Tag Archives: Family Activities

The 2017 KFDC Guide to the Best of Summer in DC

Summer in the city:  Evening play in the sprays at Yards Park

Summer in the city: Evening play in the sprays at Yards Park



summer-camp

It’s time to bring back one of my favorite annual guides! Summer may not officially begin for a few more weeks, but as we head into the warm months, many seasonal favorites around DC are starting up again. And this guide has the scoop on the best of them, so you can jump in on the fun.

Ah, summer. The time of year to shift gears, from closed 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 the area’s best activities. Water-inspired recreation, music and movies in the open air, special fests and feasts, and bonus attractions at everyday places are just some of the joys of the season.

So, unpack the swimsuits and flip flops, get out the blender for cocktails (smoothies for the kids), bookmark this guide, and get ready to have some summer fun!

Outdoor Pool Season
Play in the Sprays
Water Parks
Summer Concerts
Festivals
Beaches
Big Screen Under the Stars
Museum Programs & Seasonal Exhibits
Movies, Storytimes, & More
Mini Trains, Carousels, Mini Golf, & a Ferris Wheel
Theatre Time
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 Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 27. Days and hours vary from pool to pool so be sure to check the schedule before you go. Last year they began opening earlier on weekdays, at 11am, and that’s continuing! (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 City of Alexandria website for hours, as they vary by 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 Memorial Day Weekend, May 27, 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 Tivoli’s Astounding Magic Supply Co. at 826DC located right there.
  • 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 retail stores 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. (Note: Currently closed for renovations, but check back for reopening date!)


Make  splash at Soak City in Kings Dominion

Make splash at Soak City in Kings Dominion


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.


Friday night concerts at Yards Park are a great way to kick off a summer weekend

Friday night concerts at Yards Park are a great way to kick off 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 Night Concert Series at Yards Park begins May 26 and will run through September 1, presenting a different band each week on the boardwalk stage overlooking the Anacostia River. Along with the free music, food and beverages are available for purchase. (Unfortunately, the NO BYOB policy implemented last year still holds). 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 5–8:30pm. The first performance of the season is May 19, rain or shine, and there will be weekly shows through August 25. 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 2017 Summer Concert Series kicks off May 17 with a performance by Airmen of Note, Air Force Strings, and Max Impact at the Air Force Memorial. After that, you can catch free concerts all summer long at locales around the DC-Metro area, including the Capitol steps, Sylvan Theater on the Washington Monument grounds, and National Harbor Plaza. Show times vary so be sure to check the U.S. Air Force Band website for the complete summer schedule.
  • In Silver Spring, the TGIF Downtown Street Party brings free music once a month on Friday evenings to the Fountain Plaza 6:30-8:30pm. Enjoy everything from pop to jazz to R&B to classic rock starting May 12.
  • All summer long, families can enjoy a variety of free fun at Rockville Town Square. Concerts for all ages on Friday evenings run from June 2 through September 30 — enjoy live music, good food, and beverages from 7-9pm.
  • Rock at the Row returns to Pentagon Row Thursdays July 13 – August 17. 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. Celebrate American roots with Americana and folk, country, blues, jazz, and even zydeco outside on the Conservatory Terrace. Schedule still TBD, but check back soon!
  • You can kick-start your weekends at Tysons Corner Center’s Fresh Artists Concert Series. Grab a blanket and enjoy performances ranging from ballet to blues, folk to funk, poetry to pop. Schedule still TBD, so check back.
  • Get a nice dose of nature as you listen to live tunes at Potomac Overlook Park in Arlington on Second Saturdays of the month from May 13 – September 9. The free, family-friendly performances take place on a stage in the woods surrounded by trails to explore. (FYI: The Nature Center — with snakes, turtles, owls, hawks — is great, 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, hosts Live from the Lawn, free outdoor concerts, every Wednesday from July 12 – August 30.


Tour de Fat is as zany as it is fun!

Tour de Fat is as zany as it is fun — and it stops in DC during summer this year!


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 3-4, when the 37th 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 3-4 at Bull Run Park in Centreville, VA, 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 3 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 9-18, but the most family-friendly of them actually precedes the main event. Jazz n’ Family Fun Days will take place June 3-4 with free shows for all ages at The Phillips Collection.
  • Attend one of the biggest summer barbeques around June 24-25 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 6-9, celebrating circus arts and migrations of people to and within this U.S.
  • 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. The exact date is TBD, but it always takes place sometime mid-July.
  • 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.
  • Tour de Fat, easily one of my favorite annual festivals, takes place at Yards Park on July 22. The celebration of all things bicycle is zany in the best way possible. There’s a bicycle parade, bicycle art, reconfigured bicycles to ride, a dance contest to win a bicycle, a car-for-bike swap, a bike-themed kids area, and bikes just… everywhere. There’s also beer (New Belgium is the sponsor), circus performers, vaudeville acts, musicians, magicians, and more. It’s weird and wild and so much fun for the whole family.
  • 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 26 and will continue every weekend through October 22. Go. Just go.


Have some fun in the summer sun at a local beach

Have some fun in the summer sun at a local beach


Beaches
Summer and beach trips go hand-in-hand, so why not hit one with the kids? You don’t have to drive all the way to the ocean for it; there are several places where you can get a nice dose of sand and surf that are within day trip-distance from DC.

  • Head out to Calvert County for a day at Flag Ponds Nature Park. Not only is there plenty of sand for playing and nice mellow waters for swimming, it’s also a great spot for fossil hunting — look for shark teeth and other prehistoric remnants along the shores while you’re there, too! Hours are 9am – 6pm Memorial to Labor Day. Admission is $6/car.
  • Bayfront Park aka Brownie’s Beach is a nice little spot in Chesapeake Beach, MD. With a small but nice stretch of sand, gentle shallow water, shark teeth to fin, and cliffs edging the shoreline, it’s a great place to spend a day — especially with little ones since they can’t roam too far. The only downside is the admission fee: $16/adult, $9/child for non-residents of the county.
  • Enjoy views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge from the beach at Sandy Point State Park near Annapolis. At nearly 800 acres, it’s a big beach park with lots of recreational opportunities — swimming, picnicking, fishing, crabbing, hiking, and more. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, there are lifeguards on duty. And snack food and beach and picnic supplies are available. Hours are 6am – sunset. From May 1 through September, admission is $5 for Maryland residents, $7 for non-residents.
  • The beach is narrow, and you’re on a river, but you still get sand and water at Purse State Park in Charles County, MD. This is best if your main purpose is fossil hunting — it’s a great place to go for it — and you want to get in some “beach” time, too. Wear swimsuits, bring a picnic, and be sure to check the tide table so you can make the most of your time there. Open sunrise to sunset, and admission is free.


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.)

  • Catch a flick on the big screen from the comfort of your car at the Union Market Drive-In Series, occurring on select Fridays throughout the summer, with several family-friendly films in the mix. Get there as early as 6pm and have a bite to eat in the Market or bring food back to your car. The film starts at 8:15pm. Advance purchase is recommended.
  • National Harbor’s Movies on the Potomac already started their Sunday night film series for families, and it will run through September 24. Movies are shown on the plaza screen beginning at sunset, usually around 8:30pm.
  • Movie lovers of all ages should head to the Four Mile Run Movie Series in Alexandria on the last Friday of the month from May 26 – August 24, when the park is transformed into an outdoor cinema. This free event will also include two hours of activities and entertainment leading up to show time. Films start at dusk, fun begins at 6:30pm
  • 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 1 through August 10.
  • The Golden Triangle (BID) is raising the curtain on its Golden Cinema Film Series to be hosted this summer in Farragut Park. Outdoor movies will be shown at sunset every Friday beginning June 2 – August 4, and just about all of the films are family-friendly.
  • The NoMa Summer Screen 13-week outdoor film series starts on June 7! The movies begin at dark, so get there to picnic at 7pm.
  • Bethesda Outdoor Movies will bring five days of flicks al fresco to downtown at the corner of Norfolk and Auburn Avenues from July 18-24.


Make a wish at Yoko Ono's Wish Tree in the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden

Make a wish at Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree in the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden


Museum Programs & Seasonal Exhibits
Extraordinary installations, lovely annual exhibits, kids’ programs during the school break, and admission deals are some of the special experiences at our museums and galleries to take take advantage of over the summer.

  • First there was indoor mini-golf, after that it was a giant maze, then came the super awesome BEACH, and last year it was ICEBERGS. This summer, the National Building Museum will be buzzing with excitement over HIVE! The massive installation will be built from more than 2,700 wound paper tubes, taking up much of the space in the Great Hall, with an aim to “explore how a structure can modify and reflect sound, light, scale, and human interaction.” Admission is $5/youth member, $10/adult member and $13/youth non-member, $16/adult non-member. Open July 4 through September 4.
  • What sounds like an amazing virtual experience is coming to DC for the summer. ArTecHouse presents XYZT: Abstract Landscapes, an immersive sensory art exhibition composed of ten interactive digital installations. The interactive, multi-space digital art installation lets you manipulate time and space as you step into imaginary territory, manipulate algorithms, and immerse into a virtual playground of digital landscapes. For ages 6 and up only!
  • 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.
  • The National Gallery of Art’s wonderful drop-in program for children returns — with a new name! Formerly Stories in Art, Art Investigators, geared toward ages 4-7, introduces kids to art and encourages them to make observations and use their imaginations as they discover different works. It’ll run Friday – Monday from July 7-31. Read a KFDC review of the program from a few years back (we’ve been since, and it was just as good!).
  • 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.
  • The Hirshhorn has a couple of special exhibits happening this summer starting with sunrise, sunset, a large-scale, site-specific wall mural by Swiss artist Nicolas Party. The mural will be painted directly onto the museum wall in the Sculpture Garden over the course of two weeks, and will be on view June 7 – October 1. It’ll be a great backdrop for Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree for Washington, DC, returning for its second year. From July 1 through Labor Day, the public is welcome to write wishes on small cards and tie them to the tree’s branches. They’re collected throughout the summer, then sent to Ono’s “Imagine Peace Tower” in Reykjavik, Iceland.
  • As you make your way around the area near CityCenter, look out for the Fancy Animal Carnival, an installation of whimsical, larger-than-life sculptures by renowned Taiwanese contemporary artist Hung Yi. Scattered around for all to enjoy, they’ll be here until October 15.
  • 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.
  • The National Academy of Sciences has been showcasing Igniting the Imagination since March, and it will be on display through August 7. The exhibition of 28 children’s book illustrations from the Mazza Museum in Findlay, Ohio, all relate to science, engineering, or medicine in some way. The show looks at the power of images and stories to ignite the imagination of young people. Copies of the books are on hand in the gallery for families to read as well as several comfortable couches and chairs.
  • 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. (Note: It’s currently closed for renovations, but expected to be open by summer.) The rest of the USBG’s outdoor gardens are great to explore, too!


The National Gallery of Art's Drop-In program returns this summer

The National Gallery of Art’s Drop-In program returns this summer


Movies, Storytimes, & More for Kids
Family 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.
  • From May 10 – September 27, Kids Corner on The Plaza at CityCenter welcomes little ones for outdoor story time, singing, and fun with DC Public Library.
  • The new Kids in Canal is a 12-week series of kid-friendly entertainment every Wednesday 10:30-11:30am beginning June 7. Bring little ones to the middle block of Canal Park to enjoy magic shows, kids tunes, science demonstrations, and puppet shows. Top off the day with a refreshing splash in the dancing water fountains!
  • Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Ashburn welcomes families to Kids Camp, a movie series that is inexpensive ($1-3) and benefits local charities, to boot.


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 opens 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 12–5 pm, closed Mondays except May 30 (Memorial Day), July 4 (July Fourth Holiday; closes at 4pm) & August 30 (Labor Day). Read about the rest of the fun you can enjoy at Watkins!
  • 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. Read about the wonderful Cabin John playground here
  • 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 (limited times after that). Hours are 10am – 6pm Monday to Friday, and 10am – 7pm Saturday & Sunday. Read about the super fun Wheaton playground here.
  • The beautiful historic Dentzel Carousel is open for its 97th season at Glen Echo Park. Plan to go for a spin before or after a show at Adventure Theatre or The Puppet Co. From May through August, it’s open Wednesday – Friday 10am – 2pm, and Saturday and Sunday 11am – 5pm.
  • 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. Read more about Clemyjontri here.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 the fantastic 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 did!). Read a KFDC review of the series from a few 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 6-27. Admission is $8, free for ages 2 and under.
  • See a Shakespeare play in the park! The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company presents Shakespeare in the Ruins at the Picturesque Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park in Ellicott City this summer. The Tempest, Shakespeare’s magnificent final play of storm and shipwreck, mystery and magic, and profound redemption, runs from June 16 – July 23. Not only can you picnic as you watch the play, but kids are free (two for every adult). Advance reservations are recommended as tickets are limited.
  • Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual Free For All will present Othello from August 15-27 this summer. The Washington tradition offers free performances of a Shakespearean classic to the public. Get tickets through an online lottery or waiting in line day-of with a limited number available.


Minor League is major fun at a Bowie Baysox game

Minor League is major fun at a Bowie Baysox game


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 Nats 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, July 18-29. For some background, see this post and this one from a few years back.
  • Every summer, the Citi Open Tennis Tournament serves up exciting competition along with other fun activities for fans of all ages. See some of the sport’s top players in action and enjoy the thrills on and off the court.
  • Whether or not you’ve got a little soccer fan in your fam, 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 but still fun 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.”


One of the best treats of the season

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.

  • Cantler’s is an Annapolis institution.
  • Mike’s Crab House in Annapolis is also a popular spot.
  • Drive over the Bay Bridge to Kentmorr for great crabs and an awesome beach area for hanging out while you wait
  • The Jetty on Kent Narrows has crabs, scenic views, and a fun beachy vibe
  • In Baltimore, Bo Brooks on the Canton Waterfront often tops crab eaters’ lists.
  • Stay close to the city at Quarterdeck in Arlington.
  • Waterman’s in Rock Hall after a hike at the Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge makes for a great Eastern Shore day trip.
  • Pick up your own at the Maine Avenue Fish Market. Buy them already steamed or get them while they’re still alive to cook at home.


Enjoy recreation on local waterways during the warm months

Enjoy recreation on local waterways during the warm months


Seasonal Experiences
Some particularly cool activities and offerings are only possible this time of year. Sure, you can say that’s most of this guide, but these experiences that fall into the “other” category shouldn’t be missed.

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Enter to Win Tickets to Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp at Adventure Theatre!

Photo by Sarah Straub/Adventure Theatre

Photo by Sarah Straub/Adventure Theatre



Adventure Theatre is getting ready to bring their spring production to the stage — along with the some Arabian magic. Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp opens this coming weekend with assistance from Middle-Eastern cultural consultants from Iran, India, Morocco, and Egypt among others.

Directed by Roberta Gasbarre and supported by the Weissberg Foundation’s Fund for Diversity in Theatre, the show is based on the original story, Book of One Thousand and One Nights. The multicultural cast and production team presents Aladdin as you’ve never seen it before… Aladdin and his love, the princess Adora, must outsmart an evil Magician who wants to use the genie in Aladdin’s lamp for his nefarious schemes! Will he get away with it? Get ready for love, magic, and mystery in this production for all ages.

Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp runs at Adventure Theatre April 7 – May 21, 2017. Recommended for all ages, there will be performances on weekends and weekdays, including during Spring Break. Tickets are $19.50 and available for purchase online or at the Box Office.

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Giveaway: For a chance to win a Family 4-Pack of tickets to see Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp at Adventure Theatre, simply leave a comment below letting me know which performance — date and time — you would prefer to see the show. To be eligible, you must subscribe to KFDC (see sign up on the left). Get an extra entry by also commenting on the KidFriendly DC Facebook Page. This giveaway will run through Thursday, April 6, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!

This post is sponsored by Adventure Theatre, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.


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Local Events & Activities to Celebrate Black History Month

A Statue of the famous 1968 Olympics Black Power salute at the African American History & Culture Museum

A Statue of the famous 1968 Olympics Black Power salute at the African American History & Culture Museum



February is Black History Month, and there are events and activities throughout the DC area to celebrate it. Museum programs (including an entire museum), special tours and exhibits, story time sessions, and more will be enlightening and fun for all ages. Here’s where they’re happening over the next few weeks.

Tour the NMAAHC
Where: National Museum of African American History & Culture
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free

If you can get in, this is the best place to learn about black history and culture in America. (This was #1 in my Top 16 of 2016… and now that I’ve taken the kids, will be doing a write-up about it very soon!) It’s a tough ticket to get right now — museum admission is still by timed entry passes — but it is possible to get same-day tickets. They are available online everyday starting at 6:30am until they run out.

African American Pioneers in Aviation and Space
Where: National Air & Space Museum
When: February 11
Admission: Free

Each February, the museum celebrates the significant contributions African Americans have made to flight and space exploration despite the overwhelming obstacles they had to overcome. Enjoy presentations, hands-on activities, and stories. Learn about African American astronauts, pilots, and scientists of the past and present and their accomplishments.

Slave Life Tour
Where: Mount Vernon
When: Daily through February, 11:30am
Admission: $20/adult, $10/ages 6-11, free for 5 and under (+ $4/exhibit)

Tack this on to a visit to George Washington’s estate. The 60-minute guided walking tour highlights the lives and contributions of the enslaved community who built and operated Mount Vernon. In 1799, more than 300 slaves lived and worked on the five farms that made up Washington’s 8,000-acre plantation. Listen to their stories and learn more about their daily life at Mount Vernon. Visit the refurbished slave quarters and view reproduction clothing, tools, furniture, cookware, ceramics, toys, and personal accessories that represent their experiences.

Celebrate Frederick Douglass’ Birthday
Where: Frederick Douglass Historic Site
When: February 18-19; Ongoing
Admission: Free ($1.50/house tour)

Celebrate the 199th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ birth with the National Park Service and its community partners. The estate in Anacostia where Douglass lived for nearly the last 20 years of his life is now a historic site that welcomes the public to tour, and every year they host a birthday event in his honor. This year’s programs and activities explore the significance of the visual, performing, and culinary arts in Frederick Douglass’s life. You can also go other times — the grounds are always open to visitors, though you need to make reservations to tour the house.

African-Americans at Walney Walking Tour
Where: Ellanor C. Lawrence Park
When: February 11, 11am & February 19, 2pm
Admission: $6

In this interactive walking tour, learn the names and stories of the many African-American families who lived here in slavery and in freedom. The one-hour program is recommended for ages 6 and up. Children must be accompanied by a registered adult. Sign up for Feb. 11 here and Feb. 19 here.

Portrait Story Days
Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: Most Saturdays, 1-4pm & Sundays, 2-5pm
Admission: Free

Drop in to the Portrait Gallery to listen to a story from friends at the DC Public Library about a notable person featured in the collection and complete a hands-on art project. All through February, the program highlights black Americans in honor of Black History Month. Read more about the program and museum here.

Civil Rights at 50
Where: Newseum
When: Through January 2, 2018
Admission: $24.95/adult, $14.95/ages 7-18, free for 6 and under (look for a discount)

This new exhibit explores the civil rights events of 1967, when black Americans used their First Amendment freedoms to challenge police brutality, economic inequality and the Vietnam War amid deadly riots and the rise of the Black Panther Party. This exhibit is probably better for older kids.

Jim Crow on Streetcars
Where: National Trolley Museum
When: Through February, Saturdays & Sundays, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $7/adult, $5/child

In recognition of Black History Month, the Museum presents this temporary exhibit. Learn about the nature of segregation aboard the cars in 19th century New York, the efforts to black the practice as it developed across the South, and the eventual success in opening employment opportunities.

Celebration: Black History Month 2017
Where: PG County Parks
When: Throughout February
Admission: Varies by activity

Celebrate and honor African American heritage during Black History Month with PG County Parks and Recreation. From performances to history lessons to tours, there are plenty of exciting events and activities planned throughout the area. For a complete listing of Black History Month events, go here.

Montgomery Parks Celebrates Black History Month
Where: Josiah Henson Park
When: February 25 & 26
Admission: Free

Montgomery Parks will celebrate Black History Month during the last weekend in February with free, educational events that highlight the stories, struggles, and successes of African Americans. Events include free guided tours of the park, the screening of a PBS documentary about the park, and the annual spoken word poetry event, “Lyrical Rhythms: The Sounds of Freedom.”

Hidden Figures
Where: Local movie theaters
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by theater

Playing in theaters now, this film that tells the story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program is inspiring and a perfect movie pick during Black History Month. Common Sense Media says it’s appropriate for ages 10 and up, but I’d say kids a little younger could watch it, too.


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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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Enter to Win Tickets to ‘Ella Enchanted’ at Adventure Theatre!

ella_enchanted

Adventure Theatre is getting ready to debut a new production just in time to have a cozy indoor activity during the thick of winter. Ella Enchanted, running February 3 – March 19 is a show the whole family can enjoy. And KFDC readers have a chance to win a Family 4-Pack of tickets to see it!

Based on the Newberry Honor book by Gail Carson Levine, Ella Enchanted tells the tale of Baby Ella of Frell, who is given the “gift” of obedience by Lucinda, a misguided fairy, and thus cannot disobey any direct order. Then when tragedy strikes, Ella is reduced to an obedient servant in her new home with Dame Olga. Can Ella find a way to rid herself of the troublesome curse?

See the show to find out! Tickets for Ella Enchanted are $19.50 and available for purchase online and at the Box Office (I recommend getting them in advance, as shows often sell out). You can also try to win them through the giveaway below.

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Giveaway: For a chance to win the Family 4-Pack of Tickets to see Ella Enchanted at Adventure Theatre, simply leave a comment below and/or on the KFDC Facebook page (but you must “like” it first!) letting me know which performance — date and time — you would prefer to see the show. Extra entry for commenting on both! This giveaway will run through Wednesday, February 1, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Adventure Theatre, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.


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Filed under All ages, DC, Giveaway, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Theatre, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter