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Valentine’s Day-Inspired Activities Around the DMV

Graffiti art with heart created by Mr. Brainwash at Union Market's Dock5

Graffiti art with heart created by Mr. Brainwash at Union Market’s Dock5



Do you *heart* celebrating Valentine’s Day with your little (and big) sweeties? Here are some activities happening around the area over the next week that you’re all bound to love. Happy V-Day!

Library Love
Where: DC Public Libraries
When: Various dates
Admission: Free

Join story times, craft sessions, and sing-alongs at some of the city’s libraries; Valentine’s Day-themed activities are taking places on several dates over the next week. Find one that your child will love here.

Skate Date in the Village: Pop-Up Roller Rink
Where: Village at Leesburg
When: February 10-14, 1-9pm (Sunday, 1-5pm)
Admission: Free

Grab your Valentine for a Skate Date in the Village! Go for a spin in a pop-up roller skating rink in the heart of Village at Leesburg all Valentine’s Day weekend. Enjoy merchant specials, surprise treats and a maybe even a fun date night. BONUS: There will be Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 4-9pm! (Rides pick up at Altar’d State.)

Sip, Sew & Art Pre-Valentine’s Day Pop-up (KidFree Suggestion!)
Where: West Elm Pop-up/Lab 1270 @ Union Market
When: February 10, 6:30-9pm
Admission: $40

Sip Some, Sew Some and Create Some! Participants will use a sewing machine to make a pillow (no sewing experience needed). Once your pillow is completed, you can tap into your inner artist skills by creating a Valentine’s Day greeting card. All materials including sewing machines are provided. Light refreshments will be served.

DIY Valentines
Where: National Postal Museum
When: February 11, 11am – 4pm
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 one to love. 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.

Unshrink My Heart
Where: Brentwood Arts Exchange
When: February 11, 2pm
Admission: Free

The arts and crafts icon, Shrinky Dinks, from the 80’s is back! And nothing says “love” like a hand-made pre-shrunk Valentine. Families are invited to create beautiful jewelry, key chains, and other Valentine’s Day gifts for their loved ones. Children will receive their first 2 sheets of blank Shrinky Dinks free, additional sheets will be available to purchase for 50 cents each.

Valentine’s Day Treats for the Birds
Where: Meadowside Nature Center
When: February 11
Admission: $6

This is the time of year when birds could use a little help finding food. Join staff to identify some common winter birds and make them a few treats from household items. Adults must accompany children.

Valentine’ Day Crafts & Cookies
Where: Michael’s
When: February 11
Admission: Varies by session

Head to a Michael’s location for some creative Valentine’s fun. The arts & crafts supply store is hosting drop-in workshops over the next week for cookies, crafts, & more — all with a love theme. Search the website to find a store near you.

Love in Every Language
Where: Sackler Gallery
When: February 11 & 12, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

All ages are welcome to enjoy a digital slideshow of images of love in Asian art. Use that as inspiration to create Valentine’s Day cards with woodblock prints that say “love” in more than a dozen Asian languages and fold heart-shaped origami.

The Power of Chocolate
Where: National Museum of the American Indian
When: February 11-12
Admission: Free

So, it’s not a Valentine’s Day activity, per se, but the timing of this festival focusing on chocolate likely isn’t a coincidence. The story of chocolate begins with a small tree that has its roots deep in the world of Mesoamerican culture, and you can join the NMAI to celebrate one of the world’s most beloved foods. Explore the rich history and ongoing story of chocolate by grinding chocolate, creating a vase with Maya glyphs, and learning more about the science, art and culture of chocolate.

Animal Valentines
Where: Hidden Oaks Nature Center
When: February 12, 1:30-2:15pm
Admission: $7

Play musical valentines and critter sweetheart games as you learn how animals find a mate. Meet live animals at the Nature Center and make an animal valentine craft. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Recommended for ages 4-8.

Valentines Tea and Chocolate
Where:Brookside Gardens
When: February 12, 2-4pm
Admission: $12

Parents and children can celebrate with love, tea, and chocolates. Enjoy a variety of tea, treats, learn about chocolate, taste chocolate treats, plus make a valentine and a tea cup floral arrangement for yourself or a loved one!

Valentine Tea and Poetry
Where: Ellanor C. Lawrence Park
When: February 12, 3-4pm
Admission: $8

Enjoy poetry and tea at the Machen Farm at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park with your little sweetheart. A costumed interpreter shares a Walney mystery love poem and invites you to write your own while dining on mint tea and sugar cookies. Frame your poem in the style of a childhood Valentine. Children must be accompanied by a registered adult. For ages 2 and up.

Love on Ice (with Kids or KidFree)
Where: Canal Park Ice Rink
When: February 14
Admission: Details below

Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday, which conveniently is two-for-one skating at the ice rink — two can skate for the price of one from 4-6pm. Canal Park is also hosting Valentine’s Couple Skate. The rink will be romantically decorated, a capella groups from neighboring universities will perform lovely tunes, and couples can take the memories with them by snapping photos at a photo booth. For a $60 packaged deal, couples can enjoy a pre-fixe dinner for two at il Parco including a bottle of sparkling wine plus skate admission.

Brunch and Skate (with Kids or KidFree)
Where: Washington Harbour
When: February 11 & 12
Admission: $35/person

Enjoy a champagne brunch and some skating at the Washington Harbour. Bring the kids to dine with you (minus the bubbly, of course) at Nick’s Riverside Grill, then glide the day away at the ice rink. The package includes a two-course brunch menu, a bottle of champagne for every two guests, a carafe of OJ, and ice skating. If you go on Sunday, look for a deal on skating admission for the kids from CertifiKid.

All You Need Is Love 5: A Tribute to The Beatles & Love Songs (KidFree Suggestion!)
Where: Jammin Java
When: February 12
Admission: $16

Are you in love, looking for love, or scorning love? Either way, this is how love songs are meant to be heard — intimate and stripped down. Jammin Java’s official Valentine’s tradition is back by popular demand. Anthony Fiacco, Todd Wright and Luke Brindley pay homage to the group that influenced every musician out there with covers of your favorite Beatles love songs as well as originals of their own. Three singer/songwriters sharing the stage, telling stories, and playing songs, it’s like seeing the best local musicians singing your favorite songs in your living room.

Wild Love
Where: City Wildlife
When: February 12
Admission: Free

Take advantage of this rare occasion to visit City Wildlife, the animal rescue and rehabilitation center, as it’s the only time they open their doors to the public. join the Valentine’s Day celebration and tour the facility, enjoy some goodies and get a gift for your Valentine. You can also show your love for DC’s wildlife and help fulfill the organization’s wish list.

Spread Your Wings
Where: iFly Loudoun
When: Discount on purchase through February 14
Admission: Rates vary

Take flight and get your heart racing with sheer exhilaration this Valentine’s Day. iFly, the indoor sky diving experience, is offering a special promotion to celebrate. Use the promo code VDAY17 at checkout and get $20 OFF on the Spread Your Wings for Two and Spread Your Wings Return packages.

Seeing Deeper: Love to the World
Where: Washington National Cathedral
When: February 14, 6:30-8:30pm
Admission: Free

On Valentine’s Day, bring your family, friends or that Special Someone to weave messages of love to the world in this interactive art exhibit. Sized for the grandeur of the Cathedral and the intimacy of human connection, we’ll provide art supplies (or bust that yarn stash!) to help you build a collective expression of love. Or, find your own way to fill the space—explore the depth and breadth of the Cathedral’s space, find a nook for quiet contemplation.



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Exhibits to Experience at the National Geographic Museum

A model of an elephant clock in the "1001 Inventions" exhibit

 

The National Geographic Museum is easily among my favorite museums in DC.  They truly know how to present an exhibit to intrigue and engage visitors of all ages. Owen still talks about all of the cool exhibitions he’s seen there over the years, from the geckos in 2010 to Animal Grossology last year to the recent Titanic display.

What makes them so appealing, especially to kids, is that they aren’t just rooms full of pictures and displays to view.  They are full-on experiences that utilize multimedia and a variety of interactive installations to educate, enrich, amuse, and wow guests.

And I am happy to report that Nat Geo’s two current exhibits, Birds of Paradise: Amazing Avian Evolution and 1001 Inventions: Discover the Golden Age of Muslim Civilization follow suit.  We experienced them this past Monday when the kids were off from school, and everyone — the kids and I, along with friends who joined us — had a great time exploring both.

Incredible images of birds-of-paradise

“Birds of Paradise” is all about the avian creatures for which its titled. Found only in New Guinea and Australia, there are only 39 known species of the birds that are a case study in the evolutionary power of sexual selection, and all are featured in the exhibit.  Their brilliant plumes and funny mating rituals are documented in stunning imagery and amazing footage captured by scientist Edwin Scholes and photographer Tim Laman over eight years and 18 expeditions to the isolated places the birds inhabit.

Jungle scenes projected in screens greet guests

A library area is filled with lots of nooks and crannies containing images, neat facts, and taxidermied birds

But it was the interactives that really drew in the kids. Sasha loved spinning a dial that let her view a male bird’s changing feathers that seemed to reveal a smiley face pattern as he flirted with a female. Both kids had fun pushing buttons on a display to hear all of the different bird calls. Owen and his friend Dylan spent a good amount of time pretending to snap photos of birds, a display that showed the difficulty in getting shots of the birds in the wild. They also enjoyed a digital touch game where they had to match females with males to make a love connection. And perhaps the most fun of all was Dance Dance Evolution, where participants mimic the mating dance of males while other guests spectating can vote by pushing button for their favorite contestant. These are just a few of the fun and fascinating things there.

Bird calls of the wild

A wildlife photog at work

Owen and my friend, Torey, boogie like birds playing Dance Dance Evolution

Since our tickets were good for the whole day and for all of the exhibits, we lunched down the street at Potbelly, then headed back to the museum to tour “1001 Inventions,” a showcase of some of the great discoveries of early Muslim civilization.  That experience began with a short film that has kid appeal and Ben Kingsley as a main character. From there, we headed into the main area of the exhibit, where large installations, many with interactive games and cool displays immediately attracted the kids.

So many fascinating displays and interactives

An overhead view

Sasha takes flight

Through these we learned about the many ways Muslims laid the foundations for many principles of science and technology centuries ago.  A motion-sensing video game has guests flapping their arms to keep an early flying machine aloft.  Number and word games demonstrate early connections to modern mathematics and language. A giant elephant clock and associated displays explain how, 800 years ago, it was one of the first clocks.  A kind of mini-planetarium welcomes guests to explore the stars and learn star names derived from Arabic words.

Having a stellar time

Learning about the earliest rocket launch

Crunching the numbers

There are many, many more interesting facts to discover and displays to explore throughout. And just about all of them are accompanied by videos of the inventors (well, actors playing them) talking about their creations and influence on the modern world. And I had to stifle a laugh when Owen asked me why all them were looking at and talking to him while he was walking around. “How can they see me if they’re inside the TV’s?”  Ah, that was one the Muslims missed, so I had to do a little explaining myself.

Needless to say, I highly recommend the exhibits.  And you can view them in one visit, as admission to the museum gets you access to both. Entry is $8/adults, $6/seniors and students, $4/ages 5-12, free for 4 and under.

1001 Inventions runs through February 3, and Birds of Paradise through May 12, 2013.

 

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