Tag Archives: Washington DC Kids 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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Auditions Coming Up for the National Children’s Chorus

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Does your child have musical ability and a desire to be part of a premiere youth choral group? The National Children’s Chorus in Washington, DC, is holding auditions this month for girls and boys ages 5 to 14, offering musically talented children the opportunity to learn and grow in an extraordinary environment.

The finest instructors work with students weekly to develop their vocal skills from the most basic concepts through the college level. Tone quality, breath support, and musical expression are cultivated within the individual singers, while working together as an ensemble culminates in world-class performances. With a spectacular musicianship curriculum to accompany its first-rate vocal training, the National Children’s Chorus is an unparalleled educational resource for children who love to sing! If child has musical ability, don’t waste another minute!

Auditions will take place on Thursday, April 27, at National City Christian Church. Children ages 5 to 14 are invited to apply. Set up an audition today!

For more information, visit the National Children’s Chorus website.


This post is sponsored by the National Children’s Chorus, 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 DC, Educational, Gradeschoolers, Music, Sponsored Post, Spring, Teens, Tweens

Easter Celebrations for DC Peeps this Spring

Who says front yard holiday decor is just for Halloween and Christmas?

Who says front yard holiday decor is just for Halloween and Christmas?



Don’t put your eggs all in one basket when it comes to Easter celebrations around the DC area! Numerous places host egg hunts, Easter bunny visits, and much more spring fun this time of year. Even if you’re not big on the holiday, there are attractions and activities beyond bunnies and candy-filled eggs that will have the whole family hopping with joy. Here’s where you can find them, listed in order of start date. (And if I’ve left out any good ones, feel free to let me know in the comments.) Happy Spring!

Spring Easter Egg Hunt
Where: Ticonderoga Farm
When: Through April 23
Admission: $10.95/weekdays, $14.95/weekends ages 2 and up

With giant slides, awesome jumping pillows, playgrounds, animals, mazes, and more, the farm in Chantilly is a blast everyday (it’s open daily), but they take the fun up a notch on weekends in early spring. Along with the permanent amusement, there are egg hunts ( and visits from the Easter Bunny. Be sure to check the website for timing of specific activities. For an idea of what’s there, see this post about their Winter Festival, which is much of the same, but with Easter instead of Christmas festivities. And this post about a class field trip has info and pics, too.

Egg Hunt & Marshmallow Harvest
Where: Great Country Farms
When: April 1-2, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $10/child, $12/adult at the gate

After a long cold winter, nothing chases away the chill like a visit to the farm. Head to Great Country for the first “crop” of the spring– Marshmallow Picking! Do marshmallow peeps grow on trees? Be sure to check it out and harvest a few to roast on the bonfire with Farmer Bob. You can even purchase a s’mores kit to melt away that chocolate craving. Guests can also help find Easter Bunny eggs during egg hunts (by age – see the schedule) with over 18,000 treat-filled eggs. Plan to visit spring chicks and baby animals, check out the spring plantings in the greenhouse, take a hayride and rejoice in the new season. Don’t forget to bring your camera for photo ops with the Easter Bunny. Buy advance tickets online for only $10/adult — visit the website to purchase, and look for the schedule of events there, too.

Bunnyland
Where: Butler’s Orchard
When: Weekends April 8-9, 14-15, 17, 21-23, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $9/child, $7/adult

One of the more popular spring festivals in the area, Butler’s has all the trappings for seasonal fun: bunnies, eggs, and other Easter-related treats to get young guests in the holiday spirit. Attractions include hayrides down the Bunny Trail, egg hunts, the Rubber Ducky Derby, giant slides, and a small petting zoo. Face painting and pony rides are also usually offered for an extra fee. Concessions are available, and there are also plenty of picnic tables if you prefer to pack a lunch.

NoVa Parks Egg Hunts
Where: Parks throughout Northern Virginia
When: Various dates
Admission: $10

Several parks in Northern Virginia are hosting all kinds of Easter fun to celebrate the holiday and the season. Easter bunny visits and photo ops, egg hunts, crafts, and more activities will be part of the festivities. Registration is required. Go here to see where and when you can jump in on the fun!

Easter Photos & Fun
Where: DC Area Simon Centers
When: During the Easter season
Admission: Free (photos cost extra)

To help families hop into the season, DC-area Simon centers are hosting egg-tastic festivities and community events for the entire family. Shoppers around the region are invited to visit Arundel Mills, Clarksburg Premium Outlets, Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, Hagerstown Premium Outlets, Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets, Queenstown Premium Outlets and St. Charles Towne Center to experience a variety of seasonal celebrations, including Easter Bunny photos, egg hunts, and appearances by Peter Cottontail!

Bunny Train Ride
Where: Walkersville Southern Railroad
When: April 8,9, & 15
Admission: $15/adult, $14/seniors, $12/ages 1-12

All aboard for a trip back in time with the Easter Bunny! Travel over track that the Pennsylvania Railroad originally built in 1872. See Walkersville Southern’s turn-of-the- century railroad station and tool house, then visit with the Bunny on the train (who will also give each child an Easter gift!). Ride in vintage 1920s passenger cars or on an open flatcar as your rail excursion runs past a 100-year-old lime kiln, and then out into picturesque Maryland farm country. Enjoy juice and Uncle Ralph’s cookies in the museum after your ride. Reservations Required! Look for a ticket deal through CertifiKID.

2nd Annual Peeps Day
Where: National Harbor
When: April 8, 12pm
Admission: Free

It’s the second annual PEEPS Day, a day to celebrate the spring season and the uniqueness of everyone’s favorite marshmallow treat! The day begins at 12pm and features games and activities, a DJ, a movie, and the National Harbor World PEEPS Eating Championship! Read more about a family day at National Harbor in this KFDC post.

Easter Egg Decorating
Where: Brentwood Arts Exchange
When:April 8, 2pm
Admission: Free

Fun! Glitter! Eggs! The Brentwood Arts Exchange promise all three at this free family-friendly workshop. Create beautiful decorated eggs that will impress friends and even the Easter Bunny. Children will receive their first two eggs for free. Additional eggs will be available to purchase 2 for $1.

10th Annual Eggstravaganza
Where: Tudor Place
When: April 8, 10am – 12pm
Admission: $10/child, $8/child member, $5/adult

Rolling green lawns, bright spring blooms, and the elegant mansion on a hill serve as backdrop for this festive annual attraction. Join the Easter Bunny as children of all ages enjoy an Egg Hunt and thrilling Egg Roll Contest down the grand South Lawn. Crafts include paper chick “pets” and colorful butterflies, plus there will be games for all ages. Plan to take a self-guided tour of Tudor Place’s 5½ acres of glorious gardens, and be sure to bring a camera!

Easter Eggstravaganza & Wagon Rides
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park
When: April 8
Admission:

Children ages 1-5 can hunt for eggs that have treats and surprises in them at the Visitor Center, with time slots available from 10am – 3pm. After (or before) your search, take a wagon ride (extra $2) — time slots are open from 10:30am – 4pm. And, of course, there’s lots more farm fun to enjoy while you’re there!

Easter Eggstravaganza and Spring Fashion Show
Where: Lord & Taylor Tyson’s Corner
When: April 8, 9:30-11:30am
Admission: Free

Head to the Easter set in lower level Lord & Taylor Court on by 9:30am* to take part in the Easter Eggstravaganza to “hunt” for fun-filled Easter Eggs. After, stick around to enjoy complimentary face painting, snacks and treats, balloon animals, and a Spring Fashion Show featuring the hippest-hoppiest looks for Spring and Easter. While you are here, don’t miss getting your picture taken with Tysons Corner Center’s Easter Bunny!

Dinosaur Egg Hunt
Where: Hidden Oaks Nature Center
When: April 8-9, 14-16
Admission: $7-9/child

Stomp over to Hidden Oaks, where children ages 2-8 can enjoy a dinosaur-themed program and outdoor egg hunt while visiting dinoland in Nature Playce and make a dino craft. Pre-registration is required. Programs run several time throughout the day for 45-minute sessions.

Easter Eggs-Stravaganza
Where: Roer’s Zoofari
When: April 8-9 & 15-16, 9am – 6pm
Admission: $15 ages 2 and up

Celebrate the arrival of spring at an Easter event that promises to be entertaining for all ages! Safari tours, face painting, a bounce house, kids zone, and hourly Easter egg hunts (BYO basket) will be part of the fun. Visitors are also invited to explore the zoo’s updated animal exhibits, including several endangered species! Animal encounters, animal feed, and camel rides will also be available for a small additional fee. Advance tickets required.

Easter Eggstravaganzas
Where: Various locations around the DC-Metro
When: April 8 & 15
Admission: Free

These festivals held in several neighborhoods around the area offer all kinds of Easter fun – egg hunts, Easter bunny visits, face painting, yummy treats, games, prizes, and more. They’ll take place in Northwest DC, Northeast DC, Capitol Hill, Springfield, Gainesville, and Alexandria.

Fabergé Egg Family Festival
Where: Hillwood Estate and Gardens
When: April 9, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $18/adult, $5/ages 6-18, free for 5 and under

Celebrate spring’s arrival in traditional Russian style! Hillwood’s annual festival has programs, music, art, and activities for all ages. Happenstance Theatre will present stories of Russian Easter traditions in a fun family play. A favorite for all ages is the “Fabergé’s Workshop” to create a Fabergé-inspired egg. Samovar Russian Folk Music Ensemble takes visitors back to Old Russia as they play traditional instruments, and the Kalinka Dance Ensemble performs Russian folk dances. And centuries-old Russian springtime games like egg-rolling and egg and spoon racing will entertain children of all ages.

Easter Egg Hunt
Where: Upton Hill Park
When: April 13, 11am
Admission: $13/advance, $14/day of

Enjoy a fun filled afternoon with the Easter Bunny on a weekday! Activities will include coloring, games, a moon bounce, and pictures with the Easter Bunny. Check-in and activities begin at 11am, and the Egg Hunt begins at 11:30am. Add on a mini-golf and food voucher for $7 more and get a great deal on lunch (pizza, chips, and choice of drink) and two hours of mini-golf from 12-2pm.

Bird Egg-stravaganza
Where: Woodend Nature Sanctuary
When: April 15, 10am – 12pm
Admission: $10/child (adults free)

Join the Audubon Naturalist Society for a nature-themed egg hunt at their Bethesda headquarters. Children can search for eggs along the Woodend Nature Sanctuary trails. Afterwards, they can cash in their eggs for prizes, participate in crafts, and enjoy other nature themed activities. The Big Cheese food truck will be on-site and available for coffee, breakfast, and lunch. Read more about Woodend in this KFDC post.

6th Annual Easter Egg Hunt
Where: Tregaron Conservancy
When: April 15, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free, but donations greatly appreciated

Join staff at 10am sharp by the Lily Pond near the Klingle Entrance for the 6th Annual Easter Egg Hunt! A separate hunting area will be set up for kids under the age of five. RSVPs are encouraged but not required. BYO basket or bag.

Egg Hunt Weekend
Where: Clark’s Elioak Farm
When: April 15-17
Admission: $6

Little ones (ages 1 to 3 and 4 to 6) will have a chance to hunt for eggs throughout the day at this Maryland Farm that looks like something out of a story book! After hunting, they get to turn the eggs in for a goodie bag. The petting farm, rides, and play areas will be open for all to enjoy, too, along with gem mining and geode cracking. Be sure to take a look at the website for a heads-up on how the egg hunts will run, so you can make the most of your day there. Read more about Clarks Elioak in the KFDC post about the best outdoor places in the area.

Falls Church Annual Easter Egg Hunt
Where: Cherry Hill Park
When: April 15, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Join this annual family celebration hosted by the city’s Recreation and Parks Department. Children dressed in their spring finest can hunt for candy and special eggs in Cherry Hill Park and have their photo taken with a special guest, the Easter Bunny! BYO basket — they’ll supply the candy, fun, and happy springtime memories. In addition to scrambling for eggs and photo ops, children ages 11 and younger can participate in a make-your-own-candy-bag craft project.

Storytime, Eggs-ploration, and Egg Dyeing
Where: Black Hills Nature Programs
When: April 15
Admission: $9

Staff will share the beautifully illustrated story An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Aston, then you’ll all explore what makes eggs so extraordinary. Observe how bird, amphibian, and reptile eggs are different and alike! After the eggs-ploration, dye hard-boiled eggs in natural dyes made from turmeric, beets, and cabbage! All materials provided.

Egg-Stravaganza
Where: Oxon Run Field, Congress Heights
When: April 15, 9:30am – 12pm
Admission: Free

It’s the first annual Egg-Straavaganza in Congress Heights! Hunt for eggs filled with candy and other goodies, and enjoy inflatable jump houses and other festivities. Children ages 4 and under invited at 9:30am, ages 5-8 at 10:30am, ages 9-12 at 11:15am, and all ages at 11:45am.

12th Annual Stead Park Easter Egg Hunt
Where: Stead Park
When: April 15, 10:30am – 12:30pm
Admission: Free

Hop to it and join Friends of Stead Park for their annual Community Easter Egg Hunt! Enjoy selfies with the Easter Bunny, crafts and snacks after your little ones have filled their baskets with eggs. BYO basket and RSVP to the Friends of Stead Park by April 10.

Easter Buzz
Where: Buzz Bakeshop
When: April 15, 1-4pm
Admission: $20

Go see the Easter Bunny at Buzz Bakeshop, where they will be celebrating the holiday with a cookie decorating party and a visit from its fuzzy honoree. The Easter Bunny will take a polaroid with you and give you a fun treat to take home. You might find some hidden eggs, too, while you are there!

Electronic Eggstravaganza
Where: Maydale Conservation Park
When: April 15, 1:30-2:30pm
Admission: $7

Spring is here and life is blooming. Eggs are everywhere! You’ll use GPS units to search for eggs hidden in Maydale’s different habitats for a truly fun way to learn about spring and be rewarded with a prize at the same time. Bring your own bag or collect your findings – they’ll supply the GPS units.

Kids Easter Egg Hunt
Where: Pinstripes Georgetown
When: April 16, 9:30am
Admission: $5 to hunt (brunch is separate)

Kids can join a hunt around the venue and search for colorful eggs and receive special prizes. Easter baskets are $5 each and include a special treat! All proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society. After the egg hunt, enjoy brunch with the bunny, who will be there for photo ops and to ring in the special holiday. Plus, enjoy a gourmet brunch including an endless spread of Easter favorites, from carved prime rib, fresh seafood, waffles, made-to-order omelets, salad bar, delectable desserts, and more. Register here. (Note that egg hunt registration does not include Easter brunch reservations.) Read more about Pinstripes in this KFDC post.

Easter Brunch
Where: Hilton McLean Tysons Corner
When: April 16, 10:30am – 2pm
Admission: $45/adult, $25/ages 3-10

Hilton McLean Tysons Corner and härth are hopping into spring with an exciting brunch event on Easter Sunday. Families will also have the opportunity to take a picture with the Easter Bunny and participate in an Easter egg hunt with grand prizes for the winner of each age group. The meal will feature an expansive buffet menu with brunch favorites like crème brûlée French toast casserole, carving stations featuring herb pepper crusted prime rib and a cooked-to-order omelet station. Bottomless mimosas will be available for just $10 along with a specialty cocktail for $6, and a refreshing apple cider and house-made ginger beer mocktail for $3. Make a reservation here.

Egg Hunt in the Outfield
Where: Nationals Park
When: April 16
Admission: Special game tickets start at $30

Enjoy an unforgettable family experience as kids get the chance to hunt for Easter eggs in the outfield following the 1:35pm Nats vs. Phillies game. Kids will take home a commemorative Nationals Easter egg and basket. There will be a few “special” eggs including Nationals items such as jerseys, autographed items, and baseballs. The Easter Bunny and Presidents will be there as well. Although the “hunting” will be reserved for the kids, both parents and kids must purchase a special ticket to participate. The event will take place after the initial Kids Run the Bases.

Easter Monday: A Washington Family Tradition
Where: National Zoo
When: April 17, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Easter on Monday at the Zoo! Join them for special family-focused activities and live entertainment. A traditional Easter Egg Hunt and animal demonstrations as well as visits from the Easter Panda will be part of the festivities! This event will be held rain or shine.

White House Easter Egg Roll
Where: White House Lawn
When: April 17
Admission: Free, tickets required

The annual White House Easter Egg Roll requires tickets won through lottery for admission. If you entered, you will find out on March 31 if you were “successful” in scoring them or not; but if you don’t, you can check your status on recreation.gov. Unofficial tip: I’ve heard in the past that people have been at the entrance giving away extra tickets they may have. While I can’t confirm that’s always the case, if you’re going to be in that area and really want to go, it wouldn’t hurt to stop by and see if someone might have tickets for you. Note that entries are timed, so while it goes all day, guests only stay for their designated amount of time.


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Filed under 2017, All ages, Animals, Annual, DC, Educational, Farm, Festival, Free, Holidays, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Special Event, Spring, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Live Entertainment on Local Stages this Spring

The interactive TreeHouse Shakers: Hatched at BlackRock Center for the Arts

The interactive “TreeHouse Shakers: Hatched” at BlackRock Center for the Arts



With the new season comes a whole new lineup of live entertainment. There are shows for all ages and interests — plays, puppet theatre, musicals, concerts, dance performances, and more to enjoy at venues around the area. Here’s what you and the kids can see on local stages this spring, listed in order of opening date.

Paper Dreams
Where: Imagination Stage
When: Through April 9
Tickets: $14

In a brand-new collaboration with Mons Dansa Dance Company Barcelona, Spain, we bring to life our first DANCE performance based show, perfect for ages 1-5 that explores the many facets of creativity. A fun, interactive production that tells the story of two delightful creatures who live inside a wastepaper basket. Can our greatest mistake actually turn out to be the next greatest innovative idea?

Ragtime
Where: Ford’s Theatre
When: Through May 20
Tickets: $18-64 (look for a discount)

Based on E.L. Doctorow’s celebrated novel, this epic Tony-winning musical depicts three families striving for the American dream at the turn of the 20th century. As the country balances on the cusp of social change, the lives of a wealthy white family, a daring Harlem musician and a determined Jewish immigrant intersect—and their fates are inextricably bound and profoundly changed. With an expansive musical score, striking relevancy and a who’s who of 20th-century historical characters, “Ragtime” confronts both the unbridled optimism and the stark reality of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Recommended for ages 12 and up.

The Select (The Sun Also Rises) (KidFree Suggestion!)
Where: Lansburgh Theatre
When: Through April 2
Tickets: $44-113 (look for a discount)

A stage littered with liquor bottles and café chairs seamlessly transforms itself from the bistros of Paris to the banks of the Irati River; a long bar table roars to life and charges a champion matador; an out-of-control dance party takes off during a night of nonstop revelry. As the story winds its way through France and Spain and lands in Pamplona where bullfighting and the fiesta rage in the streets, Hemingway’s narrator carries the heavy burdens of a war injury and his inability to have the woman he loves; a woman whose amorous escapades he follows with bemused but painful fatalism.

Monica Becomes a Big Sister
Where: Discovery Theater
When: March 23
Tickets: $3-8

Monica can’t wait for the newest member of the family to arrive. But a broken leg sends her to the emergency room with her mom. In a musical medical adventure, Monica discovers that a hospital isn’t such a scary place—and that a baby brother might join you on the trip back home. Recommended for ages 3-7

To Sail Around the Sun
Where: Kennedy Center
When: March 25-26
Tickets: $20

Set to the timeless music of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, this imaginative world premiere co-commission between the NSO and Company | E uses dance, film, storytelling, and musicians to weave together stories about the changing of the seasons. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Pike St. (KidFree Suggestion!)
Where: Woolly Mammoth
When: March 27 – April 23
Tickets: $39-49 (look for a discount)

On the Lower East Side, a mother works hard to keep the electricity flowing for her daughter’s respirator while a hurricane looms nearby. As she prepares for disaster, a vibrant host of characters—a decorated war veteran, her ne’er-do-well father, her octogenarian downstairs neighbor—bring new meaning to the phrase “it takes a village.”

Mother Earth & Me
Where: Discovery Theater
When: March 28-31
Tickets: $3-8

The magic of earth science takes center stage in this fun, interactive Discovery Theater original as we explore the origins of our planet, the water cycle, and our important role in the ecosystem, as well as folklore about the “big blue marble” we call home. Kick off Earth Month by pledging to become an Earth Warrior—and find out some great ways to start right away!

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

A 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.

A Raisin in the Sun
Where: Arena Stage
When: March 31 – May 7
Tickets: $66-111

Lorraine Hansberry’s groundbreaking masterpiece follows the Younger family yearning for a better life far from the cramped confines of their Chicago tenement. Hope arrives in the form of an unexpected financial windfall, but when they realize they have differing definitions of the American dream, which dreams get realized and which deferred? A Raisin in the Sun paints the African-American experience in brilliant and powerful strokes, as vibrant and vital today as they were in 1959.

Water on Mars
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts
When: April 1-2
Tickets: $18-24

Water on Mars is virtuoso juggling gone wild. Take three monstrously skillful young jugglers, six hands and thousands of catches. Add flying chocolate and backflips, 400 rolls of tape and magnetic jump-ropes. Result: better than a roller coaster and as good as the 4th of July. When these three work together on a single project it´s like 3 Jackson Pollock´s sword fighting with paint covered brushes. Designed for spaceships and distant planets, Water on Mars is the future of juggling.

Saturday Family Jazz Sessions
Where: Strathmore
When: Several Saturdays in April, May, & June
Tickets: $10/advance, $12/at door

Junior jazz aficionados can spend Saturday mornings singing, playing, and preparing for a lifetime of music appreciation. Strathmore’s fun, creative, kid-friendly series features music by a different performer each session. These will take place during the spring April 1, April 22, May 6, May 20, June 3, and June 17.

Chicago
Where: Kennedy Center
When: April 4-16
Tickets: $50-159 (look for a discount)

With show-stopping numbers, astonishing dancing, and a healthy dose of razzle dazzle, Chicago is a heart-pounding spectacle of everything that makes Broadway great. Foxy Roxie Hart (portrayed by Grammy winner Brandy Norwood) and Velma Kelly bring down the house in this six-time Tony winner! Recommended for ages 13 and up.

Tot Rock: Alphabet Rockers – Hip Hop for Kids
Where: Discovery Theater
When: April 6-7
Tickets: $3-8

Alphabet Rockers is the “modern day De La Soul for the 21st century (all-natural) juice box crowd” (Cooper & Kid). This is an intergenerational dance party where the performers’ infectious energy and hip hop grooves get kids jumping and head nodders rocking out – all set to educational lyrics about complex cultural topics and learning goals. Alphabet Rockers make learning come alive through the beats, rhymes, moves and community of hip hop – and you will have confidence this is adding value to your community and life.

Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp
Where: Adventure Theatre
When: April 7 – May 21
Tickets: $19.50

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 production for all ages.

Cuisine & Confessions
Where: Hylton Performing Arts Center at George Mason
When: April 8-9
Tickets: $30-50, half-price available for ages 12 and under

Dance, acrobatics, and a pinch of theatrics are the essential ingredients in this remarkable show that explores life in the family kitchen where lessons are learned, bonds are forged, and secrets are exchanged. Montreal-based group The 7 Fingers of the Hand interprets relationships and storytelling as they prepare a meal in a unique and playful way, getting right into the heart of the home, using circus acts and acrobatics to depict scenes of family meals and intimate moments. This acclaimed ensemble’s name is a twist on a French idiom, “the five fingers of the hand,” which describes distinct parts moving in coordination toward a common goal. In this case, there are seven artistic collaborators who achieve a common goal in creating an amazing production. The highly skilled artists, with their precisely timed stunts, provide the perfect recipe for an unforgettable theatrical event.

Smart People
Where: Arena Stage
When: April 14 – May 22
Tickets:

Do our belief systems stem from our environment, or are some prejudices hard-wired into us? With barbed wit, Lydia R. Diamond (Stick Fly) explores the unavoidable nature of cultural bias and other sticky subjects in the controversial and fiercely funny new play Smart People. Four intellectuals — a doctor, an actress, a psychologist, and a neurobiologist studying the human brain’s response to race — search for love, acceptance and identity in a complex world where political correctness comes face-to-face with cold hard data.

Fun Home (KidFree Suggestion!)
Where: National Theatre
When: April 18 – May 13
Tickets: $48-98 (look for a discount)

Every once in a while a Broadway musical comes along that surprises, moves and excites audiences in ways only a truly landmark musical can. The groundbreaking, life-affirming and exquisite new musical FUN HOME was the event of the Broadway season, receiving raves from critics and audiences alike, winning five 2015 Tony Awards including BEST MUSICAL and making history along the way. Based on Alison Bechdel’s best-selling graphic memoir, FUN HOME introduces us to Alison at three different ages as she explores and unravels the many mysteries of her childhood. A refreshingly honest musical about seeing your parents through grown-up eyes, FUN HOME is extraordinary, a rare beauty that pumps fresh air into Broadway. (New York Times)

Ecosystems Alive
Where: Discovery Theater
When: April 20-21
Tickets: $3-8

From tropical forests to tundras, deserts to wetlands, our planet’s ecosystems display a rich diversity. Be introduced to live reptiles from a variety of habitats and discover why healthy ecosystems are so important to all life. You might get to meet a boa constrictor, box turtle, bearded dragon, or other creatures from around the world. Recommended for ages 6-11.

In the Heights – En Español!
Where: Gala Hispanic Theatre
When: April 20 – May 21
Tickets: $40-60

New York’s Washington Heights is a vibrant community on the brink of change, where the biggest struggle can be which traditions you take with you and which you leave behind. With its gripping tale of hopes and dreams, this groundbreaking musical is the next chapter in the multicultural American story. Conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain
Where: Strathmore
When: April 21
Tickets: $20-60

The world-renowned all-singing, all-plucking superstars return with their toe-tapping music, hilarious banter, and sheer superlative entertainment. Last year they celebrated “30 Plucking Years” of ukulele action, this year they will have been active for “One Billion Seconds.” See for yourself why the Ukes of GB (the original Ukulele Orchestra, the oldest and the best) and their entertaining, witty, shopping trolley dash through all genres of music has led to sold-out shows all over the world. Critics, trying to encapsulate the group’s indefinable magic and joy, have heralded the group as “the best musical entertainment.”

The Jungle Book
Where: Imagination Stage
When: April 22 – May 28
Tickets: $15-30

Mowgli is a human child brought up in the jungles of India by a family of wolves. The embittered tiger Shere Kahn may be stalking him, but Mowgli is a quick learner. His friends, Baloo the goofy bear, and Bagheera, the savvy Jaguar, teach him how to gain the trust of the four-footed hunters, the birds, and the snakes so that he will never be friendless. He falls into a bad crowd of silly monkeys who lead him astray and play a mean trick on him. How will Mowgli escape from the deep, dark well? And, how will he save himself when Shere Kahn turns the wolf pack against him? Kipling’s timeless classic deals with very timely issues in this lively new version. Mowgli learns to respect his environment and the wisdom of the animals. And he realizes that, as a grown man, it’s his responsibility to protect them. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

TreeHouse Shakers: Hatched
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts
When: April 23, 2pm & 4pm
Tickets: $18

After an extraordinarily popular performance at BlackRock in 2014, the TreeHouse Shaker’s Hatched returns to BlackRock. With movement, music, handcrafted puppets, and very little human dialogue, this show is set on a family farm, a newborn chick emerges from her shell at sunrise to a strange and busy world. Audience members interact and play with the characters on stage; they give the chicks their feed, milk bottles to the lamb and are licked by the cow. A beautiful introduction to theater, Hatched will charm and engage babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers.

Macbeth (KidFree Suggestion!)
Where: Sidney Harman Hall
When: April 25 – May 8
Tickets: $44-102 (look for a discount)

In a world beset by civil war and invasion, Macbeth and his artful lady begin a series of murders, plunging us into the darkest night of the soul. Storms rage, fires burn and night blankets the earth in this tale of sound and fury, accompanied by Shakespeare’s richest poetry.

Paper Dreams
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: April 27-30
Tickets: $6-10

Imagination Stage partners with Mons Dansa from Barcelona, Spain for a delightful movement performance. A fun, interactive production that tells the story of two delightful creatures who live inside a wastepaper basket. Can our greatest mistake actually turn out to be the next greatest innovative idea? Recommended for ages 1-5.

Saturday Morning at the National
Where: National Theatre
When: Most Saturdays
Tickets: FREE!

The free theatre program runs on select Saturdays with performances at 9:30am and 11:30am. Musicals, plays, storytelling, and comedy shows are all part of the live entertainment line-up. See the complete schedule of performances here. Tickets are distributed day of performances on a first-come, first-served basis. Everyone must be in line to receive a ticket.

Tot Rock
Where: Jammin’ Java
When: Ongoing
Tickets: $5/weekdays, $10/weekends

Tot Rock is Jammin’ Java’s super-popular kids music concert series, providing wholesome family entertainment at one of the DC Metro area’s finest music clubs. Local acts perform every Thursday and Friday, and touring performers drop by on many weekends. Check the calendar often to see when your favorite act is performing, and for other calendar updates.

Boogie Babes
Where: Eastern Market
When: Thursdays, 10:30am
Tickets: $5/child, free for sibling 6 months and under

Little ones can boogie along with their favorite local musicians at Eastern Market’s North Hall every Thursday morning. Go for the show, then grab lunch in the market or at one of many nearby eateries after.

Tiny Tots
Where: The Puppet Co.
When: Most Wednesdays, Saturdays, & Sundays at 10am
Tickets: $5

The series presents puppet shows designed for the youngest theater patrons (ages 0-4). They are shorter, the lights stay on, and the doors stay open. They have an arsenal of shows that they switch up every performance, so be sure to check the schedule to see what’s playing when you go.

Millennium Stage
Where: Kennedy Center
When: Ongoing daily, 6pm
Tickets: Free

The Kennedy Center presents these free, no-tickets-required performances every day at 6pm, and the public is welcome to enjoy them. The acts span the genres — you can see everything from contemporary dance to folk music to puppetry to comedy shows to opera scenes. Millennium Stage showcases everyone from local youth choirs to internationally known bands (They Might Be Giants performed there a few years ago). This is a great series to keep in mind for whenever you’re looking for some free, easy entertainment.

Shear Madness
Where: Kennedy Center
When: Ongoing
Tickets: $50-54 (look for a discount)

Set today in the Shear Madness hairstyling salon, this record-breaking comedy is Washington’s hilarious whodunit. After more than 13,000 performances, the show has stayed in great shape. Recommended for kids middle school ages and up.

Peppa Pig Live!
Where: Strathmore
When: May 3
Tickets: $29-59

Peppa Pig’s Big Splash is an action-packed live show featuring your favorite characters as life size puppets and costume characters! Come join Peppa, George, Mummy Pig, Daddy Pig and more in an all singing, all-dancing adventure full of songs, games and muddy puddles!

Cinderella
Where: The Puppet Co.
When: May 4 – June 11
Tickets: $12

The elegance of 17th-century France, combining elaborate costumes of the Comédie-Française and Offenbach’s “Gaiety Parisian” to adorn the tale of the cinder girl who captures the heart of the handsome prince. The production was acclaimed at the 1997 National Puppet Festival, and performed by invitation at the Center for Puppetry Arts, in Atlanta.

Jojo’s Puppy Adventure
Where: Discovery Theater
When: May 4-5
Tickets: $3-8

Jojo has always wanted a pet of his own. But when he discovers an injured puppy, he knows he must reunite it with its owner. Join Jojo on an interactive musical search to find the puppy’s home—and a happy ending for both of them. Recommended for ages 3-7.

Snow White
Where: Hylton Performing Arts Center
When: May 5
Tickets: $17-35

Virginia National Ballet’s Snow White is a charming, family friendly neo-classical ballet with hilarious appearances by the Seven Dwarfs, thrilling, bravura dancing from the Evil Queen, and gorgeous dancing by Snow White and the Prince, supported by students of Gainesville Ballet School as the adorable forest animals. Managing Director Elysabeth Muscat Hegab says that this will be Virginia National Ballet’s first “Fairy Tale” ballet with slapstick comedy, and the first time the company is including younger dancers in a performance. This production is perfect for all age groups, as the story is very easy to follow, the dancing and choreography are brilliant, and the gorgeous sets and costumes include four different scenic backdrops, original sets, and colorful costumes, on stage at the Hylton Performing Arts Cente

The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Where: Synetic Theater
When: May 10 – June 11
Tickets: $20-60

Synetic’s visionary Founding Artistic Director Paata Tsikurishvili brings his mind-bending, cinematic style to Victor Hugo’s gothic, heartbreaking epic of inner beauty and undying loyalty. When the beguiling dancer Esmerelda captures the heart of the deformed bell-ringer Quasimodo, his adoptive father, the priest Frollo, decides he wants her for himself – plunging all of Paris into a spiral of riots, revolution, and murder. This production will not have dialogue. Recommended for ages 13+ for violence.

Nearly Lear
Where: Kennedy Center
When: May 12-14
Tickets: $20

What if King Lear was told by his closest companion? In this one-woman tour-de-force, Susanna Hamnett plays the Fool–and every other character–to tell a very personal and poignant story borrowing from Shakespeare’s words. Recommended for ages 9 and up.

Shakespeare for the Young: Midsummer Magic
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: May 17-21
Tickets: $6-10

Shakespeare’s delightful story of tricks and magic spells comes to life for the very young through puppets, movement and music. Recommended for ages 2-7.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra: E.T. The Extraterrestrial In Concert
Where: Strathmore
When: May 18
Tickets: $35-92

Soar through the stars with Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece as you’ve never seen or heard it before! Jack Everly conducts John Williams’ Academy Award-winning score live as the classic film is projected on a giant HD screen. Bring the whole family to experience the magic of Elliott and his friend from far, far away.

Titus
Where: Kennedy Center
When: May 20-21
Tickets: $20

Young Titus is in a situation that seems hopeless… he can either give up or fight. This exciting and challenging journey examines the obstacles faced by young people in our modern world and how we learn to find courage within ourselves as we confront those obstacles. Recommended for ages 13 and up.

Mouth Open, Story Jump Out
Where: Kennedy Center
When: May 20-28
Tickets: $20

Don’t miss a one-man show from Polarbear, one of the UK’s most exciting spoken-word artists. International assassins, secret codes, dog-eating boa constrictors, and more come to life when a boy tries to make sense of his father’s disappearance. Recommended for ages 8 and up.

NSO Family Concert: Peter and the Wolf in Hollywood
Where: Kennedy Center
When: May 21
Tickets: $20

Critically acclaimed Brooklyn-based production company Giants Are Small offers an invigorating new perspective on Prokofiev’s classic, with a narrator and the musicians of the NSO creating all of the sound effects on stage. Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Under the Baobab Tree with Iya
Where: Discovery Theater
When: May 4-5
Tickets: $3-8

Gather beneath the iconic tree of life as master educator Iya Bashea Imana shares captivating folktales. Music and movement, puppets, and eco-friendly crafts combine with timeless stories that offer an introduction to African traditions and wisdom. Recommended for ages 3-7

The Secret Garden
Where: Fauquier Community Theatre
When: May 5-21
Tickets: $18/adults, $16/ages 3-18

This enchanting classic of children’s literature is reimagined in brilliant musical style by composer Lucy Simon and Marsha Norman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of ‘Night Mother. Orphaned in India, 11 year-old Mary Lennox returns to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald and his invalid son Colin. The estate’s many wonders include a magic garden which beckons the children with haunting melodies and the “Dreamers”, spirits from Mary’s past who guide her through her new life, dramatizing The Secret Garden‘s compelling tale of forgiveness and renewal.

Hip Hop Culture: /peh-LO-tah/
Where: Kennedy Center
When: June 9-11
Tickets: $20

Marc Bamuthi Joseph explores soccer by layering poetry, movement, visuals, and music into a fresh theatrical form based on Hip Hop aesthetics. This world premiere co-commission features verbally and physically energetic performances.

Strathmore Children’s Chorus: Celtic Sounds
Where: Strathmore
When: June 11
Tickets: $20-25

The Strathmore Children’s Chorus focuses their 5th anniversary spring concert on all things Celtic. Celtic Sounds celebrates the traditional music of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, bringing to life classics such as “Loch Lomond,” “Danny Boy,” and more. Celtic Sounds also includes a world premiere from composer Mandy Miller, plus guest artists from the Culkin School of Traditional Irish Dance and the A. Mario Loiderman Middle School for the Creative and Performing Arts Choirs.

*Know of a great upcoming production not listed here? Let me know in the comments below!


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The Best Events of the 2017 Cherry Blossom Season for Families

blossoms_picnic

There’s much more to cherry blossom season in DC than just the famous flowers. The National Cherry Blossom Festival makes it a great celebration with all kinds of events over several weeks, plus there are even more blossom-inspired happenings that aren’t part of the official festival. Here are the best of them for families to help plan for a peak blossom experience. And be sure to check out this post, too, with tips for cherry blossom viewing. Happy spring!

Cultural Performances
Where: Tidal Basin Welcome Area
When: March 15 – April 2
Admission: Free

Catch live entertainment as you take in views of the blossoms! During the bloom season and most of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, there will be music and dance performances on a special stage set up at the Tidal Basin Welcome Area. Enjoy them daily starting March 15 from 12-6pm.

Cherry Blossom Celebration
Where: Smithsonian American Art Museum
When: March 25
Admission: Free

Celebration of Japanese culture in the beauitful Kogod Courtyard! A taiko drumming performance will kick off the day, followed by Japanese music and dance performances, face painting, and cherry-blossom themed crafts. Make your own tatebanko (a Japanese paper diorama) with friends from the Smithsonian’s Freer|Sackler Gallery, go on a scavenger hunt to find spring themed artworks, and more!

Japanese Culture Day
Where: Library of Congress Young Readers Center
When: March 25
Admission: Free

Learn about Japanese culture as you create origami artwork creation, try on kimonos, and enjoy more other activities. Cherry Blossom princesses from the last few years will instruct children in the art of tiara-making. At 11am and 1:30pm, the Japan-America Society of Washington, DC, will present “Japan-In-A-Suitcase,” a program about Japanese life and culture. Following each of these presentations, there will be a karate demonstration along with other attractions. Children can also explore the Library’s Young Readers Center, which is full of current and classic children’s literature – read more about it here.

Friendship Between Nations Family Day
Where: National Archives
When: March 25, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Join the National Archives for a fun, activity filled day exploring the many ways countries show their friendship, such as the gift of the cherry blossoms from Japan to the US. Investigate treaties, learn about some of the crazy gifts countries have given, and participate in interactive activities designed for the entire family to enjoy.

Kites of Asia Heritage Family Day
Where: National Air & Space Museum
When: March 25, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Get ready for the Blossom Kite Festival and celebrate spring and Asian heritage! At the Air & Space Museum’s annual event, you can talk to kite experts, see pan-Asian kite displays, marvel at indoor kite flying, make your own kite, and maybe even take a dance lesson!

Go fly a kite on the National Mall!

Go fly a kite on the National Mall!

Blossom Kite Festival
Where: Washington Monument Grounds
When: April 1, 10am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

Go fly a kite! Seriously. The Kite Festival is probably my favorite event of the blossom season. The sight of thousands of kites in all colors, shapes, and sizes soaring around the Washington Monument is truly a sight to behold. It’s magical for kids — and even for me as a jaded adult! The sails you see flying at the Festival each spring range from simple to pretty darn creative. Dragons, sharks, butterflies, giant soccer balls, even some that look like big, beautiful origami works way outnumber your basic diamond. And anyone can go fly their kites, so BYO or make one there at an activity station. There’s a competition aspect to the event, too; expert kite enthusiasts will wow crowds with cool stunts, and prizes will be awarded to winners of various categories such as most beautiful, funniest, and aerodynamics.

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue, 7th – 17th Streets NW
When: April 8, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

The pinnacle of cherry blossom festivities is easily the parade. Thousands of people line Constitution Avenue every year to watch the spectacle of lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, and a variety of performers travel down Constitution Avenue. Tickets for grandstand seats are available for $20, but you can stake out a spot along the curb for free. Plan to arrive early to get a good view — the crowds come out for this one, especially if it’s a pretty spring day.

Sakura Matsuri
Where: M Street & New Jersey Ave. SE
When: April 8, 10:30am – 6pm
Admission: $8/ages 13 and up in advance, free for 12 and under

Following the Cherry Blossom parade, many folks head over to Sakura Matsuri, the Japanese Street Festival that is America’s largest one-day exhibition of Japanese culture. There will be live music and dance performances, all kinds of Asian and Western foods, martial arts demos, Japanese art, and more. All at a new location in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. Be prepared for a crowd.

Family Workshop: Japanese Woodblock Printing
Where: Sackler Gallery
When: April 8-9, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

In celebration of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, join the Sackler for opening weekend of Inventing Utamaro and free family activities! In this Open Studio, witness firsthand the beauty and complexity of Japanese woodblock prints. Take a family-friendly tour (offered at 12:30pm and 2:30pm) of the exhibition, then explore traditional tools and papers. A teaching artist demonstrates transferring designs to a block, carving, and basic printing techniques. Come prepared to get your hands inky. All ages welcome!

Anacostia River Festival
Where: Anacostia Park
When: April 9
Admission: Free

The National Park Service and the 11th Street Bridge Park present the 3rd annual Anacostia River Festival, also a premier event of the 2017 National Cherry Blossom Festival! Celebrate the Anacostia River with some fun outdoor recreation! Explore the river by canoe, ride in a bike parade, play lawn games with your family, and experience Southeast DC’s local arts scene. This year they’re celebrating biking in the District with trail rides, safety classes, quick bike tune ups, and special bike activities for all ages.

Family Afternoon: Design with Nature
Where: National Building Museum
When: April 9, 11am – 2pm
Admission: Free

All ages can drop in for creative hands-on activities, a community garden design project, and opportunities to learn about Japanese art and design. See how nature is intentionally integrated into the built world, different ways people design with nature, and how nature can inspire design in and around built spaces. Learn about symbolism of the natural world across cultures and make connections between springtime symbolism, design, nature, and the built world they live in.

Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival
Where: Southwest Waterfront
When: April 15, 2-9:30pm
Admission: Free

This event that takes place along the District Wharf and the Titanic Memorial on the Southwest Waterfront is one of the last of the festival this year. It’s an afternoon and part-evening affair with free live music and family-friendly festivities, including water-related activities, cultural experiences, and delicious foods. The grand finale will begin at 8:30pm when the National Cherry Blossom Festival Fireworks Show lights up the night sky.


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