Category Archives: Ongoing

Anchors Aweigh, Kids, at Baltimore’s Port Discovery

[Note: This post was written by KFDC contributor Emily Moise, who visited Port Discovery with her family, including her 3-year-old daughter and baby son. In all the years our family visited the children’s museum in Baltimore, I never did a proper write-up, and my kids have aged out of a lot of it. But as Port Discovery recently underwent a major renovation, the timing is great for one now.]

As we await the *almost open* children’s museum here in Washington, DC, a half-day trip up to Baltimore’s Port Discovery will certainly tide you over. The Inner Harbor, and its historic seaport, provides the perfect metaphorical backdrop for this children’s museum that has, without exaggeration, something for every child, with every interest, to embark on.

Open since 1998, the museum completed a $10.5 million renovation in 2019, notably with the floor-to-ceiling “SkyClimber” and twisting slide, as well as a life-size ship facade where kids can play captain and load “cargo” on the third-story overlook. The museum has the latest and greatest in hands-on, creative play — though, like all children’s museums, things become “well-loved” so some of the 10+ exhibit spaces aren’t as brand-sparkling new as others.

If you have a preschooler in tow, your first stop will likely be at the “Store & Fill’er Up Station” which is one of the most authentic fake food shopping set-ups I’ve experienced. It’s a convenience store modeled after sponsor Royal Farms, allowing kids to fill up a grocery tote, get a pretend fountain soda, put gas in the car, and “drive.” A few levels up, “Tiny’s Diner” offers even more for the play food lovers with a large space conducive to collaborative play and parent engagement.

Perhaps the most unique exhibit space is “Wonders of Water” where my daughter’s love of squeegeeing grew exponentially with the addition of spray bottles and free-range windows. Also found here are STEM-infused water tables, a giant bubble hoop, and a musical water play (and spray) area. The most thoughtful touches are the amenities: raincoats, crocs, and a drying station for all sizes.

For those with younger toddler-age children, you won’t want to miss “Tot Trails” which is limited to children three and under. This exhibit space is set up with simple yet stimulating activities for all levels—sitters, crawlers, climbers, and walkers. Like most of the museum, STEM and arts are intertwined in a rudimentary, unintimidating way. For example, here you’ll find a classic wind tube with leaves for little ones to insert and catch with a butterfly net.

Lastly, “The Oasis” provided a much-needed wind down from the stimulation. It’s a children’s library-esque space stocked with books, cozy nooks, and exploratory play stations. By chance, we walked in just as story time was about to start—on this Martin Luther King Jr. weekend day, themes of community and connection were shared throughout the three books read. This was the perfect ending to our visit, leading to an instantaneous car nap for both of my children.

From the archives: Tiny Sasha serves up big sandwiches at Tiny’s Diner



Port Discovery is located at 35 Market Place on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. General admission to the museum is $17.95 for visitors ages 1+. If you think your family will go at least couple of times in a year, consider a membership starting at $140.

KFDC Tips:
* There are lockers to store your items (for free) in “The Pier” eating area — use them! The museum is three levels of non-stop movement, particularly for a first-time visitor trying to see and do everything.
* The Pier is also where you can take a snack or lunch break. Bring your own food or carry out from one of the neighboring establishments.
* There are many, many exhibits — more than mentioned here, including a bunch for grade school ages — so be ready for a long day (or plan on more visits!)
* Port Discovery hosts lots of special events and themed weekends — check the calendar for any you might want to experience.
* You could make it a longer trip to Baltimore, overnight or even weekend, and also visit the Maryland Science Center, American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore Museum of Industry, or tour the historic ships docked at the Inner Harbor.


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Filed under All ages, Educational, Exhibit, Indoor Play, Maryland, Museums, Ongoing, Play, Weekdays, Weekend

Super, Awesome, & Amazing Fun at The St. James

Conquering the climbs in the Super, Awesome, & Amazing active entertainment center


If you’re on social media at all, by now you’ve likely seen some kind of advertisement for The St. James. I know they’ve been popping up in my feeds since the sports, wellness, and entertainment facility opened in Springfield, VA, last fall. At that time I thought it was just a huge health and fitness center that would be a nice gym option for people who lived nearby it. Had I realized it was an enormous complex with an active entertainment center, indoor waterpark, sports opportunities galore, even a spa, we definitely would have checked it out awhile ago. But it wasn’t until recently that I became aware of all it had to offer, though once I did, I made a plan to go.

Ready for fun!

On a day off from school back in March, I took Sasha and a few friends for a first visit. It was still winter, during a stretch of cold and rainy weather, and from everything I’d read about the Super, Awesome, & Amazing activity center and interactive waterpark, it seemed like a perfect place to take the fun, adventurous crew of girls.

So many options…

Our first glimpse of the The St. James as we arrived was one of awe. I knew it would be big, but didn’t know just how massive. Once we were inside and started to see more of it, we understood why. After being greeted by the front desk and getting directions to our destination, we made our way there, passing by a humongous gymnasium with at least three full-size basketball courts and a full-scale indoor soccer pitch. (These are only open to members and participants of sports leagues and camps. Later on, we also saw squash courts, Olympic sized swimming pools, batting cages, and an ice rink… they cover the sporting gamut.)

A peek at the hoops

A view from above of the active entertainment

But back to the Super, Awesome, & Amazing activity center. When we got to that area, the girls took one look at the 30,000 square foot space below filled with all kinds of climbing structures, trampolines, and obstacle courses, and could barely contain their excitement. We registered for a one-hour session and bought the special socks they were required wear, then headed downstairs to get the fun started.

Taking the high road

American Ninja Warrior training

Bouncing blurs

They donned harnesses and clipped onto wires to climb, rappel, and navigate walkways 20 feet above the ground. They bounced, flipped, and executed acrobatic moves. They swung from bars and on large platforms and crawled in tunnels to maneuver through obstacle courses. Essentially, they had a blast conquering the different elements around the space and enjoying some active fun. We might have overstayed our session a bit, but no one said anything about it.

Scaling the glass wall

Tunnels and more mazes to navigate

All of that activity worked up appetites, so we headed to Vim & Victor, the restaurant/cafe (yes, there’s one in the complex) for some fuel. You can sit down for table service, or opt for something quick from a cafe line and take it to eat at a high top table or comfy seating area.

Grab an easy bite at the cafe

After lunch we made our way to the aquatics area, where there is a whole interactive waterpark that the public is welcome to enjoy. (There are a couple of pools in that area, too, but for members only.) The waterpark isn’t huge, but it’s pretty impressive for the contained space with plenty of features for a really fun time.

Ready to make a splash!

They loved the slides

There are several slides some with tunnels, a big bucket that dumps water, sprays and splash elements all around, and “bridges” to access the different areas, and of course shallow pools that the slides lead into. There’s a locker room right outside, where the kids were able to change, and the St. James provides towels, which is convenient.

Emerging after a spin in the tunnel

Lots of prays and splash features

Benches are right outside the glass doors and walls of the waterpark, so parents can sit and watch (or read a book or bring a laptop and get some work done — the WiFi works well). Of course, adults can enjoy the water fun, too. Oh, a quick mention about ages… we saw kids from toddler age to early teens enjoying both the waterpark and active area. Obviously, the little ones need to be supervised at all times, but there are features that they can enjoy, too. There are height restrictions for a few climbing structures and the tunnel slides in the waterpark, but children of all ages are welcome.

Always a good rule



Needless to say, it was a pretty great day off from school for Sasha and her friends. Because the cost can add up, this isn’t something we’ll make a frequent thing, but it’s definitely an outing to keep in mind for special splurges. And speaking of cost, admission to the active entertainment area and waterpark are $15/hour each (so $30 total) Monday – Thursday before 3pm. After 3pm and on Friday & Saturday, they are $23/hour. Certifikid currently has a deal on passes for $13-17. KFDC Tip: I saw that The St. James is offering a Free Day Pass right now, good for a one-time visit, Mondays-Fridays, from 9am -9pm through May 31, 2019, and it gets you access to a lot of different areas.

VR games are also available (though not included with admission)

Of course, you could also consider membership options to The St. James. A friend of mine had signed her son up for a hockey league there and ended up getting a membership, so her family could use the facilities while he was at practices. She’s had all good things to say so far, which isn’t surprising. It’s a pretty incredible place.

Spa! Something for next time… 🙂

The St. James is located at 6805 Industrial Road in Springfield, VA. Hours for the Active Entertainment Center and Interactive Waterpark are 9am – 9pm Monday – Thursday and 9am – 10pm Friday & Saturday.


This post is NOT sponsored, nor was I invited by The St. James to visit. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.


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Filed under All ages, DC, Indoor Play, Ongoing, Sports, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: November 13-17

Showing off works from an Open Studio session at the National Portrait Gallery



Monday – Let the kids burn some energy at Dynamite Gymnastics Center in Rockville, MD. Tumbling mats, a foam pit, floor beams, trampolines, and more equipment will keep them active during Open Gym time. Sessions take place 12-12:50pm and 2-2:50pm. Admission is $8/child, $12/participating adults.

Tuesday – Celebrate Native American Heritage Month with a Story & Discovery session at the National Museum of the American Indian. On Tuesdays (and Saturdays) through November, hear a reading of the book “Hungry Johnny” by Cheryl Minnema at 11:15am in the imagiNATIONS activity center. Go early or stay after to explore the children’s area even more, and plan on lunch or a snack at the Mitsitam Cafe, where they serve indigenous cuisines of the Americas that are interesting and tasty. Museum hours are 10am – 5:30pm, and admission is free.

Wednesday – Enjoy Theatre for the Very Young at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, where The Apple Tree is running from November 15-19. Tickets are still available for the 10am show (as well as other days) and cost $12. Plan to have lunch at one of the many nearby eateries after the performance.

Thursday – Get a dose of nature in an unexpected place at Winkler Botanical Preserve. Located just off 395 and Seminary Road in Alexandria, VA, the park is a lovely outdoor surprise amid a bustling suburban area. Hours are 8:30am – 4pm, and admission is free.

Friday – Head to the National Portrait Gallery for some creative fun. Take little ones to play in the Explore! activity space designed for children 18 months to 8 years. And all ages can join the Open Studio Friday session in the Education Center, where guests are welcome to drop in anytime from 1-6pm and explore a different art medium with all kinds of neat projects. Of course, make time to tour the collections (in the American Art Museum section, too!) and hang out in the beautiful Kogod Courtyard. Museum hours are 11:30am – 7pm. Admission is free. Read more about the Penn Quarter venue in this KFDC post.

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Filed under 2017, All ages, Art, DC, Fall, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays

Kick It with the Kids Playing FootGolf at East Potomac Park



Our family tends to like adventures that include a little challenge. If there’s a chance to push ourselves physically, compete in a game, learn a new skill, or test our minds in some way, we are more than likely up for it (unless it involves jumping out of an airplane or something crazy daredevilish… that I would not do, though the rest of my crew probably would :-/ ).

So, when I first heard about FootGolf at East Potomac Park from a dad in the neighborhood (thanks, Subrat!), I was intrigued. It sounded right up our alley. We already dig games that are like golf but are not golf. Both kids play soccer, so it’s like a new twist on a sport they enjoy. And even though it takes place at a location we’ve frequented plenty over the years, we had no idea it was there…or even a thing, for that matter. That factor alone piqued my curiosity.

It took a few months to get there, but we finally gave FootGolf a whirl during the last week of summer break. Just like regular golf, you can reserve a tee time in advance, but we just headed over there and took the first slot available about 25 minutes later. While we waited to hit the White Course, which is set up for FootGolf as well as regular golf, we went over the “goals” of the game. Basically, it’s just like golf, but instead of using golf clubs to drive a golf ball down a course and into a small hole, you kick a soccer ball and aim for a 21″ hole. And the “tee” in FootGolf is about a five-foot space between two orange markers in the grass.

The game description at East Potomac says it’s for ages 10 and up, but Sasha is only 8 and played along just fine. Like regular golf, you start with a long drive or big boot to get the ball far down the course, then keep kicking toward the hole as needed. Usually a couple of hard kicks are required, then lighter ones with more precise aim as you approach the hole. A scorecard is provided to keep track of everyone’s kicks if you’re all feeling competitive. You can go fast and run as much as possible to get in some extra exercise or just relax, take your time, and enjoy the views and company as you complete the course. East Potomac Park is the only place is the District with FootGolf (and one of five in the DC-Metro area), and the Washington Monument looms in the background as you make your way through the 18 holes.



East Potomac Park FootGolf is located at 972 Ohio Drive SW near Hains Point. Tee times are available anytime Monday – Thursday that golf is open, and after 2pm Friday – Sunday. Rates are $15/adult & Monday – Thursday, $18/adult Friday – Sunday, $8/age 10-18. You can BYO soccer ball or rent one for $3.50. There must be at least four people in a party to book. And plan to reward yourselves after with a bite at the Potomac Grille.

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Filed under DC, Gradeschoolers, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Sports, Teens, Tweens, Weekdays, Weekend