Tag Archives: Capitol Riverfront

Glow Time: Giant Bunnies Will Light up The Yards Park

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The Yards Park is becoming known for its eccentric presentations of public art and experiences (think Laser Cat and Tour de Fat), and they’re doing it again over the next couple of weeks, through March 6, with an installation melding light, sculpture, and music.

Light Yards started this past Saturday with an evening event featuring large sculptures constructed of industrial steel with illuminated white cubes and a large-scale projection mapping visual display set to the beat of a live DJ set. It was great timing with the warmer weather, so we checked it out with friends after having dinner nearby.

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Two large-scale installations flashed with color and pictures as techno music blared in the background. The kids donned glow necklaces as they danced and played with a giant Lite-Brite, kind of like a low-key, kid-friendly rave.

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The Yards Park will be hopping again this weekend as giant luminescent bunnies created by artist Amanda Parer join the art mix on Saturday. And they’re kicking off their US tour with an event especially for families from 3-6pm. Kids and adults can delight in the sight of the enormous glowing bunnies, while enjoying children’s activities, including the giant Lite-Brite, bunny crafts, balloon artists, face painters, glitter tattoos, and a DJ.

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That evening from 6-10pm, The Yards will again meld music and art with a performance by electric violinist DJ Manifesto. Food and beverage will be available for purchase at both featured events, plus there are many family-friendly eateries in the area if you want to make an afternoon and evening of it.

The installation will be lit every evening from 7-10pm during its run through March 6. (Update: Due to the potential for winds and for security reasons, the bunnies will be up and lit only on the weekends of February 27-28 and March 4-6.) Both the family-friendly and evening events will take place on Saturday, February 27. Admission is free.


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Filed under All ages, Art, DC, Exhibit, Free, Music, Outdoor, Park, Weekend, Winter

Paddling the Anacostia from Ballpark Boathouse

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There have been some pretty sublime spring days lately, so we’ve been taking advantage and spending a lot of time outdoors. (And I have a spectacular farmer’s tan to show for it!) Recently, on an especially glorious day, we rented kayaks with friends at Ballpark Boathouse, located right next to Yards Park, for a paddling jaunt along the Anacostia River — a fun, active, and relaxing venture all in one outing.

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Single and double kayaks and canoes are available for rent, and we were actually able to add a third seat in the double kayaks, since the kids were small enough. After filling out waivers and donning life jackets, we hopped in our vessels and set out on the river along the Capitol Riverfront.

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This paddling excursion was more about the views from the water than the nature around it, since the area is very developed (unlike rowing from Fletcher’s). We got to get fresh perspectives of Nationals Park, Yards Park, and the Navy Yard, places we usually just see on land. And one of the coolest parts was paddling up close to the USS Barry, the display ship moored at the Navy Yard.

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Rental rates are $20 per hour and pro-rated in 10-minute increments beyond that. You pay upon return, so there’s no limit to how much time you spend on the water. Really small kids need to be in a boat with parents, but older children can paddle on their own (8-year-old Owen and his friend could have had their own kayak, but opted to go with adults this time). I recommend bringing a hat, water, and snacks along. A small plastic bag for your phone is a good idea, too — water will splash in the boat from the paddles. And don’t forget the sunscreen!

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When we got back, we enjoyed snacks at a picnic table set up on the boardwalk by the river, then made our way over to Yards Park to continue savoring the beautiful day — and do a little kayak-watching from there.

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Ballpark Boatyard is located on the Anacostia River between Yards Park and Nationals Park. We rode bikes there via the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, but there is parking nearby both on the street and in a couple of lots.


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Filed under All ages, DC, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Sports, Spring, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend

Review: The Yards Park

Fountain play at The Yards Park

We have been waiting for a place like The Yards Park for a long time. The waterfront expanse along the Anacostia in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood is one of the best additions to the area in a long time. Not only is it aesthetically glorious, but it also has turned a once-unused space into an urban oasis of recreation and relaxation for the public.

At the edge of the park is the Lumber Shed, which is temporarily being used as a covered pavilion. It’s a historic building that was once used by the Navy, but renovations will eventually transform it into a retail/dining location with glass walls to capitalize on the sweeping river views. During last weekend’s grand opening festival it housed art exhibits and food vendors, and even in its non-renovated state, was a nice place to escape the hot sun but still enjoy the outdoors. (2017 Update: There’s even more to enjoy now, as The Yards has developed quite a bit since this was originally posted — more eateries, kayaks for rent during the warm seasons, a fantastic summer concert series, and lots of fun events hosted there.)

The elements surrounding the pavilion are even better. A few open green spaces will make for excellent areas to spread out a blanket for picnics and room for kids to run and play. If you want to enjoy a meal above ground, there are plenty of tables along the water in the Overlook area. A canopy of metal beams creates a stunning overhead art display, and plans to stretch canvas across them for shade is also intended to evoke a recollection of sails on the water.

Below that, the Boardwalk runs a quarter-mile along the river and connects to Navy Yard Riverwalk Trail. During the festival, bands played there to an audience sitting on a tiered grassy area facing the river—a lovely place to see live entertainment.

One route to all of this is via The Pedestrian Bridge, a fantastic sculptural element of the park with large concrete rings circling the bridge and beams running above it. Just behind it on the Boardwalk, a light tower is illuminated at night, a sight that I have yet to see, but have no doubt is beautiful.

Finally, I’ll get to the best part of the park — the water features. The Canal Basin and Waterfall are magnificent, especially for kids. On the upper level, the in-ground fountain sprays water in rows and invites folks to come play. On festival day, it was all squeals and giggles as kids ran through the sprays and soaked in the water. Of course, adults are welcome to get wet, too, though if you just want to cool your heels, there are areas where the water is a nice, gentle trickle.

And it doesn’t stop there. On the level below is a waterfall gushing into shallow pool, where guests are free to wade and play. Take the kids on the path behind the waterfall—they will be mesmerized by the liquid wall they can skim their fingers along.

In case it’s not already apparent, here’s the gist of my review: I love the place. Go check it out–I have a feeling you’ll be on the same page.

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Filed under All ages, Art, DC, Outdoor, Park