Tag Archives: Family Fun

Huzzah…Ren Fest is Returning with Merriment for All!

 

I usually hesitate to deem one particular place or activity “the best.”  It’s rare that you’ll see Top 10 lists here on KFDC; they feel misleading to me.  Even my round-up of the best outdoor places consists of more than 60 of them in random order.  That’s because “the best” is so personal, specific, and dependent on ages, interests, convenience to where one lives.  I have favorites, for sure, but calling something the best generally is a no-no for me.

Except for one thing: Ren Fest.

Anyone who has been reading my blog for awhile surely already knows that the Maryland Renaissance Festival is my very, very, VERY favorite annual event in the area.  We’ve been going since before we had kids, and bringing them since they were babes. There are a multitude of reasons why it’s my fave — you can go here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for more on that — but ultimately I love that at the core, it’s a celebration of the unconventional, a kingdom of mirth, where fun and delight reign and offbeat is normal.  Ren Fest is the best.  It’s just fact — in my book, anyway.

After very sadly but understandably being cancelled last year, the Maryland Renaissance Festival returns in 2021 starting this weekend, August 28-29! And I oh-so-highly recommend going.  I pride myself on the number of people I have converted into Ren Festers — and I promise you want to be among them.

Logistics
The merriment begins this Saturday, August 28, and runs every weekend, rain or shine, through October 24 in the lovely 16th century-style hamlet of Revel Grove in Crownsville, MD. Hours are 10am – 7pm. Through September 12, admission is $21/adults, $19/seniors, $10/ages 7-15, free for ages 6 and under.  After that, ticket prices go up to $28/adults, $24/seniors, $13/ages 7-15, still free for 6 and under. Multi-day passes that offer a discount are also available. This year, tickets must be reserved in advance online. There are no day-of, in-person ticket sales.

Notable Dates
In previous years, many weekends had special themes, like a Celtic celebration and pirate weekend, with events and activities offered on just those dates.  While most aren’t happening this year due to Covid, there still are a few special weekends to be aware of:
* August 28-29: Children’s Weekend – FREE admission for ages 15 and under with adult
* September 6: Seniors day — Free admission for all seniors age 62+
* September 11 & October 10: ASL Interpretation Days – Selected stage shows will be interpreted in ASL

KFDC Tips
* Bring a stroller or carrier for little ones, as there is  a lot of walking. I recommend a stroller that navigates over dirt paths easily.
* Get a map and schedule on your way in to help you navigate and plan your day, but I recommend not overthinking it; Ren Fest is best experienced with a “go with the flow” mindset.
* If there’s a show you really want to see, get to the stage a few minutes ahead of time to get good seats, so the kids have a good view.
* You might encounter less crowds on Sunday, when many folks are watching football.
* Plan to spend on extras like food, games, and fun for kids — all reasonably priced, but it can add up.
* Tickets can sell out, especially on beautiful fall days as the chances to go dwindle. Between that and the new online sales only, you might want to reserve further in advance than usual.
* Consider pros and cons to going at different times: Early in the season, crowds are smaller because it’s usually very hot, and the admission fee is lower. Later in the season, the cool, crisp weather and autumn foliage adds some extra splendor to the visit, but also draws the masses.
* Let the kids dress up! Princesses, knights, fairies, and pirates will fit right in.

Maryland Renaissance Festival
Where: Revel Grove | Crownsville, MD ( get directions)
When: Weekends August 28 – October 24, 10am – 7pm
Admission: $21-28/adult, $19-24/senior, $10-13/age 7-15, free/6 & under

 

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Filed under 2021, All ages, DC, Fall, Festival, Maryland, Summer, Weekend

The 2021 County Fair Season Around the DC Area

 

Where do you get carnival rides and games, farm animals, the junk food gamut, live entertainment, pony rides, piglet races, and wares for sale all in once place? Down at the county fair. The season for them runs from early August through mid-September, and you can get the lowdown on this year’s events around the area below. Happy Fairin’!

Howard County Fair
The 75th annual fair begins this coming weekend, and you have through next Saturday to enjoy rides, magic shows, musical entertainment in the evenings, pig races and pony rides, the Kids & Critters barn, Demolition Derby, a pro rodeo, and more. Most of the rides cost extra, and packages are available, so be sure to check out the website to see what’s available if you plan to go.
When: August 7-14, 9:30am – 11pm daily, though activity times vary, so be sure to check schedules.
Where: 2210 Fairground Road | West Friendship, MD
Cost: Admission is $5-7/age 10+, $3/seniors, free/under 10. Rides and games are extra.

Montgomery County Fair
This fair is a family fave. (You can get a glimpse of one of our experiences there and read a review from a few years ago), so trust me when I say that there is so much to do, you have to see the schedule on the website for yourself to get the full scope. Highlights include lots of 4-H exhibits and demos, including opportunities to visit with some of the animals; animal races, pony rides, a KidZone with interactive games and activities, tons of carnival and kiddie rides, arts & crafts, monster trucks and a demolition derby, and much more.
When: August 13-21, times vary by day so check the schedule for specifics.
Where: Montgomery County Fairgrounds | 501 Perry Parkway, Gaithersburg, MD.
Cost: Admission is $12/advance $15/at gate for age 12+, free/11 & under. Tickets for rides cost extra. A one-day all-u-can-ride carnival wristband is available for $20/online until 8/14, $30/on site. And note that parking is $10 at the fairgrounds, but FREE parking and shuttle bus service are available from Lakeforest Mall, located at Lost Knife Rd. and Odenhal Ave.

Prince William County Fair
Virginia’s largest annual county fair includes 4-H exhibits, rides, contests (think pie eating and water balloon tossing), animal shows, craft demos, the Children’s Barn, Kid’s Zone, live performances, and more. Note that August 9 is Kid’s Friday when all admissions are $6. And there are other special days with all kinds of promos, so be sure to check the schedule for details.
When: August 13-21, Hours vary by day, so check the daily schedules.
Where: Prince William County Fairgrounds | 10624 Dumfries, Manassas, VA.
Cost: Admission is $8-12/age 14-59, $7-8/seniors and age 5-13, free/4 & under. Look for package deals and daily specials, too!

Arlington County Fair
We’ve been to this fair and have had a great time. It’s big enough for a fun-filled day, but not so huge that it’s overwhelming, and you feel rushed to get to everything. There are carnival rides for everyone from toddlers to adults, and the kids especially loved the pony rides and piglet races. You can also check out competitive exhibits, enjoy live entertainment, cheer on a variety of racing animals, view outdoor movies, and take little ones to the Kids’ Court for moon bouncing, face painting, a beer garden for adults, and more.
When: August 18-22, hours vary by day, so check the schedule for specifics.
Where: Thomas Jefferson Community Center | 3501 Second St., Arlington, VA. Get parking/shuttle information here.
Cost: Admission is FREE. But, of course, you need to buy tickets for rides and other activities: $1/ticket, $20/24 tickets, $40/48 tickets. There is an online special of 72 ride tickets for $55.

Prince George’s County Fair
A variety of entertainment and attractions for all ages — 4-H exhibits magic and dance shows, pig and duck races, a horse pull competition, a chain saw artist, a K-9 show, and much more.
When: September 9-12, hours vary by day.
Where: Showplace Arena | Upper Marlboro, MD.
Cost: Admission is $6/age 12+, $5/age 6-11, free/5 & under. Rides and games are extra.

Anne Arundel County Fair
Carnival rides and games, animal exhibits, monster trucks, pony rides, garden tractor pulls, pig races, pie eating contests, a talent show, live music and much more
When: September 15-19, check the website for hours.
Where: Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds | 1450 General’s Highway, Crownsville, MD
Cost: Admission is $10/age 9+,free/8 & under. Rides and games cost extra.

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Filed under 2021, All ages, DC, Maryland, Virginia

Scenes from the Finally Reopened, Very Much Missed Dumbarton Oaks Garden

 

Of the many re-openings happening over the next month, the Dumbarton Oaks Garden may just be the one I am happiest about, mostly because it’s the first time visitors can return since it closed last spring.  While many places welcomed the public for a brief period last summer and fall, the Garden’s gates remained closed — and I, for one, really missed being able to visit.

Dumbarton is one of my go-to places for peace and calm, when I just want to stroll around and relax in a beautiful setting.  (So, it’s probably understandable why I missed it so much over the last year.)  The Garden’s 16 acres are a horticultural haven, with countless varieties of flowers, plants, and trees throughout the many plats of the terraced grounds.  It’s breathtaking year-round, but especially vibrant right now with spring blooms and bright, fresh foliage.  Pre-Covid, Dumbarton was a regular recommendation from me, and I’ve written about it several times —  you can read more here, here, and here.

 

The hardscapes are just as lovely as the landscapes. There are several fountains (that look freshly cleaned!), benches and other lovely spots to sit, and many garden sculptures.  And the Pebble Garden, probably my favorite area, is a patterned pebble mosaic with a fountain at one end and encircling walls covered in wisteria.  It’s absolutely enchanting… though, really, the whole garden feels like it’s out of a fairytale,.

 

Dumbarton isn’t just a place I love; our whole family enjoys visiting together.  We’ve been there many times over the last decade.  When the kids were younger, we’d take them to play next door at Montrose Park or go for a short hike on the Dumbarton Oaks Park trail (located behind the estate), maybe have a little picnic, then head to the garden for its afternoon open time (note that picnics are not allowed at Dumbarton).  They always loved walking around, exploring, and seeing what delights awaited around every corner.

As the kids have gotten older, we usually pair a visit to the Garden with a meal in Georgetown.   If we want something quick, we walk down to Jaco Juice and Taco Bar a few blocks away on Wisconsin Avenue and sit outside.  We might also walk a little farther to Martin’s Tavern (a DC institution), Peacock Cafe, or Cafe Milano.

Right now, the Garden is only open to those with season passes, which are available for purchase and start at $75 for one person (and you still need to get timed-entry tickets).  Beginning May 15, it will be open to all with $7 timed-entry tickets to control capacity.  Masks are also required as a safety precaution, and the bathrooms are not open, so prepare for that.

 

Dumbarton Oaks Garden is located at 31st and R Streets NW in Georgetown.  You can usually find two-hour street parking very close to the entrance.  Hours right now are 3-6pm on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Beginning May 15, it will be open Tuesday – Sunday, 3-6pm.  You must reserve a timed-entry ticket in advance.  Admission is $7 | FREE November thru mid-March.

Get more of a glimpse in these snaps from my recent visit…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 2021, All ages, COVID-19, DC, Outdoor, Social Distancing

Quick Links for this Week

     Spring Break 2021

 

It’s Spring Break for most DC students, including ours, so a couple of things:  1) You may be looking for extra things to do around the DC area during the time off from school  and  2) We’re taking advantage with a beach trip, so I won’t be posting much, but I’m also not leaving you hanging — here are quick KFDC links that will come in handy.  Have a great week!

 

Where to Go & What to Do During Spring Break 2021

Spring Things to Get Excited About Around the DC Area

The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids

Inside Info: Indoor Places Open During COVID

Local Hikes with Kids

Bike Routes for Everyone Around the DC Area

 

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Filed under 2021, All ages, Maryland, Seasonal, Spring, Virginia, Weekdays