Category Archives: Eats

Standout Black-Owned DC Eateries the Whole Family Will Enjoy

 

DC’s rich and varied Black history has been intertwined into the fabric of our nation’s capital since the city’s inception. Food has remained a prominent driving force in how we memorialize and celebrate Black culture. While these deep-seeded roots have been planted for years, the illustrious individuals behind the bites and delights we’ve come to crave continue to make a lasting impression on DC’s flourishing and constantly evolving food scene.

In this inaugural “Unique Eats and Eateries of Washington, DC” guest blog post, local author JoAnn Hill leads you on a mouthwatering adventure throughout the Washington, DC, area to explore eats and eateries that are both familiar and exotic. In Unique Eats and Eateries of Washington, DC, you’ll discover an extraordinary collection of food and drink experts exquisitely seasoned by dashes of passion, sprinkles of grit, and pinches of ingenuity.

In honor of Black History Month, here is a sampling of the places and people covered in the book, highlighting some of DC’s Black-owned eateries that the whole family will enjoy.

 

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Bee J’s Cookies
Batches Made in Heaven

A variety of cookies at Bee J’s (Photo: SV Images)

Bee J’s Cookies was birthed out of a love for baking and a deep connection with family. Cofounder and baker Bryant Jones learned the art of baking by watching his grandmother, Sweetie, pick pears off her trees and bake them into scrumptious pies. Years later, he would bake cookies for his girlfriend Andrea O’Neal, prompting her to suggest that he begin selling his artisan cookies.

The couple launched their cookie business in April 2020, and as Bee J’s Cookies has expanded, they’ve introduced more personalized flavors that honor the family members who’ve supported them along the way. Sweetie’s Sweet Potato cookie, along with the Brown Sugar cookie, named after Andrea’s great-grandmother, Queen, serve as sweet reminders of those who always taste like home.

Read All About It: Read more about Bee J’s Cookies and their little batches of heaven on page 64 of Unique Eats and Eateries of Washington, DC.

Where To Dig In: Visit Bee J’s Cookies at Union Market: 1309 5th St. NE.

 

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FishScale
Cast Your Net on Some of the District’s Most Flavorsome Fish

FishScale’s jerk salmon cheesesteak (Photo: Anela Malik)

Brandon Williams began dabbling in the kitchen at a young age and taught himself how to cook. After he went on a youth-group fishing trip to the Chesapeake Bay, his aunt cooked the fish he caught, and it was love at first bite. This indelible moment taught the budding chef that local and fresh is unequivocally better.

His parents recognized Brandon’s immense cooking talent and encouraged him to enroll at L’Academie de Cuisine Culinary School. Soon thereafter, Brandon went on to launch FishScale at the Farmers’ Market by the White House. Within a mere six weeks, the Washington Post published a rave review, prompting Brandon to take the plunge and open a brick-and-mortar spot in Shaw.

Each day, Brandon purchases his fresh fish, and a list of the daily catches is prominently displayed. Sandwich sensations include the True Blue Maryland crab burger, composed of succulent, pan-seared Maryland crab topped with a choice of house-made condiments. The Chesapeake Cheesesteak is an absolute knockout. The stellar sandwich bursts with seasoned, skillet-fired fish smothered in caramelized onions, green peppers, provolone cheese, and a dreamy drizzle of garlic aioli.

Read All About It: Read more about FishScale and its sustainable wild fish on pages 54-55 of Unique Eats and Eateries of Washington, DC.

Where To Dig In: Visit FishScale at 637 Florida Ave. NW.

 

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Half-Smokes
The Capital City’s Symbolic Sausage

Half smokes on the grill (Photo: Courtesy of Ben’s Chili Bowl)

Philadelphia has its cheesesteak, Chicago has its deep-dish pizza, and Washington, DC, has its half-smoke. Thankfully for us Washingtonians, our capital city offers many takes on the iconic staple. One scrumptious bite is enough to know this symbolic sausage goes beyond your run-of-the-mill hot dog.

One would be remiss not to mention legendary Ben’s Chili Bowl when listing DC’s best half-smokes. The renowned DC institution catapulted the half-smoke into notoriety. Hungry enthusiasts continue to flock to this venerable standby for over 60 years.

HalfSmoke adds a bit of panache to the DC classic. In addition to their hearty meat offerings, their U Street Hipster boasts a plant-based sausage with chimichurri and spiced avocado spread.

Barbecue joint DCity Smokehouse’s namesake half- smoke is blanketed in brisket chili, cheddar-jack cheese, red onions, and mustard. Don’t miss their smokehouse’s signature mac and cheese; it’s guaranteed to be both a kid and adult favorite!

Read All About It: Read more about DC’s signature sausage on pages 40-41 of Unique Eats and Eateries of Washington, DC.

Where To Dig In:
Ben’s Chili Bowl (multiple locations) – Flagship: 1213 U St. NW
HalfSmoke (multiple locations) – Flagship: 651 Florida Ave. NW
DCity Smokehouse – 203 Florida Ave. NW

 

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Puddin’
Divine Comfort Food

Puddin’s beautiful bowls of comfort (Photo: Courtesy of Puddin’)

Warm, buttery bourbon goodness soaked up by moist bread pudding might just be the impetus behind the saying, “Eat dessert first.” This is soul-satisfying comfort food at its best. It’s also owner Toyin Alli’s “happiest accident,” a one- off recipe mistake that produced a crowd-pleasing creation. The long- lasting result? Divinity spooned into a cup.

Toyin’s love for cooking is influenced by her father’s Nigerian heritage and her mother’s Southern roots. From the moment she moved from California to DC, she’s devoted every waking moment to cooking comfort food, building her brand, and earning her reputation across the region.

After fulfilling a longtime dream of becoming an Eastern Market vendor, Toyin launched a food truck. The DC area’s taste buds have been on a mouthwatering ride ever since.

Today, Toyin’s divine Southern comfort food has attracted a devout following. Patrons queue up for Toyin’s shrimp ’n grits, chicken ’n beef sausage gumbo, and of course, her establishment’s namesake, her famed brown butter bourbon bread puddin’—a delectable treat that will surely satiate all your comfort-loving dreams.

Read All About It: Read more about Puddin’ and its sustainable wild fish on pages 10-11 of Unique Eats and Eateries of Washington, DC.

Where To Dig In: Visit Puddin’ at Union Market: 1309 5th St. NE.

 

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Roaming Rooster
Fried Chicken You Can Feel Good About

Chicken piled high with a side of fries at Roaming Rooster (Photo: Laura Nockett)

In 2019, Roaming Rooster’s founders Michael and Biniyam Habtemariam and Hareg Mesfin watched their popularity soar after a local woman tweeted about their fried chicken amidst the contentious fried chicken war between heavy hitters Popeyes and KFC. In a blink of a tweet, the trajectory of Roaming Rooster had been forever changed.

Food has always been at the core of the Habtemariam family. Their father, an Ethiopian Air Force pilot, lost his left hand in a plane crash, causing much of the cooking responsibilities to fall on the two brothers. In 2015, they entered full speed into DC’s food truck scene, and today, they’ve built an impressive empire of nearly a dozen locations spanning across the region.

They are steadfast in serving fried chicken that individuals can feel good about. Their chickens are raised in a humane and natural manner, never given antibiotics or chemicals of any kind. They work exclusively with free-range chicken farms where birds have an abundance of sunshine, ample roaming space, and are never given antibiotics or chemicals of any kind. In addition to their revered fried chicken sandwiches, Roaming Rooster’s offerings include wings, tenders, and milkshakes.

Read All About It: Read more about Roaming Rooster and its feel-good chicken on pages 156-157 of Unique Eats and Eateries of Washington, DC.

Where To Dig In: Roaming Rooster (multiple locations) – Flagship: 3176 Bladensburg Rd. NE

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JoAnn Hill is the author of Unique Eats and Eateries of Washington, DC, Secret Washington, DC: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure, and DC Scavenger. JoAnn has spent more than 20 years exploring Washington, DC, and has written extensively about the region’s hidden histories and peculiarities, active pursuits, and vibrant food and drink scenes. Through her passion for food and adventure, she shares stories and tips that satiate the hungry enthusiast and inspire the curious traveler. When she’s not writing, you will find her teaching fitness classes, enjoying a night at the theater, and exploring as much of the world with her husband as she possibly can. JoAnn is the co-founder of Capitol Teachers, a full-service tutoring company servicing students in the greater Washington, DC, area as well as across the country.

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KFDC Picks for Kid Friendly DC Restaurants

A feast fit for a kid at Panda Gourmet (except for Tsingtaos for the not pictured adults 🙂 )

 

We live in DC, we play in DC, and we eat (a lot!) in DC. And while I’ve shared some of our family’s go-to places for getting a good meal here in the city over the years, I’ve never put them in one convenient post — until now. I know that people often come into the District wondering where to get a good bite with kids, and who better to let you know than someone who is truly local and has been doing the dining in DC thing with kids regularly for over 17 years?  So, here are my picks for kid-friendly places to eat out in DC, listed by neighborhood(s).

Some things to note:
* These picks are very Capitol Hill-heavy because that’s where we live, but we have enjoyed meals all around DC and have favorites everywhere.
* We’ve always been fairly relaxed about dining out with our kids, even when they were really little, so you will see all types of restaurants among these picks.
* If the neighborhood groupings seem weird, that’s because there are only a few from an area, so I added them elsewhere. Hence, the ETC on some, too.
* There are more DC eats we like, but starting with our faves — and will continually add more.
* We have been to every single place listed here… so all of these recommendations come from firsthand (and tasty!) experience.

Happy DC Dining!

 

CAPITOL HILL

NAVY YARD

H STREET NE | UNION MARKET DISTRICT | ETC.

THE WHARF

PENN QUARTER

GEORGETOWN | GLOVER PARK

14th STREET | LOGAN CIRCLE| DUPONT CIRCLE

WOODLEY PARK  | UPPER NORTHWEST

 

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CAPITOL HILL

A peek inside La Collina

Nicer Sit Down:

La Collina | 747 C St SE
Currently our favorite neighborhood restaurant! Everything is delicious from the starters to the pasta to wine and cocktails to the desserts. It’s nice, but not fancy, making it a great place to go if you want a good dining experience, where you can bring kids. Especially for children is the Bambini Menu with options just for kiddos in smaller portions that all come with sliced apples and a little green vegetable. Located right by Eastern Market, it has a great patio for outdoor dining, but the space inside is pretty and welcoming, too. Reservations recommended.

Ambar | 523 8th St SE
The Balkan restaurant has a few locations around the area (in Shaw and Clarendon along with the Hill), but this is the original. With an extensive menu and lively vibe, it’s also a great place to go for an occasion or a fun meal out with the fam. Important to note is that it’s an “unlimited” menu (ie, all-you-can-eat) with a set price per person, but a great deal considering all you get — just go hungry! Servings are small, tapas-style (but you can order as many as you want), so it’s a great way to try different dishes and find things that every diner loves, including little ones. (PS: The happy hour menu is ala carte if you don’t want to go full throttle.) Reservations highly recommended — they always seem to book up.

Belga Cafe | 514 8th St SE
The Belgian restaurant on Barracks Row has been one of our “nicer” neighborhood go-tos with kids for many years. With waffles in the menu mix, along with lots of other tasty dishes, it was always easy to feed ours there when they were little. It’s especially great for brunch, but we all enjoy Belga’s lunch and dinner, too. Best mussels and fries, though I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve eaten there. (PS: Betsy, their “rooftop” back patio is a fun spot for cocktails sans kids!)

Joselito | 660 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Serving delicious Spanish cuisine in a lively, warm and welcoming setting, Joselito has food options that will make patrons of all ages happy. Almost everything on the dinner menu is available in three sizes — tapa (appetizer size), media ración (entree) and ración (family-style) — so you can order according to the size of your party (or palate), or choose whether or not to share. Read more about Joselito in this KFDC post.

 

Digging the Thai noodles at The Roost

Casual Sit Down:

The Roost | 1401 Pennsylvania Ave SE
The food hall may be the place we frequent most these days for both dining in and take out, because we can all get whatever kind of food we want. We also love that it’s very casual, easy to pop in, with both outdoor and inside seating. Food options include pizza, sushi, Thai, burgers and sandwiches, tacos, salads, plus drinks for adults and kids. And it’s all really tasty. Bonus is that we can bring the dog if we sit outside.

Bombay Street Food 2 | 524 8th St SE
Delicious Indian food on Barrack’s Row and a great place to enjoy a family-style meal with many dishes that can easily be shared. The butter chicken is often a hit with kids, and little foodies will love even more. Very friendly, casual vibe.

Ted’s Bulletin | 505 8th St SE
The menu includes lots of comfort food options — think fried chicken, meatloaf, burgers, fish and chips, grilled cheese — plus more creative dishes and all-day breakfast. A kids’ menu has all the staples for little eaters like PB&J, pasta, chicken fingers, and more. There is another location in DC on 14th Street and even more around the area in Northern Virginia.

matchbox | 521 8th St SE
This has always been one of the easiest places to eat with kids, with pizza, burgers, and salads dominating the menu, plus a kids menu with a few selections of the same but smaller portions. When the kids were little, we loved that servers would bring them a ball of dough to play with (you may need to ask for it now). Fun, comfortable atmosphere, too. Other DC locations in Penn Quarter and Cathedral Commons.

Tunnicliff’s Tavern | 222 7th St SE
Tunni’s, as it’s often endearingly called by locals, is a place that many Hill families frequent. Located right across the street from Eastern Market, it’s kind of dive-y, but they have a pretty extensive menu with something to satisfy all eaters, plus a kids’ menu with basic options. TVs in the bar area show sports, so it can get busy and loud, but the dining area towards the back and the patio out front are good seating areas with kids.

 

Stopping for an after school treat in Eastern Market

Casual Bites:

Eastern Market | 225 Seventh St, SE
You can’t talk about the Capitol Hill neighborhood without mentioning Eastern Market. The historic spot is both a community touchstone and a draw for folks who don’t live here (especially on the weekends when the outdoor flea market is in full swing). Inside the market, food stalls offer all kinds of fresh fare, from meats and cheese to produce and baked goods. You can pick up food from many places and enjoy it at tables right outside or inside in the North Hall section (or enjoy a picnic at Lincoln Park just a few blocks away). The Market Lunch is an institution, serving tasty crab cakes and some of the best pancakes around (don’t let the name fool ya…the breakfast is legendary.) Canales Delicatessen has great subs and sandwiches and many of the other merchants offer snacks and bites that kids and adults will enjoy.

The Pretzel Bakery |257 15th St SE
Sasha’s hands-down favorite treat in DC! (She doesn’t do birthday cakes; she has pretzel piles!) PB, as we call it, brings Philly-style pretzels to DC in a variety of forms — straight-up pretzels, everything-spiced pretzels, or my girl’s pick: sweet (glazed) pretzels. There are also pretzel bombs, which are Nutella-filled, and savory items include yummy breakfast sliders, pretzel dogs, and calzones (all breaded parts are pretzel). Worth going a little out of the way for! Note that hours are limited: 8am – 1pm ,Tuesday – Sunday.

Radici | 303 7th St SE
If you’re visiting Eastern Market, this shop specializing in Italian fare is a must-stop. They have grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, pastries and other items that you can eat outside on the lovely patio (awesome people watching, too), plus ready-made pasta dishes that you can heat up at home. Good coffee drinks, too! (PS: They have a great selection of wine and sometimes have tastings in the afternoons.)

Prego | 210 7th St SE
The Italian deli located right across 7th Street SE from Eastern Market has really good sandwiches, including paninis and subs and one of the best BLTs’s around because they crisp up the bacon just right. There’s a small patio right on 7th Street, where there is the market on weekends, so it’s nice to have an easy bite amidst the buzz of it all.

Bullfrog Bagels | 7th St SE
I used to complain that there weren’t any good bagel places near me until Bullfrog opened their H Street location almost 10 years ago.  Now, there is also this spot on the Hill and one in Foggy Bottom. Not only can you pick up freshly made bagels, they also have a selection of yummy bagel sandwiches. Even better, the location right by Eastern Market makes it great stop if you’re browsing the weekend outdoor market.

We, the Pizza | 303 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Fast-casual eatery from Spike Mendehlson with good New York-style pizza and other options like wings and salads.  Along with whole pies, they serve by the slice, which is nice with a lot of people who like different toppings. This is where we usually order take out pizza. Read more about We, the Pizza here.

Good Stuff Eatery | 303 Pennsylvania Ave SE
If you’re craving burgers, this fast-casual, also from Spike, will easily satisfy. Go for the toasted marshmallow milkshake, too — trust me on this.

District Taco | 656 Pennsylvania Ave SE
The local chain is a tasty, easy go-to for tacos and burritos. The kids go here with friends all the time. More locations all around the DC area.

Eat Brgz | 250 7th St
The fast casual burger place near Eastern Market puts the “toppings” inside the burgers. Our kids love it!

sweetgreen | Pennsylvania Ave SE
One of my very favorite chains around…for those who like salads or just want a healthy option, this is perfect. More locations all over the DC area.

Wine & Butter | 1023 East Capitol St SE
The shop at the corner of 11th and East Cap is so charming and makes me happy just to look at it — but more so to grab a sandwich, coffee drink, and a seat at a sidewalk table. It feels very European! They also have a good selection of gourmet deli snacks, wine, and more that you can enjoy, perhaps as a picnic across the street at Lincoln Park.

 

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NAVY YARD

Oysters at The Salt Line (yes, the kids love ’em, too!)

Sit Down:

All Purpose Pizza | 79 Potomac Avenue SE
This is my top recommendation for a family meal near Nationals Park. The food — pizza and more — is good, plus it’s a fun atmosphere, and the riverfront location gives it an easy-breezy vibe. There is outdoor seating with river views, but it’s nice inside, too.

The Salt Line | 79 Potomac Ave SE
Another good dining option near the ballpark and next to the river, though it gets very crowded on game days, so be sure to make a reservation (or skip those days if you prefer it more mellow). Lots of seafood based dishes on the menu, and there’s also a kids menu with more basic options — cheeseburger, hot dog, fish sticks, pasta.

El Bebe | 99 M St SE
Mexican restaurant with yummy tacos and more. Not your typical taco spot, there is table service for a sit down meal. Good margs, too, for parents who also want to enjoy a cocktail.

Bonchon | 1015 Half St SE
This is a whole family pleaser with Korean fried chicken as the main menu item, that you can get spicy and soy garlicky, along with many more tasty Korean food options. The kimchi and pickled radish you get on the side is so tasty, too!

Emmy Squared Pizza | 1300 4th St SE
Located at The Yards, the Detroit-style pizza, which is deep dish and rectangular, is delish. Get it with a salad and even a sandwich or burger and share everything, family-style. There are a few small, basic items especially for kiddos.  If you order take out, the Family Meal pack ($85) includes 3 pizzas, 2 salads, and cheesy bread sticks — plenty to feed the family and have leftovers. And they often have other specials going on, so be sure to check on that.

Due South | 301 Water St SE
The location right next to the in-ground fountain is what makes this especially family-friendly. When our kids were old enough, we’d let them play while we watched from our table (try to get one outside). Otherwise, have a southern-style meal (brunch, perhaps), then go enjoy the water features.

Osteri Morini | 301 Water Street, Suite 109
There are several nice sit down, occasion restaurants in the Navy Yard — Albi, Chloe, District Winery, Bammy’s — all really good, but the one I’d pick for a meal with kids is Osteria Morini. You can’t go wrong with pasta, and they have a kids menu with more basic pasta choices, chicken parm, and pizza. Plus it’s big and bustling, with both outdoor and indoor seating.

Casual Bites:

Five Guys | 1100 2nd Street
The popular burger joint conveniently has an outpost next to Canal Park, where there’s a sprayground in summer and ice skating in winter.

Takorean | 1212 4th Street SE
They call themselves a Korean Taco Grill. It’s the flavors of Korean food in a taco, bowl, or salad (or slaw bowl). The kids always get the rice bowls with bulgogi or chicken, Levi loves the tacos, and I go for the slaw bowl. It’s all so good! (PS: There’s a sweetgreen next door, so sometimes we do takeout from both.)

Wiseguy Pizza | 202 M St SE
Good, super casual pizza shop at Canal Park. Very convenient if you’re playing in the sprays or ice skating. There is also a location near Judiciary Square.

Also good in the area: sweetgreen, Potbelly, Chopt, Shake Shack.

 

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H STREET NE | UNION MARKET DISTRICT | ETC.

The scrumptious duck noodle soup at Maketto

Sit Down:

Maketto | 1351 H St NE
Easily our favorite restaurant on the H Street corridor, we’ve been enjoying their “interpretation of Cambodian and Taiwanese cooking” since it opened about a decade ago. For little diners, I especially recommend the noodles and the bao buns, but everything on the menu is out-of-this-world delicious. Doing a big sharing feast makes an ideal occasion dinner. If it’s nice out, try to get a table in the lovely courtyard. (PS: Great for a date night or even afternoon, too!)

Toki Underground | 1234 H St NE
Best ramen around, imo. Everyone in our fam loves it, and every ramen bowl is so flavorful.  They also have a kids bowl that is slightly more mild with less ingredients. Seating can be tough inside, since most of it is counter space (though they now take reservations), but it’s a cool local experience. It’s also one of our favorites for take out, especially on chilly nights.

Indigo | 234 K St NE
This was the first Indian food our kids ever tried, and it hooked them. Not only is the fare excellent, the outdoor covered seating area with picnic tables and glowing with string lights in the evening is such a pretty setting. (See a pic here.)

Sushi at O-ku, one of our very favorite restaurants in the city

O-Ku | 1274 5th St NE
The sushi spot in the Union Market District is one of my very, very favorite restaurants in all of DC, and my kids love it, too. In fact, the first time we ever dined there, it was with them, and it has become one of their most requested spots for special occasions. If your crew likes sushi, this is a must-go. Start with the salmon usuzukuri and rock shrimp, and you can’t go wrong with any of the sushi rolls…or the rest of the menu, for that matter. (FYI: Mon-Thurs they have a great happy hour from 5-7pm — half-off sushi rolls and $4 off select specialty drinks and wines-by-the glass.). Be sure to make reservations!

St. Anselm’s | 1250 5th St NE
Another near Union Market,  I recommend it as an “occasion” place with kids; it can get pricey, and while they don’t really cater to young guests in any way, the lively and bustling atmosphere makes it feel welcoming to all ages. If your crew likes steak, this a great restaurant for it, but there are plenty of non-beef options, too, including small plates and sides that little diners would like.

Ivy City Smokehouse | 1356 Okie St NE
Oh, man, do we love Ivy City Smokehouse! It’s kind of a back pocket place to go when we want a very casual, but occasion-y meal, but also just a good place to go for brunch (or lunch or dinner, for that matter). Everything we’ve eaten there has been yummy, and it’s always a happy, buzzing place to go.

Panda Gourmet | 2700 New York Ave NE
Located in an off-the-beaten-restaurant-path part of NE DC in a Days Inn, Panda Gourmet is unassuming to say the least. But the food is anything but. There are many unique dishes like lamb with cumin and fish in a fiery pot (both our favorites), and the typical Chinese food options like noodles and fried rice are excellent, too. We like to go with a group and get a big round table with a lazy Susan for easy, fun sharing. Read more about it in this KFDC write-up.

Menomalé | 2711 12th St NE
The pizza is some of the best in town — Neapolitan style and so many options for toppings. A great place to go after visiting the Franciscan Monastery. PS: There is now another location in NoMa.

Brookland’s Finest | 3126 12th St NE
Another good stop after the Monastery, the menu has a mix of cuisines — burgers and sandwiches, pasta dishes, steaks and fish, a curry option — and that’s part of what makes it great with kids. The other parts are the friendly service, relaxed atmosphere, and sports on TV.

 

La Cosecha, the Latin food hall in the Union Market District

Casual Bites:

Union Market | 1309 5th St NE
The huge food hall is an easy one with kids, since there are so many eateries offering all different kinds food options. It’s also fun walking around and browsing them all (along with the shops). Tables are available both inside and out, and it’s usually a lively vibe, though be aware that it can get very crowded on weekends.

La Cosecha | 1280 4th St NE
The Latin American marketplace includes several eateries that serve a variety of Latin foods, everything from Mexican tacos to Salvadorean papusas to Peruvian sandwiches and empanadas and more. It’s very casual with seating inside and out, and there are cute shops to browse pre- or post-meal, too.

Hi-Lawn | 1309 5th St NE
The Union Market rooftop location with great 360 views of the city is the big draw. And the kid-friendly appeal is the large stretch of turf where you can hang out and enjoy food and drinks picnic-style (though for safety reasons, it’s not a kiddie run free kind of space, but it’s a very laid back vibe). There are also tables if you’d rather not sit on the ground, just make reservations as they go fast on nice days. And note that it’s 21+ after 7pm.

 

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THE WHARF

Enjoy the food and Wharf scene at Lupo Marino

Sit Down:

Lupo Marino | 40 Pearl St SW
Pizza, paninis, pasta, salads, and more Italian fare make Lupo a go-to for a family meal at the Wharf. Both indoor and outdoor seating, and we love when we can get a table on cute little Pearl Street on a nice day or evening. Service is always great, too.

Boardwalk Bar & Arcade | 715 Wharf St SW
With lots of arcade games, pinball, and shuffle board, this is an obvious spot to go with kids. As the name implies, it’s inspired by beach-style amusement. And that goes for the food as much as the games — think pizza, hotdogs, sammies, jumbo pretzels. A kids menu has easy basics they’ll like, with smaller portions and prices.

Hank’s Oyster Bar | 701 Wharf St SW
The waterfront location at the Wharf is perfect for the seafood restaurant, though we miss it being in our neighborhood — it was go-to for a sit-down family meal with something to satisfy everyone. While seafood dishes are the menu stars, Levi thinks they have one of the best burgers around.

Mi Vida | 98 District Square SW
If you’re looking for a nice, sit-down meal that will appeal to kids, too, Mi Vida is a great pick. Tacos and more Mexican inspired food will please everyone, and a Kids Menu has $11 dishes for ages 12 & under that come with drink and ice cream. Patio seating with river views is great, and the inside has a festive atmosphere.

 

Grazie Grazie for hoagies at The Wharf!

Casual Bites:

Grazie Grazie | 85 District Square SW
We went here literally the first day it opened, because we were such big fans of owner Casey Patten’s original shop and excited about this one at The Wharf. The Philly style hoagies, including cheesesteaks, are always so satisfying, and the salads are good, too. The kids menu has chicken strips and grilled cheese if the sandwiches are too much for little ones. (Downtown location now, too.)

Surfside | 33 District Square
Tacos, fajitas, burritos, and more “Mex-fresh” food is so good. It’s fast casual, and we like to get it for take out with friends. The fajita boxes are amazing and can easily feed two families (with teen boys, too), even though it says it serves 5-7.

Falafel Inc. | 1140 Maine Ave SW
This may be the best easy meal deal in the city. The falafel sandwiches and bowls are super tasty, and both under $6. And we love that there are different kinds of sauces to try with them. Get the zaatar fries, too! (PS: Their party platters are perfect for feeding a crowd.) Also located in Georgetown.

Shake Shack | 975 Wharf St SW
Always an easy go-to eatery with kids. Many burger options, and for those who don’t like them, hotdog and chicken and grilled cheese are on the menu, too. Many more locations around DC.

For treats at The Wharf: Ben & Jerry’s, District Doughnut

 

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PENN QUARTER | DOWNTOWN

Lucky seating at one of Jaleo’s foosball tables

Sit Down:

Jaleo | 480 7th St NW
When a restaurant has foosball tables where you can dine, you know it’s a kid-friendly place. José Andrés’ very first DC restaurant is still thriving after 30 years, serving scrumptious Spanish cuisine in a colorful, vibrant setting that is welcoming for all ages. The tapas sized portions make it easy to feed kiddos and fun for everyone to share. I highly recommend the pan de cristal con tomate (tomato brushed bread), buñuelos de bacalao, (cod fritters), patatas bravas (potatoes with aioli), gambas al ajillo (garlicky shrimp), and the best gazpacho around. Make reservations — and request the foosball table!

Zaytinya | 701 9th St NW
Another from José Andrés, but highlighting Greek, Turkish, and Lebanese food. Lots of sharable dishes with plenty to appeal to mini diners. The spacious interior is always buzzing and comfortable with kids, and there’s an outdoor patio right across from the American Art Museum.

Oyamel | 401 7th St NW
And José Andrés does it again with Mexican food! Lots of taco varieties that kiddos (and adults!) will like along with tapas-style dishes that are tasty and creative and fun to share. It’s more elevated than your typical Mexican joint, and the mood is always festive and relaxed.

Carmine’s | 425 7th St NW
Family-style Italian food. Need I say more?  I recommend Carmine’s often as a fun, easy place to go with kids. You really can’t go wrong with a massive pasta dish, garlic bread, and a big Caesar (or Carmine’s) salad for the table to share. We’ve even been to birthday parties there, it’s that great of a kiddie crowd-pleaser.

matchbox | 750 E St NW
This has always been one of the easiest places to eat with kids, with pizza, burgers, and salads dominating the menu, plus a kids menu with a few selections of the same but smaller portions. When the kids were little, we loved that servers would bring them a ball of dough to play with (you may need to ask for it now). Fun, comfortable atmosphere, too. Other DC locations in Capitol Hill and Cathedral Commons.

Hill Country BBQ | 410 7th St NW
Super casual Texas-style BBQ. You go to counters to get your food, but you’re seated at a table. It’s big and loud inside, so if you want a place where you’re not worried about the kiddos being noisy, this is it.

Reren Lamen & Bar | 817 7th St NW
The menu of ramen, dumplings, and other Chinese food dishes has something for everyone. Located right by the intersection of Wisconsin Ave & M Street, it’s a convenient stop in the heart of Georgetown. You can’t go wrong with the signature ramen, and both the handmade dumplings and bao are great for the table to share. Location in Georgetown, too.

Love, Makoto | 200 Massachusetts Ave NW
The Japanese food hall is a great stop with the whole fam — if you all love Japanese food (obvi). Sushi, dumplings, soba and udon, sandwiches, and salads are all options. Easy and casual, you order from an electronic kiosk, then pick up your food from a counter. It’s all delicious!

Old Ebbitt Grill | 675 15th St NW
A DC institution, Old Ebbitt is always booked, so be sure to make a reservation or prepare to wait awhile for a table. The menu is huge, portions ample, and you really can’t go wrong with any order. The restaurant has a reputation as a place to spot local celebs, but tourists far outnumber any DC bigwigs you’re hoping to see. There’s a kids menu with the basic favorites as the main option, plus a side and drink for $7.99.

The Hamilton | 600 14th St NW
With a menu as big as its expansive space, The Hamilton easily makes the whole fam happy. Plus, it has the same $7.99 menu as Old Ebbitt Grill. If you weren’t aware, the restaurant is part of the Clyde’s Group that also runs OEG, so if you can’t get a table there, The Hamilton is just a few blocks away and just as good, imo. (KFDC Tip: They have an awesome sushi happy hour ($5 off sushi rolls) 2-5pm daily,Sun- Thur 10pm-close, and Fri-Sat 11pm – close.)

Pi Pizzeria | 910 F St NW
Good pizza in a cozy pub setting. They have both thin crust and deep dish, plus a few salads to balance it out. A convenient stop after a visit to the National Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum or a sports event at Capitol One Arena.

Teaism | 400 8th St NW
For kids (or adults) who like boba tea, this is the place to go. It’s very popular with the students who go to school nearby. Teaism sells more than just tea, though. The Asian-inspired food is good, and you can stop in for a snack or sit down for a full meal. Locations also at Lafayette Park and Dupont Circle.

Poke Papa | 806 H Street NW
If your crew likes poke, this is where you want to go for it. Hands down the best poke we’ve had in DC. Their signature bowls combos are so yummy, and they do not skimp on the amount of fish or toppings — and there are many of them. For those who don’t like fish, chicken and tofu are options, too.

More fast casual in the area:  Shake Shack, sweetgreen, eat burgz, Five Guys, Rice Bar, Chopt.

 

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14TH STREET | LOGAN CIRCLE | DUPONT CIRCLE | ETC

Portraits at the bustling Bistro Du Coin

Ted’s Bulletin | 1818 14th St NW
The menu includes lots of comfort food options — think fried chicken, meatloaf, burgers, fish and chips, grilled cheese — plus more creative dishes and all-day breakfast. A kids’ menu has all the staples for little eaters like PB&J, pasta, chicken fingers, and more. There is another location in DC on Capitol Hill and even more around the area in Northern Virginia.

Busboy’s & Poets | 14th & V St NW
The restaurant/bookstore has a bunch of locations around the area, but this is the original. It’s very welcoming for families, and the extensive menu includes a kids section with a few options for $8. Even more, you can browse books while you’re there and see if there are any events, like poetry open mics, taking place. They used to host regular story times for kids, but stopped with Covid. Perhaps they’ll bring them back…

Bistro Du Coin | 1738 Connecticut Ave NW, 20009
The French restaurant in Dupont Circle makes you feel like you’ve been transported to Paris. It’s been a favorite since before Levi and I had kids, and now we all enjoy eating there. It has a great, vibrant atmosphere to match the always satisfying food. You can’t go wrong with the moules frites!

Duke’s Grocery | 2000 Pennsylvania Ave NW
There are a few Duke’s around town, in Dupont, Foggy Bottom, Navy Yard, and Woodley. We’ve been to the one in Foggy Bottom, and it’s a cozy space made to look and feel like an English pub — there’s even a red phone booth inside. The menu has everything from burgers to fish & chips to shakshuka (which I recommend), and it’s generally a very welcoming place.

 

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GEORGETOWN | GLOVER PARK

A perfect BLT at Silver

Sit Down:

Pinstripes | 1064 Wisconsin Ave NW
A good meal paired with bowling (or bocce) is pretty much a guarantee for fun family meal out — whether dine, then play after or make bowling your main activity and eat at your lane. We’ve done both (and have even gone just for the meal)! They often have special offerings for holidays, so it’s worth checing if you’re looking for an occasion meal. Read more about it here.

Farmers Fishers Bakers | 3000 K St NW
Located at Washington Harbour, this has been a longtime go-to for a family meal we know we all like. The menu has everything from sushi to pizza to tacos to jambalaya — and a lot in between — and the quality of it all is excellent. Try to get a table outside to enjoy the waterfront scene, though inside is always nice and lively, too.

Clyde’s | 3236 M St NW
There are Clyde’s restaurants all around the are, but this was the original. An extensive menu satisfies everyone, and a kids menu has the standards that little eaters always like. And upscale saloon decor makes it an ever-inviting place.

Pizza Paradiso | 3282 M St NW
If you want to get pizza in Georgetown, this is the place to go. It’s cooked in a wood-burning oven, and it’s delicious. Salads and paninis are available for non-pizza eaters, but you really should get the specialty. Oh, even better, there is also a game room with tabletop shuffleboard and darts. A few more DC locations are in Dupont Circle and Spring Valley.

Martin’s Tavern | 1264 Wisconsin Ave NW
An institution here, Martin’s is cozy and friendly with a lot of DC history. JFK frequented the tavern, and there’s a plaque at the booth where he proposed to Jackie. And lots of other presidents and local bigwigs have left their mark there. It’s become touristy over the years, but still a neat and cozy place to go.

Simply Banh Mi | 1624 Wisconsin Ave NW
We’ve eaten here after a Dumbarton Oaks visits — it’s especially good on a cold day. Along with Banh Mi sandwiches and rice noodle bowls, the pho is a tasty way to warm up.

Reren Lamen & Bar | 1073 Wisconsin Ave NW
The menu of ramen, dumplings, and other Chinese food dishes has something for everyone. Located right by the intersection of Wisconsin Ave & M Street, it’s a convenient stop in the heart of Georgetown. You can’t go wrong with the signature ramen, and both the handmade dumplings and bao are great for the table to share. Location in Chinatown/Penn Quarter, too.

Silver | 3404 Wisconsin Ave NW
The new American brasserie, as they call it, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a large, comfortable space, and also has outdoor seating. Menus for all meals are extensive, so you’ll easily find something everyone will enjoy. e’ve only ben for lunch, but can attest that the BLT, crab cakes, tuna tartare…okay, everything is really good. They have a great Kids Menu with options all $10 or less.

2 Amy’s | 3715 Macomb St NW
Many people have heard of 2 Amy’s — it’s almost always included among rankings of the best pizza in town, deservingly so. It’s also a very family-friendly place to eat out, and you’ll always see kids of all ages dining there, and the vibe is very relaxed and friendly. My only complaint is that, with a walk-in only policy, there’s always a wait for a table.  But that’s a testament to how much so many people like it.

Cactus Cantina | 3300 Wisconsin Ave NW
Right on the same block as 2 Amy’s, Cactus Cantina draws a family crowd, too. The large menu of Tex-Mex food and casual, but vibrant atmosphere make it a, fun and easy meal-out with kids. There is also a kids menu with smaller portions and prices to match. Don’t just go here when 2 Amy’s is full; go here because it’s good and fun on its own! They also take reservations.

Snag a patio spot at Jaco

Casual Bites:

Moby Dick House of Kebab | 1070 31st St NW
Super casual and suuuper tasty Persian street food.  Various combos of kebab-style chicken, beef, and lamb on a pita or platter with rice and veggies are aplenty. Located on Georgetown side street, it’s a great stop amid the bustling shopping district.  There is a bit of a wait for food while it’s being flame-grilled, but it’s so worth it! Locations also in Dupont and in MD and VA.

Jaco Juice & Taco Bar | 1614 Wisconsin Ave NW
Just down the street from Dumbarton Oaks, this is another great stop before or after a visit to the lovely gardens or hiking trail (or anytime, for that matter). Lots of options for tacos and burritos, and a good selection of smoothies. Snag a table on the front patio if you can.

Shouk | 1426 Wisconsin Ave NW
The Israeli plant-based street food eatery is one of my favorite fast-casuals. The falafel — sandwich, bowl, or even a simple bag of them with sauce — is always a crowd pleaser. And their signature items like the Shouk Burger and mushroom-based shwarma are as creative as they are tasty. Even the hummus and pita is perfect. Also located in the Mt. Vernon Triangle area in DC (and in Rockville).

Booeymonger | 3265 Prospect St NW
It’s been around as long as I can remember. Located a block off busy M Street, Booeymonger’s has every kind of deli sandwich imaginable. An easy, very casual go-to for feeding the whole crew.

Falafel Inc. | 1210 Potomac St NW
This may be the best easy meal deal in the city. The falafel sandwiches and bowls are super tasty, and both under $6. And we love all the different kinds of sauces to try with them. Get the zataar fries, too! (PS: Their party platters are perfect for feeding a crowd.) Also located at The Wharf.

muncheez | 1071 Wisconsin Ave NW
Super yummy Lebanese food in a very casual, unassuming row house on Wisconsin, just off of M Street. The shwarma on sandwiches or platters doesn’t disappoint, and there are a few options, like pizza and grilled cheese for little eaters who prefer the basics. For a sweet treat, opt for one of the crepes (Sasha always does).

Sprinkles | 3015 M Street NW
Okay, so I know there’s a certain cupcake place that gets all the attention and even had a TV show. When we walk by and see the line snaking around the corner outside, I always want to yell out, “You’re missing out on the best cupcake!” Because, in my opinion, Sprinkles has the best cupcakes in town. They are perfectly moist, just the right sweetness, and the actual sprinkley ones are covered with them. Read more about them here — yes, we’ve been enjoying them since the Georgetown location opened!

Jetties | 1609 Foxhall Road NW
The shop is actually just outside Georgetown in Foxhall, but it’s worth a stop if you’re in the area, perhaps after a visit to the Kreeger Museum. All different kinds of sandwiches, plus salads and soups. The kids menu has other items that littles like — get the the main item, a side, and drink for $9.95. (Locations also in other areas of DC.)

matchbox | 3701 Newark St NW
This has always been one of the easiest places to eat with kids, with pizza, burgers, and salads dominating the menu, plus a kids menu with a few selections of the same but smaller portions. When the kids were little, we loved that servers would bring them a ball of dough to play with (you may need to ask for it now). Fun, comfortable atmosphere, too. Other DC locations in Capitol Hill and Cathedral Commons.

 

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WOODLEY PARK  | UPPER NORTHWEST | ETC.

The chef’s platter at Lebanese Taverna is perfect for family sharing

Lebanese Taverna | 2641 Connecticut Ave NW
As I said in this KFDC post, Lebanese Taverna is a go-to for us — everyone in our family loves eating there.. The delicious Mediterranean flavors and nice variety of dishes practically guarantee a good meal every time we go. A Kids Menu offers smaller portions of several Lebanese classics, plus there are many small plates (Mezza) and sandwiches on the main menu that work for children, too.

Comet Ping Pong | 5037 Connecticut Ave NW
Often our pick for a place to eat when we are in the Chevy Chase area of DC and looking for a bite to eat. The pizza is very good, but the ping pong makes the eatery especially awesome for families. There are tables at the back where you can play while you wait for your food — or whenever the kids are antsy and need a fun distraction. Read more about it in this very early KFDC post.

Booeymonger | 3265 Prospect St NW
Like the Georgetown locations, the Booeymonger in Friendship Heights has been around as long as I can remember. And it also serves every kind of deli sandwich imaginable.  This one is close to the shopping area, so if you’re down that way, it’s an easy, very casual place to feed the whole crew.

Maggiano’s | 5333 Wisconsin Ave NW
The well known chain is one you can count on to please everyone. The menu is full of classic Italian dishes — all kinds of pasta, chicken parm and picatta, bruchetta and garlic bread, and more — that all palates seem to love. A Kids Menu offers smaller portions of several pastas and a few other options, plus a drink and dessert for $7.99. There is also a family-style menu for a big sharing feast.

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Where are your family’s favorite places to eat in DC?  Let us know, whether they’re listed here or not!

 

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Hike & Hang: Patuxent River State Park & Waredaca Brewing Company

 

Remember how I mentioned last week that I’m a bit behind on posting about some of the fun things we’ve done this summer?  Well, I’m crossing another off my list with one that we enjoyed way back on Father’s Day.  And just in time for Labor Day, because this would make for a great family outing over the holiday weekend.

It became our tradition to celebrate Levi every June with a crab feast worked into the plan.  We usually do something active, either a hike or bike ride, or Levi does a long ride on his own, then we all  go out for crabs after or pick them up at the Fish Market at The Wharf and have a feast at home.   It’s a fun, tasty, and seasonal way to celebrate the day, and one that he really likes.

However, this year we happened to have crab feasted not long before and weren’t really up for it again so soon.  So, when a friend asked if we wanted to join their family for a Father’s Day hike, we were into it.  But we still wanted to make it special for the dads with a post-hike meal and fun, so my friend suggested going to Waredaca Brewing Company in Laytonsville, MD.

I’d heard good things about it, but she had actually been there and gave it a big thumbs up.  With that part of the day planned, we just needed to find a hike.  We did a little research on trails nearby, and decided on Patuxent River State Park in Gaithersburg, MD, just a few minutes’ drive from Waredaca.  (KFDC Tip: Sometimes it’s better to plan a hike around the après-hike destination!)

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Patuxent River State Park
The park is fairly large, spanning nearly 7,000 acres in Montgomery and Howard counties.  There are generally three areas of the park — the North End, the Wildlands, and the South End.  We explored the south section, where there are marked trails; we read the other areas tend to have more social (unmarked) trails that are popular with hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and hunters during the season.

As mentioned, we chose our area based on post-hike plan, and it was a good call, both for its proximity to Waredaca and the hike itself.  We weren’t looking for anything hardcore that would take a long time; we just wanted to do something active outdoors before heading to the brewery.

There are only two trail options in the South End, one about a mile and a half, and the other two miles, and they conveniently connected for a nice walk in the woods.  While there wasn’t anything unique about the hike, it was very pleasant.  The trails were well maintained with some twists and turns and a few slight uphills, but nothing too strenuous. We could easily walk, talk, and keep track of our dogs who were along for the day.  The path winds through an area of tall trees and plants blanketing the grounds, and it was all that bright saturated green of early summer.  Blues skies and lovely mid 70s-degree temps rounded it all out perfectly.

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Waredaca Brewing Company
Where there used to be a camp for kids is now the beautiful Waredaca Farm that is the site of Waredaca Brewing Company.  Located in a serene pastoral setting along with equestrian facilities, it was a great place for the “special” part of our Father’s Day outing.  There is a beer truck near the entrance, where you check in (and get a brew or lemonade), and just beyond are picnic tables with umbrellas spread out around the grassy orchard.  There is more seating inside the Tap Room and right outside it on a patio, where there was also a bluegrass band playing when we were there.

My friend knew to make a reservation, as it gets crowded on nice days, especially one when many people are celebrating. You can walk in, though availability is limited, and it’s on a first-come, first served basis.  Waredaca is very family-friendly, welcoming kids and dogs, with some large in-ground tires to climb on and open space for running around and playing lawn games. They also occasionally have “Pet a Pony” days!

As for the house specialty, there is a wide selection of beer on the menu along with bar snacks like pretzels and charcuterie boxes.  A food truck is also on site, but it varies by day.  You can also bring your own food and just enjoy the brews.  Our crew did a mix of everything  — some of our own snacks, bites from the bar, burgers from Boxcar Burgers, and, of course, beers for the adults.

Cheers to a super fun Father’s Day (and finally getting this post done)!

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Patuxent River State Park – South End
Where: 11950 Clopper Road | Gaithersburg, MD
When: Daily, sunrise to sunset
Admission: Free

 

Waredaca Brewing Company
Where: 4017 Damascus Road | Laytonsville, Maryland
When: Thurs-Friday 4-8pm | Sat-Sun, 12-6pm
Admission: Free (but plan to spend on brews and food)

 

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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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Activities & Events for Families During Cherry Blossom Season (2020)


UPDATE: Due to the coronavirus, the National Cherry Blossom Festival and just about all other events have been canceled. You can still try view them, but use good judgement doing so.

Cherry blossom season is almost upon us, and it’s time to start getting ready for it! Because not only is the city at its prettiest when the beloved flowers are in bloom, there also are loads of special events and activities to celebrate it all. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, running March 20 – April 12 this year, presents all kinds of fun and enriching activities over a few weeks, plus there are even more blossom-inspired happenings that aren’t part of the official festivities. I’ve picked the best of them for families to help you plan for a peak experience. Happy Spring!

Cherry Blossom Viewing
Where: Around the DMV
When: Late March
Admission: Free

Viewing the cherry blossoms may just be the top thing to do during the season — and lots of people agree. The scenery really can’t get more iconic DC than the flowering trees around the Tidal Basin at their peak pink and white brilliance with our grand memorials in the background. However, viewing the famous blooms can be a bit challenging without being aware of a few things, so be sure to check out these KFDC tips before you go to see them. And view scenes from last year’s bloom here.

STORYTIME: Under the Cherry Blossom Tree CANCELLED!
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: March 11, 10-11am & March 15 & 22, 11am – 12pm
Admission: Free

In celebration of cherry blossoms, join the Hirhshorn for a read aloud of Under the Cherry Blossom Tree by Allen Say. Take a close look at the museum’s lobby’s tables, created by artist Hiroshi Sugimoto using a 700-year-old nutmeg tree, then create your own tree- and blossom-inspired works.

Hanami: Beyond the Blooms
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
When: March 13 – May 25
Admission: $16-20/adult, $8-10/child

ARTECHOUSE introduces a new exhibit every season, and it’s only apropos that its spring offering highlights the cherry blossoms. Hanami: Beyond the Blooms “pushes the limits of the cherry blossom experience, inviting visitors to enter an immersive world of spring re-imagined. Now an annual tradition, ARTECHOUSE’s cherry blossom-inspired installation continues to celebrate springtime and women in the arts and tech.” Look for a KFDC review of it soon!

Cultural Performances CANCELLED!
Where: Tidal Basin Welcome Area
When: Weekends, March 21 – April 12
Admission: Free

Catch live entertainment as you take in views of the blossoms! On weekends during the National Cherry Blossom Festival, there will be music and dance performances on a special stage set up at the Tidal Basin Welcome Area. A highlight will be the Miyako Takio Takeover Saturday on March 28 from 11am to 6pm.

Cherry Blossom Celebration CANCELLED!
Where: American Art Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: March 21, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Join SAAM and the National Cherry Blossom Festival for a celebration of Japanese culture. A taiko drumming performance kicks off the day, followed by Les The DJ spinning Japanese pop, funk, and boogie beats and the Koto Ensemble performing traditional Japanese dance. Enjoy face painting, make cherry blossom crafts, and go on an art scavenger hunt throughout the exhibition Chiura Obata: American Modern in the first-floor galleries. 

Japanese Fashion Family Day CANCELLED!
Where: GWU & Textile Museum | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: March 21, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Japanese fashion during cherry blossom season this spring. Join the Textile Museum & George Washington University museum for a family day featuring kimono, happi coats, accessories, and the creative shapes of contemporary Japanese fashion designers. Enjoy dance performances of Eisaa and Ryubu traditional dances from Okinawa. See a demonstration for how to dress in a kimono and take the opportunity to design one of your own. Make a cherry blossom pendant to take home. And enjoy family-friendly tours of the Japanese artwork on display in Delight in Discovery: The Global Collections of Lloyd Cotsen. This is a fantastic opportunity to experience a museum that usually may be a bit sophisticated for little ones!

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

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

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

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

Last year’s cherry blossom inspired exhibit at ARTECHOUSE

STORYTIME: The Tiny Seed CANCELLED!
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: March 25, 10-11am
Admission: Free

Join the Hirshhorn for a special STORYTIME, their regular program for littles, and join them to celebrate spring with the journey of a tiny seed. Take a close look at the round bronze sculptures of Spatial Concept: Nature by Lucio Fontana, and read-aloud The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle. Then, explore how plants move and change throughout their life cycle. Following the story, children will participate in a hands-on art activity.

Cherry Blossom Night with the Washington Wizards CANCELLED!
Where: Capitol One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: March 25, 7pm
Admission: Tickets start at $19

Celebrate the cherry blossom season with the Wizards and some basketball as they take on the Phoenix Suns! Each ticket purchased through this link comes with a limited edition Wizards Cherry Blossom t-shirt. In addition first 10,000 fans entering the arena will receive a Rui Hachimura Cherry Blossom inspired bobblehead!

Blossom Kite Festival CANCELLED!
Where: Washington Monument Grounds | National Mall, DC
When: March 28, 10am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

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

Cherry Blossom Celebration CANCELLED!
Where: Freer|Sackler Gallery | National Mall, DC
When: March 28, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the season at the museum dedicated to Asian art! At this special event, explore Japanese art and culture through musical performances, making art, and taking a tour of Hokusai: Mad about Painting and Meeting Tessai. Try Japanese bookmaking, listen to taiko drumming, and then join the kite festival right outside on the National Mall. Japanese-inspired food and drink will be available for purchase.

Into the Woods
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park | Centreville, VA
When: March 28, 11am – 1:30pm
Admission: Free

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

Cherry Blossom STEM Day
Where: Children’s Science Center Lab | Fairfax, VA
When: March 29, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $13

Celebrate the Cherry Blossom Festival with a twist of STEM! Visitors can learn more about the special flower and festival through hands-on activities and experiments inspired by the cherry blossom throughout the entire Lab. Read more about the Children’s Science Center Lab in this KFDC post.

Cuenta-Cuentos: STORYTIME in Spanish CANCELLED!
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: March 29, 11am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Join a special STORYTIME in Spanish and inspired the season! Celebrate spring with a close look at the round bronze sculptures Spatial Concept: Nature by Lucio Fontana, and a reading of The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle. Then, explore how plants move and change throughout their life cycle. Following the story, children will participate in a hands-on art activity.

Cherry Blossom Night at DC United
Where: Audi Field | Southwest DC
When: April 3, 7pm
Admission: Ticket prices vary

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

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade CANCELLED!
Where: Constitution Avenue, 7th – 17th St NW | Downtown DC
When: April 4, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

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

See Racing Presidents rolling down Constitution Ave at the annual parade

Sakura Matsuri
Where: Pennsylvania Ave, 3rd-7th St NW | Downtown DC
When: April 4, 10:30am – 6pm
Admission: $10/ages 13+, free/12 & under

Following the Cherry Blossom parade, many folks head over to Sakura Matsuri, the Japanese Street Festival that is America’s largest one-day exhibition of Japanese culture. The 60th annual event will feature live music and dance performances, all kinds of Asian and Western foods, martial arts demos, Japanese art, and more. Be prepared for a crowd.

Bloomaroo
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: April 4, 2-9pm
Admission: Free

Join The Wharf for Bloomaroo, their local version of Bonaroo, where they’ll be celebrating the cherry blossoms with a full day of art, music, and family-friendly fun along the waterfront! If you want to make this a special adult experience with food and drinks included, VIP tickets are available for $55. Read more about The Wharf in this KFDC post.

Art Blooms at Mosaic
Where: Mosaic District | McLean, VA
When: April 4 & 5, 11am – 5pm
Admission: Free

The 2nd annual Art Blooms at Mosaic is celebratory weekend with fun for all ages. Do some shopping at the market, catch live entertainment and art exhibits, do some kids activities, enjoy a pop-up beer garden & wine patio, snap pics at selfie stations, join a free yoga session, and much more!

Sakura Sunday
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: April 5, 11am – 8pm
Admission: Free

National Harbor’s Sakura Sunday is an official event of the 2020 National Cherry Blossom Festival — and a taste of the traditional Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan! The day’s activities include a traditional Japanese picnic, unique Japanese market, foods of Japan, Japanese music & entertainment, and a sake, beer & rose garden!

Anacostia River Festival
Where: Anacostia Park | Southeast DC
When: April 5, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

The 6th annual Anacostia River Festival is a premier event of the 2020 National Cherry Blossom Festival. This year will feature an artist market, special performances, and activities that include boating, hands-on art projects, musical performances, and other unique programs engaging families with the river, its history, and ecology.

Blossoms & Baseball
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: April 6
Admission: Ticket price vary

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

Japanese Culture Day
Where: Library of Congress | Capitol Hill, DC
When: April 11, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

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

Petalpalooza
Where: The Yards | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: April 11, 12-9:30pm
Admission: Free

Join the Capitol Riverfront community for Petalpalooza! It’s the first time the event will be held in neighborhood, and it should be a blast. The event will celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival with live music, art installations, a beer garden, and lots of family-friendly activities. Plan to go for awhile, or just stop by for a bit. The day will cap off with a fireworks show over the Anacostia River.

Ikebana Demonstrations
Where: National Arboretum | Northeast DC
When: April 11 & 12, 10am – 1:30pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy spring flowers with a Japanese twist! The Washington DC Chapter of Ikebana International is co-hosting four different Ikebana masters. Each master represents a different school and and will highlight the characteristics of their school. Demonstrations will be held in the Auditorium of the Visitor Center and are free to attend.


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