Category Archives: Museums

Local Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day that Kids (& You) Will Love

DIY Valentines from a past Postal Museum workshop

 

Do you ❤️ celebrating Valentine’s Day with your little (and big) sweeties? If you’re looking for ways to celebrate (and prep for) the day, here are some ideas — both virtual and IRL — with something for everyone to love. Happy V-Day!

Spreading Kindness: Virtual Valentine Greetings
Where: At home
When: Through February 14
Admission: Your time and card making/baking efforts

Celebrate the Valentine’s Day by giving back with Eliana’s Light. Volunteers of all ages are welcome to create cards, poems, and paintings for children who have to be in a DC, MD, or VA pediatric hospital over the holiday. Pre-pandemic, these pieces of art would be delivered to their recipients, but this year volunteers should email them instead, and they will be shared through social media and email to give a boost to those who have been going through a lot over the past year due to the effects of COVID-19. This small act of kindness can have a big impact. More details about the program are here.

Virtual Workshop: Valentine Card Making
Where: The Paper Source | Online
When: February 10, 8-9:30pm
Admission: $30

Feel the love with some Valentine fun at Paper Source’s annual workshop. Perfect for virtual a hang out with friends or some cozy solo crafting time. Make one-of-a-kind cards that you can gift to your bestie, significant other, or family on Valentine’s Day. Recommended for ages 14+. You will need to pick up recommended supplies.

Valentine Cupcakes
Where: Sprinkles | Georgetown, DC
When: Order by February 9
Cost: Depends on your order

Sprinkle love to people you adore with Sprinkles Cupcakes seasonal boxes. They have special mixes, or you can customize your own. Orders must be places by February 9, and delivery or pick-up must be scheduled by February 14.

V’Day Sweet Shop
Where: Milk Bar | Logan Circle, DC
When: Through February 14
Cost: Depends on order

Milk Bar, the bakery that makes my favorite Birthday Cake, has special products for the holiday. Mini cakes, soft serve ice cream, and truffles are perfect desserts for an at-home date night or family celebration. Available for pick-up or delivery.

Make-Your-Own Sweet Treats
Where: Take home from Ice Cream Jubilee | DC & VA
When: Pre-order for pick up or local delivery Feb 11-14
Cost: $18

Craft some sweeties with your sweetie! Ice Cream Jubilee is offering a make-at-home ice cream cookie kit especially for the holiday. It comes with sugar cookie dough, a heart cookie cutter, dark chocolate, Valentine’s sprinkles, and a pint of Bold Vanilla. Makes around 4 mini-sandwiches.

Naked at the Museum Virtual Scavenger Hunt (for adults)
Where: Watson Adventures | Onlines
When: February 12, 13, & 14
Admission: $19

Watson Adventures’ wildly popular Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt is going virtual for the first time ever! Explore museums all over the country on a fun, flirty quest for beautiful and bizarre nudity in art. You might bump into a bronzed Adonis, encounter an incontinent Cupid, serenade moonlit sirens, walk in on handsy Egyptians, marvel at medieval codpieces, run across randy revelers, and see much more. Note: Participants must be clothed.

Virtual Nature Valentines
Where: Meadowside Nature Center | Online
When: February 13, 1-2pm
Admission:Free

Consider collecting outdoor items to create your very own nature valentine. Before the program, go on a walk and collect nuts, sticks, and other natural items. During the program, participants will share why they collected items and assemble valentines. A suggested list of supplies will be emailed before the program to help prepare. An adult may need to assist the participant. This program will take place using Microsoft Teams. Recommended for ages 5+.

Hike & Seek: I [HEART] Nature
Where: Locust Grive Nature Center | Rockville, MD
When: February 14, 2-5pm
Admission: $2/person

Looking for a little adventure? Work together with (or challenge!) your Valentines to nature trivia in a heart-themed scavenger hunt — it’s this month’s nature-themed Hike & Seek series puzzle. Register by Friday, February 12, to schedule a time slot and to receive a prize for completing the hunt. No drop-ins on the day of the program. Note that natural surface trails are not stroller accessible. See more about the program here.

Sweetheart Stroll
Where: MLKing Jr. Recreational Park | Silver Spring, MD
When: February 14
Admission: Free

Looking for a heart-healthy and fun activity for Valentine’s Day? Sign up for the Sweetheart Stroll at Martin Luther King Jr. Recreational Park on February 14th. Starting at 2pm, guests can walk or run along the 0.8-mile HeartSmart Trail. Be entertained and enchanted by multiple photo stations, string lights, and LOVE-ly decorations along the way. Watch for heartwarming messages along the path and a sparkling butterfly garden, too! Registration is required — see available time slots here.

Courtship in the Animal World Campfire
Where: Ellanor C. Lawrence Park | Chantilly, VA
When: February 14, 6pm
Admission: $8

What does it take to attract a mate in the animal world? Turtles, frogs, insects, birds and even fish all have unique techniques for finding that special someone. Learn about these techniques and enjoy a short hike before sitting around a campfire to roast marshmallows. Register in advance. Recommended for ages 4+.

Virtual Cake Pop Class
Where: Baked by Yael | Online
When: February 14, 4:30pm
Admission $39.95

Have your cake and eat it, too, at a virtual Baked by Yael cakepop class! They’ll teach you how to crumble the cake, mix it with frosting, and then roll, dip, and decorate your cakepops. The exact number of cakepops will vary depending on what size you choose to make your cakeballs. Some people end up with 12+ cakepops! The registration fee includes materials for one participant, a Home Cakepop Kit with baked cake, frosting, candy melts, edible glitter/sprinkles, cakepop sticks, and cakepop drying stand. (Please note that the gluten-free & vegan cakepops do not use frosting.). For just $25 more, we’ll include enough cake, frosting, candy melts, and cakepop sticks for an additional participant! See the website for more details.

DIY Valentines
Where: At Home
When: Whenever you have time
Admission: Just the cost of supplies

So, this is just my suggestion. One of my favorite annual programs is the National Postal Museum’s Valentine’s Day Card Workshop, and we tried to go every year. The museum would provide all kinds of supplies — pretty papers, stamps, washi tape, stickers, markers, and more — for guests to create Valentines. Everyone from families with young children to teens hanging out together to groups of adults attend, and there’s always a great sense of community. We’ll miss it this year, but we can still keep the make-your-own tradition going. So, grab some arty supplies and get creative at home. And make your loved ones’ (or a stranger’s — see the top listing) Valentine’s Day! And for more about the wonderful yet often overlooked Postal Museum (for when it’s open again), see this KFDC post.

The Valentine Dine
Where: Restaurants in Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: February 12-14
Admission: $20-60

Love the one your with this Valentine’s Day Weekend and enjoy favorite Capitol Riverfront restaurants while you’re at it. Whether you’re planning to spend the day with your sweetheart, friends, or family, they’ve curated a list of the sweetest dining deals sure to send Cupid’s arrow through your heart. Choose from a romantic dinner-for-two options at Bammy’s, Maxwell Park, or Osteria Morini; daytime dining choices at Jackie, La Famosa, Scarlet Oak, or Slipstream; and the ultimate indulgence from Coldstone Creamery, Ice Cream Jubilee, and Jeni’s. The best part? ALL gift card options come with awesome discounts, plus complimentary desserts or drinks included with several deals. Order in advance!

Valentine’s Day Specials
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: Through February 14
Admission: The cost of your meal
Many of the restaurants at The Wharf have special meals and deals for Valentine’s Day, both dine in and take out are available, depending on the place. Visit the websites of Colada Shop, Del Mar, District Doughnut, Hank’s Oyster Bar, La Vie, Mi Vida, Moon Rabbit, and The Grill for specifics and note that some need to be pre-ordered.  Also, Shop Made in DC and Diament Jewelry  have great last minute Valentine’s Day gifts including jewelry, travel sets, candles, and more.

Socially Distanced Date Nights for Everyone
Where: Restaurants in Adams Morgan, DC
When: February & March
Admission: Varies by place and activity

Adams Morgan is a great place for a date in DC, whether you’re a mom and daughter out for ice cream, a first date, or a married couple celebrating a double-digit anniversary. The Adams Morgan Partnership presents DATE NIGHTS with all kinds of specials, promotions and date lineups throughout the neighborhood during February and March 2021. Visit the website for a chart full of suggestions.

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Filed under 2021, All ages, Annual, DC, Holidays, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Social Distancing, Special Event, Virginia, Virtual Programs, Volunteer, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Celebrate Black History, Online and Around DC Through February — and Beyond

 

February is Black History Month, and if you’re looking for ways to celebrate it with kids, you have plenty of options, both virtually and in person around the DC area.  Museum programs, guided and self-guided tours, visits to significant sites, story time sessions, online concerts, and more will be enlightening and entertaining for all ages. And while some of these are happening on specific dates this month, many of them are ongoing for year-round enjoyment and education.  For even more good reads and related content, check out the Black Lives Matter page.

African American History and Culture
Where: NMAAHC | Online
When: Through February
Admission: Free

The National Museum of African American History & Culture may just be the best place to learn about Black history and culture in America. And while the actual place is closed right now, there still are lots of digital resources available through the website that let you explore it all, including online exhibits, programming for children and adults, and a whole section on talking about race.

The Underground Railroad Experience Trail
Where: Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park | Sandy Spring, MD
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free

Take a hike that provides insight into the experience of enslaved peoples’ escape to freedom. This walk through woods and along edges of fields (with a map and explanation of the hike) is interesting and enlightening as well as an active, socially distanced way to spend time outdoors.

Visit BLM Plaza
Where: 16th Street NW | Downtown DC
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free

The two blocks along 16th Street NW, between K Street and Lafayette Park just across from the White House, was emboldened with the giant yellow BLACK LIVES MATTER statement this past summer as the BLM movement began to swell after the murder of George Floyd. The now pedestrian area became a meeting place and focal point of protests and other events — and a site of historic significance in DC. The protest signs that covered the fence around the park have been removed, but the location still provides good context for a conversation with kids about BLM.

Tour Memorials
Where: Several locations in DC
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free

Tour some memorials around the city that highlight notable African Americans and related historic events. Head to the MLK Memorial at the Tidal Basin, where you can view the grand sculpture of Dr. King and read some of his most inspiring quote engraved in surrounding walls. From there, head to the Lincoln Memorial, where even more MLK words, “I Have a Dream” are etched into the steps where he gave his famous speech. In the Shaw neighborhood, the African American Civil War Memorial honors the service and sacrifice of soldiers and sailors who served in the U.S. Army and Navy.  On Capitol Hill, the Mary McLeod Bethune Memorial in Lincoln Park isa tribute to the civil rights leader.

Discover Women’s Landmarks
Where: Various locations around the DMV
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free

The Wander Women Project, a has gathered all the places honoring pioneer black women in the DMV area (and slightly further). Since many indoor museums are closed due to Covid-19, mostly outdoor sites and online resources are listed, making outings to visit to them perfect for social distancing.

Black History in Alexandria
Where: Throughout Alexandria, VA
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by activity
A new blog post from Visit Alexandria discusses their renewed commitment to racial equity that pre-dated the surge in the Black Lives Matter movement. There are new major projects and programs that highlight Black history experiences throughout the city, including the Duke Street Black History Trail, Courageous Journey: Alexandria’s Black History Driving Tour, a waterfront African American Heritage Trail and an Underground Railroad-themed tour from Manumission Tour Company.

Black History in MoCo Parks
Where: Parks around Montgomery County, MD
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies

Several sites within the Montgomery Parks system have connections to Black history. See Civil War ruins, visit a place named for the man who inspired Uncle Tom’s Cabin, explore the site of a 19th century African American roadside community, and more. Get more details here.

Black History with PG Parks
Where: Parks around PG County, MD
When: Through February
Admission:

Celebrate and honor African American heritage with the PG County park system during Black History Month in February. From performances to history lessons to tours, there are a lot of exciting events and activities planned throughout Prince George’s County, both virtual and in person.

The Slave Memorial & Exhibits
Where: Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: Ongoing
Admission: $20/adult, $12/ages 6-11, free/5 & under

Make a point to see these on a visit to George Washington’s estate in Northern Virginia. The memorial is located approximately 50 yards southwest of George and Martha Washington’s tomb, on a bluff above the Potomac River. A gray, truncated, granite column which represents “life unfinished” is the center of three concentric brick circles. The three steps leading up to the column are inscribed, respectively, “Faith,” “Hope” and “Love” — the virtues that sustained those living in bondage. The exhibit Lives Bound Together explores the personal stories of the people enslaved at Mount Vernon while providing insight into George Washington’s evolving opposition to slavery.

Introducing…
Where: National Portrait Gallery | Online
When: February 3, 10, 17, and 24
Admission:

The National Portrait Gallery’s program for children ages 3+ shines a light on Black historymakers and their portraits this month. Kids will learn more about art, hear the stories behind the portraits, and even hear some new vocabulary.

Royal Fun with Culture Queen
Where: Online
When: February 6, 2-2:30pm & February 21, 1:30-2pm
Admission: Free

Culture Queen, the children’s author, entertainer, and educator known for presenting empowering entertainment — music, movement, and storytelling — for kids, has a couple of online events this month. Join for Black History Live on February 6 and for a Virtual Dance Party on February 21.

Library Programs
Where: DC Public Library | Online
When: Throughout February
Admission: Free

The DC Public Library proudly celebrates Black History Month during February with all kinds of online programs — story times, book discussions, crafts, and more. Visit the website to see when they are taking place.

Let It Shine
Where: Port Discovery | Baltimore, MD
When: February 6 & 13
Admission: $17.95

At the wonderful children’s museum in Baltimore, celebrate Black History Month by reading festive stories inside The Oasis at the Reading Corner. Of course, plan to enjoy the multiple levels of fun and educational exhibits while you’re there.

Black History Month at the Tiny Desk
Where: NPR Music | Online
When: Through February
Admission: Free

NPR Music’s awesome Tiny Desk Concert series is celebrating Black History Month by featuring 13 Tiny Desk (home) concerts by Black artists across genres and highlighting performances by Black artists from the archives with weekly curated playlists. The celebration will spotlight different genres and generations each week.

 

*Do you know of a Black History Month event or activity that you don’t see listed here?  Feel free to share in the comments!

 

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Filed under 2021, All ages, Annual, Black Lives Matter, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Maryland, Museums, Ongoing, Outdoor, Social Distancing, Special Event, Virginia, Virtual Programs, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Hike the Underground Railroad Experience Trail at Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park

 

I first mentioned Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park on the blog back in mid-June after the kids and I had just visited the locale in Montgomery County.   I’d heard about the park and the Underground Railroad Experience Trail at least a couple of years before that, and it had been on my long list of places to check out.  But as the Black Lives Matter movement really began to swell, it moved up.  An outing there seemed like a timely experience and educational opportunity for all of us, as well as a good place to go for a socially distanced outing.

The Federal-era manor

The newer Woodlawn Museum

Located in Sandy Spring, MD (just down the road from the popular Adventure Park), Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park offers a glimpse into the area’s past.  It contains a Manor House built in the 1800’s and a newer museum “where echoes of the past tell the story of a bustling farm, its community, and those who made a bold bid for freedom on the Underground Railroad.”  (That last part is in quotes because it’s straight from the website, as we couldn’t visit the museum ourselves; along with the Manor House, it was — and still is — closed due to Covid.)

But the Underground Railroad Experience Trail alone warrants a visit.  At the time we visited, the Montgomery Park’s website had said the trail was part of a network of routes that enslaved people used to escape to freedom.  However, it now has been modified to say that “there is no documented evidence that Woodlawn Manor’s property, owners or buildings were involved in the 19th century Underground Railroad.” Regardless, you still can get an idea of what an escape to freedom entailed.

The walk through dense woods and along edges of fields is an interesting, enlightening, and active way to spend time outdoors. It’s about two miles each way  — there and back; the trail doesn’t loop — and  generally flat and easy for little legs to tramp. During non-covid times, guided tours are available that explain the experience and highlight the conditions enslaved people encountered on the Underground Railroad.

Currently, all hikes are self-guided, but a KFDC reader suggested the great idea to print out the map and an explanation of the trail to bring along for context.  With information about timing of escapes, areas along the route best for hiding, obstacles they may have faced, and other notable aspects of the trail, it helps provide insight on the Underground Railroad experience.  And it’s an outing everyone should move up on their list.

Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park is located at 16501 Norwood Road in Sandy Spring, MD.  The park and trail are open dawn to dusk. Admission is free.  Guided tours will be available after park programming begins again.

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Filed under All ages, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Social Distancing, Weekdays, Weekend

Explore the Power — & Magic! — of Language at Planet Word

 

[Note: Planet Word has closed temporarily in response to rising Covid-19 rates.]

Planet Word is sure to get people talking.  The new museum dedicated to language recently opened in downtown DC with a mission to “inspire and renew a love of words, language, and reading in people of all ages.”  And with three levels full of interactive and immersive exhibits that engage, educate, entertain, and delight, they easily achieve that goal.

It’s a museum that can be enjoyed by all ages, but older kids probably will get more out of it than younger children, having more grammar lessons under their belts and generally better comprehension.  Owen and Sasha, 14 and 11, were great ages for it — and older teens and adults will love it, too. (In fact, I’d rank it among my favorites museums in DC!)

Listen up under the Speaking Willow

The exploration of language begins before you even enter the building.  In the courtyard next to the entrance is the Speaking Willow, a ingenious art installation designed to look like a tree, its branches dangling 500 speakers that play recordings in different languages as you walk beneath.  It’s a fantastic preview of the word and language focused fun — and magic — that awaits.

Inside, the Planet Word experience begins on the third level and flows down, taking visitors through multiple exhibits on every floor, each of them highlighting different aspects of language in creative and interactive ways.  It starts with First Words, a short video about how we first learn language as babies, a cute and fitting way to begin.

Greetings from the wall of words

Audience participation encouraged

But that’s just a warm-up for the grand introduction:  Where Do Words Come From.  Featuring a lofty wall of words that tells the story of the English language, this exhibit combines impressive state-of-the art technology, clever narration, and  some interactive fun — microphones set up in front of benches let visitors have their say, too!  The installation is complemented by graphs that illustrate the evolution of language, plus touch screens that test your knowledge, too. (Note: The museum provides stylus pens, so you don’t have to touch screens with your fingers.)

Interactive word play

Explore languages across the globe in The Spoken World

That leads to The Spoken World, a large room with a giant disco ball globe as its centerpiece with voice-activated and touchscreen kiosks placed all around it.  Here, you can listen to people from around the world speak their language and talk about what makes it unique.  You’re encouraged to speak some words, too!  This exhibit also includes more interactives along one wall, giving guests a chance to delve further into diverse languages.

Do you know?

 

A first look at the library

In a museum all about language and words, books are sure to be showcased, and that happens when you hit the second floor and enter the glorious library.  The sight of it will get you first. Lined with floor-to-ceiling wood shelves and a mirror on the ceiling, it’s a magnificent space.  But it’s what the library contains that makes it so extraordinary.  And this is where my write-up gets tricky… do I reveal the details that make it so magical, or let readers discover it themselves?  Let’s just say that books come to life in fantastic ways, and you’re in for quite a treat!

Magic awaits here

A peek into a picture

Painting with words

There’s more magic nearby that I will share:  Word Worlds lets you “paint” with words.  Dip your brush into “autumn” then run it along the wall and watch it turn into deep red and orange hues, or try “surreal” to see odd shapes and swirls.

A “surreal” scene

Watch notable speeches…

…and recite one

The rest of the exhibits on the second floor don’t include magical elements, but they let you share your charm.  After you learn what makes a memorable speech, you can recite one of your own. Find out why some jokes work and some fall flat, then test them out in a Joking Around game.  And, because words help make songs, there’s a music-focused exhibit, too — with karaoke!  (Of course, we took advantage.)

Easy to keep a straight face in the joke games 😉

Get your karaoke on

Back on the first floor you will be sold on words in an exhibit all about advertising and how language is used to make things sell.  Walk through an interactive whirl, check out ads new and old, and play games on the way.

A whirl of ad insight

Fun with Wordplay

From there, enter the Words Matter room, where you can share your own story, express yourself in a word, and enjoy a few more interactives.  Here — and in all parts of the museum, for that matter — don’t miss the words on the walls, in the doorways, even on ceilings.  You’ll see quotes from renowned writers along with phrases that have become fixtures in our vernacular.

Any guesses which is mine?

Outside voices are encouraged as you make your way through Planet Word, whether you’re interacting with elements in the exhibits, reading quotes on walls, or just expressing yourself. Some other good things to know:
* There is metered parking along nearby streets and a parking garage right next to the museum on 13th St.
* McPherson Square (Blue/Orange & Silver) and Metro Center (Red) are the closest Metro stations.
* Free lockers on the first floor let you store coats and belongings.
* As mentioned above, the museum provides stylus pens, so you don’t have to touch screens.
* Other safety precautions, like hand sanitizing stations and social distancing guides, are in place.
* You can take an elevator or stairs to access different floors.
* Tickets are free, and need to be reserved in advance, but a limited number of walk-up tickets are also available on the half hour.

 

In case it’s not evident, I highly recommend visiting Planet Word — and making it a priority.  This does take some planning. Free passes are available on a rolling, 30-day basis, which means you need to know the date you’d like to visit, and reserve tickets 30 days ahead. Of course, if you have an open schedule, you can check any day and reserve a time slot a month away.

I can assure you, it’s worth the wait.

Planet Word is located at 925 13th Street NW in Downtown DC. Hours are 10am – 5pm, Thursday through Saturday. Admission is free, but a donation is suggested.

 

Museum with karaoke?  Count us in!

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Filed under 2020, All ages, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Indoor Play, Museums, Ongoing, Weekdays, Weekend