Tag Archives: DC Events

Tips for Families Viewing the Cherry Blossoms (2018)

DC at its peak

[Note: Even though it may seem like the cherry blossoms are never going to fully bloom, it will happen, just later than originally predicted. So, it’s time to bring back this annual KFDC post! This was originally written in 2011 (hence, the now very outdated Lost reference) and has been updated every year since. But because the tips always apply, I’m re-posting yet again, just with a few minor updates applicable to this year’s bloom.]


Taking the family to the National Mall to see some pretty flowers sounds easy enough. If only it actually was. The cherry blossom peak, predicted to occur April 8-12 this year, is one of the best times to visit DC. The city is at its most beautiful, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival provides loads of fun activities to help enjoy it all. But viewing the famous blooms can also be a bit challenging without being aware of a few things. Here are seven recommendations to consider if seeing the cherry blossoms is on your family’s March agenda.

1. Don’t drive if you value your sanity. Take the Metro, ride the bus, bike, walk, jet pack. Get here however you can, just leave the car at home. Traffic is beyond frustrating during the cherry blossom peak, and your chances of finding decent parking are about as good as hitting the Powerball with Hurley’s numbers (okay, slight exaggeration, but it is hard). The masses descend on Washington, DC, this time of year, and way too many do so in their vehicles. Besides, kids love riding the Metro—it’s like an urban version of Hogwarts Express. The Smithsonian stop on the Blue/Orange Line is mere minutes from all of the blossom action, but it’s also guaranteed to be crowded. Consider riding to L’Enfant on Yellow/Green, Federal Center on Blue/Orange, or even a stop downtown or in Penn Quarter and taking a nice stroll to the blossoms. *If you absolutely must drive and need parking you might find a spot at Hains Point, where there is free and metered parking, then walk or take a shuttle ($1/person) to the Tidal Basin. There is also a parking garage at L’Enfant Plaza. Your best bet, though, might be to find a garage in the downtown or Penn Quarter area, then walk or Metro to the National Mall. You can ensure yourself a spot with Parking Panda, an online parking reservation service that lets you search for and reserve garage spaces in advance.

Flying amid the flowers

2. Visit on a weekday if you have the flexibility. Crowds are significantly smaller from Monday to Friday, so you can stroll around the Tidal Basin at a nice pace, and public transportation won’t be nearly as packed (though it still will be more crowded than usual). But if the kids are in school or daycare during the week, think about going later in the day. The National Mall and monuments look beautiful at sunset, and the blossoms make it even more sublime. In the same vein, if you can go super early, the morning light on the Mall makes for quite a picturesque setting, too.

Peak time around the National Mall

3. Consider using a child carrier instead of a stroller for little ones. This is especially applicable if you take Metro, since elevator lines can be very long and slow-going. I learned my lesson several years ago on a weekday and ended up taking my daughter out of the stroller and carrying both on the escalator, which was probably as unsafe as it was difficult. Even if you don’t take Metro, a carrier is still a wise option. Navigating crowded walkways while pushing a pram takes focus, and you could end up spending more time concentrating on not rolling over others’ heels than enjoying the sights you came to see. It’s a bonus for wee ones, too — perched on your back, your babe will get a better view of the blossoms.

4. Check the National Cherry Blossom Festival schedule, so you can plan your visit accordingly. Some of the city’s most anticipated events are part of the annual celebration, the Blossom Kite Festival, National Cherry Blossom Parade, and Sakura Matsuri among them, and there are many non-official festival happenings as well. Most events take place close by the blossoms or an easy Metro ride away. Peak bloom is expected to occur mid-Festival this year, so you can enjoy blossom-inspired activities and the trees themselves at the same time. This post has details on the best cherry blossom season celebrations and activities for families.

Get a view of the blossoms from a paddle boat

5. Get a new view of the blossoms and enjoy a fun activity from the comfort of a cruise on the Potomac. Several companies offer boat rides along the river, many of them specifically for the season when the cherry trees are in bloom. Capitol River Cruises, Potomac Riverboat Company, and DC Water Taxi are a few to check out. Though before you go straight to the websites, look for a deal on Goldstar, Groupon, or Certifikid. We’ve gotten great offers that way. You can also opt for a paddling excursion and navigate the waters yourself.

Playing under blossoms at the Arboretum

6. Seek out other spots to see the cherry blossoms if you don’t want to deal with crowds and chaos around the Tidal Basin and National Mall. Several places around the DC-Metro area are well known for their annual cherry blossom displays. When I worked in Bethesda many years ago, it was an annual tradition for my colleagues and me to take a drive through Kenwood, a lovely neighborhood between Little Falls Parkway and River Road with cherry tree-lined streets. The National Arboretum also has a nice collection of the trees and offers a beautiful, peaceful environment in which to view them in bloom. Dumbarton Oaks Gardens is one of the prettiest places in DC and its annual blossoms only add to it.

7. Have your camera ready to take advantage of some of the best photo ops DC offers. The peak colors plus the monuments are about as iconic as you can get when photographing Washington. Get your kids to sit still — or even let them run and play for a fun candid — and you’ve got this year’s holiday card.

Can’t beat the blossom backdrop for photos

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Filed under 2018, All ages, Annual, DC, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Spring, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Celebrate Black History Month Around DC (2018)

A segregated passenger car from the Southern Railway Company on display at the NMAAHC



February is Black History Month, and there are events and activities throughout the DC area to celebrate it. Museum programs (including an entire museum), special events, tours and exhibits, live entertainment, story time sessions, and more will be enlightening and fun for all ages. Here’s where many are happening over the next few weeks.

Tour the NMAAHC
Where: National Museum of African American History & Culture
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free

If you can get in, this is the best place to learn about black history and culture in America. It’s a tough ticket to get right now — museum admission is by timed entry passes — but it is possible to get same-day tickets. They are available online everyday starting at 6:30am until they run out. And you can also try for walk-up tickets on weekdays after 1pm. Be sure to read the KFDC Guide to Visiting the National Museum of African American History & Culture with Kids before you go.

Library Programs
Where: Public Libraries throughout DC
When: Throughout February
Admission: Free

The DC Public Library proudly celebrates Black History Month during February with all kinds of programs — author talks, lectures, arts & crafts, and story times. Visit the website to see what activities are going on at a location near you.

How Old is a Hero?
Where: Discovery Theatre | National Mall
When: February 6-9
Admission: $3-8

Everyone can make a difference! This Discovery Theater original play infused with archival music of the Civil Rights era celebrates three young people who helped change the nation by their heroic actions. Meet Ernest Green of the Little Rock Nine, the first black student to graduate from an integrated high school; Claudette Colvin, who months before Rosa Parks, also refused to give up her seat on a bus; and Ruby Bridges, who was only six in 1960 when she stepped into first grade—and into history—as the first student to desegregate an all-white school in New Orleans. Their inspiring stories demonstrate that hope begins with the courage of young people.

African American Pioneers in Aviation and Space
Where: Udvar-Hazy Center | Chantilly, VA
When: February 10
Admission: Free

Each February, the museum celebrates the significant contributions African Americans have made to flight and space exploration despite the overwhelming obstacles they had to overcome. Enjoy presentations, hands-on activities, and stories. Learn about African American astronauts, pilots, and scientists of the past and present and their accomplishments.

Portrait Story Days
Where: National Portrait Gallery | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Most Saturdays & Sundays, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

Drop in to the Portrait Gallery to listen to a story from friends at the DC Public Library about a notable person featured in the collection and complete a hands-on art project. All through February, the program highlights black Americans in honor of Black History Month. Read more about the program and museum here.

The Slave Memorial & Exhibits
Where: Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: Throughout February
Admission: $20/adult, $12/ages 6-11, free/5 & under

Make a point to see these on a visit to George Washington’s estate. The memorial is located approximately 50 yards southwest of George and Martha Washington’s tomb, on a bluff above the Potomac River. A gray, truncated, granite column which represents “life unfinished” is the center of three concentric brick circles. The three steps leading up to the column are inscribed, respectively, “Faith,” “Hope” and “Love” – the virtues that sustained those living in bondage. The exhibit Lives Bound Together explores the personal stories of the people enslaved at Mount Vernon while providing insight into George Washington’s evolving opposition to slavery.

Jim Crow on Streetcars
Where: National Trolley Museum | Colesville, MD
When: Through February, Saturdays & Sundays, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $7/adult, $5/child

In recognition of Black History Month, the Museum presents this temporary exhibit. Learn about the nature of segregation aboard the cars in 19th century New York, the efforts to black the practice as it developed across the South, and the eventual success in opening employment opportunities.

Frederick Douglass’s Bicentennial Birthday Celebration
Where: Frederick Douglass Historic Site | Anascostia , DC
When: February 17-18
Admission: Free

Celebrate 200 years of the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass! February 2018 makes it 200 years since Frederick Douglass was born into this world. Join the National Park Service for a grand commemorative weekend with a variety of programs for all ages. See the website for specifics.

Emancipation Proclamation Viewing + Family Activities
Where: National Archives | National Mall, DC
When: February 17-19
Admission: Free

In celebration of Black History Month, the Emancipation Proclamation will be on display at the National Archives, a rare opportunity to see the original document proclaiming the freedom of all slaves held in areas still in revolt. On February 17, stop by the ReSource Room before or after viewing it to learn more about it through hands-on discovery.

Black Diamond
Where: Discovery Theatre | National Mall, DC
When: February 20-23
Admission: $3-8

Score a home run with a spirit-rousing musical play about the “other” major league! This updated hit from nationally recognized arts leader Michael Bobbitt and tunesmith John Cornelius chronicles the struggles and triumphs of pioneering African American baseball players. The all-star lineup of heroes includes Moses “Fleet” Walker, who became the game’s first black pro in the 1880s; Andrew “Rube” Foster, hailed as the father of black baseball; power hitter Josh “Spitfire” Gibson; athlete-philosopher Satchel Paige; and young Jackie Robinson, who first integrated the major leagues. You’ll stand up and cheer for the players who made sports history—and American history, too!

African-Americans at Walney Walking Tour
Where: Ellanor C. Lawrence Park | Chantilly, VA
When: February 24, 2pm
Admission: $6

In this interactive walking tour, learn the names and stories of the many African-American families who lived here in slavery and in freedom. The one-hour program is recommended for ages 6 and up. Children must be accompanied by a registered adult.

1968: Civil Rights at 50
Where: Newseum | Judiciary Square, DC
When: Through January 2, 2019
Admission: $24.95/adult, $14.95/ages 7-18, free for 6 and under (look for a discount)

This exhibit explores the civil rights events of 1967, when black Americans used their First Amendment freedoms to challenge police brutality, economic inequality and the Vietnam War amid deadly riots and the rise of the Black Panther Party. This exhibit is probably better for older kids.

Celebration: Black History Month 2018
Where: Parks in PG County, MD
When: Throughout February
Admission: Varies by activity

Celebrate and honor African American heritage during Black History Month with PG County Parks and Recreation. From performances to history lessons to tours, there are many events and activities planned throughout the area. For a complete listing of Black History Month events, go here.

Storytelling & Walking Tour
Where: Woodlawn Manor Park | Sandy Spring, MD
When: February 10 & 24
Admission: $3-8

Montgomery Parks presents these activities for Black History Month. On February 10, experience African American culture through hands-on activities and storytelling with master storyteller and griot, the Honorable Baba-C. On February 24, learn about the daily life of the enslaved and how the abolitionist movement and Underground Railroad drove the quest for freedom on a walking tour. Register for both in advance.

Montgomery Parks Celebrates Black History Month
Where: Josiah Henson Park | North Bethesda, MD
When: Several dates in February
Admission: Free

Montgomery Parks will celebrate Black History Month during the last weekend in February with free, educational events that highlight the stories, struggles, and successes of African Americans. Events include free guided tours of the park, the screening of a PBS documentary about the park, and the annual spoken word poetry event, “Lyrical Rhythms: The Sounds of Freedom.”

Frederick Douglass on Display
Where: Library of Congress | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Through April 12
Admission: Free

The Library of Congress currently has a display dedicated to Frederick Douglass in celebration of Black History Month and the bicentennial of his birth. Find it in the North Gallery with the Mapping a Growing Nation exhibition. Letters, photos, and more historical items are on view.

#BlackFutures
Where: Blind Whino | Southwest DC
When: Saturdays & Sundays through March 13
Admission: Free

The well known multi-colored building in Southwest DC is home to the SW Arts Collective, and the Arts Annex is open to visitors on weekends from 12-5pm. In celebration of Black History Month, a new installation entitled #BlackFutures will be on display, featuring works by artists David Elliott, Chanel Kennebrew, and Alissa Maru.


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Giveaway: Monster Jam Triple Threat Series is Coming to DC!



Unexpected, unscripted and unforgettable, the Monster Jam Triple Threat Series takes center stage in the world’s most iconic venues like Capital One Arena (formerly Verizon Center), sporting meticulously manicured dirt tracks created with the sole purpose of pushing perfectly engineered, larger-than-life trucks to the limit.

Featuring the eight most intense participants of Monster Jam, you can witness a fierce battle for the championship with each competitor using customized high-powered vehicles — Monster Jam Speedsters, Monster Jam ATVs, and the famous Monster Jam trucks. The world-class athletes vying to be this year’s Washington, DC, champion are: Wonder Woman, Grave Digger, Blue Thunder, Max D, El Toro Loco, Zombie, Monster Mutt Rottweiler, and Megalodon.

This will all go down Saturday, January 27, at 1pm & 7pm and Sunday, January 28, at 1pm at the Capital One Arena. Ticket prices range from $15 – 35 and are available for purchase on Ticketmaster. You can also opt to add on The Pit Party for $10 — on both days from 10:30am – 12:00pm, fans have the opportunity to get up close and personal to the Monster Jam trucks and drivers.

Don’t miss a chance to win tickets to the January 27 – 1pm show in the giveaway below!

* * * * *

Giveaway: For a chance to win a Family 4-pack of tickets Monster Jam at the Capital One Arena on January 27 at 1pm, simply leave a comment below telling me what you would name your Monster Jam vehicle — make it as creative or simple as you want! Get an extra chance to win by commenting on the KidFriendly DC Facebook Page, too. This giveaway will run through Thursday, January 18 at 8pm, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!

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Filed under 2018, All ages, DC, Giveaway, Live Entertainment, Special Event, Weekend, Winter

Where to Celebrate MLK Day 2018



Whether you’re looking for ways to teach kiddos about MLK, want to give back on the Day of Service, enjoy live entertainment that pays tribute to his legacy, or join a special event to observe the occasion, these recommendations will have you covered.

Day of Service
Where: Various locations around the DMV
When: January 15
Admission: Just your time

If you want to volunteer on the MLK, Jr. Day of Service, there are many ways and places you can do so around the area. Start here to find opportunities that suit your family.

ConSERVE DC
Where: Anacostia Park | Southeast DC
When: January 15, 9am – 12pm
Admission: Just your time

Join the Student Conservation Association as they gather to ConSERVE DC this MLK Day by mobilizing the next generation of community stewards to help restore our public lands. Join hundreds of volunteers for a massive cleanup of the Anacostia River and to honor the legacy of Dr. King and connect the issues of social and environmental justice as we help to improve the health of DC’s urban waterfront. We joined this event last year, and it was a great experience for all of us! And Monday’s event will kick-off the Year of the Anacostia, celebrating Anacostia Park’s 100th anniversary on the waterfront.

More Family Volunteer Ops
Where: Various locations around the DMV
When: Ongoing
Admission: Just your time

For more places to volunteer as a family that aren’t included in the official MLK Day of Service database, this KFDC post has suggestions. All of the organizations listed welcome kids to help out, though some have age requirements, so be sure to note them.

MLK Day Celebration
Where: Woodridge Library | Woodridge, DC
When: January 15
Admission: Free

Children aged 2-12 are and families are invited to join DC Public Libraries for a day-long celebration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and lasting work. They’ll be showing Our Friend, Martin at 10:30am and Separate Is Never Equal at 2:30pm in the Children’s Nook. Guests will also receive a seed starting kit (supplies limited).

Artsy MLK Days
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Gardens | Dowell, MD
When: January 13-15, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King with community art activities. Each year on this weekend, Annmarie invites guests of all ages to help create a community art installation in honor of a dream. The 2018 MLK Days project is a mixed media painting led by visiting artist Dawn Tree based off the image of Martin Luther King Jr. Inspiration will come from Dr. King as well as the children’s book “Walking with the King,” written by Tree’s mother Jocelyn Scales, who marched with King while attending college in the 60’s. There will also be coloring and more art activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Visit Memorials
Where: National Mall & Tidal Basin, DC
When: January 15 (and ongoing)
Admission: Free

Pay tribute to Dr. King at places that honor his legacy. Visit the MLK Memorial, a powerful and poignant site along the Tidal Basin. From there, you can head to the Lincoln Memorial where Dr. King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech and see if you can find his words etched in the stone there. For a guided walking tour that includes those locations, check out DC by Foot, which offers name-your-own-price tour options.

I Have a Dream Weekend Celebration
Where: Port Discovery | Baltimore, MD
When: January 13-15
Admission: $15.95/ages 2 & up

Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and legacy through hands-on educational activities exploring African-American history and heritage during Port Discovery’s “I Have a Dream Weekend.” Join in a variety of interactive programs designed to educate, inspire and help children of all ages to understand the impact Martin Luther King, Jr. made on America and the world. Learn about the history of Afircan Amrican in baseball with the Negro League Baseball, create quilt squares with the Baltimore African-American Quilters Guild, make a birthday card, enjoy a birthday tribute by The Kindersinger, and more fun festivities. See the website for a schedule of activities.

MLK Dare to Dream Day
Where: American Visionary Art Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: January 15, 10am -6pm
Admission: Free

It’s a celebration in honor of the life and dreams of one of the greatest visionaries in America’s history. Join for guided tours, birthday cake, music, workshops, and special performances at this FREE, fun-filled day! See the latest exhibition, The Great Mystery Show and tour the entire wonderland campus. Read more about the wonderful AVAM here.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Tribute & Celebration
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: January 16, 3:30pm
Admission: Free, but tickets are required

Montgomery County celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King’s life through dramatic readings, music, and dance performances. This will be the first time in many years the holiday falls on his actual birthday, making this program particularly significant, with very special entertainment including a choral performance by the civil rights iconic Carlton Reese Memorial Unity Choir from Birmingham, Alabama. Free tickets are required for this event, and will be distributed onsite the day of the performance. Limit four tickets per household.

KanKouran West African Dance Company
Where: Dance Place | Brookland, DC
When: January 13, 8pm & January 14, 4pm
Admission: $15-30 (1 child free with adult paid ticket)

KanKouran West African Dance Company returns to Dance Place for their annual celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr., presenting its new work BOLO, which means “Bridge of Togetherness” in Wolof. The performance will take audiences on a breathtaking journey into the influence that African dance and culture has had on contemporary dance styles and how today’s choreographers are now reaching back to bring an African influence into their work.

MLK Parade, Peace Walk, & Fair
Where: Throughout SE & SW DC
When: January 15
Admission: Free

Commemorate the life of MLK, Jr. on a peace walk and parade along Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave. The Peace Walk begins at 10am at 2500 MLK Ave SE and ends at the Barry Farm Recreation Center. The MLK Parade will commence at noon from Good Hope Road near the Anacostia Park entrance and continue up MLK Avenue to the Barry Farm Recreation Center, where the MLK Holiday DC Health & Community Fair will be underway will be underway. All ages are welcome to join.

Let Freedom Ring!
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom
When: January 15, 6pm
Admission: Free

At this annual performance in honor of MLK Day, the Kennedy Center and Georgetown University host a musical celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. This year the concert will feature a special concert by Vanessa Williams and the Let Freedom Ring Choir. Free tickets will be given away up to two per person in line in the Hall of Nations starting at 4:30pm on a first-come, first-served basis.


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Filed under 2018, All ages, Annual, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Holidays, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Parade, Park, Special Event, Virginia, Volunteer