Tag Archives: DC Museums

The 2016 KFDC Guide to Summer in DC

Summer in the city

Summer in the city



The timing couldn’t be better to bring back this annual guide. The sun is shining brightly, blue has returned to the skies, and the mercury is rising — and we’ve got a nice stretch of this ahead. Quash any doubts that were starting to creep in… DC is going to have a summer!

Ah, summer. The time of year to shift gears — from close-toed shoes to sandals, jeans to shorts, red wine to margaritas. It’s when play dates extend well into the evening, a dip in the pool counts as a bath, and the folks at the neighborhood water ice shop know the kids by name.

It’s also when we can enjoy some of DC’s best activities. Music and movies in the open air, special fests and feasts, water-inspired recreation, and bonus attractions at everyday places are just some of the joys of the season.

And while summer may not officially begin for a few more weeks, Memorial Day weekend is when it kicks off in my mind, and it also marks the start of many seasonal favorites. So, unpack the swimsuits and flip flops, get out the blender for margaritas (smoothies for the kids), and get ready to have some summer fun!

Outdoor Pool Season
Play in the Sprays
Water Parks
Summer Concerts
Festivals
Big Screen Under the Stars
Museum Programs & Seasonal Exhibits
Movies, Storytimes, & More
Mini Trains, Carousels, Mini Golf, & a Ferris Wheel
Children’s Theatre
Summer Sports
Crab Feasts
Seasonal Experiences


Outdoor Pool Season
Nothing says summer like swimming under the sun, and there are plenty of public pools in the area where you can jump in for free or a small admission fee.

  • DC outdoor public pools will open on Saturday, May 28, from 12 – 6pm and will be open weekends only through June 12, as well as Memorial Day, Monday, May 29. Starting June 18, they will open daily, though all pools are closed one day a week for maintenance, so be sure to check the schedule before you go. And note that they will open earlier on weekdays this year, at 11am! (And some open even earlier than that for lap swim.)
  • For outdoor swimming outside of the city, Montgomery County outdoor public pools will open on May 27 through Labor Day — the Department of Recreation website has locations and hours.
  • In Northern Virginia, Arlington’s Upton Hill has a whole water park for guests to enjoy, and Alexandria has several places where the public is welcome to swim. Be sure to check the website for hours, as they vary from pool to pool.


A refreshing run through the sprays at Georgetown Waterfront Park

A refreshing run through the sprays at Georgetown Waterfront Park


Play in the Sprays
Kids can run through fountains and splash around at many area spraygrounds. Several are within the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, but some of the best are built right into the urban landscape, making the concrete jungle a cool place to hang out during the hottest months.

  • Georgetown Waterfront Park, right next to the Washington Harbour, has a fountain with arcing sprays that makes for a fun, refreshing way to cool off on a hot, summer day. The rest of its pretty green space along the Potomac is a great place to hang out, too.
  • The Yards Park is a favorite for many in the city with two levels of super fun sprays, a wading pool and wall of water (essentially a water fall between the levels), plus a great scenic location on the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard
  • Canal Park in the Navy Yard is great for all ages with both a gentle, shallow fountain that is perfect for really little ones to enjoy, plus a bigger fountain with lots of sprays for more enthusiastic play where the ice rink is in the winter.
  • Starting May 28, DPR Spray Parks will be open for the season, but hours vary by location, so be sure to check the website for hours.
  • Some of the area’s most popular spray parks — Lyon Village Park, Hayes Park, and Drew Park — can be found in Arlington.
  • The interactive fountain in Downtown Silver Spring plaza is open daily from 10am – 8pm. While my kids have never played there, I recall seeing very happy youngsters playing in the sprays on the colorful mosaic design during my lunch breaks when I worked at Discovery. It always looked like a blast.
  • The fountain in the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza located at 14th and Park Road, NW is a great place to cool down on a hot day, with many sprays that surge up from a pretty, circular tiled surface. Do a little shopping while you’re there — Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and many other big retail stores are right there — and plan to grab a bite at one of many kid-friendly eateries around. And don’t miss a chance to stop in the Museum of Unnatural History at 826DC.
  • The Fountain on the Square at Rockville Town Square welcomes kids to splish splash from May to September. It’s open Monday – Saturday 11am to 9pm and Sunday 12-8pm, but it’s turned off for maintenance at certain times during the week, so be sure to check the schedule before you go.
  • One of the newest to the sprayground scene, the fountains in the Mosaic District welcome all to play in the sprays that jet up from concrete. Surrounded by retails and restaurants, you can make a day of it there with some shopping and eating, too. Plan to go on a Tuesday with little ones when you can also enjoy Stories from Strawberry Park at 10-11am.


Water Parks
Giant water slides, wave pools, waterfalls, sprays and splash pads…this is the stuff kids’ summer dreams are made of. There are actually several water parks around the area offering many of these attractions, just about all of them opening Memorial Day weekend for limited hours, until they open daily in a few weeks. Here’s a quick list — visit the websites for more details.


Rockin' on the Riverfront is a great start to a summer weekend

Rockin’ on the Riverfront is a great start to a summer weekend


Summer Concerts
Free music in the fresh air has become a staple of the season, and there are opportunities to enjoy just about every genre regularly at outdoor venues all around the DC-Metro.

  • The Capitol Riverfront Friday Concert Series at Yards Park begins May 20 with the Tour de Fat Festival and will run through September 2, presenting a new band each week on the boardwalk stage overlooking the Anacostia River. Along with the free music, food and beverages are available for purchase. (This year there is, unfortunately, a new NO BYOB policy). I recommend getting there early, so the kids can play in the fountains before the concert starts at 6:30pm. And on a hot summer day, it’s nice to continue the water fun even while the tunes are playing — you can still hear them from across the park!
  • Experience live music amid art at Jazz in the Garden, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden’s free concert series, every Friday from 5:30–8:30pm. The first performance of the season is May 27, rain or shine, and there will be weekly shows through September 2. Spread out a blanket, pack a picnic dinner or purchase food and drinks there, and enjoy the sounds of a variety of jazz artists. Note: Adult drinks are available from the pavilion; BYO alcohol is not permitted.
  • The U.S. Air Force Band 2016 Summer Concert Series kicks off May 12 with a Chamber Players performance at The Lyceum. After that, you can catch free concerts all summer long at locales around the DC-Metro area, including iconic spots like the Air Force Memorial, Capitol steps, and Sylvan Theater on the Washington Monument grounds. Show times vary so be sure to check the U.S. Air Force Band website for the complete summer schedule.
  • All summer long, families can enjoy a variety of free fun at Rockville Town Square. Concerts for all ages on Friday evenings began May 6 and will run through September 30 — enjoy live music, good food, and beverages from 6:30-9:30pm.
  • In Silver Spring, Downtown Live! brings free music every Friday evening to the Fountain Plaza 6:30-8:30pm. Enjoy everything from pop to jazz to R&B to classic rock weekly May 20 through August 26.
  • Rock at the Row returns to Pentagon Row Thursdays through August 25. From 7-9pm, all are invited to the lounge on the new plaza for food samples and craft beer in the VIP section or to gather at one of the outdoor cafés while enjoying live music, giveaways, and merchant specials.
  • The U.S. Botanic Garden is bringing back the American Roots Music Concert Series every Thursday 5-7pm, June 2 – October 20. Celebrate American roots with Americana and folk, country, blues, jazz, and even zydeco outside on the Conservatory Terrace.
  • You can kick-start your weekends at Tysons Corner Center’s Fresh Artists Concert Series, co-hosted by 94.7 Fresh FM and powered by Intelsat. Featuring “Fresh Artists,” the series has a little something for everyone. Grab a blanket and enjoy performances ranging from ballet to blues, folk to funk, poetry to pop. This will run from June 3 – July 26.
  • Get a nice dose of nature as you listen to live tunes at Potomac Overlook Park in Arlington on select Saturday evenings June 4 through August 27. The free, family-friendly performances take place on a stage in the woods surrounded by trails to explore. And the nature center — with snakes, turtles, owls, hawks — is open, too.
  • Enjoy music in Northern Virginia parks! The Fairfax County Park Authority presents their Summer Entertainment Series, a summer-long calendar of shows, concerts and movies appropriate families held in local parks. Bring a picnic dinner, blankets, and lawn chairs to enjoy the best local and regional entertainers.
  • Strathmore, the North Bethesda performing arts center, will host free outdoor concerts every Wednesday from July 6 – August 24.
  • Carter Barron Amphitheater’s annual concert series takes place amid the woods of Rock Creek Park. While most shows are free, a few require admission. The 2016 lineup has not yet been announced, but check the website for an update soon!


Ren Fest and all its pageantry begins in late summer

Ren Fest and all its pageantry begins in late summer


Festivals
Several stand-out events are anticipated around the area this time of year, celebrating everything from music to art & culture to neighborhoods to food.

  • Get folksy at Glen Echo Park June 4-5, when 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. The public is invited to enjoy the free festival that is renown in the folk community.
  • It sounds like a grown-ups-only event, but the Vintage Virginia Wine & Food Festival offers plenty of family fun, too. Taking place June 4-5 at Bull Run Park, festivities include wine tasting (of course), chef demos, food truck fare, live music, and a whole family-friendly area with activities especially for kids.
  • Imagination Bethesda, an annual festival occurring in the heart of its namesake city, is all about children. On June 4 from 10am – 3pm, Woodmont & Elm downtown will be lined with activity tents offering tons of fun for kids — arts & crafts, face painting, games, etc. There will also be live entertainment, food from local restaurants, and more. Admission is free.
  • The DC Jazz Festival presents a variety of performers at venues all around the city from June 10-19, but the most family-friendly of them actually precede the main event. Jazz n’ Family Fun Days will take place June 4-5 with free shows for all ages at The Phillips Collection.
  • Attend one of the biggest summer barbeques around June 25-26 as the National Capital Barbeque Battle returns to pit some of the nation’s best barbequers against each other as they compete for big prizes. The reward for attendees: Samples from all the entrants (plus, more food), live music, cooking demos, kids’ fun, and more.
  • Every summer, the National Mall becomes stomping grounds of folks from around the globe to celebrate living cultural heritage and community traditions at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This year’s event will run from June 29 – July 4 and July 7-9, celebrating Basque culture and heritage and the Sounds of California.
  • The lotus and water lilies in full bloom at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are such a ravishing sight it calls for a celebration. Along with the spectacular display of flowers, the annual Lotus & Water Lily Festival will feature traditional Asian and African dancing and drumming, gardening workshops, park tours, arts & crafts, face painting, and other family-friendly pursuits on July 16.
  • The annual Del Ray Music Festival is always a popular event. On July 23, count on a celebration of the Alexandria community with a day of food, games, and lots of kids’ activities along with a varied line-up of live entertainment.
  • On July 16, a 1,000-foot slip ‘n’ slide will be the centerpiece of Slide the City, an all-day party in Tyson’s Corner that also offers live music, entertainment, and vendors. Sliders must be 5 years old and 46″ tall. Tickets prices go up as the event gets closer, so reserve yours soon.
  • It might run into fall, but it starts in August, so I’m counting the Maryland Renaissance Festival among the summer fun. Plus, it’s one of my very, very favorite annual events (more confirmation on that here). The merriment begins August 27 and will continue every weekend through October 23. Go. Just go.


Big Screen Under the Stars
Outdoor movies have become a DC summer tradition in the last few years with films al fresco in several neighborhoods. Even better, all of them are FREE! (*Before you make plans to enjoy any of the series, be sure to check schedules, as some movies may not be appropriate for children.)

  • “Choose your Own Adventure” is the theme of this year’s NoMa Summer Screen, so mark your calendars for Raider of the Lost Ark, Princess Bride, Jumanji, E.T., and a bunch of other family-friendly flicks. The series begins June 1 and will run weekly on Wednesdays until August 17. There will also be Family Film Night with movies for littler ones on June 21, July 19, and August 16. Sponsored by REI (coming to the NoMA soon!), the series will take place at NoMa Junction at Storey Park (1005 First Street NE). Get there to picnic at 7pm, and the movie begins at dark. See the list of films on the website.
  • See Your favorite stars beneath the stars at the Capitol Riverfront’s Canal Park Outdoor Movie Series. Catch films every Thursday evening at sundown from June 2 through August 11.
  • National Harbor’s Movies on the Potomac started their Sunday night film series for families on May 1and will runt through September 25. Movies are shown on the plaza screen beginning at sunset, usually around 8:30pm.
  • Bethesda Outdoor Movies will bring five days of flicks al fresco to downtown at the corner of Norfolk and Auburn Avenues from July 26-30.
  • Catch Films in the Park at the Mosaic District every Friday from June 3 – August 26 with a lineup of family-friendly films.


Spy fairy houses and more artful delights at Annmarie Sculpture Gardens

Spy fairy houses and more artful delights at Annmarie Sculpture Gardens


Museum Programs & Seasonal Exhibits

  • First there was indoor mini-golf, then it was a giant maze, last year it was the awesome BEACH. This summer, the National Building Museum is riding the seasonal wave and bringing ICEBERGS to the Great Hall. The immersive installation will emphasize current themes of landscape representation, geometry, and construction, as visitors ascend a viewing area inside the tallest berg, traverse an undersea bridge, relax among caves and grottos. Admission is $5/youth member, $10/adult member and $13/youth non-member, $16/adult non-member. Open July 2 through September 5.
  • The National Gallery of Art’s Stories in Art Drop-In Series returns this summer after a hiatus during museum renovations. Geared toward ages 4-7, this fantastic program introduces kids to art and encourages them to use their imaginations as they discover different works. This season will explore the Netherlands as they “meet” Dutch artists and investigate their paintings and sculptures. Read a KFDC review of the program from a few years back (we’ve been since, and it was just as good!).
  • Annmarie Sculpture Garden is enchanting any time of year, but it’s especially so in the summer when the fairy and gnome houses are on display. The adorable collection of little whimsical abodes for sprite-like creatures have all been selected from many submissions in an annual fairy house building contest. And they are just fantastic. Created by all ages, individuals and groups, each one has a different theme, but together they are a brilliant showcase of imagination and craftiness.
  • During the warm months, little ones can flex their green thumbs in the outdoor Children’s Garden at the U.S. Botanic Garden — they can dig in dirt, water plants, and explore a cute little Bamboo Forest. The rest of the USBG’s outdoor gardens are great to explore, too!
  • You can walk amid a garden of butterflies at Brookside Garden’s amazing Wings of Fancy exhibit. It’s back after being closed last summer during renovations. The seasonal display featuring live butterflies and caterpillars from all over the world opened in April and will welcome visitors through September 25, 10am – 4pm. Admission is $8/ages 13 and up, $5/3-12, free ages 0-2 (admission to the rest of Brookside is free). Read about a KFDC experience at the exhibit.
  • At Smithsonian’s National Zoo, you can get up close and view a 12-foot-long shark, 16-foot-long parrot fish, an 8-foot-wide octopus, and a 20-foot-long coral reef — all made completely of plastic debris collected from beaches. “Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea,” a collection of colorful and dramatic sculptures of marine animals, represents more than 315 billion pounds of plastic in oceans today and underscore the need for wildlife conservation. It will be on view May 27 through September 5. Admission to the exhibit and the Zoo are free.
  • Every year, the Newseum offers the Summer Fun Deal. From July 1 – September 5, there is no admission fee for kids ages 18 and under. The promotion waives the $12.95 regular entrance charge for youth with one paid adult admission, senior admission, or Newseum membership (a benefit to ages 7 and up, as kids 6 and under are always free). Up to six kids can enter free with the offer. Read a KFDC take on the Newseum and look for a deal on adult admission here.


Movies, Storytimes, & More
Families movies at local theaters are a great way to stay cool and keep kids entertained when the weather heats up. And several seasonal programs keep little ones engaged with storytimes and more interactive fun. Even better, they’re all free or super cheap!

  • The Regal Summer Movie Express presents flicks for kids on many Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10am. Admission is just $1. Be sure to check the website for the film schedule and theater locations, as it doesn’t run at all theaters every week.
  • Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Ashburn welcomes families to Kids Camp, a movie series that is inexpensive ($1-3) and benefits local charities, to boot.
  • National Harbor hosts free family activities every Wednesday through September 28. From 10-10:30am enjoy Family Fitness classes. At 10:30am, there will be cartoons on the jumbo screen and a rotation of weekly activities provided by the Prince George’s County Fire & Police Departments and story time by the Urban Pirates.
  • Join Cathedral Commons for Mornings with Mommy & Daddies, Too!, a free interactive program for children of all ages on the second Wednesday of each month from May through September. Meets at Newark Street at Wisconsin Avenue.
  • Mommy and Me (and Daddy, Too!) programs take place each third Tuesday of the month 10am -12pm at Rockville Town Square. Active learning and creative play includes story time, arts and crafts, sing-a-longs, prizes and more.
  • From June 1 – September 28, Kids Corner on The Plaza at CityCenter welcomes little ones for outdoor story time, singing, and fun with DC Public Library.


Go for a spin on the carousel at Watkins Regional Park

Go for a spin on the Antique Carousel at Watkins Regional Park

Mini Trains, Carousels, Mini Golf, & a Ferris Wheel!
These extra delights bring even more fun to several parks around the area that are already great outdoor places to hang with the kids.

  • Watkins Regional Park opened its attractions on a limited schedule in early May, but come Memorial Day weekend, they can be enjoyed for extended hours almost every day of the week. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10am – 7pm; Sundays 12–7 pm, closed Mondays except May 30 (Memorial Day), July 4 (July Fourth Holiday; closes at 4pm) & August 30 (Labor Day).
  • Cabin John Regional Park opened its Miniature Train on weekends only back in April, but as of June 1, it’ll be operating daily 10am – 7pm through August. After that, hours will be limited, so check the schedule.
  • The Miniature Train and Ovid Hazen Wells Carousel at Wheaton Regional Park started taking guests for spins in early April on weekends and will be open daily June 1 through August 28 (limited times after that). Hours are 10am – 6pm Monday to Friday, and 10am – 7pm Saturday & Sunday.
  • The Clemyjontri carousel has been running on weekends since April, but will be offering rides daily starting May 31 on weekdays 9:30am – 1:00pm and weekends 9:30am – 6:30pm.
  • The RIO Express Train and Carousel at RIO Washingtonian are open 3pm – dusk on weekdays, 11am – dusk on weekends through June 19. After that, they’ll open daily 11am – 9pm. Rides are $3.
  • Kind of like a London Eye of the U.S., The Capital Wheel at National Harbor is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of DC. The 42-gondola ride (all closed and climate-controlled with room for 8) soars 180 feet above the Potomac River waterfront, offering vistas of the White House and Capitol, the National Mall, Arlington Cemetery, and more amazing sites. Ticket prices start at $15. Read more about it here.
  • Burke Lake Park’s Mini Train and Carousel are open April to October, daily from Memorial Day – Labor Day 11:30am – 5:30pm. The park is free to access for Fairfax county residents. For non-county residents, the park is free on weekdays and has a $10 entrance fee on weekends/holidays for a car or large capacity van. Carousel rides are $2-3, and train rides are $3-4.


A setting as great as the entertainment at Children's Theatre in the Woods

A setting as great as the entertainment at Children’s Theatre in the Woods


Children’s Theatre
All the world’s an outdoor stage at these venues that present entertainment especially for children throughout the summer.

  • From late June through early August, Wolf Trap presents Children’s Theater-in-the-Woods, over 70 family-friendly performances at 10am Tuesdays through Saturdays. Amidst 117 rolling wooded acres and nestled in a shady grove, the stage is set for lively adventures in music, dance, storytelling, puppetry, and theater. All of the productions are recommended for children between Kindergarten and 6th grade, though I think kids even younger can enjoy them, too (mine have). Read a KFDC review of the series from a couple of summers ago.
  • Backyard Theater for Children, Strathmore’s summer theater series brings live music and fun to kids – all outdoors under a big tent. Weekly performances take place every Thursday at 9:30am and 11:30 from July 7-28. Admission is $8, free for ages 2 and under.
  • See a Shakespeare play in the park! The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company presents Shakespeare in thr Ruins at the Picturesque Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park in Ellicott City this summer. Romeo and Juliet, running June 10-19., is a unique production that has the audience travel with the actors and the action as the story unfolds outdoors on multiple sets in the ruins at the park — comfy shoes recommended for traveling around with the play. From June 24 – July 24, The Three Mustketeers is a one-stage show, perfect for a picnic performance with the whole fam. Even better, kids are free (two for every adult). Advance reservations are recommended as tickets are limited.


Boys of summer

Boys of summer


Summer Sports
Some of the season’s best action takes place in ballparks, stadiums, and arenas thanks to our local sports teams. Here’s where you can join the fan clubs.

  • A day at Nationals Park is all it takes to understand why baseball is America’s favorite pastime. Catching a Washington Nationals game is one of our family’s preferred ways to enjoy a nice summer (or spring) day (or evening), anyway. The excitement extends well beyond the diamond with games and activities in the park, a playground for kids, the Racing Presidents, fun in the stands, and more. Before you go, check out these tips on doing a Nats game without breaking the bank. And I highly recommend the Jr. Nationals Kids Club for children 12 and under. Just $20 gets them membership, which includes Nats swag, plus a coupon book with offers for free meals, BOGO tickets, a ballpark tour, and all kinds of discounts. Even a few months into the season, it’s still worth it!
  • Tennis, anyone? The Washington Kastles, the DC franchise of World TeamTennis, will bring some on-court thrills to the Smith Center, where Kastles Stadium is located, August 1-13. For some background, see this post and this one from a few years back.
  • Whether you’ve got a little soccer fan in your fam or not, DC United matches are fun experiences for all ages. And since games only last 90 minutes, it’s not too long for antsy young spectators. Be sure to check for any pre- or post-game activities for kids.
  • Can’t stand the heat? Head to the Verizon Center to see the Washington Mystics (w)hoop it up on the basketball court. Tickets start at $19.
  • Swing up to Charm City to see the Baltimore Orioles play. Camden Yards is a beautiful ballpark, and you can head to the Inner Harbor before or after to make a day of it up north.
  • If the Nats or O’s aren’t in town, or you want to see baseball on a smaller scale, you’ve got several great options around the area. Take ’em out to the minors at a Bowie Baysox, Potomac Nationals, or Aberdeen Ironbirds game. Summer collegiate team Bethesda Big Train is also very popular for non-majors baseball action.
  • Women’s pro soccer team, Washington Spirit, plays in Germantown. Per a KFDC reader, “you get affordable tickets and concessions, picnic seating behind the goal, a really intimate, family-friendly environment and top-level soccer.”


Blue crabs, one of the best treats of the season

Blue crabs, one of the best treats of the season

Crab Feasts
Easily one of the best activities during summer in Maryland and neighboring areas (this is where I get non-DC-centric because I have to give credit where it’s due). Here are some suggestions for places to get ’em, though the “best” is always a subject for debate.


Explore the river with the Anacostia Watershed Society on a Paddle Night

Explore the river with the Anacostia Watershed Society on a Paddle Night


Seasonal Experiences

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Where to Play on the Weekdays: March 14-18

A lily pad filled pond at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

A lily pad filled pond at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens



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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 – Take a docent-led tour of the exhibition Twelve Years That Shook and Shaped Washington, 1963-1975 at the Anacostia Community Museum. After, kids can go on a self-guided treasure hunt to test their knowledge, then receive a free gift after completing it. The program is offered at 11am and 12pm. Admission if free. Register in advance and indicate which tour time you want.

Wednesday – Venture up to Baltimore for a day of play and learning at Port Discovery. Several levels full of awesome hands-on exhibits will keep the kids entertained for hours! Open 9:30am – 4:30pm. Admission is $14.50 for ages 2 and up (free for under 2).

Thursday – Get a unique dose of nature in the city at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Go on a nature walk among the ponds and marsh areas filled with giant lily pads and other interesting water plants. Look for geese, egrets, great blue herons, turtles, frogs, and small fish on the way. Hours are 8am – 4pm this time of year. Admission is free.

Friday – Discover Okinawa at an all-ages celebration at the Textile Museum! Origami, a games, crafts, and a photo booth will be among the activities for kids from 11:30am – 4pm. Admission is free.


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

Where to Play on the Weekdays: February 29 – March 4

The National Arboretum is always a good bet on a nice day

The National Arboretum is always a good bet on a nice day



Monday – Locate secret doors, see outrageously fabulous themed rooms, and browse a trove of secondhand treasures on a tour of The Mansion on O Street. The Dupont Circle landmark is a mansion, museum, restaurant, vintage store, and hotel all in one. And visitors are welcome to explore it all. Tours offered 11am – 3:3opm. Self-guided tours start at $15. Purchase tickets in advance online.

Tuesday – Seize what’s forecast to be a beautiful day at the National Arboretum. Go for nature walks through the woods, visit the Washington Youth Garden, romp in open green spaces and at the old Capitol columns, picnic in the Grove of State Trees… so many ways to enjoy one of the loveliest places in the city. Hours are 8am – 5pm, and admission is free.

Wednesday – Let little ones bounce, climb, swing, tumble, and slide at the PG Sports & Learning Complex Gymnastics Center. The hour-long open play session begins at 11:30am, and admission is $6/child. (This also takes place on Tuesday at the same time.)

Thursday – Venture up to Baltimore to see some of the most wonderful, whimsical art around at the American Visionary Art Museum. The colorful, quirky works — some of them interactive — can be appreciated by art buffs of all ages. Hours are 10am – 6pm Tuesday – Sunday. Admission is $15.95/adults, $13.95/seniors, $9.95/students & ages 7 and up, free for 6 and under.

Friday – Catch a performance of Callaloo: A Jazz Folktale at the Discovery Theater. As this post goes live, tickets are still available for the 10:15am show. Admission is $3-6. If the show sells out, take the opportunity to explore the Smithsonian Ripley Center, where the theater is located, and the Smithsonian Castle next door.


Thredup Inc.


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Where to Play on the Weekdays: February 22-26

Get a close look at the world's animals at Nat Geo

Get a close look at the world’s animals at Nat Geo


Monday – Relish in the sunny day on the trail at Riverbend Park. Make that your starting point for a 2-mile hike to Great Falls, where you can take in magnificent vistas, explore the Nature Center, and have a picnic. Or just wander around Riverbend and enjoy the Visitor Center and views there. Park hours are 7am to dusk, Visitor Center 9am – 5pm. Admission is free.

Tuesday – Zoom in on the world’s animal species at the National Geographic Museum, where two fantastic exhibitions, Photo Ark and CROCS, will engage visitors of all ages. Hours are 10am – 6pm. Admission is $15/adult, $10/ages 5-12, free for 4 and under — look for discount tickets here.

Wednesday – Check out your local library. Drop in for story time, sing-a-longs, arts & crafts, and other activities, or just go to browse for books. See this post from the very early KFDC days for a little background and quick links to libraries around the area. Hours vary by location, admission is free.

Thursday – Take a little time trip through Baltimore’s early business days at the Museum of Industry. The Inner Harbor attraction highlights the trades and people that helped build the port city through exhibits that showcase relics from the past and recreate various industry environments. Hours are 10am – 4pm (Tuesday – Sunday). Admission is $12/adult, $7/ages 7-12, free for 6 and under.

Friday – Put some colorful music in your morning at a Rainbow Rock show. The kindie band is playing at Jammin’ Java at 10:30am (doors open at 10am). Admission is $5, but you can find a discount on Certifikid). Plan on lunch there, too — the full menu will be available.




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Filed under All ages, Animals, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Virginia, Weekdays, Winter

Animal Close-Ups & Crocs at the National Geographic Museum

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If you don’t get off the well trodden museum path of the National Mall every now and then, you could miss out on some amazing exhibitions in other areas around DC. One place where you can just about always count on a great, enriching experience is the National Geographic Museum. The exhibits often appeal to a wide age range, include interactive elements that engage visitors, and focus on aspects of the world that are both fascinating and significant.

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In fact, there currently are two exhibits at Nat Geo that meet these standards — and then some. Photo Ark, which opened in the fall is a gorgeous collection of portraits of the world’s animal species.

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The exhibit puts the focus on conservation through photographer Joel Sartore’s lens by showcasing images of species and highlighting their conservation status, which range from least concern to threatened to endangered to, sadly, extinct (with more levels in between).

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Many of the portraits were shot at zoos and aquariums around the world, and you can get an idea of how some of them were done by peering into photo tents on display — inside are adorable videos of small animals posing for their close-ups. You can also catch scenes of the process on TV screens mounted on the walls.

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A whole area is dedicated to various species of reptiles and snakes, their unique features and brilliant skin patterns projected on and streaming across large screens. There is also information about each creature and quotes printed on the walls. All of it together makes the exhibit as thought-provoking and engaging as it is beautiful.

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The museum zooms in on one animal with a whole other exhibit: CROCS. And it’s one you can really sink your teeth into (from their tagline!) through a variety of interesting displays, interactive components, video, and live crocodiles!

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We joined a guided tour of the exhibit to get some background on crocodilians, which are up to hundreds of millions years old. But you can learn a lot on your own from the many displays and installations. Some of the kids’ favorite features included a sound board where they could listen to different croc calls, a force gauge to compare their strength to that of a croc’s jaw, and a life-sized model of one of the world’s largest crocodiles, Gomek.

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The highlight, though, were the real crocodiles in a few dioramas around the exhibit that were made to simulate their natural habitats. The crocs don’t actually do that much — just seeing an eye or mouth open or a foot move the tiniest bit was cause for excitement — but it was pretty neat to see them hanging out in the museum. You might catch baby alligators swimming in one of them, which is a pretty cute sight.

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You can check out both of the National Geographic exhibits in one outing — they don’t take a long time to tour (though you could definitely spend a good amount of time if you wanted to), and admission to the museum gets you into everything. Even better, both can be appreciated by visitors of all ages.

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Photo Ark will be on view through April 10, CROCS through May 8. Admission is $15/adult, $12/seniors & students, $10/ages 5-12, free for 4 and under — look for a discount here. The museum is open daily 10am – 6pm.


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Filed under All ages, Animals, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Museums, Spring, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter