Category Archives: 2017

The Weekend: December 28-January 1

It’s been a whirlwind of a holiday season (and year, for that matter), so I’m taking a little break this last weekend of 2017 and keeping the round-up simple. Not to worry — the links below will lead you to tons of information and inspiration to keep the next few days as full of activities and adventures as you want them to be. And be sure to follow KFDC on Facebook in case I share any last minute news. (You can also follow on Instagram to see what we’ve been up to!) Happy Weekend… and a very Happy New Year to all!

Where to Go and What to Do Around DC During Winter Break 2018

Family New Year’s Eve Celebrations to Ring in 2018

The KFDC 2017 Guide to Holiday Season in DC

Winter Entertainment

Everyday Play

The Great Indoors

Indoor Playgrounds

The Best Places in the DC Area to Spend A Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids

Recreation on Ice: The 2017-18 Skating Season Around the DMV

Walks in the Woods

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Filed under 2017, 2018, All ages, Annual, DC, Educational, Free, Holidays, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Outdoor, Seasonal, Special Event, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend, Winter

Family New Year’s Eve Celebrations to Ring in 2018

Count down to the balloon drop at Noon Yards Eve!

Are you ready to ring in the new year with the kids? There are a bunch of family-friendly ways to celebrate around the area, from organized events to plan-it-yourself activities. Here are details and inspiration for your crew to get in on the fun (plus, an extra KidFree suggestion 🙂 ). Happy New Year!

Noon Yards Eve
Where: The Yards Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: 10am – 1pm
Admission: Free

The Yards is once again hosting its Noon Yards Eve festival to ring in 2017! The fifth annual event will transform the park into a family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration with fun for both kids and adults. Activities will include music and dancing, balloon artists, bouncy inflatables, trackless train rides, face painters, kids crafts, and a big balloon drop at 12pm.

First Night Alexandria
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: Starting at 2pm
Admission: $30, kids 12 and under are free

Fun and entertainment will be in abundance at the area’s largest family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration. Activities begin in the afternoon, but live from a variety of genres entertainment begins at 7pm with more than 150 performances on 22 indoor stages throughout Old Town Alexandria. Among the many kids’ activities will be , face painting, story time, balloon sculptures, interactive games, and much more. The evening will conclude with a spectacular fireworks display on the Potomac River at the foot of King Street. For details on where shows will take place, see the schedule on the website.

Rocknoceros New Year’s Eve Party
Where: Jammin Java | Vienna, VA
When: 11am & 2pm
Admission: $10

For the 11th straight year, the widely popular band that always gets kids rockin’ will be playing a special New Year’s Eve gig at Jammin Java. Sing along to some of your favorite tunes and enjoy the full menu of food and drinks while you’re there. Opt for the lunchtime show at 11am, or go in the afternoon at 2pm. Doors open half-hour before the show and general admission seating is on a first come, first served basis.

Noon Year’s Eve
Where: Tudor Place | Georgetown, DC
When: 11:30-12:30pm
Admission: $5/child (free for adults)

(Note: Only member tickets are still available!) Ring in the New Year with your little one at this special holiday Tudor Tots! Enjoy a festive counting-themed storytime, then count down together to 12pm. Celebrate the noon-year with noisemakers, confetti, a sparkling craft, and toast 2018 with juice. For ages 2-4 and accompanying adults.

End the Year Medieval-Style
Where: Medieval Times | Hanover, MD
When: 3:30pm (doors open at 2pm)
Admission: $36.95/adult, $30.95/child

Experience an epic afternoon of fun and celebration as you countdown to 2018. Along with a four-course feast and thrilling jousting action, young guests can experience special activities just for the occasion before the extravaganza begins. Knight training, a princess story time, and free posters will make the day extra exciting a for young revelers. Be sure to use the code 36NYE18 for the ticket discount!

Noontime New Year’s Celebration
Where: Port Discovery | Baltimore, MD
When: 9:30am – 5pm
Admission: $13.95

Join the children’s museum in Baltimore for a Snow Ball at its annual Noontime New Year Celebration. Early bedtime or not, partygoers will enjoy a festive day of play inside a Winter Snow Ball Wonderland! Festivities will include performances by Eric Energy and the Kindersinger, plus all kinds of cool activities for kids. A juice and cookie toast will take place at noon amid all the fun. Be sure″ target=”_blank”>check the schedule for timing of specific events.

Midnight Noon
Where: Maryland Science Center | Baltimore, MD
When: 10am – 2pm
Admission: $20.95/adult, $16.95/3-12, free for 2 and under

The Maryland Science Center’s New Year’s Eve family extravaganza will transform the midnight tradition into one the kids can enjoy. The 10th annual Midnight Noon will give kids the opportunity to see the ball drop before bedtime. Guests can dance their way into a very happy “Noon” Year — Grammy-nominated Baltimore kids band Milkshake will take to the stage at 11:30am. Visitors can also decorate party hats, construct noise makers, and more. And the rest of the Science Center will be open for exploration, too!

Watch Night New Year’s Eve Celebration
Where: 100 Block of West Broad Street | Falls Church, VA
When: 7pm – Midnight
Admission: Free

Ring in the New Year with free, family-friendly festivities at Falls Church’s 20th annual New Year’s Eve celebration. Enjoy food, music, singing, dancing, entertainment, performances and interactive festivities that appeal to all ages. Highlights include a children’s scavenger hunt, a wide variety of inflatables, free balloons, karaoke, face painting, caricaturist drawings, and restaurants with special Walking Watch Night Menus at local restaurants. The evening concludes at midnight with the traditional countdown and lowering of the City of Falls Church Star. All events take place within a four-block area that begins on the 100 Block of West Broad Street. A free shuttle bus stops at each venue and the East Falls Church Metro throughout the evening, including a shuttle from the East Falls Church Metro station.

Midnight at 7
Where: Merriweather Park | Columbia, MD
When: 5-8pm
Admission: $15/advance, $20/day of, free/4 & under

Enjoy a family-friendly New Year’s Eve, featuring a walk through the Symphony of Lights holiday display and a dazzling fireworks display set to a soundtrack. Festivities also include DJ music, New Year’s party favors, face painting, food truck vendors, and more! The event benefits Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Family Fun on the Eastern Shore
Where: Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay | Cambridge, MD
When: Thursday – Friday
Admission: See room rates on website

How about an easy getaway to ring in 2018? The Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay is offering special room rates and family-friendly activities to celebrate the new year. All guests have access to special New Year’s Eve activities including a DJ-hosted dance party in the ballroom from 9pm–1am, with a midnight balloon drop and champagne toast; bounce houses; teen room; arcade, and game rooms. In addition, all overnight guests will have access to the resort’s amenities, including the indoor Wintergarden pool, Sago Spa & Salon, and our River Marsh Golf Club.

Swoosh into 2018
Where: Ski Liberty | Carroll Valley, PA
When: 5pm – 1am
Admission: Lift tickets start at $23/child (free/5 & under)

Hit the slopes to ring in the new year! Ski Liberty’s celebration will include late-night skiing and snowboarding until 1am, fireworks at midnight, and a variety of special events happening around the resort. New for this year, enjoy a decadent fixe prix dinner at Ike’s Chophouse. There is also a special, by reservations only, party at Boulder Ridge with Snow Tubing from 10pm to 1am. Find something for everyone and every age!

Glide into 2018
Where: Ice rinks around the DMV
When: Throughout the day & evening
Admission: Varies by rink

Skate under the stars to celebrate the start of the new year. Gliding on ice surrounded by twinkling lights, art sculptures, and/or the hubbub of people in festive spirits is a fun, active way to revel. Join a special event like Rock & Skate at Washington Harbour or just do your own thang. Be sure to check times for each rink, as hours may change for the holiday.

Michael Carbonaro Live!
Where: DAR Constitution Hall | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: 7pm
Admission: $17-83

Magician Michael Carbonaro of the hit TV series, The Carbonaro Effect on truTV, is taking his comically perplexing and improbable feats of magic on the road and will be in DC for a New Year’s Eve show. Find out what it’s like to be on the other side of the charmingly devious Michael Carbonaro as he works his magic to make people believe the unbelievable. You will not just “sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.” Michael Carbonaro Live! is jam-packed with audience interaction, hilarious videoclips, and a whirlwind of mind-blowing magic performed live on stage.

New Year’s Night Lights
Where: Around the DMV
When: After dark
Admission: Varies by locale

Start your own family New Year’s Eve tradition with a seasonal treat: Bundle up for a stroll or take a drive through one of several spectacular light displays! Most of the light shows that dazzle this time of year are open on New Year’s Eve. Combine an outing to see them with dinner out — this guide from Edible DC has suggestions on where to eat nearby all the holiday lights. If you’re enjoying it from the comfort of a car, pack a thermos of hot chocolate, yummy snacks, and prepare a festive playlist for the ride.

An Evening in Spain Dinner Party (KidFree Rec!)
Where: Joselito Casa de Comidas | Capitol Hill, DC
When: 5-7:30pm & 9-10:30pm
Admission: See pricing below

Spaniards take their “fin de ano” dinner celebrations seriously and the Joselito Casa de Comidas family intends to do the same stateside on December 31. Joselito will transport guests to an “Evening in Spain” dinner party complete with Spanish dishes featuring ingredients known to bring love, luck and good fortune in the new year. The NYE celebration will include two seatings. Reservations for the first seating will be taken between 5-7:30pm for a three course menu ($50 p/person; $80 per/person with wine pairings). The second seating will take reservations from 9-10:30pm and will feature a six course menu ($120 per/person; $170 per/person with wine pairings), live jazz beginning at 10:30pm, party favors, as well as a balloon drop and a champagne toast with the Spanish tradition of 12 grapes for good luck at midnight.

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Filed under 2017, 2018, All ages, Annual, DC, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, New Years, Seasonal, Special Event, Virginia, Winter

Where to Play on the Weekdays: December 25-29

Enjoy winter in DC this week!

Last week I posted the Winter Break Guide, a big mix of ideas for activities and adventures with the kids during the winter break from school, so be sure to check it out! Below is a suggested itinerary that you can easily switch up with the recs from the guide. Have fun & Happy Holidays!

Monday – Have a very merry Christmas… and enjoy some activities out of the house, too! The U.S. Botanic Garden and Mount Vernon are open. You can bundle up and get out for a hike. Or do what’s a tradition for many who don’t celebrate Christmas and go out for Chinese food and a movie.

Tuesday – Bundle up the kids (and yourself) and take advantage of The Beauvoir School’s Winter Break. Their fantastic playground is open to the public when class is not in session. Open all day. Admission is free. (If it’s just way too cold, see the round-up of Indoor Playgrounds, for where to be active inside.)

Wednesday – Get Q?rius at the National Museum of Natural History. During winter break, the interactive and experiential learning space opens earlier at 10am (instead of 2pm). Visitors can view up close —
and in many cases handle — real artifacts and specimens from the museum’s collections. It’s recommended for ages 11 and up, but some younger ages could also enjoy it. For really little ones, there is Q?rius Jr: A Discovery Room for more age-appropriate exploring. And, of course, there’s the whole rest of the museum for everyone. Hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free.

Thursday – Stay warm, cozy, and entertained at a performance of Charlotte’s Web at Imagination Stage. Showtimes are 11am and 1:30pm. Tickets are $17-32.

Friday – Add some color to what’s forecast to be a gray, snowy day at the National Gallery of Art. The East Building is full of contemporary works with bold colors and captivating designs. Be sure to stop in the Alexander Calder room on the 4th floor, where mobiles of all shapes and sizes will dazzle, and head to the roof to at least have a peek at the giant blue rooster and some great city views. The West Building houses more classical pieces, including the current Vermeer exhibit, collections featuring many of the masters, and the only Leonardo da Vinci painting on public view in the U.S. Hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free.

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Filed under 2017, All ages, Art, Christmas, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Holidays, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Outdoor, Playground, Seasonal, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays, Winter

Where to Go & What to Do Around DC During Winter Break 2017

Get out and enjoy DC during Winter Break!

Just like in the spring, I’ve been asked a lot about things to do during the Winter Break from school. So, just like I did back then, I’ve put together a guide to help you make the most of the time and keep everyone happy (and that includes us parents!).

Many of these ideas are already on the blog, but sometimes a little guidance for what’s best at certain times helps. Among these recommendations are holiday activities that keep the spirit going a little longer, exhibits and shows that are hot tickets right now, outings that take advantage of the season, adventures to keep your gang active no matter what the weather, and places and experiences that kids who are in school all day can’t get to easily.

And, of course, the rest of the blog is loaded with suggestions if you want even more options. So, whether you’re enjoying a staycation or visiting from out of town, you should have no problem keeping the kids (and yourself!) entertained during this time off — or on, depending how you look at it. 😉 Happy Winter Break!

Holiday-Inspired Happenings

See trains wind through Roadside Attractions at the U.S. Botanic Garden

Season’s Greenings
Where: U.S. Botanic Garden | National Mall area, DC
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

If you haven’t yet made it to Season’s Greenings, the annual holiday exhibit at the U.S Botanic Garden, you still have time to go — and it’s one that all ages will love. The conservatory exhibit features Washington landmarks constructed from plant materials, including a new botanical inspired National Museum of African American History & Culture. But the highlight is the garden railway, which never fails to impress and enchant with intricate, imaginative designs. This year’s Roadside Attractions-themed exhibit is as pretty and whimsical as it is impressive. Be sure to tour the rest of the plant collections while you’re there — not only are they gorgeous to view, there are some pieces from the holiday exhibit sprinkled throughout!

Magical Holiday Express
Where: B&O Railroad Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: Through December 31
Admission: $18/adult, $17/senior, $12/age 2-12, free/B&O members

This is a venue dedicated to locomotives, so you know the holiday model train exhibit is going to be special. Trains are magical during the holidays, and the museum invites all aboard the B&O’s Magical Holiday Express, a spectacular celebration in the B&O Roundhouse devoted to trains of all sizes and shapes, holiday festivities, and a winter wonderland of family fun and activities. There is something to see and do every day at this annual holiday event! Be sure to look for special events like North Pole Adventures, Winter Royal Adventures, Frosty Fest, and WinterFest Wonderland on the website.

Holiday Hunts
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Through December 31
Admission: $35

Look for special goodies found only at O Museum in The Mansion on this festive holiday treasure hunt. This includes a self-guided tour through the many fantastic themed rooms and secret doors. Bring your own shopping bags — everything is for sale! See more about this wonderfully unique DC attraction in this KFDC post.

Christmas on the Potomac
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: Through January 1
Admission: Free, though some activities cost extra

National Harbor goes all out during the holidays. ICE! might be the big attraction, but there’s also plenty to do there to warrant a visit without the frozen entertainment. Most of it takes place in the Gaylord National Resort, which is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with a spectacular glass Christmas tree, nightly tree lightings, the Potomac Express train offering rides for guests, photo ops with Santa, indoor snowfalls, fountain shows, and more. (Read about a KFDC experience there during a Christmas season past.)

Christmas at Mount Vernon

Where: Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: Through January 6
Admission: Online – $18/adults, $9/ages 6-11, free/ 5 & under

They do it up for the holidays at George Washington’s old digs. During the day, tour the Mansion, watch historic chocolate-making demos, and meet Aladdin the Camel. FYI: Mount Vernon is open every day of the year, including Christmas and New Year’s Day!

Special Exhibits

One of the whimsical interactive works of The Utopian Projects att he Hirshhorn

Imaginary World of the Nutcracker
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
When: Through January 7
Admission: $15/adult, $8/child

Since ARTECHOUSE opened this past June, the gallery has been bringing us art experiences that are beautiful, innovative, and immersive through the fusion of art and technology. The newest exhibition, “Imaginary World of the Nutcracker,” follows suit with an installation that engages and enchants. You can view Nutcracker scenery projected on walls, manipulate light and color with your own movements, and look for magical surprises throughout. Bring the kids during daytime hours 10am – 5pm, but I also recommend this for an adult outing 5:30-10:30pm or 11:30pm when special cocktails (and some extra magic) are served, too!

The Utopian Projects
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: Through March 4
Admission: Free

This collection of impressive, whimsical models of sculptural works by Russian artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov is fun and interesting to view — especially when you discover that some of them have been executed in their intended life-size form. With lots of delightful details, plus a few interactives, it’s an exhibit that all ages can appreciate. Take time to browse other exhibits while you’re at the museum. Kids will particularly enjoy Ann Hamilton’s “at hand” installation, a room full of blank white sheets of paper in which guests can immerse, in What Absence is Made Of.

Where: National Museum of Natural History | National Mall, DC
When: Mon-Fri, 10am – 5pm | Sat-Sun 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free

The interactive and experiential learning space is designed for kids ages 11 and up (though some younger ages could enjoy it, too). During winter break, it opens earlier at 10am (instead of 2pm). Visitors can view up close — and in many cases handle — real artifacts and specimens from the museum’s collections. For really little ones, there is Q?rius Jr: A Discovery Room for more age-appropriate exploring. And, of course, there’s the whole rest of the museum for everyone. Read the KFDC take on Q?rius.

Murder is Her Hobby
Where: Renwick Gallery | Downtown DC
When: Through January 28
Admission: Free

This exhibit featuring dollhouse-sized recreations of real crime scenes is at once fascinating, creepy, and bizarrely delightful (all the tiny things!) as it explores the “surprising intersection between craft and forensic science.” Created by Frances Glessner Lee in the early 20th century, the dioramas are actually still used in forensic training today. You can play detective, too, and try to solve the crimes based on what you see in the miniature scenes. For obvious reasons, I recommend this one for older kids — or make it a KidFree outing.


Hit the trail for a walk in the woods

Take a Hike
Where: Around the DMV
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by locale

If you agree with the saying, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing” like I do, there are no excuses for not getting outdoors during winter. And a great, easy way to do so is on a hike. Hit the trail in places with scenic views, tramp and explore history at interesting locales, and enjoy a day of active fun. This post has a a bunch of recommendations for good walks in the woods and other places with the kids.

Grounds for Play
Where: Playgrounds around the DMV
When: Daily
Admission: Free

Let the kiddos burn some energy and get some fresh air at one of many awesome area playgrounds. Beauvoir, Clemyjontri, Watkins Regional Park, Hains Point,Cabin John Regional Park, Wheaton Regional Park, plus loads of DC Parks and Rec locations, and many more in NoVa and Maryland are great places to swing, climb, run, slide, romp, and even more!

Ice It
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by rink

Enjoy a quintessential winter activity: Ice skating under the sky! Take in art as you skate at the Sculpture Garden; glide above the Anacostia on The Wharf’s new rink; circle around Washington Harbour as you enjoy views of the Potomac; meander along the Figure 8 path at Canal Park; or do some shopping then skate at Pentagon Row, Veteran’s Plaza, Rockville Town Square, or Reston Town Center. This post has details on alfresco (and indoor) ice skating options in the area.

See the Lights
Where: Around the DMV
When: Evenings through
Admission: Varies by locale

Twinkling lights forming enchanting displays are are a staple of the season and some continue to shine into January. Visit one of several parks or gardens (or the Zoo!) in the area that has transformed into a sparkling wonderland. While some you tour by car, others you can walk through for a truly enchanting experience. See where you can see the lights around the area.

Show Time

Step Afrika will have everyone stomping with joy!

Step Afrika’s Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE, DC
When: Through December 30
Tickets: $18-45

Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show is a KFDC fave! This fun, family-friendly performance will have you stomping your feet and clapping your hands to energetic beats from Step Afrika! and special guest, DJ Frosty the Snowman. The show features friendly, furry characters, plus there is pre-show instrument-making workshops, photo ops, and even a dance party. It is so much fun for both kids and adults!

Frosty the Snowman
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo, MD
When: November 17- January 7
Tickets: $19.50

Keep the holiday magic going at a seasonal show! Do you want to build a snow man? How about watching him spring to life in front of you for one day of adventures before he melts away? In this merry wintertime romp, chock-full of chuckles and comic antics, Frosty dances into the hearts of kids and adults alike- even the heart of one near-sighted cop through his uproarious antics.

Charlotte’s Web
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: November 18 – January 7
Tickets: $10-32

Take kids to see the beloved classic (now infused with live music!), Fern, a soft-hearted farm girl, forms an unlikely bond with Wilbur, a charismatic pig. At the Zuckerman Farm, Wilbur meets a silly goose, a moody sheep, a selfish rat, and Charlotte, a clever spider. In an effort to save her friend, Charlotte weaves flattering messages about him into her web that cause a sensation in the small town. Recommended for age 5+.

How to Catch a Leprechan
Where: Keegan Theatre | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Through December 31
Tickets: $15

Keegan Theatre’s Play-Rah-Ka program, which offers theatre experiences for families, brings this familiar Irish folktale to the stage through the holiday season. How To Catch a Leprechaun follows the comical adventures of the wistful minstrel Riley O’Really, who really wants to catch a leprechaun. She’s got everything she needs for her trap: a pair of sharp eyes, a good Irish folk song in her heart and, most importantly, an irresistible pitcher of green lemonade. The wee leprechaun who Riley catches seems more than willing to give up his pot of gold – but is his offer a leprechaun trick or a leprechaun treat?

An American in Paris
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: Through January 7
Tickets: $59-129

For a bigger theatre experience, Kennedy Center presents An American in Paris, a show that has captivated both audiences and critics. Its stunning combination of classic music, timeless story, breathtaking dance, and state-of-the-art design results in a spectacular production the New York Times declares “outshines anything else currently on Broadway.” Recommended for ages 8+.

Indoor Action

Scaling the walls at ClimbZone

Mountains of Fun
Where: Badlands | Rockville, MD
When: Tuesday – Sunday, 9am – 6pm
Admission: $22.50/child and $12.50/toddler

Enjoy all kinds of indoor adventures at Badlands Play Space. From active fun to creative explorations to learning experiences to relaxation options, the facility has it all. They also have a cafe to get a bite to eat while you’re there and where adults can hang out while they watch their kids play (if kids are old enough to playon their own). Best for children about preschool age to 10.

Reach New Heights
Where: ClimbZone | Laurel, MD
When: Daily, 10am – 8pm
Admission: $25+tax ($12+tax/toddler)

The enormous facility is filled literally floor to ceiling with colorful themed climbing walls and moon bounces. Climbers can ascend Mt. Rushmore, reach the Jolly Roger on a pirate ship, conquer a game of Tetris, shimmy up a giant guitar, scale Jack’s bean stalk, negotiate a rope wall, and experience peak fun on a variety of other climbing areas.

Play in the Zone
Where: ZavaZone | Rockville, MD & Sterling, VA
When: Daily, 10am – 6pm
Admission: Starts at $19.50

Guests have their pick of fun at this indoor adventure park for ages 5-105. There are ninja courses, ropes courses, trampolines, climbing challenges, zip lines, and more under one soaring roof. Usually just open in the afternoons during the week, morning time slots will also be available during Winter Break week.

Spring Into Action
Where: Flight Trampoline Park | Springfield, VA
When: Daily
Admission: Starts at $11

Kids of all ages can jump, play, even flip for joy at Flight Trampoline Park. The huge space resembles a skate park, with an industrial look of exposed pipes and cinder block walls sprayed with graffiti. But where you’d find ramps, rails, and concrete to facilitate skills and tricks, there are trampolines instead. Be sure to check the schedule for any special jumping times, and buy tickets/sign waivers in advance online to avoid a line there.

See Some Sports

Cheer on our local teams!

Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 23, 29, 31
Admission: Ticket prices vary

The Wizards have a few home games over the break, so catch some exciting action on the court. They host the Orlando Magic on December 23, Houston Rockets on December 29, and you can see them play the Chicago Bulls on the last day of the year.

Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 28 & 30
Admission: Ticket prices vary

Hockey fans can see the Caps play a couple of games. The Boston Bruins will be here on December 28, and the New Jersey Devils on December 30.

Hoops, NCAA-Style
Where: Universities around the DMV
When: Throughout the break
Admission: Ticket prices vary

With so many universities in the area, there’s always some good college hoops action going on. Here’s where you can check out schedules and look for tickets:
University of Maryland (Go, Terps!)
George Washington University
Georgetown University
American University
Howard University
George Mason University

Museums & More DC Sights

The only fake news you’ll hear at the Newseum 😉

Mission: Fun
Where: International Spy Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Daily, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $21.95/adult, $14.95/age 7-11, free/6 & under

Go undercover to explore the intriguing world of espionage. Discover some the tricks of the trade, view gadgets used to keep secrets and disguises to hide identities, and learn about some of the most famous spies and their missions. Look for a deal on admission before you go!

Focus on News and Media
Where: Newseum
When: Daily, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $24.95/adult, $14.95/ages 7-19, free for 6 and under

The museum dedicated to all things news and journalism is fascinating — and one of my personal favorites in DC. Much of the collection is better appreciated (and understood) by older children, so while they have off from school is a good time to take advantage of an outing there. Read more about the Newseum in this KFDC post. And (look for a deal) on admission!

African American History & Culture
Where: National Museum of African American History & Culture
When: Daily, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free

This phenomenal museum is a must-see on the National Mall. Advance passes are currently unavailable, but with the kids home and open days ahead of you, it’s a good time to try for day-of admission — up to four(4) same-day timed entry passes are available online everyday starting at 6:30am until they run out. A limited number of walk-up passes are also available beginning at 1pm on weekdays. (Heads-up: The release for April 2018 passes is on Wednesday, January 3 at 9am.)

Tour the Capitol
Where: U.S. Capitol Building | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Daily, 8:30m – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

Take a tour of the U.S. Capitol! You can usually get on a guided tour day of, but even if you can’t there are still plenty of interesting exhibits and statues to see in the Visitor’s Center. A tour lasts about an hour, and includes a short film, walks through the The Rotunda and National Statuary Hall, and a peek into the Old Congress Chamber. Before you go, be sure to read these guidelines on what you can and can’t bring with you. (KFDC Tip: You can walk through an underground tunnel to get to the Library of Congress and make it a bigger outing on the Hill.)

Abe’s Last Days
Where: Ford’s Theatre | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Daily, 9am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free – $3

Ford’s isn’t just a place to catch live entertainment. The site of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination highlights its historic significance through exhibits about the president, the circumstances surrounding his assassination, and that fateful night at the theatre. The National Historic Site features a museum, theatre walk-throughs and a presentation, and guests are welcome to explore it all. Best for about ages 8 and up. Reserve tickets online in advance for $3 or get them at the Box Office for free.

Day Trips

Go big at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore

Charm City, Hon!
Where: Baltimore, MD
When: Daily
Admission: Varies by locale

Zip up I-95 for some fun in our sister city, where there are lots of great places to spend a day off. Play the day away at Port Discovery. Explore the exhibits and loads of hands-on activities at the Maryland Science Center. See some of the quirkiest, coolest art around at the American Visionary Art Museum. Get an eyeful of the underwater world at the National Aquarium. Tour the historic ships moored at the Inner Harbor. Or learn about Baltimore’s early business days at the Museum of Industry.

Hit the Slopes
Where: Liberty Mountain | Carroll Valley, PA
When: Through winter
Admission: Varies

Take advantage of winter and enjoy a quintessential seasonal activity — skiing! Liberty Mountain is one of the more convenient places to go with the kids, especially if they are newbies. Just over an hour from DC in PA, it’s easy to get to for a one-day venture on the slopes, the runs aren’t too difficult, and kids can do a couple of hours of ski school (be sure to sign up in advance). Get the scoop on their children’s programs here. (KFDC Tip: If you have a 4th or 5th graders, be sure to check out the SkiPa Snowpass!)

Go Underground
Where: Luray Caverns | Luray, VA
When: Daily, 9am – 7pm
Admission: $24/adults, $21/seniors, $12/ages 6-12, 5 and under free

Behold the spectacular underground world of stalagmites, stalactites, and other amazing limestone formations in the massive cave system at Luray. Afterward, make your way through the Garden Maze or check out vintage rides in the Carriage and Caravan Museum. Admission does not include attractions beyond the cavern. KFDC Tip: Be sure to make a pit stop before going into the caverns, because it can be a long walk out to a restroom, and once you’re out, you may not be able to go back in.

Art & Maritime Explorations
Where: Calvert County, MD
When: Daily, except Christmas
Admission: Varies by locale

Make a day of it in Calvert County, where you can visit a couple of places for fun, fascinating, hands-on adventures. Annmarie Sculpture Garden is full of artistic delights. Tour beautiful works, both indoors and out, play in the Fairy Lolly, and create some of your own art with inspiration from all you see there. Hours are 9am – 5pm in the gardens, and admission is $5/adult, $3/ages 6-17, free/5 & under. Also out that way is the Calvert Marine Museum, where you can see interesting exhibits, including display cases full of fossils and artifacts, plus live fish and other creatures. There’s also a play area and a real lighthouse to tour. Hours are 10am – 5pm, and admission is $9/adult, $4/ages 5-12, free/4 & under.

I Scream, You Scream
Where: Turkey Hill Experience | Lancaster, PA
When: Daily, except Christmas

Get the scoop on the ice cream-making process through a series of interactive exhibits (note: it’s a museum, not a factory). Create your own virtual ice cream flavor, sit in a vintage milk truck, milk mechanical cows, star in your own Turkey Hill commercial, and enjoy free samples of iced tea and ice cream. Consider making it an overnight and visiting the Lancaster Central Market and other area attractions while you’re there.

Extra Tips
* If you’re looking specifically for ideas for foul weather days, see The Great Indoors list or the round-up of Indoor Playgrounds
* And for where to hang outside, check out The Best Places to Spend a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids
* The Smithsonian Event Calendar is always worth checking before you head to the museums or the Zoo
* Look for deals and discounts on CertifiKID and Goldstar.


Filed under 2017, All ages, Annual, Art, Christmas, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Holidays, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Playground, Seasonal, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Where to Play on the Weekdays: December 18-22

Wading through a sea of paper at the Hirshhorn

Monday – Go over the rainbow and beyond at Watkins Regional Park. It’s a great place for indoor-outdoor explorations and fun! The adorable Wizard of Oz themed playground will have little ones frolicking for hours. If you start to feel a chill, spend time inside at Watkins Nature Center to view some cool creatures and birds. Old Maryland Farm is closed Monday, but stop by if you go another day to visit the animals. Park hours are dawn to dusk, 8:30am – 5:30pm at the Nature Center, 9am – 4pm at the Farm. Admission is free.

Tuesday – Take advantage of warmer temps and enjoy some time outdoors at Great Falls. Whether you opt for the Maryland or Virginia side, you can’t go wrong. Take in spectacular views of the falls and rapids from several overlooks, hike easy trails along the river or through the woods, and stop in the Visitor Center — there’s one on each side — to learn more about the area’s history and wildlife.

Wednesday – Experiment with hands-on fun at the Children’s Science Center Lab at Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax. Kids of all ages can explore a variety of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) concepts through fun, engaging interactive exhibits and activities. Hours are 10am – 6pm. Admission is $13 (under 2 are free).

Thursday – Celebrate the winter solstice at museums on the National Mall. Catch a performance of Seasons of Light, a production about the traditions of winter holidays around the world, at Discovery Theater located in the Ripley Center. Showtimes are 10:15am and 11:05am, and tickets are $3-8. At 12pm, see the Peacock Room at the Freer Sackler Gallery in a whole new light, as the shutters of Whistler’s “harmony in blue and gold” are open, and a flood of natural light turns the exhibit into a glowing jewel of blue, green, and gold tones. From there, head over to the Hirshhorn Museum to explore modern works of art. The exhibit What Absence is Made Of includes of room full of blank white sheets of paper that have floated down from machines near the ceiling — and visitors are welcome to immerse in it.

Friday – Get hyped for the holidays! Pick one of many activities that happen this time of year: Check out a train display, catch a holiday show, ride trolleys, meet Santa, see an evening light display, and enjoy loads of other seasonal delights. The KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC has all the details on where to go and what to do.

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Filed under 2017, All ages, Animals, Chanukah, Christmas, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Holidays, Indoor Play, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Virginia, Weekdays, Winter