Tag Archives: Getaways from DC

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

We’re 6 in Blog Years!

kids_me

Wow. It was six years ago today that I launched KidFriendly DC with a short post about the National Building Museum’s new Book of the Month program. It seems like yesterday — a true testament that time really does fly when you’re having fun.

At the time, I wasn’t even exactly sure what KFDC would be. I just knew that I wanted to fuse my professional experience with my passions — for adventure, this city, my children — and give back to DC and the people and places that make it such an amazing place to live, visit, raise a family, call home. I think KFDC has achieved that. I hope so, anyway.

And, of course, I have to say THANK YOU for following. I hope you enjoy reading KFDC as much as I enjoy creating it.

So, I have to admit this blog birthday kind of snuck up on me. Luckily, Facebook’s memories feature dropped an old status update in my feed as a reminder, and I have come up with a fun and easy way to celebrate: A giveaway for a getaway! That’s right, one lucky KFDC reader has a chance to win a CertifiKid voucher for one of these family escapes:

* 2-Night Waterfront Stay in Chincoteague, VA

* 2-Night Cabin or 3-Night Campsite Getaway in Williamsburg, VA
+ 4 Passes for Admission to National Building Museum Exhibits

* 2-Night Virginia Beach Getaway

*Be sure to read all fine print regarding dates and restrictions for each getaway!

Giveway: For a chance to win your choice of one of the above CertifiKid getaways, simply leave a comment below telling me the best experience you’ve had that you learned about from KFDC. To be eligible, you must follow KidFriendly DC on Facebook and subscribe to the blog (sign up on the left). It would also be awesome if you could click on the “Vote” button to the right and cast yours for KidFriendly DC (though not required). This giveaway will run through Sunday, February 28, then a winner will be selected and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!


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Filed under DC, Giveaway

Summer Weekend at Wintergreen

Enjoying the Wintergreen scenery

Enjoying the Wintergreen scenery



As much as we love living in the city, we also relish an escape from it now and then. It’s refreshing to go somewhere a little more laid back, where we can see oodles of stars twinkling in the night sky, breathe in fresh mountain air, hike among tall trees, and partake in adventures that aren’t so easily accessible all in one place at home.

So, when friends asked us to join them for a weekend away earlier this month, we didn’t hesitate to say yes. We decided to go to Wintergreen Resort, because 1) both of our families had been before — us during the winter, them in the summer — and knew we liked it and 2) we found a great, reasonably-priced house there through VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner.

wintergreen_scenery

Wintergreen is located in central Virginia on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains, about a three-hour drive from DC. We headed up there on a Friday, arriving in the evening and stayed through Sunday afternoon. And while it sounds like a quick trip, it felt much longer. We managed to fit in a good amount of activity — and a nice dose of R&R as well.

wintergreen_sash

wintergreen_hiking

With five kids ranging in age from 1 to 7, we planned most activities around them. We took a short hike, letting the kids do some easy rock climbing; spent several hours swimming at a pool and playing at a nearby playground; took tube rides down a mountain at the resort’s Discovery Ridge Adventure Center; and swam, canoed, and played at Lake Monocan down the mountain.

wintergreen_tubing

wintergreen_zip

That’s just a tiny sample of all there is to do there. At the Adventure Center alone you can also ride zip lines, jump on the bungee trampoline, tee up for mini golf, and let little ones play in Ridgley’s Fun Park. There is also golf, tennis, a spa, and fishing opportunities, plus scheduled family activities like geocaching, scavenger hunts and lawn games.

wintergreen_lake_monocan

wintergreen_lakejump

wintergreen_canoe

You need resort passes to enjoy some it — like the spa, tennis, and golf — which you can get if you book through the resort. If, like us, you book through the property owner, you can ask about a resort pass. We did not have one, but had access to other pools on the mountain, which was absolutely fine. You also have to be a resort member or guests to go to the lake on Saturdays. That also worked out well for us, since we went on Sunday when there was barely a crowd (and we heard it was packed the day before).

Not bad place to enjoy a morning cup o' joe

Not bad place to enjoy a morning cup o’ joe

All in all, it was wonderful weekend at a locale I highly recommend. And now that we’ve been during winter and summer, a leaf peeping trip is in the works for the fall.

Wintergreen Resort is located in Wintergreen, Va (though the address to get there says Roseland, Va), about 30 minutes from Charlottesville. You can book a stay through them and take advantage of special packages or DIY with VRBO and add the adventures on once you get there. Either way, you’re in for a fun escape.


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Filed under All ages, Destination from DC, Fall, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Spring, Summer, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter