Category Archives: Free

Join the Alma Thomas Community Celebration at the National Gallery of Art this Weekend!

 

The National Gallery of Art reopened its doors last spring, and it’s been wonderful to return to one of our favorite museums again.  Even better, it’s open daily, making it a go-to any day of the week.  But this coming weekend, September 24-26, will be an especially great time to visit, as the museum hosts a Community Celebration honoring late pioneering artist Alma Thomas!

The in-person, on-site event will feature a variety of activities and experiences that explore Thomas’s life and her wide range of creative endeavors, all of them self-guided for Covid safety.  Plus, there are extra goodies and discounts to enjoy while you’re there!  The weekend offerings and festivities include:

·    Free art kits with a coloring book of National Gallery works by local artists, coloring materials, and a cutout doll designed by Brittany Jackson, illustrator of the acclaimed children’s book Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment.

·     A special flower display inspired by Alma Thomas’s Pansies in Washington (1969)  

·     A display showcasing works by local community members, celebrating Alma Thomas’s art and legacy 

·     50% discount on Alma Thomas-inspired gelato at the Espresso & Gelato Bar  

·     15% discount on shops purchases with the code ALMA15 (onsite and online) 

·     A pop-up performance from Howard University Bands at 4pm on Sunday 

 

Thomas’ painting, Tiptoe Through the Tulips, inspired by sights, sounds, & smells of DC

 

The event is part of a larger citywide celebration featuring a symposium with virtual sessions September 22-23. Geared toward adults, it will bring together noted scholars, artists, and curators to discuss Alma Thomas’s life and legacy, including an introduction by Michelle Obama.

The National Gallery of Art’s Community Celebration will take place in the East Building from 1-5pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Admission is free.

Alma Thomas Community Celebration
Where: National Gallery of Art | National Mall, DC
When: Friday – Sunday, September 24-26, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

 

This post is sponsored by the National Gallery of Art, however, I only promote events, programs, and places that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under 2021, All ages, Art, DC, Fall, Free, Museums, Weekend

Take Your T(w)eens — or Enjoy a KidFree Visit — to Glenstone

 

You have to be on the ball to score tickets to Glenstone, the modern art museum sprawling gloriously over 300 acres in Potomac, MD.  Even pre-Covid, passes were hard to get.  They are released on the first of every month for timed-entry admission for the following two months.  So, tickets that are released tomorrow, April 1, will be for  visits in May and June.   This takes some patience and planning, but I promise it’s worth it.

Glenstone is more than just a museum; it’s a whole experience. One that transports you to what feels like a destination far, far away from the city.  Both indoor galleries (that should start to reopen April 8) and expansive grounds showcase a remarkable collection and traveling exhibits that are interesting, evocative, and beautiful.  Design and architectural features are practically works of art themselves, and you will likely find yourself studying lines of the buildings and the pool of aquatic plants in the courtyard as much as the paintings and sculptures.

 

Exploring all of it on foot in the galleries and along paved paths spanning through open grassy areas, trails winding through woods, and boardwalks that zigzag over thick brush (or straw during cold months) add some recreation to the outing.  It’s like an art-filled hike or an active art adventure.  There’s also a cafe to make it a lunch date or to enjoy a snack in a very scenic setting.

Pick up a paper map on your way in or scan a QR code for one.  You definitely want to know where you’re going as some of the outdoor installations are a bit hidden, and you don’t want to miss them.  Inside, the galleries are numbered, so make sure you count them all off, too.  There’s at least one that is easy to miss, and we had to search a bit to find it (though that also added some extra fun).

With its 12-and-older age policy for visitors, Glenstone is automatically a spot for the T(w)een Scene.  And while this may be a bummer to parents with younger kids,  I get why they do it.  It’s not just that the art might be considered sophisticated for little ones.  (In the “eye of the beholder” vein, I think all art could be enjoyed and  appreciated on some level by every age.)  Part of the Glenstone experience is the peaceful, “contemplative environment,” as they call it.  I could see it being tough to keep kiddos from wanting to bolt through wide open spaces outside and use inside voices in the echoing galleries.  I’ve been a few times sans kids, with friends, and on my own — a different season each visit — and I highly recommend it for a grown-up outing, whether a day date, a visit with friends, or solo.

That said, both of my kids are finally old enough to go, and I’m looking forward to bringing them.  I had tickets for all us to visit when they had a day off from school recently, but a crazy downpour that day thwarted those plans.  Thus, I’ll be online tomorrow trying to score those elusive tickets again.

 

Glenstone is located at 12100 Glen Road in Potomac, MD.  It’s currently open Thursday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm.  You must have a ticket to visit.  As mentioned, free tickets are released the first day of every month at 10am for the following two months. Photography is not permitted indoors, hence all the outdoor images here.

 

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Filed under Art, Exhibit, Free, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Social Distancing, Weekdays, Weekend

Scenes from the Start of Spring at the National Arboretum

 

This spring had to be the most anticipated one ever.  I mean, we always look forward to emerging from the cold and darkness of winter, to color returning to the landscape as trees begin to flower, to longer days, to renewal.  But this year it’s about so much more.

With this spring comes hope and optimism in a way that we couldn’t have fathomed in previous years. After a year of fear, uncertainty, disruption, and heartbreak that Covid heaved upon us, we are finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. There’s still a ways to go, but that glimmer is getting brighter all the time.

This first day of spring did not disappoint.  The sun was shining, the weather pleasant, and it was a Saturday, so we could be out and about to enjoy it all.  We did that at one of our very favorite places in DC:  The National Arboretum.  We hadn’t been in awhile, because we thought there was a no dogs rule — we like being able to bring Teddy on our outings, especially if we’re hiking around outdoors — but we just learned that our pup can go to the Arb as long as he’s leashed.

So, that’s where we headed to ring in the new season.  If you’ve been reading KFDC awhile, you probably know how much I love the Arboretum — it tops the round-up of best outdoor spots.  (You can see more about it here, here, here, and here.) It’s a wonderful place to go any time of year, but this visit was especially auspicious as some of the cherry trees were blooming…on the first day of spring!

There is a self-guided cherry blossom tour to follow through the US National Arboretum app, or you can do what we did and see them as you wander around randomly and just refer to the app for the few that are blooming right now.

 

Be sure to explore the rest of the Arboretum to see even more bloom beginnings — rhododendrons, dogwoods, daffodils — and the many collections of plants and trees.  The Capitol Columns in the Ellipse Meadow are quite striking and have to be one of the most photographed spots in DC.

 

Get out and celebrate spring and all the hope that comes with it this year. The U.S. National Arboretum is located in Northeast DC, off of Bladensburg Road and New York Avenue, the entrance at 24th & R Streets (from Bladensburg). Hours are 8am – 5pm. Admission is free.

PS: We are happy to report that Teddy loves the Arboretum just as much as we do.  And now that we know he can go, he’ll be a regular visitor, too!

 

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Filed under 2021, All ages, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Free, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Social Distancing, Spring, Weekdays, Weekend

Outdoor Recreation in NoVa at Fountainhead Regional Park

 

Even though I have a backlog of posts waiting to be written about places we’ve visited over the past many months, I’m skipping over them to cover a spot we just went to over the weekend:  Fountainhead Regional Park.  It actually should have been on the blog (or at least that long list), as we’d already been there several times, the first over 10 years ago.  But as it’s fresh in my mind and a great locale for enjoying the spring weather, here we are now.

Located in Fairfax Station, VA, about 35 minutes from DC, Fountainhead is a 2,000-acre sprawl of trails and the Occoquan Reservoir, all of it practically screaming active recreation.  It’s known as one of the better mountain biking spots in the DC area — and that’s what brought us there yesterday.  Levi, Owen, and some friends were eager to do some trail riding after a hiatus this winter.  (Even though we’d had nice weather before this past weekend, they were waiting until the trails were dry enough, so as not to damage them.)

I enjoy mountain biking, too, but prefer it a little more mellow than what they were planning to ride at Fountainhead.  There are lots of steep climbs, fast descents, rocky areas, and jumps within the 15 miles of biking routes in the Fountainhead woods (you can read more about it here).  The riding crew had a blast tackling several miles of it over a good couple of hours. However, Sasha and I decided to stay on our feet.

 

So, while the boys were two-wheeling it, a few of us parents, a couple of younger siblings, and our pups enjoyed a hike. The Bull Run Occoquan Trail winds through the park and actually continues through Bull Run Marina, Hemlock Overlook Park, and Bull Run Regional Park. We hiked out and back, a little over an hour each way, along the well-maintained trail.  There’s a lot of up and downhill, but it’s not too strenuous, and the path is mostly flat, with just a few rocky and rooty areas.  The surrounding scenery full of tall trees is lovely, most of it leafless this time of year, but come later spring and summer, the landscape turns into an oasis of green as the foliage returns.

 

 

A small 19th-century family cemetery is near the start of the trail, and there are several short footbridges to cross and small creeks on the way.  From some parts of the hike, glimpses of the Occoquan Reservoir can be caught through the trees from above, or you can walk down to the banks for closer views. And while we only saw small birds and squirrels on this visit, wildlife sightings could include deer, raccoons, rabbits, skunks, bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, turkeys, snakes, and a few more small creatures.

 

Hiking and biking aren’t the only ways to enjoy Fountainhead.  Boat rentals are available from early March through mid-November, and you can paddle the reservoir by kayak, canoe, or standup paddleboard.  Or you can cruise the water in a jon boat. Fishing is permitted, too.  (See rates for all of them here.) If you’ve got your own watercraft, you can use the boat launch (for a fee).  We haven’t taken to the waters yet, but a paddling excursion is the plan the next time we go.

 

Fountainhead Regional Park is located at 10875 Hampton Road in Fairfax Station, VA.  It’s open daily sunrise to sunset.  Admission is free.  For mountain biking, be sure to check the park’s Facebook page for trail status.

Some good things to know:

* There are parking lots about a half-mile beyond the entrance to the park and near the boat rental area.

* Hiking and biking trails start right from the main parking area.

* Portable restrooms are located in the parking lot, and modern ones at the boat launch area.

* A concession stand is located in the boat launch area as well, operating when the rentals are open.

* Picnic tables are available in the park (one right next to the main parking lot) and pavilions can be reserved.

* Fountainhead is a great place to contemplate Objectivism. 😉

 

 

 

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Filed under All ages, Free, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Social Distancing, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend