Tag Archives: Fun Things to do in the Washington DC Area

Where to Go & What to Do Around DC During Spring Break 2017

Local explorations and sibling bonding at Great Falls

Local explorations and sibling bonding at Great Falls



Ask and you shall receive! A number of people contacted me recently to ask if I’d be posting a Spring Break guide, as many local kids get time off from school over the next couple of weeks. I’d kind of been considering it anyway, but the interest from you guys solidified my decision to do it.

Many of the ideas here are already on the blog, but sometimes a little guidance for what’s best at certain times helps. (What people more hip than me call *curated* 😉 ) Among these recommendations are activities being hosted especially for Spring Break, exhibits and shows that are hot tickets right now, outings that take advantage of the great spring weather, and places and experiences that kids who are in school all day can’t get to easily.

And, of course, the rest of this blog is full of suggestions if you want even more options. So, whether you’re enjoying a staycation or visiting from out of town, you should have no problem keeping the kids (and yourself!) happy during the week off — or on, depending how you look at it. Happy Spring Break!

Special Activities

Navigate the aerial forest at the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring

Navigate the aerial forest at the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring

Spring Break in the Trees
Where: Adventure Park at Sandy Spring
When: April 7-17
Admission: Varies by age

The park that offers a thrilling aerial forest adventure is adding some extra zip to the pursuit with a series of themes and special events. During Spring Break, each day will be themed, and guests who participate will be eligible to play games, win prizes, and receive park discounts.

Artsy Adventures
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden
When: April 13 & 14, 9am – 3:30pm
Admission: $35-40

The wonderful art center and sculpture garden has a couple of special Spring Break Camp days open. On Thursday, join for a fun-filled day of art and nature as they explore with color. On Friday, get creative with lines. Note that these all-day camps are drop-off. You can also go together and enjoy the wonderful Fairies in the Garden exhibit (more on that below)!

Egg-Cellent Outings
Where: Around the area
When: Through April 17
Admission:; Varies by event

Egg hunts, Bunny visits, and more seasonal activities are happening all around the area. Even if you’re not big on the holiday, there are attractions beyond bunnies and candy-filled eggs for your whole gang. NoVa Parks has events going on during the week, and even more places are offering fun on weekends.

Wild Knights
Where: Medieval Times
When: Through the month of April
Admission: $37/adult, $29.95 (use code SB17)

Get discount pricing on Medieval Times spectacle and feast during Spring Break. Even better, before the 5pm shows this Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (April 11-13), kids ages 5-12 can participate in FREE Jr. Knights Training (limited space available first come, first serve) and a FREE activity book! Doors open at 3:30pm, and training begins at 4pm. Training is open to both boys and girls. Closed toe shoes are required to participate.



Special Exhibits

Look out for hidden gnomes at Annmarie Sculpture Gardens

Look out for hidden gnomes at Annmarie Sculpture Gardens

Fairies in the Garden
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden
When: Daily, 9am – 5pm
Admission: $5/adult, $4/senior, $3/child

Annmarie’s magicalicious exhibit of fairy and gnome houses just opened for the season. As if the sculpture garden near Solomons, MD, wasn’t already wonderful, this annual display adds extra delight to a visit there with more than 50 handmade fairy and gnome homes scattered through the grounds. Visit the Arts Building to borrow a costume (or purchase one in the Gift Shop) to get into the fanciful spirit, grab a guide, and start your journey to locate them all. Read more about Annmarie Sculpture Garden in this KFDC post.

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors
Where: Hirshhorn Museum
When: Daily, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free

Surely, you’re aware of the exhibit at the Hirshhorn. It’s been one of the hottest tickets in town and photos of the spectacular Infinity Rooms are flooding social media feeds. While it’s next to impossible to get passes online, you might try for same-day — a limited number of Walk-Up Timed Passes are available daily. I hear there are lines for these, but if you don’t mind waiting, this could be your chance to go. Before you do, check out this KFDC review of the exhibit for an idea of what to expect and tips on going with kids.

Earth Explorers
Where: National Geographic Museum
When: Daily, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $15/adult, $10/ages 5-12, under 5 are free

Witness animal migrations from a hot air balloon, submerse into the deep sea to study marine life, discover new species in the rain forest, gear up for a polar expedition. These are all adventures — simulated ones, anyway — to be experienced at the Nat Geo Museum’s newest exhibition that offers a glimpse into the work and passion of explorers in the field. Full of hands-on displays and interactive installations, it’s informative and inspiring. Best for elementary school ages and up, but younger children can enjoy it, too.

Q?rius
Where: National Museum of Natural History
When: Daily, 2pm
Admission: Free

The interactive and experiential learning space is designed for kids ages 11 and up (though some younger ages could enjoy it, too). Visitors can view up close — and in many cases handle — real artifacts and specimens from the museum’s collections. For really little ones, there is Q?rius Jr: A Discovery Room for more age-appropriate exploring. And, of course, there’s the whole rest of the museum for everyone. Read more about Q?rius here.

Get Outdoors

Kick off the flip flops and enjoy a day at Flag Ponds

Kick off the flip flops and enjoy a day at Flag Ponds

Beachy Keen: Sand, Surf, & Fossils
Where: Around the area
When: Daily
Admission: Varies by beach

Many of us associate Spring Break with beach trips, so why not hit one with the kids? There are several places within day trip-distance from DC that are nice for sand and surf. Head out to Calvert County for a day at Flag Ponds Nature Park, including some fossil hunting (call ahead to confirm days/hours). Head a little further out to North Beach or Brownies Beach (Bayfront Park). Or go east to Sandy Point State Park. You can also play paleontologist and look for prehistoric fragments along the Potomac at Purse State Park in Charles County, MD (one of our very favorite outings in the area).

Take a Hike
Where: Around the area
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by locale

It’s a great time of year to spend some time on the trail as the weather warms up and color returns to the landscape. See flowers in bloom, tramp in places with scenic views, hike and explore history at interesting locales, and enjoy a day of active fun. This post has a a bunch of recommendations for good walks in the woods with the kids. (Heads up: The bluebells at Riverbend Park should be popping right about now, making the hike from there to Great Falls especially nice!)

Roam a Garden
Where: Around the area
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by locale

With flowers blooming and landscapes bursting with color, a visit to a garden is a fantastic outing, especially when there’s often more to do than just look at plants and flowers. Explore and play at the National Arboretum, wander around Green Spring Gardens on a scavenger hunt, enjoy flora and wildlife and the Children’s Garden at Brookside, venture out to the gorgeous Meadowlark Botanical Garden, relish in the peace at the Brookland Monastery, stroll among the many multi-tiered plats at Dumbarton Oaks, romp in the children’s area at River Farm, or stop and smell the roses (and more) at the U.S. Botanic Garden.


Museums & More “DC” Sites

Newsflash:  The Newseum is awesome!

Newsflash: The Newseum is awesome!

Focus on News and Media
Where: Newseum
When: Daily, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $24.95/adult, $14.95/ages 7-19, free for 6 and under
(look for a deal)

The museum dedicated to all things news and journalism is fascinating — and one of my personal favorite’s in DC. Much of the collection is better appreciated (and understood) by older children, so while they have off from school is a good time to take advantage of an outing there. Read more about the Newseum in this KFDC post.

African American History & Culture
Where: National Museum of African American History & Culture
When: Daily, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free

The relatively new museum is full of powerful exhibits and a must-see on the National Mall. Advanced passes are gone through April, but with the kids home and open days ahead of you, it’s a good time to try for same-day passes — up to four(4) same-day timed entry passes are available online everyday starting at 6:30am until they run out. A limited number of walk-up passes are also available beginning at 1pm on weekdays.

Abe’s Last Days
Where: Ford’s Theatre
When: Daily, 9am – 4:30pm
Admission: $3-8

Ford’s isn’t just a place to catch live entertainment. The site of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination highlights its historic significance through tours and exhibits about the president, the Civil War, and that fateful night at the theatre. This is the busy season, so it’s recommended to reserve tickets in advance.

Show Them the Money
Where: Bureau of Engraving & Printing
When: Monday – Friday, 9am – 6pm
Admission: Free

This is a great outing with kids on break from school, since tours are only offered on weekdays. Tours run every 15 minutes 9am – 6pm this time of year. Admission is free, but tickets are required, and you can pick them up at the booth on Raoul Wallenburg Place starting at 8am. Your time slot may be for later in the day, so have some plans in mind in case your tour is later in the day.

Day Trips & Overnights

Hike from West Virginia to Maryland at Harpers Ferry

Hike from West Virginia to Maryland at Harpers Ferry

Hiking & History
Where: Harpers Ferry
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free ($10 if you park in lot)

Get some fresh air and exercise as you enjoy spring weather and historic sites. Harpers Ferry is an easy day trip or quick getaway destination from DC, and spring is a great time to go. For more about a visit there, see this KFDC post.

Charm City, Hon!
Where: Baltimore attractions
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Zip up I-95 for some fun in our sister city, where there are lots of great places to spend a day off. Play the day away at Port Discovery. Explore the exhibits and loads of hands-on activities at the Maryland Science Center. See some of the quirkiest, coolest art around at the American Visionary Art Museum. Get an eyeful of the underwater world at the National Aquarium. Tour the historic ships moored at the Inner Harbor. Or learn about Baltimore’s early business days at the Museum of Industry.

Go Underground
Where: Luray Caverns
When: Ongoing, 9am – 7pm
Admission: $24/adults, $21/seniors, $12/ages 6-12, 5 and under free

Behold the spectacular underground world of stalagmites, stalactites, and other amazing limestone formations in the massive cave system at Luray. Afterward, make your way through the Garden Maze or check out vintage rides in the Carriage and Caravan Museum. Admission does not include attractions beyond the cavern. KFDC Tip: Be sure to make a pit stop before going into the caverns, because it can be a long walk out to a restroom, and once you’re out, you may not be able to go back in.

Tramp & Camp
Where: Shenandoah National Park
When: Ongoing
Admission: $25/vehicle, campsites are extra & vary

Whether you go for a day or even several, Shenandoah National Park is a boon for outdoor recreation close to DC. If you can only swing a day, find some good trails to hike or even ride along Skyline Drive and take in the beautiful vistas from the car. If you can stay overnight, it’s a great place for a camping experience with kids. Either way, enjoy being immersed in nature and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife sightings!

Explore Another Capital City
Where: Annapolis
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by activity

Maryland’s capital city is as beautiful as it is fun, and you can easily make a day (or few) of it there. Take a Pirate Adventure on the Chesapeake, enjoy some outdoor recreation at Quiet Waters Park, feast on crabs, or stroll around town and the Naval Academy grounds. It’s all an easy drive out Rt. 50 from DC.


Live Entertainment

Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp will entertain all ages

Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp will entertain all ages

Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp
Where: Adventure Theatre
When: Through
Admission: $19.50

With performances scheduled almost every day of the week, you can catch an all-ages show at the best children’s theatre around! This is 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 show! And plan to stay after at Glen Echo Park for a picnic lunch (BYO or buy there) and some time on the playground.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff
Where: The Puppet Co.
When: Through April 30
Tickets: $12

Take kids preschool-aged to 9 years to see this marionette romp in which three brothers get the goat of a hen-pecked troll, in their attempts to trip-trap-tromp to where the grass is greener. Three variety numbers precede the performance, demonstrating the making of a simple hand puppet, and manipulation of rod puppets and marionettes, as an introduction to the Art of Puppetry. Plan to stay at Glen Echo Park after the show for a picnic lunch (BYO or buy there) and some time on the playground.

A Raisin in the Sun
Where: Arena Stage
When: Through May 7
Tickets: $66-111

This is an outstanding production that kids about middle school ages and up will appreciate. The groundbreaking masterpiece follows an African American family in the 1950’s as they yearn for a better life from their Chicago tenement and have the opportunity to realize it. With stellar performances by the cast, the show is emotional and thought-provoking as it spotlights struggles and issues that our society still grapples with today.


Extra Tips

* If you’re looking specifically for rainy day ideas, see The Great Indoors list or the round-up of Indoor Playgrounds
* And for where to relish the sublime weather, check out The Best Places to Spend a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids
* National Parks Week is April 15-23. Entrance to all national parks will be free April 15-16 and April 22-23!
* The Smithsonian Event Calendar is always worth checking before you head to the museums or the Zoo
* Look for deals and discounts on CertifiKID and Goldstar.


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Filed under 2017, All ages, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Spring, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Take a Nature Break at Prince William Forest Park

pwfp_lead

My kids are funny when it comes to hiking. Sometimes they are gung-ho, but every now and then when I suggest we hit the trail, there’s a little protest: “But it’s just walking!” is something I’ve heard more than once.

Then I explain that it’s much more than just walking. It’s observing the nature around us, enjoying some active recreation, getting out of the bustling city for peaceful surrounds, unplugging, spending quality time together. I relish a good hike and, at the risk of sounding eye rollingly cheesy, think it’s the perfect thing for a mini reboot. Taking even a little break from our busy, hurried city life to slow down and connect is good for all of us.

pwfp_hike

The thing is, I can almost always guarantee that even when there is initial resistance to the hiking plan, they end up being happy trampers. (“Mom, you were right…” is not uncommon either 😉 ). Once we get to our destination, they’re excited to be there — racing each other down the path, looking out for wildlife, finding a perfect walking stick, and just exploring the environment around us.

pwfp_mushrooms

When we visited Prince William Forest Park in Northern Virginia this past fall, they were actually quite amenable to the idea. This mostly had to do with the fact that Owen had just been there for Nature Bridge , a three-day outdoor education program with school, and loved the location. I had been there myself a year before for a trail race and recalled it being a beautiful park with varied terrain and interesting trails. Collective enthusiasm to go someplace is never a bad thing!

pwfp_visitor_center

Prince William Forest Park stretches over 15,000 acres in Northern Virginia. The largest protected green space in the DC-Metro area, there are over 37 miles of trails to hike, plus miles of paved and gravel paths to cycle, rivers for fishing, and cabins and tent sites for camping.

There is a $7 entrance fee per vehicle (or $5 for walk- and bike-ins) that we paid at the Visitor Center upon our arrival. While we were there, we picked up a trail map, checked out the exhibits, and learned a little more about the park’s nature and history. A couple of tidbits: The area was significant strategic point in the Civil War, and during the Great Depression when the park was called the Chopawamsic Recreation Area, it housed children’s relief camps.

pwfp_exhibit

There are a few trail heads near the Visitor Center, and trails within the park are as short as a half mile and as long as almost 10. Many connect, so you can extend your hike and explore different areas. Our jaunt along the Laurel Loop Trail took us through the woods, which were vibrant with fall colors at the time, and along the Quantico Creek. Owen pointed out some of the spots he visited on his school trip, like a beaver dam and small waterfall, and we had a picnic lunch by the water.

pwfp_sash

Then we hopped onto another trail that took us deeper into the woods, and eventually to small cemetery. We learned that there over 40 family cemeteries in the park, mostly from the late 19th and early 20th century, but some even earlier. It’s important to respect these sites and also illegal to alter them in any way. You can read about a couple of them here.

pwfp_tombstone

pwfp_grave

While we didn’t see much wildlife besides birds, squirrels, and fish, plenty do live there. Deer, beavers, and black bears (!) are some of the other mammals you might encounter. And sightings of snakes, turtles, and frogs are pretty common.

The variety in trails makes Prince William Forest Park a great place to hike with young children, since there are plenty of short, flat trails. And if you’re with older kids who want more of a challenge, there are longer and more difficult trails, too. You even can make it a weekend trip — cabins are available May – October, and tent sites May – November. Whether you overnight it or just go for a few hours, it makes for a great escape from the city.

pwfp_owen



Prince William Forest Park is located in Triangle, VA, about a 45 minute drive from DC. It’s open daily from sunrise to sunset. The Visitor Center is open 8am – 4pm November – February, and 9am – 5pm March – October. Admission is $7/car or $5/walk- or bike-in.


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Filed under All ages, Animals, Educational, Exhibit, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

The Weekend: December 30-January 1

monument_sunset

The sun is setting on 2016, and we’ll be hitting the metaphorical refresh button when it rises on Sunday. So just like last weekend, I’m keeping this round-up simple as we emerge from the hoopla of the holidays (and the past year, for that matter) and possibly get into more as we welcome 2017. There are still some seasonal events going on and plenty of things to do around town, but not too many special one-time happenings aside from New Year’s activities, which we’ve got covered. Those along with these go-to posts will keep your crew entertained over the next few days. And be sure to follow KFDC on Facebook in case I share any last minute news. Happy Weekend and a very Happy New Year to all!

Ring in the New Year, Family-Style

The KFDC 2016 Guide to the Best of the Holidays in DC

Winter Entertainment

Everyday Play

The Great Indoors

Indoor Playgrounds

The Best Places in the DC Area to Spend A Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids

Skaters Gonna Skate: Where to Hit the Ice this Season

Walks in the Woods

*Be sure to check out the just posted KFDC Top 16 of 2016 to see what we enjoyed most this past year, and let us know your faves, too!

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Filed under All ages, Annual, DC, Free, Holidays, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, Outdoor, Seasonal, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend, Winter

Find Knuffle Bunny at Adventure Theatre this Fall (+ Giveaway!)

atmtc_knuffle_bunny

Adventure Theatre is kicking off its new season of family entertainment by bringing a beloved children’s book to life on stage. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale opens this Friday, September 23, and you have a chance to win a Family 4-Pack of tickets to see a performance!

Based on the book by Mo Willems and directed for this production by Nick Olcott, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale follows Trixie and her father as they bustle through the streets of New York City down the block, across the park, past the school, to the Laundromat. But returning home, Knuffle Bunny is gone, and Trixie can’t tell her father what’s wrong.

You can watch this all play out adorably on stage September 23 – October 23 at Adventure Theatre located in Glen Echo Park. Recommended for all ages, there are lots of opportunities to catch a performance of Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale on both weekdays and weekends. Tickets are $19.50, and you can try to win four of them through the giveaway below.

*Be aware of these dates offering special opportunities and extra fun:

September 23, 7pm: Pay What You Can Pajama Party
Wear your pj’s and eat free milk and cookies in this fun kick-off performance.
Pay what you can is at the door and cash only.

September 24, 11am & 2pm: International Rabbit Day Giveaway
10 lucky families will walk away with their own official plush Knuffle Bunny.

October 2: Daddy Daughter Day
Daddy’s and daughters get commemorative cards to celebrate their fun outing.

October 8, 2pm: ASL Interpreted
This performance will have an ASL interpreter for the deaf and hard of hearing.
The performance is unaltered for all other patrons.

October 15, 2pm: Autism/Sensory-Friendly Performance
The lights are kept on and the sound is turned down for those with sensory sensitivities.

October 22: Celebrate Plush Animal Lover’s Day!
Get your photo taken with the giant Knuffle Bunny after the show.

* * * * *

Giveaway: For a chance to win a Family 4-Pack of Tickets to see Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale at Adventure Theatre, simply leave a comment below letting me know which performance — date and time — you would like to see the show. To be eligible to win, you should follow KidFriendly DC on Facebook and subscribe to KFDC (sign-up is on the left). This giveaway will run through Thursday, September 22, 2016, 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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Filed under All ages, Giveaway, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Sponsored Post, Theatre, Weekdays, Weekend

More Cirque Italia Shows Coming to Woodbridge and Frederick!

cirque_flyer

This post is sponsored by Cirque Italia, 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, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Sponsored Post, Summer, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend