Tag Archives: Fun with Kids in Washington DC

Where to Play on Thanksgiving Day

The Air & Space Museum and all of the Smithsonian Museums remain open on Thanksgiving!

How about a side of recreation to go with your Thanksgiving turkey? If you’re going to be in town for the holiday and looking for pre- or post-feast activities, here are some ways to complement the main event of the day. Happy Thanksgiving!

* Visit a Smithsonian museum or the National Zoo. They are all open on Thanksgiving from 10am – 5:30pm, except for the American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery which are open 11:30am – 7pm. The National Gallery of Art (which is not part of the Smithsonian, just a neighbor on the Mall) is open, too, from 10am – 5pm.

* Experience Season’s Greenings at the U.S. Botanic Garden on opening day! Get an idea of what to expect in this post.

* Hang out at a playground. Hains Point, Clemyjontri, Watkins Regional Park, Beauvoir, Cabin John Regional Park, Wheaton Regional Park, plus loads of DC Parks and Rec locations, and many more in NoVa and Maryland are great places to play while you’re waiting for the feast.

* Get gliding and enjoy some active fun. You can skate under the sky at one of several ice rinks in the area that are open on the holiday. Find info for them here.

* Enjoy a holiday hike. For those who like to get out, it looks like it should be a pleasant Turkey Day this year. Rock Creek, Great Falls, Roosevelt Island, Huntley Meadows, Prince William Forest, Riverbend, and Turkey Run are all great parks for family tramping. This post has details on all of them along with even more recs for local walks in the woods.

* Go bowling. Pinstripes in Georgetown hosts Kids Bowling from 10am – 12pm, when ages 12 and under bowl for just $6 (and parents bowl free!). There is a locaton in Rockville, too. You can also hit the lanes at Lucky Strike in Penn Quarter, Bowlmor in Bethesda or Rockville, or Bowl America in several NoVa locations.

* Get into the holiday spirit at Christmas on the Potomac, the Gaylord National Resort’s spectacular seasonal attraction.

* Dance off the turkey dinner at the Kennedy Center. The evening’s free Millennium Stage performance features their annual Thanksgiving Day Swing with music by Josh Christina, an infectious blend of piano driven, high octane boogie-woogie and pop ’n’ roll. This all takes place from 5:30-8pm, and admission is free.

* Take an evening drive or stroll through a holiday light display — several in the area have started dazzling visitors with twinkling wonderlands.

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Filed under All ages, Animals, Annual, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Free, Holidays, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Virginia, Weekdays

Valentine’s Day Activities that Kids (and You!) Will Love

Making Valentines at the Postal Museum

Making Valentines at the Postal Museum

Love is in the air — and at places all around DC over the next couple of weeks! Events and activities that celebrate Valentine’s Day range from arts & crafts to Lego fun to horse drawn carriage rides to cooking classes to dance parties to a chocolate festival, all of them sure to be especially sweet. Here are details on where you and the kids can feel the love.

Sweet Valentine: Tour and Workshop
Where: Tudor House
When: February 6, 1:30-2:30pm
Admission: $15/members, $25/non-members ($5/adult)

Celebrate sweet Valentine’s Day traditions! Children ages 6 and up will tour the historic mansion, learning about how food was made and enjoyed at Tudor Place over the last 200 years. Then, they’ll decorate two decadent chocolate Valentines to give special family members or friends. Parents/caregivers remain with children.

Valentine’s Mailbox
Where: Home Depot
When: February 6, 9am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Join this hands-on workshop and build a wooden Valentines mailbox to hold all your valentine cards from your favorite friends. After the mailbox is built, kids can personalize it with paint. Along with their craft, all partcipants receive a certificate of achievement, a workshop apron, and a commemorative pin (while supplies last). Register here.

Valentine Maker’s Market
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden
When: February 6, 9am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Shop a Valentine’s Maker’s Market and enjoy Annmarie’s amazing art offerings for free. This special market kicks off the season of supporting local artists and vendors — a variety of wonderful handmade, homemade, and homegrown items will be for sale, including jewelry, drawings, paintings, fiber products, and glasswork. Be sure to stroll the gorgeous grounds, stop in the artLAB to get creative, and play in the lovely Fairy Lolly, too. Read more about Annmarie here.

Library Love
Where: DC Public Libraries
When: Various dates
Admission: Free

Join story times , craft sessions, even a dance party at some of the city’s libraries. Valentine’ themed activities are taking places on several dates over the next couple of weeks. Find one that your child will love here.

Chocolate Lovers Festival
Where: City of Fairfax
When: February 6 & 7
Admission: Depends on activities

Valentine’s Day and chocolate go hand-in-hand, so certainly the timing of this sweet event is not a coincidence. The City of Fairfax presents its annual festival centered around one of the most wonderful things in the world: chocolate. There will be all kinds of activities for all ages throughout the weekend, both chocolate and non-chocolate themed — tastings, story time, puppet shows, face painting, chocolate challenges, a chocolate caper mock trial, and much more. The events list on the website has details.

Tween Valentine Card Making
Where: The Paper Source
When: February 6
Admission: $25

Kids ages 8 and up are invited to make Valentines for friends, family, and classmates at this fun workshop. Get creative with stamps, washi tape, ombré ink, glitter and more. Everyone will make 4-6 cards and get a heart maze as a favor! A 10% off coupon will be provided with the class. Buy two seats at the same time and save 10% off each seat.

Valentine Crafts
Where: Michael’s
When: February 6 & 13
Admission: Varies by session

Head to a Michael’s location for some creative Valentine’s fun. The arts & crafts supply store is hosting drop-in workshops over the next couple of weekends for children to make cards and decor — all with a love theme. Search the website to find a store near you.

Sweetheart Party
Where: Gymboree DC
When: February 12, 4-6pm
Admission: $5/non-member, FREE for members

Join Gymboree DC at their Annual Sweetheart Party, where guests will love music & dancing, sweet play activities, heartfelt arts & crafts, and sweet treats. Suitable for children up to 5 years old. SPace is limited, so register soon: [email protected] or 202-627-2450.

Valentines in the Village
Where: Village at Leesburg
When: February 12-14 5-9pm
Admission: Free

Add something special to your Valentine’s Day weekend at Village at Leesburg, where they’ll be offering FREE evening horse drawn carriage rides down the illuminated Village Market Boulevard. Plan to go after a day out with the kids or a parents’ date night.

Valentine Lego Love
Where: Room & Board
When: February 13, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Spread the love at a fun-filled morning with the kids… and Lego Man! Room & Board will be hosting a morning of modern design inspiration, featuring a life-sized creation using Legos from Brixalot. Kids of all ages can build their own designs from thousands of Legos, and create their own Valentine’s Day paper crafts. Attendees can also learn how to create an imaginative space for children using furnishings by Room & Board while spending the day with the family. RSVP here.

Valentine Build & Grow
Where: Area Lowe’s Locations
When: February 13, 10am
Admission: Free

The home improvement store hosts free bimonthly workshops for kids, and this session will bring some Valentine’s Day spirit as guests construct a Valentine’s Day Picture Frame. Bring the kids into any Lowe’s store to make the free wooden project (with parent help). Each participant also receives a free apron, goggles, a project themed patch, and a certification of merit upon completion of their project. Go here to register.

DIY Valentines
Where: National Postal Museum
When: February 13, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Love is in the details at the Postal Museum’s annual Valentine’s Day Card Workshop. We’ve attended this event several times, so I can tell you firsthand it’s love-ly. They’ll have pretty papers and neat valentine-themed stamps, all you need to bring is your creativity to decorate your card. Visit the museum’s stamp store and send the cards to your loved ones with a special Postal Museum postmark. And for more about the museum, see this KFDC post.

Family Valentine’s Dance Party
Where: Port Discovery
When: February 13, 6-9pm

Don your best “play” attire and enjoy an evening of dancing, playing, exploring, and making great family memories at Port Discovery’s Valentine’s Dance Party! Along with boogeying the evening away, there will be other fun activities, including light up valentine’s, cookie decroating, open play and museum exploration, and pizza!

Love in Every Language
Where: Sackler Gallery
When: February 13 & 14
Admission: Free

All ages are welcome to enjoy a digital slideshow of images of love in Asian art. Use that as inspiration to create Valentine’s Day cards with woodblock prints that say “love” in more than a dozen Asian languages and fold heart-shaped origami.

Family Fun: Sweet Valentine Treats
Where: Sur la table locations
When: February 13 & 14
Admission: $49/person

Bring your little one and join a family afternoon filled with baking, laughter, and plenty of tasty Valentine’s Day treats. Mom, grandparent, or special adult along with their kids will have a wonderfully sweet time creating yummy cookies, whoopie pies and chocolate-dipped hearts. Plus, the instructor will walk you through the steps for making delicious cream cheese frosting and share some fun decorating tips. This year, make Valentine’s Day extra special for your little loved ones by making delicious desserts—and precious memories—together.

Pretty in Pink
Where: Select movie theaters
When: February 14
Admission: Varies by theater

See a classic you loved back in the John Hughes inspired days. Paramount Pictures and Fathom Events is bringing Pretty in Pink to select cinemas to celebrate the film’s 30th Anniversary and Valentine’s Day. Molly Ringwald is a high school girl from the wrong side of town. Andrew McCarthy is the wealthy heart-throb who asks her to the prom. As fast as their romance builds, it’s threatened by the painful reality of peer pressure. Relive the glory days when the story returns to the big screen.

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Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, DC, Eats, Exhibit, Free, Holidays, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Seasonal, Tweens, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

What’s Open Today – Quick Update!


Is cabin fever setting in? Are ready to do something that doesn’t involve snow? Here’s a quick update on some places open today, Tuesday, January 26, where you can get out for some indoor fun with the kiddos.

Smithsonian Museums: A few of the museums are opening back up today: The Air & Space and Natural History Museum (10am – 5:30pm) and the National Portait Gallery and American Art Museum (11:30am – 7pm) are welcoming visitors again.

Movie Theaters: Many area theaters are open, but be sure to confirm hours before you go.

DC Public Library: Opening late today. Hours at most locations will be 12-7pm. Rosedale, Deanwood, and Northwest One will be open 1-7pm.

Arlington Public Library: Open at 12pm, though all programs for children are canceled through Wednesday.

(Alexandria, Fairfax, PG, and Montgomery County Libraries still closed)

DC Aquatic Centers: Indoor public pools in the District are opening back up today, though some are delayed, so be sure to check hours before you go.

MagicGround: The new play space in Columbia Heights has resumed its regular hours.

SportRock Climbing Centers: The Alexandria location is open, and the Sterling site will make a decision later today.

Kettler Capitals IcePlex: Open with several Freestyle sessions, but be sure to check the schedule before you go.

Port Discovery: If you feel like making the drive to Baltimore, the children’s museum and play place will open at 12pm.

SkyZone: The trampoline park in Columbia, MD, is open 11am – 8pm.

As mentioned in Where to Play on the Weekdays, the Washington Auto Show is back on as of today through January 31, and Flight Trampoline Park is open.

*Also of note: DC Public Schools will be providing breakfast and lunch to students and families at 10 schools across Washington, DC, from 10am – 12pm.

Do you know of any other places open today to bring the kids? Let us know in the comments!

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Filed under All ages, DC, Educational, Free, Indoor Play, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Seasonal, Virginia, Weekdays, Winter

Play & Learn Through American History at Wegmans Wonderplace

Climb aboard for some fun in Wegmans Wonderplace

Climb aboard for some fun in Wegmans Wonderplace

Parents with little ones, take note: The new Wegmans Wonderplace at the National Museum of American History should be among your go-to places to take your babe to play. Designed especially for children 0-6 years old, the activity center in the recently opened Innovation Wing incorporates play and learning in the museum’s context with fun and interesting features that cater to curious young visitors as well as their accompanying adults.


My kids are too old for it now, but it’s exactly the kind of place I sought out in their early years. (I know this from joining a friend and her 4-year-old on a recent visit there.) As the museum puts it, “Wonderplace is built around the enduring wonders of childhood, the things kids are naturally curious about — blocks, animals, sounds — and branches out to make connections to the museum’s diverse collections and exhibitions.”

Active play in the museum

Active play in the museum

Taking the wheel of the boat

Taking the wheel of the boat

What's for dinner, Stig?

What’s for dinner, Stig?

They achieve this with a variety of exhibits that appeal to little guests with hands-on activities, active fun, and pretend play opportunities. A big boat in the middle of the room welcomes children to climb aboard, slide down, and drive. There’s a market to shop for veggies, and a kitchen where they can use them to prepare a meal. A farm area lets them collect eggs from chickens, and a corner dedicated to blocks and building encourages them to use their imaginations to create all kinds of structures. A wall of full of framed portraits shows how history is the story of people. And throughout the space are items from the museum’s collections on display that relate to the exhibits.

The blocks station is a must-play

The blocks station is a must-play

Down on the farm

Down on the farm

A nice feature at the stations are panels that explain the connection of the activities to both the museum and childrens’ learning, plus tips for parents on ways to explore them at varying stages — infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. And all of the exhibits are at eye-level for kids, so they can engage completely and comfortably.

The collections section

The collections section

Tips to make the most of your visit

Tips to make the most of your visit

These are among many thoughtful details that parents can appreciate. Some others are boppy pillows in the reading area for nursing moms, a crawling area for babies with soft toys and a low-hung mirror, and a restroom within the space that includes a changing table and child-sized toilet. And enthusiastic museum staff are on hand to answer questions and occasionally jump in with helpful suggestions for both adults and children.

Room for reading, nursing... and snuggling

Room for reading, nursing… and snuggling

Take your own portrait

Take your own portrait

When I asked my friend, Jody, what she and her son thought of Wegmans Wonderplace, she said, “I think the fact that I had to drag him out of there speaks volumes!” She noted that the mix of activities kept him occupied for a full two hours and also pointed out that the location inside the American History Museum is a bonus “because it gives some good variety in the outing for grownups, as opposed to trucking to a play zone place just for that purpose.”

All kinds of building materials in the blocks area

All kinds of building materials in the blocks area

A great point, indeed! You can extend your visit beyond Wegmans Wonderplace and explore other parts of the museum that young children enjoy, like some of the displays in the Innovation Wing and America on the Move, where they can sit on an L train car and gawk at other vehicles. And the newly renovated Spark!Lab is adjacent, but generally geared toward older kids. (That’s also good to keep in mind…while Wonderplace is supposed to be for ages 0-6, I thought it seemed like 4 and under would enjoy it best. But you can always bring your 5/6-year-old, and move to the Spark!Lab next door if they seem too old.)

A little marble run fun in the Spark!Lab

A little marble run fun in the Spark!Lab

And did I mention that it’s all free? That’s right, like many Smithsonian gems, there is no entrance fee. There’s a chance of a short wait if it happens to be crowded, but you have a whole museum to explore until it’s your turn to go in.

Wegmans Wonderplace is located on the First Floor West of the American History Museum (14th & Constitution NW). It’s open every day except Tuesdays and December 25 from 10am – 4pm. Admission, as mentioned, is free. There is street parking nearby, and you can probably find a close spot on a weekday, but weekends will be more challenging. The nearest Metro station is the Smithsonian stop, just across the National Mall at 12th and Independence SW.


Filed under Babies, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Indoor Play, Museums, Preschoolers, Toddlers, Weekdays, Weekend