Category Archives: All ages

Where to Play on the Weekdays: August 19-23

Explore the exhibits in the Fossil Hall at the Natural History Museum

Monday – Take little ones ages 2-5 to Lincoln’s Cottage for their new Social Studies program. The initiative aims to nuture social and emotional intelligence through interactive storytelling, games, and hands-on lessons that help foster self-awareness, self-management, relationships, and responsible decision-making skills. The session runs 10:15-11:30am, and admission is $5.

For an outing with older kids, visit the Newseum and take advantage of the Summer Fun Deal. Through Labor Day, the entrance fee for youth is waived with paid adult admission. The deal benefits kids ages 7 and up most, since children 6 and under always get in free, and much of the Newseum’s collection will be better appreciated by older children. Adult tickets are $24.95, but look for a discount here.

Tuesday – Head up to Baltimore for play and learning at Port Discovery. Several levels full of awesome, hands-on exhibits will keep kids entertained all day long. Hours are 10am – 5pm. Admission is $17.95 for ages 2 and up, free for under 2. And if you think you might go a few times this year, I recommend checking out their membership options.

Wednesday – Have some fun on the farm at Frying Pan Farm Park. Get a glimpse of 20th-century farm life as you visit animals, take a wagon ride, play on kid-sized tractors and playgrounds, and much more. The locale in Herndon is a guaranteed hit with little ones. The park is open daily from dawn to dusk, the farm is open 9am – 5pm, wagon rides 10am – 4pm. Admission is free, though the wagon rides cost $3.50.

In the evening, join the Capitol Riverfront BID from 6-8pm for a Bubbles & Jazz at the middle block of Canal Park. Pack a picnic or grab dinner at a local restaurant, and head to the to the park for a live jazz performance by the Bryan McEntire Quartet and plenty of bubbles for all ages. In keeping with theme, there will be sparkling wine, bubbly water, and Atlas Brew Works beverages for adults 21+, as well as bubble activities for the little ones.

Thursday – Go see the dinosaurs at the National Museum of Natural History. If you haven’t been to the recently reopened David H. Koch Hall of Fossils-—Deep Time (or even if you have), it’s a must-do. The exhibition is full of skeletal beasts plus hundreds of smaller prehistoric remnants and cool installations that present 3.7 billion years of life on Earth. Of course, plan for time to explore the rest of the museum, too! I always recommend the Insect Zoo, where kids love opportunities to hold live creatures and the Hall of Human Origins where they can see what they’d look like as a Neanderthal in a special face morphing photo booth. The museum is open 10am – 5:30pm, and admission is free.

Friday – Take advantage of The Beauvoir School’s Summer Break and head to their super fantastic playground, open to the public when class is not in session. It’s open all day, and admission is free.

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Filed under 2019, All ages, DC, Maryland, Seasonal, Summer, Virginia, Weekdays

The Weekend Round-Up: August 16-18

Explore the underground world of Luray Caverns at the annual Discovery Day

Happy Weekend!

Joys of Summer
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

Activities exclusive to the season are happening all weekend. See a special museum exhibit, like LAWN or Infinite Space. Have some water-inspired fun. Enjoy free music outdoors and movies under the stars. Go with the flow on local waterways. Hit the beach. Feast on seasonal treats. And so much more. Details on all of these joys of summer in DC can be found here.

Fair Game
Where: Arlington, Montgomery, and PW Counties | VA & MD
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

County fair season continues as Arlington’s annual fest is underway, and Montgomery and Prince William counties host their final days. All are chock full of amusement for everyone, with carnival rides and games, farm animals, live entertainment, pony rides, the junk food gamut, pig races, and so much more. This post has the whole scoop on all of the county fun.

Pokémon World Championships
Where: Washington Convention Center | Mount VErnon Square, DC
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Admission: $10 to spectate

Pikachu and friends will be in town for the 2019 Pokémon World Championships August 16-18, bringing thousands of elite Trading Card Game (TCG) and video game players, supporters, and fans to the Washington Convention Center. The best players from all over the world will be competing for the title of Pokémon TCG, Video Game, or Pokkén Tournament World Champion—and for their share of the prizes, including more than $500,000 in scholarships. There’s plenty to do at the annual Pokémon World Championships if you don’t plan to participate in the main event — tournament viewing, game demos, a gaming longe, and more. A spectator badge includes access to all three days of the event and comes with two Pokémon TCG booster packs.

Nats vs. Brewers
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Admission: Ticket prices vary

It’s a weekend of home games for the Nats as they host the Brewers. Catch them on Friday (7:05pm), Saturday (7:05pm), and Sunday (1:35pm). Take advantage of the new Kids Eat Free summer promo, and kids can run the bases after the Sunday game. Before you go, get some KFDC tips on doing Nats game without breaking the bank.

Anatomy of Sports
Where: National Museum of Health & Medicine | Silver Spring, MD
When: Saturday, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Bones and muscles need to work together for optimal performance. Athletes of all ages should know how their bodies work in order to compete and stay healthy. During Anatomy of Sports, athletes will demonstrate their sport while medical illustrators and physical therapists reveal how muscles and bones work together. This session is perfect for families with children playing sports, the recreational athlete ,or the practiced sports enthusiast. Read more about the museum in this KFDC post from a few years back.

Annual Discovery Day
Where: Luray Caverns | Luray, VA
When: Saturday
Admission: $28/adult, $15/age 6-12, free/under 6

Join the annual celebration of the 1878 discovery of Luray Caverns, which will also highlight the new grand accessible entrance.  A main attraction throughout Discovery Day will be the Grand Illumination Tours. The first Grand Illumination took place in 1878, with The New York Herald reporting that a “thousand candles illuminated the antechambers making it nearly as bright as day.” Guests will experience the thrill of adventure from this bygone era as period-costumed guides tell of Luray Caverns’ storied past in special candle lighted sections throughout the caverns.  At the end of the day-long celebration there will be a spectacular fireworks display.  The spectacle will be coordinated with a recital by Jess Ratcliff from Luray Singing Tower, a 47-bell carillon located on the event’s perimeter. Read more about Luray Caverns in this KFDC post.

Around the World Cultural Food Festival
Where: Freedom Plaza | Downtown DC
When: Saturday, 11am – 7pm
Admission: Free

Celebrating the rich intercultural diversity, this annual food festival brings together authentic living traditions from different countries around the world. And the public will have the opportunity to learn, eat, dance, shop, and witness these vibrantly connected cultures and create their own connections with each and every single country presented in the event. Food and drinks are for purchase.

Big Dig Potato Harvest
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: Saturday & Sunday, 9am – 6pm
Admission: $10/child or $12/adult

Most people don’t know that store bought potatoes are usually last year’s harvest and are amazed by the flavor and texture of freshly harvested potatoes! At Great Country, you can take a wagon ride out to the fields to dig up your own potato treasures (and maybe get a little help from a tractor make it easier). After digging, play all day in the five-acre play area, with attractions including Putt Putt golf, the Farm Ninja Warrior obstacle course, mazes, swings, slides, animals to visit, and feed, and so much more!

Portrait Party for Young Learners
Where: Museum of Women in the Arts
When: Saturday, 10–11am
Admission: Free

Children ages 3 to 6 and their guardians can join a Young Learner Tour, designed to get little bodies moving, minds thinking, hands making and mouths talking about works of art. Participants go on an adventure through the galleries and look closely at works in the collection as they also learn about the museum, practice museum manners, and discover art concepts through discussions, a themed story, and hands-on activities.

Korean Family Day
Where: National Portrait Gallery | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Saturday, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Bring the whole fam to the off-the-Mall Smithsonian museum to learn about Korean culture and celebrate the exhibition, Portraits of the World: Korea, with one-of-a-kind crafts, K-Pop workshops, Taekwondo demonstrations, and lively music. See more about the NPG here.

Show Time
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

* Enjoy fun and antics with The Cat in the Hat at Adventure Theatre
* Go on a Treasure Island adventure at Synetic Theatre (look for a ticket discount)
* Legally Blonde is running at Keegan Theatre (for tweens and up)
* Reserve free tickets for Stone Soup & Other Stories, this week’s Saturday Morning at the National show
* Disney’s Aladdin brings magic for the whole family to the Kennedy Center
* The Three Billy Goats Gruff is at The Puppet Co.
* Baby Bear’s Birthday is the featured Tiny Tots show there on Saturday
* Witness amazing acrobatic feats as Cirque de Soleil: Volta is performed Under the Big Top at Tysons II

Free Family Fun
Where: Glen Echo Park | Glen Echo, MD
When: Saturday & Sunday,
Admission: Free

While the beloved carousel it is closed for building renovations (re-opening Spring 2020), Glen Eco PArk is offering free activities over a few weekends in August and September 2019 to help you have loads of fun there, including a climbing wall, inflatable fun, photo ops, sidewalk chalk, and face painting. This along with the playground and picnic area (pick up food at the cafe in premises). And plan to combine all this with a performance of A Cat in the Hat at Adventure Theatre or The Three Billy Goats Gruff at The Puppet Co., too. And pick

Dear Evan Hansen
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $79-175

The musical that premiered here in DC at Arena Stage a few years ago then became a Broadways smash is back! Whether a family outing with older kids (not recommended for all ages) or a grown-up night out, I highly recommend seeing it if you can. Dear Evan Hansen is profoundly moving and full of songs and a story that will stick with you for a while. (I saw it back in 2015, and it’s still with me.) Tickets are mostly sold out on the Kennedy Center website, but you can find them on outlets like StubHub. PS: Bring tissues.

The Lion King: Kids Paint Party
Where: Creative Saints Loft | Hyattsville, MD
When: Saturday, 1-3pm
Admission: $25

Create memories with painting, music, and refreshments!  Kids will have an amazing time creating two own Lion King-themed masterpieces in a fun, jungle-themed room! Get messy in the DIY “slimy yet satisfying” grub pudding bar and enjoy some refreshing jungle punch and pizza! All supplied provided.

Ping Pong Lessons
Where: SPIN DC | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Saturday, 1pm
Admission: Free

Work on your ping pong skills with free lessons from the masters at SPIN! The lessons are taught by ping pong champions, like Malin Pettersson, a 13 time Swedish national champion and a grand opening manager at SPIN. Lessons cover skills such as how to hold a ping pong paddle, perfecting your ping pong stance, and how to hit a basic forehand, backhand, and serve. Free, but register in advance here.

Improv Workshop for Parents and Kids
Where: Source Theater | 1835 14th Street NW, DC
When: Sunday, 2-4pm 
Admission: Free

Washington Improv Theater proudly presents an Improv for All workshop designed for parents to take together with their kids! This two-hour workshop specifically focuses on kids ages 10-12 and will be taught by improviser (and mom) Ceci De Robertis. WIT’s free introductory Improv for All workshops are high-fun, low-stress classes designed to show you how improvisers create spontaneous, off-the-cuff theater. Our enthusiastic and friendly instructors work to make sure everyone is able to participate in a playful and trusting atmosphere. These workshops are free but registration is required as they tend to fully enroll.  

Groovy Nate & Cider
Where: Capitol Cider House | Petworth, DC
When: Sunday, 10:30-11:30am
Admission: Free

Catch some entertainment especially for kids at a place that usually caters to adults! Capitol Cider House is a family friendly cider that presents children’s shows every Sunday, and this weekend its Groovy Nate. Doors open at 10am. Full food and drink menus will be available.

Fun at Fairfax Parks
Where: Parks throughout Fairfax County, VA
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

The Fairfax County Park Authority hosts all kinds of events on weekends for guests of all ages. Learn campfire safety and enjoy s’mores around one at Hidden Oaks Nature Center on Friday evening. See grinding demos at Colvin Run Mill. Enjoy Dairy Days at Sully Historic Site. Details and registration for these and more activities this weekend and beyond are available here.

Walks in the Woods
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Hit the trail to enjoy some outdoor time with the fam! Check out the flora, tramp in places with scenic views, hike and explore history at interesting locales, and enjoy a day of active fun. This post, started in the early KFDC days and updated several times since, has a a bunch of recommendations for good walks in the woods with the kids.

DC, Inside & Out

Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend

Admission: Varies by adventure

Want even more options for fun things to do with the kids around the area? If you’re looking for activities outdoors or inside, depending on the weather or simply your preference, these posts are chock full of evergreen pursuits:

The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids

The Great Indoors

* Just posted a little round-up of 5 places to go shark tooth hunting near DC. (What took me so long?)
* The Brass Knob, the store full of antique treasures, is closing after 38 years.
* A supercute IG account to check out.
* So excited this movie is coming out this weekend — I loved the book!

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Filed under 2019, All ages, Annual, DC, Maryland, Seasonal, Special Event, Summer, Virginia, Weekend

5 Places for Shark Tooth Hunting Adventures Near the DC Area

Recently, another publication contacted me about using some of my photos for a piece they were doing about places in the area to go shark tooth hunting. I’m always happy to share, but it also got me thinking: If the publication didn’t have their own images, did that mean the writer hadn’t actually been to all of these places? Isn’t it better to get recommendations for an activity like this based on real experience rather than just research? (And am I being totally catty right now? 😼)

In that vein, I decided to put together this round-up of places within day-trip distance of DC to search for shark teeth and other remnants of millions-of-years-old marine life. Just about all of them have been either written up or at least mentioned on KFDC already, and it makes sense to have them all in one place. And I can assure you that we have, indeed, experienced every single one. Happy hunting!

Shark teeth for the picking at Purse State Park

Purse State Park

Purse State Park is by far our favorite place to gather shark teeth — and I say gather instead of search for, because chances are very good that you will collect lots of teeth and other prehistoric remains at this Charles County locale. The beach area at Purse is very narrow, but it stretches far along the Potomac River, and it is loaded with Paleocene Era gems, i.e. fossils from sharks, fish, shells, even crocodiles, that are up to 60 million years old.

It’s important to check the tide table (search Potomac River/Liverpool Point, MD) when you plan a visit to Purse, since the already thin strip of sand dwindles even more at high tide. If it’s warm, we often swim a bit, too, as the water is shallow and usually very mellow. There are no concessions or facilities, so bring a picnic and be prepared to pee in the woods or water.

To get there, follow GPS directions to Purse State Park in Nanjemoy, MD. It will take you to a wooded area with a very small parking area across from a trail head. Follow that trail about a half-mile to the beach, where your “treasure” hunting adventure will begin. Hours are sunrise to sunset, and admission is free. See more scenes from Purse State Park here.

Enjoy the calm waters as you search for shark teeth at Flag Ponds

Flag Ponds Nature Park

About an hour’s drive from DC in Calvert County, Flag Ponds Nature Park is just up the road from the well known Calvert Cliffs that are the source for many of the fossils found in that area. And in my opinion, it’s the best place to go for a day’s beach outing that involves shark tooth hunting. Not only can you search for teeth and other remains from the Miocene Era — that’s up to 30 million years old — there is a vast sandy expanse where kids can play, and the Chesapeake where they can swim (check for jellyfish first, though). Fossil finds, in our experience, aren’t as plentiful as they are at Purse State Park, but if you keep an eye out as you walk the shoreline or even sit in one spot and sift through shells and pebbles, you’re bound to come across some small teeth. And who knows… you might get really lucky and score a prized megalodon tooth — the largest shark ever existed during that time and its mega-sized teeth have been discovered there.

You pay to get in at an entrance gate, then park in a lot near the Visitor Center. From there, it’s about a quarter-mile walk on a paved road, then a dirt road to the beach. It’s best to set up close to the shoreline, as it can get buggy and hotter inland near ponds that form with the changing dunes and tides. There are restrooms and a rinsing shower at the entrance to the beach. And there are drink vending machines at the parking lot, but no other concessions, so be sure to bring snacks and water.

Flag Ponds Nature Park is located at 1525 Flag Ponds Parkway in Lusby, MD. From Labor Day to Memorial Day, hours are 9am – 4pm Friday and Monday, 9am -5pm Saturday and Sunday. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, hours are 9am – 6pm weekdays, 9am – 8pm weekends. Admission is $8/car. See more about Flag Ponds here.

Beach fun + shark tooth hunting at Calvert Cliffs

Calvert Cliffs State Park

This is the park that most people have heard about, it’s cliffs somewhat famous for the prehistoric treasures they hold. They were formed over 20 million years ago beneath what was then an ocean that submerged the region during the Miocene Era. As the waters receded and exposed the terrain below, the preserved remains of prehistoric sea life have also been revealed, and, hence wash up on Chesapeake shores now. However, while I like the park itself, in my experience it has not been a boon for shark tooth hunting; I have found only small amounts of fossils on my visits. (Perhaps this is why I have yet to do a write-up about it on the blog.)

The park is worth a visit, though. The beach area nestled between cliffs is very pretty, the water is swimmable, and fossil hunting makes for a nice activity while you’re enjoying a beach day. It’s about a two-mile hike through woods and marsh areas to the beach and cliffs, which adds some extra recreation and neat nature sights to an outing there, but also extra effort — something to keep in mind with little ones and/or strollers in tow.

Calvert Cliffs State Park is open daily, sunrise to sunset. Admission is $5 per vehicle. There are restrooms near the parking lot and portable toilets along the trail close to the beach. There are no concessions, so BYO food and drinks.

Younger days at Brownie’s Beach

Bayfront Park aka Brownie’s Beach

Brownie’s Beach was the first place we enjoying shark tooth hunting, though I use the term “hunting” loosely because it was almost effortless to find fossils there. The park in the town of Chesapeake Beach was our go-to, easy-from-DC beach destination when the kids were much younger. It’s a nice little spot with a small stretch of sand, gentle shallow water, and the cliffs edging the shoreline. It’s also a beach known for shark teeth finds, and they were always aplenty at Brownie’s. We would scoop up a handful of small shells and rocks near the water, wash away the sand, pick through, and small fossils were practically guaranteed in the mix.

I talk about Brownie’s (officially called Bay Front Park) in the past tense, because we haven’t been in several years, since they increased the summer admission fee to $18/adult, $10/age 3-11 for out-of-county residents. But the steep price likely means less people, so if you’re willing to pay, you probably get more shark tooth hunting space to yourself. You could also go during cooler months and avoid the cost.

Bayfront Park is open 6am – 9pm. As noted above, entrance fees from Memorial Day to Labor Day are $18/adult, $10/child and can only be paid by credit card — Visa, Mastercard, or Discover. While there are eateries in the town of Chesapeake Beach, there are no facilities or concessions at the park, so plan accordingly.

A pretty but chilly day at Matoaka Beach

Matoaka Beach

I can’t even remember where I learned about this beach a few years ago; the link above is a random one I just found. But after I read about it back then as a place to search for fossils, we checked it out with friends on a chilly February day (because who says all fossil hunting adventures have to be warm ones?). It was a pretty spot, less than 10 miles from Calvert Cliffs, in St. Leonard. We found a few shark teeth there, but it didn’t make a strong enough impression at the time to be post-worthy. We also paid $20 for parking to a man who seemed to be running things, even though I had read it was $5.

All that said, I’ve been thinking about giving it another go; we may have just been cold and not up for a long outing there. Again, there are no facilities or concessions, something to plan for. Find directions to Matoaka here. Once you park, it’s a very short walk to the beach.

The right footwear makes a big difference

Shark Tooth & Fossil Hunting Tips:

* Wear proper shoes! Water shoes in warm months and rubber boots in cold ones, so you can walk along the shell and rock laden shore without discomfort or freezing your tootsies off.

* Bring along a small shovel and sifter if you like to dig for your fossils.

* Hat and sunscreen always recommended, even on cold days… if it’s sunny, faces can still burn being outside for a long time.

* Bring water and snacks. Fossil hunting works up appetites!

* Take a good look at directions, maybe even write them down, in case GPS fails in remote areas (this has happened to us, but luckily I knew the way).

* Bring a container with a small hole cut in the lid to easily store your fossil finds.

* If you’re not sure whether or not something is a fossil, bring it home anyway and do some research to identify it when you get home.

* The Fossil Forum and Fossil Guy are great resources for more about your fossil finds.

* The Calvert Marine Museum is also a wonderful place to learn more about the Chesapeake Bay, including prehistoric marine life there.

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Filed under All ages, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: August 12-16

Fun in the trees at the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring

Monday – Go see the dinosaurs at the National Museum of Natural History. If you haven’t been to the recently reopened David H. Koch Hall of Fossils-—Deep Time (or even if you have), it’s a must-do. The exhibition is full of skeletal beasts plus hundreds of smaller prehistoric remnants and cool installations that present 3.7 billion years of life on Earth. Of course, plan for time to explore the rest of the museum, too! I always recommend the Insect Zoo, where kids love opportunities to hold live creatures and the Hall of Human Origins where they can see what they’d look like as a Neanderthal in a special face morphing photo booth. The museum is open 10am – 5:30pm, and admission is free.

If you have time for another museum on the National Mall (or want to enjoy an evening activity), stop by the National Gallery of Art, where The Life of Animals in Japanese Art exhibit is in its final week! It’s on view through August 18 and open until 8pm. Admission is free.

Tuesday – Head north to Charm City for a time trip through Baltimore’s early business days at the Museum of Industry. The Inner Harbor attraction highlights the trades and people that helped build the port city. It’s full of fun and interesting exhibits and installations, many with hands-on elements, that appeal to children and adults alike. Hours are 10am – 4pm (Tuesday – Sunday). Admission is $12/adult, $7/ages 7-12, free for 6 and under. Look for a deal here.

Wednesday – Bring little ones to Canal Park for some Midsummer Magic. Shakespeare for the Young brings the entertainment to this week’s installment of the Kids in Canal series. The fun begins at 10:30am and lasts for an hour. After, head over to the dancing water fountains for a refreshing splash. Admission to all of it is free.

If you’re with older kids, enjoy some recreation on local waters. There are a bunch of places around the area to rent kayaks, canoes, stand up paddle boards, and pedal boats. See this KFDC post for details of where you can go with the flow in DC. And check out one of our recent kayaking adventures here.

Thursday – Enjoy the day roaming the enchanting gardens at Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown. The grounds don’t open to the public until 2pm, but you can play at nearby Montrose Park or grab a bite to eat on M Street beforehand. I promise, it’s worth waiting for the afternoon visit. Admission is $10/adult, $5/child to the gardens, but there’s never an entry fee at Montrose.

Friday – Hang out in the trees at the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring. Kids as young as 5 years old can experience fun and challenges on the ropes courses and ziplines in the park’s aerial adventure forest, the largest in North America. Hours are 9am – dusk, and admission is $12/age 5-6, $47/age 7-11, $56/age 12+. Read more about the Adventure Park here.

And if you’re looking for fun with littler ones (or a cheaper/free option), play the day away at Clemyjontri. The sprawing, vibrantly colored playground in McLean, VA, accommodates kids of all abilities with all kinds of climbing structures, swings, and other apparatuses that encourage activity and imagination. Hours are 7am to dusk, and admission is free.

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Filed under 2019, All ages, Maryland, Seasonal, Summer, Virginia, Weekdays