Category Archives: Annual

Wicked Fun (& Safe) Ways to Celebrate Halloween in 2020

It’s still safe to decorate the front yard for Halloween!

 

 

For obvious reasons, Halloween is going to look a little bit LOT different this year, but that doesn’t mean events to celebrate it are going away entirely. Some of the listings from this annual post (that historically includes a looong list of Halloween happenings) have survived the nightmare that is 2020 and will be scaring up fun in safe, socially distanced ways.  This round-up has details on those that are left.  Happy (kind of ) Halloween!

 

Spies in Disguise: Halloween Edition
Where: The Spy Museum’s Virtual Zoom Room
When: October 15, 5:30-6:3-pm
Admission: $20/family

Ditch the Halloween costume and go undercover in disguise! This Halloween take your transformation to the next level by learning the top secret tradecraft used by spies on undercover missions. Meet Jonna Mendez, former CIA Chief of Disguise, and learn tips from professional make-up artist, Roger Riggle. Using materials gathered from home or purchased prior to the workshop you will practice creating effects such as old age, glamour, scars, and bruising. The whole family will transform their appearance and identity and then be challenged on a quick change disguise mission. Who knows, they may have the next chief of disguise in our rank! Note: Spies in Disguise is suggested for recruits ages 8-13 and their handlers.

 

Soul Strolls
Where: Congressional Cemetery | Capitol Hill, DC
When: October 16-17 & 23-24
Admission: $25/adult, $12/child

Trespass into the past and discover the secrets of some of Congressional Cemetery’s “residents.” Soul Strolls, the Cemetery’s annual twilight tours, explore the stories of individuals buried there through guided tours and costumed interpreters. Experience the history of this hallowed ground exactly the way it should be experienced in October — in twilight and darkness, happening upon vignettes and individuals under the guidance of one of the “Dozen Decent Docents.” Hour-long tours depart every 15 minutes. Beer, wine, and cider tickets will be for sale on-site to enjoy a drink before your tour, plus there will be  a bar located along the tour route to redeem your drink tickets for a refresher.

 

Air & Scare at Home
Where: Online
When: Through October 31
Admission: Free

The annual Air & Scare event at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center isn’t happening in-house this year, so the museum is bringing it to your home. The digital treats include online downloadable activities and challenges, live digital programming, and some sc-air-y business, including a costume and pumpkin decorating contest for sweet prizes. More details, including dates for special virtual events, are on the website!

 

Spooktacular Drive-In Flicks
Where: Akridge Lot at Buzzard Point | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: October 16, 23, & 30
Admission: $20/vehicle

Grab your popcorn and join the Capitol Riverfront BID for a drive-in movie at the Akridge Lot (First and V St. SW) in Buzzard Point next to Audi Field. Each movie is a fun, contact-free experience for all ages with space for 75 vehicles set at an appropriate social distance. Films on these three dates are in celebration of the Halloween season are a festive lineup of spooktacular flicks — Frankenstein & Dracula on October 16, Us on October 23, and Beetlejuice on October 30. All funds will be donated to local charities.

 

Drive-In “Spooky” Movie Nights
Where: DC Party Box | Rockville, MD
When: Many dates through October
Admission: $15/adult, $10/13 & under

Enjoy Sppoktacular theater at this drive-in, featuring an LED screen, FM broadcasting, and spooky surprises. There are two showings each night, a family-friendly film at 7pm and a classic or scary movie 10pm. Different movies are shown every night, so check the website to see what’s playing. Reserve in advance online, one reservation per car.

 

Toddler Time Halloween Parade
Where: B&O Railroad Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: October 22, 10:30am
Admission: $20/adult, $12/age 2-12

Take little ones to a spooktacular Toddler Time to celebrate the end of this year’s program Halloween style. Featuring festive fun, they’ll read Alice Schertle’s Little Blue Truck’s Halloween, before making monster grab bags to fill with all sorts of fun tricks and treats during our costume parade around the Museum’s campus. The program starts promptly at 10:30 am in the Museum’s Roundhouse.

 

Park Potomac Pumpkin Patch
Where: Park Potomac | Potomac, MD
When: October 22, 5-6:30pm
Admission: Free

Join on the plaza to get into the Halloween spirit with the Park Potomac Pumpkin Patch. Decorate pumpkins and enter your pup in their first annual doggie costume contest. Four winners will be chosen and awarded gift cards to neighborhood restaurants. Be sure to wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines!

 

Halloween Hayride & Bonfire
Where: Butler’s Orchard | Gaithersburg, MD
When: October 24
Admission: $35-50

Enjoy a tractor driven hayride in the darkness with demons and devils, then gather around a haunted bonfire for to roasting hotdogs and marshmallows, and make s’mores (all provided and included in the ticket). Sing songs, play games, tell frightening stories, or just socialize and enjoy the stars and the open night air. The ghosts of the fallen soldiers from the Civil War might join, too.

 

Halloween in the Garden
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Lusby, MD
When: October 24
Admission: $5/ages 2+

Join Annmarie for a socially-distanced day of Halloween fun and games. Working with the local health department, they have reconfigured their beloved Halloween event into a family-group based celebration of the fall season. A timed-entry system will be uses to spread out the crowd over the day, and activities also will be spread out across the 30-acre property, giving families plenty of space. Dress up, put on your masks, and enjoy an awesome day of socially-distanced trick-or-treating, low-touch/no-touch games, great photo ops, music, and yummy food and drinks!

 

Drive-Thru Trot or Treat
Where: North Star Stables | Delaplane, VA
When: October 25
Admission: By donation

It’s all horsing around at the trick-or-treat for a cause! Support North Star’s equine team and therapeutic riding scholarship fund with a drive-thru trick-or-treat! While Covid restrictions preclude them from hosting their normal Halloween celebration, North Star is excited to offer a drive-thru Halloween! Join to see their awesome horses in costume and collect treats (non-candy treats available) along the facility’s fence line! They ask each car to contribute a small, monetary donation.

 

Halloween in the Garden
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Lusby, MD
When: October 27 – November 1, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $5 suggested donation

Annmarie is welcoming visitors all week for a self-guided experience. Wear your costume and stop by the front desk to say trick or treat — they’ll have treats for sure.  You can also find fun photo opps throughout the park, complete a corn maze, make a bat fly, try the spider toss, make a scarecrow, and grab an ArtLAB to-go kit.   And on your walk through the beautiful garden, enjoy the Ode to Autumn activities too.

 

Hilloween
Where: Online
When: Through October 31
Admission: Free

Hilloween, Capitol Hill’s annual Halloween celebration is virtual in 2020 with an experience that will engage families and community members. Enjoy an online costume contest (winners announced at virtual Hilloween Experience), live pumpkin carving, interactive family games and fun prizes, and a spooky zumba dance party.  The costume contest is live on their Facebook page — hashtag #Hilloween2020 or HilloweenDC on any of your Facebook posts wearing your costume to enter the contest. You can also enter by uploading your photo. Stay up to date on news, announcements, and events related to Hilloween here.

 

Halloween Drive Up Movie Night
Where: Lerner Town Square | Tysons, VA
When: October 30
Admission:
Join this family-friendly, socially distanced Fall & Halloween evening for a night of great fun, all in support of an amazing cause: Helping the Greater DC/Virginia Chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation work towards cures for the 3.1 Million Americans fighting IBD. The drive-up movie night onwill feature Scooby-Doo! Stage Fright & Beetlejuice. Car trick-or-treaing, a car costume contest, and an individual costume contest are part of the fun, too!

 

Halloween To Go
Where: Fairmont Hotel | Georgetown, DC
When: October 30, 4-6pm
Admission: None – just buy the goodie box!

Fairmont is offering Halloween Boxes to-go for children and canine companions. Take home the Halloween fun from the Fairmont and be entered to win prizes for best costume. On Friday, October 30th, families who order Halloween Boxes To-Go, will drive through the hotel’s driveway to the pick them up from 4-6pm. Canines and humans who are donning costumes will be entered to win overnight stays, dinners and other prizes. Georgie, Fairmont’s Canine Ambassador will greet you in her own costume. House-made treats by the hotel’s Executive Pastry Chef A.J. Thalakkat and Chef Jason Rowley are spooktacular, tasty, and pawsome for people and pooches.

 

Glow in the Park
Where: Adventure Park at Sandy Spring | Sandy Spring, MD
When: October 30-31
Admission: $52

Kick off your Halloween festivities at the park’s spooky Halloween-themed Glow in the Park. Wear your costume for a chance to spin the prize wheel — you could win free tickets, a t-shirt, or something else special.The event starts at 6pm, with start times available every 10 minutes from 6-8:20pm, and tickets are good for two hours of climbing & ziplining + 40 minutes for a safety briefing and getting geared up. Ages 5 & up are welcome. Reservations are highly encouraged, as the event tends to sell out.

 

Halloween Spooktacular
Where: The St. James | Springfield, VA
When: October 31, 5-9pm
Admission: $10/member, $15/non-member, free/under 3

The St. James is offering a fun-filled, safe Halloween evening at this event. Enjoy trick-or-treating, socially-distanced fun and activities, a family-friendly movie, pizza, popcorn and more. Bring your own blanket for socially-distanced family movie night in the Field House.

 

Montgomery Parks Haunted Hustle Fun Run/Walk
Where: Black Hill Regional Park | Boyds, MD
When: October 31, 8am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Monsters, superheroes, and celebrities! Show off your costumes and strut your Halloween spirit at this Haunted Hustle Fun Run and Walk on Halloween day. There will be staggered starting times, and all ages are welcome. Register in advance.

 

Halloween at the Station
Where: The Station | Riverdale, MD
When: October 31, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

Spooky season has finally arrived and The Station, formerly Riverdale Park Station, is ready to celebrate with costumes, candy, contests and more! Visitors will be able to enjoy socially-distanced outdoor activities including mini golf, a self-guided photo scavenger hunt, a prize raffle, and more. The scavenger hunt is designed for the whole family to enjoy with four festive photo stops throughout the development, ending with a special treat delivered by a custom Halloween candy chute. Guests will also be able to purchase additional food items from The Station’s retailers including District Taco, Habit Burger Grill, Denizens, Jersey Mike’s, MOD Pizza, and Burtons as well as a food truck on-site. RSVP to let them know you’re going!

 

Fall Festivals
Where: Around the DMV
When: Through early November
Admission: Varies by locale

Many of the fall festivals around the area incorporate Halloween fun into their offerings. Pick out potential jack-o-lanterns, enjoy Halloween-themed activities, and more. See a list of seasonal celebrations happening this year here.

 

Halloween Decor
Just because Halloween activities are limited this year, that doesn’t mean you can’t still decorate for it. Maybe this is the year to go all out on front yard displays, both to get into the spooky spirit and keep it going for kids (and adults, for that matter), too. Here are quick links to find Halloween supplies to help with that:
Amazon
Michael’s
Target
Home Depot
World Market

 

Do you know of a Halloween event not listed here? Let us know in the comments!

 

Note: KFDC may earn a commission when you click on one of our links and make a purchase. Thanks for the support!

 

 

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Filed under 2020, All ages, Annual, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Fall, Farm, Halloween, Maryland, Movies, Outdoor, Seasonal, Social Distancing, Special Event, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

The KFDC Guide to the 2020 Fall Festival Season (yes, it’s happening!)

In the pumpkin patch back in very pre-COVID times

 

We’ve gotten so used to most annual events being canceled, it may come as a surprise (and delight) to learn that a bunch of fall festivals are still taking place this season.  The locales — outdoors with lots of space — make it possible, and all of them are taking extra precautions to keep guests safe (follow links to websites for specifics about each place).  With capacity limited at just about all of the festivals listed for safe social distancing, advanced reservations are recommended if not required.  So, put on those sweaters (and masks), grab a basket for apples (and a bottle of hand sanitizer), and go have some autumn fun.  Happy Fall, y’all!

 

Apple Gala & Cider Festival
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: Through September 30
Admission: $12-16/adult $10-14/child, free/2 & under 

Celebrate everything apple at Great Country with apple picking, apple cider donuts, and a romp in the 12-acre play area. On Saturdays & Sundays there’s also live music, marshmallow roasting, cider pressing demos and fresh cider samples.

 

Fall at Clark’s Elioak Farm
Where: Ellicott City, MD
When: Tuesday – Sunday through November 3
Admission: $8

This fairytale of a farm doesn’t have a special fall festival per se, but with so many activities, including seasonal delights like pumpkins, cider, and Halloween fun, it’s like a celebration all the time. And it all takes place on the sprawling grounds adorned with installations practically straight out of a storybook (they were actually salvaged from The Enchanted Forest, an old Ellicott City amusement park). See Humpty Dumpty, the Three Bears, Cinderella’s pumpkin coach,  the Old Woman’s shoe, and more. If that’s not enough, there are hayrides, cow train rides, slides, farm animals to pet, a pumpkin patch, the pine tree maze, and even more. See the website for hours by day. Closed Mondays.

 

Fall Fun Festival
Where: Gaver Farm | Mt. Airy, MD
When: Through November 3
Admission: $9/weekdays, $13.50/weekends, free/2 & under

Celebrate the arrival of fall in Frederick, MD with farm activities for the whole family family and other great seasonal traditions. Conquer twists and turns of the corn maze, jump on the giant pillow, pet and feed farm animals, and cruise down giant slides. There are over 50 attractions appropriate for any age including mini mazes, playgrounds, duck races, ball games, photo centers, and much more.

 

Harvest Festival
Where: Belvedere Plantation | Fredericksburg, VA
When: Through November 8
Admission: $9.95 – $16.95, depending on day/time

This heritage farm has loads to keep the whole gang entertained for hours. The Maize maze, slides, hayrides, ziplines, pumpkin patch, playground, flower picking, jumping pillow are just some of the attractions that little ones will love. New this year is the Sunflower September Spectacular, a pick-your-own sunflowers field open September 21-22, 24-26, and 27-29. Plan to eat there — the Red Rooster Grill offers a variety of grilled favorites to satisfy all appetites.

 

Corn Maze & Fall Festival
Where: Winterbrook Farms | Thurmont, MD
When: Through November 1
Admission: $12

The farm in Frederick County claims the largest corn maze in Maryland, and it comes with loads of other farm fun, including slides, a pumpkin patch, animals, the moo choo train, cornhole, zip lines pedal karts, apple cannons, a tractor tire mountain, and lots more.  Their first annual Sunflower Festival will be happening the weekend of September 19-20.

 

Colonial Market & Fair
Where: Mount Vernon, VA
When: September 19-20
Admission: $18-20/adult, $10/age 6-11, free/5 & under

At George Washington’s old stomping grounds, they re-create a lively early-American marketplace with demonstrations, crafts and entertainment. Take in the sights and sounds of it all on Mount Vernon’s 12-acre field and chat with colonial artisans selling traditional handcrafted food and wares. Colonial music transports you back to the 18th century as expert artisans demonstrate period crafting techniques. Learn how the Washingtons enjoyed ice cream and watch as interpreters showcase the process. There’s plenty of fun for the whole family!

 

Montpelier Farms Fall Festival
Where: Upper Marlboro, MD
When: September 19 – November 8
Admission: $12, free/2 & under

Enjoy all of the staples of a fall festival on the farm — pumpkins, hayrides, animals, hill slides, farm-themed games and rides, and much more. This year, it’s open on weekdays, too.  And a tip based on our experience there: Do not miss the corn maze. It’s EPIC.

 

Pumpkin Village Fall Fest
Where: Leesburg Animal Park | Leesburg, VA
When: September 19 – November 3
Admission: $16-18/adult, $14-15/child & senior, free/2 & under

The animals are usually the main draw at the park, but this time of year, there are activities galore that bring visitors to enjoy some seasonal fun. Guests can spend a crisp fall day enjoying loads of great activities such as giant hill slides, hay rides, moon bounces, pedal carts, and more.

 

Fall Festival
Where: Summers Farm | Frederick, MD
When: September 19 – November 8
Admission: $10-17, depending on time/day

With so much farm fun, there undoubtedly will be something to excite every kid. A pumpkin patch, giant jumping pillows, live entertainment, hay rides, hay slides, pig races, rubber ducks races, straw mountains, a mini obstacle course, even a campfire area if you want to “chill” out.

 

Reston Farm Garden Market Fall Fest
Where: Reston, VA
When: September 25 – November 1
Admission: $20/child + 1 adult, $5/add’l adult
This annual Fall Fest is on! Families will enjoy a pumpkin moon bounce and bouncy slides, inflatable corn maze, train rides and farm animals. There is also their talented balloon artist, face painter and caricature portrait artist, along with food, pumpkins and more for additional on-site purchases.

 

Wayside Farm Fall Fun
Where: Berryville, VA
When: September 26 – November 3
Admission: $12, free/2 & under (see discount below!)

There is farm fun for visitors of all ages. This year the 10-acre corn maze theme is Everyday Heroes to honor first responders — there is an an easy route and a challenging route depending on interest level. Families can make a reservation to pick pumpkins in the u-pick fields where they come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors. There are also have pig races, slides, a John Deere playground, apple cider donuts, and lots  more. KFDC readers can get $2 off the ticket price on Fridays and Mondays — use the code “Weekday” at check out!

 

Butler’s Orchard Pumpkin Festival
Where: Germantown, MD
When: Weekends September 28 – October 27
Admission: $13-15, free/2 & under

Enjoy a country outing and join Butler’s in celebrating the harvest with traditional autumn activities. Take a hayride, jump in the hay loft, visit Barnyard Buddies, navigate through a couple of mazes, play corn hole, and more! Make advance reservations.

 

Fall 2020 Activities
Where: Cox Farms | Centreville, VA
When: Through November 2
Admission: $15/drive-thru hayride

In normal times, the fall fest at Cox is massive, but out of lot of caution, they are greatly limiting activities. A self-drive “hayride” lets visitors will drive their cars through the traditional hayride route to pick a pumpkin. You can also load up on apple cider donuts and kettle corn from the farm market to enjoy on the ride.

 

Autumn Activities
Where: Larriland Farm | Woodbine, MD
When: Late September thru October
Admission: Free (fee for some activities)

Larriland is best known for their PYO fields, but in the fall, they offer a little more for farm-goers. Take a hayride out to the pumpkin patch to find a potential Jack-o-lantern, then play in the Boo Barn or make your way through the straw maze. Apple fritters and food trucks are available on Saturdays and Sunday’s.

 

Fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: September 28 – October 31
Admission: $10-12/adult $8-10/child, free/2 & under

Great Country is known for its awesome festivals, and the Pumpkin Harvest is no exception. Thrills for little people (and grown-ups, too) include P-Rex, the pumpkin eating dinosaur; Rubber Ridge, the tractor tire mountain; the Pumpkin Princess in the pumpkin patch, a giant Pumpkin’ Jumpin’ Pillow; five mazes; 60-foot slides, rope swings, tractor rides, and even more fun in the country. Find a future jack o’ lantern in the pumpkin patch, the largest u-pick patch in the area.

 

Homestead Farm Fall Festival
Where: Poolesville, MD
When: Daily through October, 9am – 5pm
Admission: $2

While Homestead doesn’t have an official festival, the farm embraces the spirit of autumn every year. There are no hayrides out to the pumpkin patches this year, but you can still select a pumpkin, pick apples while they have them,  enjoy hot cider, see farm animals and scarecrows, and  enjoy the season with the family at this scenic locale.

 

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Filed under 2020, All ages, Annual, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Eats, Fall, Farm, Maryland, Outdoor, Seasonal, Social Distancing, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Ideas for Mother’s Day Celebrations During this Social Distancing Time

Just hatched duckings at the Reflecting Pool, perfect timing for Mother’s Day week


Mother’s Day might be a little different this year, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less special. If you’re looking for ways to celebrate while keeping social distancing in mind, here are some ideas.

A Feast Fit for a Queen
You can’t take mom out for Mother’s Day brunch, but you can do a good take-out. These local restaurants all have special to-go menus just for the day, some even available for delivery (follow links for details on both menus and ordering deadlines):
* Masseria
* Joselito
* Zaytinya
* Bistro Bis
* Clyde’s
* Belga Cafe
* Joe’s Seafood
* Get other Mother’s Day restaurant recs here and here.
* Find more places offering takeout and delivery brunch here and others where you can get fancy takeout here.
* We usually celebrate the day with some Eastern Shore area recreation followed by a crab feast by the Bay. While we may not be able to enjoy the waterfront setting this year, we can still savor a bushel at home. Eater DC has a round-up of places offering crab takeout and delivery.

Homemade with Love
For those executing the celebration… cook for mom at home! A meal doesn’t have to come from a restaurant for it to be special, and the effort in the kitchen may just make it even more so. If you need ideas for DIY Mother’s Day menus, here are some good resources:
* Smitten Kitchen has some yummy sounding brunch and lunch dishes.
* Get all kinds of Mother’s Day cooking ideas from Bon Appétit.
* You can always rely on NY Times Cooking for great recipes, and their Mother’s Day section proves that.

Breakfast in Bed Kit
For something done at home, but with help getting the “ingredients”… The Lane Social Club has created a Mother’s Day in the Bag kit just for the day. It has everything you need to make mom feel appreciated and happy, all in one place — and it’s perfect for making last-minute look thoughtful! The kit includes champagne, orange juice, frozen croissants (yep, you can “bake” them and really impress her), vanilla Greek yogurt, granola, the just-released (and perfect for right now!) signed copy of “Mommy Didn’t Say That,” and a Mother’s Day card your kiddo can color in.

Virtual Fun & Games
Every Mother’s Day for the last few years I’ve recommended Watson Adventures’ Wizard School Scavenger Hunt, the fun and unique activity that propels you on a search throughout the National Gallery of Art with Harry Potter-inspired clues. Obviously, that can’t take place at the museum this year, but you can join the fun virtually on Sundays at 5pm (and every Saturday in May at 2pm & 4pm) — cost is $60 for a team up to 4. Watson Adventures also hosts a Family Trivia Slam on Sundays at 1pm and 4pm (and Saturdays. We’ve done the Wizard School IRL (read about it here) and Trivia online a few weeks ago (read a bit about it here), and both were a blast!

Goddesses & Heroines Story Time
Something to incorporate into the day with kiddos: A story time that celebrates women! The Freer|Sackler Gallery has invited performance storyteller Xanthe Gresham-Knight to share stories from her forthcoming book Goddesses, in which stories from around the world celebrate female characters in ancient myths and legends — some are already famous, some ready to be rediscovered. This is recommended for children ages 6 and up with adult companions. And as a companion piece to the program, the museum has created a learning lab with artworks in the collection of inspirational female figures.

Walk in the Woods
Some outdoor time in the fresh air may be more appreciated than ever this year, and since getting out for a hike is permitted during stay-at-home orders, you can hit a local trail to celebrate the day. Get ideas for places to go — the post has been updated a bit to include COVID-19 info, and it doesn’t hurt to check websites or call ahead to confirm locations can still be accessed. (PS: I always feel compelled to note that it is best to stay at home as much as possible, but if you do go for a hike, be sure to practice safe social distancing, avoid touching things, and wash hands after!)

Music to Her Ears (and Eyes)
For moms who miss going to concerts, bring one to her home at home. Lots of artists have been live streaming shows lately, bringing a much needed lift to the spirits of many. Live Nation is presenting live streams from around the globe — check to see if any faves are playing this weekend (or any other time your fam is feeling up for live music).

At the Present Time
If you’re looking for ideas of gifts to give, how about supporting local businesses at the same time? This Washington Post article has a round-up of items to buy from local shops and artisans to help make mom’s day.

In the Cards
Get some inspiration for Mother’s Day cards from the place that hosts the best card making workshops, the National Postal Museum! They’ve posted a few online videos with creative ideas, with something for all ages (maybe with a little help from adults). View them here, here, and here.

With a Cherry Tree on Top
This Mother’s Day you can celebrate your mother, grandmother, or any special person in your life, with a gift that blooms each spring and supports the care and preservation of DC’s iconic cherry trees. The Endow a Cherry Tree Campaign offers a unique opportunity to endow one of the 3,700 cherry trees on the National Mall. It is special way to honor the important people in our lives and show social connection even while we practice physical distancing.

OG Mommas
If you’re looking for ways to celebrate your mom while you can’t see her, here are some ways to make the day special and be together virtually.

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Filed under 2020, Annual, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Holidays, Maryland, Moms, Special Event, Spring, Virginia

Tips for Families Viewing the Cherry Blossoms (2020)

[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. Also, I realize that coronavirus may be a factor as you make plans to see the flowers; however, I am not a health expert, but know that KFDC has an audience of smart, discerning parents, so I will leave those judgements up to you.]

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, it is NOT recommended to go see the cherry blossoms, especially at the Tidal Basin and on the National Mall, as it is NOT conducive to social distancing. Instead, view them virtually from home or just wait to set them next year.

🌸 🌸 🌸 🌸 🌸

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 27-30 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.

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 ishard). 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 guaranteed 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 will run 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 or take the Cherry Blossom Shuttle ($1/person) to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial at the Tidal Basin. There is also a parking garage at L’Enfant Plaza. Your best bet, though, might 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 Parking Panda, 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 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.

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, the Blossom Kite Festival, National Cherry Blossom Parade, and Sakura Matsuri among them, and there are many 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 mid-Festival this year, so you can enjoy blossom-inspired activities and the efflorescent trees at the same time. This post has details on the best cherry blossom season celebrations and activities for families.

Get a view of the blossoms from a paddle boat

5. Get a new view of the blossoms and enjoy a fun activity on the Potomac. Several companies offer boat rides along the river, many of them specifically for the season when the cherry trees are in bloom. Right now you can find great deals with Washington Marina National Ferry Corp, Capitol River Cruises, and Boomerang Boat Tours. Potomac Riverboat Company and DC Water Taxi are a couple more to check out. You can also opt for a paddling excursion and navigate the waters yourself.

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, peaceful environment in which to view them in bloom. Dumbarton Oaks Gardens is one of the prettiest places in DC and its annual blossoms only add to it. And Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD, has a lovely collection of cherry 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 2020, All ages, Annual, DC, Free, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Special Event, Spring, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend