Category Archives: Seasonal

The 2022 KFDC Guide to Summer Around the DC Area

 

 

It’s time to bring back the annual guide to summer around the DC area!  I’ve mentioned before that this has always been one of my favorite posts to put together for a couple of reasons:  It reflects that wonderful shift from structured days to carefree time.  And it’s a reminder of all the summer fun to be had around the area, some of it back this year for the first time since the pandemic (and a few things still TBA so be sure to check back for updates).  Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial start of summer, so bookmark this post and start making plans. The 2022 KFDC Guide to the Best of Summer Around the DC Area has details and inspiration to help you get going.  Happy (almost) Summer!

 

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Play in the Sprays
Outdoor Pool Season
Beaches
Waterparks
Big Screen Under the Stars
Summer Concerts
Festivals
Seasonal Exhibits
Special Entertainment
Mini Trains, Carousels, Mini Golf, & a Ferris Wheel
Summer Sports
Crab Feasts
Seasonal Experiences

 

Cool off in the sprays at Canal Park

PLAY IN THE SPRAYS
Kids can run through fountains and splash around at many of them around the area. Several are within the DC, MD, & VA Departments of Parks and Recreation, but some of the best are built right into the urban landscape, making the concrete jungle a cool place to hang out during the hottest months. Dates are TBD at some, but look for updates soon!

DC DPR Spray Parks will be open for the season daily starting Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 28, through September 5, 10am – 8pm. Find locations — there are a bunch of them around the city — and see them all on a map on the DPR website.

Yards Park in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood is a favorite for water play in the city with two levels featuring Dancing Fountains up top and the Canal Basin and Waterfall below, plus a great scenic location on the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard.  Grassy areas for hanging out and lots of nearby eateries make it a perfect place to spend a summer day. Read more about the water features at The Yards here. [Note: The water features are currently closed due to mechanical issues.]

Canal Park in the Navy Yard is great for kids of varying ages with both a gentle, shallow fountain that is ideal for really little ones to enjoy, plus a bigger fountain with lots of sprays for more enthusiastic play where the ice rink is in the winter.

The Wharf in Southwest DC re-opened its in-ground fountain for the first time since the pandemic.  Kids can run through water shooting up from jets, play in mist spraying up in the center, and ride on waterproof rocking horses within all of it, all with the beautiful waterfront area as a backdrop.

Georgetown Waterfront Park, right next to the Washington Harbour, has a fountain with arcing sprays that makes for a fun, refreshing way to cool off on a hot, summer day.  The rest of the park’s pretty green space along the Potomac is a nice, relaxing place to hang out, too.

Lyon Village Park, Hayes Park, Virginia Highlands Park, and Drew Park, some of the area’s most popular spray parks, can be found in Arlington along with Penrose Square, which has an in-ground interactive fountain.

Our Special Harbor at Lee District Recreation Area in Alexandria gets raves for its Chesapeake-Bay themed sprayground complete with a spraying osprey nest, Chessie the sea serpent, misting sunflowers, and a lighthouse.  Open weekends Memorial Day – June 12, then daily June 13 – August 21, then only weekends again through September 5.

Potomac Yard Park, among the many city of Alexandria parks, has an interactive in-ground fountain that kids can play in — along th a couple of playgrounds and many other recreational features.  Even better, you can plan to do some shopping at he nearby Target while you’re out that way.

There’s an in-ground fountain on Capitol Hill at the C Street Plaza right across from Eastern Market. On most weekday afternoons during summer, there’s a small crowd of little ones playing in the gentle sprays.

 

That first jump into summer fun

OUTDOOR POOL SEASON
Nothing says summer like swimming under the sun, and there are plenty of public pools in the area where you can jump in for free or a small admission fee.

DC outdoor public pools will open on Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 28. They’ll operate on a weekend-only schedule (Saturday & Sunday) through  June 26. Starting Monday, June 27, all outdoor pools will operate on individual summer schedules, six days a week.  Days and hours vary from pool to pool so be sure to check schedules before you go.

For outdoor swimming outside of the city, Montgomery County outdoor public pools will open May 28 through Labor Day — the Department of Recreation website has locations and hours.

In Northern Virginia, Arlington’s Upton Hill has a whole water park for guests to enjoy, and Alexandria has several places where the public is welcome to swim — check the City of Alexandria website for hours, as they vary by pool. But note that all outdoor public pools will open June 26.

 Swimply, an online service that started last year, lets you search for private pools to rent. You can find pools at residences all over and pay to use them by the hour.

 

Sand, swimming, and fossil hunting at the Purse Area in Charles County, MD

BEACHES
Summer and beach trips go hand-in-hand, so why not hit one with the kids? There are a bunch of places where you can get a nice dose of sand and surf that are within day trip distance from DC.

Calvert Cliffs State Park in Calvert County is known as a fossil hunting locale — as its cliffs erode, prehistoric remains of marine life are revealed — but it’s even better for beach fun, swimming, and hiking. To access the beach, you have to hike a couple of miles through woods (and there are even more trails if you’re up for it), but the walk is worth it for a dose of quintessential summer fun. Open daily sunrise – sunset, and admission is $8/vehicle.

Flag Ponds Nature Park, also in Calvert County, has a large sandy beach for playing and nice mellow waters for swimming.  It’s also a great spot for fossil hunting — look for shark teeth and other prehistoric remnants along the shores while you’re there, too.  Hours are 9am – 6pm on weekdays and 9am – 8pm weekends from Memorial to Labor Day (days/hours are reduced the rest of the year). Admission is $8/car. Be sure to read more about Flag Ponds for tips and get a glimpse here and here

Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis offers striking views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge along with loads of beach fun.  At nearly 800 acres, it’s a big park with lots of recreational opportunities — swimming, picnicking, fishing, crabbing, hiking, and more. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, there are lifeguards on duty. And snack food and beach and picnic supplies are available. Hours are 6am – sunset. From May 1 through September, admission is $5/Maryland resident, $7/non-resident on weekend, and $4/ Maryland resident, $6/non-resident on weekdays.

The Purse Area within the Nanjemoy Wildlife Management Area in Charles County, MD, is best if your main purpose is fossil hunting — it’s a great place to go for it — and you want to get in some “beach” time, too. The beach is narrow, and you’re on a river, but you still get  to enjoy sand and water.  Wear swimsuits, bring a picnic, and be sure to check the tide table so you can make the most of your time there. Open sunrise to sunset, and admission is free.

Mayo Beach Park in Anne Arundel County is open for swimming in summer to enjoy some sand and surf. Passes to access the beach park must be reserved in advance.  Be aware of other beach rules like no grills or dogs allowed. Open Memorial Day – Labor Day on Friday 4-7pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am – 7pm.

Cape Henlopen State Park is a little over two hours from DC in Lewes, DE, but definitely doable as a day trip if you leave early, especially on a weekday when there is less traffic. We’ve done this and have had a fantastic day at the beach — packed up the car with a cooler and beach gear, got on the road early, and we were on the beach by 10:30am. Enjoyed dinner outdoors and ice cream in town before heading back, arrived home at 9:15pm. Totally worth the time in the car. Open daily, 8am – sunset, and admission is $8-10/vehicle. Get a glimpse here.

Dirty Dave’s Tiki Bar on Kent Island has a great beach area., where you can reserve spots on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays..  Don’t let the name fool ya, it’s family-friendly and very fun.  The beach is right behind Kentmorr, the excellent crab house, so if you plan well, you can make a day of it there with some beach time and a crab feast!  You can hang and enjoy fare from Dave’s. Be sure to read details — pricing, hours, rules, etc. — on the website.

They may not all be beaches, but this round-up of swim spots has a bunch more recommendations for places to take a dip around DC within day trip distance.

 

Make splash at Soak City in Kings Dominion

Make a splash at Soak City in Kings Dominion

WATERPARKS
Giant water slides, wave pools, waterfalls, sprays and splash pads…this is the stuff kids’ summer dreams are made of. There are some great water parks around the area offering many of these attractions, just about all of them opening Memorial Day weekend for limited hours, until they open daily a few weeks later. Here’s a quick list — visit the websites for more details.

* Ocean Dunes Waterpark at Upton Hill in Arlington, VA
* Great Waves at Cameron Run in Alexandria, VA
* Six Flags America in Bowie, MD
* The Water Park at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg, MD
* The Water Mine in Reston, VA
* Atlantis Water Park at Bull Run in Centreville, VA
* Pirate’s Cove Waterpark in Lorton, VA
* Volcano Island Waterpark in Sterling, VA
* Splash Down Water Park in Manassas, VA
* Chesapeake Beach Water Park
* Soak City Water Park at Kings Dominion in Doswell, VA
* Water Country USA at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA

 

Sit back, relax, and enjoy a film outdoors at the Union Market Drive-in

BIG SCREEN UNDER THE STARS
Outdoor movies have become a DC summer tradition in the last few years with films al fresco in several neighborhoods. Even better, many of them are FREE! (*Before you make plans to enjoy any of the series, be sure to check schedules, as some movies may not be appropriate for children.)

Catch a flick on the big screen from the comfort of your car at the Union Market Drive-In Series, occurring monthly on Fridays throughout the summer, with several family-friendly films in the mix. This year, they are are skipping the dramas in favor of action, comedy and cult classics. Get there as early as 6pm and have a bite to eat in the Market or bring food back to your car. The film starts at 8:30pm. Admission is $20/car, free for walk-ins. Advance purchase is recommended. Runs through October.

National Harbor’s Movies on the Potomac series is back through the September 30. Every Sunday (family night) at 6pm and Thursday (date night) at 7pm, guests can see a free film on the big outdoor Plaza Screen right on the waterfront. .  Pack your chairs, grab food to go from one of the many eateries, and meet at the Plaza’s big screen for a FREE evening of fun and entertainment.

Adams Morgan Movie Nights  is back with free mnovies on Tuesday evenings from May 24 – June 21 with “The Road Less Traveled”  theme, showing movies that find the heroes on a quest. The program runs 8-11pm at Marie Reed Recreation Center’s soccer field (18th & California St, NW). Restaurants in the neighborhood will be offering special takeout meals that attendees can bring to the field.

Family Movies Nights take place on The Plaza at Tysons Corner Center monthly from May 27 – September 30.  They are free, and programming runs from 7-10pm.

Audi Field will transform into an outdoor cinema as Movies on the Pitch shows four films on the stadium’s jumbotron screen —  June 2, June 30, July 28, and August 25 — all of them family-friendly.

At the Navy Memorial Plaza (7th & Pennsylvania Ave NW) catch Movies on the Memorial on Thursday evenings June 2 – September 1.  The series of Navy-themed films pay tribute to our rich maritime heritage.

Golden Triangle BID will host GLDN+ CINEMA on Thursdays in Farragut Square (17th & K, NW),  June 2-23.  The family-friendly films begin at sunset.

Join the Rosslyn BID this summer for the Rosslyn Cinema Series to enjoy your favorite movies on the lawn in Gateway Park on Fridays in June!

Cinematery will take place monthly at Congressional Cemetery on Capitol Hill, on June 3, July 1, August 5, and September 2.

The Library of Congress will host its fifth annual Summer Movies on the Lawn on Thursday evenings in July and August 4. Films will begin at sundown on the southeast lawn of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building.

Films at the Stone hosts monthly screenings (June 16, July 21, & August 250 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

Georgetown Sunset Cinema is back with movies on Tuesdays from August 2 – September 6 starting at 8:30-8:45 in the lovely Georgetown Waterfront Park, with the panoramic backdrop of the sunset, Potomac River, Kennedy Center, and Key Bridge.  Free and open to all.

 

Friday Night Concerts return to the Yards Park boardwalk this summer

SUMMER CONCERTS
Free music in the fresh air has become a staple of the season, and there are opportunities to enjoy just about every genre regularly at outdoor venues all around the DC-Metro.

Jazz in the Garden, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden’s free concert series, is back. Experience live music amid art at every Friday from 6–8:30pm starting May 20, and there will be weekly shows through July22. Spread out a blanket, pack a picnic dinner or purchase food and drinks there, and enjoy the sounds of a variety of jazz artists. Note: Adult drinks are available from the pavilion; BYO alcohol is not permitted.

At the Bear Square Summer Concert Series at The Station at Riverdale, dance the night away and welcome the warmer season every Friday from 5-7pm from May 27 – June 24.

The U.S. Air Force Band’s Summer Concert Series brings outdoor concerts to National Harbor on Saturdays at 7pm and occasionally at other sites around the area.

The U.S. Navy Band returns for its summer Concert on the Avenue Series at the Navy Memorial on Tuesdays, May 31 – August 16 at 7:30pm. All performances are free and open to the public.

Wednesday at The Wharf will feature free weekly concerts on Transit Pier every Wednesday evening at 7pm. R&B, Americana, Motown, Jazz, Reggae, Go-go, Country, and your favorite pop covers will be among the sounds you can hear June 1 – August 31.

Friday Night Concerts at Yards Park will be back  for its 12th season from June 10 – July 29! The series will feature performances by popular local artists with cold beverages and  food available for purchase, lots of grassy space for hanging out, and the water features for kids to play in nearby to make it a bigger family evening out.

NaLa Fridays at the Park will bring live music and food trucks to Long Bridge Park at National Landing (formerly Crystal City, VA). Catch a concert every Friday from June 10 – October 5, 5-8pm.

On weekends, head to Tysons Corner Center for Live at the Plaza, where you can enjoy music Fridays & Saturdays, 6-8pm,  and Sundays, 5-7pm, featuring acoustic music spanning a variety of genres or a DJ playing popular hits.

Enjoy music Live from the Lawn at Strathmore on Wednesday evenings from July 13 – August 24.  (They also have Cool Concerts for Kids on select Thursdays!)

Glen Echo Park’s 2022 Summer Concerts Series presents free live music in the historic Bumper Car Pavilion, featuring a variety of local bands and musical genres, from country to reggae, swing to Latin jazz, African to Cajun and blues. Dates/times TBA!

Enjoy music in Northern Virginia parks! The Fairfax County Park Authority presents their Summer Entertainment Series, a summer-long calendar of family-friendly shows, and concerts in local parks. Bring a picnic dinner, blankets, and lawn chairs to enjoy the best local and regional entertainers. There are many shows throughout the summer, so view the schedule here.

The Kennedy’s Center’s Millennium Stage  continues to present free live performances on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 6pm, occasionally outside on The REACH plaza.  While you’re there, plan for time to hang out at Victura Park and food and drinks, too.

 

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival will be back in person on the National Mall!

FESTIVALS & SPECIAL EVENTS
Several stand-out events are anticipated around the area this time of year, celebrating everything from music to art & culture to neighborhoods to food.  There are also a few smaller happenings to plan for in advance.

Awesome Con, the Mid-Atlantic’s premier pop culture convention, takes place June 3-5 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, celebrating all aspects of geekdom and pop culture with a wide assortment of engaging events, comic books, collectibles, toys, games, original art, cosplay and more.

The 40th Annual Washington Folk Festival at Glen Echo Park June 4-5 showcases the diversity of traditional music in Washington. All of the artists hail from the DC area, but cultures from around the nation, as well as the world, will be represented through music, dance, crafts, and stories. The free festival that is renowned in the folk community and the public is welcome to enjoy it.

Celebrate Capital Pride during the month of June, especially June 11-12 at the annual parade and festival that culminates a week of gay pride events around the city. The Saturday parade is always a spectacular extravaganza of ornate floats, street performers, music and dancing, glitter and beads, and plenty of reveling. Sunday’s family-friendly festival, on Pennsylvania Avenue from 3rd to 7th Streets NW, features several stages of live entertainment, hundreds of exhibitors, and activities for all ages. It’s all a fun and fabulous opportunity to show support for the LGBTAQ community and join the celebration.

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival will be back in person this year (hurrah!) June 22-27 and June 30 – July 4.  Every summer (well, except for the past two), the National Mall becomes stomping grounds of folks from around the globe to celebrate living cultural heritage and community traditions at the annual event. Celebrating the United Arab Emirates and Earth Optimism this year, get ready for all kinds exhibits, demonstrations, live performances, talks, food, markets, and much more!

Attend one of the biggest summer barbeques around June 25-26 as the National Capital Barbeque Battle returns to pit some of the nation’s best barbequers against each other as they compete for big prizes. The reward for attendees: Samples from all the entrants (plus, more food), live music, cooking demos, kids’ fun, and more.

Independence Day in DC is a pretty big deal, the city being the nation’s capital and all, so the annual July 4th celebrations are pretty big. It starts with the National Independence Day Parade down Constitution Avenue — back for the first time in two years! Then, this year more festivities will take place at the Salute to America event by the Lincoln Memorial, the A Capitol Fourth concert at the U.S. Capitol, and fireworks at West Potomac Park.

The lotus and water lilies in full bloom at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are such a ravishing sight it calls for a celebration. Along with the spectacular display of flowers, the annual Lotus & Water Lily Festival  features traditional Asian and African dancing and drumming, gardening workshops, park tours, arts & crafts, and other family-friendly pursuits. Dates are still TBA, so check back for specifics soon!  View scenes from a previous bloom here.

It might run into fall, but it starts in August, so the Maryland Renaissance Festival counts among the summer fun. Plus, if you’ve been reading KFDC while then you know it’s one of my very, very favorite annual events. (More confirmation on  that herehere, herehereherehere, here, and here.) I take a lot of pride in the number of people I have turned into Ren Fest believers.  So, go!  I promise, it is the absolute best.

 

Make a wish at the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden

SEASONAL EXHIBITS
Extraordinary installations, lovely annual exhibits, and kids’ programs during the school break are some of the special experiences at our museums and galleries to take take advantage of over the summer.

While it’s not exclusively a summer exhibit, One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection is a good one to catch during the season as kids are out of school, so there are more opportunities to take them.  Two infinity rooms, the yellow and black polka dot Pumpkin, and more artwork and elements about Kusama’s life are interesting, beautiful, and kinda trippy to experience.

In the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden,  Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree for Washington, DC, has returned once again. Through the summer, the public is welcome to write wishes on small cards and tie them to the tree’s branches. They’re collected regularly, then sent to Ono’s “Imagine Peace Tower” in Reykjavik, Iceland. Get a glimpse of past one here.

National Building Museum’s Summer Block Party started with indoor mini-golf, after that it was a giant maze, then came the super awesome Beach, followed by Icebergs, then Hive buzzed in, a couple of years ago we played in the Fun House, and in 2019 we hung out on the LAWN.  This year, Shakespeare joins the mix at The Playhouse. Presented in partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library, it will feature an Elizabethan-inspired festival stage in the cool comfort of the museum’s Great Hall. From July 1 – September 5, guests will be able to enjoy Shakespearean activities like stage combat demos and hands-on fun during the day, and in the evenings, there will be performances of the enchanting A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (PS: If you think Shakespeare and kids don’t mix, think again! Read about some of our experiences with it here and here.)

Annmarie Sculpture Garden is enchanting any time of year, but it’s especially so in the summer when the fairy and gnome houses are on display. The adorable collection of little whimsical abodes for spritely creatures are just fantastic to view and find throughout the grounds. Created by all ages, individuals and groups, each one has a different theme, but together they are a brilliant showcase of imagination and craftiness. Read more about it and view scenes from a past exhibit here and here.

ARTECHOUSE, the destination in southwest known for fusing art and technology, invites you to “walk alongside African kings and queens as you explore timeless questions of identity, power, and belonging” at Aṣẹ: Afro Frequencies. Experience it June 11 – September 6. Admission is $16-20/adult, $8-10/12 & under.

Immersive cinematic exhibition at the National Geographic Museum’s Beyond King Tut, which takes visitors on a journey to one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time. The exhibition celebrates the 100-year anniversary of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. It runs June 17, 2022 – February 6, 2023. Tickets are $20/adult, $12/age 2-12, $16/student, military, senior, & educator.

During the warm months, little ones can flex their green thumbs in the outdoor Children’s Garden at the U.S. Botanic Garden. Renovated a few years long ago, the adorable outdoor area features dirt to dig in, plants to tend to, and a cute play structure to romp in. The rest of the USBG is great to explore, too!

 

A setting as great as the entertainment at Children's Theatre in the Woods

Entertainment especially for kids at Wolf Trap’s Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods

Special Entertainment
From super cheap movies in local theaters to stay cool on hot days to live theatre at fun places, there are some great ways to keep kiddos entertained all season long.

The Regal Summer Movie Express presents flicks for kids on many Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10am from May 24 – September 7. Admission is just $2! Be sure to check the website for the film schedule and theater locations, as it doesn’t run at all theaters every week.

From late June through early August, Wolf Trap presents the fantastic Children’s Theater-in-the-Woods, over 70 family-friendly performances at 10am Tuesdays through Saturdays. Amidst 117 rolling wooded acres and nestled in a shady grove, the stage is set for lively adventures in music, dance, storytelling, puppetry, and theater. All of the productions are recommended for children between Kindergarten and 6th grade, though I think kids even younger can enjoy them, too (mine did!). Read a KFDC review of the series from a past summer (it’s an old one, but still relevant!)

Starting June 18, Arts in the Parks, a free children’s entertainment series from Fairfax County Park Authority on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10am.  Catch shows at Burke Lake Park, Frying Pan Farm Park, EC Lawrence Amphitheater, Mason District, and Waterfield Park.

Tysons Corner Center will get little ones grooving on The Plaza  at the Kids Summer Concert Series on the second Wednesday of the month. These take place mid-mornings on June 8, July 13, Aug 10, and Sept 14.

The Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse is back and offering fun $1 films for kids every Wednesday from June 15 – August 3. Check the schedule to see what’s playing at a theater near you!

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (now in NoMa as well as Loudoun and Woodbridge!) welcomes families to Kids Camp, a movie series that is inexpensive ($5) and benefits local charities, to boot.

Shakespeare Theater Company is bringing back the brilliant Potted Potter – The Unauthorized Harry Experience – A Parody by Dan and Jeff , that condenses all seven Harry Potter books into one hilarious and clever show. It runs June 29 – July 17 at Sidney Harman Hall.  Tickets are $49.75-99.75.  Read a KFDC review of the show!

UniverSoul Circus, the world-class, live entertainment attraction is coming back to National Harbor June 30 – July 24.  The production celebrates the unique and familiar aspects of global cultures and ethnicities, blending circus arts, theater, and music — a fresh, cool, and hip approach to live family entertainment!  Tickets start at $27.50.

Strathmore is hosting Cool Concerts for Kids on Thursdays July 14, July 28 August 11 at 7pm.

See a Shakespeare play in the park! The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company is bringing back its annual Shakespeare in the Ruins at the picturesque Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park in Ellicott City, MD. Much Ado About Nothing will run July 17 – July 24.  Tickets are $54/adult, $27/age 19-25, and one kid is free with every adult.  Bring along a picnic to enjoy as you watch the play — there are no food vendors, but you can BYO fare, beer, and wine.

Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual Free For All will, hopefully, return this summer. The Washington tradition offers free performances of a Shakespearean classic to the public, with tickets available through an online lottery or a limited number given out day-of.  Look for more info about it soon!

 

Give the National Harbor carousel an unlimited whirl!

MINI TRAINS, MINI GOLF, CAROUSELS, & A FERRIS WHEEL!
These extra delights bring even more fun to several parks around the area that are already great outdoor places to hang with the kids.

Watkins Regional Park opened its Antique Carousel and Miniature Train on a limited schedule in early May, but come Memorial Day weekend, they can be enjoyed for extended hours almost every day of the week. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10am – 7pm; Sundays 12–5 pm, closed Mondays except May 30 (Memorial Day), July 4 (closes at 4pm) & September  (Labor Day).  This along with all of the other fun features — Nature Center, Old Maryland Farm, and Wizard of Oz Playground!

Cabin John Regional Park opened its Miniature Train on weekends only back in April, and will run on weekends through September 10am – 6pm. Rides are $2.50. Plan to spend time at the wonderful Cabin John playground, too — read more about it here.

The Miniature Train and Ovid Hazen Wells Carousel at Wheaton Regional Park started taking guests for spins in early April on weekends and will be open through the summer. After Memorial Day, it’s open Thursday – Sunday, but hours vary, so be sure to check the website..  Rides are $2.50.  Plan to stay and play at the super fun Wheaton playground — read more about it here.

The beautiful historic Dentzel Carousel is celebrating its 101st season at Glen Echo Park. Plan to go for a spin before or after a show at Adventure Theatre or The Puppet Co. From May through August, it’s open Wednesday – Friday 10am – 2pm, and Saturday and Sunday 11am – 5pm. Tickets are $2/ride, $5/all-day pass.

The Clemyjontri carousel in McLean, VA, will be offering rides daily starting May 31 on weekdays 9:30am – 1pm and weekends 9:30am – 6:30pm. Cost is $3/weekdays, $4/weekends & holidays. Read more about Clemyjontri here.

National Harbor offers a couple of ways to go for a spin. Kind of like a London Eye of the U.S., The Capital Wheel is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of DC. The 42-gondola ride (all closed and climate-controlled with room for 8) soars 180 feet above the Potomac River waterfront, offering vistas of the White House and Capitol, the National Mall, Arlington Cemetery, and more amazing sites. Ticket prices start at $15. For an on-ground whirl,  The Carousel features a herd of whimsical creatures and the sparkling Potomac as a backdrop. It’s $7/ rider, and they can ride an unlimited number of times. Read about both rides and more National Harbor fun here.

Burke Lake Park’s Mini Train, Carousel, and Mini Golf are open daily from Memorial Day – Labor Day.  The train 11:20am – 5:40pm, the carousel 11:25am -5:25pm, and mini golf 11am – 8pm (last play 7pm). The park is free to access for Fairfax county residents. For non-county residents, the park is free on weekdays and has a $10 entrance fee on weekends/holidays for a car or large capacity van. Carousel rides are $3-4, train rides are $4-5, mini golf is $7-9.

Play Mini Golf in the District at East Potomac Park.  (Fun fact: It’s on the National Register of Historic Places listed as the oldest continually operating miniature golf course in the country!) Open Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 8pm. Admission is $6/kids and seniors, $7/adults. Read more about hanging out at East Potomac Park’s Hains Point.

Tee up at several NoVa Parks that have mini golf courses. Cameron RunUpton HillPohick Bay, and Algonkian Regional Parks all welcome guests to putt around.  Cost is $5/age 12 & under, $6/13+. Check websites for hours a each park.

Ride the Chesapeake Bay-themed carousel at Lee District Family Rec Area in Alexandria. Open daily through August 29 — hours are 11am – 6pm Monday/Tuesday/Thursday, 11am – 5pm Wednesday, and 9am – 6pm Saturday/Sunday.  Cost is $3 per ride on Fridays, $4 per ride weekends & holidays.

 

Show your Spirit for women’s soccer!

SUMMER SPORTS
Some of the season’s best action takes place in ballparks, stadiums, and arenas thanks to our local sports teams. Here’s where you can join the fan clubs.

A day at Nationals Park is all it takes to understand why baseball is America’s favorite pastime. Our family always enjoys catching a Nats game on a nice summer (or spring) day (or evening), anyway. The excitement extends well beyond the diamond with games and activities in the park, a playground for kids, the Racing Presidents, fun in the stands, and more. Before you go, check out these tips on doing a Nats game without breaking the bank. And I highly recommend the Jr. Nationals Kids Club for children 12 and under. Just $20 gets them membership, which includes Nats swag, plus a coupon book with all kinds of offers and discounts.

Whether or not you’ve got a little soccer fan in your fam, DC United matches are fun experiences for all ages, and Audi Field is a great venue for watching them. Plus, since games only last 90 minutes, they’re not too long if young spectators get antsy.

Women’s pro soccer team, Washington Spirit, will have several matches at Audi Field this season — and they are always very exciting to watch!

Can’t stand the heat? Head to the Entertainment & Sports Arena in southeast DC to see the Washington Mystics (w)hoop it up on the basketball court. Tickets start at $14.

Every summer, the Citi Open Tennis Tournament serves up exciting competition along with other fun activities for fans of all ages. See some of the sport’s top players in action and enjoy the thrills on and off the court at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center July 30 – August 7.

Swing up to Charm City to see the Baltimore Orioles play. Camden Yards is a beautiful ballpark, and you can head to the Inner Harbor before or after to make a day of it up north.

If the Nats or O’s aren’t in town, or you want to see baseball on a smaller but still fun scale, you’ve got several great options around the area. Take ’em out to the minors to see the Bowie Baysox, Potomac Nationals, or Aberdeen Ironbirds play. Summer collegiate team Bethesda Big Train is also very popular for non-majors baseball action.

The Breeze, DC’s Ultimate Frisbee pro team,  plays at Catholic University’s Carlini Field.  It’s fast-paced, fun to watch, and there’s a welcoming family vibe — plus, kids 8 and under get in free!

 

 

Maryland’s finest

CRAB FEASTS
Easily one of the best activities during summer in Maryland and neighboring areas (this is where I get non-DC-centric because I have to give credit where it’s due). Here are some suggestions for places to get ’em, though the “best” is always a subject for debate.

* Cantler’s is an Annapolis institution for many.
* Mike’s Crab House in Riva has a great tiki area if there’s a table wait.
* Enjoy great crabs and an awesome beach area at Kentmorr.
* The Jetty on Kent Narrows has crabs, scenic views, and a fun beachy vibe.
* In Baltimore, Bo Brooks on the Canton Waterfront is popular.
* Enjoy a feast in the District at Ivy City Smokehouse.
* Stay close to the city at Quarterdeck in Arlington.
* Eat crabs in the ‘burbs at Bethesda Crab House.
* Make it a day trip to Waterman’s in Rock Hall, MD.
* Pick up your own at The Fish Market at The Wharf. Buy them already steamed or get them while they’re still alive to cook at home.

 

Take to the high Chesapeake seas for a pirate adventure!

SEASONAL EXPERIENCES
Some particularly cool activities and offerings are only possible this time of year. Sure, you can say that’s most of this guide, but these experiences that fall into the “other” category shouldn’t be missed.

On Thursday evenings and some Saturdays during late spring and summer, the Anacostia Watershed Society hosts their free Discovery Series, which include boat tours, paddle tours, and wetland walks at a few local parks. Bladensburg Waterfront Park, Anacostia Park, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, and 11th Street Bridge Park are locations for these jaunts.

Public boat rides along the C&O in Georgetown recently returned. They are available throughout the day, Wednesday – Sunday at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm through October, offering one-hour guided historical tours along the first mile of the C&O Canal National Historical Park. Cost is $15/adult, $10/senior, $8/child.

For other adventures on the water, a bunch of places around the area rent kayaks, canoes, rowboats, and stand up paddleboards. Fletcher’s Boathouse is a popular place to go and has a great riverside area to hang out and picnic when you’re off the water. You can also row from Ballpark Boathouse near Yards Park. Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis has paddling options along with lots of other outdoor recreation. This post has a whole round-up of even more places to go with the flow on local waterways.

Pick your own produce at local farms. While it starts in the spring with strawberries, it carries on through summer with even more delicious fruits — blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, plus veggies and more produce you can gather yourself. Find out where you can PYO around the DC area.

Join Anacostia Riverkeeper and Earth Conservation Corps on Friday evenings From July 9 – August 27 for Friday Night Fishing, their catch and release fishing program at the dock at Diamond Teague Park (located next to Yards Park). Rods, reels, bait, and instruction are free. No sign up is required.  Dates still to come — will keep you posted!

Aaaaaar, mateys! As the weather warms up and cruising conditions become more comfortable, pirate voyages are offered on local waters. In DC, take a Family Treasure Hunt Cruise on the Boomerang Pirate Ship. Head out to Annapolis for Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake. Or go for a jaunt with Urban Pirates in Baltimore.

Some of the most spectacular flower blooms occur during the summer. View a whole park bursting with pink, white, and peach-hued lotus flowers and water lilies. Fields upon fields of sunflowers are sure to brighten any day. Stop and smell the roses at a favorite National Mall spot. Get details on all of them in this post about our bloom town.

Get rolling in Southeast! The Anacostia Park Skating Pavilion, the only skating pavilion within a national park will officially welcome skaters daily from 9am – 5pm starting Memorial Day through Labor Day. Even better, both admission and skate rentals are FREE! (You can still BYO skates and roll around the rest of the year.) And along with skating, Anacostia Park offers all kinds of recreation, including large fields for sports and running around, tennis, fishing, basketball, biking, running, and three playgrounds. Read more about the park in this KFDC post.

 

Have I left out anything really good? If you think so, let me know in the comments below!

 

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Where to Go & What to Do During Spring Break 2022

 

Spring Break has begun in the DC area, so you may be in need of some extra reminders of all the great activities there are to do around the area to keep your kids entertained over the next few weeks — depending on when they’re off from school. And if some of this sounds familiar, that’s because a version of this post has been published in many previous years, but it’s been updated to reflect what’s going on now.

Many of the ideas here are already on the blog, but sometimes a little guidance for what’s best at certain times helps. Among these recommendations are special and seasonal activities,  exhibits and shows that are currently running, and outings that take advantage of the (usually) great spring weather.

And, of course, the rest of the blog is full of suggestions if you want even more options. So, whether you’re enjoying a staycation or visiting from out of town, you should have no problem keeping the kids (and yourself!) happy during the week off — or on, depending how you look at it. Happy Spring Break!

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Activities & Events Especially Great for Families this Cherry Blossom Season

 

 

Cherry blossom season is 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 17 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 it all. Happy Blossom Season!

Cherry Blossom Viewing
Where: Around the DC Area
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 blooms past here and here.

PIXELBLOOM
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
When: March 12 – June 5
Admission: $20-25/adult, $14/age 4-15, free/under 4

The exhibits at ARTECHOUSE often reflect the season in some way, and for the fifth year, they are highlighting spring by celebrating the cherry blossoms with a gorgeous digital exhibit that immerses you in the blooms. Floor to ceiling projections, plus interactive elements make this one beautiful, engaging, and fun to experience! Get more of a glimpse of it here.

Cherry Blossom Family Celebration
Where: American Art Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: March 19, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Join the Smithsonian American art Museum and the National Cherry Blossom Festival outside on the museum’s F Street plaza 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.  Pick up a step-by-step cherry blossom craft kit to take home, and discover spring-themed artworks in SAAM’s galleries with a self-guided scavenger hunt designed for all ages. Read more about the museum in this KFDC post.

Petals porches from 2021

Petal Porches
Where: Around the DC Area
When: March 19 – April 17
Admission: Free

For the second year, residents in DC and surrounding communities in MD and VA were invited to decorate their front yards, porches, and windows to show their cherry blossom spirit during the Festival’s run. A digital map with the locations of all registered Petal Porches will be made available, so we can all get in on the fun and do some Petal Porch viewing!

Cultural Performances
Where: Tidal Basin Welcome Area
When: Weekends, March 19 – April 17
Admission: Free

Catch live entertainment as you take in views of the blossoms! During the cherry blossom peak, there will be music and dance performances on a special stage set up at the Tidal Basin Welcome Area at a new location on West Basin Drive SW (between the Martin Luther King, Jr., and Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorials and near the Japanese Pagoda).  The National Park Service will offer Ranger talks, Bloomin’ Junior Ranger activities, and more.  The daily live performances on the ANA stage presented by All Nippon Airways will take place 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. and showcase a cross-cultural mix of American, Japanese and other performing arts celebrating 110 years since the gift of trees from Tokyo to Washington, DC. A full list of performers and performance schedules can be viewed here. 

Art in Bloom
Where: Around DC
When: March 20 – April 17
Admission: Free

View blossom inspired art all around the city! The Giant Cherry Blossom sculptures scattered in all eight wards last year will be back in permanent locations. And April 1-17, a series of immersive installations, perfect for photo ops, will be displayed along the Petalpalooza Art Walk in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood.

Book Hill in Bloom
Where: Book Hill Area | Georgetown, DC
When: March 20 – April 17
Admission: Varies by activity

Georgetown is celebrating DC’s cherry blossom season with Book Hill in Bloom. More than 15 small businesses on upper Wisconsin Avenue are participating by decorating their storefronts with pink and cherry blossom-themed decorations, and offering special promotions. More events include an outdoor letterpress demonstration, and nearby the 10-acre Dumbarton Oaks estate offers some of DC’s most picturesque cherry tree-lined gardens and walkways.

Celebrate Spring
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: March 25 – April 3, 12-2pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate spring at the Home of the Cherry Blossoms! Everyday from March 25 through April 3, there will be cherry blossom-themed activations and specials to go with the amazing views of all the cherry blossom trees across the Washington Channel at East Potomac Park and the Tidal Basin.

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

Get a new perspective of the blossoms and enjoy some outdoor recreation on a paddling excursion. Several boathouses will open during cherry blossom season, offering canoe, kayak, and other rentals to take you out on the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers and Tidal Basin, 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.

Go fly a kite at the Washington Monument!

Blossom Kite Festival
Where: Washington Monument Grounds | National Mall, DC
When: March 26, 10am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

The annual Blossom Kite Festival, a favorite for many during the blossom season, will be back!  And 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 plan to BYO. 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.

Oxon Run Pinknic & Kite Fly
Where: Oxon Run Park | Anacostia, DC
When: March 27, 12-3pm
Admission: Free

For a smaller kite flying fest than the big one on the National Mall, head to Oxon Run Park in Anacostia, There will be kite programming, entertainment, and more in coordination with the Blossom Kite Festival.

Wizards Cherry Blossom Night
Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: March 29, 7pm
Admission: Ticket prices vary

Whoop it up at a special cherry blossom-themed basketball game! See the Wizards take on the Chicago Bulls as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. A limited number of tickets come with an exclusive co-branded cherry blossom t-shirt, and a portion of the proceeds supports year-round care for the iconic trees through the Trust for the National Mall.

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

Join The Wharf for Bloomaroo, their local version of Bonaroo.  They’ll be celebrating the cherry blossoms with a  free spring festival full of art, music, and family-friendly fun along the waterfront!  Enjoy beer gardens on the pier, a pop-up roller rink, photo ops, s’mores at the firepit, and live music on all three of our outdoor stages. A fireworks finale will cap off the day.

Spring Gardening Program
Where: National Children’s Museum | Downtown DC
When: April 2
Admission: $15.95

In celebration of this year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival, the museum will make and decorate plant pots using recycled newspaper and folding techniques inspired by the Japanese origami art form. Then, Dreamers will plant a seed in their pot and take it home to continue to care for it. Recommended for ages 3+. Included with admission, so plan to explore the rest of the museum full of STEAM-inspired exhibits and stations that kids will dig — read more about it all.

Into the Woods
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park | Centreville, VA
When: April 2 | 1pm, 1:30pm, & 2pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival with this free event at Frying Pan Farm Park. Trek on their nature trail to experience the changes of spring. Along the way, visit stations that are peppered throughout the trail to build a fairy house, discuss woodland creatures, and search for critters in the soil and water. Plan to enjoy Japanese teas at the historic Frying Pan Meeting House, too! Recommended for ages 5+.

Art Blooms at Mosaic
Where: Mosaic District | McLean, VA
When: April 2-3, 11am – 5pm
Admission: Free

Welcome spring at the Mosaic District with a celebratory weekend featuring fun for all ages. Shop at the market, catch live entertainment and art exhibits, do some kids activities, enjoy a pop-up beer garden, and more!

Cherry Blossom Celebration Match
Where: Audi Field | Southwest DC
When: April 2, 7:45pm
Admission: Ticket prices vary

Support local sports and be a part of the Cherry Blossom Festival at once! DC United’s home match against Atlanta United will include cherry blossom-themed activations for fans, including cherry blossom sunglasses for the first 5k fans, along with the action on the pitch. Score tickets here.

Sakura Sunday
Where: National Harbor | Oxon RUn, MD
When: April 3, 12-6pm
Admission: Free

Join National Harbor for their annual Sakura Sunday Festival. The celebration will feature cultural activities, including a Japanese market, art, music and dance performancs, culinary delights, and much more! Read more about all there is to do at National Harbor here.

Japanese Culture Day
Where: Library of Congress | Capitol Hill, DC
When: April 9, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

The Library of Congress is hosting a day of fun especially for kids to celebrate cherry blossom season.  All ages are welcome to learn about Japanese culture through reading, writing, and craft-making with Japanese cultural and linguistic professionals during the Library’s Japanese Culture day. Books related to Japan and Japanese culture will also be on display. Special highlights include a Japanese drum presentation by Miyako Taiko led by Mark Rooney (outside on the Plaza) and a karate demonstration by Tsuyoshi Takemori from D.C. Yamato-juku Club in the Great Hall.  Register here!

See Racing Presidents rolling down Constitution Ave at the annual parade

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue, 7th – 17th St NW | Downtown DC
When: April 9, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

The pinnacle of cherry blossom festivities just might be the parade. Thousands of people line Constitution Avenue 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 $25-40, 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.

Sakura Matsuri
Where: Pennsylvania Ave, 3rd-7th St NW | Downtown DC
When: April 9-10, 10:30am – 6pm
Admission: $10-15/ages 13+, $50/family package, free/12 & under

Following the Cherry Blossom parade, head over to Sakura Matsuri, the Japanese Street Festival that is America’s largest 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. Even better, this year it will be held over two days!

Cherry Blossom Jubilee
Where: Torpedo Factory | Old Town Alexandria, VA
When: April 10, 12-3pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the Cherry Blossoms on the other side of the Potomac, too! Head to the heart of Alexandria for cherry blossom-themed activities and other events at the Torpedo Factory, the wonderful riverfront arts center. The fun kicks off with a live performance by taiko drum group Nen Daiko on the Waterfront side. Afterward, view the Art Center-wide exhibition of cherry blossom-inspired works by resident artists and galleries while enjoying music and live art demonstrations from participating TFAC artists.

Blossoms & Baseball
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: April 10, 1:35pm
Admission: Ticket prices vary

The Nats will get in on the National Cherry Blossom Festival celebration during their opening series against the Mets. A cherry blossom celebration is scheduled for the Saturday afternoon match-up. Details are still TBA, but check back soon for more info!

Anacostia River Festival
Where: Anacostia Park | Southeast DC
When: April 10, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

The annual Anacostia River Festival is a premier event of the 2022 National Cherry Blossom Festival. This year enjoy a series of musical performances, including the sights and sounds of Go-Go music, local drum lines, and military bands. Along with live music, the Festival will feature pre-registered and socially distant river activities such as canoeing and fishing along the Anacostia River.  Sign up here!

Petalpalooza
Where: The Yards | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: April 16, 5-9pm
Admission: Free

Join the Capitol Riverfront community for Petalpalooza! The final big event of the National Cherry Blossom Festival will be a blast, with live music, art installations, a beer garden, and lots of family-friendly activities. Go for awhile or just stop by for a bit. The evening will cap off with a fireworks show over the Anacostia River.

Art in Bloom on Capitol Hill last spring

 

 

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Spring Things to Get Excited About Around DC

 

Spring is always a much anticipated time of year.  The emergence from cold, wintry weather, the return of color to the landscape, and the end of hats and gloves and clunky boots and extra layers are some of the reasons why.  It’s also when many of DC’s best events and activities occur or restart for the warm months.  And this year, spring’s arrival may be even more eagerly awaited, as several beloved big events that were cancelled or held virtually for the last two years will back IRL.  From big blooms and their celebrations to new exhibits and reopenings to neighborhood live entertainment to baseball and soccer to warm weather recreation to a first-time-ever opportunity, there are a lot of things to get excited about around DC this spring.  Here’s a round-up of them to help you plan for it all.  Happy (almost) Spring!

 

The Blossom Kite Festival will be back this year!

National Cherry Blossom Festival
Where: Around the DC Area
When: March 20 – April 17
Admission: Varies by activity

The National Cherry Blossom Festival, running March 20 – April 12 this year, presents all kinds of fun and enriching activities over a few weeks every spring. (Well, except for the past couple of springs.) After being cancelled in 2020, then limited in 2021, the full Festival will return with all of its signature events — the Blossom Kite Festival, National Cherry Blossom Parade, Sakura Matsuri, and Petalpalooza — plus many more blossom inspired happenings around the area.  This post rounds up those particularly great for families.

Last year’s azalea bloom at the National Arboretum

Bloom Town
Where: Around the DC Area
When: Varies by locale
Admission: Varies by locale

We all know about the cherry blossoms that brighten up the land and cityscape during the season.  But there are even more big blooms to enjoy around the DC area, and they’re literally coming up soon. Magnolias, bluebells, azaleas, tulips, and roses are what you can stop, smell, see, and relish in the loveliness of during spring. This KFDC post has details on where and when to enjoy them at their best.

 

Cheer on the United at Audi FIeld!

Vamos United!
Where: Around the DC Area
When: Started late February
Admission: Varies

So, the MLS season actually kicked off during winter in February, but spring will be a great time to catch some action on the pitch, as the weather warms up.   While there are good concessions at the stadium, you can also make a longer outing of it, and grab a bit to eat before or after games. There are lots good dining options in the Capitol Riverfront area a short walk away.

 

Immerse in digital spring flowers at PIXELBLOOM

PIXELBLOOM
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
When: March 12 – June 5
Admission: $20-25/adult, $14/age 4-15, free/under 4

The exhibits at ARTECHOUSE often reflect the season in some way, and for the fifth year, they are highlighting spring by celebrating the cherry blossoms with a gorgeous digital exhibit that immerses you in the blooms. Floor to ceiling projections, plus interactive elements make this one beautiful, engaging, and fun to experience! Get more of a glimpse of it here.

 

NoMa in Bloom
Where: Around the NoMa neighborhood, DC
When: March 20 – April 17
Admission: Free (but plan on some purchases)

The NoMa BID is celebrating the return of spring with all kinds of activities and events over a few weeks — with something for all ages. From the family-friendly first annual NoMa in Bloom Festival on March 26 at Alethia Tanner Park to art and light displays to special cherry-themed food and drink specials at NoMa bars and restaurants, see what’s coming up to enjoy.

 

Family QT at the lovely Victura Park

Victura Park Reopens
Where: The REACH | Kennedy Center, DC
When: Starting March 17 | Weds-Fri, 4-8pm & Sat-Sun 12-8pm
Admission: Free

The family-friendly outdoor pop-up and wine garden at The REACH at the Kennedy Center is reopening after closing for winter. Food and drinks are available to enjoy in an area set up with picnic tables.  And this season, they are adding an indoor dining area for rainy days or if you just want some shade. They’re kicking things off with a weekend of Saint Patrick’s inspired food, drinks, and some surprises, and there will be an Art Market March 26-27.   While you’re there, be sure to explore the beautiful grounds, stop in The REACH Buildings (reserve a session in the Moonshot Studio on weekends), stroll the Kennedy Center terrace, and take in sweeping views of the Potomac. Hours will be Wednesday – Friday 4-8pm, and Saturday/Sunday 12-8pm.  Getting there by bike is a perfect way to go to avoid parking.  But if you drive, you can park in the KC garage (though pricey) or try to find street parking nearby.

 

Enjoy the season — and a fun challenge! — in the trees

Adventure in the Trees
Where: Adventure Park at Sandy Spring
When: Starting March 19
Admission: Starts at $45/adult, $16/child

The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring has reopens for the season, offering its thrilling aerial forest experience again. Navigating ropes courses up in the trees is a super fun and challenging way to spend a day.  There are 15 trails of varying levels of difficulty, all of them with ziplines, and almost 200 challenge bridges — something for everyone! Extra safety measures are in place for Covid, including required advance reservations, so be sure to book ahead.  Read about one of our past experiences at the Adventure Park.  (There have been many more since then!)

 

Entertain the idea of a gift to a stellar show

Show Time
Where: Theatres Around DC
When: Various dates
Admission: Varies by show

The new season brings new live entertainment to local stages, and there are some great shows coming to town. A few to check out (something for every age):
RENT – The 25th Anniversary Farewell Tour at National Theatre
Come From Away at National Theatre
Mean Girls at the Kennedy Center
Poop the Musical at Adventure Theatre

 

Yayoi Kusama’s Phalli’s Field infinity room will be back

Yayoi Kusama Returns
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: April 1 – November 27
Admission: Free

Back in 2017, Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibition at the Hirshhorn was the hot ticket to score. The presentation of five infinity rooms — immersive installations that transformed small rooms into boundless wonderlands with brilliant, imaginative sculptures and mirror-lined walls — caused quite a frenzy among art enthusiasts, Instagram fiends, and what seemed like everyone else, for that matter.  Her work was supposed to be back in 2020, but, well, we all know how that went. It’s finally going to happen this spring: Some of Kusama’s works, including two infinity rooms, are coming back to the museum for an exhibit called One with Eternity. Free same-day Timed Passes will be distributed daily at the Museum starting at 9:30am throughout the run of the upcoming exhibition. Fingers crossed it will be easier to get them this time!

 

There’s no place like a fairy & gnome home

Fairies in the Garden
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Lusby, MD
When: April 1 – September 5
Admission: $5 suggested donation

The annual magicalicious exhibit of fairy and gnome houses at Annmarie begins in spring. As if the sculpture garden in Calvert County wasn’t already wonderful, this annual display adds extra delight to a visit there with a collection of handmade fairy and gnome homes scattered throughout the grounds. It’s fantastic to see anytime, but the annual festival to celebrate them takes place April 24 this year.  This is a place kids of all ages — and even the kid in us adults — will love. Read more about Annmarie Sculpture Garden in this KFDC post and this one.

 

Let’s fill those seats back up at Nats Park this season!

Baseball is Back!
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: Starting April 7
Admission: Varies

Things were a bit shaky there for the MLB for awhile, but the lockout is ending, and Opening Day is now April 7!  The Nats will play their home opener against the Mets, and the rest of the season will follow as scheduled.  If you’ve been reading KFDC awhile, then you know I highly recommend Nats games as a great way to spend a family day out. I discussed it in a very early KFDC post, include ballgames in Weekend Round-Ups whenever they play at home, have endorsed the Jr. Nationals Kids Club for years, and know it all well enough to have plenty of tips for spending less on a day at the ballpark.  This is all to say, check your Natitude (and the just announced promo schedule)– and get it ready for spring ball!

 

Whirl around at Watkins Regional Park

Go for a Spin
Where: Various locations around the area
When: Varying dates
Admission: Varies by locale

Spring is when many of the carousels and mini trains open for the season, and there are a bunch around the area where you an go for whirl or a ride. Some particularly good places to go:   Montgomery Parks’ Cabin John Train and Wheaton Train and Carousel open on April 2. Clemyjontri Park welcomes guests to whirl starting April 3.  And Glen Echo Park’s beautiful Dentzel Carousel also spins again on April 30.  At Watkins Regional Park, the carousel and mini train (and mini golf) open May 7.  Read more about Cabin John Regional Park in Bethesda here, Wheaton Regional Park here, Clemyjontri Park here, and Watkins Regional Park here.

 

See the inside for the first time (Photo: Wiki Commons)

Welcome, Dorothy!
Where: Washington DC Temple | Kensington, MD
When: Starting April 28
Admission: Free

Those who really know this area well may have an idea of  that title refers to. For those that don’t, “Surrender, Dorothy” was spray painted on an overpass visible from the Beltway, just before the enormous straight-out-of-Oz looking Washington DC Temple. So many of us have wondered for years what the church, with its grand, imposing exterior, looks like on the inside. Well, now we can find out! The public will be welcome for tours for the first time ever starting late April.  All are welcome, just reserve tickets in advance — there are plenty available.

 

A souvenir from a past French Market

Bon Jour, Georgetown!
Where: Book Hill Neighborhood | Georgetown, DC
When: April 29 – May 1
Admission: Free

The Georgetown French Market returns to the Book Hill neighborhood bringing the signature European open air market back for its 19th year.  More than 25 Georgetown boutiques, antique shops, restaurants, galleries, and more will be featured. But it’s not all about the shopping!  Kids will enjoy the strolling mimes, hands-on activities, live music, and French cuisine from Georgetown cafes and restaurants. Visit the website to see the schedule of events and list of participating shops.

 

Flowers & fun at the National Cathedral

Flower Mart
Where: National Cathedral | Northwest DC
When: May 6-7
Admission: Free

This festival ran for 80 years until its two-year hiatus due to Covid. But it’s back — and a super fun, fab way to spend a spring day! Plant sales, floral and horticultural displays, and boutique booths will likely be of more interest to grown-ups. But there is music and entertainment, games and carnival rides, tasty foods, the All Hallows Guild antique carousel, and many more fun activities to delight kids as well. While you’re there, be sure to visit the Beauvoir Playground, too! Read more about Flower Mart and the National Cathedral in this KFDC post.

 

Enjoy global culture at the Around the World Embassy Tour

Around the World Embassy Tour 
Where: Local Embassies | Dupont Circle, DC
When: May 7
Admission: Free

Cultural Tourism DC’s awesome Around the World Embassy Tour will be back this spring! This event, one of my favorites of spring,  is like a local passport to countries around the world as  embassies from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania open their doors to the public.  It’s a free showcase of art, music, traditional dress, and culinary delights from nations across the globe. (It’s also your chance to check out the interiors of those mansions along Mass Ave & International Drive that you usually just admire from the street.) Read about one of our past  globetrotting-in-DC experiences and get a glimpse of what to expect.  And note that there will also be an EU Embassy Tour on May 14!

 

Strawberries at Schlagel Farm, always the first to open for the picking season

Take Your Pick
Where: Farms around the DC Area
When: Varies by locale
Admission: Varies by locale

The pick-your-own season begins in late April/early May when strawberries are ripe and ready for harvest.  Several area farms welcome guests to come pick them, and some offer even more fun. This round-up of PYO places around the area has more details (note that this year’s dates are still TBA).  And it’s always a good idea to check websites or call ahead to confirm availability the day you plan to go. Sunscreen and hat also recommended.

 

A grand new space for KID Museum coming in May

Grand Opening
Where: KID Museum | Bethesda Metro Center, MD
When: May 22
Admission: TBA

KID Museum, which for years provided innovative, hands-on learning experiences for kids at the Davis Library in Bethesda, is opening a new flagship site at Bethesda Metro Center. The 28,000-square-foot facility will offer the same kinds of experiences that encourage invention, creativity, experimentation, and discovery — but on a larger scale in a bigger space. Kids ages 4-14 can explore coding, robotics, engineering design, and hands-on maker learning in the new state-of-the-art makerspace starting late May. The Grand Opening celebration on May 22 will be a fun-filled day of making at the new site — and that will continue beyond the first day.  Get more of an idea of what KID Museum is all about in this KFDC post.

 

Paddling the Potomac from Fletcher’s Cove

Go with the Flow
Where: Waterways around the DC area
When: Varies by place
Admission: Varies by place

With warmer weather comes opportunities to enjoy time on the water, and you can rent kayaks, canoes, and other vessels to paddle at a bunch of places around the area. Boating in DC now runs many of the boathouses in the District and nearby. Some locations begin operating in early April, others open in May, so be sure to check the website for opening dates.  A few places within the NoVA Parks system are offering boat rentals now. And if you don’t want to do the work of paddling (though I highly recommend it), enjoy a Water Taxi ride — there are several  options for places to catch it! See this post for a round-up of places to go with the flow, and read more about a couple of our paddling adventures around the area here and here.

 

Family nature/dog walk at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Opt Outside
Where: Around the DC Area
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by locale

This one is very general and also pretty obvious, but take advantage of the outdoors — spring is sublime in DC!  Get back to those places and activities you missed all winter and, of course, discover some new ones. These posts are full of ideas to help with that:
The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids
Walks in the Woods
Ride On: Bike Routes for Everyone Around DC
Serenity Now: 10 Places to Find Peace and Calm in DC

 

What spring things are you most excited about?

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Filed under 2022, DC, Maryland, Seasonal, Special Event, Spring, Virginia

The 2021 KFDC Holiday Gift Guide

A holiday photo fave: Her first Christmas, his fourth (and obviously an unwrapping pro even then)

 

If you’ve been reading KFDC awhile, this gift guide — including this very intro — may look familiar.  And that’s intentional. In its seventh year, the general suggestions haven’t changed very much (nor has the above photo that I adore). While the specifics have been updated, the overall concepts have remained consistent over the years. That’s because I want my recommendations to reflect the spirit of my blog — of adventure, discovery, local culture, and family time — and these ideas do just that. (Plus, I think they’re really good suggestions! 😉 )

So just like the last many years, I’m sharing some things our family has really enjoyed around DC and/or think would make fantastic presents for a variety of people. This also gives me a chance to highlight local businesses offering unique experiences and products as well as people and organizations that are doing great things. And then there are ideas that are simply fun and enriching and showcase the incredible, dynamic city that is Washington, DC. None of these recommendations are sponsored; they’re just experiences, places, adventures, and products that I truly like and think you and yours might, too. Happy gifting!

 

HOT TICKETS

Entertain the gift idea of tickets to a stellar show

 

There’s so much great live entertainment, both currently running and coming to local stages soon, that would make fantastic presents for kids and adults. KFDC Tip: Before you buy, check for ticket deals here as you may be able to get discounts to some productions (I’ve noted some, but more deals may come up). Here are recommendations for shows coming up soon and even a few running during the holiday season.

* Make Way for Ducklings at Adventure Theatre
* Poop! The Musical at Adventure Theatre
* Corduroy at Imagination Stage
* P.Nokio: A Hip-Hop Musical at Imagination Stage
* Once Upon a One More Time by Shakespreare Theatre Company (find discount)
* Our Town by Shakespreare Theatre Company
* The Merchant of Venice by Shakespreare Theatre Company
* Tootsie at National Theatre (find discount)
* Pretty Woman: The Musical at National Theatre (find discount)
* The Simon & Garfunkel Story at National Theatre
* RENT – The 25th Anniversary Farewell Tour at National Theatre
* Come From Away at National Theatre
* John Oliver at the Kennedy Center (find discount)
* Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at the Kennedy Center (find discount)
* The Prom at the Kennedy Center (find discount)
* Jesus Christ Superstar at the Kennedy Center (find discount)
* Mean Girls at the Kennedy Center
* Catch Me If You Can at Arena Stage (find discount)
* The 9:30 Club is legendary and welcomes all ages to most shows
* The Anthem has a great line-up of concerts
* For holiday season shows, look here
* You can also give a gift certificate to one of the venues mentioned above

 

EXCELLENT ADVENTURES

The gift of adventure

From action-packed activities to more mellow pursuits, there’s a perfect adventure for everyone.  And there are many around the DC area that would be ideal as holiday presents. A gift card for one could be a small stocking stuffer with a big, happy impact.

* The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring, one of our favorite outdoor places to play, is an exciting aerial forest experience, where adventure-goers navigate ropes courses in the trees, with climbing for kids as young as 5 years old. They are having a Holiday Sale on November 19.  In the meantime, read more about the adventure in this KFDC post.
* Many local ice skating rinks have season passes available for peeps who want to practice their triple lutzes and spins — or just like to glide around.
* Ski season is starting, and White Tail is an easy-from-DC place to go for downhill fun.  Read more about it and find links for other regional ski resorts here.
* Trapeze School New York in DC has classes in flying trapeze, static trapeze, balancing and acrobatics, trampoline, and more.  Read more about it here.
* iFLY Loudoun offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience sky diving without stepping foot in (or out of) an airplane.  Read more about it here. (Post is about my experience, but my kids have done it, too!)
* Plan for a paddling excursion when it’s back in season — 2022 passes are available for many locales.
* The St. James has Super, Awesome, & Amazing fun at its activity center and indoor waterpark.
* Kids love scaling the colorful walls at ClimbZone.
*  TopGolf,  with area locations at National Harbor and Germantown, is a fun place to practice driving balls from their hitting bays.
* Exhibits at ARTECHOUSE are unique, immersive, and fun to experience. See the latest one here.
* There are many awesome attractions in Baltimore that would be great to gift.
* The Calvert Marine Museum is an interesting non-DC museum to check out.
* A sightseeing boat tour is a cool way to get a new view of DC — and have some fun on the water.
* Many holiday light displays continue into January.

 

MEMBERS ONLY

Become an insider at the National Children’s Museum

Membership really does have its benefits!  You can first dibs on tickets to events and shows, exclusive access to special offerings, and/or free admission to places, perfect for those who have favorite spots they frequent often. Here are some local attractions with membership options that would make for excellent gifts:

* At the National Children’s Museum, get a year of free admission, invites to special programs, members-only hours, & 10% off in the gift shop. (Starts at $190) Read more about the museum and get a glimpse here.
*  The Lane Social Club for families in Ivy City offers unlimited visits, 10% off cafe purchases, and access to members-only events.  (Starts at $95/month)
* Sign kids up for their favorite sports team fan club that offers all kinds of fun benefits, for low cost or even free.  A few of our local pro sports team have them: Nats, Spirit, Wizards, Caps
* National Building Museum  memberships get you all into exhibits and some programs free of charge, members-only birthday parties, advanced camp registration, preview invites, and more.  (Starts at for $90/year for families).
* For adults who enjoy performing arts, the Kennedy Center gets them ticket priority, special event invites, and discounts on parking, dining, and the gift shop. (Starts at $75/year)

 

KEEP IT CLASSY

Dance your way into their hearts by gifting lessons they’ll love

Has your child expressed interest in a particular activity? Give them a boost by getting them into a class! Here are some recommendations.

* Kids can kick it with DC Way‘s soccer offerings.
* Chess, anyone? Check(mate) Silver Knights Enrichment.
Give the gift of music with lessons from the International School of Music.
* Explore the magic of opera with Opera Lafayette.
* All ages can twirl and groove with CityDance.
* Young Playwrights Theater offers playwrighting programs
* For kids who like to be on stage: Young Artists of America.
* Boolean Girl has cool STEAM classes and more.

 

FAN FAVORITES

Sports fan gift? Done.

The gift of sports is no-brainer for those who love them. Our local sports teams, pro and college, have experiences (ie, games) and merch that fans will cheer about when they receive them. Here are links for all of them, and note that some are offering special holiday packages, too!

* Washington Nationals (Holiday Packs | Merch)
* Washington Capitals (Tickets | Merch)
* Washington Mystics (Pandamonium Holiday Pack)
* Washington Wizards (Tickets | Merch)
* DC United
* Washington Spirit
* Washington Football Team
* University of Maryland Terrapins
* Georgetown Hoyas
* George Washington University Colonials
* Howard Bison
* American University Eagles
* George Mason Patriots
* Catholic University Cardinals

 

ENTER THROUGH THE MUSEUM GIFT SHOP

The Spy Museum shop is full of intriguing inventory

We have some pretty amazing museums in our city, and many of their gift shops — that are also online — echo the impressive collections with items that are an extension of their programs. It’s not just prints of paintings you see; you can buy books, puzzles, accessories, gadgets, games, housewares, and lots of children’s items that are artistic, clever, and innovative. Just about all of the Smithsonian Museums and National Zoo have wonderful gift shops. And I highly recommend browsing the shops of some of the other museums in town — I’ve purchased gifts over the years at every single one of these.
* International Spy Museum
* National Building Museum
* Planet Word
* Phillips Collection
* National Museum of Women in the Arts
* Library of Congress

 

INDIE PICKS

A trove of games and puzzles at Labyrinth

Shop for unique gifts and support independent businesses around the city. Here are some of our go-tos for gift shopping close to home.

* Labyrinth Game Shop on Capitol Hill is the place to go for the best board games and puzzles. Period.
* The Pretzel Bakery is our hands down neighborhood fave for savory & sweet treats.
* Book it to one of these local, independent shops to find good reads for your giftees: Kramerbooks in Dupont Circl, East City Book Shop on Capitol Hill,  Solid State Books  on H Street NE, Hurray for Books in Old Town Alexandria, Loyalty Bookstore in Petworth and Silver Spring, Politics & Prose at Union Market, The Wharf, and Northwest, and Capitol Hill Books, a legendary used books shop.
* Check the above shops for Secret Washington DC: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure by JoAnn Hill — it’s a fantastic book, filled with intriguing stories and interesting facts about DC.
* Local organization Rosie Riveters has books, notecards, and STEM kits for girls.
* Food for thought: A gift certificate to a local restaurant.
* Steadfast Supply is a great store to shop for maker-made and DC-inspired gifts.
* Not an actual store, but started locally, Artifcts is a unique online service that helps people for organize, preserve, and share special memories. A subscription would make a wonderful gift.

 

PICTURE PERFECT PRESENTS

Capture them (and their hearts) with this gift

How about a gift that includes your whole gang? Present them (and yourself!) with a family portrait session. And like the last few years, I’m recommending just the right photographer for it. As mentioned in previous gift guides, I have adored Darcy Troutman’s photos forever, starting with her former blog, No Monsters in My Bed. But over the last several years, she’s launched her own photography business capturing families and weddings, helping people make and preserve memories. Her style is unique and the photos gorgeous, but her real-life, let-the-moment-seize-you approach to her work is what really makes it special. Also, she’s hilarious and sweet and really comfortable to be around, the ideal personality for the job. Plus, her photos will not only capture this time in your lives, they’ll make for great gifts for extended family throughout the year, too.

 

DESIGN TIME

Give design guidance from a guru

If there’s someone in your life who wants a update to their home, but needs some guidance going about it, gift them the help of an expert.  Margaret Carroll is an architect and design consultant extraordinaire and, full disclosure,  a really great friend of mine. But that just means I know first hand that she has a keen eye for style and the sharpest aesthetic of anyone I know, from the perfectly picked tile in her bathrooms (and in mine!) to the pretty booties on her feet. She actually did a tear-down/rebuild of her own house, and you can take a virtual tour of it here.

 

CREATURE COMFORTS

The best fire pit, cozy blankets, and more gifts of comfort (a puppy would be cool, too!)

These ideas are a divergence from the rest, as they are inspired by last year’s guide when Covid prompted a pivot from my usual gifting theme. But while not necessarily DC-centric, many of these will help enjoy area adventures — and a few others will help enhance time at home.

* These bike lights are always a hit!
* The Solo Stove was one of our very best purchases last year for fire pit hangs that became more popular during the Covid winter — and are still a fun activity on the home front.
*portable projector makes movie nights cool for kids (and adults).  They can be outdoors… or anywhere, for that matter.
* Cozy blankets are perfect for outdoor hangs…and snuggling up indoors, too.  (Fun ones for kids.)
* Those who love to hike will dig a good backpack.
For someone who loves on-the-water adventures, how about an SUP?
* Lawn games let you bring outdoor amusement anywhere (link has recs for all ages)
* Bubble umbrellas for rainy days are genius, and these are so pretty, your peops will want to stand under them when the sun’s out, too.
* Winter gear for kids: Snow bibs, boots, jackets, hats.
* Comfy kicks:  For her, for him, for kids.
* A plush robe: For her, for him, for kids.
* A few things inspired by the year’s best TV show:  Thisthis, and this.
* Subscriptions keep the gifts coming: MasterClass, Washingtonian Magazine, National Geographic, The New YorkerBon Appetit, New York Times (just the Cooking and Games sections are great, too)
* Find more gift ideas for little kids here, hereherehere, and here.

GIVE FREELY

Free experiences (and gifts) abound

Of course, not all gifts have to come with a hefty price tag. There are so many magical yet still inexpensive experiences to be had in the DC area, some without even spending a dime. You can creatively package them up — perhaps a big, fun card with a photo — and promise a visit. Some suggestions:

* A tour of the newest exhibitions at the National Museum of Natural History.
* A bike ride on the National Mall — see the memorials and visit museums.
* For ages 12 and up, Glenstone offers an incredible, unique art experience.
* A fossil hunting adventure.
* A DYI scavenger hunt on an area hike.
* A geocaching excursion.
* A visit to Planet Word, the super cool museum downtown.
* A photo walk at Dumbarton Oaks in winter (when admission is free).
* A nature walk at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.
* A day of play at Beauvoir Playground.
* The Fairy Lolly and art experiences at Annmarie Sculpture Garden.
A trip to Watkins Regional Park Wizard of Oz playground, Old Maryland Farm, and Nature Center.
* A family game of disc golf at a local course.
* Find inspo for even more!

*Perhaps the best gift of all is quality time with the people in our lives, so be sure to take advantage of it during the season. The 2021 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC is full of ideas for doing just that. Happy Holidays!

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Filed under 2021, DC, Holidays, Maryland, Professional Service, Seasonal, Shop, Virginia