Tag Archives: Virginia Outdoors

Where to Play on the Weekdays: June 5-9

Spray fun at Canal Park, where a new kids' series kicks off this week!

Spray fun at Canal Park, where a new kids’ series kicks off this week!



Monday – Go bowling! It’s a great indoor activity for a day with rain in the forecast. Take advantage of Kids Club Bowling at Pinstripes in Georgetown. From 10am – 12pm Monday – Thursday, kids can bowl for $3/hour ($3/shoe rental) and parents are free (limit 4 kids per adult). Eat while you bowl or stay after for lunch — they have a good kids menu and a pretty extensive main menu, too.

Tuesday – Head to the National Building Museum for all kinds of kid fun. The monthly Little Builders Storytime takes place at 10:30am & 11:30am in the Building Zone, where children can also enjoy areas that encourage pretend play with dress up and props inspired by some of the displays. And the PLAY WORK BUILD exhibit upstairs is always fun for kids. Museum hours are 10am – 5pm. Exhibit admission is $10/adult, $7/child, free for members. I highly recommend checking out membership options if you frequent the museum a few times per year.

Wednesday – Bring kiddos to the kick off of Kids in Canal, a new 12-week series of kid friendly entertainment at the city park in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. Every Wednesday from 10:30-11:30am, enjoy a live show for littles — kids music, science demos, magic shows, and puppetry are all part of the summer lineup. Of course, top it all off with water play in the fountains and sprays. Admission is free, and the program takes place in the middle block of the park. For more about Canal Park, see this KFDC post.

Thursday – Experience the wonderful Wings of Fancy exhibit at Brookside Gardens. The seasonal display featuring live butterflies and caterpillars from all over the world always delights all ages! While you’re there, stroll the beautiful grounds, play in the Children’s Garden, see turtles in the pond, and more. Admission to the park is free, but entry to the butterfly exhibit is $6/adults and $4/ages 3-12 (check CertifiKID for a deal before you go). Hours are 10am – 4pm for Wings of Fancy, 9am – 5pm at the Visitor Center, and sunrise to sunset for the grounds. For more about the annual exhibit and the rest of Brookside Garden’s offerings, see this KFDC post.

In the evening, join Capitol Hill Cooperative Nursery School for Family Movie Night at Miracle Theater on Barracks Row. Enjoy a screening of Muppets Take Manhattan along with a pizza dinner, plus a number of kid friendly activities. Doors open at 5:30, and the movie starts at 6:15. Single tickets are $15 each, family tickets are $48. 

Friday – Take a little time trip back to the 18th century at Claude Moore Colonial Farm. The living history museum welcomes visitors to explore the grounds, where there is a tobacco barn, farm house, garden, orchard, and animals. Guests can also interact with a family portraying life as it was in the 1700’s. Hours are 10am – 5pm Wednesday through Saturday. Admission is $5/adults, $3/children ages 3 and up, free for 2 and under. Read more about the farm in this post about our first experience there.


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Filed under 2017, All ages, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Indoor Play, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Spring, Story Time, Summer, Virginia, Weekdays

Where to Play on the Weekdays: May 30 – June 2

Take a hike and take in the scenery at Riverbend Park

Take a hike and take in the scenery at Riverbend Park



Tuesday – Go to the National Museum of American History for Museum ABCs. The program for ages 3-6 and adult companions introduces early learners to the museum collection through letter learning. This week, S is for Sesame Street: Drop by from 11am – 1pm for a Sesame Street story and create your own character! If your child is too young or old for the series, go explore the museum exhibits. (And on other days of the week, take little ones to play in Wegman’s Wonderplace and older kids to Spark!Lab for hands-on fun — both are closed Tuesdays, but open daily otherwise.). Museum hours are 10am – 5:30pm, and admission is free.

Wednesday – Explore the local environment from the comfort of the indoors at Buddie Ford Nature Center. The facility in Alexandria houses fascinating exhibits (including live creatures!), hands-on activities, and a staff of friendly and knowledgeable naturalists that all ages will appreciate. And if weather allows, continue the fun outdoors with a short hike at the adjacent Dora Kelley Nature Park. Buddie Ford hours are 10am – 5pm (Wednesday – Saturday, 1-5pm Sunday). Admission is free.

Thursday – Take hike at Riverbend Park. The Great Falls locale may not be as popular as its national park neighbor, but it’s just as fantastic a place to enjoy some time in nature, especially with kids. Trails are mellow for little hikers, the views are lovely, there are plenty of nice picnic spots, and admission is free. And if you want to see the magnificent falls up river, they’re an easy two-mile walk in the woods away. Riverbend Park hours are 7am to dusk.

Friday – Head to the National Portrait Gallery for some creative fun. Take little ones to play in the Explore! activity space designed for children 18 months to 8 years. And all ages can join the Open Studio Friday session in the Education Center, where guests are welcome to drop in anytime from 1-6pm and explore a different art medium with all kinds of neat projects. Of course, make time to tour the collections and hang out in the beautiful Kogod Courtyard, too. Museum hours are 11:30am – 7pm. Admission is free. Read more about the Penn Quarter gallery in this KFDC post.


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Filed under 2017, All ages, Animals, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Indoor Play, Museums, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Spring, Virginia, Weekdays

Camping and Hiking and Bears (Oh, My!) in Shenandoah National Park

shenandoah_vista

There are plenty of great destinations for camping with kids within an easy drive from DC, and one of the best is Shenandoah National Park. At nearly 200,000 acres, you really feel immersed in its glorious nature. There are woods and streams, hundreds of miles of hiking trails, lofty waterfalls, breathtaking vistas, and lots of wildlife sightings. And it’s all easily accessible from the city — about a 75-minute drive to the park’s entrance, and not much farther to the nearest campground area.

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Four campgrounds in the park welcome parties of all sizes, and there is one more for groups of seven or more. Earlier this summer, we pitched our tents at Matthew’s Arm, the closest one at mile 22. It’s all car camping, making it easy with kids, plus there are facilities within the area and a general store just a few miles away pretty well stocked with basic groceries, firewood, and souvenirs. We somehow lucked out and snagged a group spot, which accommodated our party of two families nicely, even though we booked it just days ahead. Usually you need to reserve much farther in advance, especially for summer weekends.

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Picnic tables and a fire pit at the campsite made mealtimes convenient. And while we’d bought a cord of firewood at the store, we easily found more in the surrounding woods to keep a fire going well past s’mores time until we were ready to hit the sleeping bags.

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Like all of the campground areas, there is access to nice hiking trails, including one to Overall Run Falls. The hike there and back is about five miles through the lovely woods.

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But it’s what we saw along the way that made it most interesting: Bears!

Hi!

Hi!

We had indication that at least one was nearby before seeing them — scat on the trail that my friend Jody determined was fresh after examining it with a stick (bears do poop on the woods!). Not long after that we saw one on our hike to the waterfall. Then two more on the way back. (And a fourth as we were driving out of the park to head home.)

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Black bear sightings are common in Shenandoah (though I’d never seen them on my many previous visits), and there are a lot of signs and warnings of them in park brochures with tips on encountering them safely. We made noise, kept our distance, and didn’t linger too long. And at the campsite, we made sure to clean food up well and lock it up in the bear-proof bin.

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If you can’t swing an overnight at Shenandoah, it’s still close enough for a day trip. With over 500 miles of trails, there are walks in the woods to suit all ages and hiking levels.With so much to offer, you need to check out the trail map of Shenandoah hikes for yourself and see which walks work best for your family. You can also just find a great area to hang out and have a picnic or take in the beautiful scenery from your car along Skyline Drive.

shenandoah_sash_anja

Campgrounds in Shenandoah open in the spring, operating on a first-come, first-served basis until early May, when you can start reserving some sites in advance. Along with campsites, there are also cabins and lodges available. Rates for campsites start at $15/night and can be reserved through recreation.gov.

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Shenandoah National Park is located in Virginia, 75 miles from Washington, DC. Hours vary at facilities, so see the website for details. Admission to the park is $30/vehicle and valid for a week. An annual Shenandoah Pass is $55.

There are also several Fee Free days throughout the year.

 

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Filed under All ages, Animals, DC, Fall, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Spring, Summer, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend