Category Archives: Reopened

Scenes from a Pop-In at the National Postal Museum


The National Postal Museum just reopened in late August for the first time since March 2020, the last of the DC Smithsonians to once again welcome visitors.  I was running an errand nearby yesterday, so I decided to pop in for a little museum fix and see what is/isn’t currently on view, and to enjoy what I think is one of the most stunning spaces in the city.

The museum is in the Postal Square Building, which was DC’s main post office from 1914 to 1986

I’ve always recommended the museum as a particularly great one to visit with young children.  Located in the Postal Square Building between Union Station and North Capitol Street, it doesn’t draw the big crowds that its Smithsonian counterparts on the Mall often do, which is especially nice right now.  And the space isn’t huge, making it easy to explore with little ones.   That said, it’s appealing to all ages and fantastic to visit without kids, too, like I just did…

Mailboxes from around the world


Since there’s already a whole KFDC write-up about the museum,  this post of scenes is really just a reminder that it’s open again and a strong recommendation to go, plus a quick update of what’s on display and some highlights. The Pony Express area is closed, but most other exhibits are currently open.  You can digitally design a stamp and start a collection in the Stamp Gallery,  learn how the post office serves cities and  scan and sort mail, read letters sent to and from soldiers in WWI, and go Behind the Badge to explore the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.  And the lofty atrium featuring airmail planes, mail trucks, a train car, a horse & buggy, the trailer of a semi that you can climb aboard, and other large-scale modes of mail transport is as stunning as ever.

The National Postal Museum
Where: 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE | Union Station Area, DC
When: Friday – Tuesday, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free
COVID Guidelines


Click for larger images…

The first glimpse of the atrium


The Stamp Gallery is located on the Main Floor of the building


Stamps available to start collection


Design your own digital stamp


Learn about the U.S. Postal Inspection Service


An old Ford Model A mail truck


A modern one


And a trailer of a semi mail carrier that you can sit in


View from the inside


A digital image and transcription of a moving letter from WWI


Scanning (pretend) mail is one of many hands-on ops


Wes Anderson vibes?


A last look at the space


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Filed under All ages, DC, Museums, Reopened, Weekdays, Weekend

The KFDC Guide to Reopenings Around DC this May

Lay back, look up, and enjoy Renwick 1.8


Spring is always a time of renewal, and May is about to bring even more of it with a bunch of reopenings around DC.  Several Smithsonian museums, the National Zoo, and a few more beloved places will be welcoming visitors again.  All of them will have extra safety measures, including required advance timed-entry tickets.  Here’s a quick guide to where you can look forward to going, with both logistics for visiting and some recommendations for what to see and do while you’re there.  Happy Returns!


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

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Air & Space)
Where: 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway | Chantilly, VA
When: Starting May 5, Daily, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free timed-entry passes (parking is $15)
Covid Safety

The Chantilly arm of the National Air & Space Museum showcases two hangars full of fascinating artifacts of flight. You can see all kinds of air and space crafts, including the Space Shuttle Discovery, a Concorde jet, and even a new Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter. For safety reasons, flight simulators, the IMAX theater, and Observation Tower will not be accessible. But as noted in this post about places to play indoors, the museum is a relatively low-risk space in Covid times with its spacious facility and timed-entry passes. Little kids should be well-attended, but have the flexibility to roam and, on a slow day, maybe even run circles around the massive installations.
KFDC Tip:  The museum is a hike from DC, so make the most of your time out that way and plan on a meal, too.  Check out Yelp’s list of nearby restaurants, several of them offering outdoor dining.


The box where Lincoln was shot as he watch a performance of ‘My American Cousin’

Ford’s Theatre
Where: 511 10th Street NW | Downtown DC
When: Starting May 12, Wednesday – Sunday
Admission: $3 timed-entry tickets

The historic theatre and its museum are opening again for self-guided visits with a modified schedule. The site of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination is a fascinating site to explore — both seeing where it took place and learning more about Lincoln’s presidency and events of that time through museum exhibits. Visitors will be able to walk through the theatre’s balcony level and Presidential Box as well as tour the museum. And National Park Service rangers will be on hand to answer questions and explain the events surrounding Lincoln’s assassination. As I noted in this KFDC write-up, kids of all ages can go, but about ages 8 and up would get the most out of it. Tickets will be available each Friday for the following Wednesday – Sunday, and timed entry will be on the hour 10am – 12pm, and from 2-4pm (closed during the 1pm hour for cleaning).
KFDC Tip: The theatre isn’t staging performances again yet, but you can watch/listen to virtual play readings on the website.

A Statue of the famous 1968 Olympics Black Power salute at the NMAAHC

National Museum of African American History & Culture
Where: 1400 Constitution Avenue NW | WDC
When: Starting May 14, Wednesday-Sunday, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free with timed-entry passes
Covid Safety

The NMAAHC is easily one of the most remarkable, important, and powerful attractions to open in DC in recent years. The museum is huge and obviously covers some heavy subject matter, so be sure to the read the KFDC Guide to Visiting the National Museum of African American History & Culture with Kids before you go. There are some interactive elements that I assume will not be accessible, but the museum has three levels full of hands-off exhibits, too.  While I think it’s best for kids in about 3rd grade and up, there are a few elements for younger ages, too.
KFDC Tips: The museum has some great online resources for talking about race.  When you visit, plan for some time to explore the National Mall, too — the NMAAHC is located right across the street from the Washington Monument, and the World War II Memorial , Tidal Basin, and Constitution Gardens are also close by.


See some old friends at the National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery & American Art Museum
Where: 8th and G Streets, NW | WDC
When: Starting May 14, Wednesday-Sunday, 11:30am – 7pm
Admission: Free with timed-entry passes
Covid Safety
Since the National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum are physically connected, a pass for one gets you into both.  All of the sections in both museums are great to explore, but I’ve found kids’ favorites in the Portrait Gallery are America’s Presidents (especially Obama) and the Hall of Champions on the third floor featuring famous athletes. Every Eye Is Upon Me: First Ladies of the United States opened right before the museum shut down in November and is only running through May 23, so get tickets to go soon if you hope to see it.  In the American Art Museum, we often head up to the third floor where there are large contemporary paintings in bold colors and interesting, even quirky sculptures and installations. Read more about the National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museums here and here, but note that programming and special events are not happening right now.
KFDC Tips: The Alexander von Humboldt exhibit, on view until July 11, includes a mastodon skeleton, a little something to tide over dino loving kids until they can visit the Natural History Museum again!  And the Kogod Courtyard connecting the museums will also be accessible, and the stunning space is a must-stop on any visit to the museums.


Ai No Keshiki – Indigo Views, part of Forces of Nature at the Renwick

Renwick Gallery
Where: 1661 Pennsylvania Ave., NW | WDC
When: Starting May 14, Wednesday-Sunday, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free with timed-entry passes
Covid Safety
Part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Renwick showcases contemporary American craft, often through exhibitions featuring awesome large-scale works. Maybe you saw the fantastic Wonder and No Spectators: The Art Burning Man in recent years. We caught the current Forces of Nature right before the gallery closed last fall, and it’s reminiscent of those with art installations that are interesting, beautiful, even a bit whimsical. It’s on view until August 15, and I recommend going to see it.
KFDC Tip: While you’re in the area, visit Black Live Matters Plaza located just across Lafayette Square from the Renwick on 16th Street between I & K Streets.


(TikTok) dancing amid the Degas sculptures at the National Gallery of Art

National Gallery of Art
Where: 1661 Pennsylvania Ave., NW | WDC
When: Starting May 14, Wednesday-Sunday, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free with timed-entry passes
Covid Safety 
It’s not a Smithsonian, but the National Gallery of Art is welcoming visitors again along with the rest of the museums on the National Mall. Only the West Building known for housing works by European masters will be open, and most galleries on both floors will be accessible, with limited exceptions for galleries that do not allow for social distancing. We enjoyed the Degas exhibit back in the fall, and while it’s no longer there, the gallery featuring the artist’s sculptures is great to tour. The wonderful gift shop will be open, so plan on some browsing there, too. And PS: The East Building is coming soon!
KFDC Tip: View even more art outdoors at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden (enter on the north side of the National Mall at 7th Street) and grab a snack at the cafe to enjoy a bite al fresco.


The Dumbarton Oaks Garden is easily one of the most enchanting places in the city

Dumbarton Oaks Garden
Where: 1661 Pennsylvania Ave., NW | WDC
When: Starting May 15, Tuesday – Sunday, 3-6pm
Admission: $10/adult, $5/child
Tickets: Timed entry passes available soon
Covid Safety
One of the prettiest places in DC (imo…as well as one of my favorite places in general), Dumbarton Oaks is finally reopening its gardens for the first time since its Covid closing last spring. The grounds of the historic estate are so enchanting, with winding brick and stone paths leading to the many areas of the terraced garden, all of them showcasing different, lovely landscapes and hardscapes. Tickets are actually available now for season pass holders (starting at $75 for one person), and timed-entry tickets will be released soon.  Currently, the grounds are only open Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday 3-6pm, with a limited number of tickets available every hour.  After May 15, grounds will be open Tuesday – Sunday, 3-6pm.  See more about Dumbarton Oaks  here, here, and here.
KFDC Tip: Before your visit, take kids to play at Montrose Park right next to the gardens, and plan for a snack or meal after.  You have your pick of places to go in Georgetown — we especially like Jaco Juice & Taco Bar on Wisconsin Ave., an easy walk from Dumbarton Oaks.


National Archives
Where: 701 Constitution Avenue NW | WDC
When: Starting May 15, SAturday & Sunday, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free with timed-entry tickets
Covid Safety

The National Archives Museum will begin to welcome back visitors on weekends. The Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom will be available for public viewing. This includes the Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States, and Bill of Rights. The Faulker murals are also notable. All other exhibits and research facilities will be closed.
KFDC Tip: The Archives are just across Pennsylvania Ave. from the Penn Quarter neighborhood, where there are a bevy of family-friendly restaurants.

Looking for pandas in trees at the Zoo

National Zoo
Where: 3001 Connecticut Avenue NW | WDC
When: Starting May 21, Daily, 8am – 4pm
Admission: Free
Tickets: Timed entry passes available soon
Covid Safety
Because it is outdoors and it houses some of DC’s cutest residents, the Zoo reopening may be the most anticipated one. As in summer and fall of 2020, a limited number of timed entry tickets will be available for each day, and you must reserve them in advance — up to six per person.  If you want to see the new panda cub (which we all do!), free, timed Asia Trail/Panda Passes are required and can be reserved on-site on the day of your visit. Paid parking passes are also available for $30, and must also be purchased in advance. (Note that even FONZ Members still need to reserve timed-entry tickets and purchase parking passes.) You can try looking for metered parking on nearby streets, and the Woodley Park Metro stop on the red line is an easy few blocks walk away. Concessions will be available at some Zoo restaurants and food trucks.
KFDC Tip: The National Zoo is big and requires a lot of walking. If you’re bringing little ones, 1) bring a stroller and 2) check the map ahead of your visit and make a plan of what to see. You may want to save some parts for another outing there.


America on the Move is a fun exhibit to view at the American History Museum

National Museum of American History
Where: 1300 Constitution Avenue NW | WDC
When: Starting May 21, Friday-Tuesday, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free
Tickets: Timed entry passes available soon
Covid Safety
When I recommended the American History Museum pre-Covid, I often suggested taking children to America on the Move which features all kinds of modes of transport, galleries with toys and games from our childhoods, First Lady dresses, the Star-Spangled Banner, and more relics from the nation’s past. Girlhood (It’s complicated) opened last fall and is fun and interesting to explore. On the lower level, exhibitions like American Democracy that includes a history of voting in the U.S. and Many Voices, One Nation that highlights how our voices shape our country will be interesting for older kids. Spark!Lab and Wegman’s Wonderplace likely won’t be open, but I’ll update if/when it is.
KFDC Tip: The Enid A. Haupt Garden right across the National Mall behind the Smithsonian Castle is a lovely place to enjoy some outdoor time before or after your visit.


A peek at the powerful Americans exhibit at the NMAI

National Museum of the American Indian
Where: 4th Street & Independence Avenue SW | WDC
When: Starting May 21, Wed-Sun, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free
Tickets: Timed entry passes available soon
Covid Safety
When the museum reopened in the fall, the imagiNATIONS Activity Center, a fantastic space for hands-on explorations of American Indian culture, was not accessible, and that’s likely to be the case this time, too. (Of course, I will keep you updated.). But there is plenty more to enjoy at the NMAI. The Americans exhibit, in particular, illuminates how American Indians are part of the nation’s identity through powerful imagery and compelling displays that illustrate their history. A few more galleries will also be open for touring.  And the museum’s design and architecture alone are worth a visit to see, both inside and out.
KFDC Tip: Something fun for kids (and you): While you’re in the Potomac Atrium, have them look for rainbows of light cast on the walls and floor as sun shines through deliberately placed prisms.

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Filed under 2021, All ages, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Reopened, Social Distancing, Spring

Five Things for Today: March 4, 2021

       See a Frida up close at the NMWA


1.  The National Museum of Women in the Arts has begun welcoming visitors again (perfect timing for Women’s History Month)!  Hours are Monday – Saturday 10am – 5pm, and Sunday 12-5pm.  Admission is $10/adult, $8/seniors and students, free for ages 18 and under.  Reserve timed-entry tickets in advance.  And heads-up: The first and third Sundays of every months are Free Community Days when there is no entry fee — and that includes this Sunday, March 7.


2. Starting this weekend, you can once again catch a movie from the comfort of your car at the Alexandria Drive-In. It’s an ideal way to enjoy some entertainment out of the house and social distance!  See what’s playing this Friday and Saturday and what’s coming up later this month.


3. How to help kids regain their footing after a year of stress and disruption.


4. Did you know DC’s Zero Waste program includes compost drop-off locations? Right now, four sites are open on Saturday or Sunday, and more will open up in the spring. Go here to see the list of them along with composting tips, including what materials are accepted.


5. Wise words/lyrics from Dolly ❤️


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Filed under 2021, All ages, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Reopened, Social Distancing, Virginia, Winter

A Blue-Hued Escape into Crystalline at ARTECHOUSE


ARTECHOUSE debuted their latest exhibition at the Southwest DC gallery last week, and it’s one to feel blue about — in a very good way.  Crystalline is inspired by many things, among them Pantone’s color of the year, Classic Blue, and this unprecedented pandemic year.

The exhibit’s explorations of the color connect it with earth and crystals and presents that through large scale digital images on the walls of the main gallery and smaller ones in side areas.  Just about all of it is interactive, as the images change with viewers’ motions, moving elements as you walk around or evolving into more detailed pictures as you step closer.

Blue also plays a role beyond the individual installations.  As ARTECHOUSE puts it, blue “brings a sense of peace and tranquility to the human spirit.”  The exhibit is intended to serve not just as entertainment, but as a refuge for visitors during this turbulent time.


And immersing into the depths of blue, even just for a little while, is a beautiful — and fun — escape from the bizarre Covid world outside.

Crystalline is running at ARTECOUSE through January 3, 2021.  Tickets are $19-24/adult, $12-15/child, $17-20/students, seniors, military & first responders (the lower price for online advance tickets, higher at the door).  Children under 4 are free.

ARTECHOUSE is taking extra measures to ensure safety in response to Covid.  Capacity is limited, guests must wear masks,  directional signage helps social distancing, there are hand sanitizing stations, and cleaning and disinfecting takes place hourly.  More details are available here.



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Filed under 2020, 2021, All ages, Art, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Exhibit, Fall, Indoor Play, Reopened, Social Distancing, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Little Kid-Friendly Places for Indoor Play with Precaution

A COVID-era visit to the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center

[Note: This round-up was written by KFDC contributor Emily Moise, local mom to two young children.]


“Winter is coming” brings a whole new shiver this year, as parents of little balls of energy are bracing themselves for the COVID Winter. Most will bundle up and tough it out, with fingers crossed for lots of sled-able snow. Many will enter a new phase of pandemic panic shopping for indoor play equipment. For those seeking respite at indoor spaces, some local businesses have taken extra measures to open with COVID precautions. Here are six little-kid-friendly indoor places to consider as the days get colder. (Please keep in mind CDC guidelines to limit activity indoors, and masks for ages 2+.)


Kids Play Gallery
When: 9:30am – 2:30pm daily
Where: Gaithersburg, MD
Admission: $15/ages 1+ (more details here)
COVID policies

An imaginative play space with a tiny town of play houses suited for ages 5 and under. The space is very clean and well-maintained, with a separate, closed-off area for eating. Business hours have been reduced and private play reservations are available. Call ahead to confirm drop-in play hours are as listed.


Launch Trampoline Park
When: Varies by location
Where: Rockville, MD | Columbia, MD | Herndon, VA
Admission: $22+ or $13+ on Groupon
COVID policies

Kids can run, jump, and literally bounce off the walls here, expending lots of energy. My active 18-month-old has held his own here, but it’s generally recommended for preschool ages and up. With timed-entry reservations, you should have plenty of space to yourself/your family. Professional-grade sanitizing is done between sessions. Reserve time online in advance; call to reserve time if tickets purchased through Groupon.


When: 12:30pm – 7:30pm daily; closed Tuesdays
Where: Gaithersburg, MD
Admission: Starts at $11.99/age 6 months+ (more details here)
COVID policies

Recently opened in 2019 and now reopened with COVID precautions, OmniFun features a soft climbing zone, giant building blocks, an arts and crafts space, a toddler play area, and more. Now, two hour sessions are reserved in advance for up to 9 kids at a time, and groups are rotated in 40 minute intervals. Recommended for ages 6 months – 12 years.  Reserve a time sot in advance.


When: 9am – 5pm weekdays; 11am – 5pm weekends
Where: Falls Church, VA
Admission: $15/child, free/parents and ages 1 & under
COVID policies

A chain of indoor playgrounds known for cleanliness, BusyBees features soft play climbing structures, slides, and spinning rides. Currently, only the Falls Church location is open, and it is unfortunately the smallest of the three locations. The space is closed for 30 minutes every hour-and-a-half for cleaning, so plan your visit accordingly. Be sure to check the website daily for modified hours.


Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
When: 10am – 5:30pm daily
Where:  Chantilly, VA
Admission: Fre
e with timed-entry passes
COVID policies
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum annex has found itself to be a relatively low-risk space in COVID times with its spacious facility and timed-entry passes. Little kids should be well-attended here but have the flexibility to roam and, on a slow day, maybe even run circles around the massive aviation and space artifacts.


Shopping Malls
While their actual play spaces are closed, malls may make it into your weekly activities rotation. They are barren right now offering wide open lanes for kids to roam and browse. Plus, hand-sanitizing stations are set up throughout. Check your local mall for updated hours and safety precautions like these. (PS: A new LEGO Store is expected to open at Westfield Montgomery mall this fall!)


Tips for decreased risk:
* Go weekdays at opening times or midday when some places empty out for lunch and naps.
* Call ahead to see how crowded a place is prior to your planned arrival time.
* For a more controlled environment, look for places that allow reservations for private group play times like Kids Play Gallery, My Gym or Kids Ground.


For more indoor spaces, see this recent KFDC post for what’s currently open.

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Filed under 2020, 2021, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Educational, Gradeschoolers, Indoor Play, Maryland, Reopened, Social Distancing, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend