Soar with the Wind at iFLY Loudoun


A little tidbit of info about me: I am afraid of heights. Like heart-dropping-into-stomach, knees-turning-to-rubber scared anytime there is more than about 15 feet of space between the ground and my feet. I have mini panic attacks when my kids venture within 10 feet of a mountain’s edge on a hike, always opt for the aisle seat, and have to resort to my happy place when riding in glass elevators.

This doesn’t stop me from pursuing activities that frighten the bejeezus out of me. I’ve zipped hundreds of feet in the air over rainforest dangling from a wire, repelled over cliffs, even ridden a mule into the Grand Canyon (yes, put my life literally on the back of an ass as it slowly trod the rugged path, about a foot of trail between us and a 7,000-foot drop into the red rock abyss). Because while these pursuits are desperately terrifying, I also find them amazingly exhilarating. And I believe it’s important to veer from our comfort zones now and then and, as they say, conquer our fears.

However. One thing I will never, ever, ever, ever opt to do is skydive. No matter how thrilling or boundary-pushing it may be, or what a transcendental experience flying in the sky would offer… nope. Just the thought of hurling myself out of an airplane with the earth thousands of feet below makes me, ironically, want to hurl.

So, when iFLY Loudoun reached out to introduce their new simulated skydiving experience location I was immediately intrigued. I had never heard of this before. I could experience the feeling of flying without having to step foot in (then out of) an airplane? And it would be indoors with a “safety net” below? Sign me up!

If this is new to you as well, here’s how this is possible: Flights take place in a vertical wind tunnel, where a smooth cushion of air enables people to float. This air is created by high-powered fans at the top of the tunnel that draw air through the flight chamber, then push it back down the sides and underneath, then up again, lifting flyers. An operator just outside the chamber controls the speed of the wind, adjusting for the flyer’s weight and skill level.


When I first arrived at the big blue structure right off a main road in Ashburn, VA, I was still clueless about the inner workings with all of my focus on the idea that I was going to fly. I was greeted by very friendly staff and taken on a little tour. In the lobby is the front desk, where guests can register as well as several kiosks for signing up and viewing and purchasing photos and videos after flights. There is also gear for sale for those who want iFLY souvenirs.


All of the action takes place on the second floor. The large wind tunnel is at the center, with spectator benches just outside and an equipment area, a small classroom, restrooms, and a party room on the perimeter. The space seems compact compared to the building, but once you learn how it works, you can see how the facility is essentially built around the wind tunnel.


They didn’t waste any time getting my session started, and my instructor, Trevor, took me into a classroom to give me a rundown of what to expect, demonstrate the body position for flying, and show me hand signals he would use to direct me in the tunnel (he would also be in there) — signs for bending my legs, straightening them, relaxing, and keeping my head up. He also answered all of my questions and was very reassuring and enthusiastic, which quelled any nervousness I had.

Flight suits for all sizes

Flight suits for all sizes

The lesson took about 10 minutes, and from there I suited up in my flight suit, helmet, ear plugs, and goggles, stowed my belongings in a locker, and prepared for lift off. Really, it was quick and easy as that, and in no time I entered the wind tunnel by leaning over and letting Trevor guide me. Before I knew it, I was flying.



And, yowza, was it exhilarating! Any trepidation I may have had immediately disappeared once I felt the air lift and carry me. The wind blew loud and hard, but I barely noticed because I was so caught up in the thrill of it. I was flying! I spun around the tunnel, sometimes dropped a bit when I was out of position, lifted up again. Trevor helped with hand signals and some guidance, re-positioning as needed. I could not stop smiling, which was great, but also odd because it felt simultaneously like I was drooling and my mouth was drying out.


There was a small audience during my session, as iFly welcomes folks to come in just to spectate. While I probably wasn’t the most exciting guest to watch, some flyers are skydiving enthusiasts who use the wind tunnel to practice skills and tricks, putting on a good show. While I took a break from one of my flights, Trevor jumped in a demonstrated just how artistic one can get in the air — quite an impressive show!

I took four flights, each lasting up to about 90 seconds, but it seems like they go on much longer. On the last two flights, Trevor flew with me and guided us high into the tunnel, at least 30 feet up and easily the most fun and exciting part of the experience. I didn’t for one second feel unsafe or disoriented. It seemed like I could gently bounce around on the wind forever. But, alas, my session came to an end.


If there’s anything dangerous about iFLY, it’s probably that you could get hooked — and it’s not a cheap hobby. I’m already thinking about when I can go back with the rest of my crew. Anyone age 3 to 103 can experience the thrill, as long as they weigh less than 250 lbs, are not pregnant, and generally have good health and fitness (those with neck and back issues should consult a doctor first).

This may be a special occasion kind of adventure, since it’s a bit of a splurge: Pricing starts at $79.95/person for 2 flights, and there are also Family Packs and group rates available. (All worth it, in my opinion!) There is also a Kids Club, which offers discounts for multiple sessions.

And if you’re looking for a fantastic, unique way to celebrate a birthday, they also offer parties. Packages include a party coordinator for your event, a flight training class, all the necessary gear, hands-on instruction with each flyer, and a video of the flight session. Extras include a party room, catering, and a few more services. Contact iFLY for details.


One quick tip: if you have long hair, be sure to tie it back tightly! My hair band must have been loose, because it came off during my flight, and my hair was a tangled mess afterwards. It took a lot of conditioner and slighting painful combing to get it back to normal.

iFLY Loudon is located at 20315 Commonwealth Center Drive in Ashburn, VA. Hours are Monday-Thursday 10am – 10pm, Friday 10am – 11pm, Saturday 9am – 11pm, and Sunday 9am – 10pm. It’s best to book in advance, they recommend a week ahead.

So, are you ready to fly?! Here’s a better look at what to expect…

Disclosure: iFLY Loudoun invited me in for a complimentary flight session, however, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own, and I only promote programs, products, and services that I truly believe in and/or think would appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under Indoor Play, Sports, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Enter to Win Tickets to The Emperor’s Nightingale at Adventure Theatre!


In celebration of Asian-Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Adventure Theatre brings to the stage the powerful song of a nightingale in The Emperor’s Nightingale, a world-premiere play directed by Natsu Onoda Power. And you have a chance to win a Family 4-Pack of tickets to see it!

Based on the fairytale by Hans Christian Anderson, this brand-new adaptation is set in the Qing Dynasty, eighteenth century China, and brings to light the younger days of Emperor Qian Long, who would become one of the greatest rulers of the Middle Kingdom. It takes a magical bird to help the headstrong and aimless prince to become a true leader.

The Emperor’s Nightingale will run at Adventure Theatre from April 22 – May 30, with both weekday and weekend performances. Tickets are $19.50, with field trip and group rates are available. The show is recommended for all ages. Discount tickets for select dates are available here.

Giveaway: For a chance to win a Family 4-Pack of tickets to The Emperor’s Nightingale at Adventure Theatre, leave a comment below telling me your preferred date and time to see it (view showtimes here). To be eligible, you must like KidFriendly DC on Facebook and subscribe to the KFDC blog (see sign-up near the top left). The giveaway will run through this Sunday, April 17, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!

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


Filed under All ages, Giveaway, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Seasonal, Spring, Theatre, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: April 11-15

Watching the wildlife outside at Watkins Nature Center

Watching the wildlife outside at Watkins Nature Center

Monday - Get a nature fix indoors at Watkins Nature Center. There, you can see and learn about birds, reptiles, and other creatures that inhabit the surrounding area. If weather permits, head over to the Wizard of Oz-themed playground to romp outdoors. (Tuesday – Sunday you can also visit Old Maryland Farm where ponies, cows, chickens, rabbits, and other animals live). The Nature Center is open 8:30am – 5pm, the playground dawn to dusk. Admission to everything is free.

Tuesday - Journey into the nation’s past at the National Museum of American History. Take advantage of special “cherry blossom” hours this week and take little ones to play in Wegmans Wonderplace and let older children get hands on in the Spark!Lab. The new Innovation Wing and big exhibits like America on the Move, plus toys and games, sports memorabilia, and the star spangled banner will also grab young kids’ attention. The museum is open from 10am – 5:30pm, the play areas 10am – 4pm. Admission is free.

Wednesday - Join a story time session at Walls of Books. The shop in the Park View/Petworth area offers weekly readings for ages 6 months to 6 years old. Admission is free.

Thursday - Explore the grounds and play in the gardens, particularly the Children’s Garden, at River Farm. The American Horticulture Society’s headquarters overlooking the Potomac River in Alexandria are as sublime as they are fun. Hours are 9am – 5pm. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

Friday - Discover a DC “secret” in Upper Northwest. Amid a small wooded area at Palisades Park is The Glass Forest, a collection of sculptures made from natural and scrap materials that truly is a must-see! Be sure to make time to romp on the park’s playground while you’re there. Admission is free.


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

The Weekend Round-Up: April 9-10

Play ball!

Play ball!

More Styles On Sale Now at Tea Collection

Don’t let a little spring snow thwart your family fun. There’s plenty happening over the next few days to ensure a good time no matter what the weather. Happy Weekend!

Cherry Blossom Celebration
Where: American Art Museum
When: Saturday, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Smithsonian’s American Art Museum welcomes you to a celebration of Japanese culture and the arrival of the cherry blossoms. A taiko drumming performance kicks off the afternoon, followed by other traditional Japanese music and dance, face painting, and cherry-blossom themed crafts. Colleagues from the Freer|Sackler can help you make your own Japanese fan. Create a koinobori windsock at one of our crafting tables or check out the spring book corner with our friends from MLK Jr. Memorial Library.

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

The annual fireworks show at the Southwest Waterfront is one of the highlights of cherry blossom season. 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 starbursts of fireworks light up the night sky.

The Nats are Back!
Where: Nationals Park
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: Ticket prices vary

Baseball season is in full swing again, and the Nats are home for their first weekend of regular season games. Catch them against the Marlins on Saturday at 4:05 or Sunday at 1:35 — stay after the latter for Kids Run the Bases. For tips on doing Nats game without breaking the bank, see this post. And don’t forget to sign up little fan for the Jr. Nationals Kids Club to get all kinds goodies and discounts.

Where: Rock Creek Nature Center
When: Saturday, 10am
Admission: Free

Join friends from Casey Trees for tree-focused story time interspersed with songs and a craft project. Each family will leave with a list of “scavenger hunt items” while exploring the trails on their own after the program. Recommended for ages 18 months – 4 years.

Run of the Mill
Where: Peirce Mill, Rock Creek Park
When: Saturday, 11am – 2pm
Admission: Free

See the 2,000-lb millstones convert corn to corneal using good old-fashioned renewable energy of water. Miller Jeanne and the Friends of Peirce Mill invite you to discover DC’s only surviving gristmill in action. Be sure to explore the exhibits at Peirce Barn next door and hit the nearby trails, too! Read more about the historic site in this KFDC post about our visit there last fall.

Play in the Zone
Where: ZavaZone
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Starts at $19.50

The brand new Indoor Adventure Park dedicated to ages 5-105 calls itself a “gamechanger.” With ninja courses, ropes courses, trampolines, climbing challenges, zip lines, and more under one soaring roof, guests have their pick of active fun. Disclosure: We have yet to check it out ourselves, but it looks and sounds pretty awesome.

Swedish Explorations
Where: Sweden House
When: Saturday & Sunday, 12-5pm
Admission: Free

The Swedish Embassy in Georgetown has focused more on kids this year, and their new exhibition Next Level Craft shows it. Presenting works by more than 40 crafters, artists, and designers from all over Sweden, plus its own soundtrack and music video, it’s a showcase of handiworks and imagination, from traditional to modern. The exhibit will be open every weekend, with guided tours available. Be sure to stop in the library with kids books and toys, and join a story time session on Saturdays at 2pm.

Children’s Walking Tour of Penn Quarter
Where: Starts at District Architecture Center
When: Saturday, 10am – 12pm
Admission: $5/child

Discover buildings! This walking tour for children will take a hands-on approach to learning about architecture in the vibrant Penn Quarter neighborhood during a walking tour led by architect Mary Kay Lanzillotta, FAIA. As we walk along the streets, participants will learn new terms like keystone, cornice, pilaster, pediment, portico, and many more architectural features that make up buildings.

Explore the Universe
Where: Air and Space Museum
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

This annual event focuses on how different cultures see the sky. Learn about telescopes and do some daytime observations (weather), see a planetarium show, watch The Chromatics out on an AstroCapella performance, enjoy story time, and more!

Enchanted Forest Cherrybration
Where: Clarks Elioak Farm
When: Saturday & Sunday, 10am – 2pm
Admission: $5 (some activities are extra)

Let little princesses dress up for this visit to the storybook-themed farm (you can read more about it in the list about outdoor outings). Clark’s Elioak will be celebrating Howard County’s “Cherrybration” Days with treats fit for young royalty and plenty of pink pizzazz. Children in a family will get a free hayride if at least one person in the family is dressed as a pink princess. Kids can also dress up in gowns on hand at the farm for a photo opportunity with “Princess Cherrybella.” A Truly Pink Treasure Hunt in the Enchanted Forest Maze will round out the weekend activities.

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

* See Adventure Theatre’s delightful production of James and the Giant Peach
* Reserve free tickets to see Frog Prince, this week’s Saturday Morning at the National performance
* Marsha and the Positrons are playing the Saturday show at Jammin’ Java
* Catch a performance of Beauty and the Beast at The Puppet Co.
* And Bedtime Bunnies is the featured Tiny Tots show there
* Little ones will love Boxes, Boxes, Boxes at Imagination Stage
* NextStop Theatre’s production of Snow White begins this weekend
* Love That Dog will be on stage at BlackRock Center for the Arts
* Los Dos Burritos, a bilungual show for all ages will be at Wall of Books on Saturday and Colony Club on Sunday at 11am both days.

Fun at Fairfax Parks
Where: Several Fairfax parks
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

The Fairfax County Park Authority hosts all kinds of events on weekends for guests of all ages to enjoy. Have lunch with live animals at Huntley Meadows, take a wagon ride at Riverbend, join a princess tea party at Hidden Oaks, star gaze at Burke Lake, and more! Go here to see all of your options, this weekend and beyond, and register for activities.

Kids in the Kitchen
Where: Children’s National Medical Center
When: Saturday, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

The Junior League of Washington is hosting its annual healthy eating and fitness activity fair for children. Designed for ages 3 to 13, the event showcases ways for kids to eat smart and make healthy lifestyle choices. The lineup of activities will include exercise classes like Zumba, CrossFit and yoga, cooking fun with professional chefs, demos from nutrition experts, and more. There will also be crafts, games, goodie bags, and exciting raffle prizes, all to celebrate and promote nutritional literacy. Note that while this is a free event, advance sign-up is required.

DC United vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
Where: RFK Stadium
When: Saturday, 5:30pm
Admission: Tickets prices vary

Kick it at a soccer game as the DC United host the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday evening. Be sure to stop by the Fan Zone in section 222 for a variety of kids activities. For some extra goodies just for young fans, join the Kids Club!

Full STEAM Ahead: Awesome Astronomy
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden
When: Sunday, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

Families are invited to visit the Annmarie artLAB for hands-on investigations and challenges. This month’s astronomy-themed session features fun, engaging activities that will help kids explore, observe, ask questions, and make predictions about the world around them as they create and play! Perfect for all ages, and walk-ins welcome. Be sure to extend your visit to explore the rest of Annmarie, including the art-filled grounds and magical Fairy Lolly — more about it here (cost $5/adult, $3/child).

Family Workshop: Paper Trails
Where: Sackler Gallery
When Sunday, 1–4pm
Admission: Free

In celebration of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, explore the importance of paper across Asian artmaking traditions. With educators from the Freer|Sackler and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, use traditional Japanese papers and bookmaking tools and techniques to create your own artist’s book. Recommended for ages 6–12 and accompanying adults.

The Inside Scoop
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

With un-springlike weather on the way, this post with over 70 ideas for indoor adventures around DC will help keep your crew sheltered and entertained all weekend long.

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Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Festival, Free, Indoor Play, Library of Congress, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Sports, Spring, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend

Gymboree DC is Offering School Skills Classes this Spring!


Want to get your child school-ready in an engaging and playful environment? Gymboree DC is beginning its spring session of School Skills classes for children ages 2.5 – 4.5!

The weekly 1.5-hour drop-off classes are designed to help preschoolers build key social, emotional, and intellectual skills needed for school and life. Activities help develop confidence, curiosity, communication, perseverance, and cooperation, abilities that give children a solid foundation for future learning environments. Zero to Three™, the National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families has identified these seven key social–emotional competencies for school ready children.

Activities & benefits of the School Skills sessions include:

  • Storytime - The teacher and students join together for a storybook adventure and group discussion in support of socialization and early literacy
  • Science - Children share observations and build curiosity through experiments
  • Art - Sculpting and building provide children with interactive fine motor skill activities
  • Movement Exploration - Group and independent games support active play and teamwork
  • Pre-writing - Children are encouraged to recognize letters, numbers and formation


Led by a teacher with over 10 years of experience, the small-sized, drop-off classes will take place on Mondays from 11am – 12:30pm. Classes are suitable for children ages 2.5 – 4.5, and they must be bathroom independent.

Interested in exploring the class with a free preview? Call or email to register: 202-627-2450 |

Gymboree DC is located at 2639 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 113. More information about School Skills, including rates, is available on the website.

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

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Filed under All ages, Class, DC, Educational, Preschoolers, Schools, Sponsored Post, Spring, Weekdays