Tag Archives: Baltimore with Kids

Where to Play on the Weekdays: August 5-9

A jolly good pirate adventure on the Chesapeake

A jolly good pirate adventure on the Chesapeake

Monday – Visit the animals, roam the peaceful grounds, and possibly join in a children’s program at Oxon Hill Farm. Hours are 8am – 4:30m, and admission is free.

Tuesday – Arrrgh! Cruise the high Chesapeake seas with Pirate Adventures in Annapolis. The company specializes in, well, pirate adventures for children, taking little buccaneers on a search for buried treasure. Several time slots are available throughout the day, and they set sail everyday of the week. Cost is $20/person, and that includes face painting and dress up along with the on board fun.

Wednesday – Head to Baltimore for Gizmos, Gadgets, and Gears at the Maryland Science Center. Along with the amazing permanent exhibits, like “Dinosaur Mysteries” and “Body: The Inside Story,” the museum has engineered a summer full of contraptions, challenges, and creativity that puts visitors in the role of inventor, where the only limit is imagination. Hours are 10am – 6pm, and admission is $16.95/adults, $13.95/ages 3-12, free for members.

Thursday – Catch a performance of Circus! at The Puppet Co. at Glen Echo Park. After the show, stay for a picnic lunch and some romping on the playground. Showtime is 10am (on Friday, too). Tickets are $10.

Friday – Enjoy some water play at Georgetown Waterfront Park. Running through the fountain of sprays is a fun, refreshing way to enjoy a summer day. After (or before, depending on when you go), grab a bite to eat at one of the many nearby eateries.

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Filed under All ages, Animals, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Farm, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Outdoor, Seasonal, Summer, Theatre, Weekdays

The American Visionary Art Museum: Wonderful, Whimsical Art for All Ages

A good indication of the fun that's yet to come

A good indication of the fun that’s yet to come

It’s a shame the American Visionary Art Museum doesn’t allow photography inside, because one look at some of the brilliant, quirky, beautiful, inspiring works of art housed there is all it would take to immediately understand why kids and adults are wild about the museum. Though I think the images I was able to capture outside may do the trick just as well.

We visited last week while Owen was still on winter break (Sasha was already back in school) when some friends invited us to join them there. We knew about the museum — friends had recommended it and No Monsters in My Bed has a nice review as well — but just hadn’t made it there yet, since jaunts up to Baltimore usually take us to the well known attractions that cater to kids. In fact, Owen had assumed this museum was also full of science-related exhibits, play spaces, and interactive fun. When he realized on the drive there that it was actually an art museum, he was somewhat disappointed.

It's called a Giant WhirliGig. The name alone rules.

It’s called a Giant WhirliGig. The name alone rules.

That was until we pulled into a parking space behind the museum and he did a complete 180. Just across the street was the awesome Giant WhirliGig, plus the mosaic mirrored facade and school bus topped with plastic swans and bunnies in the entrance courtyard. That elicited a “Whoa! That is so cool!” And that sentiment was expressed many a time as we toured the rest of the exhibits.

A perfect welcome

A perfect welcome

When you walk in to the museum, be sure to look down. The welcome mat is made entirely of toothbrushes, the graying bristles spelling out “Smile” across it. And that’s just the tiny tip of a huge iceberg. That building, just one of three, is full of remarkable art that is fun, unique, enchanting, captivating. Really, I could exhaust all my adjectives describing the many wonderful works to see.

More mirrored mosaics line walls around the stairwell. Owen loved the model of the Lusitania made out of 193,000 toothpics and five gallons of glue. All of the kids spent a good while peering into a case full of Pez depensers and looking at their reflections in warped mirrors. They also loved the fairy houses constructed entirely of plant materials — we all agreed it reminded us of the Season’s Greening exhibit at the Botanic Garden. A bed with Alfred E. Neuman tiled on the headboard made me chuckle.

Shhh... I snuck a shot of the Pez!

Shhh… I snuck a shot of the Pez!

There’s some more serious art in the main building, too. A series of beautiful large, embroidered illustrations tell one woman’s story of surviving the Holocaust. Another exhibit presents works by Gretchen Feldman, both lovely scenes that reflect her idyllic life and bold pieces that depict the cancer cells that ended it.

Bring it, Bobby Fischer

Bring it, Bobby Fischer

After touring the main building for about an hour, we made our way to the next one, which houses just one work. In the middle of the floor is a lifesize chess board, its chessmen made made of metal and about as tall as Owen, that you can actually play.

Whimsy in the sculpture garden

Whimsy in the sculpture garden

Art you can play in

Art you can play in

From there we headed out to the sculpture garden where the kids romped in the play structure made of logs and thick tree branches. In the courtyard leading to the third building we stopped to gawk at the large mirrored egg, a very tall guitar bird, and giant nest attached to one wall before heading inside.

See quirky works both indoor and out at the American Visionary Art Museum

See quirky works both indoor and out at the American Visionary Art Museum

The third building was probably the kids’ favorite — and I thought it was pretty fabulous, too. Not only did we walk in to a spectacular sight of big, whimsical sculptures, all previous entrants in the annual Kinetic Sculpture Race, showcased throughout, we were also directed by staff to the smaller kinetic sculptures, which offered some hands-on amusement. Enclosed in glass all along one wall of the downstairs, these intricate little wooden sculptures move at the push of a button. We watched a dragon fly, sailors sitting down for a meal, a man eating spaghetti in a bathtub, a cat drinking milk, and many more adorable and wacky moving scenes. As for the bigger works, there are elephants, giant pink poodles, a jeweled car, and more — all just incredible to view.



One member of the staff was very informative and gave us background on the building. We learned that one wall on the third floor is made completely from barrel staves leftover from the brewery that was previously housed in the building. He also let us know that we could go out on the balcony to stand in the nest we’d seen from outside. How often does one get to stand in a nest?

All in all, a wonderfully fantastic outing. I already can’t wait to return, next time with Sasha along, too. Those giant pink poodles have her name written all over ’em.

The American Visionary Art Museum is located in Baltimore near the Inner Harbor. It’s open daily 10am – 6pm Tuesday – Sunday. Admission is $15.95/adults, $13.95/seniors, $9.95/students & children 7 and up, free for ages 6 and under. *It’s also open on Monday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with free admission & special programming for all!

If you go:

– There is plenty of metered parking right behind the museum on Covington Street and on Key Highway. You can use a credit card on Covington, but bring change for Key.

– A cafe, Cielo Verde (formerly Mr. Rain’s Fun House),  is located in the main building. (We didn’t eat there, but I hear they have great bloody marys.) It’s currently open for private bookings only.

– Elevators are conveniently located and make the museum stroller friendly.

– Be sure to check out, Sideshow , the museum shop. Even if you don’t buy anything, there are tons of fun, kooky items to browse.

– Membership is available – $100 for a 4-person household, and you can add additional family members that are 17 and under.

Baba’s Mediterranean Kitchen, just minutes away, is a tasty lunch option.


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Filed under All ages, Art, Exhibit, Maryland, Museums, Ongoing, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: December 31 – January 4

Studying an interesting work at the American Art Museum

Studying an interesting work at the American Art Museum

Monday – Celebrate New Year’s Eve at one of several events around town that not only welcome kids, but in most cases, center around them. See this post for a list of family-friendly options to ring in 2013.

Tuesday – Enjoy a New Year’s Day brunch (or lunch) with the kids. A recent thread on the KFDC Facebook page generated a lot of recommendations for good places for a family feast. Plus, a few more: Ted’s Bulletin, Carmine’s, Cactus Cantina, and Zengo. And it’s probably a good idea to make a reservation or call ahead.

Wednesday – As the temps dip, stay warm and entertained at an IMAX movie. You’ve got your choice of several playing right now: Dinosaurs 3D, Flight of the Butterflies 3D, Coral Reef Adventure, Flying Monsters 3D, and To the Artic 3D are all playing at Natural History Museum’s Johnson IMAX Theatre (we’ve seen the last three and enjoyed them all!). And the Air & Space Museum’s Lockheed Martin IMAX Theatre presents Air Racer 3D, Hubble 3D, Space Junk 3D, and To Fly! Both are also showing The Hobbit. Be sure to check schedules for showtimes.

Thursday – Take the kids to shop at the market, bake in the kitchen, visit the pet store, and do some art projects — all possibilities in the Playseum’s various themed rooms and crafts areas. Locations are in Bethesda and Capitol Hill. Admission is $6/person (siblings under 10 months are free) and is good for the whole day. And lest you think it’s too young for older kids home on winter break, the Bethesda location has opened the Playseum Upstairs, which caters to tweens and teens, and also has special activities for 8-12 year-olds during the holiday season. Admission is $10/person or bring a friend for $7 each.

Friday – Explore a Smithsonian Museum off the National Mall. The American Art Museum, located in Penn Quarter, showcases works that all ages can appreciate. The contemporary collection on the third floor includes many unique pieces that will intrigue even the youngest art buffs. Hours are 11:30am – 7pm. Admission is free.


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Filed under All ages, DC, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Gradeschoolers, Holidays, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Play, Preschoolers, Seasonal, Teens, Toddlers, Tweens, Virginia, Weekdays, Winter

Where to Play on the Weekdays: December 24-28

Merry Christmas to all...


Monday –  Watch Santa have some fun on the water before his big night out. For the 27th year, Santa will water ski his way up the Potomac along with knee boarding reindeer, flying elves, the jet-skiing Grinch, and Frosty the Snowman in a dinghy! You can view it all from National Harbor at 1pm sharp. While you’re there, stop by the Gaylord National Resort for the Christmas on the Potomac holiday extravaganza (there is plenty to enjoy sans ICE, too).

Tuesday – Have yourself a merry little Christmas… and enjoy some activities out of the house, too.  The Botanic Garden and Mount Vernon are open.  You can bundle up and get out for a hike. Or spend the day as I did growing up, with Chinese food and a movie.

Wednesday – Looks like there may be rain, so enjoy the outdoors inside at a nature center. Rock Creek Nature Center, Watkins Nature Center, and Potomac Overlook Nature Center are a few faves. Or find one near you with the help of The Natural Capital blog.  Have some evening fun as you go see a holiday light display. Most are running into January — you can find a list of them here.

Thursday – Make your way up to Baltimore to visit the Maryland Science Center, where your crew can explore a variety of exhibits, play in the Kids Room, see an IMAX movie, and more.  Hours are 10am – 5pm. Admission is $16.95/adults, $13.95/ages 3+, free for 2 and under.

Friday –  Go bowling! Lucky Strike downtown sets up ramps and bumpers for little bowlers, as does Bowl America, which has several locations in Virginia. Or try duck pin bowling at White Oaks Lane in Silver Spring.


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Filed under All ages, Annual, Christmas, DC, Exhibit, Free, Holidays, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Seasonal, Virginia, Weekdays