Tag Archives: Kids Activities in DC

{Giveaway} LEGO Mania Returns to BrickFair ’14

brickfair14

Calling all LEGO enthusiasts! BrickFair, the nation’s largest annual LEGO fan festival, is retruning to the area August 2-3. And you have a chance to win a family four-pack of tickets to the event.

BrickFair ’14 will bring together LEGO fans from across the country to showcase their amazing brick constructions, from tiny intricate works to elaborate, towering creations. Over one thousand exhibitors will be there to display their designs, along with vendors selling all things LEGOS — T-shirts, hats, mini figures, models, and more.

It’s not all just looking and buying. Visitors can get hands on in the Stay-n-Play Area chock full of bricks so you can build with and get creative. And some of the models are interactive, inviting guests to examine them even more closely (but be gentle!).

This will all take place at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Va, August 2-3 from 11am – 4pm both days. Tickets are $12/ages 4 and up, free for ages 3 and under, but right now you can get a discount through Goldstar and try to win a four-pack for your family through the giveaway.

GIVEAWAY: I have two four-packs of tickets for BrickFair ’14 up for grabs. For a chance at winning one of them, simply leave a comment below telling me your favorite summer activity. To be eligible, you must like KidFriendly DC on Facebook. This giveaway will run through July 6, then the winners will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!

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Filed under All ages, Annual, DC, Exhibit, Giveaway, Summer, Virginia, Weekend

Get Down and Dirty at Merrell’s Obstacle Course & Mud Run this Summer

Plenty of mud and fun at the Merrell Down & Dirty Obstacle Race

Plenty of mud and fun at the Merrell Down & Dirty Obstacle Race



Who’s up for a good physical challenge? Given the amount of interest in a recent post about a family obstacle course challenge held in the area, I’d say a whole bunch of you — and your kids — are ready to conquer some obstacles, get muddy, and have a blast doing it.

You’ll be able to do all of that and then some at the Merrell Down & Dirty Obstacle Race on July 21. The seventh stop across the nation on the series’ tour will be an inaugural one for Washington, DC, as the race comes to the area for the first time. And one of the best things about it is that kids can get in on the fun, too.

merrell_wall

For the grown-up crowd, the exhilarating racing series features 5K and 10K off-road courses filled with military-style obstacles, commanding cargo climbs, wild water crossings, and tons of mud. For children ages 4-13, there’s the Adventure Kids series, featuring tike-size obstacles for a 100 yard dash or 1 mile course.

The event also helps raise funds for Operation Gratitude, an admirable charity that sends personalized care packages to military personnel deployed in hostile regions overseas.

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The Merrell Down & Dirty Obstacle Race will take place at Prince George’s Stadium in Bowie, Maryland on July 21. Packet pick-up is 7am, and racing begins at 8am. If you register by June 30, cost is $55 for the 5k and $65 for the 10k, going up $5 every two weeks after that. Registration for the Adventure Kids 1-mile race (ages 7-13) is $28 by June 30/$30 after and $20 for the 100-yard dash(ages 4-6).

More information, plus a great video of what to expect for all ages, can be found on the website.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Merrell Down & Dirty Obstacle Race, however, I only promote activities, events, and services that I sincerely enjoy and think would appeal to KFDC readers.


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Filed under Annual, Charity, Competition, DC, Maryland, Outdoor, Sports, Summer, Weekend

Heads-Up on Local Closings

Due to sequestration, the National Arboretum will be closed Tuesdays, Wednesday, & Thursdays

Due to sequestration, the National Arboretum will be closed Tuesdays, Wednesdays, & Thursdays



Within just the last few days, I’ve learned about a couple of closings to keep in mind — both are places among the KFDC compendium for family recreation.

As of this week, the U.S. National Arboretum will be closed to the public every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday as a result of the sequester and budget cuts to the federal Agricultural Research Service, a U.S. Agriculture Department bureau that operates the Arboretum. It was being reported that an entrance fee would also be instituted, but admission will remain free. You can read more about the reduced public visitation hours here.

The National Aquarium in DC, located in the lower level of the Department of Commerce, will close its doors for good on September 30, due to renovations in the building. The collection of more than 1,500 animals will be transitioned to new homes at either National Aquarium in Baltimore or other accredited aquariums. And while I realize that some folks aren’t impressed by the relatively small display of marine life, I consider it a loss. The compact space and simple exhibits are perfect for little aquarium-goers, a great introduction to the underwater world. (Hey, my kids get excited about the lobster tanks in seafood restaurants.) If you haven’t yet been, and your babes are fascinated by fish, go check it out while you can. Hours are Sunday – Thursday 9am – 6pm and Friday – Saturday 9am – 7pm. Admission is $9.95/adults, $4.95/ages 3-11, free for under 3.

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Filed under DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Nature, Outdoor, Weekdays, Weekend

Time for a Tour of the Old Post Office Tower

The view from the tower - beautiful, even on a dreary day.

The view from the tower – lovely, even on a dreary day.


[2017 Update: The Old Post Office Pavilion Clock Tower was closed for a few years while the building was being renovated and transformed into a hotel. Tours of the tower operate independently of the hotel, and the National Park Service runs the programming of the historic site. The write-up below reflects our experience before the renovation, i.e. some things pictured are no longer there, but the tower info is still accurate.]

I can’t reiterate enough how much I love all the deal sites. And it’s not just about scoring a discount. Through them, I often learn about new places and adventures, and am motivated to try ones I just haven’t gotten to yet.

That’s exactly what inspired a recent outing with the kids to The Old Post Office Tower. And while it wasn’t a deal that sparked the trip — it’s free to tour — we do have a deal site to thank for it. Scoutmob not only helps you save on all kinds of food, wares, clothes, and more good stuff from local businesses, they also have a groovy website with a whole section of articles about places, events, and ideas — all with a local bent.

And that is where I found out about the Clock Tower tours. A couple of weeks ago, I read DC’s Most Underrated Tourist Attractions (That Tourists Don’t Go to) Part Deux on their site, and guess what was included on the list? Yep, the Old Post Office Tower. At 315 feet in height, it’s the third tallest building in Washington, DC (after the Washington Monument and Basilica at Catholic University), and I wanted to go check it out.

Checking out where we’ll be on the way there

The kids didn’t have any plans after school that day, so when I picked them up, I asked them if they wanted to see DC from really high up, and immediately got an enthusiastic, “Yeah!” So, even though it was a gray and rainy day, we made our way down to 12th and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. I pointed out the clock on the way there from several blocks away, and the kids were excited to know they’d soon be up there looking down on the city.

Go through the lower level food court to begin the tour

We parked fairly easily across the street, which was probably dumb luck at 3:45pm mid-week. Inside the building, we went through security then followed the “Tower Tour” signs around the west side of the building then downstairs. There are a food court and shops on the lower level, as well as a small area operated by the National Park Service, where tours of the tower begin.

Displays on the 10th floor

We rode up to the tower in a glass elevator that faced the open space in the middle of the building, which the kids loved, but I have to admit gave me that rubber-knee feeling. It let us out on the 10th floor where we could view displays about the history of the tower, mostly how it was saved from demolition, and the Bells of Congress, a bicentennial gift from England which are replicas of the bells in London’s Westminster Abbey.

An NPS park ranger enjoys the view from the observation deck, too

An NPS park ranger enjoys the view from the observation deck, too

From there, we took another elevator up a couple of floors to the observation deck at 270 feet. That’s where you can see 360-degree vistas of DC and surrounding areas. And it is amazing. Even on a gray, rainy day. And when you consider there’s really no other place to get that perspective of the city now that the Monument is closed, it makes the experience even better.

The Washington Monument doesn’t look taller from here.

Rooftop gardens!

We pointed out DC landmarks, tried to find our house (but couldn’t see that far), watched airplanes fly in to DCA, and looked down at all the little cars and people scurrying below. And in the center of the observation deck, encased in glass, are the inner-workings of the big ticker, so you can see its operations up close.

Tik Tock on the clock

The deck is not completely enclosed, there are plexiglass windows in some areas, but just metal slats in most. Needless to say, it was a chilly venture, so we made our way back downstairs after about 15 minutes. Another jaunt in the glass elevator followed by a treat in the food court.

A post-Tower Tour treat

This one is already on my “Go-Back” list. If the views were that cool on a dreary day, I can’t wait to see them on nice one.

The Old Post Office Clock Tower is open from 9am – 5pm daily, except Thanksgiving and Christmas, and last entry is 4:30pm. Tours are self-guided, and admission is free. 2017 Update: The Old Post Office has been converted into a hotel, but the Clock Tower is still part of National Park Service and open to tour.

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Filed under All ages, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Monuments & Memorials, Weekdays, Weekend