Tag Archives: DC Family Activities

Journey with Earth Explorers at the National Geographic Museum

An Earth Explorer journal entry

An Earth Explorer journal entry



Want to witness animal migrations from a hot air balloon, submerse in the deep sea to study marine life, discover new species in the rain forest, or gear up for a polar expedition? These are all adventures — simulated ones, anyway — to be experienced at the National Geographic Museum’s newest exhibition.

An explorer greeting at the entrance

An explorer greeting at the entrance

Earth Explorers takes you on a journey around the globe, offering a glimpse into the work and passion of real explorers in the field. Hands-on displays, interactive installations, and Nat Geo’s signature stunning visuals are your guides in this informative, inspiring, and fun experience.

Eye-popping exhibits will thrill all ages

Eye-popping exhibits will thrill all ages

Learn more about this featured Earth Explorer

Learn more about this featured Earth Explorer

The exhibit features six stations covering different regions and types of explorations: Base Camp, Oceans, Rain Forests, Mountains and Caves, African Savannah, and Polar Regions. Each area provides a sense of the work environment in its particular setting. Video footage and photos let you see the places and wildlife that exists there. Gear on display shows you the equipment needed to do the work. And field journals from the explorers provide insight into their work — how they got started, how they approach expeditions, what impels them to probe the unknown, and advice for future explorers.

Journals reveal more about each explorer

Journals reveal more about each explorer

The view from the sub

The view from the sub

Get a bird's eye view of the African savannah

Get a bird’s eye view of the African savannah

Guests can get even more of a feel for the work in immersive installations that replicate the experiences of the explorers. Delve into the ocean in a submarine, take an aerial survey of the African savannah from a hot air balloon, study ecosystems under a tent in the rain forest, check out an Arctic cabin and learn how scientists study polar animals, and ride in an off road vehicle used in the field. These are just some of the larger interactive elements. Smaller ones, like touchscreen displays and fun, wall-mounted trivia games, abound.

Chill out in an Arctic cabin

Chill out in an Arctic cabin

Interactives are fun and educational

Interactives are fun and educational

There are so many neat details to the exhibit that you’ll feel like an explorer yourself as you go through it. You don’t want to miss something that might provide key insight into a particular region or expedition or discovery. And a unique supplement is an interactive digital experience that utilizes an advanced technology, augmented reality (AR), to bring various animals inside the exhibit to life on your iOS or Android device.

Tropical trivia

Tropical trivia

Earth Explorers is also an exhibit with all-ages appeal. While probably best for about ages 8-13 — there is quite a bit of reading and information that older kids will digest more easily — younger children will love the hands-on and immersive parts along with striking and playful imagery and video. No matter what age, it’s meant to inspire and get kids to think about what they might want to be when they grow up.

It’s given me all kinds of ideas! 😉

Earth Explorers is on view at the National Geographic Museum through September 10, 2017. Tickets are $15/adult, $12/seniors, student, & military, $10/ages 5-12, free for under 5. Museum hours are 10am – 6pm.


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Filed under All ages, Animals, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Museums, Nature, Tweens, Weekdays, Weekend

Tips for Families Viewing the Cherry Blossoms (2017)

DC at its peak

DC at its peak

[Note: With the announcement of the predicted cherry blossom peak dates, it’s time to bring back this annual KFDC post. This was originally written in 2011 (hence, the now very outdated Lost reference) and has been updated every year since. But because the tips always apply, I’m re-posting yet again, just with a few minor updates applicable to this year’s bloom.]


Taking the family to the National Mall to see some pretty flowers sounds easy enough. If only it actually was. The cherry blossom peak, predicted to occur March 14-17 19-22 this year, is one of the best times to visit DC. The city is at its most beautiful, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival provides loads of fun activities to help enjoy it all. But viewing the famous blooms can also be a bit challenging without being aware of a few things. Here are seven recommendations to consider if seeing the cherry blossoms is on your family’s March agenda.

1. Don’t drive if you value your sanity. Take the Metro, ride the bus, bike, walk, jet pack. Get here however you can, just leave the car at home. Traffic is beyond frustrating during the cherry blossom peak, and your chances of finding decent parking are about as good as hitting the Powerball with Hurley’s numbers (okay, slight exaggeration, but it is hard). The masses descend on Washington, DC, this time of year, and way too many do so in their vehicles. Besides, kids love riding the Metro—it’s like an urban version of Hogwarts Express. The Smithsonian stop on the Blue/Orange Line is mere minutes from all of the blossom action, but it’s also guaranteed to be crowded. Consider riding to L’Enfant on Yellow/Green, Federal Center on Blue/Orange, or even a stop downtown or in Penn Quarter and taking a nice stroll to the blossoms. *If you absolutely must drive and need parking you might find a spot at Hains Point, where there is free and metered parking, then walk or take a shuttle ($1/person) to the Tidal Basin. There is also a parking garage at L’Enfant Plaza. Your best bet, though, might be to find a garage in the downtown or Penn Quarter area, then walk or Metro to the National Mall. Update: You can ensure yourself a spot with Parking Panda, an online parking reservation service that let you search for and reserve spaces in advance. Through April 15, use the promo code CherryBlossom17 to get 10% off your first reservation in Washington, DC!

Flying among the flowers

Flying among the flowers

2. Visit on a weekday if you have the flexibility. Crowds are significantly smaller from Monday to Friday, so you can stroll around the Tidal Basin at a nice pace, and public transportation won’t be nearly as packed (though it still will be more crowded than usual). But if the kids are in school or daycare during the week, think about going later in the day. The National Mall and monuments look beautiful at sunset, and the blossoms make it even more sublime. In the same vein, if you can go super early, the morning light on the Mall makes for quite a picturesque setting, too.

Peak time around the National Mall

Peak time around the National Mall

3. Consider using a child carrier instead of a stroller for little ones. This is especially applicable if you take Metro, since elevator lines can be very long and slow-going. I learned my lesson several years ago on a weekday and ended up taking my daughter out of the stroller and carrying both on the escalator, which was probably as unsafe as it was difficult. Even if you don’t take Metro, a carrier is still a wise option. Navigating crowded walkways while pushing a pram takes focus, and you could end up spending more time concentrating on not rolling over others’ heels than enjoying the sights you came to see. It’s a bonus for wee ones, too — perched on your back, your babe will get a better view of the blossoms.

4. Check the National Cherry Blossom Festival schedule, so you can plan your visit accordingly. Some of the city’s most anticipated events are part of the annual celebration, the Blossom Kite Festival, Southwest Waterfront Fireworks, National Cherry Blossom Parade, and Sakura Matsuri among them. Most events take place close by the blossoms or an easy Metro ride away. While peak bloom is expected before the Festival even begins this year, there might still be some flowering trees for the early events, just maybe a bit past their peak. Other events will be a good month beyond the bloom, so expect more green leaves then. This post has details on cherry blossom season celebration, and be sure to visit the National Cherry Blossom Festival website for dates and details on events.

Get a view of the blossoms from the water

Get a view of the blossoms from the water

5. Get a new view of the blossoms and enjoy a fun activity from the comfort of a cruise on the Potomac. Several companies offer boat rides along the river, many of them specifically for the season when the cherry trees are in bloom. Capitol River Cruises, Potomac Riverboat Company, and DC Water Taxi are a few to check out. Though before you go straight to the websites, look for a deal on Goldstar, Groupon, or Certifikid. We’ve gotten great offers that way. You can also opt for a paddle boat excursion on the Tidal Basin and navigate the waters yourself.

Playing under blossoms at the Arboretum

Playing under blossoms at the Arboretum

6. Seek out other spots to see the cherry blossoms if you don’t want to deal with crowds and chaos around the Tidal Basin and National Mall. Several places around the DC-Metro area are well known for their annual cherry blossom displays. When I worked in Bethesda many years ago, it was an annual tradition for my colleagues and me to take a drive through Kenwood, a lovely neighborhood between Little Falls Parkway and River Road with cherry tree-lined streets. The National Arboretum also has a nice collection of the trees and offers a beautiful, peaceful environment in which to view them in bloom. Dumbarton Oaks Gardens is one of the prettiest places in DC and its annual blossoms only add to it.

7. Have your camera ready to take advantage of some of the best photo ops DC offers. The peak colors plus the monuments are about as iconic as you can get when photographing Washington. Get your kids to sit still — or even let them run and play for a fun candid — and you’ve got this year’s holiday card.

Can't beat the blossom backdrop for photos

Can’t beat the blossom backdrop for photos


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Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, DC, Festival, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Spring, Weekdays, Weekend

The Library of Congress: A Local & National Treasure for All Ages

The magnificent Great Hall at the Library of Congress

The magnificent Great Hall at the Library of Congress



Recently, I realized I had yet to post a write-up about the Library of Congress. Which is kind of surprising given that we live just blocks away, within walking distance, and it’s one of DC’s most iconic, fascinating, beautiful attractions that makes for a great outing with kids.

We don’t visit all that frequently, but we’ve spent a decent amount of time there over the years. I used to pop in more when the kids were little to stroll around the grand space, and Sasha and I would occasionally attend story time on Fridays at the Young Readers Center. And while I’ve mentioned it here and there over the years to recommend those regular book readings and other special events for families, there’s been no KFDC dedicated post. Until now.

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It was the recent announcement of new Saturday hours at the Young Readers Center that brought this to my attention. Dedicated to readers from babies to teens, visitors are welcome to explore the collection of books and enjoy both regular and occasional special programs for kids and parents. On the shelves you’ll find everything from board and picture books to early reader chapter books to middle reader series and YA novels. And while you can’t check them out of the library, guests are free to settle in there with a good read.

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Within a such palatial, stately building, the space is a nice, cozy place to hang out and read with kiddos (or let older kids read on their own). Plenty of comfy seating and even stuffed animals to snuggle with are available. There are also small toys around for little ones to play with as they explore. The Young Readers Center is open Monday through Saturday 9am – 4:30pm, and hosts a free story time every Friday at 10am (space is limited to 50 people, so plan accordingly).

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loc_floor

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Don’t make that your only stop on an outing to the Library of Congress! There is so much to see and do beyond that — it’s the largest library in the world, after all. The magnificent architecture and stunning design alone will wow visitors young and old. Stand in the Great Hall and look around — you’ll see lots of other people gazing up at the ornate ceilings, reading inscriptions on walls, examining sculptures and paintings and even the beautiful floors, and just wandering around marveling at it all. There are interactives where you can get information about the significance, history, and artistry of the various features. And two very popular displays are a Giant Bible of Mainz and an original Gutenberg Bible.

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From the Great Hall, you can easily access Thomas Jefferson’s Library, a reconstruction of the president’s library arranged in the same particular order he preferred. There are 2,000 volumes from his original collection, plus another 3,000 or so that match those destroyed in an 1851 fire at the Capitol. It’s a huge and impressive treasury of books!

Taking in the view ofthe Main Reading Room

Taking in the view ofthe Main Reading Room

Another must-see is the Main Reading Room, which you can’t actually enter without a special pass but can view from an overlook. The vast space has ceilings 160 feet high and at the center of its dome is a mural depicting twelve figures representing “the countries, cultures, and eras that contributed to the development of Western civilization as understood in 1897.” Be sure to also take a look around at the bronze statues representing great influences in various subjects. (This area is accessible to researchers ages 16 and up. Go here to learn more.)

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The exhibit Exploring the Early Americas contains an interesting collection of rare maps, paintings, and artifacts. Show kids what explorers thought the world looked like centuries ago, and get a close look at a case of ceramic flasks and vessels sculpted with faces and symbolic designs.

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There are even more exhibits downstairs that change out seasonally. Recently, paraphernalia highlighting presidents and the women’s movement were showcased. Follow the long hallway and you’ll come to the Bob Hope and American Variety exhibit and the American Folk Life Center. There is even a room of pianos dedicated to Gerswhin.

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loc_bob_hope

I should note that all of this is in the Thomas Jefferson Building, one of three that make up the entire Library of Congress. It’s great to explore on your own, but guided tours are also available hourly every day beginning at 10:30am until 3:30pm (2:30pm on Saturdays). You can also check the calendar for any other programs taking place.

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And if you’re feeling ambitious about your day out, take the tunnel from the Library to the U.S. Capitol Building. Yes, you can follow a long underground hallway to the Capitol Visitor Center and embark on a whole new tour there!

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The Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building is located on First Street SE, between Independence Avenue and East Capitol Street. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9am – 4:30pm. Admission is free.


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Filed under All ages, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Library of Congress, Museums, Ongoing, Weekdays, Weekend

The Weekend Round-Up: December 16-18

A close look at the Capitol tree

A close look at the Capitol tree



nasm_stem_magic

This round-up is heavy on holiday events, but you’ll find a few other activities and events sprinkled in, too. For even more, the Everyday Play page is loaded with all kinds of ideas for getting out and about around the DMV. Happy Weekend!

Season’s Greenings
Where: US Botanic Garden
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

The Botanic Garden’s annual holiday attraction never disappoints. The conservatory exhibit features Washington landmarks constructed from plant materials and one of the city’s largest Christmas trees. But the highlight, hands-down, is the garden railway, which never fails to impress and enchant with intricate, imaginative designs — this year’s National Parks and Historic Sites theme is especially great. A heads-up that it’ll probably be crowded, but the line usually moves quickly, and it really is a beautiful, fun, unique display to see! And if you go in the late afternoon, plan to stop and see the Capitol Christmas Tree after as it’s lit every evening at sundown.

Wreaths Across America
Where: Arlington National Cemetery
When: Saturday, 9:30am – 2pm
Admission: Free

A chance for the whole family to volunteer! Help place Veterans’ Remembrance Wreaths on the graves of American heroes buried at Arlington National Cemetery. There is no sign-up or age requirement — families are encouraged to volunteer together. Be sure to visit the website for details, including schedule and meeting location. Read about more family-friendly volunteer opportunities around the DC area.

Cookies & Cocoa with Santa
Where: Topgolf Alexandria
When: Saturday, 9-11am
Admission: Free

Santa Claus is coming to town and this year he’s bringing Cookies & Cocoa! This free event for families with children 12 and under will feature cookies to snack on, a hot chocolate bar, a holiday-themed gift, and kids’ activities. Santa will be there for complimentary photos, and all pictures taken will be available for download on the Topgolf Alexandria Facebook page after the event.

More Holiday Happenings
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Get into the holiday spirit the area in all kinds of ways at every price point. Take the Magical Holiday Express at the B&O Railroad Museum. Enjoy an atrium full of activities for little ones at Christmas on the Potomac. View holiday planes and trains at the Aviation Museum. Take a street car ride with Santa at the Holly Trolley Fest. Find details on all of these events and more are in the 2016 Holiday Guide.

A Solstice Circus
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: Saturday & Sunday
Tickets: $25/adult, $15/ages 11 and under

In the darkest winter days, one young man discovers that he has the power to bring light and inspire joy in even the most surprising places. This holiday show is an uplifting, delightful spectacle that will amaze the whole family. Featuring acrobats, aerialists, jugglers, and other dazzling performances – the spirit is sure to be contagious! Start a new and unique holiday tradition by coming to the circus! Appropriate for all ages.

Jazz Hip Hop Nutcracker
Where: Woodrow Wilson High School
When: Saturday, 5pm & Sunday, 3pm
Admission: $23-30/adults, $20-24 seniors/10+, $14-18/under 10

Check out a unique, high-energy twist to the typical Nutcracker featuring lots of local kids as Capitol Hill’s Momentum Dance Theatre presents its 18th annual Jazz Hip Hop Nutcracker. We caught a show last week and loved watching students as young as 5 years perform along with the professional dancers! The show is set to music from Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite plus hip hop, pop, funk, and more — you’ll be dancing in your seats along with the performers. (And look out for Owen’s best buddy showing off his sweet pop & lock moves!)

More Holiday Entertainment
Where: Local theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

Much of the live entertainment on local stages right now is holiday-inspired.
Stomp over to the Atlas for Step Afrika!’s Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show. See the ultimate holiday classic The Nutcracker performed by the Washington Ballet at the Warner Theatre or catch a tot-friendly version at The Puppet Co. Join the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future as they lead Scrooge on A Christmas Carol journey at Ford’s Theatre. Enjoy The Grinch Who Stole Christmas at the National Theatre. Get details on these shows and others in the 2016 Holiday Guide.

GLOW With It
Where: Georgetown
When: Through January 1, 6-10pm
Admission: Free

See Georgetown in a whole new light — literally. Georgetown GLOW has the neighborhood sparkling with modern light art installations, some of them interactive, on display throughout the bustling community, which is extra lively and festive this time of year. The works are illuminated all around the neighborhood, and finding them is part of the adventure. Take the family to dinner or skating at Washington Harbour, then go for a stroll to check them all out.

Journey to Narnia
Where: Adventure Theatre
When: Throughout the Weekend
Admission” $19.50

Adventure Theatre’s clever and creative production of the classic The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe is a family must-see this season! The two-actor show is exciting and fun, getting the audience in on the adventure, too. All ages will enjoy the journey to Narnia with the Pevensie siblings!

Showtime Beyond the Holidays
Where: Local theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by performance

Want to see a show without all the holiday trimmings? Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is on the Imagination Stage. The Sheakespeare Theatre Company presents The Secret Garden at Sidney Harman Hall. Carousel and Moby Dick are running at Arena Stage. The Kennedy Center has Into the Woods and Wicked among its theatre options. Mary Poppins is at Olney Theatre. And Adventures with Mr. Bear starts at the Atlas on Sunday. Descriptions, ticket info, and links to discounts for all of these are in this new round-up of
winter entertainment
.

Making Stem Magic: Innovation
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15

Join the Air & Space Museum for Making STEM Magic, a monthly program that introduces young visitors to engineering in a fun and creative way. In the December challenge, learn about the Wright brothers and test your design skills as you design, create, and test your own paper copter.

Shakespeare Theatre, Family-Style
Where: Sidney Harman Hall
When: Sunday (and through December 18)
Admission: Varies by activity

Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual Family Week offers free and low-cost programs for all ages celebrating the themes, story, and artists of their current production, The Secret Garden. Workshops, events and conversations run through this weekend. And families can also get a special discount on tickets during this time — see the website for details.

Night Lights
Where: Around the area
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday Evenings
Admission: Varies by locale

Twinkling lights forming enchanting displays are easily a holiday season favorite. Visit one of several parks, the National Zoo, or Mormon Temple in the area that has transformed into a sparkling wonderland. Some you can walk through for an up-close experience, others you tour by car. Either way, get ready to be dazzled.

Children’s Holiday Celebration
Where: MLK Library
When: Saturday, 2-4pm
Admission: Free

Join MLK Library staff in the Children’s Room for a festive holiday program. Celebrate the season with crafts, stories, games, and lots of fun — including a chance to meet Santa! Recommended for ages 12 and under.

Open Studio & Ceramics Sale
Where: Hollow Works Studio
When: Saturday, 11am –
Admission: Free

Shop for one-of-a-kind ceramics in the artist’s studio! Hollow Works Ceramics, a recent addition to the KFDC Holiday Gift Guide, sells beautiful, unique bowls, mugs, and vases that would make perfect presents. See for yourself here, but plan to shop on Saturday. The studio is located in the alley right off of 7th and H Streets NE.

Winter Solstice in MoCo
Where: Montgomery County Parks
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: $6

Montgomery Parks will host three winter solstice celebrations this year featuring crafts, campfires, treats and more. Roast marshmallows, hear winter tales, and make a lantern at Meadowside Nature Center. Enjoy shadow-puppet theatre, sip cider, and make cultural crafts at Brookside. And have treats by the campfire at Locust Grove. Look for details about all of these celebrations here.

Holiday Shop
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Mostly free

If you’re still working through your gift list, there are several special holiday markets around the area, where you can find unique presents by local vendors and then some. Head to Penn Quarter, National Harbor, or Alexandria for great seasonal markets or to Capitol Hill for a weekend institution. More info about all of them is available in the 2016 Holiday Guide. And if you need some gift ideas, be sure check out the KFDC Holiday Gift Guide!

The Great Indoors
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

So, we’ll be going from an arctic blast to temps in the 60’s by Sunday — but the warmer weather will come with rain. The big list of ideas for outings that take place inside will come in handy. (And secretly hoping that I’ll jinx it by writing this, and the weekend will be gorgeous.)

Here Comes Chanukah!
Where: Edlavitch DCJCC
When: Sunday, 10am – 12pm
Admission: $25/family

Grab your socks and yarmulke, it’s time to bounce for Chanukah. Start celebrating early at this rockin’ Chanukah party, featuring a moon bounce, games, crafts, treats, and plenty of fun for the whole family!

Nutcracker Family Yoga
Where: Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church
When: Sunday, 3pm
Admission: $20/parent & child, $10/additional child

Calling all soldiers and sugar plum fairies! Breathing Space Yoga invites you to enjoy a classic tale in a new way! Families will bring the Nutcracker story to life through yoga, dance, music, and lots of heart. Bring your sense of wonder and magic and join in for a special journey that will get you into the holiday spirit!

Go Rogue
Where: Local movie theaters
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by theater

In case you hadn’t heard, the newest Star Wars film opens in theaters today. If you’re planning to take the kids to see Rogue One this weekend, the Air & Space Museum would be a suitable place to catch a screening. And if you want a little insight on it before, the Washington Post has several reviews.


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Filed under All ages, Animals, Annual, Art, Christmas, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Free, Holidays, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Seasonal, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend

The Weekend Round-Up: December 10-11

Skate under the stars at Washington Harbour

Skate under the stars at Washington Harbour



Up to 40% Off All Bikes at PUBLIC Bikes. Save on stylish commuter bikes at PUBLIC. A bike is the best holiday gift. No offer code necessary.


Holiday season is in full swing, and this round-up of recs is proof with a loads of ways to celebrate the season. And DC’s tried and true activities are always a good bet for family fun — you can refer to the big list of indoor activities, or enjoy some cool outdoor pursuits. Happy Weekend!

#StandWithComet
Where: Comet Ping Pong
When: Friday, 11:30a – 9:30pm
Admission: Your meal and a big tip!

Show some support for this local institution! A favorite of many for pizza and family-friendly dining has had an undeserved rough time as of late, and the community is showing we stand with them by patronizing the restaurant today. Eat some pizza, play some ping pong, and show them some love. Read more about Comet here.

DIY Holiday Cards
Where: National Postal Museum
When: Saturday, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Create one-of-a-kind handmade cards at the museum all about mail. The National Postal Museum provides beautiful holiday stamps from all over the world, along with a variety of crafts supplies to both inspire your creativity and decorate your cards. We’ve been to this event a few times over the years, and its always very well-organized and tons of fun. Plan to stay after to tour the exhibits, many of them interactive and interesting for all ages. Read more about the museum in here.

GLOW with It
Where: Georgetown
When: Nightly through January 1, 6-10pm
Admission: Free

See Georgetown in a whole new light — literally. Georgetown GLOW has the neighborhood sparkling with modern light art installations, some of them interactive, on display throughout the bustling community, which is extra lively and festive this time of year. The works are illuminated all around the neighborhood, and finding them is part of the adventure. Take the family to dinner or skating at Washington Harbour, then go for a stroll to check them all out.

Journey to Narnia
Where: Adventure Theatre
When: Throughout the Weekend
Admission” $19.50

Holiday magic comes to the Adventure Theatre stage in this very clever and creative production of the classic The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. The two-actor show is exciting and fun, getting the audience in on the adventure, too. All ages will enjoy the journey to Narnia with the Pevensie siblings!

Italian Holiday Festival
Where: Smithsonian American Art Museum
When: Saturday, 11:30am-3pm
Admission: Free

There’s no place like SAAM for the holidays. To celebrate the vibrant culture of Italy, Simona Rodano returns as The Italian Fairy to engage kids with the beauty of her native language. Along with Nutcracker ballet and winter-themed crafts, this festival will have all the music and Italian flair you’ll need to get in the spirit of this joyful season.

“Yes, Virginia” Family Day
Where: Newseum
When: Saturday, 1-4pm
Admission: FREE for kids (details below), $19.50/adult

Celebrate the season with the Newseum at its 18th annual “Yes, Virginia” Family Day. Join for a reading of the heart-warming editorial, Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus. Afterward, the One-and-Only Macy’s Santa Claus will make a special guest appearance to read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” and pose for photos with good boys and girls as Figgy Puddings Holiday Carolers from the Washington National Opera provide entertainment. Kids 18 and younger will receive free admission that day if they bring a letter to put in Macy’s Believe Mailbox. (There will also be a table outside the Newseum where youth can fill out a letter on the spot). Macy’s will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish® for every letter collected. For more about the museum, see this KFDC post.

Holiday Cheer
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Holiday-themed fun is happening all over the area in all kinds of ways at every price point. See model trains buzz around the National Parks and Historic Sites-themed display at the US Botanic Garden’s Season’s Greetings exhibit. Or take the Magical Holiday Express at the B&O Railroad Museum. Enjoy an atrium full of activities for little ones at Christmas on the Potomac. View holiday planes and trains at the Aviation Museum. Take a street car ride with Santa at the Holly Trolley Fest. Find details on all of these events and more are in the 2016 Holiday Guide.

“Shop” & Gift Hope
Where: Discovery Elementary School, Arlington
When: Saturday, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Put a new spin on gift-giving and philanthropy. At this Gifts That Give Hope Fair, you can support the community and give a meaningful gift by making a donation to one of 17 locally-based nonprofits featured at the fair. Personalize the card to a loved one, then give that act of kindness in their name. Shoppers of all ages are making GTGH an annual tradition, and there are some special touches this year just for them, including a Spanish-language children’s choir, interactive science experiments with Rosie Riveters, face-painting, Dr. Bear from Children’s National, and refreshments.

EdFEST
Where: DC Armory
When: Saturday, 11am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Explore the city’s many public school PK3-12 options for your child. Representatives from DC public schools (DCPS) and DC public charter schools will showcase their programs, just in time to help you make informed school selections for the 2017-18 school year common lottery. The event will also feature many free services and fun activities for the whole family, including games and entertainment; sports activities; story time; and flu shots, immunizations, and dental services.

Nationals Winterfest
Where: Washington Convention Center
When: Saturday & Sunday, 11:30am – 4pm
Admission: $33/adult, $23/child, under 2 are free

It’s the ultimate holiday season celebration for Nats fans! Join clinics with Nationals players and coaches, watch a Homerun Derby featuring the Nationals mascots, make a snow fort, take batting practice, hear a winter or baseball themed story read by a Nationals player, ride down The Slider – a giant slide reminiscent of a sledding hill, and more. Guests can also meet and greet their favorite Nats players and mascots, take a photo with Santa, strike a pose at the life-size snow globe photo station, and donate a toy to a child in need.

Hyattsville for the Holidays
Where: Hyattsville Arts District
When: Through December 17
Admission: Free (but plan to shop!)

Kick off a week of fun-filled neighborly holiday festivities for the whole family in Hyattsville. Participating businesses along the Arts District corridor are extending their shopping hours, offering engaging workshops for all ages, and hosting receptions for friends all over the DC Metro area to gather and celebrate all the innovative and artistic businesses that are blossoming in the Gateway Arts District. Franklin’s, Green Owl Design, and Tanglewood Works are a few of the places in the mix, plus there’s a chance to win prizes from them, too!

Family Opera: Goyesquitas
Where: GALA Hispanic Theatre
When: Saturday, 2:30pm
Admission: $25/adult, $23/senior, $15/student

Take the whole family on a musical journey to Spain with composer-pianist Enrique Granados as your tour guide! Goyesquitas, an original production from The In Series: Opera & More, celebrates Spanish culture through lovely music and lively dance. Audiences of all ages can explore cultural traditions as they hear, see, and dance along to the music around them.

Jazz Hip Hop Nutcracker
Where: Woodrow Wilson High School
When: Saturday, 5pm & Sunday, 3pm
Admission: $23-30/adults, $20-24 seniors/10+, $14-18/under 10

Capitol Hill’s Momentum Dance Theatre presents its 18th annual Jazz Hip Hop Nutcracker. The show is a unique, high-energy twist to the typical Nutcracker, set to music from Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite plus hip hop, pop, funk, and more. Momentum’s professional performers are joined by students as young as age 5. Expecting a tree? Nope. A Nutcracker? Yes, but not the one you knew as a child. A prince and mice? Yep. Rats and ninjas? You bet! (The school is located at 3950 Chesapeake Ave. NW.)

Russian Winter Festival
Where: Hillwood Estate
When: Saturday
Admission: $18/adults, $12/members, $5/ages 6-18, free under 6

Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden are on hand at Sviatki, a Russian-style celebration of the holidays. Winsome characters will surprise and delight visitors across the estate, create and wear your own headpiece, listen to festive music, and enjoy a variety of live cultural entertainment.

Show Time
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

For shows without the seasonal trimmings, dance along with Rainbow Rock at Jammin Java. Enjoy Adventures with Mr. Bear at The Lab at Convergence. Or take little ones to Aquarium at Imagination Stage. Make it date night to see a fantastic production of Carousel at Arena Stage or take older kids to see Moby Dick there. Go Into the Woods at the Kennedy Center. See Sheakepeare Theatre Company’s enchanting and moving performance of The Secret Garden.

Holidays on Stage
Where: Local theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

If you’re looking for holiday-inspired entertainment, there’s plenty of that now. Enjoy the ultimate holiday classic The Nutcracker performed by the Washington Ballet at Warner Theatre. Join the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future as they lead Scrooge on A Christmas Carol journey at Ford’s Theatre, or see Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at Imagination Stage. Get details on these shows and see what else is coming up in the 2016 Holiday Guide.

Santa Brunch & The Nutcracker
Where: City Club of Washington
When: Saturday, 11am – 2pm
Admission: $15/child, $30/member, $40/non-member, Nutcracker tickets sold separately

Jeté into the holiday spirit by joining City Club Members and their families for a delicious meal, pictures with Santa, and gingerbread house making. All of this will be followed by a matinee presentation of The Nutcracker at 2pm at The Warner Theatre!

Wizard School Scavenger Hunt for Harry Potter Fans
Where: National Gallery of Art
When: Saturday, 2pm
Admission: $17.50/ages 10-17, $19.50/18 and up

Join Watson Adventures on a unique Harry Potter-themed scavenger hunt for kids 10 & up! Follow in the footsteps of young wizards on a field trip to the National Gallery in search of art that echoes characters, places and enchanted objects in the famed Harry Potter books and movies. Wizards and muggles alike can play and enjoy this hunt. The hunt is not an addition to or variation on Harry’s adventures, but instead references to the books will provide a surprising bridge to many strange and wonderful works of art. It’s a great way to discover—or rediscover—the museum. This hunt is designed for kids and adults to do together, but all-adult teams will be allowed to compete separately. Kids must be accompanied by an adult. Advance purchase is required.

Winter’s Eve
Where: Glen Echo Park
When: Saturday, 4-7pm
Admission: Free

Get into the holiday spirit at Glen Echo Park’s annual Winter’s Eve celebration. It’s free, open to the public, and visitors of all ages can enjoy performances, arts & crafts open studios, hot chocolate, and a holiday sing-along. Browse and buy fine artworks at the Holiday Art Show and artist studios. Kids and adults can create gifts to share in the holiday-themed craft rooms.

Songs for Unusual Creatures
Where: Kennedy Center
When: Saturday, 6pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy free entertainment on Saturday evening! It’s Target Family Night at Millennium Stage, the Kennedy Center’s free nightly performance. Composer, multi-instrumentalist, and writer Michael Hearst presents a special music program featuring some of Earth’s strangest animals and interesting, uncommon instruments.

Santa’s Elves Hunt
Where: Mansion on O Street
When: Sunday, many times slots available
Admission: $35

Join a festive holiday treasure hunt to help Santa find special goodies found only at O Museum in The Mansion! Easily one of the neatest places in the city, the Dupont Circle locale is filled literally floor to ceiling with all kinds of interesting items — and all of them for sale, so you can do some holiday shopping, too! Be ready to see some really funky decor, and keep an eye out for secret doors. Read more about this wonderful site here.

Magical Mirrors Children’s Book Fair
Where: Sankofa Video, Books & Café
When: Sunday
Admission: Free

Stock up on kids’ holiday gifts as DC’s largest collector of African-American children’s literature hosts its 5th Annual book fair! A special treat this year will be a chance to see author Sherrita Berry-Petus on Sunday, as she reads from her books, “Rock on With Your Afro Puffs” and “Smile Bright Chocolate Prince.”

Sunday at the Studio
Where: Gary Rosenthal Collection
When: Sunday, several time slots available
Admission: $22.50/family

Feeling a need for a joyful creative outlet? Want to take some broken pieces and make them whole? Join PJ Library for a unique craft opportunity. Nationally renown local artist Gary Rosenthal is welcoming guests to his studio to create fused-glass mosaic and metal art! These beautiful, heirloom-quality keepsakes also make great gifts. A wide range of project choices will be offered. All levels of artistic ability and ages welcome, but small children need supervision. Gary’s studio is located at 4218 Howard Avenue in Kensington, MD.

Christmas on the Big Screen
Where: Arlington Cinema Draft House
When: Sunday, 12:30-9pm
Admission: $8

Catch a merry flick — or eight — and get into the holiday spirit. This Christmas-themed movie marathon welcomes you to join for as many films as you’d like. You can even pop in for one early, leave, then return for evening entertainment. All for one very reasonable admission price!

Family-Style with Shakespeare Theatre
Where: Sidney Harman Hall
When: Sunday (and through December 18)
Admission: Varies by activity

Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual Family Week is returning with free and low-cost programs, something for all ages. STC will celebrate the themes, story, and artists of their current production, The Secret Garden, through the workshops, events and conversations. Families can also get a special discount on tickets during this time — see the website for details.

Market (Holi)Days
Where: Eastern Market
When: Sunday
Admission: Free

A Capitol Hill weekend institution gets extra festive this weekend as Eastern Market celebrates the holidays. Along with the numerous vendors selling their art, accessories, treats, and more, there will be special activities for all ages, Make crafts, here stories, watch a juggler, and do some tree decorating, and more. See the website for the day’s schedule.

Ice It
Where: Local ice rinks
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

Warm up with a quintessential cold weather activity! Lace up the ice skates and get gliding at one of many outdoor rinks in the area. Enjoy art as you skate at the Sculpture Garden; circle the rink at Washington Harbour; meander the paths at Canal Park; or do some holiday shopping then skate at Pentagon Row, Tyson’s Corner, Veteran’s Plaza, Rockville Town Square, or Reston Town Center. This post has details on both alfresco and indoor ice skating options in the area.

Colonial Wassail
Where: Claude Moore Colonial Farm
When: Saturday
Admission: $3/adult, $2/child, free for 2 and under

“Stand fast, root! Bear well, top!
God send us a howling crop!” In the winter the apple trees need encouragement to bear fruit during the coming year, so Claude Moore Colonial Farm invites you to gather in the orchard to wassail the trees with singing, dancing and chants to ensure “a howling crop.” Enjoy hot spiced cider, sugar cakes, a roaring bonfire, and 18th century games, too – a fun and educational activity for all!

Light it Up
Where: Around the area
When: Evenings
Admission: Varies by locale

Twinkling lights forming enchanting displays are easily a holiday season favorite. Visit one of several parks or gardens (or the Zoo!) that has transformed into a sparkling wonderland. Some you can walk through for an up-close experience, others you tour by car. If you opt for the latter, dress the kids in PJ’s, turn up the holiday tunes, and bring along a thermos of hot chocolate. Either way, expect to be dazzled!

**If you’re doing some holiday shopping this weekend, check out the KFDC Holiday Gift Guide, full of ideas and inspiration for gifts for all ages at all price points (even free!), from kids’ products to theatre tickets to unique experiences to gifts that give back!**

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