Tag Archives: Season’s Greenings

Holidays at the Botanic Garden

A visit to Season's Greenings is always part of our holiday repertoire

 

As if I haven’t recommended Season’s Greenings enough as a great weekday, weekend, or holiday outing both here and on Facebook, I’m now dedicating a whole blog post to the annual holiday display at the U.S. Botanic Garden. I’ve already been three times this season — twice with the kids and once on my own. (Yeah, I kind of dig the USBG.)

But since you can read about all that is at Season’s Greenings in the KFDC Holiday Guide, this additional endorsement will give you a glimpse of what’s there. It’s also a reminder that hours are extended until 8pm on many Tuesdays and Thursdays in December for music in the garden. The concerts, featuring a different act each night, begin at 6pm. Here’s a preview of it all.

This guy will greet you on the way to the trains

The first adorable scene in the Enchanted Forest train display

Waiting for the train to emerge from a tunnel

This creature lurks among the forest

It's the details, like this tiny scene inside a tree trunk, that make the display so amazing

Sasha eyes a little room, all whittled from plant materials, behind glass

A mermaid watches over the trains

The Supreme Court constructed from plant materials is in the conservatory

Visited early on a weekday and nearly had the place to myself

What a treat to tour the jungle at night

Music during extended hours

 

Season’s Greenings will be on view at the U.S. Botanic Garden through January 1. Hours are 10am – 5pm every day, including all holidays. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings in December (except for Christmas day), the Conservatory is open until 8pm for extended hours and live music. Admission is free.

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The Weekend Round-Up: December 23-25

Happy holidays from our family to yours.

 

The Chinese food and movie combo on Christmas might sound like a cliché, but that was my reality when I was growing up.  Back then, nothing was open on Christmas…except for the theaters and Chinese food restaurants.  So, if you were Jewish and didn’t celebrate the holiday, that’s what you did.

Now that Christmas is part of my holiday repertoire thanks to my husband, I’m a little busier come Christmas Day. (What am I saying?  Christmas brings a whole new meaning to busy for weeks leading up to it, especially with kids in the mix.) But even with my adopted holiday traditions to enjoy every December 25, I still like to get out for some activity, because that’s what the child in me knows.

These days, the world doesn’t shut down for the holiday.  Along with movie theaters and Chinese food restaurants, plenty of other venues keep some hours on Christmas Day. In the vein of DC-area family fun, the Botanic Garden, Mount Vernon, parks hosting light displays, and the ice rink in Silver Spring (for a Chanukah event) will be welcoming visitors, though it’s the one day of the year that the Smithsonian is closed. And just about everything is open on Christmas Eve.

So, if your family is in town this weekend and looking for fun to complement your celebration or seeking activities instead of one, you’ve got some options. Including plenty of children’s movies in the theaters to precede or follow a good Chinese food meal.  Merry Weekend!  And a very happy holiday to all!

Santa Claus is Coming to Town… On Water SkisOn Saturday at National Harbor, you can catch Santa water skiing along the Potomac. And along for the ride will be knee boarding reindeer, the flying elves, the jet-skiing Grinch, and Frosty the Snowman in a dinghy! Now, that’s sure to be a spectacle that will get kids buzzing. While you’re at the Harbor, be sure to check out the rest of the Christmas on the Potomac holiday extravaganza.

Closing Up Shop for the SeasonSaturday is your last chance to get a glimpse of Santa’s operations at his workshop on the Ellipse.  The cute, little cottage where guests can pass through and view the charming facilities, then get a photo with St. Nick himself will be open for the last time this season on Christmas Eve from 11am – 3pm. It’s also open today and tonight, 12:30 – 4:30pm and 5:30-9:30pm.  All of the other exhibits on the Ellipse – the National Christmas Tree, the National Menorah, and other holiday display – will be there to visit through the holidays.

Let There Be Light Shows – After a big holiday meal, take a drive  through one of the many light displays in the area. You can find details for all of them in this post about holiday events, but there are a few things to note this weekend:  ZooLights is closed all weekend, Watkins’ Festival of Lights is open and FREE on Christmas evening, Symphony of  Lights is open, Brookside Garden of Lights is closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas evenings, and the Winter Lights Festival at Seneca Creek is closed on Christmas.

Chanukah WonderlandHead to the Civic Center in Downtown Silver Spring for a day full of activities that celebrate the eight crazy nights. There will be Chanukah jewelry, cookie decorating, a coloring station, dreidel making, and more from 10am – 5pm.  You can also enjoy Chanukah on Ice with skating, Jewish music, latkes from 3:30-5pm. Admission is $10.

Go NutsThe Warner Theatre curtains close on The Nutcracker after Saturday.  You can catch the final performances today at 2pm and 7pm or tomorrow at 11am and 3pm. Tickets range from $40-110, but you can check Goldstar for discount.  Read the KFDC review of the Washington Ballet’s version of the holiday classic.

Season’s GreeningsDespite its location next to all of the museums, the U.S. Botanic Garden is not part of the Smithsonian (the Architect of the Capitol serves as the Acting Director).  Hence, it’s not closed along with the rest of the galleries on the National Mall, and will welcome visitors all weekend. See the lovely, whimsical train display and replicas of DC landmarks constructed entirely of natural materials that make up the holiday exhibit, along with the permanent collections. Open 9am – 5pm, admission is free.

Portrait Story Days and Discovery KitsOn Saturday from 2-5pm, guests of all ages can drop at the National Portrait Gallery to hear a tale about Gertrude Stein and do an art project. For a fun DIY adventure at the Gallery, Portrait Discovery Kits are also available on Saturday from 1-4pm. They include “Seek and Find” cards, “Portrait Detective” and “Historian Guides,” and a “Compare and Contrast” activity using a doll. Visitors can check out kits at the education center, room E151, on the first floor.

Christmas at Mount VernonCelebrate the holiday at George Washington’s homestead, which will be open on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The special holiday exhibit includes 12 Christmas trees, a gingerbread Mount Vernon, historical chocolate-making demonstrations (and tastings!), and more.  Guests will also have the chance to tour the rarely opened third floor of the mansion to learn how the first First Family celebrated Christmas.  And outside, Alladin the camel will be on view to recall the camel ol’ George himself bought for 18 shillings in 1787 for his guests’ enjoyment at Christmas. Admission is $15/adults, $7/ages 6-11, free for ages 5 and under.

The Great Outdoors – Dreams for a white Christmas may be dashed, but I, for one, won’t be complaining about the weather this weekend.  Lots of sunshine and relatively warm temps will give you some more options for things to do.  And this post about the DC area’s best places to spend a nice day outdoors with the kiddos has loads of ideas.

A Flick and Fried Rice – Whether you partake in the ol’ Chinese food and a movie on Christmas Day tradition or just seek an easy outing with the kids, here are several kids films playing this weekend (and note that the links are for 12/25, so be sure to change it if you plan to go on Saturday).
The Muppets
Adventures of Tin Tin
Arthur Christmas
Hugo
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked

 

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Where to Play on the Weekdays: November 28 – December 2

All aboard the Play Express at Cabin John Regional Park

 

Monday – Take advantage of this relative heat wave and spend the day outdoors at a playground or park. The Meanest Momma has TONS of reviews of places where kids can climb, run, swing, and slide, mostly in Virginia, but a few in DC and Maryland as well.  And for even more ideas for recreation outdoors, this KFDC post is always a good reference.

Tuesday – Book it to Potomac Yard in Alexandria for Children’s Storytime at Barnes & Noble.  The free, weekly readings start at 11am around the charming little “stage” area in the kids’ section at the back of the store.  Arrive early or linger after for train play on the Thomas table and to browse the books and toys for potential holiday gifts. (Note: Storytime sessions take place at B&N stores all around the DC area on various days of the week.  Find more times and locations here.)

Wednesday – Catch one of the many kids flicks now showing in movie theaters:  The Muppets, Arthur Christmas, Puss in Boots, and Happy Feet Two are all current big screen options for children.

Thursday – Visit Season’s Greenings, the U.S. Botanic Garden’s seasonal exhibit. (I know this is a becoming a repeat recommendation, but it is deserving.) See the Garden Railway, easily one of the best train displays around. Stroll the festively adorned conservatory and admire replicas of DC landmarks built entirely from plant materials. Watch another model train zip around the lofty Christmas tree, one of the tallest indoor trees in the city . And, for some extra holiday magic and free entertainment, go in the evening for the first of many concerts that will take place on most Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout December.  This week, swingin’ jazz quartet Laissez Foure will liven up the Garden Court from 6-8pm.

Friday – Explore the history and customs of holiday traditions around the world through Discovery Theater’s Seasons of Light show. Performances are at 10:15am and 11:30am at the Smithsonian’s Ripley Center, and tickets are $3-9, depending on age and Smithsonian Associate membership. (Note: The show runs Monday-Friday through December 23 and usually sells out, so be sure to reserve your seats soon!)

 

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