Tag Archives: Activities with Kids in Northern Virginia

Now Open (and Amazing!): The LEGO Discovery Center Washington, DC

[Note:  This post was written by KFDC Contributor Emily Moise, a local writer and mom of two three young children.  She always has excellent recommendations for kids’ activities around the DC area. See some of them herehere, here, and here.]


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LEGO is, of course, a master at building the ultimate kids space. The brand new LEGO Discovery Center Washington, DC is officially open in Virginia’s Springfield Town Center – just 30 minutes outside of the DC Metro area – and it may be the area’s coolest attraction yet. It targets ages 2-12, but regardless of your age or level of LEGO obsession, it is a must-see.


The LEGO Discovery Center features 12 zones with literally something for everyone. Your adventure begins with the Minifigure Creator zone., where you build your own LEGO figure that will be used throughout the experience, like for a photo-op in the LEGO Oval Office. (Fun tip: ask any staff member to trade minifigures and they have to, no questions asked!)


When you enter the main space, centered around the most incredible LEGO Tree of Togetherness, you may be overwhelmed with where to begin. Head straight for the Imagination Express to avoid any lines. I imagine this quick, interactive ride to be a small sampling of LEGOLAND rides, and, warning, your kids will want to do it more than once.


Before you head to the building zones, get inspired — and blown away — by the Mini World. No words can describe the extent of this exhibit built with over 1.5 million LEGO bricks, that includes DC’s most famous monuments, the National Mall, Nationals Park, and my kids’ favorite: an underground Metro train. Buttons and levers activate moving parts throughout.


You can do your own building at the Build Adventures zone and Spaceship Build & Scan zone. Construct vehicles to race on a volcanic, looped track, zip through a pyramid, or jump over an alligator. Then take your skills to the next out-of-this-world level. Build a rocket ship, scan it, set your mission settings, and launch it into cyber space.


If your kids have physical energy to burn after exercising their minds, head to the Hero Zone. Here you’ll find a small climbing gym and my family’s favorite feature, the Laser Maze, a “bank robbery” set up in LEGO City. Sneak through the laser beams at easy, medium, hard, and expert levels – fastest times are recorded for all to see!


Your littlest ones can bounce around DUPLO Park, where you’ll find a triceratops carousel, duck pond “fishing,” and more. After play time, it’s snack time. Head to the LEGO Café for treats and beverages. (Alternatively, the LEGO Discovery Center is located within a mall and surrounded by dining options—though re-entry is not permitted.)


Do NOT bypass the 4D Cinema during your visit, which offers a variety of LEGO short films (less than 15 minutes each) shown at scheduled intervals throughout the day. Put on your 3D glasses and prepare for light “snow,” water, and smoke to create that extra dimension. My son’s only complaint: the show was too short!


The Workshop is another zone with scheduled times where you can build along, step-by-step, with a Master Lego Builder. And if you haven’t exhausted your kids at this point, the Creative Club is yet another stop for open-ended designing and building.

And after what will easily be a half-day visit, exit through the Shop offering options to continue the creativity at home.

LEGO Discovery Center Washington DC
Where: Springfield Town Center | Springfield, VA 22150
When: 10AM – 6PM daily; last entry at 4:30PM
Admission: Starts at $28.99; free/age 2 & under | Purchase tickets in advance


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Filed under Indoor Play, Ongoing, Virginia

A Breath of Fresh Air at Sky Meadows State Park


When COVID hit, I put a pause on posting write-ups about individual places.  Between stay-at-home orders back in the spring and general uncertainty about what we should and shouldn’t be doing even as those orders let up, it seemed best to take a lighter approach to recommending outings.  I might have mentioned them among the Five Things or included them in larger round-ups, but they didn’t get the KFDC fan fare that they would have pre-coronavirus.

Hence, I now have some catching up to do.  Over the last many months (how long has it been now?), we’ve explored some new places and had some great adventures.  So, now that the DC area is well into new phases of reopening, it’s time to start rolling out write-ups about them — starting with Sky Meadows State Park in Northern Virginia.

Our first visit to the park was our first real outing during the coronavirus beyond the sidewalks and streets of Capitol Hill, where we live, back in the spring. Hiking was permitted, and it was one of few parks still open, plus we heard from friends who’d been that there were barely any other visitors. So, we made a trip out to Delaplane, VA, for an escape from our oh-so-familiar neighborhood walk routine and a literal and figurative breath of fresh air.  We enjoyed it so much, we went back again in the summer.

Sky Meadows encompasses over 1800 acres in a rural area of Fauquier County, about 50 miles west of DC. Rolling hills, knots of woods, and sprawling pastures offer a nice mix of recreational opportunities, beautiful scenery, and a bit of history.  Trails wind through clusters of trees and along ridges overlooking swaths of farmland.

There are 22 miles of trails to hike, including the Appalachian Trail — a three-mile stretch of it runs through the park. Some trails are open to biking and horseback riding (BYO horse) as well. Lengths vary, and there are plenty of short routes that would make for nice walks with little kids. There is even a whole Children’s Discovery Area and a Sensory Explorers Trail (which wasn’t open during our visits because of COVID).

Mount Bleak House located next to the main parking lot offers tours and programs for insight into the history of the park.  (The house was still closed on our visits, so we didn’t get to experience them, but programs have now resumed.) There are also picnic areas and shelters, cabins, and campsites that you can reserve.

On both of our visits, we hopped on a few different trails — many of them interconnect — but we explored different parts of the park each time. We meandered through forested areas, looked for fish in a small pond, wound our way up a hill to enjoy the valley views below, and followed paths edging cow grazing pastures.  There were very few other people there, so we were able to keep our masks off most of the time, too!

We followed up our summer visit with a stop at Barrel Oak Winery and Farm Taphouse, just minutes away (look for a post on that soon).  Some sampling of the house specialty along with a bite to eat was a perfect way to make the most of our time out there and wind down the day.


Sky Meadows State Park is located at 11012 Edmonds Lane in Delaplane, VA. The main entrance is on State Route 710. It’s open daily, 8am – dusk. The Visitor Center/Gift Shop is open Thursday – Monday, with weekday hours from 11am – 5pm, and weekends 10am – 5pm.

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Filed under All ages, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Social Distancing, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend