Tag Archives: Playseum

Let’s Party!

The kids' joint party at Watkins Nature Center - double the birthday fun!

 

Every year since starting this blog, I’ve done one big post about birthday parties.  They are kind of a thing for me, and rather than reiterate why, I’ll just direct you to this post and this one, which not only cover the background on my quest for good party venues, but also have a bunch of recommendations for places to host a bash for your child. And in keeping with the once-a-year tradition, here’s another post dedicated to the birthday party, a compilation of potential locales to celebrate our kids’ big days. And if you know of a good one that I have yet to mention, feel free to add it in the comments.

Welcoming another party guest

Watkins Nature Center
I’ve suggested birthday parties at nature centers before, but Watkins now gets individual mention – and huge props – after I hosted my kids’ bash there earlier this year. It couldn’t have worked out better for us.  Since Owen and Sasha’s birthdays are just two weeks apart, we once again took advantage of the opportunity to throw a joint party. However, that meant we needed a venue that could accommodate guests of both kids. It also had to be indoors for their mid-winter party. On top of that, we wanted an activity that both birthday honorees, ages 3 and 6, would enjoy. Watkins came through in spades. Their party room accommodates up to 50 guests – 25 children and 25 adults, which was way more than other nature centers I checked out. We played up the “bringing the outdoors in” concept during what’s usually a cold time of year (it ended up being an unseasonably gorgeous day and the kids got to enjoy the trails, pond, and rescued birds around the center along with the animal and nature exhibits inside). But best of all, both Owen and Sasha were thrilled about the main event, a live animal show, a 30-minute viewing of some of the center’s feathery and reptilian residents. As far as logistics go, you can’t beat it: The cost for a three-hour rental (that includes set up and clean up time) is $155, which is pretty stellar in the DC area. You bring your own food, cake, and supplies, and plenty of tables and chairs are there for you to set up as desired. The party room is cute with big, colorful insect and amphibian paintings on the walls, and there’s much more to awe kids in and around the center. I recommend booking well in advance, as they only have two party time slots per weekend – from 1-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays. For reservations, call 301.218.6702 (2016 Update: Rates & options have changed a bit. A Basic Party is $150/PG County residents, $200/non-residents and a Wild Thing Party (with the animal show) is $200/PG County residents, $260/non-residents.)

National Building Museum
The NBM was included in my first birthday party post, but with some new options available, it makes the list again. Craft Activity Birthday Parties are available in a variety of themes: Castle & Crowns and All Aboard! Train Construction are for children 3-6, while Tower Power and Crazy Creations are suitable for 6-11-year-olds. Each two-hour party includes a building orientation, hands-on craft, and party time in a museum classroom. All guests also receive complimentary tickets to view exhibits after. Cost is $250 for 10 guests, $15 for each additional guest. Another option for kids 6-11 is the Brick City Party, a tour of the Lego Architecture exhibit, a chance to construct their own brick buildings and create a Lego city, and a birthday celebration. The two-hour party costs $300 for 10 guests, $15 for each additional guest.  You must be a member at the Family Level or higher to book a party at the NBM, but I highly recommend getting the membership, anyway – at $80/year, it pays for itself if you and the kids visit the Building Zone and exhibits even just a few times.

Ice Skating
A cool way to celebrate a kid’s big day is on ice… make that, at the ice skating rink. And there are several in the area that host parties. Kettler Capital Iceplex has a package for $185 that includes party room rental, admission for 10 kids and 2 adults to the public skate session, skate rentals, food and drinks, party host, and party supplies. More guests can be added for extra cost.  Cabin John Ice Rink in Bethesda rents a party room for $50/hour (you bring food, supplies, etc.) and a studio rink for $185/hour. You can also forego the private rink, and guests can skate during public skate sessions (admission is $3.50/ages 3-4, $5.50/ages 5-10, $6.50/ages 11 and up.) Be sure to book a party room during public skate times.  For an ice skating party under the sky, the Pentagon Row Ice Skating Rink is a great option (though only open November – March).  Their birthday package includes a 25-minute skating lesson, then skate time, and tables can be reserved for party time. Cost is $12/person with a six-person minimum.  These are just three suggestions; for even more ice skating options, check out the venues listed in this post.

Roller Skating
When I was a kid, I probably had at least three birthday parties at the roller skating rink. I can even recall donning a sparkly headband (one that went around my forehead, not on top of my head), scrunching my legwarmers around my ankles, and circling the rink as Xanadu blared in the background. Surely, that’s not completely a thing of the past (Olivia Newton-John is due for a major comeback, right?). At least it’s not at a few area roller rinks. One of them is Wheels Skating Center in Odenton, Md., where birthday party packages for up to 10 skaters are available. Packages include admission and skate rental, pizza and drinks, 45 minutes at a party table, supplies, a free skate pass for each party guest, and special goodies for the birthday kid. Skate Zone in Crofton, Md., is another place to get rolling, with a few party packages starting at $195, are available. The basic includes admission and rentals for 8 guests, food and drinks, game tokens, an hour at a party table, supplies, and goody bags.

Pirate Ship Parties
Buccaneer-obsessed kids can fulfill their pirate dreams on the high Chesapeake “seas”. Two different companies in Baltimore and Annapolis offer party packages for swashbuckling birthday boys and girls. Owen has attended – and had a blast at — parties at both locations. And if his birthday fell at a different time of year, he’d probably opt to celebrate it at one of them. Urban Pirates in Baltimore offer three birthday packages starting at $275 for 15 guests, 30 minutes of boarding activities, 60 minutes of sailing on the Fearless, a special Pirate birthday song and goodies for both the honoree and guests. Cake time costs extra, so you may have to plan for another venue, perhaps a nearby park, for that. Visit the website to see all of their party options. Pirate Adventures in Annapolis has a few packages available, all of them including 30 minutes of face painting and dress-up before a 75-minute cruise aboard the Sea Gypsy, a ride that takes party-goers out on the Bay and includes fun and games of the pirate variety. Depending on the package, there may or may not be time in a party room after, so you might have to figure out another option for cake. Package prices begin at $675 for 45 passengers, and while that sounds steep, you might consider doing what a friend of mine did, and sharing the party with a friend.

Sprinkles Cupcakes
After attending a Mother’s Day cupcake decorating session here, Sasha declared Sprinkles as her next birthday party venue. And I completely understand why: Cupcakes! Ones you get to frost yourself and adorn with all the pretty and fun toppings you like. In an adorable pink-walled (and floored) party room above the shop.  Sprinkles provides the bare cupcakes, then sets out several flavors of frosting along with a variety of cute, edible sugar decorations (including, of course, sprinkles), so that party guests can make their cupcakes look and taste exactly the way they want them. And you’re welcome to bring your own food and drinks for party fare other than the scrumptious treats. The cost for all of this is $500 and includes two hours of rental time, 4 dozen full-sized cupcakes or 6 dozen mini cupcakes , all decorating tools, Sprinkles to-go boxes, and a party coordinator to assist, and set up/clean up by Sprinkles.  The rate might sound steep, but as the room accommodates 20 guests seated and 30 standing, it could possibly be a shared party.

ComedySportz 4 Kids
This improv show at The Comedy Spot in Ballston Common Mall is how Owen wants to celebrate his next party. We’ve never been, but I looked into this option for the kids’ birthdays this year and learned they were too young, as it’s recommended for first graders and up.  The fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants show encourages audience participation and even invites theatre-goers to get in on the act, too.  Afterwards, groups can stay for a party on stage. Rates are $10/person for up to 30 guests, plus $100 for the post-show celebration. You bring all the food and supplies; they’ll help you clean up when it’s over. And if you want to go big for the occasion, you can buy out the entire show and have the place to yourselves for $600 (another joint birthday possibility).

Ballet Petite
A friend claims this is a must on a list of area birthday party recommendations. And by the sound of it, I couldn’t agree more. I would have adored a soiree like this when I was a little girl. Catering to budding ballerinas and young entertainers, two party packages indulge the dance enthusiast’s fancy. For children ages 3 and up, there’s the Ballerina Party that includes a story, dance session in ornate costumes, tea party, and a fairy-dusted birthday cake. Kids 5 and older, can turn their party into a production with the Musical Theatre Birthday that includes a song and dance from a popular Broadway show, “auditions”, then a chance to perform the show for parents. Afterward, the party moves to a disco club where guests relax with music, apple cider, and birthday cake. Rates start at $650 for 16 guests (again, one to possibly share to cut costs). Ballet Petite has locations in both Bethesda and McLean.

The Playseum
The venue full of cute, themed rooms encouraging pretend play and hands-on fun for little ones gets loads of raves from parents as a great place for everyday play (Sasha, for one, loves it there). I’ve heard their birthday parties are fantastic, too.  They offer a few packages at different price points, depending on the number of guests and activities included. The basic ($150) gets you an hour of playtime and cupcake decorating, and story time for 6 children. A more-frills one  ($300) includes an all-day play pass, a private party room for two hours, a themed story time, and Playseum dollars to purchase a toy or activity. For more details and other party options, see the website.


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Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, Birthday Parties, Class, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Park, Virginia

Where to Play on the Weekdays: February 6-10

Discovering "How Things Fly" at the National Air & Space Museum

 

Monday – Engage in imaginative play in the various themed rooms and crafts areas at the Playseum. Admission is $6/person (siblings under 10 months are free) and is good for the whole day. Locations in Capitol Hill and Bethesda are convenient to many eateries for pre- or post-play lunch.

Tuesday – Combine story and play time at the National Building Museum.  The Book of the Month program is back at the Building Zone, so guests can hear a reading of The Big Orange Splot and participate in a corresponding activity along with the usual fun in the play space. Readings are at 10:30am & 11:30am, and don’t forget that admission to the Building Zone is now $3, and entry is timed, with guests admitted every hour. Make it a bigger NBM outing and head upstairs for Lego play in the LEGO Architecture exhibit ($5/person) and/or hang out in the Great Hall, where large soft Lego blocks and arch building kits are often available.

Wednesday – It’s Kids Day at Lebanese Taverna in Arlington. Enjoy free children’s entertainment every Wednesday from 10-11am. On the schedule this week: Groovy Nate.  Stay after for a tasty bite to eat!

Thursday – Let fun take flight at the National Air & Space Museum.  Be sure to stop by the “How Things Fly”exhibit, which is full of hands-on displays that little ones love to demo.  And check the schedules for the planetarium and IMAX theatre — both present interesting films and shows about space and flight throughout the day.

Friday – How about storytime at the largest library in the world? The Young Readers Center at the Library of Congress hosts readings every Friday at 10am and 11am. The free sessions are designed for babies and toddlers (0-3 years old), but older children are welcome, too. Each lasts about 25 minutes, with 20 minutes of play afterwards, then clean-up. The Young Readers Center is located in the Jefferson Building (Room LJ G29) at 10 First Street SE.

 

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Filed under Babies, DC, Educational, Free, Gradeschoolers, Library of Congress, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Play, Preschoolers, Toddlers, Virginia, Weekdays, Winter

Where to Play on the Weekdays: October 31-November 4

Happy Halloween!

Monday – Get little ones ready for the big night at a public library, where Halloween-themed story times and arts & crafts sessions are happening throughout the day at many locations.  Find out what’s on the schedule at one near you by checking calendars at these links: DC Public Library, Alexandria Public LibraryArlington Public Library, Fairfax County Public LibraryMontgomery Country Public Library, Howard County Library. And if you’re looking for an alternative to evening trick-or-treating, Tudor Place still has space left for its Historic Halloween Spooktacular.

Tuesday – The National Building Museum is hosting its Book of the Month program at 10:30am & 11:30am with readings of Urban Animals by Isabel Hill along with a hands-on activity. Get there early for play time in the Building Zone, as they now have timed entries that start on the hour. And don’t forget that admission is $3/person.

Wednesday –  Explore imagiNATIONS, the American Indian Museum’s new family activity center.  Weave a giant basket, build an igloo, check out models of native dwellings, read children’s books about American Indian culture, and more. This post from a couple of days ago has more details and photos of the new space.

Thursday – Take the kids to play at Clemyjontri, the brilliant, sprawling playground in McLean that accommodates kids of all abilities. Pack food for lunch in the picnic pavilion (the few vending machines only serve juice and water).  Admission is free, hours are 7am to dusk.

Friday – Engage in imaginative play in the various themed rooms and crafts areas at the Playseum. Admission is $6/person (siblings under 10 months are free) and is good for the whole day. Locations in Capitol Hill and Bethesda are convenient to many eateries for lunch before or after, depending on when you go. 


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Filed under Babies, DC, Educational, Free, Halloween, Indoor Play, Maryland, Museums, Outdoor, Park, Play, Preschoolers, Toddlers, Virginia, Weekdays

Where to Play on the Weekdays: July 18-22

The weather factors greatly into this week’s suggested recreation.  With temps in the mid-90’s and 100+ by the end of the week, most of these activities take place indoors. But if you want to savor the sunshine, this list will give you ideas on what to do.  Just be sure to wear a hat and sunscreen when you get out there.

Here’s what’s happening this week, July 18-22:

Monday –  Check out the new Playseum on Capitol Hill.  Open for less than a week, the play space includes two floors of cute, themed rooms for pretend play, opportunities for arts & crafts and cupcake decorating, and lots of books for sale.  Admission is $6/person. For evening fun, it’s Washington Kastles Family Night, which will include extra kids activities along with the matches against Sacramento Capitals.  Get a discount on tickets with the code KIDDC – more details here.

Tuesday – Join a play date at Rockville Town Square.  Their Mommy & Me and Daddies Too series takes place the third Tuesday of every month from 10am – 12pm.  Register here for the free program.

Wednesday – See Imagination Stage’s latest production, The Wind in the Willows.  Tickets ($10-22) are available for both the 10:30am and 1:30pm shows, and you can get a 25% discount by using the code “Willows25”.  Read DC Theater Scene’s review of the play.

Thursday – Boogie down at Eastern Market! John Henry, the Guitar Playing Man is on the line-up for this week’s Boogie Babes show.  The fun starts at 10:30am.  Admission is $5/child, free for siblings 6 months and under.

Friday – The National Museum of Natural History is always a great place to stay cool.  The dinos, insects, butterflies, and mammals are popular permanent exhibits, and I also recommend the Nature’s Best Photography exhibit, which captures some incredible moments from the natural world. You can also watch an IMAX movie at the museum’s Johnson Theater.  Born to Be Wild 3D and Grand Canyon Adventure are two of several films currently playing.

 

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Filed under All ages, Animals, DC, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Music, Summer, Theatre, Weekdays