Category Archives: Museums

Off the Beaten DC Path: Museums in Maryland and Northern Virginia

Checking out a display at the Calvert Marine Museum


Washington, DC, is well known for its legion of museums.  There are all the super popular venues along the National Mall as well as many off-the-beaten-path spots around other parts of the city.  And there are even more beyond the District lines that are great to explore with kids.  Here’s a round-up of museums in Maryland and Northern Virginia to add to your family’s activity mix. Happy Exploring!



Operating a control panel at the College Park Aviation Museum

College Park Aviation Museum
Where: 1985 Corporal Frank Scott Drive | College Park, MD
When: Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: $5/adult, $4/senior, $2/child

Located right next to the College Park Airport, the oldest continuously operating airport in the world, the College Park Aviation Museum, is a great place for young visitors, with eye-popping displays and lots of hands-on fun. Early airplanes are on view along with more objects to get a close-up look and learn about the history of flight. There is also a kids area where they can dress up like aviators, create flight-inspired art, and much more.  PS: Keep an eye on the runway right outside the floor-to-ceiling windows — you might see planes take off and land right there.



Glenstone’s Split Rocker sculpture blooms from May to September

Where:  12100 Glen Road | Potomac, MD
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

This one is for the T(w)een Scene, as Glenstone requires visitors to be at least 12 years old.   The indoor/outdoor modern art museum sprawling gloriously over 300 acres in Potomac showcases modern works inside a gallery and outside around the beautiful grounds. Take advantage of the Guaranteed Entry program, which admits students and one accompanying adult without having to reserve tickets. Be sure to note that they don’t allow children under 12 at all, but it’s a wonderful place to visit with tweens and teens.



An “inside” look at the National Museum of Health and Medicine

National Museum of Health & Medicine
Where: 2500 Linden Lane | Silver Spring, MD
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free

Originally established as the Army Medical Museum, the National Museum of Health & Medicine houses collections of medical specimens for research in military medicine and surgery. The collections are quite fascinating as they explore human anatomy, the history of medical techniques and tools, and historical exhibits like one about Abraham Lincoln that includes objects associated with his last hours of life, including bone fragments, the bullet that killed him etc. I should warn that it’s probably not best for young children or the faint of heart (read my post about it here), but if you’re into that kind of thing, it’s very compelling.



Building tube trails at he former Kid Museum space

KID Museum
Where: 3 Metro Center | Bethesda, MD
When: Sundays Open Explore, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $15/age 3+

KID Museum is all about learning through doing. Providing fun, innovative educational experiences for young makers, visitors can get hands-on with all kind of activities that encourage invention, creativity, experimentation, and discovery. Previously located on the lower level of Davis Library in North Bethesda, the museum now is in a larger space right in downtown Bethesda. There are various stations with different projects that will keep kids (and adults) engaged for awhile. It’s open to all visitors on Sundays, and workshops for different ages are offered other days of the week. Read more about KID Museum in this KFDC post.



See old street cars — and ride on them, too! (Photo: Wiki Commons)

National Capital Trolley Museum
Where: 1313 Bonifant Road | Colesville, MD
When: Days/hours vary by time of year
Admission: $10/adult, $8/child & seniors

Learn about a major part of the DC area’s history as you check out old street cars and even take a ride on one. This museum  transit systems that built and served communities across DC, Maryland, and Virginia  from 1862-1962. Check out exhibits in the Visitors Center, then climb aboard their collection of historic street cars for a ride down one mile of woodland track in Northwest Branch Park.


Whimsical works in Annmarie’s art center

Annmarie Sculpture Garden
Where: 13470 Dowell Road | Solomons, MD
When: Daily, except Christmas
Admission: $5 suggested donation
Anmmarie is more of an art center than a museum, but there are always fantastic exhibits to tour — and it’s all full of artistic delights. See beautiful works, both indoors and out, in a garden full of sculptures — some big and bold, others small and hidden — and inside the art center, where there is always beautiful and whimsical art on display.  Kiddos will love playing in the Fairy Lolly, the sweet playground outside, and creating their own art in the fantastic artLAB… and so will adults, for that matter.



The Megalodon model is one of many cool highlights at the Calvert Marine Museum

Calvert Marine Museum
Where: 14200 Solomons Island Road | Solomons, MD
When: Daily, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $11/adult, $6/ages 5-12, free/under 5

The Calvert Marine Museum highlights the environment and maritime history of the Chesapeake Bay. Several large scale exhibits, including display cases full of fossils and artifacts, live fish and other creatures, and a real lighthouse to tour are interesting and engaging for all ages. There are things to see both indoors and out, including beautiful scenic views. And you can bring along a picnic lunch to enjoy by the water.



Go big at the Maryland Science Center

Baltimore Museums
Where: All around Baltimore
When: Hours vary by venue
Admission: Varies by venue

Baltimore is home to so many wonderful museums, and it’s an easy 45-minute to get to most of them. Port Discovery, Maryland Science Center, American Visionary Arts Museum, Baltimore Museum of Industry, B&O Railroad Museum, Fort McHenry, National Aquarium, Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Walters Museum, are some of the of the many places that make the drive up very worthwhile.  There is a whole KFDC Guide to Exploring Baltimore with Kids that has details on all of them, plus some extra tips for eating in and exploring Charm City.


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Get a close look at Discovery (photo credit: KFDC Contributor Emily Moise)

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Where: 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway | Chantilly, VA
When: Daily, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15

Discover Air & Space beyond the National Mall at the Udvar-Hazy Center out near Dulles. Some say the Chantilly arm of the museum is even cooler than its DC counterpart. Showcasing extra fascinating artifacts of flight, you can see all kinds of air and space crafts, pretend to pilot in flight simulators, get hands-on in a discovery station, and so much more.



Learn about the life of George Washington at Mount Vernon

George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Where: 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy | Mount Vernon, VA
When: Daily
Admission: $28/adult, $15/child, free/5 & under

The iconic estate of our nation’s first president covers hundreds of sprawling acres along the banks of the Potomac River. Mount Vernon offers a glimpse into the world of George Washington and life as it was in colonial times. Washington’s Mansion and many of the estate’s original structures still appear just as they did over 200 years ago. A four-acre working farm offers demonstrations of Washington’s farming practices. You can even talk with people who knew George Washington at one of the interpretive character programs. A museum features exhibits filled with hundreds of artifacts detailing the history of Mount Vernon and the legacy of the first POTUS. There are also two high-tech theatres that let you experience history in uniquely interactive ways.




Exhibits that let you get hands-on

Alexandria Archaeology Museum
Where: 105 N. Union Street | Old Town Alexandria, VA
When: Weds-Fri 10am-3pm, Sat 10am-5pm, Sun, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

This one-room space within the Torpedo Factory is worth a stop if you’re visiting the art center in Old Town. Several exhibits and displays offer insight into Alexandria’s history, several letting you handle bits of artifacts and get a close look. It’s located on the third floor, and visitors are welcome to pop-in.   KFDC Tip: Plan for time to browse the many artist studios at the Torpedo Factory and head outside to the waterfront area, where you can take in the views and see boats, and there are sometimes special art installations and historic ships temporarily moored.



A historic landmark in the heart of Old Town

Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum
Where: 105-107 South Fairfax Street | Alexandria, VA
When: Weds-Fri, 11am-4pm, Sat 11am-5pm, Sun 1-5pm
Admission: $5/age 13+, $3/age 5-12
, $8/guided tour
The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum boasts a vast collection of herbal botanicals, hand-blown glass, and medical equipment. It also has a spectacular collection of archival materials, including journals, prescription and formula books, ledgers, orders and invoices. The museum is also a National Historic Landmark!



Visit the museum within the US Patent & Trade Office Building

National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum
Where: 600 Dulany Street | Alexandria, VA
When: Mon-Fri, 10am – 4pm | First Sat of the month, 11am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Located in the building that houses the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is a museum all about inventions.  You can experience the past, present and future of American ingenuity as you are introduced to more than 600 world-changing Inductees/inventors and immersed in stories of passion, perseverance, and progress.



A sample of artifacts on display (Photo: Wiki Creative Commons)

National Museum of the Marine Corps
Where: 1775 Semper Fidelis Way | Triangle, VA
When: Daily, 9am – 5pm
Admission: Free

Located next to Marine Corps Base Quantico, the museum is a tribute to the commitment, accomplishments, and sacrifices of U.S. Marines. Exhibits cover all the wars and include innovative technology and unique artifacts that recreate scenes and tell a story of what it’s like to be a marine in action. Tanks, aircraft, and artillery will fascinate museum-goers of all ages.



A peek inside the US Army Museum (Photo: Duane Lempke, Wiki Creative Commons)

National Museum of the U.S. Army
Where: 1775 Liberty Drive Fort | Belvoir, VA
When: Daily, 9am – 5pm
Admission: Free with timed-entry tickets

Capturing over 245 years of Army history, the museum “brings to life that history in times of war and peace as told through the eyes of Soldiers. The Museum also offers educational experiences illustrating the Army’s role in building and defending our nation, humanitarian missions and technological and medical breakthroughs built on Army ingenuity.”


Are there any great museums in Maryland and Northern Virginia missing from this round-up?  Let us know in the comments!

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Filed under Educational, Maryland, Museums, Virginia

Regularly Occurring Museum Programs for Kids Around the DC Area

Make your own art at the National Gallery of Art


Not only are we so lucky to have a wealth of world class museums right here in DC, many also offer special programs to explore them even more.  Among them are sessions especially for kids that take place on a regular basis — monthly, bi-weekly, weekly, and a couple even more often.  There are story times, art activities, and all kinds of opportunities to discover the museums’ collections and related topics in new, fun ways.  So, if you’re looking for a weekday activity with little ones or something for the whole family on the weekend, there are a bunch of great options.  Even better, just about all of them are free. Here are details… and be sure to bookmark, too!


Get inspired at the National Portrait Gallery

Where: 8th & F Strets NW | Penn Quarter, DC

Weekend Workshops
When: Most Saturdays & Sundays, 11:30am – 3pm
All ages are welcome to drop in and get creative at these workshops. Learn about artists and change-makers, then create art inspired by their stories.

Storytime in the Explore! Family Space
When: Mondays, 1:30-2pm
Admission: Free

Immerse in tales of artists, presidents, inventors, athletes and more! Plan for a longer visit in the family space before or after story time to play and learn about portraiture. Read more about the Explore! space here.

National Portrait Gallery Kids
When: Select Mondays, 11:30am – 12:30pm
Admission: Free

Children and families are invited to learn, play, and create at the Portrait Gallery!  Join educators to explore topics like colors, emotions, STEM, and history through art viewing, hands-on activities, music, and movement. This program is a fun way to engage with art and each other.

Teen Conversation Circles
When: Every other Saturday, 10-11am
Admission: Free

Teen English language learners ages 13-19 are invited to join NPG educators and friends all over the world in person and via ZOOM. Together, use portraiture to learn about U.S. art, history and culture. Meet new friends and learn about different cultures while practicing English. Note that some sessions are virtual.



Say hello to fun at the Postal Museum

Where: 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE | National Mall, DC

Hello, Museo
When: Every other Tuesday, 10:30-11:30am
Admission: Free

This bilingual program features music, stories, crafts, and gallery exploration. It’s designed for children ages 1-3 and their caregivers, but all are welcome! Read more about the National Postal Museum in this KFDC post.



Explore natural history on a Play Date

Where: 1000 Madison Drive | National Mall, DC

Playdate at NMNH
When: Tuesdays, 10:30am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Early learners and their caregivers are invited to explore elements of nature with museum educators, usually in the Q?rius activity space or the Explorer Theatre in the Sant Ocean Hall.



Tinker away in the Spark!Lab

Where: | National Mall, DC

When: Wednesday – Sunday, 11am – 4pm

While this isn’t a special program, the activity center is a special space within the museum where kids ages 6-12 are invited to create, collaborate, explore, test, experiment, and invent. STEM activities are integrated with art, museum, and creativity.

Wegmans Wonderplace
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 4pm

Again, this is not a special program, but the space for children ages 0-6 is full of features that cater to curious young visitors, incorporating play and learning in the museum’s American history context. Read more about it in this KFDC post.



Take kiddos for storytime and more at the Hirshhorn

Where: 7th & Independence SW | National Mall, DC

When: Wednesdays, 10-11am
Admission: Free

The Hirshhorn’s one-of-a-kind storytime experience offers a fun and fresh theme for kids (from birth to age 8) and their caregivers. They encourage everyone to get hands-on with their art maker projects inspired by the museum’s collection, plus enjoy read-alouds filled with music, tales, and lots of movement.



Hear stories about air and space

Where: 6th & Independence SW | National Mall, DC

Story Time 
When: Thursdays, 11am
Admission: Free

Bring little ones to hear a children’s story that’s related to air and space. Some sessions include hands-on activities and play time, too. Note that the same story is repeated throughout the month.

One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure
When: Thursdays & Sundays, 10:30am
Admission: Free

Join Big Bird and Elmo as they explore the night sky with Hu Hu Zhu, a Muppet from “Zhima Jie,” the Chinese co-production of Sesame Street. Together they take an imaginary trip from Sesame Street to the moon, where they discover how different it is from Earth. They also journey to Zhima Jie to learn about the similarities in our view of the sky.Note that it’s always the same show, but kids can pop in now and then and maybe discover something they previously missed.



Udvar-Hazy hosts story time and more

Where: 14390 Air & Space Museum Pkwy | Chantilly, VA
Admission: Free, but note that parking is $15

Story Time
When: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 11am & 11:30am
Admission: Free

Bring little ones to hear a children’s story that’s related to air and space. Some sessions include hands-on activities and play time, too. Note that the same story is repeated throughout the month.

Second Saturday Sungazing
When: Second Saturday of the month, 11am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Become an astronomer and observe the sun safely with a filtered telescope. Join museum staff outside at the entrance to view a variety of features on the sun. Knowledgeable staff are there to answer questions and guide observing.




Get crafty at a First Saturday

Where: East Building, 4th & Constitution NW | National Mall, DC

First Saturday
When: First Saturday of the month, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

The museum’s monthly program is a special day-long affair with multiple free programs for visitors of all ages. There is a morning story time for little ones, hands-on art projects, sometimes films especially for kids, a pop-up library, and activities centered around a new theme or exhibit each month.




Discover the art of Asia through museum kids’ programs

Where: 1050 Independence Ave SW | National Mall, DC

Art & Me Workshops
When: Select Saturdays monthly, 11am – 12:30pm & 1-3:30pm
Admission: Free

This program is back in person, exploring works in the museum then returning to the ImaginAsia studio to learn more through a hands-on activity. There are currently workshops scheduled for January and February, but check back soon for more to be added to the schedule.

Discovery Days
When: Select Wednesdays monthly
Admission: Free

Plan for a day of discovery and experiential learning at the National Museum of Asian Art. Choose your own adventure and explore the galleries at your own pace — there will be activities and interactions with pop-up museum educators along the way. You can also select a time slot for a thirty-minute guided art activity. This would make a great field trip — a room for eating brown-bagged lunches can be arranged upon request as well as free bus transportation for DC public and public charter schools.



Enjoy STEAM fun in a stunning space

Where: 401 F Street NW | Judiciary Square, DC

STEAM Saturday
When: Second Saturday of the month
Admission: Free with museum admission ($7/child, $10/adult)

Join the museum for STEAM activities. that challenges kids to think creatively and experimentally using principles of design thinking and engineering. The program is targeted towards 2nd-8th graders and their caregivers.



Drop in for play at the Zoo — and visit the animals, too!

Where: | Woodley Park, DC

Little Critters Nature Play
When: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, 9:30am – 1:30pm
Admission: Free

Little zoogoers can drop in to explore animals and nature through creative, free-choice activity stations, water play, and story times. Designed for kids ages 0-8.


Art to explore indoors and out at the Kreeger

Where: 2401 Foxhall Road NW | Foxhall, DC

First Studio: Art, Story, and Workshop
When: Select Saturdays monthly, 10-11am
Admission: $10

Young artists ages 3-5 and an adult companion are invited to use their imagination as they explore the paintings, sculpture, and architecture of The Kreeger Museum. Each program focuses on a theme supported by a story, works of art from the collection, and a hands-on art-making experience. Read more about the Kreeger Museum in this KFDC post.


A new story and theme every month

Where: 575 3rd Street NW | Judiciary Square area, DC

Story Time at CJM
When: Second Thursday of each month
Admission: Free

Playing is learning! Children and their caregivers are invited to join the museum for stories, songs, and exploratory play as a means of reinforcing early literacy skills. Each month features a different theme and book suited for children of all backgrounds as they learn about themselves and the world around them. Most appreciated by kids aged 5 and under.


Explore aviation through special programs

Where: 1985 Corporal Frank Scott Drive | College Park, MD

Cub Corner
When: Third Saturday of the month, 10:30-11:30am
Admission: $5/adult, $2/child

Enjoy a short story and craft in the museum’s gallery. Designed for younger learners 5 & under.

Afternoon Aviators
When: Last Saturday of the month, 1-2pm
Explore a variety of STEM and aviation-themed sciences with a short lesson and hands-on activity. Ideal for learners ages 8-12.


Filed under 2024, DC, Maryland, Museums, Virginia

Create & Connect at Planet Word’s FREE Enchanted Pages Community Day, November 18!

Photo by Scott Suchman, courtesy of Planet Word


Planet Word’s Schwarzman Family Library is growing, and that’s something to celebrate! In honor of 25 new interactive books being inducted into the magical, interactive Library, Planet Word presents Enchanted Pages Community Day, a free, all-day event featuring book-inspired activities for people of all ages.

On Saturday, November 18, drop in for a bit or stay all day. Explore all three floors of the interactive museum, connect with some of the authors featured in Planet Word’s magical library, and much more!


Photo courtesy of Planet Word


Book-themed activities include DIY bookmaking, a performance by award-winning teaching artist and children’s entertainer Culture Queen, and live art by Chalk R!ot.


Meet some of the children’s and young adult authors whose titles are newly featured in the Planet Word’s Library, including:
* Derrick Barnes, Crown, An Ode to the Fresh Cut
* Michelle Coles, Black was the Ink
* Erin Entrada Kelly, Hello, World
* Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, Your Name is a Song

All authors will be available for book signings (see the full schedule HERE).


Photo courtesy of Planet Word


Afternoon events include Between the Lines with Jason Reynolds and Tony Keith, Jr., a discussion about the art of storytelling, featuring the acclaimed author in conversation with award-winning spoken word artist and educator Dr. Tony Keith, Jr. Reynolds’ award-winning young adult novel Long Way Down is among the original titles featured in the Library. Due to space limitations, free registration is required for this event. 

The day ends with a screening of the documentary film Judy Blume Forever.  Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is among the 25 titles being added to Planet Word’s collection. Due to space limitations, free registration is required for this event. 


Watch how Planet Word’s magical library brings stories to life.


Located on the second floor of Planet Word, the Schwarzman Family Library is a one-of-a-kind interactive experience that brings beloved books to life. Each of the Library’s books is equipped with a radio-frequency identification chip (RFID) that, when placed on the Library’s Story Table, triggers illustrations, narration, and insights into the book and its author.


Enchanted Pages Community Day
Where: Planet Word | 925 13th Street, NW
When: Saturday, November 18, 2023, 10am – 6pm
Admission: FREE

* Advanced registration is encouraged, and due to space limitations, registration is required for events after 4pm. Visit for more information.
* Nearest Metro stations: McPherson Square (Orange/Silver/Blue) & Metro Center (Red/Blue/Silver/Orange).


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This post is sponsored by Planet Word, however, I only promote events, places, and programs that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under 2023, DC, Fall, Museums, Weekend

Get Creative at the National Gallery of Art’s First Saturday of September!


With a long weekend ahead, there’s even more time to enjoy some fun with the family.  And one great way to spend some of that time is at the National Gallery of Art ‘s monthly First Saturday! The special day-long affair offers multiple free programs for kids of all ages.

On Saturday, September 2, the fun begins with a story time session for little ones.  Hear a reading of the children’s book Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle in English and Spanish and stay for a little play time, too.

Then starting at 11am, all ages can enjoy even more: Create sculptures using Model Magic clay, try out the new Sketching Lab, and visit the museum’s pop-up library, where you can browse special selections from the Library collection and enjoy quiet activities for kids.

These free activities are offered throughout the East Building and don’t require registration. View more details and the full schedule of the day’s activities here.

Of course, plan for time to tour the exhibits, too!

First Saturday
Where: National Gallery of Art, East Building | National Mall, DC
When: Saturday, September 2, 10am – 3pm
Admission: FREE!


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

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Filed under 2023, Art, DC, Museums, Summer, Weekend

Celebrate Summer & Creativity this Weekend at the National Gallery of Art’s First Saturday!


Looking for a place to beat the heat and get your 4th of July celebration started this weekend? Join the National Gallery of Art for their July First Saturday, a special day-long affair with multiple free programs for kids of all ages!

At this free festival, you can:
* Read a book and play in Spanish and English at the bilingual Storytime.
* Become a work of art at a face painting station.
* Make your own art inspired by fireworks
* Visit a pop-up library celebrating Leonardo da Vinci, cohosted with our friends from the DC Public Library, then
* View the only Leonardo da Vinci painting on view in the Americas (in the West Building)!

These activities will be offered throughout the East Building (+ one in the West) and don’t require registration. View more details and the full schedule of the day’s activities here.

First Saturday
Where: National Gallery of Art, East Building | National Mall, DC
When: Saturday, July 1, 10am – 3pm
Admission: FREE!

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

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Filed under 2023, DC, Museums, Summer, Weekend