Bugging out at the Natural History Museum
Baby, it’s cold outside! But that doesn’t mean you have to stay cooped up this weekend. Bundle up to enjoy holiday light displays, Santa and shopping, or a winter celebration. Of course, if you’d rather shed the coat and scarf, there are plenty of indoor activities to enjoy with the kids. Here are some suggestions for family fun, both al fresco and inside. Happy Weekend!
Holiday Lights & Trains – Holiday lights are twinkling and mini-choos choos are chugging all around the area. I highly recommend the drive-thru light display at Watkins Regional Park ($5/car). Our family went last weekend, and the “oohs” and “aahs” coming from the kids in the backseat were just as cool as the glowing Santas in the Watkins woods. It’s a perfect way to stay warm, be together, and enjoy some holiday fun. Symphony Woods in Columbia and Seneca Creek in Gaitherburg also get raves for light displays you can enjoy from the comfort of your car.
Holiday Shows – All of the classics are at our local theatres. See this post for details on where you and the kids can see your favorites.
‘Yes, Virginia’ Family Day at the Newseum – Enjoy loads of news- and holiday-themed activities on Saturday. Admission is free for kids who bring a new, unwrapped donation for Toys for Tots. Parents might be able to score a discount on admission, too. Check out this post to find out how.
National Geographic Exhibits – Take shelter from the cold and check out a couple of great exhibits. Geckos: Tail to Toepads and Wild Music: Sounds & Songs of Life are fascinating for all ages. Read a review of both here. Admission to Geckos is $7/adults, $4/children under 12, and the Wild Music exhibit is free. The National Geographic Museum is located at 1145 17th Street NW.
Go Buggy & Recycle at the Natural History Museum – For another hands-on (or on hand, as in crawling on) museum experience, head to the Natural History Museum. There are many areas with interactive exhibits that kids love, and one of our favorites is the insect zoo on the second floor. At various times throughout the day, museum volunteers bring out all kinds of creepy crawlies that visitors can actually hold — think giant caterpillars, large beetles, cockroaches. Depending on when you’re there, you may be able to watch a tarantula feeding, too. For exhibits that aren’t alive, but still fun, kids can check out the “house” in the southwest corner to find out where different insects might make their home in your home or try to match up bugs with their contributions to the human world on an interactive panel nearby. They can also crawl through a termite tunnel and examine scads of live insect species in terrariums. If your kids dig bugs, they will love this area of the museum. And for something less buggy, but eco-friendly, there will be a family workshop from 1 – 3pm where guests recycle paper and other items to make holiday gifts.
Christmas Dream from the Nutcracker – This weekend’s Saturday Morning at the National features the Virginia Ballet Company and School as they perform selections from their enchanting version of The Nutcracker. Show times are 9:30am and 11am. Tickets are free and distributed half an hour prior to performances on a first-come, first-served basis. Every person must be standing in line to receive a ticket. The National Theatre is located at 1321 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
Rocknoceros at Avalon Theatre – Tickets are still available to see local kids’ music fave Rocknoceros at The Avalon Theatre on Saturday. The band takes the stage at 10am. Tickets are $5.50 for Avalon members, $8 for non-members. Reserve seats online or hope they’re still available at the box office before the show. The Avalon is located at 5612 Connecticut Avenue NW.
Winter Wonderland at Clarendon Market Common – Enjoy holiday shopping and fun all in one place! The festivities begin on Saturday when Santa arrives by firetruck at 1pm. After that, stay for visits and photos with Mr. Claus along with kids activities and entertainment until 5pm.
Winter’s Eve – The holiday fun continues after dark at Glen Echo Park on Saturday. The evening includes free craft activities for families, choral performances and a sing-along, a hot chocolate bar and fresh popcorn, and a special opportunity for teens (16 and older) and adults to make a blown glass ornament. Admission is free.
The Mini Nut – Perfect for little ones who can’t make it through the big productions, this 50-minute abbreviated performance of the holiday classic will be performed by the Maryland Youth Ballet at the Montgomery Performing Arts Center this weekend. Several showtimes are available on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $15/adults, $10/children, students, and seniors. The venue is located at 7995 Georgia Avenue at East-West Highway in Silver Spring.