Category Archives: Union Station

Where to Play on the Weekdays: November 28 – December 2

Walk among "icebergs" at the Ragnar Kjartansson exhibit

Walk among “icebergs” at the Ragnar Kjartansson exhibit

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Monday – Zip over to DC’s big train station to check out the little trains. Union Station’s annual Holiday Train Show is back in the West Hall, featuring an elaborate Norwegian mountain landscape. Plan to grab a bite to eat at one of many options there or pop over to the National Postal Museum next door for more fun. Admission is free to both the train exhibit and the Postal Museum.

Tuesday – Make your way up to Baltimore to visit the Maryland Science Center to explore a variety of neat hands-on exhibits, play in the Kids Room, build in the Science & Main area, and so much more. Hours are 10am – 5pm. Admission is $20.95/adults, $16.95/ages 3+, free for 2 and under. (I suggest checking out their membership options — if your family of 4 goes just twice in a year, it’s worth it. Plus, there’s reciprocity with other museums around the country.)

Wednesday – Head to the Hirshhorn to view the Ragnar Kjartansson exhibit. The must-see for modern art fans is a mix of performance art, video installations, paintings, dioramas, and more inspired works that are intriguing, moving, and visually stunning. After, treat kiddos to a ride on the carousel located on the Mall very close to the museum. Hours are 10am – 5:30pm, and admission is free.

Thursday – Watch the airplanes, kick a soccer ball, have a picnic, or just hang out at Gravelly Point. The park located right off the GW Parkway next to Ronald Reagan Airport is a great place to enjoy a nice day, offering views of the river and airplanes taking off or landing right overhead. (Warning: Some kids find that part exciting, others might be frightened by the loud noise and sight of an airplane coming right at them.) Admission is free.

Friday – Enjoy a little time trip back to the 18th century at Claude Moore Colonial Farm. The living history farm welcome visitors to explore the grounds, where there is a tobacco barn, farm house, garden, orchard, and animals. Guests can also interact with a family portraying life as it was back then. Hours are 10am – 4:30pm Wednesday through Saturday. Admission is $3/adults, $2/children ages 3 and up, free for 2 and under. Read about our first experience there in this post.


Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Farm, Free, Holidays, Indoor Play, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Union Station, Virginia, Weekdays

The Weekend Round-Up: May 11-12

The Friday Concert Series at Yards Park is a perfect way to kick off the weekend

The Friday Night Concert Series at Yards Park, a perfect way to kick off the weekend

This round-up of events keeps the weekend’s honorees in mind, with picks that moms will, hopefully, enjoy just as much as the kids. (Plus, one that’s just for all the mamas.) Happy Weekend! And a very Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms!

Shortcut to Europe
Where: EU Embassies
When: Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Avoid the airfare and jet lag and explore The Continent from this side of the pond. Passport DC invites you to join European Union embassies and the EU Delegation for a day of international food, dancing, kids entertainment, exhibitions, vacation planning, and more. Get a rare behind-the-scenes look at the embassies, some of which are among Washington’s historic and architectural treasures. Free shuttle bus service will be available throughout the day, and some embassies are convenient to Metro for walking. Admission is free, but bring identification, as some embassies will conduct security checks. Get an idea of what to expect in this post about our experience at the Around the World Embassy Tour last weekend.

National Train Day
Where: Union Station
When: Saturday, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

All aboard for National Train Day! Events celebrating the day will take place all around the country, and Union Station’s will feature free kids’ activities sponsored by Chuggington, interactive and educational exhibits, model train displays and giveaways. Visitors will have the chance to tour private luxury railcars, freight and commuter trains, as well as current Amtrak equipment.

Hello Gorgeous!
Where: The Tabula Rasa
When: Saturday, 5-9pm
Admission: $10/person, $15/two people

Hey, Mamas (or Dads who are still looking for a way to treat Mom)! How about treating yourself to some fun and pampering in honor of YOU on Saturday? The Tabula Rasa on Barracks Row is hosting a “Hello Gorgeous” pop-up event. Indulge in hair, make-up, and mini-photo sessions with locally acclaimed photographer Elizabeth Dranitzke of Photopia; do a little (or a lot of) shopping, and enjoy sweet treats and bubbly. This post has all the details. See you there!

Carousel Grand Opening Celebration
Where: National Harbor
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday, 12pm
Admission: Free

National Harbor is unveiling the newest addition to its expanding waterfront with a Grand Opening celebration all weekend long. The Carousel at National Harbor is a 36-foot Americana-themed carousel installed at the water’s edge. The area housing it also features a newly-built playground and picnic area for families looking to relax and soak up some sun at the harbor. Throw in the toddler play area and the view and it becomes a waterfront attraction with never-ending appeal! Grand Opening festivities start at 12pm each day and feature:
live entertainment by Rocknocerus and The Great Zucchini; appearances by Slapshot, G-Wiz, Pinch, Peep and Fireball; Radio Disney
hosting; Stella’s PopKern Truck, balloon art, and face painting. Visit the website for the detailed schedule.

Nats vs. Cubs
Where: Nationals Park
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Admission: Ticket prices vary

The Nats are hosting the Cubs this weekend, with an evening game on Friday (7:05pm) and afternoon games on Saturday (4:05pm) on Sunday (1:35pm). Take advantage of the Harris Teeter Family Pack promo and stay after for Kids Run the Bases when children ages 4-12 can loop the in field after the final out. (Cross fingers that my unlucky streak ends tonight! If the Nats lose, I think we can officially say it’s my fault.)

Shag by the River
Where: Yards Park
When: Friday, 6:30-8:30pm
Admission: Free

It’s going to be a perfect evening for a Yards Park Friday Concert. The series got off to a great start last weekend, and with the band Shag playing Brit pop tunes tonight, the fun is guaranteed to continue. Concessions will be available from Pepe, Jose Andres’ mobile sandwiches, and the BBQ Bus food truck. You can also BYO food and drinks (adult bevvies okay, too). As I’ve mentioned before, the fountains are not on right now, but there’s plenty of space for kids (and grown-ups) to frolic and dance on the boardwalk.

Maryland Faerie Festival
Where: Darlington,MD
When: Friday 5pm, Saturday & Sunday, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $5/ages 3-12, $15/ages 12-99

Indulge little faerie dreams at the annual festival inspired by faerie folklore and literature. From what I hear, it’s kind of like Renn Fest on a much smaller scale with facets that will delight children, especially those who believe in the faeries. Treasure hunts, a May pole, craft projects, giant bubbles, and acrobats are some of the activities kids (and adults) will enjoy. Art, craft, and jewelry vendors, plus classes on gardening and cooking will appeal to the bigger faeries in the crowd.

Art & Asparagus Mother’s Day Weekend
Where: Great Country Farms
When: Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $8/child $10/adult

Forget the flowers for Mother’s Day this year and replace them with a unique – and tasty – bouquet of asparagus, fresh from the farm! The veggies will be at their peak, so Great Country Farms is offering them along with other special treat. Let dad take the kids out to the five- acre play area, while Mom enjoys shopping in the Farm Market stocked with jams & jellies, honey, local meats, baked goods and great gift ideas! Or just relax over lunch and a strawberry sundae in our Roosteraunt concession stand. 

Show Time
Where: Local Theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

Here’s the live entertainment on local stages this weekend:
– See a special Friday night concert by Johnny Juarez at Adventure Theatre at 7pm this evening.
– Catch a performance of Big Nate at Adventure Theatre.
The Amazing & Marvelous Cabinets of Kismet, a special puppet show, will be at Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint.
The Magic Finger & James and the Giant Peach are still on the Imagination Stage – shows have been extended through June 2!
– See the marionette version of Cinderella or a Tiny Tots show at The Puppet Co.
Farmer Jason is playing the 10:30am show at Jammin’ Java on Saturday.
Hello Dolly! is still on stage at Ford’s Theatre production.

Bolivian Festival
Where: National Museum of the American Indian
When: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Admission: Free

I’ve found over the years that the American Indian Museum knows how to do a good festival, and it sounds like this one will follow suit. The Bolivian Festival celebrates the International Year of Quinoa with dance performances, storytelling, folk music, art demos, food, and more fun for all ages. The event is on now and running through Sunday. Be sure to stop by the imagiNATIONS family activity center on the third floor for programs especially for kids. Museum hours are 10am -5pm.

International Migratory Bird Day Festival
Where: Rock Creek Park Nature Center
When: Saturday, 9am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Join the Rock Creek Nature Center and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center for guided bird walks, live raptor programs, children’s activities, performances from local schools as well as Latin American dance groups, a special planetarium program focusing on bird constellations, healthy Latin American food, and more. Get outdoors, learn about migratory birds and how they connect the Americas, and participate in bird conservation.

Super Science Saturday
Where: 10am – 3pm
When: Saturday,
Admission: Free, but parking is $15

It’s Super Science Saturday at the Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center. Through demonstrations and hands-on activities, visitors of all ages will become immersed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics topics related to aviation and space exploration. This month, learn about Astronomy.

Team America Rocketry Challenge
Where: Great Meadow in the Plains, Va.
When: Saturday, 9am – 4pm
Admission: Free

The nation’s top 100 finalists in the world’s largest student rocket contest are competing for the national title, along with $60,000 in scholarships and a chance to compete in an international Flyoff in Paris this July. The top one hundred teams represent a diverse cross-section of Americans, with several all-girls and 4-H teams defying typical stereotypes and competing for the top-spot. Bring the family and cheer them on to share with your kids how fun science and rocketry can be! The Great Meadow in the Plains, Va. is located 5089 Old Tavern Road.

Potomac Overlook Open House
Where: Potomac Overlook Park
When: Saturday, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

The park’s Open House is a springtime tradition, now in it’s 28th year. Enjoy a day full of fun activities and exhibits for all ages, including music, entertainment, food, community exhibits, games, a maypole dance, and much more.

Contemporary Portraiture Family Day
Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: Sunday, 2-5pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2013 with students from Ivymount Middle School in Rockville, Maryland. This special day includes an exhibition of artwork by Ivymount students, a musical performance by an Ivymount student, a tour of the the related exhibition, musical performances by Sean Lane and Bay Jazz, and hands-on art activities. Borrow a Portrait Discovery Kit to explore the museum.

Farewell Birds of Paradise
Where: National Geographic Museum
When: Through Sunday
Admission: $11/adults, $5 ages 5-11, free for kids under 5

This weekend is your last chance to see Birds of Paradise: Amazing Avian Evolution at the National Geographic Museum. The fantastic exhibit showcases the work of photographer Tim Laman and Ornithology scientist Edwin Scholes from their years-long partnership documenting the extraordinary avian species of New Guinea. Through the photographs and video and audio recordings from their 18 expeditions, the duo reveals the extravagant plumage, crazy courtship dances and bizarre behaviors of the birds, including 39 previously unknown species. Read more about the exhibit in this KFDC post.

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Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, DC, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Farm, Festival, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Moms, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Sports, Spring, Theatre, Trains, Union Station, Virginia, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: December 5-9

Checking out one means of mail transportation at the National Postal Museum


Monday – Kids ages 3-5 can meet the trees that represent the season at Green Spring Gardens’ workshop, Garden Sprouts: Forever Evergreens. Guests will get an intro to the tree then create a related craft.  Admission is $5/county residents, $7/non-residents, and you must register in advance. As this post goes up, there are still a few spots remaining in the class.

Tuesday – Head to the Building Zone at the National Building Museum for its Book of the Month Program. Readings of Gingerbread Baby begin at 10:30am and 11:30am.  Don’t forget it’s now $3/person to play there, and timed entries begin on the hour.  While you’re at the NBM, check out the Lego Architecture exhibit upstairs and let the kids create some masterpieces themselves at tables yielding thousands of the tiny plastic bricks.  And the magnificent Great Hall is a perfect space to let the kids romp and enjoy an indoor picnic (BYO or buy it from the on-premises Firehook Bakery).

Wednesday – Visit the National Postal Museum, one I consider a local secret, since it’s often overlooked by tourists and overshadowed by its Smithsonian counterparts on the Mall. The atrium alone is quite a sight, showcasing various means of mail transportation — a mail truck, airplane, train car, tractor-trailer, and Pony Express horses and buggy replica are on display, and a couple of them are open for guests to climb aboard. And even more interesting exhibits await beyond the main hall. When you’re done there, head next door to Union Station to see the Holiday Train Show and grab lunch.

Thursday – See a marionette version of a holiday classic, as The Puppet Co. presents The Nutcracker at 10am and 11:30am.  Tickets are $10 and available online — they often sell fast, so reserve yours soon!

Friday – Experience the best of the holidays in DC at one of the many seasonal activities happening around town. This post lists my faves, and I highly recommend experiencing them during the week when possible to avoid the weekend crowds.


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Filed under All ages, Christmas, DC, Educational, Free, Gradeschoolers, Holidays, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Park, Preschoolers, Seasonal, Theatre, Toddlers, Union Station, Virginia, Weekdays, Winter

The Weekend Round-Up: December 2-4

Enjoying last weekend's superb weather at the Capitol Reflecting Pool, post-Botanic Garden visit.


Holiday activities dominate this weekend round-up, but there are a few non-seasonal recommendations for all the Scrooge types, too.  See a family-friendly film about Andy Warhol, visit Santa in his workshop, jam to folk music for children, sing along to holiday songs.  That’s just a small sample of all there is to do; read on for the rest.  Happy Weekend!

‘Tis the SeasonThe holiday season is in full swing, and DC is chock full of fun ways to celebrate it. A few special events are mentioned below, and this post listing DC’s best has even more recommendations. Think holiday train displays; festivities at the Botanic Garden, and at the National Harbor; light shows; a boat parade; and even more.

Holidays on StageEnjoy the ultimate holiday classic The Nutcracker performed by the Washington Ballet at Warner Theatre or catch a tot-friendly version at The Puppet Co. Join the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future as they lead Scrooge on A Christmas Carol journey at Ford’s Theatre. Get details on these live shows and others at local theaters this season in this post about holiday entertainment.

Santa on the Ellipse – The  National Christmas Tree was illuminated by the First Family last night, so festivities at President’s Park have officially begun. See the tree, a model train zipping around it, the Yule Log, and holiday displays representing all 50 states. But the biggest thrill for kids, by far, will be Santa’s Workshop, which is an actual little cottage on the Ellipse grounds, just down the path from the tree. There, guests can check out St. Nick’s “operations,” complete with a Naughty & Nice meter, letters to Santa stacked up on desks and posted on walls, sketches of toys, and a conveyor belt loaded with presents to be distributed to kids around the world. This is all there for kids to peep as they wait in line to meet Santa himself and sit on his lap for a photo op. It’s open this Saturday and Sunday from 12:30-4:30pm then again from 5:30-9:30pm. Beware that the line can get long — I’ve heard of waits up to 40 minutes — so plan accordingly. Read about our experience there last year.

Bethesda Winter WonderlandCelebrate the holiday season in downtown Bethesda with a variety of free performances, a live ice sculpting presentation in Bethesda’s Veterans Park, and a visit from Santa Claus. Festivities kick off this evening with a concert at 8pm, and continue tomorrow with ice sculptures in Veterans Park (located at the corner of Woodmont & Norfolk Avenues) from 1-2pm, then a student concert and visit from Santa from 2-4pm. Admission is free.

Scribble, Art, Pop!Kids can explore art through film at The National Gallery of Art’s monthly film program. This weekend they’ll present a series of animated shorts that celebrate the qualities that make artists.  Guests can get a glimpse into the life and art of Andy Warhol in the fun and gentle film Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists: Andy Warhol, a family-friendly biography of Warhol and an introduction to pop art, along with a few other animated shorts about art, all of the kid-friendly variety. Sessions are at 10:30am on Saturday and 11:30am on Sunday in the East Building Auditorium. The program is free, and seating is offered on a first-come, first-seated basis. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Renwick Holiday FestivalCelebrate the holiday season in presidential fashion at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery. Go on a scavenger hunt through the exhibit Something of Splendor: Decorative Arts from the White House, where you might spot Grace Coolidge, Dolly Madison, and Teddy Roosevelt; enjoy a family day filled with music, crafts, and activities inspired by the exhibition. Create your own presidential china patterns, make holiday ornaments, and warm up with some hot apple cider. The event takes place on Saturday from 11am – 2pm. Admission is free.

Folk Jam for Kids Boston roots musician and family entertainer Alastair Moock will perform an all–ages concert at Jammin’ Java on Saturday at 10:30am. The concert celebrates the release of Moock’s new CD entitled “These Are My Friends,” which just won a 2011 NAPPA Gold Award. The show is part of the venue’s ongoing family concert series. Tickets are $10 and available online or at the box office.

DIY Holiday CardsKids can exercise their creativity and get into the holiday spirit at a special Holiday Card Workshop hosted by the National Postal Museum on Saturday, from 12 – 3:30pm. Artist Thalia Doukas will provide stamp-centric inspiration and mailable ornaments that guests can use as they create two holiday cards. Be sure to make time before or after to explore the museum, which is full of interesting exhibits, many of them interactive.

Holidays Around the World: KwanzaaThis holiday season, the National Children’s Museum Launch Zone is celebrating winter holidays around the world.  On Saturday from 11am – 4pm, drop in to learn all about Kwanzaa, a holiday focusing on the values of African culture.  Kids can make family tree place mats and mishumaa, traditional Kwanzaa candles. Admission is free. The Museum is located at National Harbor, so you can combine it with a visit to the Gaylord National Resort for Christmas on the Potomac.

Wolf Trap Holiday Sing-A-LongBelt out the season’s most popular tunes at Wolf Trap’s annual gathering on Sunday at 4pm. Along with the opportunity to sing Christmas Carols and Hannukah songs along with choir and vocal groups from the metropolitan Washington area, you can enjoy a performance by the United States Marine Band. While admission to the event if free, Wolf Trap will be participating in Toys for Tots by collecting new, unwrapped toys at the entrance to the Filene Center before the Sing-A-Long. Donations are strictly voluntary and not a requirement. Parking is also free, though limited, so plan on arriving early.

Annual Holiday Sing at the AtlasThe annual free Holiday Concert at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, in collaboration with Capital City Symphony the Congressional Chorus, and the American Youth Chorus, is an H Street holiday tradition. Shows take place on Sunday at 4pm & 7pm. I checked the status of tickets on the website, and while it’s sold out, a note says to “Please come the day of the performance to join the waiting list. In years past, everybody has got in.”  Hey, it’s worth a try. And if you don’t get in, you can grab a bite at one of the many eateries along the corridor or head up the street to Union Station to check out the Holiday Train Show.

Portrait Story Days: Henri MatisseDrop in at the National Portrait Gallery from 2-5pm Sunday to listen to a story about a person who has influenced American history and culture and to create a special piece of art. This weekend, learn about French artist Henri Matisse.

Whether you want to bundle up and enjoy the sunshine or shed your coats and stay comfortable inside, these posts have even more ideas for ventures with the kids indoors and out:

Rainy Day Recreation (ie, Indoor Fun)

The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids

REI Outlet Just Reduced!



Filed under Annual, Art, Chanukah, Christmas, DC, Festival, Free, Gradeschoolers, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Preschoolers, Preteens, Seasonal, Theatre, Toddlers, Trains, Union Station, Virginia, Weekend, Winter