Category Archives: Maryland

The Weekend: March 20-22


For the second week in a row, this regular Thursday post is not like the others. Where you usually find a round-up of weekend events and activities instead is a recap of the latest KFDC posts, plus a mix of links around the Web, all of which hopefully will be of some help during this unusual time. Happy Weekend!

*KFDC POSTS*

* Articles, Posts, Memes, and More Relevant Links for Right Now
This mix of links posted last weekend was a quick way of relaying some practical information, offering suggestions, and providing some smiles and laughs.

* What to Do on the Weekdays At Home During the Coronavirus
The title might say it’s for the weekdays, but certainly the suggestions for kids’ activities can be enjoyed on weekends, too.

* Tips for Parents During this Social Distancing Time at Home (that Don’t Involve the Kids)
Some of these ideas especially for parents may actually be better for the weekends, especially for moms and dads who are working from home during the week. Since we can’t dine out, see shows, go to events, or visit many local places, we’ll have more time at home — and this post has suggestions to help make the most of it. Yes, the kids will be home more, too, but parents could take turns giving each other their own time while one hangs with the kids.

* Virtual DC Activities & Experiences for Kids at Home During the Coronavirus
If kids can’t get to some of their favorite local places and activities during this time, you can bring the experiences to them — virtually. From webcams featuring the cherry blossoms and zoo animals to special live streamed programs especially for kids to online tours of iconic spots, there are a bunch of ways to access DC and keep your crew entertained while you #optinside.


*MORE GOOD STUFF*

* DCist offers motivation to stay in with one-star Yelp reviews of DC monuments.

* I recommend reading this article by an Italian mom under lockdown.

* It’s official: DC Public Schools will be closed and distance learning will take place through April 24.

* Humans of New York Quarantine Edition has begun, sharing happy stories, just getting them in a different way. Start reading them here.

* Just watched Grand Budapest Hotel (for the second time, which I realized after I was partly into it). Like every Wes Anderson movie, it’s brilliant.

* Consider ordering take out this weekend to support your favorite local restaurants.

* Get some new family, kid, or adult games and puzzles to make your inside time more fun. Labyrinth has an amazing selection and is open for pick-up and delivery, to boot.

* Funny, but true? 😂

* Trevor Noah ❤️


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Filed under 2020, DC, Maryland, Virginia, Weekend

What to Do on the Weekdays At Home During the Coronavirus

Our cat Lola’s “What are you still doing here” look that we’ll surely see a lot this week


For obvious reasons, the usual Where to Play on the Weekdays feature, offering ideas for activities with kids around DC each day of the week, is being replaced right now. We’re entering new territory as we begin this extended time at home that will include keeping up with school work, keeping everyone engaged and entertained, and — let’s be honest — keeping us all sane. Here are some ideas to help with all of that (be sure to check comments, too, for ideas shared by readers). Stay healthy and safe…and sane. 🙂

Get Schooled
Most of our kids still have assigned school work, plus we don’t want them to get out of the routine of learning. While many schools are setting up online instruction, parents may want to create a schedule for their kids to follow. Even if you have little ones who don’t have assigned work, learning activities and structure to the day could help them stay in “school mode” to make the transition back to the classroom easier. Here are some links I found to help.

* Kahn Academy is free and has tips, schedules, and programs especially for this time.

* Scholastic’s Learn at Home website is a free resource that provides children from pre-K to grade 6+ with 20 days of exciting articles and stories, videos, and fun learning challenges.

* Tips from homeschooling parents

* Kiwi Crate just launched this resource hub for parents to help with learning at home.

* Zoom is offering their video conferencing tools to schools for free (possibly something to share with your kids’ schools and educators)

* Here’s another suggested (perhaps, more realistic?) schedule.😉

* Here’s a huge list of all education companies offering free subscriptions now.

* Wirecutter’s recommended educational apps and learning games for kids.

* As an education institution, the International Spy Museum has free lesson plans (up to curriculum standards), resources, recommended reading, and at-home activities.

* On March 30, Capitol Teachers is launching, offering tutoring services, enrichment opportunities, and homeschooling programs to students in grades K-12.

* Kids and teens ages 8-18 can learn to code from home through live, online classes with CodeWizardsHQ.


Extracurriculars
I shared some links with suggestions for fun and games at home in this post, and here are even more ideas to keep everyone engaged, enriched, and entertained during this time.

* Art Bar Blog put together this Art & Play Activity Guide for Learning at Home. (The rest of the blog is great for arts & crafts ideas, too!)

* Get the kids in the kitchen and cook together.

* It’s spring, so do some spring cleaning! This blog post has good ideas to get the kids involved.

* Kids will want to get moving. If you have a game system (or even if you don’t… apparently you can play it online), I highly recommend Just Dance.

* Let the kids capture this time… in photos! If they don’t have their own, give the kids your camera (ie, phone) and let them snap away. This website has fun ideas and activities to guide and encourage them.

* To keep everyone chill during this anxious time, how about some yoga? I found Cosmic Kids Yoga, which looks good for little ones. (Admittedly, I’m not much of a yoga person to know what’s good, so do a search for “kids yoga” on YouTube for even more videos.)

* Take a Virtual Field Trip while kids can’t go on real ones. There are a bunch of places around the world to explore (plus the moon!) online in fun and educational ways.

* While kids can’t experience DC in person right now, let them visit virtually.

* The Lane Social Club just launched “The Lane (Anti) Social Club” — virtual events for kids to help give parents a much needed break or concentrated time to actually be able to work. It’s a pay what you can model, so it’s accessible to all, but donations are greatly appreciated to help support their staff.

* The International Spy Museum can guide you to some intriguing home activities, including designing a spy gadget, cracking a top secret code, and a mind memory activity.

* Keep children active even when they can’t get outdoors with Kids Workouts to Do at Home.

* Kids of all ages can learn to code for free at home through online classes, websites, and apps.


Book It
This is a great opportunity to get kids reading more. Implement a set reading time each day (and plan to join them with your current book if they can read on their own). Rather than offer specific book recommendations — because there are SO many! — here are some links to help you pick out and purchase books for your kids.

* Stock up on books and support local small businesses by shopping online while you’re staying home and/or their brick-and-mortars are closed — some even deliver! Check out Kramerbooks, East City bookshop, Solid State Books, Politics and Prose, and Loyalty Bookstores.

* These Amazon Editors’ Picks include recommendations for kids books by age up to young adult.

* Common Sense Media also has good recommendations, plus plenty of ratings and details to help you decide if it’s appropriate for your child.

* So, it’s not actually reading, but Audible for Kids is a good way to access books without having to wait for deliveries or if multiple kids want to hear it. Also, kids who don’t read on their own yet can listen to stories while you’re getting work done. Even better, it’s FREE for kids for as long as schools are closed.

Screen Time
I think we’re all going to need some good shows and movies during this period of our lives, whether or not we’re big on screen time. (For the record, I’m pretty loose about it, but my kids do plenty of non-screen activities, too, and aren’t distracted from their school work by TV.) Anyway, if you’re looking for stuff for kids to watch, you can find recommendations through these links.

* My friend Darcy’s old blog, No Monsters in My Bed, had the best Family Movie Night list.

* Here’s a quick link to Kids’ TV on Netflix.

* Lots of our t(w)eens have already discovered The Office and Friends, but here are a few more faves from the past to introduce to them: My So Called Life, Felicity, Beverly Hills 90210, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and Veronica Mars

* Common Sense Media’s Best Movie lists and Best TV lists are quick and easy go-tos for viewing ideas.

* Sasha digs this YouTube show (even though I think it’s weird).

* Amazon just made a bunch of their kids shows available for free.

Hang Out(side)
While it is best to stay at home as much as possible right now, it’s tough to keep kids inside 24/7. If you feel the need to get out, do it responsibly for this time, and go where there is plenty of space to keep good social distance. These links have ideas to help with that, just be sure to check ahead that locales are open before you go.

UPDATE: I can’t stress enough that it’s best to stay at home right now, as even outdoor spots might draw too many visitors to make them safe. The National Arboretum closed to prevent the spread after the masses started flocking there. I also recently heard from a KFDC reader who went shark tooth hunting at Purse State Park that she felt very uncomfortable with so many others there, and it’s usually empty. Thus, I am now recommending you don’t go to those places.

* The KFDC round-up of Walks in the Woods has info on good places to hike with kids.

* The flowers blooms may not be happening, but this KFDC post highlights gardens around the area where you can roam around.

* A shark tooth hunting adventure gets you outdoors with lots of open space, plus it’s fun and kind of educational.

* A walk or bike ride close to home may be enough to get the indoor willies out.

Do you have recommendations for activities at home this week? Feel free to share in the comments! I’m sure they’ll be much appreciated.

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Filed under 2020, All ages, DC, Educational, Maryland, Outdoor, Virginia

The Weekend: March 13-15


If you visited this page hoping to find information about events and activities happening around DC this weekend, you’re going to be very disappointed. I had a whole Weekend Round-Up all ready to go, but it’s been scrapped.

Not only have many events been canceled due to concerns about the coronavirus, my conscience is weighing in, too. With all that we now know about coronavirus, I believe that exercising caution and proactively preventing the spread of the disease should be of utmost importance at this time. No, I am not a health expert (though I did discuss this with one), but I am a concerned human, and I just wouldn’t feel right encouraging my readers in any way to put themselves (and others) in potentially risky health situations. This isn’t panic; it’s just taking these unique circumstances very seriously.


If you still want to get out of the house, consider outdoor activities that still allow for social distancing like hiking, a bike ride, or even a shark tooth hunting adventure.

I’m still sharing my planned *MORE GOOD STUFF* section with a mix of relevant, informative, and fun links, plus some more recommendations for activities in lieu of large public events.

Thanks for your understanding of this decision. Stay healthy and safe.

And, as always, Happy Weekend!

***MORE GOOD STUFF***
* The DC government set up a central website for local coronavirus updates.
* The Washington Post also has Live Updates.
* Smithsonian Museums and the National Zoo are still open as of now, but all public events through May 3 are canceled.
* All shows scheduled at the 9:30 Club, Lincoln Theatre, and The Anthem through March 31 are being postponed.
* How the coronavirus hijacks your cells.
* Some National Cherry Blossom Festival events have been canceled, including the Kite Festival, and there may be even more.
* The cherry blossom peak has been revised to March 21-24, and these tips for viewing them include places to go without the crowds.
* My friend Darcy always has the best recommendations for reading, watching, and listening.
* The second season of My Brilliant Friend, based on the wonderful books by Elena Ferrante, premieres Monday!
* I love a good protest.

*FUN & GAMES AT HOME WITH KIDS*
* Fatherly has some good suggestions for DIY activities with kiddos.
* Here are some good ideas from The Cut.
* 10 Kid-Friendly Card Games.
* Some of our favorite family games: Rummikub, Anomia, Scrabble, and Catan.
* A KFDC reader shared this fun website with me.

*MORE TO WATCH* (With and without kids)
* A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood seems like a good one to see now for something uplifting and, because, Tom Hanks.
* In case you didn’t (or did) see Frozen 2 in the theater, you can rent it now.
* Sing Street is one of our family’s favorite movies.
* Sasha and I just watched Legally Blonde together — her first time seeing and enjoying it — and I loved it all over again.
* The Outsider on HBO is so creepy and compelling.
* Owen (age 14) is really into this anime series.
* I’m with Hillary on Hulu!
* Levi and I just watched Swallow, a super bizarre movie.
* I mentioned Love is Blind last week, and I’m suggesting it again because it’s a perfect binge.
* Contagion apparently has had a resurgence in popularity (wonder why?).

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Filed under 2020, DC, Maryland, Spring, Virginia, Weekend, Winter

Tips for Families Viewing the Cherry Blossoms (2020)

[Note: This was originally written in 2011 (hence, the now very outdated Lost reference) and has been updated every year since. But because the tips always apply, I’m re-posting yet again, just with a few minor updates applicable to this year’s bloom. Also, I realize that coronavirus may be a factor as you make plans to see the flowers; however, I am not a health expert, but know that KFDC has an audience of smart, discerning parents, so I will leave those judgements up to you.]

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, it is NOT recommended to go see the cherry blossoms, especially at the Tidal Basin and on the National Mall, as it is NOT conducive to social distancing. Instead, view them virtually from home or just wait to set them next year.

🌸 🌸 🌸 🌸 🌸

Taking the family to the National Mall to see some pretty flowers sounds easy enough. If only it actually was. The cherry blossom peak, predicted to occur March 27-30 this year, is one of the best times to visit DC. The city is at its most beautiful, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival provides loads of fun activities to help enjoy it all. But viewing the famous blooms can also be a bit challenging without being aware of a few things. Here are seven recommendations to consider if seeing the cherry blossoms is on your family’s spring agenda.

1. Don’t drive if you value your sanity. Take the Metro, ride the bus, bike, walk, jet pack. Get here however you can, just leave the car at home. Traffic is beyond frustrating during the cherry blossom peak, and your chances of finding decent parking are about as good as hitting the Powerball with Hurley’s numbers (okay, slight exaggeration, but it ishard). The masses descend on Washington, DC, this time of year, and way too many do so in their vehicles. Besides, kids love riding the Metro — it’s like an urban version of Hogwarts Express. The Smithsonian stop on the Blue/Orange Line is mere minutes from all of the blossom action, but it’s also guaranteed to be crowded. Consider riding to L’Enfant on Yellow/Green, Federal Center on Blue/Orange, or even a stop downtown or in Penn Quarter and taking a nice stroll to the Tidal Basin for the blossom scene. Another good option is the bus — the DC Circulator will run between Eastern Market and L’Enfant Plaza, a convenient route with even more to do on both ends. And the 32, 34, and 36 routes of Metrobus stop at the National Mall close to the Washington Monument. *If you absolutely must drive and need parking you might find a spot at Hains Point, where there is free and metered parking, then walk or take the Cherry Blossom Shuttle ($1/person) to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial at the Tidal Basin. There is also a parking garage at L’Enfant Plaza. Your best bet, though, might be to find a garage in the downtown or Penn Quarter area, then walk or Metro to the National Mall. You can ensure yourself a spot with Parking Panda, an online parking reservation service that lets you search for and reserve garage spaces in advance.

Flying amid the flowers

2. Visit on a weekday if you have the flexibility. Crowds are significantly smaller from Monday to Friday, so you can stroll around the Tidal Basin at a nice pace, and public transportation won’t be nearly as packed (though it still will be more crowded than usual). But if the kids are in school or daycare during the week, think about going later in the day. The National Mall and monuments look beautiful at sunset, and the blossoms make it even more sublime. In the same vein, if you can go super early, the morning light on the Mall makes for quite a picturesque setting, too.

Peak time around the National Mall

3. Consider using a child carrier instead of a stroller for little ones. This is especially applicable if you take Metro, since elevator lines can be very long and slow-going. I learned my lesson back in my kids’ baby days on a weekday and ended up taking my daughter out of the stroller and carrying both on the escalator, which was probably as unsafe as it was difficult. Even if you don’t take Metro, a carrier is still a wise option. Navigating crowded walkways while pushing a pram takes focus, and you could end up spending more time concentrating on not rolling over others’ heels than enjoying the sights you came to see. It’s a bonus for wee ones, too — perched on your back, your babe will get a better view of the blossoms.

4. Check the National Cherry Blossom Festival schedule, so you can plan your visit accordingly. Some of the city’s most anticipated events are part of the annual celebration, the Blossom Kite Festival, National Cherry Blossom Parade, and Sakura Matsuri among them, and there are many non-official festival happenings as well. Most events take place nearby the blossoms or an easy Metro ride away. Peak bloom is expected to occur mid-Festival this year, so you can enjoy blossom-inspired activities and the efflorescent trees at the same time. This post has details on the best cherry blossom season celebrations and activities for families.

Get a view of the blossoms from a paddle boat

5. Get a new view of the blossoms and enjoy a fun activity on the Potomac. Several companies offer boat rides along the river, many of them specifically for the season when the cherry trees are in bloom. Right now you can find great deals with Washington Marina National Ferry Corp, Capitol River Cruises, and Boomerang Boat Tours. Potomac Riverboat Company and DC Water Taxi are a couple more to check out. You can also opt for a paddling excursion and navigate the waters yourself.

Playing under blossoms at the Arboretum

6. Seek out other spots to see the cherry blossoms if you don’t want to deal with crowds and chaos around the Tidal Basin and National Mall. Several places around the DC-Metro area are well known for their annual cherry blossom displays. When I worked in Bethesda many years ago, it was an annual tradition for my colleagues and me to take a drive through Kenwood, a lovely neighborhood between Little Falls Parkway and River Road with cherry tree-lined streets. The National Arboretum also has a nice collection of the trees and offers a beautiful, peaceful environment in which to view them in bloom. Dumbarton Oaks Gardens is one of the prettiest places in DC and its annual blossoms only add to it. And Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD, has a lovely collection of cherry trees, too.

7. Have your camera ready to take advantage of some of the best photo ops DC offers. The peak colors plus the memorials are about as iconic as you can get when photographing Washington. Get your kids to sit still — or even let them run and play for a fun candid — and you’ve got this year’s holiday card.

Can’t beat the blossom backdrop for photos



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Filed under 2020, All ages, Annual, DC, Free, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Special Event, Spring, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend