Category Archives: All ages

The Weekend Round-Up: May 13-15

The US Botanic Garden is a perfect place to visit on a rainy weekend

 

Happy Weekend!

Fast links for all kinds of family activity ideas:
Off-the-Beaten-Path Museums
* Indoor Outings
* Best Outdoors in the DC Area
* Local Hikes with Kids
* Bike Rides
* Stunning Spaces
* Peaceful Places
* Baltimore with Kids
* Spring Things

Annapolis Up Rigging Maritime Festival
Where: City Dock, Downtown Annapolis, MD
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Admission: Free (fee for sunset sails)

Check out tall ships in Annapolis! Five ships will be moored at City Dock downtown next to Susan Campbell Park. Several of the boats will be available for free deck tours, and a couple of them, the Pride of Baltimore II and the Lynx, will be offering sunset sails ($55). If you can’t get on one of those, several other local tour boats will also be doing cruises over the weekend.  Free concerts in the park will be part of the festival as well — BYO lawn chair or blanket and enjoy live music on the waterfront.

Drive-In Movie Time
Where: Union Market | NoMa, DC
When: Friday, 8:40pm
Admission: $20/car, walk-ups are free

Union Market’s annual Drive-in Movie Series begins this weekend,  kicking off with Space Jam on the big outdoor screen. Watch the classic flick from the comfort of your car (or walk up and sit in the fresh air) in the UM parking lot. Get there as early to enjoy delicious foods from market vendors and fun pre-show activities for movie-lovers of every age! The lot opens at 7:30pm and the film begins at 8:40pm. Advance purchase is recommended.

The Outdoors Inside
Where: US Botanic Garden | Capitol Area, DC
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

Going to the US Botanic Garden on a rainy day is like pulling a fast one on the weather gods — you can experience the outdoors without getting wet.  Explore the different plant collections as you walk amid woodland flora, desert areas, and tropical rainforest (one of the the most stunning spaces in DC). The current Cultivate: Growing Food in a Changing World exhibit has interesting interactive elements that all ages will enjoy. Be sure to bring kiddos to the  Children’s Garden, where they can play and use some gardening tools (note that this area is outside and will be inaccessible if it’s raining).  And plan on a stroll through the lovely National Garden, too, if weather permits. Read more about the  USBG here and here.

This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World
Where: Renwick Gallery | Downtown DC
When: Opens Friday
Admission: Free

After being closed  for many months, the Renwick Gallery reopens this weekend with the debut of  This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World. The exhibition, including more than 170 artworks on two floors of gallery space, highlights the role that artists play in our world to spark essential conversations, stories of resilience, and methods of activism — showing us a more relational and empathetic world. Works are from the museum’s permanent collection in a range of craft mediums from fiber and ceramics to glass and mixed media. And if past big Renwick exhibits (see here, here, and here) are any indication, this one is sure to be a must-see.

EU Open House
Where: EU Embassies | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Avoid the hefty airfare and jet lag and explore the Continent from this side of the pond. Join European Union embassies and the EU Delegation for a day of international culture. Get a rare behind-the-scenes look at the embassies, some of which are among Washington’s historic and architectural treasures. While each embassy will offer something different for people to enjoy, guests visiting the Delegation will get a look at art installations and engage with local diplomats to learn how the EU is fighting for a sustainable future and the preservation of global democracy. Children can design buttons to show their support for Ukraine and everyone can sample European cuisine from a local food truck. Get an idea of what to expect in  this post about one of our experiences at an Around the World Embassy Tour.

Day Out with Thomas
Where: B&O Railroad Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: Friday – Sunday
Admission: $26-30

All aboard, little engineers! Thomas the Tank Engine is rolling into town with the Party Train Tour! Take a train ride behind him, meet Sir Topham Hatt, and enjoy a full day of activities and family fun!

More Charm City Fun, Hon!
Where: Around Baltimore, MD
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

Not only is it nice to get a change of metro area scenery sometimes, Baltimore, our sister city just a 45-minute drive away, is full of fantastic, family-friendly things to do. This post has info about all of them, including big attractions, suggestions for places to eat, and neighborhoods to explore.

Acton Children’s Business Fair of Washington, DC
Where: 3411 Connecticut Ave | Cleveland Park, DC
When: Saturday, 10am – 12:30pm (rain or shine)
Admission: Free
Head to the Acton Children’s Business Fair of Washington, DC, on Saturday, where children ages 6 to 14 who have created a product or service are selling to customers — like an outdoor craft market run by kids! Shop, have fun, and celebrate children’s entrepreneurial spirit! Entry is free and open to the public.

Strawberry Fields…this Weekend (Maybe)
Where: Farms around the DC Area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Strawberries are ripe and ready for harvest — a few area farms are now welcoming guests to pick their own. It’s always a good idea to check websites or call ahead to confirm availability the day you plan to go.  And this one is obviously weather dependent, but even if rain washes the idea out, go ahead and check the list of PYO places, so y9u can plan for another time.

Happy 150, DC Fire & EMS!
Where: Constitution & Pennsylvania Ave NW | Downtown DC
When: Saturday, 11am – 3pm
Admission: Free
The DC Fire and EMS Department is celebrating their 150th Year of Service with a parade and apparatus muster, a display of antique and current fire apparatus. The parade begins at 11am, and will proceed down Constitution Ave. NW from 7th to 14th Streets. The apparatus muster will take place Pennsylvania Ave, from 12th to 14th Streets NW.

Brownies: Outdoor Adventures
Where: Tudor Place | Georgetown, DC
When: Saturday, 10-11:30am
Admission: $10
This session for kids will help them identify bugs, birds and other wildlife at Tudor Place while on an outdoor adventure. Practice knot-tying skills and plant seeds to take home. This program fulfills all requirements to earn the Brownie Bugs Badge and the Brownie Outdoor Adventurer badge.  Individuals and troops invited to participate.

Lattes with Lambs
Where: National Colonial Farm | Accokeek, MD
When: Saturday, 11am – 3pm
Admission: $15/adult, $5/age 10 & under
Help welcome the new additions to the Piscataway Park barnyard at the Lattes with Lambs festival! There are brand new lambs and calves on the farm that are looking forward to hanging out. The event will also feature farm-themed activities for the whole family, local food and coffee trucks, sheep-shearing demonstrations.

Arches & Trusses: The Tension Builds
Where: National Building Museum | Judiciary Square, DC
When: Saturday, 11:30am – 12:30pm
Admission: $7/member, $15/non-member
Sign up for this program, part of a weekly May series! What keeps a building standing up?  Investigate how materials, invisible forces and building structures work together in the historic home of the museum and begin to understand how these forces affect all the buildings that make up our neighborhoods and communities.  Admission includes access to all of the exhibits, too.

KidStory Theatre Festival
Where: Highland Elementary | Wheaton, MD
When: Saturday, 11am & Sunday, 2pm
Admission: Free
Season 7 of InterAct Story Theatre’s Wheaton Family Theatre comes to a close this month with free plays and stories written by their favorite authors–kids! All year long, theatre artists create stories with kids, inviting them to share their epic stories. They’re choosing some of their favorite stories written by kids over the years to be performed by our InterActors and shared with the community this weekend! Best for ages 4 and up. Highland Elementary School is located at 3100 Medway Street in Wheaton, MD.

Disney Singalong
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: Saturday, 12pm |Sunday, 10am & 12pm
Tickets: $15

Bring kiddos to sing along!  Three of Olney Theatre’s favorite performers, Patricia Hurley Carpenter (Mary Poppins herself!), Ashleigh King (Elf the Musical), and Matt Schleigh (Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors) will lead kids of all ages in their favorite Disney songs from stage and screen.

Show Way the Musical
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: Friday, 7pm | Saturday & Sunday, 1:30pm & 4pm
Tickets: $20

Opening this weekend at the Kennedy Center…   Soonie’s great-grandma was just seven years old when she was sold to a big plantation without her ma and pa, with only some fabric and needles to call her own. She began to stitch a Show Way, a quilt with secret meanings to show enslaved people the way to freedom. As each generation passes, the Show Way shines a light on the past and paves a road to the future, stitching together possibility and promise. Education Artist-in-Residence Jacqueline Woodson’s book of history, love, and resilience becomes a world premiere stage adaptation. This moving, lyrical account based on Woodson’s own family pays tribute to women whose strength and knowledge illuminate their daughters’ lives—from enslavement to freedom, through segregation, freedom marches, and the fight for literacy. Recommended for ages 7+.

Into the Woods
Where: Creative Cauldron | Falls Church, VA
When: Friday & Saturday 7:30pm | Sunday, 2pm & 7pm
Tickets: $40/adult, $25/child

Catch a performance of this just -opened show: With an imaginative book by James Lapine that skillfully intertwines the stories and characters from Grimm fairy tales, and a luscious score by Stephen Sondheim, this Tony Award-winning musical has become a timeless masterpiece. A baker and his wife wish for a child, Cinderella wishes to go to the King’s Festival and Jack wishes to sell his cow, so into the woods they must go in search of their prize. Happily ever after eludes them, however, as they soon learn the tangled consequences of getting exactly what you wished for.

The Fantastic Tale of Rumpelstiltskin
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: Friday, 10:30am | Saturday & Sunday, 11:30am & 1pm
Tickets: $15

In this production, the Puppet Co. gives you the full story of what happens after the gold has been spun and the day has been saved. This hilarious and smart comedy will be a great romp for adults and kids alike. Can you guess Rumpelstiltskin’s new name?! Recommended ages 4+, and run time approximately 50 minutes. Sunday’s show is a sensory friendly performance.

NSO Family Concert: Philharmonia Fantastique
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: Sunday, 2pm & 4pm
Tickets: $18-20

Dynamic concerto meets animated film! Through a mesmerizing hybrid of animated and live action filming, follow a magical Sprite as it embarks on a musical journey through the inner workings of an orchestra. Violin strings vibrate, brass valves slice air, and drum heads resonate like you’ve never seen before — all set to live music from members of the NSO. By the film’s end, the orchestra comes together in a spectacular finale! Recommended for all ages.

Word Up
Where: Planet Word | Downtown DC
When: Throughout the weekend, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free

I saw that some passes are still available for this weekend to visit Planet Word, the outstanding museum all about language.  It’s full of fun and interesting exhibits, most of them interactive, with something for all ages to enjoy — including wonderful bits of magic. Our whole family loves it! Admission is free, but you need to reserve timed-entry passes.  Be sure to read a KFDC write-up about it before you go!

Asian Festival on Main
Where: Main Street | Old Town Fairfax, VA
When: Sunday, 12-6pm
Admission: Free
The Asian Festival on Main was created to bring people together and highlight cultural diversity through food and entertainment. Highlights of the fun, free, family-friendly event include more than 30 Asian food vendors serving culinary delights; performances like Filipino hiphop, Chinese lion dance, K-pop, Indian dance, Japanese dance, Chinese ribbon dance; and a cosplay costume contest.

Rumpus Room
Where: Rooftop at Union Market | Northeast DC
When: Sunday, 10am – 12pm
Admission: $10
The Rumpus Room, DC’s only daytime dance party for families, returns for a spring fling on the rooftop of Union Market! Is there a better want to celebrate spring than showing off your dance moves, with your children, under the sun? We don’t think so!
Relive your night-life glory days with your little ones in tow. The soundtrack for the day will be a family-friendly mix of dance floor classics, current hits and guilty pleasures, all at a child-friendly volume. Hi-Lawn will be open for food and beverages at 11am. Tickets must be purchased in advance!

Spring Mini Fair (DC State Fair)
Where: Brookland Arts Walk | Brookland, DC
When: Sunday, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free
The first ever DC State Fair: Spring Mini-Fair is this weekend at the Brookland Arts Walk (716 Monroe St NE) and will serve as preview day of the annual fall DC State Fair held in September — a free showcase of the District’s agricultural and creative talents and a celebration of all things homegrown. Kids activities on Sunday will include an origami session and dance-off. At 10:30 am, join Taro’s Origami Certified Artists Yoshimi Muto and Michiko Okuma for a workshop on creating origami models such as dogs, cats, and rabbits. At noon, kids of all ages are invited to come strut their stuff to multiple music genres and earn a ribbon for best dancer.

Books in Bloom Festival
Where: Color Burst Park | Columbia, MD
When: Sunday, 11am – 5pm
Admission: Free
The regions most progressive literary festival is on Sundayt. Headlined by Carl Bernstein, Pulitzer Prize-winning The Washington Post reporter who famously broke the Watergate story, this year’s festival will focus on activism through literature. More festivities for the whole family include a pop-up bookstore with dedicated banned books section, a children’s corner with activities including a bookmark-making section, exclusive food and beverage offerings from local favorites, a photo booth, and more.

Running of the Chihuahuas
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: Sunday, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

It’s DC’s cutest and funniest Cinco de Mayo celebration as The Wharf hosts the 10th Annual Running of the Chihuahuas! The day will include live music, family fun, cold Pacifico beer, and of course, the highlight of the afternoon, chihuahuas racing for fame and fun!  The event benefits Rural Dog Rescue, a non-profit dedicated to saving the lives of dogs in shelters who are often overlooked for adoption or rescue. Go here for information and to sign your chihuahua up to race visit. And read more about The Wharf here.

Nats vs. Astros
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Admission: Ticket prices vary (look for discount)
It’s like World Series all over again (but with a bunch of different players) as the Nats host the Astros this weekend. There are games Friday and  Saturday evenings (7:05pm) and Sunday afternoon (1:35pm). Check for special promos here, and plan to stay after on Sunday for Kids Run the Bases. And before you go, get some KFDC tips  on doing Nats game without breaking the bank.

Soccer Spirit!
Where: Audi Field | Southwest DC
When: Sunday, 5pm
Admission: Ticket prices vary

Cheer on our local women’s pro soccer team, Washington Spirit, as they host Angel City FC at Audi Field on Sunday. Enjoy some amazing soccer play while supporting women in sports! Purchase tickets here.

Charm City Fun, Hon!
Where: Around Baltimore, MD
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

Not only is it nice to get a change of metro area scenery sometimes, Baltimore, our sister city just a 45-minute drive away, is full of fantastic, family-friendly things to do. This post has info about all of them, including big attractions, suggestions for places to eat, and neighborhoods to explore.

The Great Indoors
Where: Around the DC Area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

Looks like rain again this weekend, so this list of over 100 activities and places to go around DC that are inside will come in handy.  Some offerings at places mentioned may have changed a bit, but there are updates to reflect the current statuses. And something to note about the list: We have been to nearly every single place on it (and if we haven’t been to an actual place, like one of the roller skating rinks or indoor tennis courts, we have at least done the activity at one of the others). This is all to say the recommendations come from tried and true experience!

Exhibits to Experience
Where: Museums around DC
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free
Wet weather is a particularly great time to check out an exhibit, and there are a bunch of great ones to experience at our local museums right now, with something for all ages.  One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection is a fantastic delight!  Afro-Atlantic Histories at the National Gallery of Art is educational . Kiddos can hang with Thomas and Friends at the National Children’s Museum.  Laurie Anderson: The Weather at the Hirshhorn is a really cool one, best for tween ages and up.  Enjoy spring flowers indoors as you immerse in Pixelbloom at ARTECHOUSE (get a glimpse here). And, of course, the rest of our Smithsonians have permanent collections that we never get tired of seeing — see links to them and loads of other museums and indoor places here.

***MORE GOOD STUFF***
* There are Bans Off Our Bodies rallies taking place all over the country Saturday, including here in DC (of course).
* In case you missed it, I just posted about our Spring Break trip to South Carolina — think inspo for a summer (or future) vacay.
* Jazz in the Garden is returning to the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden starting May 20, but you need to reserve tickets in advance (starting May 13).
* The Kennedy Center announced its 2022-23 season.
* We caught a showing of Everything Everywhere All at Once last weekend, and it was excellent!  So creative, emotional, and kind of ridiculous in the best way possible. Highly recommend (probably best for teens and older).
* 30 Trips to Plan a Year in Advance
* A great, thought-provoking post from one of my favorite blogs.
* Welcome to the middle-aged restaurant… 😂

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Filed under 2022, All ages, DC, Maryland, Spring, Virginia, Weekend

One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection

 

We have been anticipating One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection for a long time.  The exhibit was originally scheduled to open in spring of 2020, but, well, we all know what happened. It’s finally opening tomorrow, April 1, and the wait for it, especially after all that we and the world have gone through, makes it even more exciting, more vivid, and more meaningful now.

The exhibit is smaller than Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors, which was an absolute sensation. This time there are just five major pieces, all of them part of the Hirshhorn’s permanent collection.   Two infinity rooms (including one from the last exhibition) and the yellow and black polka dot Pumpkin are sure to be the most popular (ie, Instagrammed).  Infinity Mirrored Room–My Heart is Dancing into the Universe is  my favorite, a colorful, trippy walk-through that immerses you in glowing orbs and polka dots.

 

Other elements of the exhibit are also really interesting. Don’t miss the timeline of Kusama’s life and work — it’s fascinating.  You can learn that she sewed parachutes in a military factory during World War II, how she wrote a letter to Georgia O’Keefe seeking advice on being an artist in the US (and got a response), that dots have been part of her work for a long time, she has written novels, and many more interesting details of her personal and artistic history.

While the last Kusama exhibit at the Hirshhorn was here  for less than three months, this one will run for eight months, until the end of November.  With more time for a chance to see it, this hopefully will make it easier to obtain passes.  And I highly recommend going. It really will make your heart dance.

How to see One with Eternity
The Hirshhorn will distribute free same-day Timed Passes daily, Thursday – Sunday, at the Museum starting at 9:30am throughout the run of the upcoming exhibition. All visitors age 12 and up must have a pass. Children ages 12 and under do not need a passif they are accompanied by an adult passholder. Each adult passholder may bring up to two children into the exhibition and each Infinity Mirror Room.

You can also become a Hirshhorn Insiders member and reserve an available date in advance to experience the exhibit. Hirshhorn Insider memberships start at $100.

Tips & More Info
My guess is that, in the first few weeks, people will start lining up early each day to get free passes, well before the 9:30am distribution start time.  If you’re very eager to see the exhibit, line up early to ensure you get passes.
* Keep in mind that you may get passes timed for later in the day, so have a plan for other things to do until it’s your time to go.  This shouldn’t be too hard considering all of the other nearby museums.
* There may be lines and waits to enter the Infinity Rooms, so be prepared for that, especially if you’re with young kids. Perhaps bring along something to keep them occupied in case you have to wait.
* Strollers are allowed in the exhibition galleries but not inside either of the Infinity Mirror Rooms.

 

One with Enternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: April 1 – November 27
Admission: Free

 

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Filed under 2022, All ages, DC, Museums, Spring

Reserve Your Spot for Hand Cut Portraits by Master Silhouette Artist Karl Johnson!

 

Plan ahead for a perfect Mother’s Day gift!  Master Silhouette Artist Karl Johnson is once again hosting hand cut portrait sessions just for KidFriendly DC readers — timed to be ready for moms’ big day.  On  Monday, March 28, and Wednesday, March 30, from 12-7pm EST, he will be creating silhouette portraits virtually via Zoom by appointment.  Each one takes about 10 minutes, and all ages are welcome — even the youngest, squirmiest ones!

 

 

Sign up here, and be sure to reserve a time slot for each child. (Note that they are listed as Pacific Time, so be sure to add three hours for EST when you put it on your calendar.)  Silhouettes are $35, and duplicates and frames are also available.  Portraits will be shipped for free well in time for Mother’s Day — but, of course, they make sweet gifts for many occasions.

 

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Filed under 2022, All ages, Professional Service

Tips for Families Viewing the Cherry Blossoms (It’s Time!)

[Note: This was originally written in 2011 (hence, the now very outdated Lost reference) and has been updated every year since. But because the tips always apply, I’m re-posting yet again, just with a few minor updates applicable to this year’s bloom.]

 

🌸 🌸 🌸 🌸 🌸
 

Taking the family to the National Mall to see some pretty flowers sounds easy enough. If only it actually was. The cherry blossom peak, predicted to occur March 23-25 this year, is one of the best times to visit DC. The city is at its most beautiful, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival provides loads of fun activities to help enjoy it all. But viewing the famous blooms can also be a bit challenging without being aware of a few things. Here are seven recommendations to consider if seeing the cherry blossoms is on your family’s spring agenda. And as trees are in the beginning stages of bloom in some places, it’s a good time to get a head start on your  planning for the peak.  Happy viewing!

 

1. Don’t drive if you value your sanity. Take the Metro, ride the bus, bike, walk, jet pack. Get here however you can, just leave the car at home. Traffic is beyond frustrating during the cherry blossom peak, and your chances of finding decent parking are about as good as hitting the Powerball with Hurley’s numbers (okay, slight exaggeration, but it is hard). The masses descend on Washington, DC, this time of year, and way too many do so in their vehicles. Besides, kids love riding the Metro — it’s like an urban version of Hogwarts Express. The Smithsonian stop on the Blue/Orange Line is mere minutes from all of the blossom action, but it’s also likely to be crowded. Consider riding to L’Enfant on Yellow/Green, Federal Center on Blue/Orange, or even a stop downtown or in Penn Quarter and taking a nice stroll to the Tidal Basin for the blossom scene. Another good option is the bus — the DC Circulator runs between Eastern Market and L’Enfant Plaza, a convenient route with even more to do on both ends. And the 32, 34, and 36 routes of Metrobus stop at the National Mall close to the Washington Monument.

*If you absolutely must drive and need parking you might find a spot at Hains Point, where there is free and metered parking, then walk to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial at the Tidal Basin. There is also garage parking at L’Enfant Plaza, which is a short stroll to the blossoms as well. Your best bet, though, may be to find a garage in the downtown or Penn Quarter area, then walk or Metro to the National Mall. You can ensure yourself a spot with Spot Hero, an online parking reservation service that lets you search for and reserve garage spaces in advance.

Flying amid the flowers

 

2. Visit on a weekday if you have the flexibility. Crowds are significantly smaller from Monday to Friday, so you can stroll around the Tidal Basin at a nice pace, and public transportation won’t be nearly as packed (though it likely still will be more crowded than usual). But if the kids are in school or daycare during the week, think about going later in the day. The National Mall and monuments look beautiful at sunset, and the blossoms make it even more sublime. In the same vein, if you can go super early, the morning light on the Mall makes for quite a picturesque setting, too.

Peak time around the National Mall

 

3. Consider using a child carrier instead of a stroller for little ones. This is especially applicable if you take Metro, since elevator lines can be very long and slow-going. I learned my lesson back in my kids’ baby days on a weekday and ended up taking my daughter out of the stroller and carrying both on the escalator, which was probably as unsafe as it was difficult. Even if you don’t take Metro, a carrier is still a wise option. Navigating crowded walkways while pushing a pram takes focus, and you could end up spending more time concentrating on not rolling over others’ heels than enjoying the sights you came to see. It’s a bonus for wee ones, too — perched on your back, your babe will get a better view of the blossoms.

Cherry tree cluster all abloom

 

4. Check the National Cherry Blossom Festival schedule, so you can plan your visit accordingly. Some of the city’s most anticipated events are part of the annual celebration that runs March 20 – April 17, and they are all returning after being cancelled for the last two years.  The Blossom Kite Festival, National Cherry Blossom Parade, and Sakura Matsuri are among them, and there are some non-official festival happenings as well. Most events take place nearby the blossoms or an easy Metro ride away. Peak bloom is expected to occur during the beginning of the Festival this year, so you can enjoy some of the blossom-inspired activities and the efflorescent trees at the same time.

Get a view of the blossoms from the water

 

5. Get a new view of the blossoms and enjoy a fun activity. Several companies offer boat rides along the river, many of them specifically for the season when the cherry trees are in bloom.  Boomerang Boat Tours. City Cruises, and DC Water Taxi are some to check out. You can also opt for a paddling excursion and navigate the waters yourself.  Or go on a bike tour to easily cover more ground and experience the blossoms from two wheels.

Playing under blossoms at the Arboretum

 

6. Seek out other spots to see the cherry blossoms if you don’t want to deal with crowds and chaos around the Tidal Basin and National Mall. Several places around the DC-Metro area are well known for their annual cherry blossom displays. When I worked in Bethesda many years ago, it was an annual tradition for my colleagues and me to take a drive through Kenwood, a lovely neighborhood between Little Falls Parkway and River Road with cherry tree-lined streets. The National Arboretum also has a nice collection of the trees and offers a beautiful  environment in which to view them in bloom. Dumbarton Oaks Gardens is one of the prettiest places in DC and its annual cherry blossoms only add to it. Stanton Park on Capitol Hill glows with the pink and white trees this time of years.  Congressional Cemetery has some nice, cherry tree-lined paths (that are already starting to bloom). And Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD, has a nice collection of the trees, too.

 

7. Have your camera ready to take advantage of some of the best photo ops DC offers. The peak colors plus the memorials are about as iconic as you can get when photographing Washington.  Get your kids to sit still — or even let them run and play for a fun candid — and you’ve got this year’s holiday card.

Can’t beat the blossom backdrop for photos

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Filed under 2022, All ages, DC, Special Event, Spring

Off-the-Beaten-Path Museums in DC (That are Great to Explore with Kids!)

 

We all know about the many incredible museums located along the stretch of National Mall between the U.S. Capitol and Washington Monument.  In fact, just the collection of Smithsonians and National Gallery of Art could easily provide an ongoing museum fix.  But if you don’t get off that well trodden path every now and then, you could miss out on some other amazing exhibits and experiences that aren’t as well known.  And while some of them require an entrance fee unlike those go-to places, they shouldn’t be counted out because of it (and you can keep them in mind for special occasions).  Here is a round-up of some museums in DC that may not be in your regular museum rotation — but should be. (And I didn’t forget National Portrait Gallery/American Art and National Building Museum, just know know they are already well loved.)   Happy Museum-ing!

 

National Museum of the U.S. Navy
Where: Entrance at 11th & O Streets SE | Navy Yard, DC
When: Monday – Friday, 9am – 4pm & Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

One of the coolest museums in DC is one that many people don’t even know exists. Located on the Navy base in Southeast DC, the National Museum of the U.S. Navy is a trove of fascinating artifacts, stories, and art that illustrate the history and impact of the Navy over hundreds of years. See everything from large and small parts of ships to actual weapons used in war to whole submarines to photographs to war memorabilia. Models of all kinds of naval vessels are so intricate, you keep finding new details to examine. There’s a great exhibit about baseball and its relationship with the Navy. A few interactive elements like periscopes to peer into for river views outside and control boards with buttons to push and levers to pull add some extra engagement, especially for kids. Access to the base and museum requires visitor passes, which can be obtained at the Visitor Center. Be sure to read this post with more information about visiting.
KFDC Tip: Plan on a meal The Yards, where there are many dining options a short walk away.

 

Interact with language at Planet Word

Planet Word
Where: 925 13th Street NW | Downtown DC
When: Thursday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free with passes

The museum all about language has three levels of exhibits, most of them interactive, all of them engaging, interesting, and fun. There are elements that will delight all ages, though tweens and older will get the most out of it, having more grammar lessons under their belts and generally better comprehension. Play word games, explore languages across the globe, experience the most magical library ever, paint with words, recite a speech, joke around, sing karaoke, and so much more. While admission is free, you generally need to reserve tickets in advance.
KFDC Tip: A limited number of day-of, walk-up passes are available on the half-hour.

 

 

National Postal Museum
Where: 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE |Union Station Area, DC
When: Friday – Tuesday, 10am – 5:30pm 
Admission: Free
As I said years ago, I like to think of the National Postal Museum as a locals’ secret, overlooked by tourists and overshadowed by its counterparts on the Mall. I’ve also always recommended the museum as a particularly great one to visit with young children. It isn’t huge, so it’s not overwhelming for little ones. Plus, there are numerous interactives and big installations — all of it showcasing the history of the mail and U.S. Postal System — that appeal to both children and adults.
KFDC Tip: The museum is conveniently located next to Union Station, so you can also grab lunch and get there easily via Metro (Red Line).

 

 

A glimpse of the Dream Machine, a climbing, sliding, twisty structure at the Children’s Museum

National Children’s Museum
Where: National Children’s Museum | Downtown DC
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $15.95/age 1+

The National Children’s Museum, located within the Ronald Reagan Building, features an array of STEAM-inspired exhibits that offer kids all kinds of cool ways to engage, learn, and exercise creativity. Just about all of the exhibits are interactive with lessons in science, math, and even social justice at their cores presented in fun, kid-relatable ways. And there is often at least one big traveling exhibit, like the current Thomas & Friends there through May 15. The museum is geared toward children up to age 12, and there are areas especially for littles.

 

 

The S Museum mission begins at a briefing station to assume an undercover identity

International Spy Museum
Where: International Spy Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Daily, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $26.95/age 13+, $16.95/7-12, free/6 & under
A visit to the International Spy Museum takes you on an “undercover mission” to explore the intriguing world of espionage. Start by assuming a secret identity and get a briefing on being a secret agent before touring the exhibits and testing their spy skills.  This is a museum that appeals to both kids and adults with state-of-the-art multimedia installations and many interactives. Discover 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. The museum is recommended for ages 9 and up, but younger kids could probably enjoy it, too, with the help of parents.
KFDC Tip: Don’t miss the gift shop! With all kinds of spy games, gadgets, and other related products, it’s like a bonus area to explore at the museum.

 

 

A close look at wildlife projection at a past Nat Geo exhibit

National Geographic Museum
Where: 1145 17th St. NW | Downtown DC
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $15/adult, $10/ages 5-12, $12/military & senior, free/under 5

Recently reopened after closing for nearly two years due to Covid, the National Geographic Museum is one to keep on your radar.  Located within the organization’s headquarters downtown, the museum is a reflection of Nat Geo’s work that explores and examines aspects of the world that are both fascinating and significant, sharing discoveries and telling stories in a variety of compelling ways.   Stunning photography, a signature of  Nat Geo, is always on display.  And special exhibitions often are full-on experiences that utilize multimedia and interactive installations to educate, enrich, amuse, and wow guests.  (Get a glimpse of some, from the incredible Titanic exhibition to Real Pirates  to Spinosaurus to  Birds of Paradise and the Golden Age of Muslim Civilization to Monster Fish to Photo Arc and CROCS to Earth Explorers — yes, we’ve been to a lot of them over them years!)

 

 

See the box where Lincoln sat on his final fateful night on a tour of Ford’s Theater

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

Ford’s Theater isn’t just a place to catch live entertainment. The site of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination highlights its historic significance through a museum featuring exhibits about the president, the circumstances surrounding his assassination, and that fateful night at the theatre. Along with the museum, a visit to the National Historic Site includes theatre walk-throughs and a presentation, and a self-guided tour of Petersen House across the street. It’s best for about ages 8 and up. (Younger children certainly could go, but older kids probably would understand and get more out of the experience.) Reserve tickets online in advance for $3 or get them at the Box Office for free.

 

 

Immerse in beautiful digital exhibits at ARTECHOUSE

ARTECHOUSE
Where: 1238 Maryland Ave. SW | Southwest DC
When: Daily
Admission: $24/adult, $17/age 4-15, free/under 4

ARTECHOUSE has made its mark on the DC art scene with exhibitions that fuse art and technology, and encourage visitors to not just view it, but experience it. The digital works always include striking floor-to-ceiling projections on walls (and sometimes the floors, too) in the spacious main gallery with more installations in side rooms.  It’s beautiful and immersive, often inviting visitors to interact with and manipulate the art through movement detected by sensors.  Many of the exhibits celebrate the seasons with themes that reflect the time of year in some way or are inspired by current times, which adds some extra interest.  Get a glimpse of the current Transient: Impermanent Paintings and some past exhibits here, here, here, here, and here.
KFDC Tip: Look for a discount on admission here.

 

 

A close look at one of Renoir’s most famous paintings at the Phillips

Phillips Collection
Where: 1600 21st Street NW | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Tuesday-Sunday, 11am – 6pm
Admission: Pay what you wish

Its smaller size and beyond-the-Mall location make the Phillips Collection in Dupont Circle a great place for an art experience with kids, the space being easy-to-navigate with generally less crowds. Plus, the permanent collection contains contemporary and modern pieces that appeal to young museum-goers as well as some famous works to help introduce kids to the masters. There’s a Family Gallery, where specially-selected artworks are displayed at children’s eye-level with kid-tested conversation prompts right on the walls. You can also pick up packets at the front desk that offer tips for exploring the museum with kids. Read more about the Phillips in this KFDC post and this one.

 

 

You’ll soon be able to experience a Yayoi Kusama Infinity Room again!

Hirshhorn Museum
Where: Independence Ave. & 7th St. SW | National Mall, DC
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free

Okay, so this one isn’t off the beaten path in a literal sense given that it’s right on the National Mall.  But, figuratively, it is a diversion from most parents’ go-to Smithsonians.  There was a time that I even thought the collections and exhibits at the Hirshhorn were over my kids’ heads, but that changed  many years ago with Suprasensorial.  In fact, many of their favorite, most memorable exhibit experiences have been at the Hirshhorn.  There was Pulse inspired by heartbeats, Ragnar Kjatansson‘s wonderfully evocative works, and of course Yayoi Kusama’s oh-so-popular Infinity Mirrors. The museum also keeps little art-goers in mind, featuring Art Carts on select dates that provide materials for kiddos to get creative.  (And, hopefully, they’ll be bringing back the story time sessions that were offered pre-Covid.)
KFDC Tip: Don’t miss the sculpture garden outside!

 

 

The Kreeger’s outdoor area is especially cool for kids

Kreeger Museum
Where: Foxhall/Palisades, DC
When: Tuesday – Saturday,  10am – 4pm
Admission: Suggested donation $10/adult

The small art museum in DC’s Foxhall-Palisades neighborhood is perfect for an art fix with kids that’s gratifying without being overwhelming. Inside, you can view works from the 19th and 20th centuries from celebrated artists that include Monet, Picasso, Miro, and Calder. But the five-acre outdoor area is what will really excite kids with all kinds of large-scale installations that are beautiful, interesting, even quirky and fun. There is a fountain/pool with seating and sculptures around it, a small patch of woods with art and a trail that loops around, and a grassy expanse with works that you’ll all enjoy. There’s even a piece “climbing” on the side of building, another snaking up a tree, and one that plays solar powered music.  Timed-entry tickets need to be reserved in advance.

KFDC Tip: Plan on lunch or an ice cream treat at Jetties before or after — it’s located right down Foxhall Road and they have delicious sandwiches, salads, and scoops!

 

“And though she be but little, she is fierce.”

Folger Shakespeare Library
Where: 201 East Capitol Street SE | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Temporarily closed for renovations
Admission: Free

You don’t have to be a huge Shakespeare enthusiast to enjoy the Folger Shakespeare Library, but if you are a fan of The Bard, you will love it. along with a theater that presents Shakespearean plays and other productions, the attraction on Capitol Hill contains the world’s largest collection of materials relating to the poet and playwright. While a lot of it probably appeals mostly to adults, there are displays and activities especially for kids, like a book rack for young readers, a Prop Drop for dress up, fun photo ops and art prompts, and occasionally special exhibits. Pre-Covid there were regular workshops for families, so fingers crossed they will be back when the Folger reopens (it’s currently closed for renovations, but I’m including here for when visitors are welcome again).
KFDC Tip: Make it a bigger outing and pair with a visit to the Library of Congress right on the next block or a visit to Eastern Market just a few blocks away on 7th Street SE.

 

Explore the eclectic collection at the Mansion on O

Mansion on O Street
Where: 2020 O St. NW | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Daily, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Tours start at $26.50

The Dupont Circle destination isn’t your typical museum. In fact, I’m not sure it even really is a museum, but they call themselves one, so I’m including it here. The Mansion on O Street easily one of the neatest places in DC — a “museum,” inn, event space, and secondhand shop all in one. Four stories high and five row houses wide, it contains 100 rooms, many of them open for visitors to explore. You can locate secret doors, see outrageously fabulous themed rooms, and browse a trove of secondhand treasures The mansion is filled literally floor to ceiling with the most eclectic collection of, well, just about everything collectible. There are books, autographed instruments, kitchen items, paintings, all kinds of knick knacks, and so much more. The kicker: Nearly all of it is for sale! It’s one of DC’s most stunning spaces (imo) and a place that delights both kids and adults.

 

What’s your favorite off-the-beaten-path museum in DC?  Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

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Filed under All ages, DC, Museums, Weekdays, Weekend