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Party On, Kids: Ideas for Birthday Celebrations Around DC

A very happy birthday boy at his Escape Lounge celebration

A very happy birthday boy at his Escape Lounge celebration



I may have slacked on the annual birthday party post for a few years, but this one, hopefully, will make up for it. It’s full of ideas for hosting children’s celebrations around the area, with recommendations for varying ages, interests, and budgets. And though I’ve changed my tune a bit about having parties at home (more on that below) since I first started these posts, I do still love finding great places to throw a good kids bash, and this round-up of party places reflects that. Happy planning!

A Great Escape
Owen turned the big 1-0 this year, and we wanted to celebrate the milestone with something unique, befitting a newly-minted adventurous tween and his crew of like-minded friends. A Clue Party Package at The Escape Lounge was the key to an excellent birthday bash. The H Street NE venue offers interactive escape experiences, where guests solve a series of clues to make their way out of a locked room. Owen and his friends had a blast mastering the Escape the Classroom option, plus enjoyed loads of other fun activities — a craft project, karaoke, goofy dress-up, and dancing — in a cool party room that was set up nicely and stocked with everything we needed upon our arrival. They even took care of ordering the pizza and supplying drinks, all we had to do was bring a cake. It was as easy to execute as it was enjoyable. Read more about it and see photos here. The deets: The Clue Party Package for kids is $475 and includes pizza, treats, drinks, and all party supplies for 12 kids and three adults. A wide age range could enjoy it — they say ages 6 and up.

Play & Party
Finding good party places for the littlest people can be challenging when it comes to celebrations in the District, since there just don’t seem to be a lot of venues that cater to small kids with age-appropriate activities and child-friendly environs. This makes Gymboree DC a rare gem here. The space full of soft mats and play structures is perfect for tiny revelers (and older children can enjoy them, too). Plus, parties have cute themes and are led by a teacher. You get an hour of exclusive use of play facilities, then party time in a separate room. Set up, clean up, and goody bags are all taken care of, to boot. The deets: Cost of a 1.5-hour party is $375, a two-hour party is $400. And right now there is a special spring offer for 20% off parties through June!

Parties with Natitude
If your kid is a Nats fan, then this party is sure to be a hit. An all-inclusive birthday party package at Nationals Park is full of pregame and game time fun. Parties begin an hour before the first pitch and include an indoor party space, games for guests, pizza & cupcakes, a mascot visit & photo ops, party favors, and a gift for the honoree. From there, the party moves to the Mezzanine Level, where you have a good view of the game as well as a personalized birthday scoreboard message and a video clip of the party featuring the birthday kid. (I seriously think I may start start celebrating my kids’ half-birthdays to get in on this one!) The deets: Cost is $30/party-goer, and chaperone tickets are available in the same seating section for $20. A minimum of 20 guests is required (excluding chaperones), and parties should be booked at least two weeks in advance. This could make for a good shared party to meet minimum guest requirement and curb costs.

Bouncy Birthdays
Sport Bounce of Loudoun has been voted “Best Place to Have a Birthday Party” by Loudoun and Fairfax parents. With giant inflatables to play upon, the exclusive “Big Red Chair Photo,” massive jumping pillow, and more, ages 2-10 can celebrate here, though I’d say it’s best for the younger end of that. The venue is not open to the public during parties, so your time on the equipment is just for your group. You also have access to your very own party room the entire time as well as a dedicated party assistant throughout the celebration. And Sport Bounce makes it easy from the start — they provide invitations and will even mail them for you. On top of all that, the birthday child gets a free Open Bounce pass plus a buddy bounce pass to return for even more fun. The deets: Parties for up to 16 children cost $325 on Saturday & Sunday, $275 Monday – Friday, and two pizzas are included in the weekday rate. Additional guests are $10 each. Parties are 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Tea Time
Pinky’s out! If you want to keep the party small but special, this is one to consider. Starting May 1, the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City will offer a “Petite Socialite” Afternoon High Tea experience certain to add extra sparkle to any birthday. Created to delight young social-etts, the package includes a private Afternoon Tea reservation for four in the hotels’ fyve Restaurant, edible glitter dipped fruit, delicate French macaroons, assorted miniature cupcakes, sparkling cider served in a champagne flute, a $20 Simon Gift Card and tiara for each guest, and complimentary parking. A pre- fixe lunch menu and overnight stay accommodations are also available for an additional rate. The deets: The package starts at $65 per guest under 12 and $75 per guest over age 12. And “Petite Socialite” can be accommodated to celebrate any occasion and is offered to guests of all ages.

A Super Fly Time
Give your child and guests their Superman moments at iFLY Loudoun. The brand new facility in Ashburn, VA, offers simulated skydiving experiences for ages 3 to 103. Flights take place in a vertical wind tunnel indoors and are as safe as they are thrilling. This is not a cheap venture, so parties here are probably best for a small group or for those who are happy to splurge. Packages include a party coordinator for your event, a flight training class, all the necessary gear, hands-on instruction with each flyer, and a video of the flight session. Extras include a party room, catering, and a few more services. You could also consider just taking a crew for flight sessions (sans party package) and having the celebration part elsewhere. For more about iFLY and photos of the experience, see this KFDC post. The deets: Party packages for up to 12 people start at $659.95. This includes two flights each, plus twelve video clips of the session.

Aviation Celebration
If you’re into the flight theme, but not necessarily actually flying, consider a party at the College Park Aviation Museum. Kids ages 3 -12 can celebrate at the cool space full of old airplanes and other exhibits showcasing the history of flight located next to the oldest continuously operating airport in the world. A few party packages are available, all of them including museum exploration, an aviation-themed craft, a private party room, decor and party favor bags. A couple of them offer a flight simulator, too, so kids can get somewhat of a feel for flying without their feet leaving the ground. The deets: The Junior Aviator Party is $350/non-member, $300/members; the Signal Corp Party is $375/non-members, $325/members for 10/children, 12/adults ($15 per additional child) and both include the flight simulator, cost difference is the craft. Wilbur’s Workshop Party for ages 10-12 only is $400/members, $350/members and features rib making as the activity.

Birthdays that Go Boing
Kids of all ages can jump, play, even flip for joy at Flight Trampoline Park. The huge space in Springfield, VA, resembles a skate park, with an industrial look of exposed pipes and cinder block walls sprayed with graffiti. But where you’d find ramps, rails, and concrete to facilitate skills and tricks, there are trampolines instead. They offer several birthday party packages at varying rates, depending on what it includes and when you host it (weekday or weekend). The Flight Birthday, includes an hour of jump time for 10 jumpers, socks and $1 in tokens for all guests, 45 minutes in a party room, two pizzas, and 10 bottles of water, and a t-shirt and jump pass for the birthday kid. The bigger packages offer more jump time and pizza at higher prices. For more about Flight Trampoline Park, see this KFDC post. The deets: The Flight Birthday is $280 Monday – Thursday, $330 Friday – Sunday for 10 jumpers, $16 for each additional jumper. Add on another $60-65 for the Fight Pro package and $160 for the Ultimate package. There is also a Mini Flight available Monday – Thursday only for up to 6 jumpers for $210.

Revel & Rappel
Host a great active party for an energetic crew at ClimbZone. The enormous facility is filled literally floor to ceiling with colorful themed climbing walls and moon bounces. Climbers can ascend Mt. Rushmore, reach the Jolly Roger on a pirate ship, conquer a game of Tetris, shimmy up a giant guitar, scale Jack’s bean stalk, negotiate a rope wall, and experience peak fun on a variety of other climbing areas. Party guests have access to all of it, plus a dedicated area for your group — and while you get the party space for two hours, climbing time is for three. You bring supplies and can BYO food or have it delivered from an area eatery. This might seem like it’s for older kids, but children ages 2 and up can climb! Read more about ClimbZone and see photos in this KFDC post. The deets: There is a 10-person minimum to reserve a party area, and that also gets you the 10% group discount (cost per person is regular price $25/ages 6 and up, $12/2-5 years). Cost for the room is $30.

Party in the Treetops
Literally a lofty way to celebrate, parties at The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring take place in the trees. That’s right, ropes courses and zip lines make up the largest aerial forest in North America, and navigating it is an amazingly fun pursuit for adventurous kids. The park is closed during winter, so this one is for spring, summer, and fall parties (again, I’m thinking half-birthday celebration). Kids ages 5 and up can climb in the park, and a couple of party packages are available, one for ages 5-9, the other for ages 8 and up. Find more about what’s included in both here. And read more about The Adventure Park and see photos in this KFDC post and this one. The deets: Cost per climber is $25 with a minimum of 8 and maximum of 24 for parties. There is a 30-minute orientation session, then climb time for 90 minutes or two hours, depending on the package. Picnic tables will also be reserved for your group.

Home Sweet Home
For the past couple of years, Sasha has requested parties at home. And despite my ramblings in past years about why my kids’ birthday celebrations had to be out of the house, I readily obliged. Hey, things change… as the kids get older, I find it’s much easier to host groups of friends without massive chaos; not only are they more mature and independent, I’m no longer a baby about handling it. So, both this year and last, Sasha invited about 10 friends over to help ring in her new years — and both were very sweet and fun celebrations. I set out beads and string, stickers, and snacks for the kids to enjoy as things got stared, then they moved on to a bigger craft later. Last year, they made these fairy jars (and the kids made doily crafts for the lids), this year they decorated tea cups for a tea party theme. (Pinterest is a bible for that kind of stuff!) They noshed on tea sandwiches and other finger foods, ate cake, and finished up with a dance party as they often seem to do. Sure, set up and clean up took a little time, but we also saved a ton of money — I probably spent $100 total when all was said and done, much less than if we’d had a party elsewhere.

Home grown party fun

Home grown party fun



I Second That!
There are a few places that I’ve talked about before and want to bring attention to again, both because we loved the parties there and they deserve an extra shout out:

Watkins Nature Center – One of my very favorite birthday party spots for kids in this area. Parties are fun, engaging, great for all ages and all seasons with indoor and outdoor elements, plus it’s relatively inexpensive for the DC-Metro. Read the original review here.

Labyrinth Games & Puzzles – We celebrated Owen’s birthday here last year, and a fantastic time was had by all. The party was led by a staff member who introduced the kids to all kinds of cool board games. There was lots of enthusiasm and laughter, too. Read more about Labyrinth here.

H Street Country Club Sasha had a great birthday here a few years ago, with indoor mini golf keeping the guests entertained and yummy food keeping bellies full (plus, a bar for parents who might enjoy a Bloody Mary…after all, it was a brunchtime party). Read the first mention of their parties here.

Canal Park Ice Rink – We celebrated here a few years ago, and it was a perfect pick for a large group. Also a great option for a winter birthday, it actually felt like the season worked to our advantage for a change. If your winter-born child likes to ice skate, definitely consider this. Read an earlier write-up about parties at Canal Park Ice Rink here.

For even more birthday party ideas, be sure to check out posts from years past — you can find links to all of them on the Special & Seasonal page!


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Filed under All ages, Annual, Birthday Parties, DC, Maryland, Virginia

Wicked Fun Ways to Celebrate Halloween

Dracula and Fairy Butterfly Princess on Halloween 2012

Dracula and Fairy Butterfly Princess, Halloween 2012



Why wait until the actual day to celebrate one of the best holidays of the year? Besides the bonuses of getting more mileage out of costumes and having extra excuses to indulge in sweets, Halloween festivities are a treat any day. And there are loads of ways to get into the spooky spirit during the days leading up to the grand event. From no-fright fun to wicked cool thrills, here are the many ways you can scare up a good time this Halloween season. (Be sure to note that a few events will not occur if the shutdown is still in effect.)

Spooky SPY Family Night
Where: International Spy Museum
When: October 11, 6-9pm
Admission: $14

Has your brother been spying on you? Is grandma really a secret agent? Does dad really have lethal ninja skills? Now’s your chance to find out as your family of spies gains exclusive after-hours access to the Museum, including the new exhibition Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains. Test your family’s spy skills as you run top secret missions, go deep undercover and transform your appearance with the help of professional make-up artists, challenge yourself in Code Cracker competitions, play VINGO (Villain Bingo), and enjoy SPY snacks and a chance to explore all forms of spy tradecraft. Come in disguise as your favorite spy! Includes exclusive after-hours admission, SPY snacks, scavenger hunt, prize competitions, and more! Space is limited — advance registration required.

“Eye Spy” Halloween Train
Where: Cabin John Regional Park
When: October 12, 13, 19, 20, & 24-30
Admission: $5 and a can of food

Hop on board the Halloween Train! Cabin John’s “Eye Spy” features just enough “boo” power for kids age 8 and under. Along the ride through the woods on the train, kids can try to find Halloween friends hiding along the way and mark them off their “Eye Spy” game cards that they receive with admission. Guests can also enjoy Halloween movies every night, face painting on Saturdays and Sundays, and light refreshments for sale. The train runs 3-8pm on weekdays and 1-8pm on weekends. Purchase tickets online.

Haunted Train & Creepy Carousel
Where: Wheaton Regional Park
When: October 12, 13, 19, 20, & 24-30
Admission: $5 and a can of food

Wheaton Regional Park’s Haunted Train and Creepy Carousel are back and scarier than ever! This annual Halloween attraction is best for guests ages 8 and up, because they do their best to make it “very scary” (and this is part of the website description, so take their word for it). Admission includes one ride each on the train and carousel, plus entrance to the Hall of Jack o’ Lanterns movie theater presenting scary films every night. The train runs 6-9pm each night. Purchase tickets online.

Planet Spooky & Trick-or-Treat with Dinos
Where: Kings Dominion
When: Weekends October 6-28, 12-5pm
Admission: Free with park admission
A brand new event at Kings Dominion, Planet Spooky will feature all of the treats (but no tricks) for little ones to enjoy! Some of adventures include a pumpkin painting patch, petting zoo, foam pit, pedal tractors, a hay maze, live shows and more, that all take place in the new Planet Snoopy at Kings Dominion – which features 18 rides, with many of the rides designed for families to experience together. During Planet Spooky, all of the rides in Planet Snoopy will be open. The park also unveiled its all-new Trick or Treat with Dinosaurs! Kings Dominion has a 6-acre animatronic dinosaur park called Dinosaurs Alive, with 39 life-sized dinosaurs that make sounds and move as if it was 65 million years ago. New in 2013, Kings Dominion will dress up several of these dinosaurs in costume and offer children a chance to trick-or-treat through Dinosaurs Alive with their families before Halloween!

Dia de los Muertos
Where: National Museum of the American Indian
When: October 6-27
Admission: Free
Join the American Indian museum for its annual Día de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”), a celebration originating in Latin America, particularly in Mexico and Central America, to commemorate the lives of the dearly departed and welcome the return of their spirits. Learn and take part in this centuries-old tradition, which includes pre-Hispanic and Spanish customs alike. (Note: This will not occur if the shutdown is still in effect.)

Boostravaganza
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park
When: October 17, 6-8pm
Admission: $8/child

Children ages 3-8 are invited to come to the Indoor Arena Barn dressed in their favorite costumes anytime between from 6-8pm. Enjoy fun, games, and a wagon ride. Finish the evening with treats and a small pumpkin. Reservations are required, and space is limited, so go here to sign up.

The Spooky Magic of Joe Romero
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts
When: October 19, 1pm
Admission: $14
BlackRock celebrates the Halloween season with Joe Romano providing tricks that are a real treat. This skilled and exciting magician will perform jaw-dropping illusions for the whole family. Joe will float on a broom, turn a child into Harry Potter, make a friendly ghost appear, and more! Go early to join the free pre-show party, with arts & craft and a snack. The one-hour performance is recommended for children ages 4 and up.

Boo at the Zoo
Where: National Zoo
When: October 25-27, 5:30-8:30pm
Admission: $20/members, $30/non-members
Princesses, mythical creatures, kid-wizards, and other costumed guests are invited to join us at our annual Halloween event, Boo at the Zoo. There’s no safer or more exciting way for families with children ages 2-12 to trick or treat. A ticket is required for all attendees 2 years and older. Enjoy animal encounters and festive decorations along with tasty candy and delicious snack foods from more than 30 treat stations throughout the Zoo. Take a ride on our Conservation Carousel, too! Tricks optional. (Note: This will not occur if the shutdown is still in effect.)

Fall Harvest Festival Halloween Weekend
Where: Great Country Farms
When: October 26-27
Admission: $10/child, $12/adult, free for ages 2 and under

The farm’s annual seasonal festival includes Halloween fun for the weekend, when guests are encouraged to come in costume. Celebrate and create an unforgettable experience picking pumpkins, cheering on the fastest piglet, smashing pumpkins with P-Rex, getting lost in our corn maze and having your little princess meet their little princess. And don’t forget those freshly made Cider Donuts!

Wax Frightful
Where: Madame Tussauds
When: October 26, 10AM – 4PM
Admission: $20/adult, free for ages 4-12 (online)

Join Madame Tussauds for fun Halloween crafts, costume competitions, spooky tales and more! Three sessions are available at 11am – 12pm, 1-2pm, and 3-4pm.

Haunted Hangar
Where: College Park Aviation Museum
When: October 26, 7-9pm
Admission: $4/adults, $3/seniors, $2/ages 2-18, free for under 2

Wear your costume and enjoy fun fall themed activities. Explore the museum’s gallery and all of its hidden haunts. Arts, crafts, hayrides, and spooky fun are waiting for kids and families.

Falloween
Where: Market Common Clarendon
When: October 26, 10am – 1pm
Admission: Free

It’s a day of fall fun at the shopping center, including trick or treating, a costume parade (for people and pets), a Rocknoceros performance, a petting zoo, face painting, a kids circus, strolling entertainment, balloon creations and much more. People and pets in costume are invited to join in the FALLoween Parade at 11am, led by The Jokesters. Visit the website for the schedule of festivities.

Halloween at the Medical Museum
Where: National Museum of Health & Medicine
When: October 26, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Join NMHM for some spooky Halloween fun on Saturday. Children of all ages are invited to learn about skulls through fun arts and crafts activities at NMHM’s free Halloween event. Visitors can also tour the Museum’s exhibits, which feature several full human skeletons and skeletal preparations. Halloween costumes are welcome.

Air and Scare
Where: Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air & Space Museum
When: October 26, 2-7pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15 until 7pm

Discover the spooky side of air and space at the Udvar-Hazy Center’s 9th Annual Air & Scare! Arrive in costume for safe indoor trick-or-treating. Participate in creepy crafts, spooky science experiments, and other Halloween-themed activities. Bring the tiniest visitors by the Tot Zone to play dress-up and hear a story. Be sure to pose for a photo with your favorite Star Wars character! (Note: This will not occur if the shutdown is still in effect.)

Glen Echo Fall Frolic
Where: Glen Echo Park
When: October 26, 1-4pm
Admission: Free, but small cost for some activities
It’s a safe and fun Halloween event with something for everyone! Explore the arts through hands-on crafts, Halloween activities, and performances at Glen Echo’s annual celebration. There will be pumpkin decorating and face painting ($1 fee for pumpkin; $1-2 for face painting) and other craft activities, including decorating trick-or-treat bags to use in the Park. And new this year are pumpkin-themed kiddie games with prizes. The Halloween celebration will conclude with a costume parade through the Park at 3:30pm. (Note: This will not occur if the shutdown is still in effect.)

Trick or Treat with the Boo-tiques
Where: Old Town Boutique District in Alexandria
When: October 26, 11am – 6pm
Admission: FREE

Bring your ghosts and goblins for a day of trick or treat in the Old Town Boutique District. The OTBD’s annual Trick or Treat with the Boutiques event is a great way for families to enjoy a safe and fun Halloween day in Old Town Alexandria. All of the participating OTBD stores will offer treats, and some may also offer family-friendly tricks. Halloween costumes are encouraged. Tricks and treats will be available during the day and during store hours.

Spooky Science
Where: Maryland Science Center
When: October 26
Admission: $16.95/adult, $13.95/ages 3-12

Celebrate the chills and thrills of Halloween at our fifth annual Spooky Science, where creepy chemistry and mysterious science combine to provide a hauntingly good time. There will be hair-raising activities, creepy crafts, and fangtastic demonstrations. Visitors can look forward to making gooey, glowing slime, decorating pumpkins and trick or treat bags, playing mummy bowling, and exploring mystery boxes filled with eerie items. Save room for more spooky fun with Reptiles Alive! Their live animal show will feature slithering snakes, terrifying toads, beaded dragons and more. Shows will be at 1pm and 3pm.

Fall-o-ween Family Festival
Where: Port Discovery
When: October 26
Admission: $13.95/ages 2 and up

Dress the kids up in their favorite costumes and join Port Discovery’s annual festival! Enjoy not-so-scary, family friendly programs and performances include nature-themed activities, crafts, tutu making, wildlife adventures, spooky science, live entertainment, and more.

Haunted… Chocolate House Workshop & Tea
Where: Tudor Place
When: October 26, 10am & 1pm
Admission: $12/members, $15/non-members

Enjoy a Spooktacular family friendly tour through the historic gardens. After the tour, children participate in a chilling chocolate workshop to create their own 3D haunted chocolate houses to take home! Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Monster Mash
Where: National Children’s Museum
When: October 26, 10am
Admission: $10, under 12 months are free

Bring your little “monsters” for a day of Halloween surprises, mask making, Sesame Street character fun and much more! Make sure to wear your best Halloween costume!

Haunted Halloween Pop-Ups
Where: National Building Museum
When: October 27, 1-3pm
Admission: $10/members, $15/non-members, adults are free

Celebrate the spirit of Halloween as you design your very own pop-up haunted house. Learn the pop-up architecture technique from guest artist Carol Barton. Decorate a spooky haunted house scene to take place on your window sill. Fun for the whole family, the festivities include crafts, treats, and ghosts stories (more silly than spooky!) about the Museum. Recommended for ages 6 and up. Prepaid registration required. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

Baby Loves Disco Halloween Ball
Where: U Street Music Hall
When: October 27, 11am
Admission: $15/ticket or 4 for $55

Come dressed up in your costume (you, too, Mom and Dad!) for a special Halloween family dance party. Prizes, contests, tricks, and lots of treats will be part of the fun along with the always-groovy DJ-spun music set and energetic MC.

Crime Museum Halloween – Just for Kids!
Where: National Museum of Crime & Punishment
When: October 27, 1-5pm
Admission: $10/costumed child, $10/adults accompanying children

Batman, Wonder Woman, police officers, and all other costumed characters can enjoy a day of Halloween fun at this Penn Quarter museum. Festivities include a regular museum tour, Police Academy Jr. Activity Sheet, McGruff the Crime Dog appearances, finger print identification cards, candy, and more.

NSO Halloween Spooktacular: The Sequel!
Where: Kennedy Center
When: October 28
Admission: $15-18
Is it ever cool to “boo” the orchestra? It is on Halloween! But watch out, because at this frightfully fun follow-up to the NSO’s popular Halloween Spooktacular program, ghoulishly attired musicians might “BOO” you from behind their instruments in return! Don your spookiest ‘ween wear and come early for pre-concert trick-or-treating plus a special Haunted Hall Musical Instrument “Petting Zoo.” Then take your seats for a “spirited” performance as an incognito Ankush Kumar Bahl conducts a new round of goosebump-inducing favorites. Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Joanie’s Halloween Party
Where: Discovery Theater
When: October 31 – November 1, 10am & 11:15am
Admission: $5-8

At this session of Tot Rock: Jammin’ at the Smithsonian, there’s no reason to scare up an excuse to dance like crazy when the energetic Brooklyn-based, kindie-rock band Joanie Leeds and The Nightlights make their Halloween debut at Discovery Theater. Leeds brings songs from her latest album, Bandwagon, along with other hits and kid-friendly Halloween tunes. The band will be in costume—and families can be, too! (Note: This will not occur if the shutdown is still in effect.)

Hilloween
Where: 7th Street SE in front of Eastern Market
When: October 31, 5:30-7:30pm
Admission: Free

Capitol Hill’s annual event is a legendary neighborhood event for little ones. The block of 7th Street SE next to Eastern Market will be closed to traffic for one of the best community Halloween celebrations in the city. Hayrides, moon bounces, goody giveaways, and even a mini carousel add to the excitement. The best part is seeing the masses of jubilant kids in all kinds of costumes indulging in the extravaganza.

Nightmare Manor Family Night
Where: Ijamsville, Md
When: November 1, 5-9pm
Admission: $20
Family Night is a fun and interactive Halloween experience suitable for all ages. Scares are toned down for younger children, and kids going through the haunt will be given magical rings that are capable of warding off all forms of ghosts and monsters in case they get too frightened. Go hungry and roast smores over the bonfire, or enjoy our other delicious foods.


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Filed under All ages, Animals, Annual, DC, Fall, Farm, Festival, Free, Halloween, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Let the Halloween Festivities Begin!

Boba Fett walking to school... just one of many reasons why Halloween rules

 

Halloween may still be weeks away, but its spirit has been pervading for awhile. Mostly in the form of costume catalogs sliding through the mail slot, but also with cobweb covered front yards and, of course, hauntingly endless conversations with the kids about what/who to dress as this year. And we can take that even further with activities and events that celebrate the spirit, some starting as soon as this weekend. Here’s where the treats, tricks, scares, and kicks will be happening, listed in order of start date. Be sure to note that even though some may be weeks away, you can get your tickets now, and some require advance registration. And if there’s anything good that I’ve missed, feel free to mention it in the comments.

“Eye Spy” Halloween Train
Where: Cabin John Regional Park
When: October 6-7, 11-14, 18-21, 25-31
Admission: $6/person, $5 with canned food donation, free for kids 2 and under

Hop on board the Halloween Train! Cabin John’s “Eye Spy” features just enough “boo” power for kids age 8 and under. Along the ride through the woods on the train, kids can try to find Halloween friends hiding along the way and mark them off their “Eye Spy” game cards that they receive with admission. Guests can also enjoy Halloween movies every night, face painting on Saturdays and Sundays, and light refreshments for sale. The train runs 3-pm on weekdays and 1-8pm on weekends.

Haunted Train & Creepy Carousel
Where: Wheaton Regional Park
When: October 6-7, 11-14, 18-21, 25-31
Admission: $6/person, $5 with canned food donation

Wheaton Regional Park’s Haunted Train and Creepy Carousel are back and scarier than ever! This annual Halloween attraction is best for guests ages 8 and up, because they do their best to make it VERY SCARY (and this is the website description, so take their word for it). Admission includes one ride each on the train and carousel, plus entrance to the Hall of Jack o’ Lanterns movie theater presenting scary films every night. The train runs 6-9pm each night.

Howl-O-Fest
Where: Kings Dominion
When: Weekends October 6-28, 12-5pm
Admission: Free with park admission
It’s frightful fun for little ones at the Virginia amusement park with all sorts of treats at daytime during Howl-O-Fest’s Boo Blast. Families can enjoy a Halloween treasure hunt, foam pit, pumpkin painting and more! Kings Dominion is located in Doswell, about 90 minutes from DC. Admission to the park starts at $37.99 and you can usually find discounts online.

Nightmare Screamplex Family Night
Where: Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md
When: October 7 & November 2, 5-9pm
Admission: $20
Family Night at the haunted venue is a fun and interactive Halloween experience suitable for all ages. Kids going through the haunt will be given magical rings that ward off all forms of ghosts and monsters in case they get too scared. The show will be a “lights on” tour, but guests are welcome to bring flashlights. And on Family Nights only, regular admission gives you free access to tons of games and activities. Certifikid currently has a $12 admission deal.

Boostravaganza
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park
When: October 18, 6-8pm
Admission: $8/child

Children ages 3-8 are invited to come to the Indoor Arena Barn dressed in their favorite costumes anytime between from 6-8pm. Enjoy fun, games, and a wagon ride. Finish the evening with treats and a small pumpkin. Reservations are required, and space is limited, so go here to sign up (use code #2824862701).

Dia de los Muertos
Where: National Museum of the American Indian
When: October 20-21
Admission: Free
Some consider Day of the Dead the native version of Halloween. At the museum, follow the monarch butterflies home and celebrate the return of the ancestors at the museum’s annual Dia de los Muertos program. This colorful celebration of life includes food demonstrations by the museum’s Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe and a cultural presentation by La Danza de los Tecuanes. Learn how papel picado, sugar skulls and paper mache figures are created.

Operation Undercover: Secrets of Disguise Workshop
Where: International Spy Museum
When: October 20, 10am – 12:30pm
Admission: $30

Ditch your Halloween costume and change your whole identity! Go deep undercover for a mission too secret to divulge in print. The intricacies of creating a cover identity complete with “pocket litter,” documentation, and disguise will be shared in this workshop where recruits will be transformed—you’ll learn to look like a different person, and think like one too. A cadre of professional make-up artists, hair stylists, and spy experts will be on hand as recruits prepare to take on the ultimate challenge: a mission to retrieve top secret intelligence while undercover. Will your cover be blown? Will your disguise withstand the test? For kids ages 8-11.

lil omm Halloween Party
Where: lil omm Yoga Studio
When: October 25, 3:15-4pm
Admission: Free
Put the BOO into Buddha! Tenley/Friendship children’s librarian Katie Fitzgerald and lil omm’s Pleasance Silicki invite you to a ghoulish good story time and Halloween inspired yoga. Come wearing costumes and get special treat. This free event is for families with children up to 5 years old.

Boo at the Zoo
Where: National Zoo
When: October 26-28, 5:30-8:30pm
Admission: $20/members, $30/non-members
This annual event is the wildest trick-or-treat in town. Kids ages 2 – 12 can get costumed up for after-hours Halloween fun at the Zoo. Get ready for tasty candy, delicious snack foods, and other goodies from more than 40 treat stations. Plus, animal encounters, keeper talks, and festive decorations are yours to enjoy. Boo at the Zoo takes place rain or shine. Buy tickets through Ticketmaster or in the Zoo’s gift shop between 9am and 4:30pm.

Glow Night – A Magical Evening on the Farm
Where: Great Country Farms
When: October 26-27
Admission: $10/child, $12/adult, free for ages 2 and under

See a spectacular display of over 3,000 lighted jack-o-lanterns carved by local school children. The magical moment when they cut the lights (7pm) will take your breath away. Bring your carved Jack-o-lantern to enter in a carving competitions — Jack-o-lanterns are judged for Best in Glow, Scariest and Funniest. Along with the light show, warm yourself by the bonfire, roast some marshmallows, and enjoy apple cider. The farm is open daily 9am – 9pm.

Air and Scare
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air & Space Museum
When: October 27, 2-8pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15 until 7pm

Discover the spooky side of air and space at the Udvar-Hazy Center’s 8th Annual Air & Scare! Arrive in costume for safe indoor trick-or-treating. Participate in creepy crafts, spooky science experiments, and other Halloween-themed activities. Bring the tiniest visitors by the Tot Zone to play dress-up and hear a story. Be sure to pose for a photo with your favorite Star Wars character!

Haunted Hangar
Where: College Park Aviation Museum
When: October 27, 12-4pm
Admission: $4/adults, $3/seniors, $2/ages 2-18, free for under 2

Wear your costume and enjoy fun fall themed activities. Explore the museum’s gallery and all of its hidden haunts. Arts, crafts, hayrides, and spooky fun are waiting for kids and families.

Glen Echo Fall Frolic
Where: Glen Echo Park
When: October 27, 1-4pm
Admission: Free, but small cost for some activities
It’s a safe and fun Halloween event with something for everyone! Explore the arts through hands-on crafts, Halloween activities, and performances at Glen Echo’s annual celebration. There will be pumpkin decorating and face painting ($1 fee for pumpkin; $1-2 for face painting) and other craft activities, including decorating trick-or-treat bags to use in the Park. Don’t miss the Pumpkin Promenade, a simple maze that children may walk through to pick up special prizes.

Falloween
Where: Market Common Clarendon
When: October 27, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

It’s a day of fall fun at the shopping center, including trick or treating, a costume parade (for people and pets), a Rocknoceros performance, a petting zoo, face painting, a kids circus, strolling entertainment, balloon creations and much more. Visit the website for the schedule of festivities.

The Spooky Magic of Joe Romero
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts
When: October 27, 1pm
Admission: $14
BlackRock celebrates the Halloween season with Joe Romano providing tricks that are a real treat. This skilled and exciting magician will perform jaw-dropping illusions for the whole family. Joe will float on a broom, turn a child into Harry Potter, make a friendly ghost appear, and more! Go early to join the free pre-show party, with arts & craft and a snack. The one-hour performance is recommended for children ages 4 and up.

Halloween Monster Jump
Where: Pump It Up in Lanham, Md
When: October 27, 29, & 31, various times (See below)
Admission: $13/child, $5/adult
Calling all witches, goblins, princesses and superheroes ages 2 and up! You are invited to join Pump It Up in Lanham, Md, for their 4th Annual Pump It Up Monster Jump! Dress in costume for Halloween Jumping. (No makeup, swords or sharp objects allowed). The admission fee includes jumping, goodie bags, fun games, prizes, and more. Jump times are 7:30-9:30pm on 10/27, 5-7pm on 10/29, and 7-9pm on 10/31.

Hallowmarine
Where: DC National Aquarium
When: October 27, 12-4pm
Admission: $9.95/ages 11 and up, $4.95/ages 3-11, free for 2 and under
Ahoy! There be pirates at the National Aquarium! Enjoy live music from a real band of swashbucklers as Pirates for Sail sets the mood for the Hallowmarine celebration. Plus, participate in fun activities like face painting and a costume contest for kids; explore the mysteries lurking in our waters with a spooky scavenger hunt; and put your knowledge of animals to the test to win prizes.

Trick or Treat with the Boutiques
Where: Old Town Boutique District in Alexandria
When: October 27 during store hours
Admission: FREE

Bring your ghosts and goblins for a day of trick or treat in the Old Town Boutique District. The OTBD’s annual Trick or Treat with the Boutiques event is a great way for families to enjoy a safe and fun Halloween day in Old Town Alexandria. All of the participating OTBD stores will offer treats, and some may also offer family-friendly tricks. Halloween costumes are encouraged. Tricks and treats will be available during the day and during store hours.

Haunted… Chocolate House Workshop & Tea
Where: Tudor Place
When: October 27, 1-2:30pm
Admission: $20/members, $25/no-members, $7/accompanying adults

How do you build a chocolate house? Start with some tea – early America’s favorite pick-me-up – accompanied by lovely sandwiches, snacks and sweets and a costumed interpreter full of stories about tea-drinking history and lore. Next, out come delicious ingredients for your individual “haunted home-building” project (one per child), and you will learn how to construct your own three-dimensional chocolate house, decorated with edible wonders.

Westfield Family Spooktacular
Where: Westfield Wheaton Mall
When: October 27
Admission: Free
Have a wicked good time at Westfield Wheaton this Halloween season! Join the Westfield Family for some safe exciting fun as they host the annual Family Spooktacular event. Stores throughout the mall will provide treats for all of the ghouls and goblins that attend, so be sure to wear your costume. In addition to a safe trick-or-treating experience around the mall, there will be tons of free activities for families and children of all ages to enjoy, including arts & crafts and more.

NSO Halloween Spooktacular
Where: Kennedy Center
When: October 28
Admission: $15-18
Is it ever cool to “boo” the orchestra? It is on Halloween! And during their Halloween Spooktacular, NSO musicians dressed up as ghosts, ghouls, and goblins just might peek out from behind their instruments to go “BOO” back at you! Go early outfitted in your spookiest ‘ween wear for pre-concert trick-or-treating and a special Haunted Hall Musical Instrument “Petting Zoo.” Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Haunted Halloween Pop-Ups
Where: National Building Museum
When: October 28, 1-3pm
Admission: $10/members, $15/non-members, adults are free

Celebrate the spirit of Halloween as you design your very own pop-up haunted house. Learn the pop-up architecture technique from guest artist Carol Barton. Decorate a spooky haunted house scene to take place on your window sill. Fun for the whole family, the festivities include crafts, treats, and ghosts stories (more silly than spooky!) about the Museum. Recommended for ages 6 and up. Prepaid registration required. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

Crime Museum Halloween – Just for Kids!
Where: National Museum of Crime & Punishment
When: October 28, 1-5pm
Admission: $10/costumes child, $10/adults accompanying children

Batman, Wonder Woman, police officers, and all other costumed characters can enjoy a day of Halloween fun at this Penn Quarter museum. Festivities include a regular museum tour, Police Academy Jr. Activity Sheet, McGruff the Crime Dog appearances, finger print identification cards, candy, and more.

Halloween Party Smiles for Shira
Where: Potomac Community Center
When: October 28, 3-4:30pm
Admission: $25

Dress up in costumes and have some fun…it’s Halloween time, everyone! Join Mamas Link and Mizmarni and the JJs for a crazy party and concert featuring a special musical performance, sweet treats, costume photos, interactive games and activities, a parade and more. Proceeds from this fun for the whole family benefit the Smiles for Shira Foundation.

The Great Zucchini’s Halloween Party
Where: Discovery Theater
When: October 30-31, 10:15am & 11:30am
Admission: $5-8

You’ve heard of the Great Pumpkin. Now meet the Great Zucchini, a vegetable of a very different color—and one of the area’s most entertaining and in-demand kids’ magicians and comedians. There’s a yummy mix of amazing feats, interactive fun, and plenty of laughs waiting in his bag of Halloween tricks. Come in costume!

Hilloween
Where: 7th Street SE in front of Eastern Market
When: October 31, 5:30-7:30pm
Admission: Free

Capitol Hill’s annual event is a legendary neighborhood event for little ones. The block of 7th Street SE next to Eastern Market will be closed to traffic for one of the best community Halloween celebrations in the city. Hayrides, moon bounces, goody giveaways, and even a mini carousel add to the excitement. The best part is seeing the masses of jubilant kids in all kinds of costumes indulging in the extravaganza.

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Filed under All ages, Annual, DC, Fall, Festival, Free, Halloween, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: March 5-9

Little aviator simulates take-off at the College Park Aviation Museum

Monday – Explore the history of flight at the College Park Aviation Museum. Guests can view early airplanes up close, dress up like aviators, create flight-inspired art, and more. Hours are 10am – 5pm, admission is $4/adults, $2/children, free for ages 2 and under.

Tuesday –  It’s the National Building Museum’s Book of the Month program. Enjoy a reading of Riki’s Birdhouse along with the NBM’s host of fun offerings for little ones.  Storytimes take place at 10:30am and 11:30am in the Building Zone, and are followed by a related hands-on activity.  Admission to the Building Zone is $3/person.

Wednesday – Chug on down to the B&O Railroad Museum for Toddler Time. On the first and third Wednesdays of each month at 10:30am, children ages 2-5 are invited to listen to a classic railroad story, create a craft, and take a kiddie train ride through the fictional town of Choo Choo Blueville.  And there’s tons more to explore at the museum when the session is done. Admission is $16/adults, $10/ages 2-10.

Thursday – Say bonjour at Discovery Theater! Little ones and their adults can get an introduction to French through song and play with Quebec children’s author Annie Groovie. As this post goes live, tickets are available for the 11:30am session.

Friday –  See art that actually welcomes visitors to touch. The Art League’s new exhibit, Play, will include interactive artwork that can be handled, added to, moved around, and more. The exhibit will be on display at The Torpedo Factory (105 North Union Street in Old Town Alexandria) March 7 through April 2. Hours are Mon – Sat 10am-6pm (open ’til 9pm on Thurs), Sun 12-6pm. Admission is free.


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Filed under Art, Babies, DC, Educational, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Preschoolers, Theatre, Toddlers, Trains, Virginia, Weekdays, Winter