Category Archives: Park

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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Where to Play on the Weekdays: March 9-13

Discover Native American culture at the National Museum of the American Indian


Monday – Take advantage of the 70-degree sunny day at River Farm. The American Horticulture Society’s headquarters overlooking the Potomac River in Alexandria are as lovely as they are fun. Little ones will have a blast playing in the delightful Children’s Garden, and you’ll all love exploring the grounds. Hours are 9am – 5pm. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. And for more places to opt outside, check out The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids.

Tuesday – Discover Native American culture at the National Museum of the American Indian through a variety of exhibits and hands-on activities. Check out kayaks and canoes and totem poles in the stunning atrium, then head upstairs to the imagiNATIONS space especially for kids. Weave a big basket, play in a teepee, do some arts & crafts, hear bird calls of the wild, read kids books in the library, and much more. Plan on lunch or a snack in the Mitsitam Cafe, where you can enjoy the indigenous cuisines of the Americas. Museum hours are 10am – 5:30pm, imagiNATIONs 10am – 4pm. Admission is free.

Wednesday – Learn about the area’s wildlife, enjoy hands-on activities in the Nature Center, take a hike, and visit horses at Rock Creek Park. The Nature Center is open Wednesday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm, and admission is free. There are nearby trails for walks in the woods. You can also visit the equine residents at the nearby Horse Center — guests are welcome to stop by the stables, though pony rides are not offered this time of year. Read more about Rock Creek Park in this KFDC post.

Thursday – Catch a performance of The Snowy Day and Other Stories by Ezra Jack Keats at Adventure Theatre. Showtimes are at 10am and 12pm, and tickets are $20.50. If weather permits, stay at Glen Eco Park to let the kids romp on the playground after the show.

Friday – Roam free at the enchanting gardens of Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown while you still can — the no entry fee period ends after March 14! The grounds don’t open to the public until 2pm, but you can play at nearby Montrose Park, where admission is also free, or grab a bite to eat on M Street beforehand. I promise, it’s worth waiting for the afternoon visit.


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Where to Play on the Weekdays: January 21-24

Bundle up for a day outdoors at Great Falls Park


Tuesday – Locate secret doors, see outrageously fabulous themed rooms, and browse a trove of secondhand treasures on a tour of The Mansion on O Street. The Dupont Circle landmark is a mansion, museum, restaurant, vintage store, and hotel all in one. It’s one of the neatest and most stunning spaces in DC! And visitors are welcome to explore (and shop!) it all. Tours are offered 11am – 3pm. Self-guided tours start at $25 — purchase tickets in advance online.

Wednesday – Get excited for the Lunar New Year at the Freer|Sackler Gallery, where you can view a remarkable collection of Asian art and special exhibits. Ask for activity cards and a family guide at the front desk when you arrive to help with kiddos with their art adventure. Museum hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free.

Thursday – Bundle up for a hike and some nature fun at Great Falls Park. Whether you opt for the Maryland or Virginia side, you really can’t go wrong. Take in spectacular views of the falls and rapids from several overlooks, hike easy trails along the river or through the woods, and stop in the Visitor Center — there’s one on each side — to learn more about the area’s history and wildlife. Open 7am to 30 minutes after sunset. Admission is $20/vehicle.

Friday – See some entertainment especially for kids at The Puppet Co., where Rapunzel is the current Main Stage production. Showtime is 11am, and tickets are $12.


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A Very DC Hike at Theodore Roosevelt Island


Every now and then I have a realization that over all the years I’ve been publishing KFDC, I haven’t done a write-up about a place that we’ve been frequenting forever and is definitely deserving of its own post. This time it’s Theodore Roosevelt Island, a national park located on an actual 90-acre island in the Potomac River.

A recent visit with Sash

And one years ago with the fam

Roosevelt Island has been among our regular rotation of go-to spots for hiking and getting a nice, easy dose of nature in DC (despite accessing it from across the river, the island is part of the District) since before Levi and I even had kids. But with Owen and Sasha, especially when they were little, we’ve appreciated it even more. The park is ideal for family hikes with short, mellow trails; lots of great nature, wildlife sitings, even airplanes flying overhead; and a little history lesson, to boot, with a lovely memorial in the middle of it all dedicated to the president for which it’s named.

Teddy and little Owen on the Plaza

Younger Sash strikes a pose there

And fives years later

This is why I call it a very “DC” hike. The park’s Memorial Plaza is like a little annex to all of the other memorials on the National Mall, and instead of the long expanse of green grass or Tidal Basin to make it stand out grandly, woods and wetlands fittingly surround the stately granite and bronze tribute to Teddy Roosevelt, an early steward for conservation and the environment.

Trying to do some turtle spotting

From the parking lot, there is a long bridge to cross to get to the main part of park. We always stop on it to take in views of Georgetown in the distance and look for turtles in the water below. Once on the other side, there are three trails offering different hiking experiences. The short .3-mile Woods Trail leads through and right around the memorial on gravel and paved grounds. The .75-mile Upland Trail loops through the woods along the whole length of the island. And the 1.5-mile Swamp Trail includes both a dirt path that winds through woods and a boardwalk running over a swampy area lined by cattail, trees, and wild grass.

Kickin’ it on the Swamp Trail

When the kids were small, we’d pick one, but now we often do a combination of all three trails, starting at the plaza, then walking through the woods and on the boardwalk, before hopping on another path leading to the water and taking us around the island. Whatever you choose, you’re in for a nice hike.

Little Sash on the Upland Trail

On a recent visit with Sasha, we covered the whole island, enjoying its winter beauty. We loved seeing the leafless trees, the mess of branches and wild intertwining limbs. (Side note: Did anyone read The Overstory? While I found it kind of long and tedious, I appreciated the concept of communication among trees and always think about it when I’m among them.) But Roosevelt Island is great the rest of the year, too, with budding trees and views of the cherry blossoms in spring, lush green and lots of shade in summer, and colorful foliage in during autumn.

Bare branches during winter

There are no tables for picnicking, but the Memorial Plaza has seating and there are a few benches along the Swamp Trail where you could stop and snack. Another nice spot is a cluster of large rocks at the West end of the island. There are restrooms down the Woods Trail shortly before it meets the Swamp Trail, however they are only open April – October, but a portable one is there instead.

Hanging out in the shade during summer

The one negative of the park may be the parking situation. The lot is small, and fills up quickly, especially on a nice weekend day. There have been several times we’ve planned to go and have encountered a line of cars to get in. In those cases, we’ve headed to Turkey Run Park further down the GW Parkway in McLean or Potomac Overlook Park in Arlington. You can avoid parking altogether by riding bikes there instead — it’s right off the Mount Vernon Trail, and there are bike racks right at the entrance (biking is not permitted in the park). You can also Metro to Rosslyn then walk 10-15 minutes from there.

Theodore Roosevelt Island
Where: Potomac River | Washington, DC
Access: From the GW Parkway just before Spout Run
When: Daily year-round, 6am – 10pm
Admission: Free

Want even more suggestions for great local hikes with kids? This post has a bunch of them! And here are a few more pics from some visits over the years…

Welcome to the island…



Happy about her first visit to TRI



Leading the way on the trail


A little pop of color



View from a small beach


Teddy


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Filed under 2020, All ages, DC, Educational, Free, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Weekdays, Weekend