Category Archives: Story Time

Activities & Events for Families During Cherry Blossom Season (2020)


UPDATE: Due to the coronavirus, the National Cherry Blossom Festival and just about all other events have been canceled. You can still try view them, but use good judgement doing so.

Cherry blossom season is almost upon us, and it’s time to start getting ready for it! Because not only is the city at its prettiest when the beloved flowers are in bloom, there also are loads of special events and activities to celebrate it all. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, running March 20 – April 12 this year, presents all kinds of fun and enriching activities over a few weeks, plus there are even more blossom-inspired happenings that aren’t part of the official festivities. I’ve picked the best of them for families to help you plan for a peak experience. Happy Spring!

Cherry Blossom Viewing
Where: Around the DMV
When: Late March
Admission: Free

Viewing the cherry blossoms may just be the top thing to do during the season — and lots of people agree. The scenery really can’t get more iconic DC than the flowering trees around the Tidal Basin at their peak pink and white brilliance with our grand memorials in the background. However, viewing the famous blooms can be a bit challenging without being aware of a few things, so be sure to check out these KFDC tips before you go to see them. And view scenes from last year’s bloom here.

STORYTIME: Under the Cherry Blossom Tree CANCELLED!
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: March 11, 10-11am & March 15 & 22, 11am – 12pm
Admission: Free

In celebration of cherry blossoms, join the Hirhshorn for a read aloud of Under the Cherry Blossom Tree by Allen Say. Take a close look at the museum’s lobby’s tables, created by artist Hiroshi Sugimoto using a 700-year-old nutmeg tree, then create your own tree- and blossom-inspired works.

Hanami: Beyond the Blooms
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
When: March 13 – May 25
Admission: $16-20/adult, $8-10/child

ARTECHOUSE introduces a new exhibit every season, and it’s only apropos that its spring offering highlights the cherry blossoms. Hanami: Beyond the Blooms “pushes the limits of the cherry blossom experience, inviting visitors to enter an immersive world of spring re-imagined. Now an annual tradition, ARTECHOUSE’s cherry blossom-inspired installation continues to celebrate springtime and women in the arts and tech.” Look for a KFDC review of it soon!

Cultural Performances CANCELLED!
Where: Tidal Basin Welcome Area
When: Weekends, March 21 – April 12
Admission: Free

Catch live entertainment as you take in views of the blossoms! On weekends during the National Cherry Blossom Festival, there will be music and dance performances on a special stage set up at the Tidal Basin Welcome Area. A highlight will be the Miyako Takio Takeover Saturday on March 28 from 11am to 6pm.

Cherry Blossom Celebration CANCELLED!
Where: American Art Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: March 21, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Join SAAM and the National Cherry Blossom Festival for a celebration of Japanese culture. A taiko drumming performance kicks off the day, followed by Les The DJ spinning Japanese pop, funk, and boogie beats and the Koto Ensemble performing traditional Japanese dance. Enjoy face painting, make cherry blossom crafts, and go on an art scavenger hunt throughout the exhibition Chiura Obata: American Modern in the first-floor galleries. 

Japanese Fashion Family Day CANCELLED!
Where: GWU & Textile Museum | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: March 21, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Japanese fashion during cherry blossom season this spring. Join the Textile Museum & George Washington University museum for a family day featuring kimono, happi coats, accessories, and the creative shapes of contemporary Japanese fashion designers. Enjoy dance performances of Eisaa and Ryubu traditional dances from Okinawa. See a demonstration for how to dress in a kimono and take the opportunity to design one of your own. Make a cherry blossom pendant to take home. And enjoy family-friendly tours of the Japanese artwork on display in Delight in Discovery: The Global Collections of Lloyd Cotsen. This is a fantastic opportunity to experience a museum that usually may be a bit sophisticated for little ones!

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

Get a new perspective of the blossom and enjoy a fun activity on a paddling excursion. Many boathouses will open around the same time the National Cherry Blossom Festival begins, offering canoe, kayak, and other rentals to take you out on the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers and Tidal Bason, where you can see the blooming cherry trees from the water. This KFDC post has more information on where to go with the flow around DC.

River Cruisin’
Where: Local waterways
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by tour operator

Enjoy blossom filled scenery from the comfort of a cruise on the Potomac. Several companies offer boat rides along the river, many of them specifically for the season when the cherry trees are in bloom. Right now you can find great deals with Washington Marina National Ferry Corp, Boomerang Boat Tours, and Capitol River Cruises. Potomac Riverboat Company and DC Water Taxi are a couple more to check out.

Last year’s cherry blossom inspired exhibit at ARTECHOUSE

STORYTIME: The Tiny Seed CANCELLED!
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: March 25, 10-11am
Admission: Free

Join the Hirshhorn for a special STORYTIME, their regular program for littles, and join them to celebrate spring with the journey of a tiny seed. Take a close look at the round bronze sculptures of Spatial Concept: Nature by Lucio Fontana, and read-aloud The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle. Then, explore how plants move and change throughout their life cycle. Following the story, children will participate in a hands-on art activity.

Cherry Blossom Night with the Washington Wizards CANCELLED!
Where: Capitol One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: March 25, 7pm
Admission: Tickets start at $19

Celebrate the cherry blossom season with the Wizards and some basketball as they take on the Phoenix Suns! Each ticket purchased through this link comes with a limited edition Wizards Cherry Blossom t-shirt. In addition first 10,000 fans entering the arena will receive a Rui Hachimura Cherry Blossom inspired bobblehead!

Blossom Kite Festival CANCELLED!
Where: Washington Monument Grounds | National Mall, DC
When: March 28, 10am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

The annual Blossom Kite Festival is a favorite for many during the blossom season. The sight of thousands of kites in all colors, shapes, and sizes soaring around the Washington Monument truly is a sight to behold. The sails you see flying at the Festival each spring range from simple to pretty darn creative. Dragons, sharks, butterflies, giant soccer balls, even some that look like big, beautiful origami works way outnumber your basic diamond. And anyone can go fly their kites, so BYO or make one there at an activity station. There’s a competition aspect to the event, too; expert kite enthusiasts will wow crowds with cool stunts, and prizes will be awarded to winners of various categories such as most beautiful, funniest, and aerodynamics.

Cherry Blossom Celebration CANCELLED!
Where: Freer|Sackler Gallery | National Mall, DC
When: March 28, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the season at the museum dedicated to Asian art! At this special event, explore Japanese art and culture through musical performances, making art, and taking a tour of Hokusai: Mad about Painting and Meeting Tessai. Try Japanese bookmaking, listen to taiko drumming, and then join the kite festival right outside on the National Mall. Japanese-inspired food and drink will be available for purchase.

Into the Woods
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park | Centreville, VA
When: March 28, 11am – 1:30pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the cherry blossoms at the farm park! Hike the nature trail to experience the changes of spring. Visit stations peppered throughout the trail to build a fairy house, help tally migratory and year round resident birds, and search for critters in the soil and water. Enjoy Japanese teas at the historic Frying Pan Meeting House, too. Stop by the Indoor Arena first for a map and instructions.

Cherry Blossom STEM Day
Where: Children’s Science Center Lab | Fairfax, VA
When: March 29, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $13

Celebrate the Cherry Blossom Festival with a twist of STEM! Visitors can learn more about the special flower and festival through hands-on activities and experiments inspired by the cherry blossom throughout the entire Lab. Read more about the Children’s Science Center Lab in this KFDC post.

Cuenta-Cuentos: STORYTIME in Spanish CANCELLED!
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: March 29, 11am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Join a special STORYTIME in Spanish and inspired the season! Celebrate spring with a close look at the round bronze sculptures Spatial Concept: Nature by Lucio Fontana, and a reading of The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle. Then, explore how plants move and change throughout their life cycle. Following the story, children will participate in a hands-on art activity.

Cherry Blossom Night at DC United
Where: Audi Field | Southwest DC
When: April 3, 7pm
Admission: Ticket prices vary

Support local sports and be a part of the Cherry Blossom Festival at once! DC United’s home match against New York City FC will include cherry blossom-themed activations, activities, and celebrations for fans along with the action on the pitch. Score tickets here.

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade CANCELLED!
Where: Constitution Avenue, 7th – 17th St NW | Downtown DC
When: April 4, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

The pinnacle of cherry blossom festivities just might be the parade. Thousands of people line Constitution Avenue every year to watch the procession of lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, and a variety of performers roll through the city. Tickets for grandstand seats are available for $20, but you can stake out a spot along the curb for free. Plan to arrive early to get a good view — the crowds come out for this one, especially if it’s a pretty spring day.

See Racing Presidents rolling down Constitution Ave at the annual parade

Sakura Matsuri
Where: Pennsylvania Ave, 3rd-7th St NW | Downtown DC
When: April 4, 10:30am – 6pm
Admission: $10/ages 13+, free/12 & under

Following the Cherry Blossom parade, many folks head over to Sakura Matsuri, the Japanese Street Festival that is America’s largest one-day exhibition of Japanese culture. The 60th annual event will feature live music and dance performances, all kinds of Asian and Western foods, martial arts demos, Japanese art, and more. Be prepared for a crowd.

Bloomaroo
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: April 4, 2-9pm
Admission: Free

Join The Wharf for Bloomaroo, their local version of Bonaroo, where they’ll be celebrating the cherry blossoms with a full day of art, music, and family-friendly fun along the waterfront! If you want to make this a special adult experience with food and drinks included, VIP tickets are available for $55. Read more about The Wharf in this KFDC post.

Art Blooms at Mosaic
Where: Mosaic District | McLean, VA
When: April 4 & 5, 11am – 5pm
Admission: Free

The 2nd annual Art Blooms at Mosaic is celebratory weekend with fun for all ages. Do some shopping at the market, catch live entertainment and art exhibits, do some kids activities, enjoy a pop-up beer garden & wine patio, snap pics at selfie stations, join a free yoga session, and much more!

Sakura Sunday
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: April 5, 11am – 8pm
Admission: Free

National Harbor’s Sakura Sunday is an official event of the 2020 National Cherry Blossom Festival — and a taste of the traditional Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan! The day’s activities include a traditional Japanese picnic, unique Japanese market, foods of Japan, Japanese music & entertainment, and a sake, beer & rose garden!

Anacostia River Festival
Where: Anacostia Park | Southeast DC
When: April 5, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

The 6th annual Anacostia River Festival is a premier event of the 2020 National Cherry Blossom Festival. This year will feature an artist market, special performances, and activities that include boating, hands-on art projects, musical performances, and other unique programs engaging families with the river, its history, and ecology.

Blossoms & Baseball
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: April 6
Admission: Ticket price vary

The Nats are getting in on the Cherry Blossom festivities again this year with a petal-packed, pink takeover of Nationals Park as they host the Marlins. A portion of ticket proceeds from the game will also benefit the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Japanese Culture Day
Where: Library of Congress | Capitol Hill, DC
When: April 11, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Children of all ages and their families can learn about Japanese culture through reading, writing, and craft-making with Japanese cultural and linguistic professionals. Japanese-related books will be on display, and a special highlight of the day is “Japan-In-A-Suitcase,” an inspiring program about Japanese life and culture. Other activities include Japanese drum music and dance performances, instructions on the art of tiara-making by former Cherry Blossom princesses, origami artwork lessons, decorative Konobori coloring, and the kimono dress-up experience. Children can also explore the Library’s Young Readers Center, which is full of current and classic children’s literature — read more about it here.

Petalpalooza
Where: The Yards | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: April 11, 12-9:30pm
Admission: Free

Join the Capitol Riverfront community for Petalpalooza! It’s the first time the event will be held in neighborhood, and it should be a blast. The event will celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival with live music, art installations, a beer garden, and lots of family-friendly activities. Plan to go for awhile, or just stop by for a bit. The day will cap off with a fireworks show over the Anacostia River.

Ikebana Demonstrations
Where: National Arboretum | Northeast DC
When: April 11 & 12, 10am – 1:30pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy spring flowers with a Japanese twist! The Washington DC Chapter of Ikebana International is co-hosting four different Ikebana masters. Each master represents a different school and and will highlight the characteristics of their school. Demonstrations will be held in the Auditorium of the Visitor Center and are free to attend.


Leave a Comment

Filed under 2020, All ages, Annual, Art, DC, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Festival, Free, Live Entertainment, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Parade, Park, Seasonal, Shop, Special Event, Spring, Story Time, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: February 3-7

Enjoy a special story time session at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building on Friday


Monday – Get outside to take advantage of warmer temps! Oxon Hill Farm near National Harbor is an ideal place for it. Visit animals, roam the lovely grounds, check out exhibits of old farm machinery and local history, and enjoy activities in the Visitors Center. Hours are 8am – 4:30pm, and admission is free. And for more places to opt outside on a lovely day, see the round-up of The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids.

Tuesday – Watch local kids recite Abraham Lincoln’s speeches at the Lincoln Oratory Festival. The annual event brings together students from the DC area to perform on the Ford’s Theatre stage some of Lincoln’s most important speeches, including both his inaugural addresses and the Gettysburg Address. The public is invited to be part of their audience. Reserve free tickets in advance online or get them at the Box Office. (Note: This also takes place on Wednesday.) Make a day of it and plan to tour the historic site, too — the museum adjacent to the theatre and Petersen House across the street welcome visitors daily, offering a fascinating glimpse into the life and death of Abraham Lincoln. Read a KFDC write-up about it. Tickets are free at the Box Office, $3/online in advance.

Wednesday – Celebrate Black History Month at the National Museum of African American History & Culture. During the off-peak season (September – February), passes are not needed for weekday admission. Be sure to read the KFDC Guide to visiting the museum with kids before you go.

Thursday – Join local children’s entertainer Uncle Devin on a musical journey through the wide, wonderful, and boisterous world of percussion instruments at Discovery Theater. Showtimes are 10:15am and11:30am (on Friday, too), and tickets are $3-6/chid, $8-9/adult.

In the evening, join Green Hedges School in Vienna at 6pm for a free screening of the documentary film Like, an IndieFlix Original that explores the impact of social media on our lives with a goal to to inspire people of all ages, especially kids, to self-regulate. The public is invited, and children are welcome, though the film is intended for students in grades 4-8. RSVP in advance.

Friday – Enjoy a Storytime at the National Gallery of Art. Together with staff, you’ll read a book aloud (in both English and Spanish), move, and play.  All ages are welcome, especially the youngest visitors and nursing parents. The session runs 10-11am and will gather at the East Building entrance. Admission is free. Plan to stay and explore the East Building after — see more about it in this KFDC post.


Leave a Comment

Filed under 2020, All ages, Animals, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Outdoor, Special Event, Story Time, Theatre, Weekdays, Winter

Where to Play on the Weekdays: January 13-17

The National Arboetum is a great place to enjoy warmer-than-normal weather


Monday – Go to Story Time at the National Postal Museum. Taking place every Monday, the program includes a book reading and activities for little ones in the museum’s education space. Of course, stay to explore the rest of the museum, which is full of interactive exhibits that appeal to all ages. Story Time is at 10:30am and repeated at 11am. Admission is free. Read more about the museum in this KFDC post.

Tuesday – Take kiddos to bounce, climb, swing, tumble, and slide at the PG Sports & Learning Complex Gymnastics Center in Landover, MD. The hour-long weekly open play workshop is a great way for kiddos to be active indoors (it was a regular outing for us when the kids were younger)! The session begins at 11:30am, and admission is $7/child. This also takes place on Wednesdays at 11:30am and Fridays at 4:30pm. Read more about the open play sessions here.

Wednesday – Spend what’s forecast to be a warmer-than-normal winter day at one of the prettiest places in DC, the U.S. National Arboretum. Explore the plant collections on nature walks, view the bonsai exhibit, visit the Washington Youth Garden and romp on the natural playground, check out the old Capitol columns, picnic in the Grove of State Trees, and so much more. Hours are 8am – 5pm, and admission is free. Read even more about the Arboretum in the round-up of the best places to spend a day outdoors — it tops the list! — as well as this post and this one.

Thursday – Explore the local environment at Buddie Ford Nature Center. The facility in Alexandria houses fascinating exhibits (including live creatures!), hands-on activities, and a staff of friendly and knowledgeable naturalists that all ages will appreciate. Afterwards, take the fun outdoors with a short hike at the adjacent Dora Kelley Nature Park. Buddie Ford hours are 10am – 5pm (Wednesday – Saturday, 1-5pm Sunday). Admission is free.

Friday – Rock out with local kids’ fave Rocknocerous at Jammin’ Java in Vienna, VA. You can also nosh while you’re there — the smoothie, juice, acai bowl, and coffee menu will be available. Showtime is 10:30am, doors open at 10am. Tickets are $5.


Leave a Comment

Filed under 2020, All ages, DC, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Story Time, Virginia, Weekdays

Where to Play on the Weekdays: December 3-7

Igloo building teamwork at the National Museum of the American Indian





Monday – Take advantage of the nice weather and enjoy tons of fun at Watkins Regional Park. Kiddos will love frolicking on the adorable Wizard of Oz themed playground. You can walk from there to Watkins Nature Center to view lots of cool creatures and birds, then hike the nearby trails. (Old Maryland Farm, which also has animals to visit, is closed on Mondays). Park hours are dawn to dusk and 10am – 5:30pm at the Nature Center. Admission is free.

Tuesday – Discover American Indian culture with all kinds of hands-on pursuits at imagiNATIONS, the family activity center at the National Museum of the American Indian. Kids can weave a big basket, play in a teepee and models of native dwellings, do some arts & crafts, build an igloo, hear bird calls of the wild, read kids books in the library, and much more. Plan on lunch or a snack at the Mitsitam Cafe, where they serve indigenous cuisines of the Americas that are interesting and tasty! Museum hours are 10am – 5:30pm (cafe 11am – 3pm). Admission is free.

Wednesday – Go to Story Time at Kramerbooks in Dupont Circle. The weekly program features a different children’s book and various fun activities for little ones. They’ll watch your kids while you grab a coffee (or, if its that kind of morning, a mimosa) from the great Afterwords Café. The session starts at 10:30am, and admission is free. All ages welcome.

In the evening, attend the Capitol Christmas Tree lighting! The ceremony will take place on the West Lawn at 5pm. It’s fairly short, so arrive on time if you hope to catch it.

Thursday – Indulge in an unseasonal activity: Swimming! There are a bunch of public indoor pools around the area where you can take a dip on a cold day. Wilson Aquatic Center in NW is popular, Rumsey on Capitol Hill and Turkey Thicket in Brookland have kiddie pools, and Deanwood in NE even has a slide. In Maryland, Rollingcrest in PG County has a special preschool area, and there are several indoor aquatic facilities in Montgomery County. In Northern Virginia, Arlington County has a few indoor public pools, and there’s one in Alexandria, too. Be sure to check schedules for open swim hours and make sure there are no random closings, which happen occasionally.

Friday – See a performance of The Nutcracker — on strings! The Puppet Co. presents its delightful version of the holiday classic through December 30. Showtime is 11am, and tickets are $12. Plan for some time on the Glen Echo Park playground afterwards and grab lunch at Praline, the café on premises.

1 Comment

Filed under 2018, Christmas, DC, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Seasonal, Story Time, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays