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Where to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing with Kids

The LM2 Lunar Module on display at Air & Space, was used for ground testing prior to the first successful Moon-landing mission


It was 50 years ago today that Apollo 11 was launched by the Saturn V rocket into space, beginning its historic mission to the moon, where it landed four days later on July 20, 1969. In just hours, on July 21, Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon. Even though many of us Gen Xers weren’t even born yet, we’re all very familiar with the footage and audio of that “…one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Certainly, the half-century anniversary of that landmark event is cause for celebration. Here’s where to do that around DC this week, listed in order of start date.

Apollo Artifacts
Where: National Air & Space Museum | National Mall, DC
When: Ongoing, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free

The Air & Space Museum is an obvious (and great) place to visit during this big anniversary. Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit will be on display along with more artifacts from the historic Apollo 11 mission. A special display case on the 1st floor across from the Space Race gallery will feature a replica of the American flag erected on the Moon, plus items in three categories: Packing for the Moon, Learning From the Moon, and Remembering the Moon.

Launch Celebration
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center | Chantilly, VA
When: July 16, 9am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15

The Udvar-Hazy Center opens early to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11. There will be a broadcast NASA TV’s program celebrating the launch, materials from the Air and Space Museum’s archives, hands-on activities and discovery stations, story times, and more. Artifacts from the Apollo 11 mission, like the Mobile Quarantine Facility and Apollo 11 flotation collar, are on display, too.

A Monumental Sight
Where: Washington Monument | National Mall, DC
When: July 16-18, 9:30-11:30pm
Admission: Free

For three evenings, see the Washington Monument in a whole new light as a 363-foot Saturn V, the rocket that launched the Apollo 11 into orbit, is projected on the east face.

Out of this World: The Science of Space
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: July 16–19
Tickets: $3-6

Live demonstrations, fun factoids, and space stuff with the Science Guys of Baltimore! Join on a mission to investigate the physics and chemistry that govern the rotation and orbit of planets, how astronauts live in space and power the spacecraft that hurtle among the stars. Recommended for ages 5-12.

See the Space Window
Where: National Cathedral | Northwest DC
When: Ongoing
Admission: $12/adult, $8/age 5-17, free/under 5

There’s a tiny piece of the moon in one of the National Cathedral’s stained glass windows, a relic brought back by the astronauts from the Apollo 11 mission. Now called the “Space Window,” it can be viewed on a self-guided tour or a highlights tour.

Moon Madness STORYTIME
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: July 17, 10am
Admission: Free

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing at the Hirshhorn’s STORYTIME program for littles! Enjoy a reading of “Mooncake” by Frank Ash, then explore lunar inspired artworks, and create your own moon-inspired artworks. Meet in the lobby.

Earthrise
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: July 18 – August 4
Admission: $20

This family show is recommended for age 5+: While the world waits for the launch of Apollo 11 in 1969, three children of key NASA employees watch from different perspectives: a mathematician’s daughter, an astronaut’s son, and an engineer’s daughter. By dreaming a collective dream of landing on the moon together, the kids learn to understand the historic mission — not fear it.

Apollo 50 Festival
Where: 4th – 7th Streets | National Mall, DC
When: July 19-20
Admission: Free

Join the National Air & Space Museum and NASA for the Apollo 50 Festival on the National Mall with all kinds of festivities to celebrate the 50th anniversary. A stage and 20 tents will feature hands-on exhibits and activities from exhibitors like NASA, Boeing, Raytheon, The LEGO Group, and PBS’s Ready Jet Go!; live performances featuring costumed characters; and exciting speakers including Adam Savage, ISS astronauts, authors, and NASA scientists and engineers, with more special guests to be announced.

Discover the Moon Day
Where: National Air & Space Museum | National Mall, DC
When: July 19
Admission: Free

Join the museum for a day of educational and fun family activities in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. At Discover the Moon Day talk to our scientists and learn about lunar science. There will be activities throughout the museum for all ages.

Apollo 50: Go for the Moon
Where: National Mall, DC
When: July 19-20, evenings
Admission: Free

The celebration will continue in the evenings with “Apollo 50: Go for the Moon.” The 17-minute immersive experience with the first moon landing projected onto the Washington Monument and more screens on the National Mall, plus a 40-foot wide recreation of the Kennedy Space Center countdown clock. The free show will run at 9:30pm, 10:30pm and 11:30pm and can be viewed from the area in front of the Smithsonian Castle, btwn 9th & 12th Streets.

First Man
Where: Arlington Mill Community Center| Arlington, VA
When: July 19, 8:30pm
Admission: Free

The theme of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization’s popular Summer Movie Nights is “Heroes and Sheroes: Movies with a Mission.” And this week it focuses on Neil Armstrong as First Man is presented at the Arlington Mill location on Friday night.

A Celebration of African Americans at NASA
Where: NMAAHC | National Mall, DC
When: Saturday
Admission: Free

The National Museum of African American History & Culture is hosting a celebration of African Americans at NASA, sharing their stories and contributions using engaging activities about space and space travel to enhance the visitors’ experiences and learning. Since the Apollo 11 mission, the US has sent many astronauts into space. Despite being one of the leaders in the space race, it would be nearly 15 years after man’s first steps on the moon until the first African American, Guy Bluford would launch into space. In total, there have been 21 African American Astronauts.

Model Rocket Contest
Where: Goddard Space Flight Center | Greenbelt, MD
When: July 20
Admission: Free

The Goddard Space Flight Center hosts model rocket launches regularly, but this is a special one — a contest — to mark the 50th anniversary. All are welcome to launch and land their model rockets in the competition on Saturday. Registration will take pace there, and the first 200 to sign up will receive a moonlanding commemorative giveaway. Read more about model rocket launches at Goddard here.


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Filed under 2019, All ages, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Museums, Outdoor, Special Event, Summer, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Bike the Anacostia River Trail to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens (to see the big bloom!)

On the way to see the bloom at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens


I always make a point of going to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens this time of year to see the lotus flowers and water lilies in bloom. It’s absolutely stunning, and definitely my favorite of all the big blooms in the area (yep, I even love it more than the cherry blossoms). As I’ve noted before, that partly has to do with its location in Northeast DC, next to a residential neighborhood and not far from 295. You just don’t expect a fairyland of a park full of ponds covered in lily pads and with gorgeous white and pink flowers sprouting from them to be there.

This year, I decided to bike to KAG for the bloom. It’s not too far from where we live, about a five-mile ride from our house on Capitol Hill, and the Anacostia River Trail leads right to it. I’d never ridden on that stretch of the bike path, and it turned out to be a nice little jaunt. Owen and Sasha are away at camp for a couple of weeks, so this was a solo adventure, but I know they would enjoy it, too. I’d also recommend the ride for younger kids who are comfortable biking several miles at a time (accompanied by adults, of course).

The ride mapped out

The first stretch of the ride

I caught the trail at Benning Road, just past RFK Stadium, then rode along the Anacostia River for a scenic mile or so. That section ends at Lee Street, then you ride on the street for a bit until signs lead you back onto the trail that runs through the Mayfair and Eastland Gardens neighborhoods.

Following the path through a residential area

The turn into the Aquatic Gardens area

Another mile or so on that, and you come to the area of the trail that leads to the Aquatic Gardens. The paved path lined by black-eyed Susans (Maryland’s state flower, for a bit of trivia) and other wildflowers traverses a meadow before winding into the woods, the KAG marshland visible through breaks in the trees.

The trail flanked by wildflowers

There are a few small areas with benches where you can stop and take in the sights. I saw several great blue herons wading, turtles swimming, and what looked like many cardinals flying by. It’s lovely and peaceful, though the trail is somewhat isolated so be sure to stay aware of your surroundings.

Into the woods

Stop and sit for a bit

A heron sighting

Of course, this ride can be done anytime you want to visit Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. The locale makes for a nice outing all year round, it’s just especially pretty now during the bloom. However, it does get hot and buggy during the summer, so a water bottle, hat, sunscreen, and insect repellant are recommended!


After crossing a couple of small bridges, there is a dirt path to the right that leads to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens entrance. Sign posts are at the trailhead so you can’t miss it. From there, it’s less than a quarter mile to the bike racks. Lock up, make your way to the ponds, and be ready to be dazzled.

A first look at the bloom

For more about Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, see this post. For more about the lotus flower and water lily bloom, see this one. And note that the annual festival celebrating them will take place July 13-14 this year, and it’s a fantastic event for families. In the meantime, here are more scenes from the ride and bloom — I can’t let photos that capture the beauty of it all go to waste!

From here to there and there to here…


Lotus flower close-up


Stop and take in the marsh views along the way


The plants from another perspective


Pinks!


A lily pad laden pond


Another view from below


A lotus beginning to open


Taking it all in from a footbridge


A pretty and peaceful part of the Anacostia River Trail



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Filed under 2019, All ages, Annual, DC, Free, Nature, Park, Seasonal, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend

2019 Independence Day Celebrations Around DC


What better place to celebrate Independence Day than in our nation’s capital? This is where the actual Declaration of Independence is housed (and will be read!), and celebrations take place among some of the country’s most iconic landmarks. But the excitement doesn’t stop there. From fireworks over the city and concerts at the Capitol to special events at George Washington’s house to neighborhood parades and ballpark fun, there are loads of ways to revel on July 4th (and 3rd!). Here are details on a bunch of them. Happy Independence Day!

National Independence Day Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue NW, 7th-17th Streets | DC
When: July 4, 11:45am
Admission: Free

Many national holidays get a parade in DC, and July 4th is no exception. Scores of spectators are expected to line the Constitution Avenue sidewalks to watch the procession celebrating Independence Day make its way from 7th to 17th Streets. Marching bands, floats, giant balloons, equestrian groups, drill teams, and military units will be among the pageantry. Stake out your spot along the route early, as this event attracts hundreds of thousands of viewers every year.

An American Celebration
Where: Mount Vernon | Mount Vernon, VA
When: July 4, 9am – 5pm
Admission: $18-20/adult, $11-12/age 6-11, free/5 & under

The home of George Washington salutes the first commander-in-chief with a dazzling display of made-for-daytime fireworks during its annual Independence Day event. Visitors will be treated to spectacular smoke fireworks in patriotic colors fired over the Potomac River. The event also includes an inspirational naturalization ceremony for 100 new citizens, military reenactments, a special wreathlaying ceremony, and a visit from the “first” first couple, “General and Mrs. Washington.” See the full schedule of events here.

A Capitol Fourth
Where: West Lawn on the Capitol | Capitol Hill, DC
When: July 4, 8pm; gates open at 3pm
Admission: Free

The annual Independence Day concert airing live on PBS, A Capitol Fourth will feature great musical pageantry. John Stamos will be back to host this year’s show, which will include performances by Carole King, Vanessa Carlton, Vanessa Williams, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Choral Arts Society of Washington, MusiCorps, and many more exciting acts. A special treat for the entire family will be Big Bird, Abby Cadabby, Rosita, Elmo, Grover, Bert & Ernie from Sesame Street on hand to celebrate America’s birthday, as the Sesame Street Muppets perform a musical medley of patriotic favorites and iconic songs from the groundbreaking children’s television series. Get there early to stake out a spot! (KFDC tip: You can also enjoy the show with less crowds at the dress rehearsal on July 3 – same time and place!)

Fourth of July Musical Salute
Where: The District Wharf | Southwest DC
When: July 4, 12-8pm
Admission: Free

It’s a star-spangled day at The Wharf. There will be live music throughout the day on the Pearl Street, Fish Market, and Transit Pier stages. Let the kids splash in the fountains, rock on bench swings by the water, enjoy an afternoon lunch at the waterfront, then snag a spot on one of the piers or rooftop bars for some of the best fireworks viewing the city has to offer. Read more about The Wharf in this KFDC post.

Salute to America and Fireworks
Where: Lincoln Memorial & West Potomac Park, DC
When: July 4, 6:30 – 9:30
Admission: Free

Festivities on the National Mall will be a bit different from previous years. Instead of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival going on all day and a concert and fireworks happening in the evening, there will be a Salute to America by the President honoring America’s armed forces with music, military demonstrations, flyovers and much more (tickets required). Later, fireworks will take place at West Potomac Park.

America’s Pastime
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: July 3, 6:05pm & July 4, 11:05am
Admission: Ticket prices vary

A day at the ballpark is about as all-American as it gets when it comes to sports, and you can experience it and celebrate the holiday at Nationals Park. Kick off Independence Day on July 3rd, when the Nats play the Marlins and enjoy a postgame fireworks show. The July 4th game is all part of the Patriotic Series. Before you go, be sure to check this post for tips to save on a Nats game.

Fourth of July at the National Archives
Where: National Archives | National Mall, DC
When: July 4, 8am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Catch the annual dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence. It starts at 10am, but doors open an 8am am, and the first 1,000 guests will receive a special T-shirt. After that, celebrate like it it’s 1776! Enjoy family activities, story time, crafts, and more! Meet John and Abigail Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Ned Hector, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington.

Neighborhood Parades
Where: Throughout the DMV
When: Most on July 4, times vary
Admission: Free

Keep it close to home at a community celebration. You likely are aware of July 4th events taking place in your neighborhood or nearby, but if you’re still looking for a hyperlocal fête, check out this list of parades around town.

Hang out on the LAWN
Where: National Building Museum | Judiciary Square, DC
When: July 4 (through September 3)
Admission: $16/adult, $13/child

It’s not an Independence Day celebration per se, but the Building Museum’s big annual Summer Block Party installation opens July 4th and will make for a fun and unique to do that day. Lawn will feature a vast, sloping green space set on a graceful incline and dotted with clusters of communal lounging areas. Visitors can enjoy refreshments and lawn games like croquet, bocce ball, and dominoes. A scaffolding tower that reaches the height of the Museum’s third floor will offer never-before-seen views of the Great Hall, column capitals, and sculptural busts lining the roof.

Visionary Pets on Parade
Where: American Visionary Arts Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: July 4, 9-10am
Admission: Free

Dress your pet & strut your stuff — or just go to watch the animal fun. Trophies awarded for Best Costume, Most Patriotic, Most Visionary Pet, Owner & Pet look-alikes, Least likely to succeed as a Pet, Visionary Pet Tricks and more! Friendly pets of ALL kinds are welcome to this best dog-gone parade in town. It will be followed by the Pet Talent (Or Not) Show! Pets must be leashed or carried. H20, pet cooling station, and baggies provided. Free and open to the public, and no advanced registration is required to participate or watch.

July 4th Celebration
Where: Armed Forces Retirement Home | Petworth, DC
When: 4-9:30pm
Admission: Free

All are welcome to join the 8th annual July 4th Celebration at the Armed Forces Retirement Home. Enjoy live entertainment, catch and release fishing, face painting, bouncy fun, an obstacle course, and crafts. Concessions will also be for sale and plentiful.

Family Fireworks Cruise
Where: Washington Marina | Southwest DC
When: July 4, 6:45pm
Admission: $159 (look for a discount)

View the breathtaking Independence Day fireworks display from the comfort of the boat, FREEDOM. This relaxing, family-friendly cruise with the National Ferry Corporation along the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers offers front row seats to the stunning display in the sky, fun raffles, and complimentary hot dogs, chips, and an array of cookies & brownies for desert. There will also be a complimentary champagne toast for the adults during the fireworks show, plus a full bar with beverages available for purchase. Last year’s fireworks cruise sold out, so book your cruise soon.

Summer Rooftop BBQ
Where: The Eaton Hotel | Downtown DC
When: July 4, 4-8pm
Admission: $22/adult, $10/child

Wild Days, The Eaton Hotel’s indoor/outdoor rooftop music venue, is hosting a BBQ with a special menu for the holiday — and kids are welcome, too. The gathering aims to bring together members of the community around a selection of DJs, tasty food, and cocktails overlooking all of K street, inspired by the diversity and originality of DC.

Falls Church 4th of July Celebration
Where: George Mason High School | Fairfax, VA
When: July 4, 6-10pm
Admission: Free

The City of Falls Church Recreation and Parks Department will present its annual free July 4th Celebration at George Mason High School (7124 Leesburg Pike). Grab a bit fro food trucks starting at 6pm. Musical entertainment begins at 7pm with a live performance, and fireworks follow at 9:20pm. Blankets and flat-based chairs are allowed for seating on the field. Food and drinks will be sold on site.

McLean 4th of July Fireworks
Where: Langley High School | McLean, VA
When: July 4
Admission: Free

McLean’s annual Independence Day Celebration is at Langley High School this year. Gates open at 6pm, and the fireworks show begins at sunset, approximately 9:15pm. In addition to the large fireworks display, patrons can come early to enjoy musical entertainment by a local disc jockey, as well as food trucks selling a variety of entrees and snacks.


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Filed under 2019, All ages, Annual, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Festival, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Monuments & Memorials, Music, Outdoor, Parade, Seasonal, Special Event, Sports, Summer, Virginia, Weekdays

A Community Weekend Full of Family Fun at the National Gallery of Art


In celebration of the exhibit The Life of Animals in Japanese Art, the National Gallery of Art invites you to a free weekend filled with family fun for all ages!

On Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23, drop in the museum’s East Building for an array of artistic and cultural activities, including Taiko drumming, origami lessons, hands-on art making, Japanese folktales, DJ performances, and more!

To help you plan, here are few highlights for families:

FILMS FOR CHILDREN
Howl’s Moving Castle
Saturday, June 22 at 10:15am in the Auditorium
Run time is 2 hours, recommended for ages 11+

My Neighbor Totoro
Sunday, June 23 at 11:15am in the Auditorium
Run time is 1 hour 40 minutes, recommended for ages 4+

FOLKTALES FROM JAPAN WITH MATOKO
Saturday & Sunday, June 22-23 at 1pm & 3pm at the Concourse Galleries
Run time is 45 minutes each session

DROP-IN ART MAKING
Calligraphy with Satomi China
Saturday & Sunday, June 22-23 at 12-4pm in the Education Studio

TAIKO DRUMMING BY CHIN DAIKO
Saturday, 5pm & 6pm and Sunday, 11am & 1pm
On the 4th Street Plaza

More information and the full schedule, including Saturday evening activities, can be found on the Community Weekend page.


Community Weekend
What: Celebrating The Life of Animals in Japanese Art
Where: National Gallery of Art | National Mall, DC
When: Saturday & Sunday, June 22-23
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 2019, All ages, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Live Entertainment, Movies, Museums, Music, Special Event, Summer, Weekend