Tag Archives: US National Arboretum

Scenes from a Beautiful Fall Day at the U.S. National Arboretum

Autumn sun over the old National Capitol Columns



Not too long ago I posted about 10 Great Places to Enjoy Autumn in the DC Area (that are not Farm Festivals). One of the places included among them was the U.S. National Arboretum, and this past weekend at the locale in northeast DC it was brilliantly evident why.

The whole Arb was bursting with vibrant fall color as foliage in the area is peaking right about now. The red, orange, and yellow tones of many trees and plants throughout its 446 acres are so intense, making for breathtaking scenes everywhere.

#nofilter

A lot of folks were there to savor it all on a gorgeous fall day; I’ve actually never seen the Arb that busy before. But it was great to see so many people enjoying one of the prettiest places in the city (imo). And even with more visitors than usual, the Arboretum is so big, it never feels too crowded.

A popular spot on a nice day

The old National Capitol Columns are a huge draw — they’re so dramatic, especially with the backdrop of autumn-hued trees — but make sure to explore beyond them. There are so many more lovely and interesting sights, including a Bonsai Museum, a natural play area, numerous plant collections, and neat little spots that make you feel like you stumbled upon a bit of magic.

The autumn splendor should last a little while longer, and the forecast indicates we have some nice days coming up to enjoy it. If you go, don’t miss the annual Beautiful Transitions Autumn Bonsai Exhibit, which will run November 10-19, showcasing red maples, yellow ginkgos, and fruited trees in the permanent collection of little trees.

Autumn bonsai

The U.S. National Arboretum is located in Northeast DC off of Bladensburg Road and New York Avenue. Hours are 8am – 5pm. Admission is free.

Read more about the Arboretum in The Best Places in the DC Area to Spend a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids (it tops the list!), in this post about the Washington Youth Garden, and this one with scenes from the gorgeous azalea bloom. And get even more of a glimpse in these image from our visit there yesterday.

Fantastic light creating a golden scene



Sash adds some turquoise to it



Red maple on a blue sky



Greens and golds



A really high five



This bonsai is well on its way to winter foliage



Where’s the tiny partridge for the tiny pear tree?



Chillin’ on the columns



Been visiting the Arb with this guy for a loooong time



A colorful stroll



Picture perfect scenes abound



Too cool (but he actually posed for one)!



Spotted through the arbor



The columns backlit by the sun



Stay gold, Owenboy.



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Filed under 2018, All ages, DC, Fall, Free, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: November 7-11

The great, big jumping pillow at Great Country Farms

 

Monday – I’m making a couple of repeat suggestions from the weekend, and with good reason — the dazzling hues and wonderful weather of autumn probably won’t last much longer, and these pursuits are great ways to take advantage of both.  First, enjoy a natural oasis right in the city at the National Arboretum.  Go for nature walks through the woods, bike along the winding roads, romp in open green spaces, picnic in the Grove of State Trees. Open 8am – 5pm, admission is free. Second, if you’re up for day trip, head out to Great Country Farms for Punkin’ Chunkin’ and then some. You won’t mind the hour-plus drive with a landscape encompassing fall’s full color spectrum on display along the way. And the farm has attractions to keep little ones occupied for hours — a giant jumping pillow, slides, animals, a cow train and hay rides, and more. Don’t forget to bring your jack-o-lantern for a smashing good time!  Admission is $10/adults, $8/children.  Concessions are available at extra cost in the Roosteraunt.

Tuesday – Bounce on over to the Prince George’s Sport and Learning Complex for open play in the Gymnastics Center. Kids can jump, swing, and slide into a big foam pit; spring on trampolines; climb rope ladders, walk balance beams, roll around on soft mats, and more. The hour-long session begins at 11:30am. Admission is $6/child.

Wednesday – It doesn’t have to be summertime to go for a swim, so suit up and plunge in at one of DC’s public aquatic centers. Find out where they are here, and be sure to call ahead for open swim times, as they might vary by venue.

Thursday – Enjoy “Flights of Fancy” – Stories for Children, the Air & Space Museum’s free program that includes a reading of a flight or space-themed book and a hands-on activity. During this session, hear Looking Down by Steven Jenkins at 11am in the Looking at Earth gallery on the first floor.

Friday – Sing along, support a cause, and save a buck at this week’s Boogie Babes shows!  Bring in any gently used children’s item and take $1 off admission. Donations will go to Destination Abricots, an organization supporting orphaned and disadvantaged children in the small community of Abricots, Haiti.  Mr. Knick Knack will perform at 10:30am at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. (There is also a Thursday show — John Henry, the Guitar Playing Man will play Eastern Market’s North Hall at 10:30am). Admission is $4/child with the discount.

 

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Filed under Babies, DC, Educational, Fall, Farm, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Play, Preschoolers, Seasonal, Theatre, Toddlers, Weekdays

This Weekend: Fairs, Museums, and the Great Outdoors

Friday evenings at The Yards Park are fun for all ages

While I hate to sum up this weekend’s recommendations for family activities with just three general ideas, county fairs, museum programs, and outdoor fun really are the main special events happening over the next few days.  If those sound good to you, read on for specifics on all of them.  If not, then scroll down for links to some always-useful ideas.  Happy Weekend!

All’s FairCarnival rides and games, farm animals, live entertainment, pony rides, the junk food gamut, pig races.  Yes, it’s county fair season.  Four of them are happening right now; two have already started, two more kick off today.  This post from a couple of days ago has the scoop on all of the county fun.

Music Al Fresco – Get the weekend started with free music in the fresh air at one of many outdoor concerts. Jazz vibraphonist Chuck Redd will entertain at Jazz in the Garden at 5:30pm, the soul band Quiet Fire will take the boardwalk stage at The Yards Park at 6pm, and the United States Air Force Band will perform Disney and Pixar favorites at the Air Force Memorial at 8pm.  (My personal pick would be for The Yards, where there’s plenty of room to spread out, you can buy or bring food for a picnic dinner, and the kids can enjoy fountain play on a beautiful summer evening.)

Take Me to the RiverCelebrate the Shenandoah at Riverfest, a family event designed to connect the community with the river.  The festival will feature canoe rides along the South Fork off the Shenandoah River; live bluegrass music; fly fishing demos, environmental displays, and more.  A kids’ area will have wild animals displays, gem/arrowheads, and face painting. Admission and activities are free.  There will also be a silent auction and food for sale. The event runs from 10am – 3pm on Saturday.

Art-Stronomy Family DayReach for the stars at the American Art Musuem! See how American inventiveness, as depicted in The Great American Hall of Wonders exhibition, led to the great leaps of science and technology behind space travel and flight. Guests can try their hand at experiments and art activities, join a scavenger hunt through the galleries, and meet an astronaut from NASA. The free event runs from 11:30am – 3pm.

Bonsai! – It’s been awhile since I’ve suggested a visit to the U.S. National Arboretum (one of my favorite places to hang with the kids), mainly because it’s been so hot.  But this weekend is supposed to see a dip in temps, so it should be a nice time to tour the collections, play among the old Capitol columns, and see the “Becoming a Bonsai” exhibit, which is only on display for a couple more weeks.

Oceanic ArtHead to the National Museum of Natural History for its Second Saturday Arts & Sciences program. Ocean animals and their environments will be this months’ theme. Guests can learn about the underwater world, while decorating a reusable cloth lunch bag with stamps and drawings of sea creatures. Just in time for back-to-school.  The free event runs from 1-3pm.

Super Science Saturday: EnergyThe Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the Dulles annex of the Air & Space Museum, hosts its own special program on the second Saturday of every month. This weekend it’ll be all about energy. Visitos can enjoy hands-on demos and activities related to the subject. The permanent exhibits – the hangar full of air and space craft – are worth a trip out there themselves.  The event runs from 10am – 3pm.  Admission is free, but parking is $15.

Ahhh….SHARKS!Today and tomorrow, the National Children’s Museum is celebrating all things sharks.  Head to the Launch Zone at the National Harbor to join in all kinds of fun activities: Hunt for shark teeth at their “beach,” see and touch real shark jaws and other artifacts, and make a shark craft.  The free event runs from 11am – 4pm on Friday, and 11am – 6pm on Saturday.

Facing History: Alexander CalderThis regular series at the National Portrait Gallery is designed for children with their families to explore portraiture in depth. Participants take a brief guided tour of the exhibition, this week focusing on Alexander Calder’s wire self-portrait; listen to a children’s story or short gallery talk; and create a piece of art using some of the same materials or concepts. The event is free, but space is limited , so registration is required. The class run from 2-4pm on Saturday.

Portrait Story Days: Wilma RudolphDrop in at the National Portrait Gallery on Sunday from 2-5pm to listen to a story about a person who has influenced American history and culture and to create a special piece of art. This weekend, learn about American athlete Wilma Rudolph.

For even more ideas for fun with the kids, check out these popular KFDC posts:

Joys of Summer

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

Rainy Day Recreation (ie, Indoor Fun)

Stay Entertained Through Summer


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Filed under All ages, Animals, Annual, Art, DC, Educational, Festival, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, Outdoor, Seasonal, Summer, Virginia, Weekend

Hello, Springtime!

Sometimes things work out exactly as they should. We officially welcome spring tomorrow, and it actually feels like springtime. March Madness is living up to its name, and there’s only been one day of play. The cherry blossom trees have started to bud and are expected to peak during the annual festival that begins next weekend (big post on that coming soon). The stars are aligned. It’s going to be a fantastic weekend, so tear yourself away from the tourney for awhile and welcome spring with some fun with the kids.

One of the best places to see the city’s favorite trees in early bloom and relish the sublime weather is the US National Arboretum.  Over 450 acres contain some amazing collections of plants, trees and flowers. And even if your kids aren’t up for a botany lesson, there is plenty they will be into.  The koi pond at the visitor center is always a big hit with little ones (bring change for the fish food dispenser), the old National Capitol columns standing smack in the middle of the Ellipse Meadow are a brilliant sight for all ages (bring camera for cool photo ops), and large expanses of open space are great places to run and play (bring a ball to kick around). Make it a picnic at the Grove of State Trees, a collection of trees from all 50 states and designated eating spot for visitors.

Another cool picnic spot is Gravelly Point, a small park along the GW Parkway next to Ronald Reagan Airport.  I have to warn you about this one:  it’s hit or miss with kids (and adults, for that matter).  The park is located in a scenic spot right on the Potomac, and on nice days, it’s bustling with folks having picnics, playing soccer, biking and jogging along the Mt. Vernon Trail, and watching the airplanes take off or land (depending on which way they’re going that day).  That’s the hit or miss part.  The planes fly literally right overhead, so it’s fairly loud, and when they’re coming in, it looks like they are coming right at you.  I love it. My son, Owen, loves it… sometimes.  He has cackled with amazement at the sight of the planes, but he has also cried and asked to leave.  If you have a little thrill-seeker, it’s worth checking out.

If you’d rather look up to see treetops, head to Rock Creek Park.  The sprawling oasis of nature within the city is loaded with gems for kids.  Besides miles of hiking and biking trails, kids can explore exhibits in the Nature Center or play dress-up at Peirce Mill. One of our favorite parts of the park is the Horse Center, where kids can tour the stables, see the horses and, best of all, take a pony ride.  It’s $20 for a 10-15 minute ride that winds through the woods and back to the stables (note: riders must be at least 30” tall and two and half years old).  And, of course, the National Zoo is a mainstay of Rock Creek fun.

Happening only this Saturday from 10am – 3pm is the Kites of Asia event at the National Air & Space Museum.  See kites from all over Asia, watch experts make their kites “dance,” construct your own kite (and fly it during the kite festival next weekend), hear a story about kite flying in India, and meet kite masters from Tibet. The event may not take advantage of the weather, but if you’re going to be indoors, this sounds like a good place to be.

For a little more art and culture, don’t forget WinterCity Weekend at Barracks Row, which I posted about a couple of days ago.  The Hill’s main strip will be full of activity for the whole family.  See you there!

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Filed under All ages, Live Entertainment, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Seasonal, Weekend