that anyone can apply to host it — yes, you could potentially have a concert in your living room (or basement or bedroom) with a random group of people you don’t know in the audience.

After about 20 minutes, the show is ready to begin, and we all gather in the living room, some people on sofas, most on the floor, others standing along the wall. Everyone is there to enjoy the music, and the rule is no texting, talking, or filming (ok, so I broke it, but I was there as “media” and, hopefully, low-key about it).

Be Steadwell mesmerizes the audience

Be Steadwell mesmerizes the audience

I don’t know if we got lucky, or if they always get good acts, but all of the performances were fantastic — and all so different. Broke Royals played acoustic versions of their alternative rock songs, encouraging audience interaction as we sang parts of the chorus. The super talented Be Steadwell described her unique sound as queer pop. And By and By closed it out with a fun set of jubilant bluegrass. It was great entertainment, and something about being in that intimate space under those “secret” circumstances added a bit of enchantment to the whole experience.

The concert ends and we hang out a little while longer, talking with other guests on the front porch before heading home. I’m back at my house before 11 — the concert started a bit after 8 — in time for a good night’s sleep, with nw tunes playing in my head and grand ideas of hosting a Sofar gig at my house.

Ready for a KidFree evening with Sofar Sounds? Visit the website to read more about their mission, and check out upcoming concert dates in DC.

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Filed under Date Night, DC, Live Entertainment, Parents, Weekdays, Weekend

Introducing Dinosaur Physical Therapy, a Pediatric PT Practice in Georgetown


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Dinosaur Physical Therapy, however, I only promote programs, places, and services that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under All ages, DC, Professional Service, Sponsored Post

Where to Play on the Weekdays: June 6-10

Kids will love the play areas along with the dollhouses at the Small Stories exhibit

Kids will love the play areas along with the dollhouses at the Small Stories exhibit

Monday - Jump the morning away at Flight Trampoline Park in Springfield, VA. This bouncy nirvana hosts Kid Flight sessions for children 46″ tall & under from 10am – 2pm Monday through Friday for $10/hour (includes accompanying adult).

Tuesday - Head to the National Building Museum for a couple of great programs. The monthly Little Builders Storytime takes place at 10:30am & 11:30am in the Building Zone ($3/person). You can also see the new Small Stories: At Home in a Dollhouse exhibit featuring many dollhouses that take you through London history, all of them beautiful with intricate details. Children will also enjoy areas that encourage pretend play with dress up and props inspired by some of the displays. ($10/adult, $7/child). Museum hours are 10am – 5pm. Exhibit admission for members is free, and I highly recommend checking out membership options if you frequent the museum at least a few time per year.

Wednesday - Frolic on the playground and sprawling fields and do some light hiking at Montrose and Dumbarton Oaks Parks in Georgetown. Both are fun, easy places to enjoy a nice day with little ones (and big ones, for that matter). Admission at both locales is free. Plan to grab a bite at one of the many nearby eateries on M Street or Wisconsin Ave.

Thursday - Take a day trip out to Solomons, MD, to Annmarie Sculpture Gardens for an enchanting array of artistic delights. View eye-popping works, both indoors and out, hunt for fairy houses, play in the Fairy Lolly, and create some of your own art with inspiration from all you see there. Trust me, it’s worth the hour-plus drive. Hours are 9am – 5pm in the gardens, 10am – 5pm at the arts center. Admission is $5/adult, $3/ages 6-17, free for 5 and under.

Friday - Get a glimpse of Rock Creek Park’s past a Peirce Mill. See the inner workings of a structure built before modern technology that actually still runs. Pack lunch for a riverside picnic — there are tables right next to the mill. Plan to do some hiking on nearby trails, too. Hours are 10am – 4pm, and admission is free.

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Filed under All ages, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Indoor Play, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Spring, Summer, Virginia, Weekdays

Make a Splash in Soak City at Kings Dominion this Summer


Water inspired activities are a staple of summer, so it was fitting that we kicked off the season at Soak City, the 20-acre water park within Kings Dominion. When we were offered the opportunity to check out the attractions and rides over Memorial Day weekend, I immediately accepted. The kids had actually been begging to visit the amusement park near Richmond for awhile, plus I dig water slides and splashy rides myself. We were all pretty excited for our day there.


And Soak City did not disappoint. Several water slide complexes, a wave pool, a “river” raft ride, and play areas for little ones offer something for everyone — all ages and all levels of thrill seekers. Guests do need to be at least 48″ tall to ride most of the slides, and 42″ for the wave pool, but children who don’t hit that height can enjoy smaller kid-sized slides in the splash areas.


Upon our arrival, we decided to get a cabana, so we’d have a dedicated place to keep our belongings and also chill out when we weren’t going on rides. They also offer lockers for guests to store valuables, and there are plenty of chairs and tables throughout the park, they just aren’t guaranteed.



Since Tidal Wave Bay was right next to our cabana, that was our first stop and a fun way to ease into our water park adventure. We were able to get wet, swim around a bit, and ride the waves. From there, we hit the nearby Hurricane Heights, a colorful tangle of several different slides winding all around and offering a variety of thrills. We rode inner tubes down and through Aqua Blast, which is mostly enclosed until it shoots you out for a steep plunge into the water.


My favorite, though, was the Paradise Plunge, a body slide that starts in an enclosed chamber where you wait for the floor to drop from under your feet, sending you straight down a chute for a fast and twisty thrill ride to the bottom.


After a ’bout of wild sliding, we opted for a more chill ride on the Lazy River, a pool that meanders in a 1/4 mile loop in the middle of the park. A few spins around in the comfort of an inner tube was quite relaxing and a nice way to wind down before lunch, which we ordered at our cabana.


So, while Soak City did not disappoint, the weather, unfortunately, did. A huge storm rolled in while we were eating, and the hourly forecast showed no indication of it letting up, so we had to cut our visit short. But what we did get to do was super fun, and now we have good reason to go again. Not to mention it’s a fantastic way to stay cool on a hot summer day. And when you’re done (or before) playing in the water park, you can enjoy the rest of Kings Dominion, since admission gets you into both!



Soak City is open on weekends May 28 – June 10, then daily June 10 – September 5. Admission to Kings Dominion, which as mentioned also gets you into Soak City, is $45 if you buy tickets online, $66 at the gate. There are also season passes available. Kings Dominion is located just north of Richmond, about 75 miles from Washington, DC.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company in conjunction with Blog Meets Brand, however, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own, and I only promote places and programs that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under All ages, DC, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Sponsored Post, Summer, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

The Weekend Round-Up: June 3-5

Taking in the views from the Sugarloaf Mountain summit -- a great place to hit the trail with kids

Taking in the views from the Sugarloaf Mountain summit — a great place to hit the trail with kids


I hope you’ve got a little time to spare because you’ll need it to read about all of the excellent events happening around the area this weekend. Pop culture, folk music, jazz, trucks, wine, space, nature, live entertainment, and local communities are among the many things you can celebrate and enjoy. Details on all of the above are below. Happy Weekend!

Awesome Con
Where: Washington Convention Center
When: Saturday, 10am – 7pm & Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $40-50

This celebration of popular culture is DC’s comic-con, embracing all aspects of geekdom and pop culture. Expect a wide assortment of comic books, collectibles, toys, games, original art, cosplay, a Kids Zone, and appearance from more than fifty movie and television celebrity guests throughout the weekend. Kids will love the chance to draw along with noted comic book artists, attend Superhero University and make Superhero symbols and capes, see a wizard magic show, and participate in a kid’s costume contest and puppetry class.

Summer Fun
Where: Throughout the area
When: All weekend long
Admission: Varies by activity

Free concerts al fresco, outdoor swimming, movies under the stars, sprayground fun, and much more! Activities exclusive to the season can be enjoyed all around the area, several taking place on Friday evening – a perfect way to kick off the weekend. The 2016 Summer Guide has the whole scoop on all of them.

Keep on Truckin’
Where: RFK Lot 7
When: Saturday, 8am – 1pm
Admission: Free

The Truck Touch event that easily takes the title as Mac Daddy of them all. This is the 9th year that the DC Department of Public Works welcomes guests to climb aboard, honk the horn, work the gears, and explore all kinds of neat vehicles that serve our city. There will also be opportunities to test ride Segways, spec out a helicopter, and sit atop police horses. Read more about it and see images from a past Truck Touch here (and be sure to note that it was posted a few years ago, so the dates don’t confuse you).

Washington Folk Festival
Where: Glen Echo Park
When: Saturday & Sunday, 12-7pm
Admission: Free

Get folksy at Glen Echo Park this weekend, as the 36th annual Washington Folk Festival showcases the diversity of traditional music in Washington. All of the artists hail from the DC area, but cultures from around the nation, as well as the world, will be represented through music, dance, crafts, and stories.

Jazz ‘n’ Families Fun Days
Where: The Phillips Collection
When: Saturday, 10am – 5pm & Sunday, 12-7pm
Admission: Free

Leading up to the DC Jazz Festival starting next week and part of The Phillips Collection’s Museum Walk events, there will be special performances and activities for guests, especially young ones. Enjoy both the art and live jazz throughout the museum, including musicians improvising to paintings in the galleries. Kids can join a scavenger hunt, visit an instrument petting zoo, create their own masterpieces to take home, and view the permanent collection, too. Read more about the event and museum in this post about our experience there last year.

Walk the Museum Walk
Where: Dupont-Kalorama Neighborhoods
When: Saturday & Sunday, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Get off the Mall and explore the many museums in the Dupont-Kalorama neighborhood during its 33rd annual Museum Walk Weekend. (You can also check out the Obama’s future neighborhood!) See the exhibits and enjoy special programs for free at seven diverse museums, including The Phillips Collection, Dumbarton House, Heurich House, and Woodrow Wilson House. If you don’t want to use the shoe leather express, there will be a free shuttle running between sites.

Imagination Bethesda
Where: Downtown Bethesda
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate children, art, and all things fun at the 22nd annual Imagination Bethesda. Where Woodmont Avenue meets Elm Street, activity tents will line the streets, face painters will bring butterflies and pirates to life, and a stage of live entertainment will have the whole street dancing. Activity details and the entertainment line-up are available on the website.

Acton Children’s Business Fair
Where: Cleveland Park – 3400 Connecticut Ave. NW
When: Saturday, 10am – 1pm
Admission: Free

Do some shopping at the Acton Children’s Business Fair an outdoor market where children ages 6 to 14 become entrepreneurs for a day, creating a business, selling to real customers for real money, and keeping the profits. Like Eastern Market run by kids! There will be over 30 children’s businesses with products/services such as jewelry, original art, cupcakes, bath soaps, pet treats, hair braiding, facepainting, and more. A cash prize of $50 for best business will be awarded in each of the four age groups (6-7, 8-10, 11-12, and 13-14). Rain or shine!

Space Day
Where: National Air & Space Museum
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

This annual favorite Family Day welcomes visitors to enjoy STEM-inspired hands-on activities, meet an astronaut, and learn about space from experts from the Museum and NASA. And all of it takes place amid the awe-inspiring collection of historic aviation and space artifacts in the much-loved museum on the National Mall.

World Ocean Day
Where: National Museum of Natural History
When: Saturday, 10am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

Interactive activities throughout the museum will be open to explore ocean science in celebration of World Oceans Day. Appreciate the beauty of the sea and express yourself through art, njoy family activities in Q?rius Jr., talk with experts in the Ocean Hall and Q?rius and more!

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

- Reserve your free seats for Monkey Tales, this week’s Saturday Morning at the National perfromance
- Catch a performance of Little Red Riding Hood and the 3 Little Pigs at The Puppet Co.
- And Old McDonald’s Farm is the featured Tiny Tots show
- It’s opening weekend for Creative Cauldron’s production of The Wind in the Willows
- Encore Stage & Studio presents Cul de Sac, theatre by kids for kids
- See the student show Collide-O-Scope at Imagination Stage
- Spend Saturday morning with the grandsons jr. at Jammin’ Java
- See the Culkin School of Traditional Irish Dance perform at Saturday’s free Millennium Stage show at the Kennedy Center

Community Day
Where: Kalorama Park
When: Saturday, 11am – 3:30pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the re-opening of Kalorama Park with a big, old-fashioned Community Day. Enjoy new playgrounds, a beautifully re-designed plaza, and a healthier Rock Creek Watershed, thanks to a sustainable stormwater system installed by the City. While the kids test out the new equipment, grown-ups can listen to local Bluegrass band By and By, Mayor Bowser’s remarks, and the James Benson Jazz Quartet. In between, there’ll be classes for adults, face painting for kids, and more!

Saturday Family Jazz Session
Where: Strathmore
When: Saturday, 11am
Admission: $10

Jumpstart a love for jazz with classes that nurture talent and spark musicality! Junior jazz aficionados can spend Saturday mornings singing, playing, and preparing for a lifetime of jazz appreciation at this fun, creative, kid-friendly series featuring classes with multi-instrumentalist and local jazz legend Seth Kibel and renowned jazz singer Rochelle Rice. Children under 7 must be accompanied by an adult. All attendees, regardless of age, must have a ticket.

Celebrate Petworth
Where: 800 block of Upshur Street NW
When: Saturday, 11am – 5pm
Admission: Free

Head to the heart of the Petworth neighborhood to celebrate creativity, diversity, culture, people, and quality of life, the core components of what make Petworth a vibrant and wonderful place to live.

Youth Fishing Day
Where: Blackwater Wildlife Refuge
When: Saturday, 9am – 1pm
Admission: Free

Kids can cast a line and then some at this free fishing event. Staff will be on hand to help young fishers learn the basics, plus a free hotdog lunch will be provided along with photos of participants with their catch. Bait and poles supplied, or feel free to BYO.

Vintage Virginia Wine & Food Festival
Where: Bull Run Park
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: $30/adults, $10/kids

A wine fest might sound like a grown-ups-only event, but this one offers plenty of fun for kids, too. Chef demos, food truck fare, live music, and a whole family area with activities especially for children are among the festivities. Of course, there will be plenty of opportunity for wine tasting, too!

Please Do Touch the Art
Where: Torpedo Factory
When: Through July 17
Admission: Free

Target Gallery, the contemporary exhibition space for the Torpedo Factory Art Center, encourages people to touch, feel, dine upon, and even lick the artwork in Please Touch, which opens Saturday for a six-week run. The all-media exhibition features 20 works with which audiences can get hands-on.

Happy Trails
Where: Around the area
When: Saturday
Admission: Free

Saturday is National Trails Day, and you can celebrate by taking part in one of many special events around the area. Take a hike, do some volunteer trail maintenance, go bird watching, and more. Find an event for your family on the National Trails Day website. Or if you just want to hit the trail for a hike, check out this post about great walks in the woods with kids.

Market Days
Where: North Bethesda Market
When: Saturday, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

North Bethesda Market has launched its first Home and Garden Market, an outdoor event for the entire family on Saturdays through June. Shop for plants and fresh cut flowers, find decor to refresh your home and garden, and enjoy live music and a fresh grilled lunch al fresco. Whole Foods will offer gardening items just for kids, and you can get tips on flower arranging and creating a succulent garden during free weekly seminars.

Kids Kandinsky Trees
Where: Art Jamz
When: Saturday, 1-2pm
Admission: $27-29

Jam on and paint a colorful tree in the style of Wassily Kandinsky. The session is the first in a series of Kids Summer Painting Classes. ArtJamz instructors will help participants create awesome original art work with all kinds of cool inspiration. Sign up in advance.

Savage Fest
Where: Baldwin Common and Carroll Baldwin Hall
When: Saturday, 10am – 6:30pn
Admission: Free

This 29th annual community festival will feature live music from local bands, pony rides, a petting zoo, jugglers, magic shows, local history reenactments and tours, dancing, demonstrations and other entertainment throughout the day. The venue is located at 9035 Baltimore Street in Savage, MD.

Occoquan Arts & Crafts Show
Where: Downtown Historic Occoquan
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: Free

Over 10,000 peple are expected to attend the Town of Occoquan’s 47th Annual Arts and Crafts Show. Along with the creative items for sale by more than 300 contemporary and country crafters, there will be live entertainment, a DJ, food, and a Kidz Corner.

Fiesta Asia Street Fair
Where: Pennsylvania Avenue, 3rd – 6th Streets, NW DC
When: Sunday, 10am – 7pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Asian Heritage Month at the annual street fair presented by the Asia Heritage Foundation and Passport DC. This showcase of Asian art and culture will include music and dance performances, martial arts demos, food, hands-on activities, and more. Kids can enjoy activities like origami, sidewalk chalk, dragon making, story telling, and more. While admission is free, be prepared to spend on food and in the marketplace.

Falls Church Feeds the World
Where: Christ Crossman UMC
When: Sunday, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

The public is welcome to join other members of the community in working together to assemble and package 20,000+ meals to combat hunger around the world – and enjoy a children’s festival taking place outside. The free event features activities that teach children about food insecurity in our community and worldwide, and includes food at no cost.

WJMF in the Park
Where: Stead Park
When: Sunday, 11am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Bring the whole family to the park for a day of free concerts, games, and fun! Part of the Washington Jewish Music Festival, this evnt will feature The Macaroons’ catchy pop-rock mixes with The Brothers Yares’ Middle Eastern-inflected Folk and Americana sound. Ari Jacobson is the musical master of ceremonies, and there will also be face painting, games, and workshops throughout the day. The Washington Animal Rescue League will join with adoptable puppies and when you’re ready for some grub, grab a falafel or grilled cheese nearby from DC Ballers and The Big Cheese.

Nature & Recreation in Annapolis
Where: Quiet Waters Park
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $6/car

Head east to explore a new park. We recently discovered Quiet Waters, kind of by accident, and it made for a fantastic outdoorsy Mother’s Day. Hike in the woods under a leafy canopy, paddle the South River, take in scenic vistas, and even view some art. Read more the locale in this new post.


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