Category Archives: All ages

Christmas Magic at Gaylord National

[Note:  This post was written by KFDC Contributor Emily Moise, a local writer and mom of two young children.  She always has excellent recommendations for kids’ activities around the DC area. See some of them here, here, here,]

 

An oasis of Christmas magic awaits you at National Harbor’s Gaylord Resort & Convention Center. If you’ve never been, you’ve likely still heard of ICE!, the resort’s annual holiday season event boasting incredible, themed ice sculptures. But the ad on your social media feed doesn’t illustrate the extent of the elaborate, immersive experience, in addition to the world-class Christmas Village and overall holiday joy carried throughout the resort.

My family spent the night at Gaylord prior to attending the holiday events, and it may be our new tradition. We arrived at sundown when the magic is really at its best. The balcony to our room overlooked the entire atrium, aglow with a Christmas tree and twinkling lights overhead. The core memories being created were 1000% worth a night of sharing a room with two over-excited kids. We also spied the amazing Christmas Dream Suites from our room.

The next morning, the Christmas Village and ICE! – themed around A Christmas Story – were officially open.  Plan to start your experience with ICE! – an outdoor, tented exhibit space chilled to an unimaginable 9 degrees. Think ice bar or walk-in freezer if you’ve ever been in one, and bundle up in your warmest gear. Parkas are also provided but are not warm enough on their own, though cute for a family photo op.

No words can fully describe ICE! and the mind-blowing, multi-colored ice creations that a team of ice carvers from Harbin, China, are brought in to build. On your way in, there is a small display showing the process and tools used – try to pause and explain things to your kids beforehand – they may be too cold to chat in the exhibit. And if they have yet to see A Christmas Story, watch some of the classic scenes ahead of time to make it more meaningful as well.

Hopefully your kids aren’t too cold in ICE! to take advantage of the coolest (pun intended) ice slides ever. Otherwise, you should head directly to Snow Flow Mountain indoors and plan to park it there for awhile. This four-lane tubing slide does not mess around! The height requirement is 42” and it makes total sense once you see how fast the tubes careen down the slope. The smiles and laughter are priceless.

Next, we checked out Snow Factory, where you can build and toss real snowballs, but it wasn’t quite ready for our visit. Temporary disappointment until we saw the next stop was a visit with Santa – the real one according to my 5-year-old (I’m more discerning with my Santas). After the prerequisite photo-op, we spotted a gingerbread girl named “Cinnamon” and followed her to the Gingerbread Decorating Corner. My kids chose the pre-constructed houses over cookies.

On our way out of the Christmas Village, we said hi to Mrs. Claus, who leads 25-minute Christmas Traditions experiences featuring story readings, sing-a-longs, and cookies with milk. (Tickets must be purchased in advance.) We got bundled up to head back outdoors to the Ice Skating and Ice Bumper Cars area (but not really on ice), but my kids were a bit holidazed so we decided to call it a day – and a very memorable one at that.

Christmas at Gaylord National runs daily from November 20 – December 31. ICE! is back after a two-year hiatus, so expect it to be a popular event, especially on weekends. Tickets start at $25/child and $37/adult; ages 3 and under are free.

More Tips & Info
* There are professional photo-ops at ICE! and with Santa. Be prepared to pay $25 per photo or take your own photos where photo-taking is allowed.
* Have a place to store your cold weather gear after ICE! or make a run to your car to drop things off once you are settling indoors.
* Cirque: Spirit of Christmas and The Greatest Story Stage Show begin November 25, both shown in the Gaylord National atrium.
* Harbor Social is a super kid-friendly option for dinner at the resort. There are games everywhere, including duckpin bowling (call to reserve a lane in advance).
* Stop by The Holiday Sweet Shoppe at the resort for some treats and nostalgia.
* Holidays at National Harbor includes a nightly tree light show, as well as fireworks Saturday nights November 12 – December 17 at 5:30pm.

Christmas at Gaylord National
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: Through December 31
Admission: Varies by activity

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Filed under 2022, All ages, Fall, Holidays, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Free Art Workshops, Community, & Fun for Young People Who Stutter

(Click image to learn more!)

 

This post is paid for by SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young, however, I only promote programs, events, and places that I genuinely believe in and think would appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under 2022, 2023, All ages, DC

International School of Music: Lessons in All Instruments & Giveaway!

 

Does your child love to sing or pretend to play a guitar? Are they the next Mozart or Justin Bieber?  If your kid loves music — or maybe you want to introduce them to it in a fun way — there is a school whose specialty is just that!

International School of Music, with two locations in Bethesda and Potomac, is the premier provider of music lessons in all instruments and voice to students of all ages and levels.  Their voted best instructors offer customized lesson approach so each child can progress at their own pace and learn the music they love, so playing music is fun and exciting!

Their teaching methods are student-centered and focused on individual learning styles and personal goals to help each student reach his or her full musical potential. With a flexible Musical Ladder curriculum that rewards practicing and achievement, their students get to explore music they are passionate about, whether they play classical, rock, pop, jazz, folk, etc. And with our same-time sibling scheduling, the families enjoy convenience and flexibility!

Music lessons teach kids valuable skills that they can carry with them through life. Children practice basic math when they count the rhythm, reading comprehension as they learn how to read music, and creativity as they figure out how to express themselves. Bonus: They also benefit from better concentration, self-discipline, self-expression, and confidence. Even more, all of these skills are mixed in with fun music making!

Check out the International School of Music website to see how you can book an introductory lesson for your child, try classes yourself, or make it a family affair!

Call the International School of Music at 301-365-5888 to book an introductory lesson or CLICK HERE to claim 50% Off Registration!

 

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GIVEAWAY! Three KFDC readers can win a half-hour private music lesson at the International School of Music in any instrument or voice with one of their amazing teachers! Want a chance to win? Simply leave a comment below telling me what kind of music your child loves to listen to. Get an extra chance to win by entering on the KidFriendly DC Facebook Page, too! Contest is open to new students only. This giveaway will run through September 14, 2022, then the winners will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!

For more information about International School of Music and its programs and performances, visit their website.

 

This post is sponsored by International School of Music, however, I only promote programs, places, and services that I genuinely believe in and think would appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under 2022, All ages, Class, Extracurricular, Giveaway, Maryland

Music & Stamps Family Day at the National Postal Museum this Saturday!

 

Save the date for this coming Saturday, August 6!  The National Postal Museum is hosting its first in-person Family Day in over two years — and if it’s anything like its pre-pandemic events, it’s sure to be a festive, well organized, and super fun time.

The United States Postal Service recently issued a series of five postage stamps depicting mariachi musicians. Designed by the Postal Museum’s Guest Artist, Rafael Lopez, the stamps joyfully celebrate the vibrant colors and sounds of mariachi music and Mexican culture.

This weekend, you can join Rafael for Music & Stamps Family Day, a celebration of Latinx music and the new mariachi stamps.  He’ll be at the museum leading visitors through stories, musical performances, crafts, and games.

Keeping visitor comfort in mind, a Take-A-Break space will be available throughout the program for anyone who needs to step away from the festivities. And, of course, the rest of the museum is fantastic to explore — I’ve always recommended it as an especially great one with young children.

Music & Stamps Family Day
Where: National Postal Museum | 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE, DC
When: Saturday, August 6, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

 

This post is sponsored by the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, however, I only promote events, programs, and places that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under 2022, All ages, DC, Museums, Special Event, Summer, Weekend

Scenes from a Visit to the Old Post Office Tower

 

We first went up in the Old Post Office Clock Tower almost 10 years ago.  As mentioned in this post about that visit, I learned about it from a now-defunct deal site, but I didn’t know anyone who had yet been, so it was kind of a great discovery then.  We’ve visited many times since — not only did the Tower become a back pocket place to take out-of-town guests for impressive views of the city, it’s also an easy stroll from the National Mall and the downtown area.

However, until this week, it had been a few years since we visited, as the Tower was closed during Covid and just reopened to the public again in early June. Sasha and I had to run an errand nearby downtown, so we decided to pop in (or should I say up?) and enjoy those city vistas and add a little fun to our outing.

Look for this sign on 12th Street NW to find the entrance

Some things have changed since that first visit I wrote about, so I thought a new post would be a good idea.  It is still operated by the National Park Service, but the building it’s within is now a hotel.  It was the Trump Hotel, but it recently changed hands (sigh of relief!), and is now a Waldorf Astoria.  And you used to access the Clock Tower through the front entrance, but it now has its own entrance at the back of the hotel.

Once inside past security, there’s a long walkway with displays about DC history, the building, and the area where it’s located (did you know it was called “Murder Bay” in the 19th century?).  That leads to the National Park Service area, where a ranger greets and guides guests to the elevator that leads up to the Tower.  It was from the ranger that I learned the NPS was ready to welcome visitors back to the Clock Tower last year, but the Trump organization wouldn’t renew the contact for security at the entrance.  It wasn’t until the Waldorf Astoria took over that security was hired again, and the Tower could officially reopen.

The elevator takes you to the 9th floor, where you can peer down to see the hotel lobby far below and get a good view of the gorgeous glass-paned roof.  From there, you take another elevator to the observation deck.  In the middle is a glass case with all the gears and inner workings of the clock.  [Side note: We once happened to be there when it was time to set the clock to fall back, and they let the kids help turn it — how cool is that?!]

Of course, the main features of the observation deck are the sweeping views of the city from every direction.  You can see so many major structures, and there are displays to help you locate them if you’re not familiar with layout of DC.  Get a glimpse of it all in the photos finishing out this post, but I can assure you these scenes are way better in person.

Old Post Office Clock Tower
Where: Within the Waldorf Astoria Hotel | Downtown DC
Access: Enter at 12th & C Streets NW (on 12th between Pennsylvania & Constitution NW).
When: Daily, 9am – 4pm
Admission: Free

 

A view of the Clock Tower on our way downtown (PS: love the Ukrainian flags lining Pennsylvania Ave along with the US & DC flags)

 

The front of the Waldorf Astoria (but not the entrance to the Clock Tower)

 

North view… so neat to see the rooftop patios

 

South view through plexiglass…museums and more

 

East view, with the Capitol in the distance

 

West view (well, slightly southwest) and the Washington Monument

 

Northwest view… the National Cathedral in the distance

 

Snapping city vistas

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Filed under All ages, DC