Tag Archives: Best Activities with Kids in DC

A Very DC Hike at Theodore Roosevelt Island

Every now and then I have a realization that over all the years I’ve been publishing KFDC, I haven’t done a write-up about a place that we’ve been frequenting forever and is definitely deserving of its own post. This time it’s Theodore Roosevelt Island, a national park located on an actual 90-acre island in the Potomac River.

A recent visit with Sash

And one years ago with the fam

Roosevelt Island has been among our regular rotation of go-to spots for hiking and getting a nice, easy dose of nature in DC (despite accessing it from across the river, the island is part of the District) since before Levi and I even had kids. But with Owen and Sasha, especially when they were little, we’ve appreciated it even more. The park is ideal for family hikes with short, mellow trails; lots of great nature, wildlife sitings, even airplanes flying overhead; and a little history lesson, to boot, with a lovely memorial in the middle of it all dedicated to the president for which it’s named.

Teddy and little Owen on the Plaza

Younger Sash strikes a pose there

And fives years later

This is why I call it a very “DC” hike. The park’s Memorial Plaza is like a little annex to all of the other memorials on the National Mall.  However, instead of the expanse of green grass or Tidal Basin to make it stand out grandly, woods and wetlands fittingly surround the stately granite and bronze tribute to Teddy Roosevelt, an early steward for conservation and the environment.

Trying to do some turtle spotting

From the parking lot, there is a long bridge to cross to get to the main part of park. We always stop on it to take in views of Georgetown in the distance and look for turtles in the water below. Once on the other side, three trails offer different hiking experiences. The short .3-mile Woods Trail leads through and right around the memorial on gravel and paved grounds. The .75-mile Upland Trail loops through the woods along the whole length of the island. And the 1.5-mile Swamp Trail includes both a dirt path that winds through woods and a boardwalk running over a swampy area lined by cattail, trees, and wild grass.

Kickin’ it on the Swamp Trail

When the kids were small, we’d pick one, but now we often do a combination of all three trails, starting at the plaza, then walking through the woods and on the boardwalk, before hopping on another path leading to the water and taking us around the island. Whatever you choose, you’re in for a nice hike.

Little Sash on the Upland Trail

On a recent visit with Sasha, we covered the whole island, enjoying its winter beauty. We loved seeing the leafless trees, the mess of branches and wild intertwining limbs. (Side note: Did anyone read The Overstory? While I found it kind of long and tedious, I appreciated the concept of communication among trees and always think about it when I’m among them.) But Roosevelt Island is great the rest of the year, too, with budding trees and views of the cherry blossoms in spring, lush green and lots of shade in summer, and colorful foliage during autumn.

Bare branches during winter

There are no tables for picnicking, but the Memorial Plaza has seating, and there are a few benches along the Swamp Trail where you could stop and snack. Another nice spot is a cluster of large rocks at the west end of the island. And there are restrooms down the Woods Trail shortly before it meets the Swamp Trail.

Hanging out in the shade during summer

The one negative of the park may be the parking situation. The lot is small, and fills up quickly, especially on a nice weekend day. There have been several times we’ve planned to go and have encountered a line of cars to get in. In those cases, we’ve headed to Turkey Run Park further down the GW Parkway in McLean or Potomac Overlook Park in Arlington. You can avoid parking altogether by riding bikes there instead — it’s right off the Mount Vernon Trail, and there are bike racks right at the entrance (biking is not permitted in the park). You can also Metro to Rosslyn then walk 10-15 minutes from there.

Theodore Roosevelt Island
Where: Potomac River | Washington, DC
Access: From the GW Parkway just before Spout Run
When: Daily year-round, 6am – 10pm
Admission: Free

Want even more suggestions for great local hikes with kids? This post has a bunch of them! And here are a few more pics from some visits over the years…

Welcome to the island…


Happy about her first visit to TRI


Leading the way on the trail


A little pop of color


View from a small beach





Filed under 2020, All ages, DC, Educational, Free, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Weekdays, Weekend

A Monumental Reopening on the National Mall

I think my cheesy title of this post says it all: The Washington Monument is reopening after being closed more than three years for renovations and repairs. Along with a new security screening facility, updates to the elevator system have been made as well.

On September 19, 2019, at 9am, the Washington Monument will once again welcome visitors. From opening day to October 18, same-day, free tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 8:30am at the Washington Monument Lodge, located on 15th Street NW, between Madison Drive NW and Jefferson Drive SW.

Starting on October 10 at 10am, advance reservation tickets may be ordered online for tour dates beginning on October 19, 2019 with a nominal processing fee. Same-day, free tickets will also be available on a first-come, first-served basis daily.

At 555 feet, the Washington Monument is the tallest structure in the District. Construction of the memorial to President George Washington began in 1848, but was suspended in 1854 due to lack of funds and the Civil War. It resumed in 1877, and you can actually see where it began again as the stone changes color about a third of the way up. The obelisk was completed in 1884 and started welcoming the public in 1888.

A visit there is really interesting and offers more than great views of the city. You ride an elevator up to the top (and back down), where you can take in vistas in every direction from small windows. Along the way, you can see the interior walls of the Monument and the many commemorative stones from states and cities embedded in them. There’s also a room just a few steps down from the windows at the top with a variety of exhibits about the Monument. Watch a video of what to expect here.

The Washington Monument will be open daily from 9am to 5pm. Admission is free, though tickets are required, and there will be a small fee for tickets reserved online in advance.

Put it on your DC Must Do list!

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Filed under 2019, All ages, DC, Educational, Free, Weekdays, Weekend

Immerse in Art & Technology at XYZT: Abstract Landscapes, the Debut Exhibit from ARTECHOUSE


Recent record-breaking crowds and long, snaking lines at museums have shown just how much we love experiencing new evocative and innovative exhibits here in DC. So, I’m about to fill you in on one that, in my opinion, is a must to experience this summer: XYZT: Abstract Landscapes. And let me stress “experience,” because this is one that you don’t just look at, but interact with, and even immerse in, too.


The exhibit is the first for ARTECHOUSE, a new destination for art, music, film, theater, and technology opening today, June 1, in Southwest DC. The 15,000-square-foot gallery is the District’s first innovative digital art center dedicated to showcasing experiential and immersive large scale installations by artists who are forerunners of the new age in arts and technology.


And ARETCHOUSE is launching in an extraordinary way. XYZT: Abstract Landscapes is an immersive sensory art exhibition created by leading contemporary digital artists and multimedia choreographers Adrien Mondot and Claire Bardainne. Composed of 10 interactive and immersive digital installations, the exhibit is a virtual playground of technology and light. Images are projected onto walls, the floors, on screen, in aquariums, and all of them can be manipulated with the touch of a hand or foot, movement, or sound.


It’s at once beautiful, playful, and dazzling — and enlightening! Each installation is accompanied by a console with headphones and a small screen that describe and depict the technology and processes at work.



A testament to how much I love XYZT: It’s only been open a day, and I’ve already been twice — for a media preview, and back today to experience it again with a friend. And even though I’ve only been sans kids, mine will definitely join next time for the very kid friendly exhibit. They can watch a letter tree grow and see its alphabet leaves blow in the wind. A clap of the hands turns letters into flying insects. A cloud of light will follow their movements. Making light move with the touch of a finger or the tap of a foot will make them feel like they have superpowers.



However, there are a few things to note as you plan to bring your kids. XYZT is recommended for ages 6 and up. Children younger than that are welcome, but parents should be aware that very little ones and kids with sensory issues might find some of the installations overwhelming and possibly a little creepy. And, of course, accompanying adults are expected to stay with small children at all times.

For the most part, though, visitors big and little are in for a treat! If this is how ARTECHOUSE is making their debut, I’m excited to see what else they have in store. Though XYZT is so cool, I can wait for it patiently.

XYZT: Abstract Landscapes runs at ARTECHOUSE through September 3, 2017. It’s open daily and hours are 10am – 4pm for ages 6 (recommended) and up, and 5:30-9:30pm for ages 21 and up only with valid ID — there is a bar where cocktails are can be purchased. Admission is $15/adult, $10/child, student, and senior during the day, and $25 in the evenings. Timed entry tickets can be purchased online, and you can also buy tickets there, but there’s a good chance they’ll start selling out as word spreads about the exhibit. ARTECHOUSE is located at 1238 Maryland Ave. SW, next to the Mandarin Oriental.

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Filed under 2017, All ages, Art, Date Night, DC, Exhibit, Seasonal, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend