Tag Archives: DC Parks

Where to Play on the Weekdays: September 19-23

Exploring the National Gallery of Art

Exploring the National Gallery of Art



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Monday – Discover the history of flight at the College Park Aviation Museum. It’s a perfect place for young visitors, with eye-popping displays and hands-on fun. They can view early airplanes up close, dress up like aviators, create flight-inspired art, and much more. Keep an eye on the runway right outside the floor-to-ceiling windows — you might see planes take off and land at the College Park Airport, the oldest continuously operating airport in the world! Open daily 10am – 5pm. Admission is $4/adults, $2/children, free for ages 2 and under.

Tuesday – Get another, but different museum of experience at the National Gallery of Art. Head to the West Wing as most of the East is still under renovation, but be sure to take the “sparkly walkway” in between the two — that’s often kids’ favorite part (adults love it, too). Stroll among sculptures and stop to view works by many of the masters. There’s a cafe in the museum, but I recommend heading elsewhere for better value or BYO. Museum hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free.

Wednesday – Enjoy a musical morning with Boogie Babes as they bring kiddie entertainment to The Angelika Pop-Up @ Union Market at 10:30am. Admission is $5/child, and siblings 6 months and under are free. And did you know the program is now run by the DC Diaper Bank? Proceeds from the shows support the organization’s mission to help families in need. (FYI: You can also catch Boogie Babes shows at The Atlas Performing Arts Center on Mondays and Eastern Market on Thursdays.)

Thursday – Celebrate the official start of the new season at a fall festival! The Pumpkin Village Fall Fest at Leesburg Animal Park runs daily, and weekdays are a great time to go when you won’t encounter crowds. Slides, wagon rides, moon bounces, a maze, and pedal carts are among the seasonal fun. And, of course, animals are part of the mix with pony rides and furry friends to pet and feed. It’s open 9:30am – 6pm. Admission is $12.95/adult, $9.95/ages 2-12, and free for children under 2.

Friday – Play in the sprays at Canal Park. The recreational space in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood in southeast DC has both a gentle, shallow fountain that is perfect for really little ones, plus a bigger one for more enthusiastic play where the ice rink is in the winter. Admission is free. Grab a bite to eat at Il Parco on premises or at another nearby eatery — there are options right across the street and food trucks in parked right in the area often — or pack lunch for a picnic.


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Filed under All ages, Animals, Annual, Art, DC, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Farm, Festival, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Virginia, Weekdays

A Glimpse into Rock Creek’s Past at Peirce Mill

All smiles after a Peirce Mill tour and bird feeder project

All smiles after a Peirce Mill tour and bird feeder project



There are so many things to love about Rock Creek Park. That it’s a beautiful natural oasis smack in the middle of a bustling city is an overarching appeal. But the features within — miles of trails, opportunities galore for active recreation, educational activities, and historic sites among them — are what make it such a huge draw for both locals and visitors.

What looks simple on the outside is complex and interesting within

What looks simple on the outside is complex and interesting within

On the last day of Winter Break, we took advantage of, well, all of the above and headed to DC’s urban forest to explore Peirce Mill — with a creekside picnic and some hiking, to boot. It’s a great place to begin a Rock Creek outing. Besides being an interesting structure to explore, there’s a parking lot just across the street, picnic tables nearby, and it’s situated right by a couple of trails that run along the creek and the park’s western ridge.

Touring the top floor of the mill

Touring the top floor of the mill

Mill machinery

Mill machinery

After enjoying lunch al fresco, we headed inside Peirce Mill. Built in the 1820’s it operated commercially for over 70 years. Since then, it has undergone a few restorations and still actually runs now, though just for demonstration purposes and only from April – October.

The millstones where grain was turned into meal and flour

The millstones where grain was turned into meal and flour

More inner workings

More inner workings

The mill is pretty neat to tour even when it isn’t running as you can get a close look at the inner workings of a structure built before modern technology. Stone walls, thick wood beams, and wooden machinery, while restored and updated over time, maintain the original aesthetic. And it’s interesting to see how water from Rock Creek powered the mill — right outside is the trench where water was channeled to the water wheel alongside the building.

A view of Peirce barn next door

A view of Peirce barn next door

Making birdfeeders with the park ranger

Making birdfeeders with the park ranger

While we toured the three levels of the mill ourselves, the park rangers on duty were happy to answer questions and also showed us how the mill works via a small model. And along with giving us a lot of background on Peirce Mill and Rock Creek Park, one of the rangers engaged the kids in cute bird feeder projects. (Also, a bit of random trivia I learned from him: Rock Creek is the only park in the National Park System with a planetarium — it’s at the Nature Center and it’s free!)

Still reading about the mill as we embark on a hike

Still reading about the mill as we embark on a hike

The trail to the western ridge

The trail to the western ridge

The Western Ridge Trail eventually leads to the Nature Center

The Western Ridge Trail eventually leads to the Nature Center

After leaving the mill, we hit the trail for some hiking along the western ridge. It’s a pretty, hilly route through the woods that eventually takes you to the Nature Center a couple of miles along, but with daylight running out early, we turned around partway to head back to the car. But a visit to Peirce and the Nature Center with some good hiking in between would make for an excellent day-long outing!

A sunlit scene in our beautiful park

A sunlit scene in our beautiful park

Peirce Mill is located at the corner of Tilden Road and Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park. Hours are 12-4pm on weekends only November 1 – March 31, and 10am – 4pm Wednesday – Sunday from April 1 – October 31. Occasionally there ranger led activities and special events are hosted at the mill — see the calendar for details. Admission is free.


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Filed under All ages, DC, Educational, Free, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: November 2-6

Entranced by the photography at the Natural History Museum

Entranced by the photography at the Natural History Museum



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Monday – Head to one of DC’s most tried and true for kids: The National Museum of Natural History. With exhibits to indulge all kinds of interests, you really can’t go wrong. Gawk at the beasts in the Hall of Mammals, view the amazing National Geographic Into Africa photography exhibit, hold live creatures in the Insect Zoo, learn about early humans, see an IMAX film, and so much more. Admission to the museum is free, but films are $9. The museum is open 10am – 5:30pm.

Tuesday – Get a “Taste of Tinkergarten” at a free sample session. The skill-based curriculum for children 18-36 months is designed to help them become well-balanced people who can problem-solve, lead, and create. It’s engaging, memorable, play-based learning, all outdoors. The class begins at 10:30am at Norwood Park in Bethesda. Register in advance here.

Wednesday – Wander the beautiful grounds, play, and relax at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria. Be sure to stop in the Horticultural Center and pick up instructions for a kids’ scavenger hunt to add some extra fun to the outing. Hours are 9am – 4:30pm. Admission is free.

Thursday – Browse the Bilingual Book Fair at Oyster Adams Bilingual School. More than 500 children’s Spanish and bilingual book titles and hundreds of the newest titles in English will be available for purchase in the school cafeteria. Proceeds benefit their primary and secondary library programs. The Fair is open 8am – 8pm November 2-7. The Oyster Campus is located at 2801 Calvert Street NW.

Friday – Go Cruisin’ Around the World with Rainbow Puppet Productions at the National Air & Space Museum. This puppet show is based on the absolutely true tale of the pilots of the Douglas World Cruisers, who were the first to circle the globe. After the performance, see one of the original planes that made the expedition on display right in the Museum. Tour even more of the awe-inspiring collections while you’re there. Performances are at 10:30am and 11:45am. Museum hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free.

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Filed under All ages, Annual, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Outdoor, Park, School Event, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays

Where to Play on the Weekdays: October 26-30

A little fall foliage at the National Arboretum

A little fall foliage at the National Arboretum



Monday – Celebrate fall in the city at the Ronald Reagan Building, where all this week there will seasonal fun on the Woodrow Wilson Plaza. Enjoy hay bale mazes, face painting, hot cider, pumpkin displays, and a Dia De Los Muertos/Day of the Dead sugar skull coloring table — all for free! The event runs 12-2pm daily through October 30.

Tuesday – Head to Sidney Harmon Hall as Atofri Theatre of Poland performs the magical and musical Mr. Satie: Made in Paper. Presented as part of the Kids Euro Festival, there will be shows at 12pm and 2pm. Admission is free, but be sure to reserve your space in advance. If it fills up, see what other free performances are scheduled over the next two weeks.

Wednesday – Venture up to Baltimore for Wonderful Wednesday at Port Discovery. Designed for children from ages birth through 6 years to develop early learning skills, guests can participate in special art, music, and literacy programs. It all starts at 10:30am, and museum hours are 9:30am – 4:30pm. Admission is $14.95 for ages 2 and up (free for under 2).

Thursday – Take your little people to see the little trees in their brilliant autumnal colors at the National Arboretum. Autumn Bonsai: The Colors of Nature is a neat showcase of plant artistry and nature, and the miniature masterpieces glow with seasonal hues. Be sure to tour the big trees around the rest of the National Arb while you’re there – it’s easily one of the best places in the city to do some leaf peeping.

Friday – Play the day away at Clemyjontri, the brilliantly colored, sprawling playground in McLean that accommodates kids of all abilities. Hours are 7am to dusk, and admission is free. Later on, start your Halloween celebration early at Mount Vernon, where they’re hosting fun, spooktacular activities from 3:30-6:30pm. Admission is $10/adult, $5/child.

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Filed under All ages, Annual, DC, Educational, Fall, Free, Live Entertainment, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Play, Seasonal, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays

Where to Play on the Weekdays: October 19-23

Enjoy Halloween-themed storytime at the National Archives this week

Enjoy Halloween-themed storytime at the National Archives this week



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Monday – Head out to Dulles for Air & Space exploration beyond the District. The Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center showcases flight artifacts they can’t fit into the museum on the Mall. See all kinds of air and space crafts, pretend to pilot in a flight simulator, get hands-on in a discovery station, and much more. Hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free, but parking is $15. In the evening, catch a one-night-only performance of ADVENTURES, a blend of traditional and experimental techniques of clowning, physical comedy, and puppetry to create a fantastic journey for all ages. The 35-minute show will take place at 7pm at Source Theatre (14th & T Streets NW) — it’s Pay-What-You-Can and no reservations are required.

Tuesday – Take advantage of the sublime autumn weather and go geocaching. It’s like a scavenger hunt, and a great way to enjoy the outdoors with a little adventure. Even better, you can pick and choose where and when you want to do it. This KFDC post has all the info you need to get started.

Wednesday – Bring little ones to Story Time at the National Archives. Designed for children ages 3-5, guests can listen to tales about Halloween in the White House, participate in group activities, and create a craft. The session runs 10-11am in the Boeing Learning Center. After, check out more of the museum while you’re there. Hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission to the museum and story time are free.

Thursday – Play, picnic, and enjoy the surrounding scenery at Hains Point. Drive all the way down, almost to the tip, to reach the playgrounds. They’re set amid a large grassy area with picnic tables and bathrooms right there, too. And the spot offers great views of the rivers and airplanes taking off and landing at DCA. Admission is free.

Friday – Get a nature fix, indoors and out, at Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington. Peek inside terrariums for a close look at snakes, turtles, frogs, and toads, and see fish swim in a small indoor pond. Continue your viewing outdoors at a larger pond and hike the nearby trails to enjoy the fall foliage. Hours are 10am – 5pm (Tuesday – Saturday, 1-5pm Sunday), and admission is free.

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Filed under All ages, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Gradeschoolers, Indoor Play, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Preschoolers, Toddlers, Virginia, Weekdays