Category Archives: Nature

Scenes from a Fall Day at Huntley Meadows Park


Lately, it’s been a little harder for us to plan weekend outings as a family. Saturdays and Sundays are often busy with sports, and as the kids have gotten older, they (well, mostly Owen) want to hang out with their friends more than they want to with Levi and me (why? we’re so cool!).

So, it was really nice recently when we had a long stretch of time between a morning soccer practice and an evening soccer game, and no one had anything else going on. Well, I had one small errand to run in Alexandria, so we decided to plan around that. We wanted to take advantage of the beautiful fall day and opted for a hike at Huntley Meadows Park, easily one of the best places, in my opinion, to enjoy the outdoors in that area.

Huntley Meadows Park makes for a great outing any time of year, but it’s especially lovely now as the leaves start to turn, and the weather is pleasant for walking the boardwalk that spans the beautiful wetlands.

I first learned about the park from my friend Darcy nearly a decade ago, and we have been many times since. And even in the kids’ tween and teen years, they (we) still really enjoy a visit there — hiking the trail, looking for frogs and other creatures, and taking in the beautiful scenery. Better now, though, is that we don’t have to worry about them falling in the marsh! 😉

Huntley Meadows Park is located at 3701 Lockheed Blvd in Alexandria. It’s open daily from dawn to dusk, and admission is free. You can read more about it in this post. And here are more scenes from our recent visit.





























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Filed under 2019, All ages, Educational, Fall, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Jane Goodall & National Geographic Bring a Message of Hope to DC


There are few people in the world who are as universally respected, revered, and celebrated as Dr. Jane Goodall. Her groundbreaking studies of chimpanzees and work as an environmental activist have made her not just an inspiration, but a legend to people across the globe, from all different backgrounds and spanning generations.

It’s no wonder that both nights of her talk, entitled Reasons for Hope, at the Anthem in September sold out within hours of going on sale. I wasn’t lucky enough to get tickets to either one, but my luck came in a different way — an invitation to be part of a small press conference with Jane Goodall before the second show. (And as much as I’d like to be completely professional and cool about it, I can’t help but confess it was one of the biggest thrills of my, like, life! Okay, out of my system.)



The ask came from the Jane Goodall Institute and National Geographic, as the Nat Geo Museum here in DC will present Becoming Jane, an exhibition that explores Dr. Goodall’s life and work through immersive media, authentic scenes, and interactives that will appeal to fans and visitors of all ages — it opens to the public on November 22.

The timing couldn’t have been better for both the media event and Jane Goodall’s lectures, which took place just days after the Climate Strike and during the week of the U.N. Climate Action Summit. During both, she discussed her amazing journey to becoming a world-renown a primatologist, from her love for animals early on in childhood to her work in the Gombe Forest. But the heart of her talk was about much more than her background and studies of chimpanzees. It was about the environmental crisis our planet is facing.

“We need to take action soon,” Dr. Goodall told us, “Not just acknowledge climate change, but to take action.” She suggested this action begins with everyday choices — being cognizant of how what we buy and what we do impacts the environment. (Side note: Look for upcoming blog posts that focus on ways to do this locally.) She also encourages action in groups and on a larger scale.

Her Reasons for Hope focused greatly on younger generations as the world’s future will be in the hands of our children. In response to a question about the student walkout for the Climate Strike, Dr. Goodall said, “It’s not enough to miss school. Why are you doing it? What are you going to do if you meet a politician?”

She then discussed Roots and Shoots, a community action programme started by the Jane Goodall Institute in 1991, designed to teach youth about conservation and leadership, and empower young people to affect positive change in their communities.



During the press event, I asked her a couple of questions about the exhibition coming to National Geographic. First about the collaboration process, which she explained really began over 50 years ago in the Gombe Forest when National Geographic documented her early work there. (Much of this footage is used to tell Dr. Goodall’s story in the wonderful and inspiring documentary, JANE.)

And in Becoming Jane, every element of the exhibition is based on Dr. Jane Goodall and her work. There will be a replica of her research tent, a hologram-like projection of her sharing memories of working with chimpanzees, a virtural-3D expedition to Gombe Stream National Park, augmented reality activities like matching the pant-hoot vocalization of a chimpanzee, and more engaging installations that highlight her life and work.

Next, I asked what message she hopes people, particularly children, will take away from the exhibition. Without hesitation she answered, “That every person makes a difference.”

And she does hope they will. The exhibit also includes a call to action to join her, the Jane Goodall Institute, and National Geographic in an effort to ensure a more sustainable future for us all as well as a pledge station where visitors can share what actions they will take to help Dr. Goodall in her mission.

Becoming Jane will be at the National Geographic Museum from November 22 through the summer of 2020. Admission is $15, $12/seniors & military, free for ages 5 and under. Museum hours are 10am – 6pm.


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Filed under 2019, All ages, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Museums, Nature, Spring, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

The KFDC Guide to the 2019 Fall Festival Season

An autumn past at Clarke’s Elioak Farm





Fall is right around the corner, and so are the many festivals that come along with it. They celebrate everything from the season to city neighborhoods to cuisines to historic times. You can have a blast on a farm, savor local food and culture, go medieval or colonial — all amidst gorgeous autumn scenery in the cool, crisp air. This list of celebrations, ordered by start date (and mostly reprised from previous years), will help you plan for it all. Happy Fall!

Maryland Renaissance Festival
Where: Revel Grove | Crownsville, MD
When: Weekends through October 20
Admission: Thru 9/8: $20/age 16+, $10/age 7-15
9/14-10/20: $27/age 16+, $12/age 7-15 | free/6 & under

This medieval time trip began in late August and gets a huge endorsement from me as one of the best annual events in the area. You just can’t beat the amazing variety of entertainment — exciting jousting matches, cheeky comedy shows, fire eaters, sword swallowers, tight rope walkers and other balancing acts, jugglers, musical performances, puppetry, plus slides, play areas, and games. And walking among knights, maidens, pirates, and villagers in Revel Grove, the charming location that resembles a 16th-century village, as you chomp on turkey legs and down cups of “mead” is an immensely fun and interesting jaunt back in time that any age can enjoy.

Apple Gala & Cider Festival
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: Weekends in September
Admission: $10-12/adult $8-10/child, free/2 & under (find discount)

The annual Apple Gala and Cider Festival takes place every Saturday and Sunday in September. Over 7,000 apple trees are planted throughout our farm, with plenty for picking and pressing to make fresh apple cider. Learn how apple cider was made back in the day with cider pressing demos from an antique 1835 cider press, enjoy live music, nosh on donuts baked fresh each morning, take wagon rides out to the apple orchards, and and have lots of fun in the five-acre play area, corn maze, and more.

Fall at Clark’s Elioak Farm
Where: Ellicott City, MD
When: Tuesday – Sunday through November 3
Admission: $7

This fairytale of a farm doesn’t have a special fall festival per se, but with so many activities, including seasonal delights like pumpkins, cider, and Halloween fun, it’s like a celebration all the time. And it all takes place on the sprawling grounds adorned with installations practically straight out of a storybook (they were actually salvaged from The Enchanted Forest, an old Ellicott City amusement park). Kids can sit on a wall with Humpty, Peek in the Three Bears’ windows, climb aboard Cinderella’s pumpkin coach, explore the Old Woman’s shoe. If that’s not enough, there are hayrides, cow train rides, slides, farm animals to pet, a pumpkin patch, the pine tree maze, and even more. Hours are 10am – 5pm Tuesday – Friday; 10am – 5:30pm Saturday & Sunday. Closed Mondays.

Fall Fun Festival
Where: Gaver Farm | Mt. Airy, MD
When: September 6 – November 3
Admission: $9/weekdays, $13.50/weekends, free/2 & under

Celebrate the arrival of fall in Frederick, MD with farm activities for the whole family family and other great seasonal traditions. Conquer twists and turns of the corn maze, jump on the giant pillow, pet and feed farm animals, and cruise down giant slides. There are over 50 attractions appropriate for any age including mini mazes, playgrounds, duck races, ball games, photo centers, and much more. Dates to note: September 14 – Touch a Tractor, September 21 – Military and First Responders Appreciation Weekend, September 28 – Apple Harvest Festival.

Adams Morgan Day
Where: Throughout Adams Morgan, DC
When: September 8, 12-6pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate one of the city’s most diverse communities at the 41st Annual Adams Morgan Day, offering a day full of music, art, culture, dancing, and more. The family-friendly celebration will have activities for all ages, including free crafts, multiple stages of entertainment, all kinds of demos, a whole Family Fun Zone, and tons more. More details and the schedule of performances are available on the website.

Colonial Market & Fair
Where: Mount Vernon, VA
When: September 14-15
Admission: $18-20/adult, $11-12/age 6-11, free/5 & under

At George Washington’s old stomping grounds, they re-create a lively early-American marketplace with demonstrations, crafts and entertainment. Take in the sights and sounds of it all on Mount Vernon’s 12-acre field and chat with colonial artisans selling traditional handcrafted food and wares. Colonial music transports you back to the 18th century as expert artisans demonstrate period crafting techniques. Learn how the Washingtons enjoyed ice cream and watch as interpreters showcase the process. There’s plenty of fun for the whole family!

Cox Farms Fall Festival
Where: Centreville, VA
When: September 14 – November 5
Admission: $7-20 depending on dates

This festival is enormous! So big I recommend giving the website a good look to help prepare and navigate your way around the sprawling site that contains multiple slides, swings, games, mazes, pumpkins, picnics, live entertainment, farm animals, and lots more. Expect some lines, especially for the giant slides that take you swooping down several humps over a hillside. There is also a Kiddie Zone just for little ones aged 5 and under. Be prepared for a crowd, especially on weekends.

Montpelier Farms Fall Festival
Where: Upper Marlboro, MD
When: Weekends September 14 – November 3
Admission: $12, free/2 & under (find discount)

Enjoy all of the staples of a fall festival on the farm — pumpkins, hayrides, animals, hill slides, farm-themed games and rides, and much more. They also offer field trips and birthday parties, something to keep in mind for autumn-born children. And a tip based on our experience there: Do not miss the corn maze. It’s EPIC.

Taste of Falls Church
Where: Falls Church, VA
When: September 14, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but tastes and rides are a fee

Falls Church’s annual autumn tradition returns for its 44th year, highlighting the area’s popular restaurants and featuring live entertainment, pony rides, children’s amusements, crafters, businesses and civic organizations. Festival goers can sample cuisine from city restaurant kitchens, plus there will be a beer garden to sample local brews and spirits. The children’s activity tent offers face painting and craft projects. Most rides will also require the purchase of tickets.

Hartland Orchard Fall Festival Weekends
Where: Markham, VA
When: Weekends September 14 – October 27
Admission: $10/ages 3+, free/2 & under

Hartland’s long list of opportunities for amusement include hayrides, pumpkin patches, a 60-foot slide, a corn maze, duck and pig races, and pony rides (some activities cost extra). New this year is a disc golf course — you can rent discs to play on a small, farm course with a hill and haybale obstacles. And FYI: The apple picking comes highly recommended.

Baltimore Seafood Festival
Where: Canton Waterfront | Baltimore, MD
When: September 14, 11am – 7pm
Admission: $12-15/adult, free for kids (find discount)

Head to this 6th annual waterfront festival showcasing some of Baltimore’s favorite restaurants serving their signature seafood dishes. Toss in refreshing drinks, live music, cooking demos, and an area for families with toys, games, face painting and more, and you have the Baltimore Seafood Festival – the only large scale seafood festival in Baltimore City. 

KID Museum FutureFest
Where: Silver Spring Civic Center | Silver Spring, MD
When: September 15
Admission: Free

KID Museum’s annual FutureFest is one of the DC area’s largest, free family festivals where kids can spark their imagination and families can celebrate their collective power to invent the future through all kinds of exhibits, demos, and live performances. A few highlights: KID City: Participants will build a city of the future — from the ground up — for a one-of-a-kind, immersive experience. Light up a high-tech street, construct a sculpture using 3D-printed bolts, race a vehicle down the maker highway, and more. Cultural Crossroads: Explore cultures that shape our community, from China, El Salvador, Ethiopia, India, Korea, and beyond, through hands-on activities, collaborative art installations, and live music and dance performances. Innovation Expo: Discover technologies and innovations that are transforming our world and inspiring the next generation of innovators. Glimpse the future of Work & Play, Space & Exploration, Food & Sustainability, and more.

Anniversary Fall Festival
Where: Reston Farm Market | Reston, VA
When: September 20 – November 5
Admission: $10/weekdays, $15/weekends

Celebrate and have fun at the Fall Festival and Anniversary Event at the Reston Farm Market. Bring the family for lots of activities, including train rides, a petting zoo, face painting, and much more. Get ready to pick a pumpkin, pansies, and mums as well. Seasonal produce will be available for purchase, and food trucks will be there with concessions. On weekends, enjoy special shows 11am – 5pm and live music 2-5pm — check the Events Calendar to see what’s going on each weekend.

Wiener 500 Oktoberfest
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: September 21, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

Help celebrate Wiener 500 Oktoberfest at The Wharf! Stop by District Pier to watch some of the speediest dogs compete for prizes. All race proceeds benefit the Humane Rescue Alliance. Enjoy the music, adults can drink cold Oktoberfest beer and participate in the stein hoisting competition, and all can munch on great food and watch the races on a 17 foot jumbotron! Don’t have a Dachshund? All dogs can enter the contest for best-dressed! Plus, there will be local vendors and giveaways from DC’s best pet friendly businesses.

H Street Festival
Where: H Street NE, DC
When: September 21, 12-7pm
Admission: Free

The annual festival on northeast DC’s thriving hip corridor is always huge. If you don’t mind crowds, there is tons to see and do. The event features loads of live entertainment, including a kids stage; cool art exhibits; food trucks; crafts for sale by local vendors; fashion shows; dancin’ in the street; and children’s activities, including face painting, story telling, and moon bounces. Public transportation is recommended, as parking is always difficult.

Homecoming at Abe’s Place
Where: President Lincoln’s Cottage | Petworth, DC
When: September 21, 9am – 3pm
Admission: Free for Family Day, $35-40 for the 5k

Lincoln’s Cottage is once again combining their two popular events, the Freedom 5K and Family Day, into one full day of racing and family fun: Homecoming! During the Civil War the Lincoln family called the Cottage home. This year they welcome everyone back “home” to join in a full day of activities where you can run, walk, and play like Lincoln. Go for just the race, just Family Day activities, or stick around for both.

Swinging into the season at Ticonderoga Farm

Fall Festival 2019
Where: Ticonderoga Farm | Chantilly, VA
When: September 21 – November 3
Admission: $10.95/weekdays, $17.95/holiday and weekends

This festival at one of our favorite farms in the area has all the trappings for a great time on the farm: hayrides, swings, a couple of playgrounds, hillside slides, s’mores roasting, cornshucking demos, a petting farm, a bamboo maze, antique tractors and firetruck, a pumpkin patch, and much, much more. Some features are available weekends only, but there’s more than plenty to keep kids entertained any day of the week. For a peek at it all, see this post about their Winter Festival and this one about a school field trip there.

Pumpkin Village Fall Fest
Where: Leesburg Animal Park | Leesburg, VA
When: September 21 – November 5
Admission: $15.95-18.95/adult, $11.95-15.95/child free/2 & under
(find discount)

The animals are usually the main draw at the park, but this time of year, there are activities galore that bring visitors to enjoy some seasonal fun. Year after year, families, groups and schools spend a crisp fall day enjoying loads of great activities such as giant hill slides, hay rides, moon bounces, pedal carts, and more. It’s also a great place for a fall birthday party. Get $2 off Mon-Thurs admission after 2pm by subscribing to their email list!

Corn Maze & Fall Festival
Where: Winterbrook Farms | Thurmont, MD
When: Opens September 21 – November 3
Admission: $10

The farm in Frederick County claims the largest corn maze in Maryland, and it comes with loads of other farm fun, including slides, a pumpkin patch, animals, the moo choo train, cornhole, zip lines pedal karts, apple cannons, a tractor tire mountain, and lots more! Go on Opening Weekend and get $1 off admission.

Wayside Farm Fall Fun
Where: Berryville, VA
When: September 21 – November 3
Admission: $12, free/2 & under (find discount)

The whole family can enjoy hours of farm fun for visitors of all ages. Get lost in the corn maze, watch piggies race, pick out a pumpkin, visit farm animals and check out the goat walk, whiz down slides, romp in the play yard. Admission covers all of those activities and even more. Plan on lunch from the Feed Trough and stock up on fresh farm goods from the Food Stall.

Harvest Festival
Where: Belvedere Plantation | Fredericksburg, VA
When: September 21 – November 2
Admission: $9.95 – $16.95, depending on day/time

This heritage farm has loads to keep the whole gang entertained for hours. The Maize maze, slides, hayrides, ziplines, pumpkin patch, playground, flower picking, jumping pillow are just some of the attractions that little ones will love. New this year is the Sunflower September Spectacular, a pick-your-own sunflowers field open September 21-22, 24-26, and 27-29. Plan to eat there — the Red Rooster Grill offers a variety of grilled favorites to satisfy all appetites.

Jumbo’s Pumpkin Patch
Where: Middletown, MD
When: September 21 – October 31
Admission: Free on weekdays, $5/weekends (find discount)

Pick out a pumpkin and enjoy other fun activities for little ones at this 131-acre farm. A 15-acre corn maze, pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting, and wagon rides will delight young farm-goers. Concessions and craft shopping are part of the offerings, too. Some activities may cost extra, and not all of the activities are available during the week, so check the schedule for details.

Fall Adventures at Summers Farm
Where: Frederick, MD
When: September 21 – October 31
Admission: $10-17, depending on time/day (find discount)

With so much farm fun, there undoubtedly will be something to excite every kid. A pumpkin patch, giant jumping pillows, live entertainment, hay rides, hay slides, pig races, rubber ducks races, straw mountains, a mini obstacle course, even a campfire area if you want to “chill” out. Be sure to check the calendar for any special events going on.

Taste of Georgetown
Where: K Street, Wisconsin to Thomas Jefferson | Georgetown, DC
When: September 22, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but pay per taste

In its 26th year, the Taste of Georgetown will showcase the spectacular cuisine of more than 30 premier restaurants in the neighborhood, highlighting Georgetown’s culinary personalities and featuring delectable dishes to sample as well as wine pairings. Little foodies will enjoy the Kids’ Corner tent with coloring and face painting. Plus, there will be live entertainment. Tasting tickets can be purchased online or at the event.

Occoquan Fall Arts & Crafts Show
Where: Mill Street in Occoquan, VA
When: September 28-29
Admission: Free

Plan for a day of family fun as the streets of Occoquan come to life with beautiful art, live music and great food! For the 49th year, the historic town will close its streets and host over 300 contemporary and country crafters and artisans from across the US. Find one-of-a-kind, hand crafted items galore! Located just 20 minutes south of Washington, DC, but far from the hustle and bustle of a big city, exhibitors and shoppers alike will enjoy the small town oasis nestled along the Occoquan River.

Harvest Happenings
Where: St. Luke’s School | McLean, VA
When: September 28
Admission: $5

The McLean Community Center is once again hosting a fun and exciting day for the whole family. This indoor-outdoor festival features live entertainment, crafts, and more activities. Children can buy their own pumpkins from the pumpkin patch (with the help of a parent/guardian) to decorate at the crafts station. Food will be available for purchase.

Frederick’s Oktoberfest
Where: Great Frederick Fairgrounds, MD
When: September 27-28
Admission: $8/21+, $5/ages 4-20, free for 3 and under

The Frederick Fairgrounds are transformed into a German village where dancing, live music, children’s events, bratwurst, Oktoberfest bier, German wines, and much more will make for a fun time for all ages. Especially for kids: face painting, pumpkin decorating, scarecrow making, and musical entertainment. Note that Friday night is 21+ only.

Farm meets city at the Barrack’s Row Festival

Barracks Row Fall Festival
Where: 8th Street SE |Capitol Hill, DC
When: September 28
Admission: Free

Showcasing the marine barracks and commerce of 8th Street SE on Capitol Hill, this annual festival is fun for all ages. Enjoy tours of the historic barracks, an animal petting zoo, food and art vendors, a beer garden, and tons of fun for kids. Enjoy entertainment all day as musicians, magicians, comedic performances, aerialists, stilt-walkers, and jugglers will keep the crowd amused.

Butler’s Orchard Pumpkin Festival
Where: Germantown, MD
When: Weekends September 28 – October 27
Admission: $12, free/2 & under

Enjoy a country outing and join Butler’s in celebrating the harvest with traditional autumn activities. An area favorite, kids love jumping in the hayloft, heading out on hayrides, the tube slide, a rubber ducky derby, animal petting area, pony rides, pumpkin picking, corn maze, face painting, and much more. Some activities and food cost extra. Purchase there or bring along a picnic, but be sure to treat the kids – and yourself – to a yummy caramel apple! Note: There are also Pumpkin Harvest Days on some weekdays — see the website for more info.

Autumn Activities
Where: Larriland Farm | Woodbine, MD
When: Late September thru October
Admission: Free (fee for some activities)

Larriland is best known for their PYO fields, but in the fall, they offer a little more for farm-goers. Take a hayride out to the pumpkin patch to find a potential jack-o-lantern, then play in the Boo Barn or make your way through the straw maze. Apple fritters and food trucks are available on Saturdays and Sunday’s.

Fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: September 30 – October 31
Admission: $10-12/adult $8-10/child, free/2 & under

Great Country is known for its awesome festivals, and the Pumpkin Harvest is no exception. Thrills for little people (okay, us grown-ups, too) include P-Rex, the pumpkin eating dinosaur; Rubber Ridge, the tractor tire mountain; the Pumpkin Princess in the pumpkin patch, a giant Pumpkin’ Jumpin’ Pillow; five mazes; 60-foot slides, rope swings, tractor rides, and even more fun in the country. Find a future jack o’ lantern in the pumpkin patch, the largest u-pick patch in the area. See a weekend schedule of activities here.

Fall For Fairfax KidsFest
Where: Fairfax County Government Center, VA
When: October 5-6
Admission: Free, but rides are extra (find discounts)

This annual event by Celebrate Fairfax, Inc. includes exciting, interactive, and educational programs, lots of live entertainment, and loads of activities. Especially designed for families with elementary and pre-K aged children, activities include scarecrow making, pumpkin painting, public safety and recycling-themed exhibits, pony rides, a petting zoo, hay rides, model trains, and the KidWay MidWay with more than a dozen rides, bounces, and attractions. And that’s just for the kids. Adults can enjoy more than 75 exhibits, live entertainment, activities, and great festival food. While admission is free, some rides and concessions will require a fee.

Autumn Harvest
Where: Schlagel Farm | Waldorf, MD
When: Weekends, October 5-27
Admission: $9/ages 2+

The farm known for it’s strawberry picking in spring also welcomes guests to pick out pumpkins in the fall. Hayrides, farm animals to visit, and small slides, and a straw maze give kids a little extra fun, too.

Taste of Bethesda
Where: Woodmont Triangle | Bethesda, MD
When: October 5, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but pay for samples

According to some stats, Bethesda has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the U.S. Accurate or not, DC’s suburban neighbor definitely has a food scene worth celebrating. The 29th year of Bethesda’s famous food and music festival will bring 60 restaurants and five stages of entertainment to the downtown’s Woodmont Triangle. Along with delicious food samples and live entertainment, there will be a kid’s corner for face painting, arts & crafts, and more fun for young ones. Admission is free, and taste tickets are sold on-site.

PorchFest
Where: Adams Morgan, DC
When: October 5
Admission: Free

Get the best seats in the house (or on the sidewalk) as the front porches of homes and maybe a few local businesses are transformed into intimate performance spaces to be enjoyed by anyone who happens to stroll by. Enjoy a variety of music styles from over 30 bands playing on porches, patios, and stoops in the neighborhood. Music maps are usually available at the corner of 18th Street and Columbia Road NW on Porchfest Day.

Art on the Avenue
Where: Del Ray Neighborhood | Alexandria, VA
When: October 5, 10am – 6pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the diversity of Alexandria’s Del Ray community at this multicultural arts festival. Over 300 artists – jewelers, woodworkers, pottery makers, soap crafters, glass makers, painters, sculptors, fabric artists, and musicians – will have their work on display and for sale. And kids activities have always been a vital part of the festival – scarecrow stuffing, pumpkin painting, lotus flower design, screen art weaving are just some of the crafts to enjoy. Food vendors will also be there offering hot dogs, BBQ, Indian fare, crab cakes, chocolate bananas dipped on a stick, and home made cider donuts.

College Park Day
Where: College Park Aviation Museum | College Park, MD
When: October 5, 12-6pm
Admission: Free

Join friends, neighbors, and the entire City of College Park community at the 10th Annual College Park Day Festival. This FREE event is fun for the whole family with live music and bands, awesome kids zones, delicious food and drink, live performances and performers, helicopter fly-ins, exhibitors, and so much more. Plus free museum entry during the event!

Harbor Harvest Fall Children’s Festival 
Where: Waterfront | Baltimore, MD
When: October 6, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free (fee for some activities)

Waterfront Partnership’s 12th annual Harbor Harvest Fall Children’s Festival will once again transform Rash Field into a fall wonderland with its family-friendly Inner Harbor tradition! The event is free to attend and will feature an urban pumpkin patch, petting zoo, kids play/hay maze, professional pumpkin carving competition, bubble fairies, face painting, pumpkin decorating, pony rides, train rides, and live music from interactive children’s bands Rocknocerus and The Uncle Devin Show. Guests can also enjoy a variety of food trucks while taking in the scenic backdrop of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. 

Homestead Farm Fall Festival
Where: Poolesville, MD
When: October – exact dates TBD
Admission: Free, but there are fees for some activities

While Homestead doesn’t have an official festival, the farm embraces the spirit of autumn every year. Tractor rides out to the pumpkin patches, apple picking, hot cider, farm animals, and scarecrows make it a great place to spend a few hours enjoying the season with the family. And the good thing about the lack of a festival, admission is free! You still pay for pumpkins and cider – and their can’t-miss caramel apples.

Bethesda Row Arts Festival
Where: Downtown Bethesda, MD
When: Saturday, 11am – 6pm & Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free

All ages are welcome to join one of the region’s most exciting and esteemed outdoor festivals. Overnight, Bethesda Row’s Shopping and Entertainment District will be transformed into an outdoor art gallery, featuring more than 200 juried fine arts and crafts from artists around the nation. “Art Fair Sourcebook” and “Sunshine Artists” have recognized the event as one the most important in the country, and over 45,000 attendees agree! Especially for kids will be a spin-art tent to create their own art. And new for 2019: STartER GALLERY — a separate cluster of tents located on Bethesda Lane, featuring local and emerging artists showcasing their works to first-time and novice art collectors. 

Marker-Miller Orchards Festivals
Where: Winchester, VA
When: October 12-13 & 26, November 9
Admission: Free

There’s a variety of fun to be had throughout the season with a couple of different festivals taking place. The Apple Harvest Festival is October 12-13, offering a weekend of, well, everything apples: 20 varieties of apples, apple cobbler, apple caramel sundaes, plus the wagon rides and cow train for kids. October 26 is their annual Pumpkin Festival, when you can find your own Great Pumpkin and enjoy all the usual festivities at the orchard. And their Bakery Festival, when you can sample bakes goods, is November 9.

Taste of DC
Where: Audi Field | Southwest DC
When: October 26-27
Admission: Start at $10

Celebrate the food, wine, and culture of our city in a new, cool location! Along with the obvious — tastings from numerous area restaurants — there will be cooking demos, live entertainment, a beer garden, and an area with activities especially for kids.

The Emporiyum
Where: Union Market Dock 5 | Northeast, DC
When: November 8-10
Admission: Tickets start at $15 (find discounts)

Meet, eat, and shop at this two-day market and celebration of everything delicious. Over 95 artisans, producers, chefs, and restaurants showcase their wares, works, and culinary creations. It’s a chance to meet the people behind the brands, taste and learn about their products, and shop for unique edible gifts.

Have a favorite festival you don’t see listed here? Let us know about it in the comments!


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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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