Tag Archives: Washington DC Family Activities

The 2019 KFDC Guide to the Best of Summer in DC

Feeling summer vibes at The Yards


This time of year, when we switch seasonal gears from spring to summer, is one of my favorites. As the weather warms up and the school year starts winding down, I always look forward to the changes and casual vibe it brings. Swimsuits and sandals come out of storage while sweaters and boots go in it. Baseball hats hang on coat hooks where there used to be a mess of jackets. The back patio is vibrant with flowers instead of littered with dried leaves. Stops at the gelato shop during evening walks are once again a brilliant idea. And that ridiculously giant bottle of tequila from Costco (it was such a good deal!) finally sees some action as margaritas replace red wine.😁

Even though summer doesn’t officially begin on the calendar for a few more weeks, seasonal activities in the area are starting up — and these warm months bring some of the area’s best recreation. From water-inspired fun to music and movies in the open air to special fests and feasts to bonus attractions at everyday places, the joys of summer are abundant in DC, and this annual guide will help you take advantage of it all.

So, unpack the flip flops, get out the blender for frozen drinks, bookmark this page, and start planning for summer fun. The 2019 KFDC Guide to the Best of Summer in DC has all the details and inspiration you need to make the season awesome. Happy Summer!

* * * * *

Play in the Sprays
Outdoor Pool Season
Water Parks
Summer Concerts
Festivals
Beaches
Big Screen Under the Stars
Museum Programs & Seasonal Exhibits
Movies, Storytimes, & More
Mini Trains, Carousels, Mini Golf, & a Ferris Wheel
Theatre Time
Summer Sports
Crab Feasts
Seasonal Experiences


A refreshing run through the sprays at The Wharf


PLAY IN THE SPRAYS
Kids can run through fountains and splash around at many area spraygrounds. Several are within the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, but some of the best are built right into the urban landscape, making the concrete jungle a cool place to hang out during the hottest months.

  • One of the newer additions to the splash circuit is the in-ground fountain at The Wharf in Southwest. Kids can run through water shooting up from jets on opposite ends, play in mist spraying up in the center, and ride on waterproof rocking horses within all of it, all with the beautiful waterfront area as a backdrop.
  • Yards Park is a favorite for many in the city with two levels of super fun sprays, a wading pool and wall of water (essentially a water fall between the levels), plus a great scenic location on the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard.
  • Georgetown Waterfront Park, right next to the Washington Harbour, has a fountain with arcing sprays that makes for a fun, refreshing way to cool off on a hot, summer day. The rest of its pretty green space along the Potomac is a great place to hang out, too.
  • Canal Park in the Navy Yard is great for all ages with both a gentle, shallow fountain that is perfect for really little ones to enjoy, plus a bigger fountain with lots of sprays for more enthusiastic play where the ice rink is in the winter.
  • Starting Memorial Day Weekend, May 25, DPR Spray Parks will be open for the season from 10am – 7pm daily.
  • Some of the area’s most popular spray parks — Lyon Village Park, Hayes Park, and Drew Park — can be found in Arlington.
  • The interactive fountain in Downtown Silver Spring plaza is open daily from 10am – 8pm. While my kids have never played there, I recall seeing very happy youngsters playing in the sprays on the colorful mosaic design during my lunch breaks when I worked at Discovery. It always looked like a blast.
  • The fountain in the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza located at 14th and Park Road, NW is a great place to cool down on a hot day, with many sprays that surge up from a pretty, circular tiled surface. Do a little shopping while you’re there — Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and many other big retail stores are right there — and plan to grab a bite at one of many kid-friendly eateries around. Plan to stop in Tivoli’s Astounding Magic Supply Co. at 826DC located nearby.
  • The Fountain on the Square at Rockville Town Square welcomes kids to splish splash from May to September. It’s open Monday – Saturday 11am to 9pm and Sunday 12-8pm, but it’s turned off for maintenance at certain times during the week, so be sure to check the schedule before you go.
  • The fountains in the Mosaic District welcome all to play in the sprays that jet up from concrete. Surrounded by retail stores and restaurants, you can make a day of it there with some shopping and eating, too. Plan to go on a Tuesday with little ones when you can also enjoy Stories from Strawberry Park.
  • There’s a new little in-ground fountain on Capitol Hill at the C Street Plaza right across from Eastern Market. It runs weekdays 10am – 10pm.


  • Making a splash at Capitol Skyline


    OUTDOOR POOL SEASON
    Nothing says summer like swimming under the sun, and there are plenty of public pools in the area where you can jump in for free or a small admission fee.

  • DC outdoor public pools will open on Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 25. Days and hours vary from pool to pool so be sure to check the schedules before you go. A couple of years ago, they began opening earlier on weekdays, at 11am, and that’s continuing! (And some open even earlier than that for lap swim.)
  • The pool at the Capitol Skyline Hotel in Southwest DC offers summer memberships as well as daily passes. And for those that remember it as a singles party spot, I can vouch that it’s become very family-friendly over the past couple of years.
  • For outdoor swimming outside of the city, Montgomery County outdoor public pools will open on May 26 through Labor Day — the Department of Recreation website has locations and hours.
  • In Northern Virginia, Arlington’s Upton Hill has a whole water park for guests to enjoy, and Alexandria has several places where the public is welcome to swim. Be sure to check the City of Alexandria website for hours, as they vary by pool.


  • Make  splash at Soak City in Kings Dominion

    Make a splash at Soak City in Kings Dominion


    WATER PARKS
    Giant water slides, wave pools, waterfalls, sprays and splash pads…this is the stuff kids’ summer dreams are made of. There are actually several water parks around the area offering many of these attractions, just about all of them opening Memorial Day weekend for limited hours, until they open daily a few weeks later. Here’s a quick list — visit the websites for more details.

  • Ocean Dunes Water Park at Upton Hill in Arlington
  • Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro, MD
  • Great Waves at Cameron Run in Alexandria
  • The Water Park at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg
  • Atlantis Water Park at Bull Run in Centreville
  • Splash Down Water Park in Manassas
  • Chesapeake Beach Water Park
  • Soak City Water Park at Kings Dominion
  • Water Country USA at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA


    Catch a summer concert at an iconic DC spot


    SUMMER CONCERTS
    Free music in the fresh air has become a staple of the season, and there are opportunities to enjoy just about every genre regularly at outdoor venues all around the DC-Metro.

  • Experience live music amid art at Jazz in the Garden, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden’s free concert series, every Friday from 5–8:30pm. The first performance of the season is May 17, rain or shine, and there will be weekly shows through August 23. Spread out a blanket, pack a picnic dinner or purchase food and drinks there, and enjoy the sounds of a variety of jazz artists. Note: Adult drinks are available from the pavilion; BYO alcohol is not permitted.
  • Get a nice dose of nature as you listen to live tunes at Potomac Overlook Park in Arlington on Second Saturdays of the month through early September. The free, family-friendly performances take place on a stage in the woods surrounded by trails to explore. (FYI: The Nature Center — with snakes, turtles, owls, hawks — is great, too.
  • The U.S. Air Force Band’s Summer Concert Series begins May 25 and runs through Aug 27. They’ll perform throughout the summer at the U.S. Capitol (West Side Steps), Air Force Memorial, and on the National Plaza at National Harbor Outdoor concerts are subject to weather cancellation.
  • Enjoy outdoor performances at one of my favorite outdoor places places in the city, the National Arboretum every Thursday evening from June 6 – August 8. Bring a lawn chair or blanket, and relax in the Meadow below the Capital Columns. These concerts are free, but reservations are required. (Note: Children’s fave Rocknocerous is playing on July 25.).
  • The Capitol Riverfront Friday Night Concert Series at Yards Park begins June 7 and will run through August 30, presenting a different band each week on the boardwalk stage overlooking the Anacostia River. Along with the free music, food and beverages are available for purchase. (Unfortunately, the NO BYOB polic still holds). I recommend getting there early, so the kids can play in the fountains before the concert starts at 6:30pm. And on a hot summer day, it’s nice to continue the water fun even while the tunes are playing — you can still hear them from across the park!
  • In Silver Spring, the TGIF Downtown Street Party brings free music once a month on Friday evenings to the Fountain Plaza 6:30-8:30pm. Enjoy everything from pop to jazz to R&B to classic rock — dates are June 14, July 12, August 9, and September 13.

  • All summer long, families can enjoy a variety of free fun at Rockville Town Square. Concerts for all ages on Friday evenings start June 7 and will run through September 20 — enjoy live music, good food, and beverages from 6-9pm.
  • Rock at the Row returns to Pentagon Row Thursdays June 13 – August 1. From 7-9pm, all are invited to the lounge on the new plaza for food samples and craft beer in the VIP section or to gather at one of the outdoor cafés while enjoying live music, giveaways, and merchant specials.
  • The U.S. Botanic Garden is bringing back the American Roots Music Concert Series every other Thursday 5-7pm. Celebrate American roots with Americana and folk, country, blues, jazz, and even zydeco outside on the Conservatory Terrace from June 13 – September 26
  • You can kick-start your weekends at Tysons Corner Center’s Fresh Artists Concert Series. Grab a blanket and enjoy performances ranging from ballet to blues, folk to funk, poetry to pop. Schedule still TBD, so check back.
  • Enjoy music in Northern Virginia parks! The Fairfax County Park Authority presents their Summer Entertainment Series, a summer-long calendar of shows, concerts and movies appropriate families held in local parks. Bring a picnic dinner, blankets, and lawn chairs to enjoy the best local and regional entertainers.
  • Strathmore, the North Bethesda performing arts center, hosts Live from the Lawn, free outdoor concerts, every Wednesday from July 10 – August 28.


  • The Smithsonian Folklife Festival brings lively culture to the National Mall every summer

    FESTIVALS
    Several stand-out events are anticipated around the area this time of year, celebrating everything from music to art & culture to neighborhoods to food.

  • On May 25 and 26, Beast Coast Parkour will bring the world’s largest Parkour festival to Rosslyn’s Gateway Park where to practice, train, and demonstrate their high-octane sport and art. Beginners and experienced Parkour’ers alike are encouraged to attend — along with demos there will be seminars and speakers tailored for all levels of expertise.
  • Imagination Bethesda, an annual festival occurring in the heart of its namesake city, is all about children. On June 1 from 10am – 3pm, Woodmont & Elm downtown will be lined with activity tents offering tons of fun for kids — arts & crafts, face painting, games, etc. There will also be live entertainment, food from local restaurants, and more. Admission is free.
  • Get folksy at Glen Echo Park June 1-2, when the 38th Annual Washington Folk Festival showcases the diversity of traditional music in Washington. All of the artists hail from the DC area, but cultures from around the nation, as well as the world, will be represented through music, dance, crafts, and stories. The public is invited to enjoy the free festival that is renown in the folk community.
  • The DC Jazz Festival presents a variety of performers at venues all around the city from June 8-17, but the most family-friendly of them actually precedes the main event. Jazz n’ Family Fun Days will take place June 1-2 with free shows for all ages at The Phillips Collection.
  • It sounds like a grown-ups-only event, but the Vintage Virginia Wine & Food Festival offers plenty of family fun, too. Taking place June 1-2 at Bull Run Park in Centreville, VA, festivities include wine tasting (of course), chef demos, food truck fare, live music, and a whole family-friendly area with activities especially for kids.
  • Celebrate Capital Pride June 8-9 at the annual parade and festival that culminates a week of gay pride events around the city. The Saturday procession is always a spectacular extravaganza of ornate floats, street performers, music and dancing, glitter and beads, and plenty of reveling. Sunday’s family-friendly festival, on Pennsylvania Avenue from 3rd to 7th Streets NW, features several stages of live entertainment, hundreds of exhibitors, and activities for all ages. It’s all a fun and fabulous opportunity to show support for the LGBTA community and join the celebration.
  • Attend one of the biggest summer barbeques around June 22-23 as the National Capital Barbeque Battle returns to pit some of the nation’s best barbequers against each other as they compete for big prizes. The reward for attendees: Samples from all the entrants (plus, more food), live music, cooking demos, kids’ fun, and more.
  • Every summer, the National Mall becomes stomping grounds of folks from around the globe to celebrate living cultural heritage and community traditions at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. However, this year’s event will only run two days, June 29-30, celebrating the Social Power of Music.
  • Independence Day in DC is a pretty big deal, the city being the nation’s capital and all, so the annual July 4th celebrations are pretty big. It starts with the National Independence Day Parade down Constitution Avenue, then goes to the National Mall later on for the A Capitol Fourth concert at the U.S. Capitol and fireworks on the National Mall.

  • The lotus and water lilies in full bloom at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are such a ravishing sight it calls for a celebration. Along with the spectacular display of flowers, the annual Lotus & Water Lily Festival July 21-22 will feature traditional Asian and African dancing and drumming, gardening workshops, park tours, arts & crafts, face painting, and other family-friendly pursuits. View scenes from a previous bloom here.
  • It might run into fall, but it starts in August, so I’m counting the Maryland Renaissance Festival among the summer fun. Plus, it’s one of my very, very favorite annual events (more confirmation on that here). The merriment begins August 24 and will continue every weekend through October 20. (Go! I promise, it’s the best.)


  • Happy kids during a day at the Flag Ponds beach

    BEACHES
    Summer and beach trips go hand-in-hand, so why not hit one with the kids? You don’t have to drive all the way to the ocean for it; there are several places where you can get a nice dose of sand and surf that are within day trip-distance from DC.

  • Head out to Calvert County for a day at Flag Ponds Nature Park. Not only is there plenty of sand for playing and nice mellow waters for swimming, it’s also a great spot for fossil hunting — look for shark teeth and other prehistoric remnants along the shores while you’re there, too! Hours are 9am – 6pm on weekdays and 9am – 8pm weekends from Memorial to Labor Day. Admission is $8/car. Read more about Flag Ponds and see pics here and here.
  • Bayfront Park aka Brownie’s Beach is a nice little spot in Chesapeake Beach, MD. With a small but nice stretch of sand, gentle shallow water, shark teeth to fin, and cliffs edging the shoreline, it’s a great place to spend a day — especially with little ones since they can’t roam too far. The only downside is the admission fee: $18/adult, $10/child for non-residents of the county.
  • Enjoy views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge from the beach at Sandy Point State Park near Annapolis. At nearly 800 acres, it’s a big beach park with lots of recreational opportunities — swimming, picnicking, fishing, crabbing, hiking, and more. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, there are lifeguards on duty. And snack food and beach and picnic supplies are available. Hours are 6am – sunset. From May 1 through September, admission is $5/Maryland resident, $7/non-resident on weekend, and $4/ Maryland resident, $6/non-resident on weekdays.
  • The beach is narrow, and you’re on a river, but you still get sand and water at Purse State Park in Charles County, MD. This is best if your main purpose is fossil hunting — it’s a great place to go for it — and you want to get in some “beach” time, too. Wear swimsuits, bring a picnic, and be sure to check the tide table so you can make the most of your time there. Open sunrise to sunset, and admission is free.


  • Sit back, relax, and enjoy a film outdoors at the Union Market Drive-in

    BIG SCREEN UNDER THE STARS
    Outdoor movies have become a DC summer tradition in the last few years with films al fresco in several neighborhoods. Even better, all of them are FREE! (*Before you make plans to enjoy any of the series, be sure to check schedules, as some movies may not be appropriate for children.)

  • Catch a flick on the big screen from the comfort of your car at the Union Market Drive-In Series, occurring monthly on Fridays throughout the summer, with several family-friendly films in the mix. Get there as early as 6pm and have a bite to eat in the Market or bring food back to your car. The film starts at 8:30pm. Admission is $10/car, free for walk-ins. Advance purchase is recommended.
  • National Harbor’s Movies on the Potomac already started their Sunday night film series for families, and it will run through September 30. Movies are shown on the plaza screen starting at 6pm.
  • At the Navy Memorial Plaza on Pennsylvania Ave, catch Movies on the Memorial, a series of Navy-themed films that pay tribute to our rich maritime heritage. It will run Thursday evenings May 30 – August 29.
  • This year’s Who’s Got Game?-themed NoMa Summer Screen features a fun lineup of sports-related films. The 12-week outdoor film series starts on June 5 and runs weekly on Wednesdays through August 21 with lots of great family flicks mixed in. The movies begin at sunset, but you can get there early to picnic — BYO or grab a bite from a food truck
  • The Golden Triangle (BID) is raising the curtain on its Golden Cinema Film Series to be hosted this summer in Farragut Park. Outdoor movies will be shown at sunset every Friday beginning June 7 – August 2, and there are many family-friendly films among the line-up.

  • Every Friday starting June 7, Rosslyn Cinema presents a night of fun and films in Gateway Park. Bring a blanket or low chairs and a group of friends and enjoy a night under the stars with your favorite movies. Movies start at dusk, but the fun starts at 5 p.m. with games and their Pub in the Park. Kids and pups welcome!
  • Every Tuesday in June at 8:30pm, catch Downtown DC Summer Flicks at Freedom Plaza (13th & Pennsylvania Ave) as its transformed into an outdoor movie theater with a “Can I Kick It?” theme – a multimedia movie screening engagement brought to you by the DowntownDC BID. Each event features a classic (or cult contemporary classic) martial arts film that is scored with an original music soundtrack of hip hop, soul, and more mixed live by DJ 2-Tone Jones.
  • See your favorite stars beneath the stars at the Capitol Riverfront’s Canal Park Outdoor Movie Series. Catch films every Thursday evening at sundown from June 13 through August 22.
  • Friday and Saturday evenings are Movie Nights in Arlington this summer. Heroes and Sheroes: Movies with a Mission is the theme of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Project’s free outdoor movie series. From June 14 – August 25, catch a flick at Arlington Mill on Fridays and Penrose Square on Saturdays.

  • Georgetown Sunset Cinema presents films on Tuesdays throughout July. The “Out of Office” theme will feature films about vacations and trips. Grab a blanket, bring a picnic, and head to the beautiful Georgetown Waterfront Park to view films with the panoramic backdrop of the sunset, Potomac River, and Key Bridge. Films start at sunset–around 8:30/8:45 p.m. Arrive early to picnic and to get the best seating!
  • Bethesda Outdoor Movies will bring five days of flicks al fresco to downtown at the corner of Norfolk and Auburn Avenues from July 24-27. Be sure to check the titles to see what’s appropriate for your kid.


  • The fairy houses always delight at Annmarie Sculpture Garden

    MUSEUM PROGRAMS & SEASONAL EXHIBITS
    Extraordinary installations, lovely annual exhibits, kids’ programs during the school break, and admission deals are some of the special experiences at our museums and galleries to take take advantage of over the summer.

  • Dinosaurs are returning to DC! The prehistoric beasts that were a highlight of the National Museum of Natural History went on a five-year hiatus during renovations. On June 8, the David H. Koch Hall of Fossils-Deep Time will reopen and the skeletal specimens along with their stories will be back. While this isn’t a seasonal exhibit — even better, it’s permanent! — it opens just in time for summer adventures, and is one to put on your must-do list.
  • First there was indoor mini-golf, after that it was a giant maze, then came the super awesome Beach, followed by Icebergs, then Hive buzzed in, and last year we played in the Fun House. summer, the National Building Museum will welcome visitors to LAWN, an immersive installation features a vast, sloping green space that take up the entire Great Hall with activities, events, relaxation areas, and architectural elements for guests to enjoy. Admission $13/youth, $16/adult, free for members. Open July 4 through September 2.

  • Annmarie Sculpture Garden is enchanting any time of year, but it’s especially so in the summer when the fairy and gnome houses are on display. The adorable collection of little whimsical abodes for spritely creatures have all been selected from many submissions in an annual fairy house building contest. And they are just fantastic. Created by all ages, individuals and groups, each one has a different theme, but together they are a brilliant showcase of imagination and craftiness. View scenes from a past exhibit here.
  • You can walk amid a garden of butterflies at Brookside Garden’s amazing Wings of Fancy exhibit. The seasonal display featuring live butterflies and caterpillars from all over the world opened in April and will welcome visitors through September 22. Through June 30, it’s open Wednesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm. July 1 – August 30 hours are 10am – 1pm Monday-Friday and 10am -5pm Saturday & Sunday. September 1-22 it’s open 10am – 5pm daily.Admission is $8/ages 13 and up, $5/3-12, free ages 0-2 (admission to the rest of Brookside is free). Read about a KFDC experience there and view even more pics here
  • Every year, the Newseum offers the Summer Fun Deal. From July 1 – September 2, there is no admission fee for kids ages 18 and under. The promotion waives the $12.95 regular entrance charge for youth with one paid adult admission, senior admission, or Newseum membership (a benefit to ages 7 and up, as kids 6 and under are always free). Up to six kids can enter free with the offer. Read a KFDC take on the Newseum and look for a deal on adult admission here.
  • During the warm months, little ones can flex their green thumbs in the outdoor Children’s Garden at the U.S. Botanic Garden. Renovated not to long ago, the adorable outdoor area features dirt to dig in, plants to tend to, and a cute play structure to romp in. The rest of the USBG’s outdoor gardens are great to explore, too!
  • The National Archives hosts some free programs for kids and families in June and July, including it’s regular monthly drop-in storytime, Family Learning Labs, and a few special events on weekends. Some require advance registrations and have age recommendations, so check them out and sign up soon!


    The National Gallery of Art's Drop-In program returns this summer

    The National Gallery of Art’s Drop-In program returns this summer

    MOVIES, STORY TIMES, & MORE FOR KIDS
    Family movies at local theaters are a great way to stay cool and keep kids entertained when the weather heats up. And several seasonal programs keep little ones engaged with storytimes and more interactive fun. Even better, they’re all free or super cheap!

  • The Regal Summer Movie Express presents flicks for kids on many Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10am starting July 2. Admission is just $1. Be sure to check the website for the film schedule and theater locations, as it doesn’t run at all theaters every week.
  • The Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse will also offer fun films for kids throughout the summer for just $1. Dates and films vary by theater, so check the schedule to see what’s playing at a theater near you

  • Kids in Canal is coming back with its weekly series of kid-friendly entertainment every Wednesday 10:30-11:30am beginning June 12. Bring little ones to the middle block of Canal Park to enjoy magic shows, kids tunes, science demonstrations, and puppet shows. Top off the day with a refreshing splash in the dancing water fountains!
  • On Wednesdays from June 6 to September 25, Kids Corner on The Plaza at CityCenter welcomes little ones for outdoor story time, singing, and fun with DC Public Library.
  • The National Gallery of Art’s wonderful drop-in program for children returns once again! Formerly Stories in Art, Art Investigators, geared toward ages 4-7, introduces kids to art and encourages them to make observations and use their imaginations as they discover different works. It’ll run Friday – Monday from July 12 to August 2. Read a KFDC review of the program from a few years back (we’ve been since, and it was just as good!).
  • The Mosaic District‘s Stories from Strawberry Park series takes it outdoors during the warm months (in the Angelika Film Center on rainy days and the rest of the year). Join them there on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 10:30am from May through September for live interactive performances by unique storytellers.

  • Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Ashburn welcomes families to Kids Camp, a movie series that is inexpensive ($1-3) and benefits local charities, to boot.
  • Old Greenbelt Theatre, a nonprofit cinema located in Greenbelt, MD, presents their School’s Out Summer Family Series every Thursday at 1pm. The movie line-up is all kid-friendly and admission to all of them is FREE!


  • Go for a spin on the beautiful Dentzel Carousel at Glen Echo Park

    MINI TRAINS, MINI GOLF, CAROUSELS, & A FERRIS WHEEL!
    These extra delights bring even more fun to several parks around the area that are already great outdoor places to hang with the kids.

  • Watkins Regional Park opens its attractions on a limited schedule in early May, but come Memorial Day weekend, they can be enjoyed for extended hours almost every day of the week. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10am – 7pm; Sundays 12–5 pm, closed Mondays except May 27 (Memorial Day), July 4 (July Fourth Holiday; closes at 4pm) & September 2 (Labor Day). Read about the rest of the fun you can enjoy at Watkins!
  • Cabin John Regional Park opened its Miniature Train on weekends only back in April, but as of June 1, it’ll be operating daily 10am – 5pm through September 2. After that, hours will be limited, so check the schedule. Read about the wonderful Cabin John playground here
  • The Miniature Train and Ovid Hazen Wells Carousel at Wheaton Regional Park started taking guests for spins in early April on weekends and will be open daily May 18 through September 2 (limited times after that). Hours are 10am – 6pm Monday to Friday, and 10am – 7pm Saturday & Sunday. Read about the super fun Wheaton playground here.
  • The beautiful historic Dentzel Carousel is open for its 99th season at Glen Echo Park. Plan to go for a spin before or after a show at Adventure Theatre or The Puppet Co. From May through August, it’s open Wednesday – Friday 10am – 2pm, and Saturday and Sunday 11am – 5pm.

  • The Clemyjontri carousel has been running on weekends since April, but will be offering rides daily starting May 25 on weekdays 9:30am – 1:00pm and weekends 9:30am – 6:30pm. Read more about Clemyjontri here.
  • There are a couple of ways to go for a spin at National Harbor. Kind of like a London Eye of the U.S., The Capital Wheel is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of DC. The 42-gondola ride (all closed and climate-controlled with room for 8) soars 180 feet above the Potomac River waterfront, offering vistas of the White House and Capitol, the National Mall, Arlington Cemetery, and more amazing sites. Ticket prices start at $15. For an on-ground whirl, the Carousel features a herd of whimsical creatures and the sparkling Potomac as a backdrop. It’s $7 for each rider, and they can ride an unlimited number of times. Read about both rides and more National Harbor fun here.
  • Burke Lake Park’s Mini Train and Carousel are open daily from Memorial Day – Labor Day 11:30am – 5:30pm. The park is free to access for Fairfax county residents. For non-county residents, the park is free on weekdays and has a $10 entrance fee on weekends/holidays for a car or large capacity van. Carousel rides are $2-3, and train rides are $3-4.

  • A setting as great as the entertainment at Children's Theatre in the Woods

    A setting as great as the entertainment at Children’s Theatre in the Woods

    THEATRE TIME
    All the world’s a summer stage at these venues that present special entertainment series for children and families throughout the season.

  • From late June through early August, Wolf Trap presents the fantastic Children’s Theater-in-the-Woods, over 70 family-friendly performances at 10am Tuesdays through Saturdays. Amidst 117 rolling wooded acres and nestled in a shady grove, the stage is set for lively adventures in music, dance, storytelling, puppetry, and theater. All of the productions are recommended for children between Kindergarten and 6th grade, though I think kids even younger can enjoy them, too (mine did!). Read a KFDC review of the series from a past summer.
  • Backyard Theater for Children, Strathmore’s summer theater series brings live music and fun to kids – all outdoors under a big tent. Weekly performances take place every Thursday at 9:30am and 11:30 from July 11-25. Admission is $8/advance, $10/day of, free/2 & under.
  • See a Shakespeare play in the park! The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company presents Shakespeare in the Ruins at the Picturesque Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park in Ellicott City this summer. Love’s Labour’s Lost, a Shakespearean comedy, runs June 28 – July 28. Every Sunday is Family Fun Day with pre-show activities for kids. And not only can you picnic as you watch the play, kids are free (two for every adult). Advance reservations are recommended as tickets are limited.

  • Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual Free For All will present Hamlet from July 10-21 this summer. The Washington tradition offers free performances of a Shakespearean classic to the public. Get tickets through an online lottery or waiting in line day-of with a limited number available.

  • Even more great live entertainment especially for children will be at theatres around the DC area this summer. See what’s coming to local stages in the early weeks for now, and the new seasonal entertainment guide will be posted soon!


  • Vamos United! Get your summer kicks at a soccer match

    SUMMER SPORTS
    Some of the season’s best action takes place in ballparks, stadiums, and arenas thanks to our local sports teams. Here’s where you can join the fan clubs.

  • A day at Nationals Park is all it takes to understand why baseball is America’s favorite pastime. Catching a Nats game is one of our family’s preferred ways to enjoy a nice summer (or spring) day (or evening), anyway. The excitement extends well beyond the diamond with games and activities in the park, a playground for kids, the Racing Presidents, fun in the stands, and more. Before you go, check out these tips on doing a Nats game without breaking the bank. And I highly recommend the Jr. Nationals Kids Club for children 12 and under. Just $20 gets them membership, which includes Nats swag, plus a coupon book with offers for free meals, BOGO tickets, a ballpark tour, and all kinds of discounts. Even a few months into the season, it’s still worth it!
  • Whether or not you’ve got a little soccer fan in your fam, DC United matches are fun experiences for all ages. And the new Audi Field is a great venue for watching them. Plus, since games only last 90 minutes, it’s not too long for antsy young spectators. Be sure to check for any pre- or post-game activities for kids.
  • Tee up for family fun at the Quicken Loans National running from June 25 – July 1 at PTC Potomac. A premier PGA tour tournament and a staple of the DC area’s sporting events is back with exciting golf action, plus all kinds of fun off the course. Programs for kids include complimentary tickets (with paid adult), golf clinics, and a kids village with game and activities just for them.
  • Tennis, anyone? The Washington Kastles, the DC franchise of World TeamTennis, will bring some on-court thrills to the city July 15-31. Even better, the new location of Kastles Stadium will be on the rooftop of Union Market! For some background, see this post and this one from a few years back.
  • Every summer, the Citi Open Tennis Tournament serves up exciting competition along with other fun activities for fans of all ages. See some of the sport’s top players in action and enjoy the thrills on and off the court at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center July 27 – August 4.
  • Can’t stand the heat? Head to the Verizon Center to see the Washington Mystics (w)hoop it up on the basketball court. Tickets start at $16.
  • Swing up to Charm City to see the Baltimore Orioles play. Camden Yards is a beautiful ballpark, and you can head to the Inner Harbor before or after to make a day of it up north.
  • If the Nats or O’s aren’t in town, or you want to see baseball on a smaller but still fun scale, you’ve got several great options around the area. Take ’em out to the minors at a Bowie Baysox, Potomac Nationals, or Aberdeen Ironbirds game. Summer collegiate team Bethesda Big Train is also very popular for non-majors baseball action.
  • Women’s pro soccer team, Washington Spirit, plays in Germantown. Per a KFDC reader, “you get affordable tickets and concessions, picnic seating behind the goal, a really intimate, family-friendly environment, and top-level soccer.”


  • One of the best treats of the season

    One of the best treats of the season

    CRAB FEASTS
    Easily one of the best activities during summer in Maryland and neighboring areas (this is where I get non-DC-centric because I have to give credit where it’s due). Here are some suggestions for places to get ’em, though the “best” is always a subject for debate.

  • Cantler’s is an Annapolis institution.
  • Mike’s Crab House in Annapolis also gets raves.
  • Enjoy great crabs and an awesome beach area at Kentmorr.
  • The Jetty on Kent Narrows has crabs, scenic views, and a fun beachy vibe.
  • In Baltimore, Bo Brooks on the Canton Waterfront is popular.
  • Enjoy a feast in the District at Ivy City Smokehouse.
  • Stay close to the city at Quarterdeck in Arlington.
  • Eat crabs in the ‘burbs at Bethesda Crab House.
  • Make it a day trip to Waterman’s in Rock Hall, MD.
  • Pick up your own at THe Fish Market at The Wharf. Buy them already steamed or get them while they’re still alive to cook at home.


  • Don’t miss the spectacular sunflower bloom at McKee-Beshers

    SEASONAL EXPERIENCES
    Some particularly cool activities and offerings are only possible this time of year. Sure, you can say that’s most of this guide, but these experiences that fall into the “other” category shouldn’t be missed.

  • On Thursday evenings and some Saturdays during late spring and summer, the Anacostia Watershed Society hosts their free Discovery Series, which include boat tours, paddle tours, and wetland walks at a few local parks. Bladensburg Waterfront Park, Anacostia Park, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Kingman Island, and Diamond Teague Park are locations for these jaunts.
  • For other adventures on the water, a bunch of places around the area rent kayaks, canoes, rowboats, and stand up paddleboards. Fletcher’s Boathouse is a popular place to go and has a great riverside area to hang out and picnic when you’re off the water. You can also row from Ballpark Boathouse near Yards Park. Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis has paddling options along with lots of other outdoor recreation. This post has a whole round-up of even more places to go with the flow on local waterways.

  • Pick your own produce at local farms. While it starts in the spring with strawberries, it carries on through summer with even more delicious fruits — blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, plus veggies and more produce you can gather yourself. Find out where you can PYO around the DC area.
  • Join Anacostia Riverkeeper on most Fridays evening for Friday Night Fishing, their catch and release fishing program at the dock at Diamond Teague Park (located next to Yards Park). Dates have not yet been announced for this year, so stay tuned! Rods, reels, bait, and instruction are free. No sign up is required.
  • Aaaaaar, mateys! As the weather warms up and cruising conditions become more comfortable, pirate voyages are offered on local waters. In DC, take a Family Treasure Hunt Cruise on the Boomerang Pirate Ship. Head out to Annapolis for Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake. Go for a jaunt with Urban Pirates in Baltimore or stay closer to home where they’re invading National Harbor.
  • Some of the most spectacular flower blooms occur during the summer. Enjoy a gorgeous display of azaleas. View a whole park bursting with pink, white, and peach-hued lotus flowers and water lilies. Fields upon fields of sunflowers are sure to brighten any day. Stop and smell the roses at a favorite National Mall spot. Get details on all of them in this post about our bloom town.
  • Get rolling in Southeast! The Anacostia Park Skating Pavilion, the only skating pavilion within a national park, opens May 25 and will welcome skaters daily from 9am – 5pm. Even better, both admission and skate rentals are FREE! And along with skating, Anacostia Park offers a multitude of water and land based recreation, including Ranger led programs, birding, tennis, fishing, biking, and three playgrounds. Read more about the park in this KFDC post.


    Have I left out anything really good? If you think so, let me know in the comments below!


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    Filed under 2019, All ages, Annual, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Seasonal, Special Event, Sports, Summer, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

    Egg Hunts, Bunny Visits, and More Easter Fun Around DC

    Moments before the scramble at a local Eggstravaganza



    Don’t put your eggs all in one basket when it comes to Easter celebrations around the DC area! Numerous places host egg hunts, Easter bunny visits, and much more spring fun this time of year. Even if you’re not big on the holiday, there are attractions and activities beyond bunnies and candy-filled eggs that will have the whole family hopping with joy. Here’s where you can find them, listed in order of start date. And if I’ve left out any good ones, feel free to let me know in the comments. Happy Spring!

    Spring Easter Egg Hunt
    Where: Ticonderoga Farm | Chantilly, VA
    When: Weekends through April 28
    Admission: $14.95/child, 12.95/adult

    With giant slides, awesome jumping pillows, playgrounds, animals, mazes, and more, the farm in Chantilly is a blast, and they take the fun up a notch on come spring. Along with the permanent amusement, there are egg hunts and visits from the Easter Bunny. Be sure to check the website for timing of specific activities. For an idea of what’s there, see this post about their Winter Festival, which is much of the same, but with Easter instead of Christmas festivities. And this post about a class field trip has info and pics, too.

    Easter Treasure Hunt
    Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
    When: Through April 21
    Admission: $35

    Don your favorite Easter bonnet and celebrate spring with a fun filled treasure hunt! Search for special Easter & spring-themed items found only at The Mansion. Explore our themed rooms and search for secret door, too. Hurry – this hunt hops away after Easter Sunday! BYO shopping bags, because everything is for sale. Read more about the Mansion on O Street in this KFDC post.

    Egg Hunt & Marshmallow Harvest
    Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
    When: April 6-7, 10am – 5pm
    Admission: $10/child, $12/adult at the gate

    After a long cold winter, nothing chases away the chill like a visit to the farm. Head to Great Country for the first “crop” of the spring– Marshmallow Picking! Do marshmallow peeps grow on trees? Be sure to check it out and harvest a few to roast on the bonfire with Farmer Bob. You can even purchase a s’mores kit to melt away that chocolate craving. Guests can also help find Easter Bunny eggs during egg hunts (by age – see the schedule) with over 20,000 treat-filled eggs. Plan to visit spring chicks and baby animals, check out the spring plantings in the greenhouse, take a hayride and rejoice in the new season. Don’t forget to bring your camera for photo ops with the Easter Bunny. Buy advance tickets online for only $10/adult — visit the website to purchase, and look for the schedule of events there, too.

    Fabergé Egg Family Festival
    Where: Hillwood Estate and Gardens | Northwest DC
    When: April 6
    Admission: $18/adult, $5/ages 6-18, free/5 & under

    Celebrate spring’s arrival in traditional Russian style! Hillwood’s annual festival has programs, music, art, and activities for all ages. Happenstance Theatre will present stories of Russian Easter traditions in a fun family play. A favorite for all ages is the “Fabergé’s Workshop” to create a Fabergé-inspired egg. Samovar Russian Folk Music Ensemble takes visitors back to Old Russia as they play traditional instruments, and the Kalinka Dance Ensemble performs Russian folk dances. And centuries-old Russian springtime games like egg-rolling and egg and spoon racing will entertain children of all ages.

    Easter Eggstravaganza & Wagon Rides
    Where: Frying Pan Farm Park | Herndon, VA
    When: April 7
    Admission: $8

    Hunt for eggs and visit animals outdoors at the Visitor Center. Sign up for a hunt throughout the day — they start promptly at your registered times. Add a wagon ride for only $2, and take a jaunt around the crop fields and back to the Visitor Center. Children must be accompanied by a paid adult. Pre-registration required.

    Bunnyland
    Where: Butler’s Orchard
    When: April 13-14, 18-19, 20, 22, Kite Days April 27-28!
    Admission: $9.50/child, $7.50/adult

    One of the more popular spring festivals in the area, Butler’s has all the trappings for seasonal fun: bunnies, eggs, and other Easter-related treats to get young guests in the holiday spirit. Attractions include hayrides down the Bunny Trail, egg hunts, the Rubber Ducky Derby, giant slides, a new jumping pad, and a small petting zoo. Face painting and pony rides are also usually offered for an extra fee. Concessions are available, and there are also plenty of picnic tables if you prefer to pack a lunch. Bring a kite to fly the weekend of April 27-28!

    Pizza & Easter Egg Hunts
    Where: Matchbox locations around the DMV
    When: April 13
    Admission: Free with meal

    All locations of the family-friendly neighborhood pizza bistro in DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia invite kids to enjoy an Easter egg hunt around the restaurants during brunch from 10-11:30am. Prizes include fun items for the whole family, including a complimentary kids pizza party for up to six, brunch for two, a free kids pizza, free passes to a kids pizza class on June 22, plus candy, and more. Kids will receive an Easter coloring sheet to enjoy while they dine as well.

    Bunny Train Ride
    Where: Walkersville Southern Railroad | Walkersville, MD
    When: April 13, 14, & 20
    Admission: $16/adult, $15/senior, $13/age 1-12

    All aboard for a trip back in time with the Easter Bunny! Travel over track that the Pennsylvania Railroad originally built in 1872. See Walkersville Southern’s turn-of-the- century railroad station and tool house, then visit with the Bunny on the train (who will also give each child an Easter gift!). Ride in vintage 1920s passenger cars or on an open flatcar as your rail excursion runs past a 100-year-old lime kiln, and then out into picturesque Maryland farm country. Enjoy juice and Uncle Ralph’s cookies in the museum after your ride. Reservations required!

    Easter Bash
    Where: Ballston Quater | Ballston, VA
    When: April 13, 12-2pm
    Admission: Free

    Celebrate Easter with Ballston Quarter and enjoy a family-friendly afternoon of games and activities. Join the fun by searching through Ballston Quarter for Easter eggs filled with prizes and exclusive giveaways. Kids can enjoy creating bunny-ear arts and crafts and take pictures in our photo booth. The Easter Bunny himself will make an appearance for pictures and a bunny-hop disco dance party will have guests young and old boogeying to all of their favorite hits!

    Easter Egg Decorating
    Where: Brentwood Arts Exchange | Hyattsville, MD
    When: April 13, 2pm
    Admission: Free

    Fun! Glitter! Eggs! The Brentwood Arts Exchange promise all three at this free family-friendly workshop. Create beautiful decorated eggs that will impress friends and even the Easter Bunny. Children will receive their first two eggs for free. Additional eggs will be available to purchase 2 for $1.

    11th Annual Eggstravaganza
    Where: Tudor Place | Georgetown, DC
    When: April 13, 18, 19, & 20, 10am – 12pm
    Admission: $10/child, $8/child member, $5/adult

    Rolling green lawns, bright spring blooms, and the elegant mansion on a hill serve as backdrop for this festive annual attraction. Join the Easter Bunny as children of all ages enjoy an Egg Hunt and thrilling Egg Roll Contest down the grand South Lawn. Crafts include paper chick “pets” and colorful butterflies, plus there will be games for all ages. Plan to take a self-guided tour of Tudor Place’s 5½ acres of glorious gardens, and be sure to bring a camera! There are very few non-member tickets left, so register soon! Most days are still open to members.

    Easter Egg Hunt
    Where: Potomac Overlook Regional Park | Arlington, VA
    When: April 13
    Admission: $10/child

    The Easter Bunny is coming to Potomac Overlook! Bring your basket and begin your intrepid search for eggs at the park. Additional activities include games, crafts and, of course, photos with the Easter Bunny. Open to children 2-11 years old. Accompanying adults are free! The cost per child is $10. Advance reservation required. Egg hunt begins promptly at noon!

    Spring Fling Easter Eggstravaganza
    Where: Roer’s Zoofari | Vienna, VA
    When: April 13-14 and 20-21
    Admission: $20 ages 2 and up

    Celebrate the arrival of spring at an Easter event that promises to be entertaining for all ages! Safari tours, face painting, a bounce house, environmentally friendly crafts, and hourly Easter egg hunts will be part of the fun. This year the event is Plastic Free with reusable eggs that younger children will hunt and then turn in for prizes. Visitors are also invited to explore the zoo’s animal exhibits. Take an open air bus ride for an extra $3; enjoy feeding llamas, zebu, giraffe, camel, and barnyard favorites; and experience a parakeet adventure!

    Easter Eggstravaganzas
    Where: Various locations around the DMV
    When: April 13 & 20
    Admission: Free

    These festivals held in several neighborhoods around the area offer all kinds of Easter fun – egg hunts, Easter bunny visits, face painting, yummy treats, games, prizes, and more. They’ll take place at South Run Rec Center in Springfield, Glenkirk Elementary in Gainesville, and Four Mile Run Park in Alexandria on April 13, and at Langdon Park in Northeast DC and Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill on April 20.

    Easter Cupcakes: Kids Confectionery Decorating Class
    Where: Creative Saints Loft | Hyattsville, MD
    When: April 14, 1-3pm
    Admission: $32

    Spring is finally here! Join Chef Candace McCray of Sweet Kiss Cupcakes for a Kids Easter Cupcakes Decorating Class! This event is for kids who love being in the kitchen and parents who love to eat their creations. Your little one will learn spring time pastry chef inspired cupcake decorating techniques, and how to make their own chocolate dipped cake pops. They’ll be taught how to pipe, frost, decorate, and mold shapes. Kids will also decorate their own easter basket to bring their goodies home. Each ticket includes: 4 uniquely decorated cupcakes & 2 cake pops, all materials, 2 hours of instruction by Chef Candace McCray, Vigilante Coffee and sweet treats for adults, Bunny Hop lemonade for children, and an appearance by the Easter Bunny — be sure to bring your camera to snap a few pics!

    NoVa Parks Egg Hunts
    Where: Parks throughout Northern Virginia
    When: April 14-20
    Admission: $10

    Several parks in Northern Virginia are hosting all kinds of Easter fun to celebrate the holiday and the season. Easter bunny visits and photo ops, egg hunts, crafts, and more activities will be part of the festivities. Registration is required. Go here to see where and when you can jump in on the fun!

    Annual Easter Egg Hunt
    Where: Frederick Douglass National Historic Site | Anacostia, DC
    When: April 20, 10am – 1pm
    Admission: Free

    Celebrate the lasting legacy of Frederick Douglass’s at the National Park Service’s annual Easter Egg Hunt. The event will take place on Saturday, April 20, 2019 from 10 am to 1 pm at Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in historic Anacostia. At this free community event, children ages 0-12 will hunt for Easter eggs, take pictures with the Easter bunny, play games on the lawn of Cedar Hill, and experience the power of place with ranger led tours of Douglass’s historic home. Join in the fun with arts and crafts lead by local community organizations Konsider Dis and EYL 365 Project. Enjoy story time with Dr. Kelsi Bracmort, author of Simone Visits the Museum and DC native, and get your book signed!

    Easter Block Party
    Where: Riverdale, MD
    When: Saturday, 1-4pm
    Admission: Free

    Join an amazing, family-friendly, community event that is completely FREE! There will be food, kids’ activities, music, and games. Kids ages 1-8 can join an Easter egg hunt at 2pm Ages 1-8. Feel free to BYO basket, bucket, or bag, though they will provide a bag for any children who don’t have one. There will also be a 5×5 Soccer Tourney at 2:30pm — sign ups are first come, first served, max 8 teams (7 minute matches, single elimination). This is all brought to you by Peace City Church, St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, and Solid Rock Church.

    Egg Hunt Weekend
    Where: Clark’s Elioak Farm | Clarkesburg, MD
    When: April 20-21
    Admission: $6

    Little ones (ages 1 to 3 and 4 to 6) will have a chance to hunt for eggs throughout the day at this Maryland Farm that looks like something out of a story book! After hunting, they get to turn the eggs in for a goodie bag. The petting farm, rides, and play areas will be open for all to enjoy, too, along with gem mining and geode cracking. Be sure to take a look at the website for a heads-up on how the egg hunts will run, so you can make the most of your day there. Read more about Clarks Elioak in the KFDC post about the best outdoor places in the area.

    Falls Church Annual Easter Egg Hunt
    Where: Cherry Hill Park | Falls Church, VA
    When: April 20, 10-11am
    Admission: Free

    Join this annual family celebration hosted by the city’s Recreation and Parks Department. Children dressed in their spring finest can hunt for candy and special eggs in Cherry Hill Park and have their photo taken with a special guest, the Easter Bunny! BYO basket — they’ll supply the candy, fun, and happy springtime memories. In addition to scrambling for eggs and photo ops, children ages 11 and younger can participate in a make-your-own-candy-bag craft project.

    14th Annual Community Easter Egg Hunt
    Where: Stead Park | Northwest DC
    When: April 20, 10:45am – 12pm
    Admission: Free

    Hop to it and join Friends of Stead Park for their annual Community Easter Egg Hunt! Enjoy selfies with the Easter Bunny, crafts and snacks after your little ones have filled their baskets with eggs. The egg hunts will be split by age: Baby to 3: 10:45-11:00am, ages 4-6: 11:15-11:30am, ages 7 & up: 11:45am – 12:00pm. BYO basket and register here.

    Easter Monday & Earth Optimism Celebration
    Where: National Zoo | Woodley Park, DC
    When: April 22, 10am – 2pm
    Admission: Free

    This year it’s double the fun, as the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute’s Easter Monday event coincides with Earth Day and the Zoo’s Earth Optimism celebration. Families are invited to enjoy egg hunts, live music, food trucks, and games while discovering how they can help save species. This free event includes hands-on learning opportunities featuring Smithsonian conservation success stories, special animal demonstrations, keeper talks, and meet and greets with scientists and conservation partners working to protect wildlife around the world.

    White House Easter Egg Roll
    Where: White House Lawn | Downtown DC
    When: April 22
    Admission: Free, tickets required

    The annual White House Easter Egg Roll requires tickets won through lottery for admission. If you entered, you should have found out by now if you were “successful” in scoring them or not. Unofficial tip: I’ve heard in the past that people have been at the entrance giving away extra tickets they may have. While I can’t confirm that’s always the case, if you’re going to be in that area and really want to go, it wouldn’t hurt to stop by and see if someone might have tickets for you. Note that entries are timed, so while it goes all day, guests only stay for their designated amount of time.


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    Scenes from the 2019 DC Cherry Blossom Peak



    Surely you’ve heard (or seen) by now that the cherry blossom peak has begun…and it is glorious! Going to see the brilliant pink and white blooms stretching around the Tidal Basin every year does not get old. The beauty of the flowering trees and that it’s such a fleeting occurrence — the peak rarely lasts more than a week — always makes it feel special. The only downside: The crowds. Lots of people like to see the blossoms, and that hasn’t changed this year. But it’s worth dealing with, in my opinion, to experience the peak. Hey, you could even consider it part of the experience.

    The Capital Weather Gang is hopeful for an extended bloom this year, with weather conditions working in the flowers’ (and our) favor. If you plan to do some cherry blossom viewing, be sure to check out these tips first. You can also listen to me discuss some ways to enjoy the season in this podcast by Everybody’s National Parks.

    And for a glimpse of the peak, here are some scenes from an outing there. There are a lot, but I just couldn’t help myself!

































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    Filed under 2019, All ages, Annual, DC, Free, Outdoor, Seasonal, Special Event, Spring, Weekdays, Weekend

    The Best Activities for Families During the 2019 Cherry Blossom Season



    Cherry blossom season is almost upon us, and it’s time to start getting ready for it! Because not only is the city at its prettiest when the beloved flowers are in bloom, there also are loads of special events and activities to celebrate it all. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, running March 20 – April 13 this year, presents all kinds of fun and enriching activities over several weeks, plus there are even more blossom-inspired happenings that aren’t part of the official festivities. I’ve picked the best of them for families to help you plan for a peak experience. And for viewing the blossoms, check out these KFDC tips. Happy Spring!

    In Peak Bloom
    Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
    When: March 20 – May 27
    Admission: $16-20/adult, $8-10/child

    ARTECHOUSE is bringing cherry blossoms to a digital realm, celebrating spring, renewal, and the cherry blossom season with this art experience. In Peak Bloom will feature interactive and immersive digital art installations inspired by the fragile beauty and ephemeral nature of the cherry blossom. The cherry blossom’s distinctive short life span is closely tied to its cultural significance — reminding us of how precious and fleeting life is — and also part of what makes its blooming period such a cherished spectacle.

    Cultural Performances
    Where: Tidal Basin Welcome Area
    When: Weekends, March 23 – April 14
    Admission: Free

    Catch live entertainment as you take in views of the blossoms! On weekends during the National Cherry Blossom Festival, there will be music and dance performances on a special stage set up at the Tidal Basin Welcome Area. A highlight will be the Sakura Takio Takeover on March 30 from 11am – 5pm!

    Cherry Blossom Family Festival
    Where: American Art Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
    When: March 23, 11:30am – 3pm
    Admission: Free

    Join the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Cherry Blossom Festival for a celebration of Japanese culture. Kick off the day with a taiko drumming performance outside of the museum at the F Street entrance. Enjoy face painting, make cherry blossom crafts, listen to Japanese music, and go on a spring-themed scavenger hunt through the museum’s galleries.

    Japanese Culture Day
    Where: Library of Congress | Capitol Hill, DC
    When: March 23, 10am – 3pm
    Admission: Free

    Children of all ages and their families can learn about Japanese culture through reading, writing, and craft-making with Japanese cultural and linguistic professionals. Japanese-related books will be on display, and a special highlight of the day is “Japan-In-A-Suitcase,” an inspiring program about Japanese life and culture. Other activities include Japanese drum music and dance performances, instructions on the art of tiara-making by former Cherry Blossom princesses, origami artwork lessons, decorative Konobori coloring, and the kimono dress-up experience. Children can also explore the Library’s Young Readers Center, which is full of current and classic children’s literature – read more about it here.

    Go with the Flow
    Where: Local waterways
    When: Starting mid-March
    Admission: Rates vary

    Get a new perspective of the blossom and enjoy a fun activity on a paddling excursion. Many boathouses will open around the same time the National Cherry Blossom Festival begins, offering canoe, kayak, and other rentals to take you out on the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers and Tidal Bason, where you can see the blooming cherry trees from the water. This KFDC post has more information on where to go with the flow around DC.

    River Cruisin’
    Where: Local waterways
    When: Ongoing
    Admission: Varies by tour operator

    Enjoy blossom filled scenery from the comfort of a cruise on the Potomac. Several companies offer boat rides along the river, many of them specifically for the season when the cherry trees are in bloom. Right now you can find great deals with Boomerang Boat Tours and National Ferry Fleet. Capitol River Cruises, Potomac Riverboat Company, and DC Water Taxi are a few more to check out.

    STORYTIME: Call Me Tree
    Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
    When: March 27, 10-11am
    Admission: Free

    Join the Hirshhorn for a special STORYTIME, their regular program for littles, and take a trip to the depths of the earth and discover what can grow from it. Visit the round bronze sculptures Spatial Concept: Nature by Lucio Fontana, hear a reading of Call Me Tree by Maya Christina González, then do a related hands-on activity.

    Blossom Kite Festival
    Where: Washington Monument Grounds | National Mall, DC
    When: March 30, 10am – 4:30pm
    Admission: Free

    The annual Blossom Kite Festival is a favorite for many during the blossom season. The sight of thousands of kites in all colors, shapes, and sizes soaring around the Washington Monument truly is a sight to behold. The sails you see flying at the Festival each spring range from simple to pretty darn creative. Dragons, sharks, butterflies, giant soccer balls, even some that look like big, beautiful origami works way outnumber your basic diamond. And anyone can go fly their kites, so BYO or make one there at an activity station. There’s a competition aspect to the event, too; expert kite enthusiasts will wow crowds with cool stunts, and prizes will be awarded to winners of various categories such as most beautiful, funniest, and aerodynamics.

    A cherry blossom dream at last year’s ARTECHOUSE spring exhibit

    Blossoms & Baseball
    Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
    When: April 3
    Admission: Ticket price vary

    The Nats are getting in on the Cherry Blossom festivities this year with a petal-packed, pink takeover of Nationals Park as they host the Phillies. A portion of ticket proceeds from the game will also benefit the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

    Cherry Blossom STEM Day
    Where: Children’s Science Center Lab | Fairfax, VA
    When: April 6, 10am – 6pm
    Admission: $13

    Celebrate the Cherry Blossom Festival with a twist of STEM! Guests will be able to experiment with Flower Pigmentation. Visitors will press or rub flower petals onto a coffee filter, and with water added, witness the process of different pigmentation (ie, which colors will appear for the different types of flowers). Surprise and wonder may come as to how many colors will reveal themselves out of one colored petal. Read more about the Children’s Science Center Lab in this KFDC post.

    Open Studio: Celebrate the Cherry Blossom Festival
    Where: Freer|Sackler Gallery | National Mall, DC
    When: April 6, 10am – 12pm & April 13, 12-4pm
    Admission: Free

    Take a family-friendly tour and learn about nature in Japanese art (10:30am on 4/6, 12:30pm & 2:30pm on 4/13). Then, continue to explore the Freer for pop-up art-making activities with FutureMakers and artist demonstrations inspired by the spring season. All ages are welcome with adult companions.

    Ikebana Floral Design Workshop for Kids
    Where: Green Spring Garden | Alexandria, VA
    When: April 6
    Admission: $15

    Kids ages 8-14 can try their hand at creating a Japanese-style floral design influenced by the flowering cherry trees. Instructor Elizabeth Berry will introduce kids to this Asian art and help them create a small arrangement of their own to take home. Register in advance. Read more about Green Spring Gardens in this KFDC post.

    Petalpalooza
    Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
    When: April 6, 12-9:30pm
    Admission: Free

    It’s a full day of live music and engaging activities at The Wharf! Petalpalooza will feature live music on multiple outdoor stages, a beer garden, all-ages activities, product giveaways, a spectacular fireworks show by Pyrotecnico, and much more along the piers of the Southwest Waterfront. Take in the half-mile-long stretch of The Wharf’s shops and restaurants as the National Cherry Blossom Festival transforms the waterfront community into a one-day-only springtime spectacle. Read more about The Wharf in this KFDC post.

    Community Day: Growing Community
    Where: National Building Museum | Judiciary Square, DC
    When: April 7, 10am – 2pm
    Admission: Free

    Celebrate the playfulness of spring at the National Building Museum during this program offered as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival! Participate in hands-on activities and learn from community partners as you explore how landscape design can inspire outdoor play to grow and strengthen community. Take a closer look at the green space incorporated into your built environment that gets people outside and brings them together.

    Art Blooms at Mosaic
    Where: Mosaic District | McLean, VA
    When: April 7, 11am – 5pm
    Admission: Free

    This inaugural National Cherry Blossom Festival event brings an immersive and participatory art experience to Northern Virginia. Shop the UrbnMarket handmade and vintage craft fair, join interactive art classes and demonstrations, enjoy live music and entertainment, and watch the Cherry Tree planting and dedication. There will also be a Caboose Beer Garden for adults.

    Japanese Stone Lantern Lighting
    Where: Tidal Basin | Southwest, DC
    When: April 7, 3-4:30pm
    Admission: Free

    Nestled under the cherry blossom trees on the Tidal Basin, this ceremony includes remarks by top US officials and Japanese diplomats as well as traditional songs and music performed by Toho Koto Society of Washington DC and the Washington DC Choral Society.

    Cherry Blossom Night at DC United
    Where: Audi Field | Southwest DC
    When: April 9, 7:45pm
    Admission: Ticket prices vary

    Support local sports and be a part of the Cherry Blossom Festival at once! DC United’s home match against Montreal Impact will include cherry blossom-themed activations, activities, and celebrations for fans along with the action on the pitch. Score tickets here.

    Millennium Stage: Taiko Drumming and Traditional Dance
    Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
    When: April 12, 6pm
    Admission: Free

    This Target Family Night at Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage features a Japanese performance that all ages will enjoy. Thundering taiko drumming meets traditional Japanese dance as nearly 30 drummers and dancers from Tamagawa University and Taiko Group take the stage. The performers make up one of Japan’s top-ranking taiko groups coming out of the premier arts university in Japan.

    See Racing Presidents rolling down Constitution Ave at the annual parade

    National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
    Where: Constitution Avenue, 7th – 17th St NW | Downtown DC
    When: April 13, 10am – 12pm
    Admission: Free

    The pinnacle of cherry blossom festivities easily is the parade. Thousands of people line Constitution Avenue every year to watch the procession of lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, and a variety of performers roll through the city. Tickets for grandstand seats are available for $20, but you can stake out a spot along the curb for free. Plan to arrive early to get a good view — the crowds come out for this one, especially if it’s a pretty spring day.

    Sakura Matsuri
    Where: Pennsylvania Ave, 3rd-7th St NW | Downtown DC
    When: April 13, 10:30am – 6pm
    Admission: $10/ages 13+, free/12 & under

    Following the Cherry Blossom parade, many folks head over to Sakura Matsuri, the Japanese Street Festival that is America’s largest one-day exhibition of Japanese culture. The 59th annual event will feature live music and dance performances, all kinds of Asian and Western foods, martial arts demos, Japanese art, and more. Be prepared for a crowd.

    Into The Woods
    Where: Frying Pan Farm Park | Herndon, VA
    When: April 13, 11:30am – 1:30pm
    Admission: Free

    Celebrate the season trekking on Frying Pan’s nature trail to experience the changes of spring. Visit stations peppered throughout the trail to build a fairy house, help tally migratory and year round resident birds, and search for critters in the soil and water. Enjoy Japanese teas at the historic Frying Pan Meeting House. Stop by the Indoor Arena first for a map and instructions.

    Ikebana for Kids
    Where: National Arboretum | Northeast DC
    When: April 13, 1-2pm
    Admission: $25

    Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arranging, and kids ages 10 to 13 can spend an hour with a trained ikebana teacher qualified to teach young people this ancient art. Your child will take home a beautiful living flower arrangement as part of the workshop. All materials will be provided. Registration by April 5 is required.

    Sakura Sunday
    Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
    When: April 14, 11am – 8pm
    Admission: Free

    This year, National Harbor will be joining the DC region in the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival. Sakura Sunday will feature a wide array of fincluding traditional Japanese picnicking with food available for sale; a sake, rosé and beer garden; a Japanese Market; and Japanese-inspired music and entertainment. Restaurants and retailers will also participate in special offers and a cherry blossom store display window competition, and The Capital Wheel will turn pink during the festival. Muse Paintbar will feature cherry blossom art classes and a live painting demonstration as well.

    Anacostia River Festival
    Where: Anacostia Park | Southeast DC
    When: April 14, 1-5pm (POSTPONED to April 20)
    Admission: Free

    The 5th annual Anacostia River Festival is once again a premier event and official closing of the 2019 National Cherry Blossom Festival! Celebrate the Anacostia River with some fun outdoor recreation! Explore the river by canoe, ride in a bike parade, play lawn games with your family, and experience Southeast DC’s local arts scene.


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