Tag Archives: Best Things to do with Kids in DC

Where to Go & What to Do During Winter Break 2023

 

If you’re going to be in town over the Winter Break from school, you’ll likely be looking for activities to keep the whole gang happy (and that includes us parents)! Hence, I’m bringing back this trusty guide once again, but with updated info and some new inspiration that reflects what’s going on now.

Many of these ideas are already on the blog, but sometimes a little guidance for what’s best at certain times helps. Among the recommendations are holiday activities to get into the spirit, exhibits and shows that are hot tickets right now, outings that take advantage of the season, adventures to keep your gang active no matter what the weather, special weekday programs happening during this time, and places and experiences that kids who are in school all day can’t get to easily.

Of course, the rest of the blog is packed with 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!) entertained during the time off — or on, depending how you look at it. 😉  Happy Winter Break!

 

Holiday Happenings

Special Exhibits & Museums

Must-See DC

#OptOutside

Show Time

Indoor Action

Weekday Programs

See Some Sports

Day Trips

Extra Tips

 

Holiday Happenings

The Season’s Greening train at the US Botanic Garden is always a delight

Season’s Greenings
Where: US Botanic Garden | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Through January 1
Admission: Free

Season’s Greenings is a local must-do during the holiday season.  The exhibit in the Botanic Garden’s conservatory features Washington landmarks constructed from plant materials and one of the city’s largest Christmas trees. But the highlight is the model train railway outside, which never fails to impress and enchant with intricate, imaginative designs. This year’s pollinator theme is adorable, and kids will love seeing model trains chug around sculptures of insects, a lemur, and other creatures. For even more holiday magic at the garden, see it all twinkle as the USBG stays open until 8pm on December 21 & 28.  Get a glimpse of the train, and for more on the seasonal favorite, see this post and this one about some of our Season’s Greenings experiences.

Santa Encounters
Where: Around the DC area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

If you’re still hoping to hang with Santa around DC, you can find him at many places, often along with extra fun and treats. This post has a round-up of places he’ll be for the rest of the season, from free gatherings to special brunches to holiday shows to train rides to classic photo stops at the mall.

Search for Santa’s Critters
Where: Potomac Overlook Park | Arlington, VA
When: December 16-26, 11am – 4pm
Admission: $5/child

Santa’s animal friends are lost in the park and need rescuing! Go on a scavenger hunt to locate the critters so they can help Santa deliver candy and treats for the holidays! Appropriate for families and children of all ages. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Christmas at Mount Vernon
Where: Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens
When: Daily through December
Admission: $28/adult, $15/age 6-11, free/5 & under 

Christmas past meets Christmas present at George Washington’s estate, and they celebrate the holidays with a variety of delights.  During the day, tour the Mansion, watch historic chocolate-making demonstrations, and meet Aladdin the Camel. Mount Vernon is open every day of the year, including Christmas Day and New Years. So bring the entire family to the home of George and Martha Washington this holiday season.

Kwanzaa Party with the Culture Queen
Where: Anacostia Community Museum | Anacostia, DC
When: December 27, 1-3pm
Admission: Free

Join Kwanzaa expert Culture Queen as she teaches your royal children super fun and festive ways to celebrate the seven principles of Kwanzaa through interactive music, crafts, storytelling, games, and the world-famous “Kwanzaa Slide” line dance for which she co-created. This joy-filled Culture Kingdom Kids program is appropriate for all ages; and will leave participants feeling more excited to incorporate Kwanzaa into their family traditions for generations to come.

Holiday Festival of Trains
Where: B&O Railroad Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: Through December 31
Admission: $25/adult, $20/senior, $16/age 2-12, free/B&O members

At a venue dedicated to locomotives, you know the holiday model train exhibit is going to be special. The whole Museum has been transformed into a wonderland of festive fun including Reindeer Railway train rides, photos ops with Santa and winter friends, Santa’s Village, live entertainment, and more!  And just opened is  a new Model Train Gallery featuring a specially crafted HO Scale model layout of Baltimore in 1997.

Christmas at Gaylord National
Where: Gaylord National Resort | National Harbor, MD
When: Through December 31
Admission: Free, though some activities cost extra

The Gaylord National Hotel at National Harbor goes all out during the holidays. ICE! is often the big attraction, but there has always been plenty to do there to warrant a visit without the frozen entertainment. The atrium of the resort is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with a spectacular glass Christmas tree, nightly tree lightings, activities especially for little ones, photo ops with Santa, indoor snowfalls, fountain shows, and more.

Night Lights
Where: Around the DC area
When: Evenings through
Admission: Varies by locale

The many enchanting light displays that are a staple of the season always run through, even beyond, the holidays. And they make for a fun and sweet family activity.  Visit one of many parks or city corridors in the area that has transformed into a sparkling wonderland. Some you can walk through for an up-close experience, others you tour by car. Either way, expect to be dazzled.

 

* Find even more holiday happenings in the KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC!

 

 

Special Exhibits & Museums

A magical Encanto experience for kids

Disney Encanto x CAMP
Where: Tysons Corner | Tysons, VA
When: Through March
Admission: Starts at $32

The immersive experience inspired by the beloved movie is delivers on the magic for kids!   Tickets are very limited in December, but you might luck out and get them.  If not, then let this be your heads-up to snag them for a 2024 visit — they would make a great holiday gift!

Dopamine Land
Where: Friendship Center | Friendship Heights, DC
When: Through February 11
Admission: $22.50/adult, $16.99/child
This brand new multisensory experience combines media, technology, and play in one place. Bring the kids during the day for an interactive experience that wants everyone to embrace their inner child and explore all the colorful installations.

African American History & Culture
Where: National Museum of African American History & Culture
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free with timed-entry passes

This phenomenal museum is a must-visit on the National Mall, and there are more opportunities to go while kids are off from school.  Timed entry passes are still required, and you can reserve in advance through the website.  Same-day passes are also released beginning at 8:15am daily.  Before you go to the museum, be sure to read the KFDC guide for visiting with kids.

Back to Natural History
Where: Natural History Museum | National Mall
When: Daily, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free

The National Museum of Natural History is one of DC’s most popular museums, and for good reason: There are exhibits galore that fascinate visitors of all ages, from dinos to insects (and more creatures in between) to geological wonders to human origins to oceanic discoveries. Two special exhibitions are also currently on view — one about cell phones and their connection to the natural world and another about the night sky and light pollution.  [PS: Of course, all the Smithsonians are fantastic and worth a visit… find logistics for all of them here.]

Off the Beaten Museum Path
Where: Around DC
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by museum

If you don’t veer from the well trodden path of the National Mall now and then, you could miss out on some amazing museum exhibits and experiences. This round-up of some these places in DC that may not be on your museum radar — but should be. They’ll be great places to stay warm too!

Word Up
Where: Planet Word | Downtown DC
When: Thursday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free

The museum all about language is full of fun and interesting exhibits, most of them interactive. There definitely are elements that all ages will love, though tweens and older will get the most out of it, having more grammar lessons under their belts and generally better comprehension. Our whole family loves it!  Admission is free, but you need to book tickets in advance. Right now, there are some available for dates over the break. And a limited number of day-of, walk-up passes are available on the half-hour.

Hot Wheels Champion Experience
Where: Tysons Corner Center | Tysons, VA
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $25-115 (a family pack is also available)

Another exciting immersive experience for kids opens just in time for Winter Break!  The Hot Wheels Champion Experience combines exhilarating digital and hands-on play in a 16,000-square foot interactive environment for all ages. Collect exclusive digital badges, video, and other digital memorabilia across 10 exciting challenges.  Look for a review with more details soon!

Allegre Mente/Happy Brain
Where: National Children’s Museum | Downtown DC
When: December 18 – February 22
Admission: $15.95

The current visiting exhibit at the National Children’s Museum celebrates loving, playful connections through dance, storytelling, and more.  Set in a whimsical forest full of families of all kinds, both human and animal, is in both English/Spanish exhibit. Of course, plan to explore the rest of the Museum’s exhibits, too — read more about them here.

An O-So-Cool Adventure
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle
When: Daily, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Starts at $26.50

Locate secret doors, see outrageously fabulous themed rooms, and browse a trove of secondhand treasures on a tour of one of the coolest spots in DC: The Mansion on O Street. The Dupont Circle landmark is a mansion, museum, secondhand store, and hotel all in one — and visitors are welcome to explore it all.  Admission can add up, so Winter Break is a great time to go if you’re looking for something special to do. Plus, it’s a unique adventure in a truly stunning space.

Check It Out
Where: MLK Jr. Memorial Library
When: Mon – Fri, 10am – 8pm | Fri-Sat, 10am – 6pm | Sun, 1-5pm
Admission: Free
So, it’s not a museum (though it does contain great exhibits!), but the MLK Library is so much more than your typical library, it seemed like a good one to feature here.  Along with books to browse and check out for all ages from all genres, there is a cafe, an exhibit space, study and meeting rooms, a large auditorium, a recording studio, a gorgeous rooftop terrace, and what little ones will love most: a SLIDE in the Children’s section to zip down. And there are always special activities for a variety of ages, too.  It’s a great place for the whole family  to visit!

An Art Tour for the T(w)een Scene
Where: Glenstone Museum | Potomac, MD
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

If you have kids 12 or older, Winter Break is a great time to take advantage of Glenstone’s Guaranteed Entry program, which admits students age 12+ and one accompanying adult without reserving tickets.  It’s an incredible indoor-outdoor art museum — just bundle up for the outside part!  Be sure to note that they don’t allow children under 12 at all, but it’s a wonderful place to visit with tweens and teens.

Mind Tricks
Where: Museum of Illusions | CityCenter, DC
When: Sun – Thurs, 10am – 8pm |Fri – Sat, 10am – 9pm
Admission: $42/adult, $18/age 5-12

This just opened venue sounds like a fun one to explore. It’s a “one-of-a-kind edutainment destination where you can immerse yourself in the wonderful world of illusions! Guests will enjoy more than 50 visual and educational exhibits featuring holograms, stereograms, optical illusions, and immersive rooms that are designed to tease the senses and trick the mind.”

Mission: Fun
Where: International Spy Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Daily, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $26.95/age 13+, $16.95/7-12, free/6 & under

If you haven’t been to the Spy Museum at the L’Enfant Plaza location, no is a good time to check it out! Go undercover to explore the intriguing world of espionage. Discover tricks of the trade, view gadgets used to keep secrets and disguises to hide identities, and learn about some of the most famous spies and their missions.  And don’t miss the super fun museum shop!

 

* Of course, there are the rest of the Smithsonians and National Gallery of Art, which always make for great outings!

 

Must-See DC

Capitol views from the Old Post Office Tower

 

Time for a Tour
Where: Old Post Office Tower | Downtown DC
When: Daily, 9am – 4pm
Admission: Free

See DC from a new vantage point at the Old Post Office Tower. Located within the Waldorf Astoria at 12th & Pennsylvania, NW, it’s free to visit and go up to the observation deck of one of the tallest structures in DC. It’s was kind of a secret for years, but lately has been more on the radar, so there may be a short line to get in, but worth the wait.  This post has info for visiting — be sure to read it for details on accessing the entrance.

A Local & National Treasure
Where: Library of Congress | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Wednesday – Saturday, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Explore the largest library in the world and one of DC’s most iconic attractions. The Library of Congress is a trove of knowledge, art, history, and culture — and the public is welcome to enjoy it all, and for free!  Walk-ins are sometimes welcome, but it’s best to reserve free tickets in advance.

A Monumental Experience
Where: Washington Monument | National Mall, DC
When: Daily, 9am – 5pm
Admission: Free

The Washington Monument is super fun to tour — you can go up inside to check out interesting exhibits and take in DC views. Advance reservation tickets for the next day are available online for a nominal processing fee. Same-day, free tickets are also be available on a first-come, first-served basis daily starting at 8:30am at the Washington Monument Lodge, located on 15th Street NW, between Madison Drive NW and Jefferson Drive SW.  Get a peek of the experience from the inside here.

Abe’s Last Days
Where: Ford’s Theatre | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Daily, 9am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free – $3

Ford’s isn’t just a place to catch live entertainment. The site of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination highlights its historic significance through exhibits about the president, the circumstances surrounding his assassination, and that fateful night at the theatre. The National Historic Site features a museum, theatre walk-throughs and a presentation, and guests are welcome to explore it all. Best for about ages 8 and up. Reserve tickets online in advance for $3 or get them at the Box Office for free.

A Bird’s Eye View
Where: Observation Deck at CEB Tower | Rosslyn, VA
When: Daily, but hours vary (closed 12/25 & 1/1)
Admission: Free

Gaze out of floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a new perspective of DC. The 30+ story high space in Rosslyn offers breathtaking 360-degree panoramic vistas.  Read more about it here, but note that not all of the exhibits and immersive experiences are still there.  However, the spectacular views and the thrill of being up that high make it worth going.  This was only open to Arlington residents for awhile, but they’re once again welcoming the general public.  And even better now, admission is FREE!

Tour the Memorials
Where: National Mall & Tidal Basin, DC
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free

Be a tourist in your hometown (unless you’re visiting, then just be a tourist). Take the opportunity to visit the many memorials on the Mall and around the Tidal Basin. Not only are the structures themselves marvel-worthy, there’s a lot to be gleaned from them, too. Learn about some of our country’s presidents and leaders — George, Abe, Tom, FDR, & MLK — from displays, park rangers, and in the Visitors Centers. And walk or bike among them all to add some exercise (and extra fun) to the venture!

 

 

#OptOutside

The festive skating scene at Washington Harbour

Skate the Day (Or Night) Away
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by rink

Enjoy a quintessential winter activity: Ice skating under the sky! Take in art as you skate at the Sculpture Garden; glide over the Potomac on The Wharf’s awesome rink; circle around Washington Harbour as you enjoy river views; meander along the Figure 8 path at Canal Park; or do some shopping then skate at Pentagon Row, Rockville Town Square, or Reston Town Center. This post has details on alfresco (and indoor) ice skating options in the area. Get a good deal on ice skating at Canal Park here!

Ready, Set…Hike!
Where: Around the DMV
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by locale

If you agree with the saying, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing” like I do, there are no excuses for not getting outdoors during winter. And a great, easy way to do so is on a hike. Hit the trail in places with scenic views, tramp and explore history at interesting locales, and enjoy a day of active fun. This post has a a bunch of recommendations for good walks in the woods and other places with kids.

Fossil Hunting
Where: Calvert & Charles Counties
When: Varies by place
Admission: Varies by place
Just because it takes place along beach areas, that doesn’t mean it’s a warm-weather-only activity. As long as you’re dressed for it — waterproof boots are a must! — searching for millions-of-years-old fossils can be just as fun and compelling in winter as it is in summer. There are several places to go in the region, all about an hour drive from DC. This post has a round-up of spots to check out.

Grounds for Play
Where: Playgrounds around the DMV
When: Daily
Admission: Free

Let the kiddos burn some energy and get some fresh air at one of many awesome area playgrounds. BeauvoirClemyjontriWatkins Regional ParkHains Point, Cabin John Regional ParkWheaton Regional Park, plus loads of DC Parks and Rec locations are great places to swing, climb, run, slide, romp, and even more!

Two-Wheel Time
Where: Around the DC Area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

There’s a bound to be a few unseasonably warm days to make for good biking conditions (though you can layer up for a cold day ride, too).  Cruise along paths lined with scenic surroundings, ride to destinations that offer even more fun, and get some exercise.  This post has a bunch of pedal-worthy recs, with something for riders of all levels, and this particular route is ideal for the whole crew.

Go Disc Golfin’
Where: Courses around the DC Area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free
Hit the links, the chain links, that is! Disc golf is a great way to enjoy some family time outdoors. Not only is it fun and challenging, many of the courses are set up in scenic places. This post has info about our favorite in College Park, and there are also great courses at Patapsco Valey State Park in MD,  Pohick Bay Regional Park in Lorton, VA,  Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg, MD, Burke Lake Park in Burke, VA.

 

* Find even more places for outdoor adventures.

 

 

Show Time

Adventure Theatre’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe will delight!

The Lion, the Witch , and the Wardrobe
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo, MD
When: Through January 7
Tickets: $25

In a two-person version of the classic tale, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy discover a secret portal to a magical world called Narnia. With an evil White Witch ruling the kingdom, can Lucy, her new friend Mr. Tumnus, and her family band together to save this land from the eternal winter?

A Christmas Carol
Where: Ford’s Theatre | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 18 – December 31
Tickets: $25-104
Join the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future as they lead the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge on a journey of transformation and redemption. Originally conceived by Michael Baron, this music-infused production captures the magic and joy of Dickens’s Yuletide classic. Acclaimed actor Craig Wallace returns to play Ebenezer Scrooge. Recommended for ages 5 and up. Performance is two hours (including a 15-minute intermission).

A Year with Frog and Toad
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: Through January 7
Tickets: $12-44 (look for discount)

A musical celebration of friendship and holiday fun! In this hit Broadway musical, two best friends with opposite personalities wake up from hibernation and enjoy hilarious adventures through the seasons. Light-hearted, with a sprinkle of nostalgia, this show is inspired by the acclaimed children’s books.

Disney’s Frozen
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 20 – January 21
Tickets: $35-185

From the producer of The Lion King and Aladdin, Frozen, the Tony® Award–nominated Best Musical, is now on tour across North America—and the critics rave, “It’s simply magical!” (LA Daily News). Frozen features the songs you know and love from the original Oscar®-winning film, plus an expanded score with a dozen new numbers by the film’s songwriters, Oscar winner Kristen Anderson-Lopez and EGOT winner Robert Lopez. It’s everything you want in a musical: It’s moving. It’s spectacular. And above all, it’s pure Broadway joy.

The Nutcracker on Strings
Where: The Puppet Co.| Glen Echo, MD
When: Through January 1
Tickets: $15/age 2+

The Puppet Co.’s annual holiday treat and Washington tradition for 30 years is returning! The Nutcracker is the festive story of Clara-Marie’s favorite toy and their adventures together in the land of the Sugarplum Fairy. Music from Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet blends with marionettes and costume characters to create this unique production.

Snow Maiden
Where: Synetic Theater | Crystal City, VA
When: Through January 6
Tickets: $25-35 (look for discount)

In a frozen silver forest high in the mountains, a lonely boy builds a girl from snow. When she mysteriously comes to life, mischief, laughter, and enchantment abound. But what will happen when the ice begins to melt? Told through Synetic’s signature style of dazzling movement, dance, and acrobatics, this magical take on the beloved folktale Snegurochka is a heart-warming story of love, hope, and the transformative powers of awe and wonder. Snow Maiden comes to life in a 45-minute production set to an enchanting score to get us all in the holiday spirit.

Rocknoceros New Year’s Eve Ball
Where: Jammin’ Java
Tickets: December 31, 11am – 12pm
Admission: $10

Rocknoceros is returning to Jammin Java for their 15th New Year’s Eve Ball. The hour-long program will include live music from the area’s favorite family-jam band, interactive New Year’s resolutions, the Ball Drop, and a complimentary apple juice toast.

* See what else is on stages now (or coming soon), and find holiday-themed entertainment here.

 

Indoor Action

Climb the day away at The St. James

 

Super, Awesome, and Amazing Fun
Where: The St. James | Springfield, VA
When: Thurs-Fri, 3-8pm | Sat-Sun, 9am – 8pm
Admission: Starting at $15/hour 

The Super, Awesome, and Amazing (that’s what it’s called) 30,000 square foot activity center in the St. Jame sports complex is filled with all kinds of climbing structures, trampolines, and obstacle courses. Kids can don harnesses and clip onto wires to climb, rappel, and navigate walkways 20 feet above the ground. They can bounce, flip, and execute acrobatic moves. They can swing from bars and on large platforms and crawl through tunnels. Essentially, every element in the space is conducive to active fun, and there is something for kids from toddler to tween ages to enjoy.

Tee Up
Where: Top Golf | National Harbor & Gaithersburg, MD
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Starts at $27/bay
Practice your swing, enjoy a bite, and have some indoor/outdoor fun.  At Top Golf, you drive balls from climate controlled (ie, heated) sheltered bays, so you can still enjoy fresh air and be comfy.   Plus, there ’s a full service restaurant and bar (for parents, obvi) to make a full experience of it.

Reach New Heights
Where: ClimbZone | Laurel, MD
When: Daily, 10am – 8pm
Admission: $27/child, $18/age 2-4

The enormous facility is filled literally floor to ceiling with colorful themed climbing walls and moon bounces. Climbers can ascend Mt. Rushmore, reach the Jolly Roger on a pirate ship, conquer a game of Tetris, shimmy up a giant guitar, scale Jack’s bean stalk, negotiate a rope wall, and experience peak fun on a variety of other climbing areas.

Skate & Swing (and more)
Where: Kraken | Penn Quarter & Bryant Street, DC
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by activities
Play some pickleball, go roller skating, maybe do some axe throwing, and more at this one-stop shop for all those activities. Note that kids must be at least 13 to wield axes and go in the rage room. Be sure to make reservations!

Great Escape
Where: Escape the Room | Penn Quarter & Downtown, DC
When: Daily, various times
Admission: $35

Bring the whole crew to enjoy a challenge together! Experience a live-action adventure complete with mystery, hidden clues, and puzzles that help you escape dinosaur clones in DC, a spy situation, the depths of the earth, an Old West bank, a submarine, or a pandemic.

Spring Time
Where: Flight Trampoline Park | Springfield, VA
When: Daily
Admission: Starts at $14

Kids of all ages can jump, play, even flip for joy at Flight Trampoline Park. The huge space resembles a skate park, with an industrial look of exposed pipes and cinder block walls sprayed with graffiti. But where you’d find ramps, rails, and concrete to facilitate skills and tricks, there are trampolines instead. Be sure to check the schedule for any special jumping times, and buy tickets/sign waivers in advance online to avoid a line there.

Movie & a Meal
Where: The Alamo | Northeast DC & Crystal City, VA
When: Ongoing
Admission: $13/adult, $11/child, $12/senior
After 4pm – $15/adult, $13/child, $14/senior

The action here occurs on screen, but catching a flick is a great option during the cold winter break days, even better when you can enjoy a meal with your movie, too. The Alamo is the only theater in the city where you can do that — and it’s a good one! The theaters are nice, the seating is comfortable, and the food is tasty. See , what’s playing there now.

 

Weekday Programs

Investigate insects at the Natural History Museum

Play Date at NMNH: Investigating Insects
Where: Natural History Museum | National Mall, DC
When: December 20, 10:30am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Drop in at the National Museum of Natural History for this special program for families all about insects! Make close observations of select pieces from the insect collection related, learn about what makes an insect an insect, and create your own take-home craft to help remember key physical traits of insects!

Storytime: Rosie Revere, Engineer
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: December 20, 10-11am
Admission: Free

Put on your red bandana and jointhe Hirshhorn a special Storytime. Look at the installation Belief+Doubt by artist Barbara Kruger, participate in a lively read-aloud of Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, and engineer your own work of art!

Winter Solstice Celebration
Where: Temporary Takoma Park Library | Takoma Park, MD
When: December 21, 7-8pm
Admission: Free

The  Rock Creek Morris Women Dancers will delight all ages with their annual solstice dancing! Along with performances, enjoy storytelling and a campfire-themed craft. Refreshments will also be served.

Holiday Stop Hop
Where: Across the DC Metrorail system
When: Through December 22
Admission: Free

WMATA is presenting this first-ever scavenger hunt that takes place across the Metrorail system. Parents and kids aged 4-18 are invited to embark on this festive quest. Here’s how it works: Pick up your free passport through December 22 from Metro Headquarters at 300 7th Street SW. Visit the featured festive stations — 20 are included in the passport book — and pick up a sticker for your passport at each location. Go in any order! Look for a designated Holiday Stop Hop sign, where you can grab a sticker from the take-one rack at the kiosk close by. Once your passport is filled, drop it off at the designated dropbox in the Metro HQ lobby December 22-29 and claim your prize! Three grand prize winners, aged 4-18, will be selected at random to receive a prize pack of exclusive Metro swag.

Holiday Family Activity Series
Where: Library of Congress | Capitol Hill, DC
When: December 27-30
Admission: Free

This will be a good one to keep in mind after when you’re looking for activities with the kids during the school break after Christmas… Join the Library’s Informal Learning Office for a crafting activity to celebrate the holiday season and the coming New Year. Learn about the Library’s holiday collections while you make your own crafts including writing cards, creating countdown chains for upcoming celebrations, and learning how to write thank you letters.

Family Card Making with Habeebah Muhammad
Where: Anacostia Community Museum | Anacostia, DC
When: January 1, 1-3pm
Admission: Free

Join for the last day of Kwanzaa to focus on the principle Imani. Habeebah Muhammad will lead a discussion on the importance of faith in the family. Participants will create and design cards to express what they are thankful for in each family member.

Library Activities
Where: Public Libraries in DC
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free

Our local libraries always offer free activities for kids (and adults), including over Winter Break.  Young children can join a music and movement session, teens can create zines, grade schoolers and tweens can do a Lego build, the whole crew can enjoy a family movie. Visit the DCPL events page to see what’s happening when at a library near you!

Fun at Fairfax Park
Where: Parks throughout Fairfax, VA
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by activity

The Fairfax County Park Authority hosts all kinds of events for guests of all ages on almost very day of the week. There are nature programs, activities that focus on the history of the area, special holiday celebrations, and more. View the calendar of events to see what is happening over Winter Break!

Park it in MoCo
Where: Parks in Montgomery County, MD
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by activity

Montgomery Parks also presents loads of special activities for visitors of all ages, from nature programs to crafts to holiday-inspired fun. Go here for details on what’s happening over the next couple of weeks.

 

 

See Some Sports

See some on-court action!

 

Wizards
Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 15, 26, 27, 29, & 31
Admission: Ticket prices vary

The Wizards have a couple of home games over the break, so catch some exciting action on the court. They host the Indiana Pacers on December 15, Orlando Magic on December 26, Toronto Raptors on December 27, Brooklyn Nets on December 29, and Atlanta Hawks on December 31.

Capitals
Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 20, 23, & 30
Admission: Ticket prices vary 

Hockey fans can see the Caps play a few games. The NY Islanders will be here on December 20, the Tampa Bay Lightning on December 23,  and Nashville Predators on December 30.

Hoops, NCAA-Style
Where: Universities around the DC Area
When: Throughout the break
Admission: Ticket prices vary

With so many universities in the area, there’s always some good college hoops action going on. Here’s where you can check out schedules and look for tickets:
University of Maryland (Go, Terps!)
George Washington University
Georgetown University
American University
Howard University
George Mason University
Catholic University

 

 

Day Trips

Spend a day on slopes within easy driving distance

 

Hit the Slopes
Where: Around the region
When: Through winter
Admission: Varies

A fun, active way to take advantage of winter: Skiing!  There are a bunch of resorts within a few hours’ drive that are great for young, newbie skiers (and veteran swooshers, too).  Some resorts to check out that are within day trip driving distance: Liberty, Whitetail, Roundtop, and Bryce.

Charm City, Hon!
Where: Baltimore, MD
When: Daily
Admission: Varies by locale

Zip up I-95 for some fun in our sister city, where there are lots of great places to spend a day off. Play the day away at Port Discovery. Explore the exhibits and loads of hands-on activities at the Maryland Science Center. See some of the quirkiest, coolest art around at the American Visionary Art Museum. Get an eyeful of the underwater world at the National Aquarium. Tour the historic ships moored at the Inner Harbor. Or learn about Baltimore’s early business days at the Museum of Industry. The KFDC Guide to Exploring Baltimore with Kids has info for all of these adventures, plus dining recs and more to explore!

Festive Road Trips
Where: Around the region
When: Through the holiday season
Admission: Varies by place
Mix it up with a quick getaway to a festive destination! When you feel like you’ve seen and done it all around DC, or just want to add a little extra magic to the season, road-trip-it to a locations less than three hours away from the DC metro area — and maybe make some fun stops on the way. This post have five suggestions for places to go.

Go Underground
Where: Luray Caverns | Luray, VA
When: Daily, 9am – 7pm
Admission: $32/adult, $16/ages 6-12, free/5 & under  (look for discount)

Behold the spectacular underground world of stalagmites, stalactites, and other amazing limestone formations in the massive cave system at Luray. Afterward, make your way through the Garden Maze or check out vintage rides in the Carriage and Caravan Museum. Admission does not include attractions beyond the cavern. KFDC Tip: Be sure to make a pit stop before going into the caverns, because it can be a long walk out to a restroom, and once you’re out, you may not be able to go back in.

Go East
Where: Annapolis and Eastern Shore, MD
When: Hours vary by place
Admission: Varies by Place

Who says it has be warm to head out toward the Eastern Shore and enjoy adventures by the water? Drive over the Bay Bridge for a great hike at Wye Island Natural Resources Management Area on this side of the bridge at Quiet Waters. And while it’s not the best season for crabs, you can still enjoy yummy meals at places that are known for them. Try Kentmorr or The Jetty after Wye, Cantler’s or Mike’s closer in. Of course, you can also enjoy a day walking around the charming downtown area in Annapolis.

Art & Maritime Explorations
Where: Calvert County, MD
When: Daily, except Christmas
Admission: Varies by locale

Make a day of it in Calvert County, where you can visit a couple of places for fun, fascinating, hands-on adventures. Annmarie Sculpture Garden is full of artistic delights. Tour beautiful works, both indoors and out, play in the Fairy Lolly, and create some of your own art with inspiration from all you see there. Hours are 9am – 5pm in the gardens, and admission is a $5 suggested donation. Also out that way is the Calvert Marine Museum, where you can see interesting exhibits, including display cases full of fossils and artifacts, plus live fish and other creatures. There’s also a play area and a real lighthouse to tour. Hours are 10am – 5pm, and admission is $9/adult, $4/ages 5-12, free/4 & under.  You can enjoy some nature out there at Calvert Cliffs State Park, where you can hike and do a little fossil hunting. Open sunrise to sunset, and admission is $8/car.

 

Extra Tips
* If you’re looking specifically for activities for foul weather days, see The Great Indoors round-up.
* And for where to enjoy time outside, check out The Best Places in the DC Area to Spend a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids
* Created especially for the Covid Winter a few years ago, this post has even more ideas for things to do, all of them outdoors.
* This is a great time to sign up for volunteering opportunities with kids.
* Sometimes you just need a place to hang out for awhile, so why not make it a stunning one?
* And other times you just want a nice, peaceful place to chill out.
* Look for deals and discounts Goldstar.

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Filed under 2023, DC, Maryland, Virginia, Winter

The 2023 KFDC Guide to Summer Around the DC Area

 

The season may not be official on the calendar yet, but summer fun has begun around the DC area! Spray parks are open, outdoor movies are being screened, temps are warm enough for beach days, carousels are spinning, local sports are in full swing, exhibits are opening, crab feasts are being served, and more seasonal experiences are underway.  Even better, there’s still much more to come!  This annual guide, that I’ve been putting together in this version for 10 years, has all the info and inspiration you need to make the most of the season…starting now!  Happy Summer!

* * * 

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

* * * 

 

PLAY IN THE SPRAYS

Spray play at The Wharf

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!

 

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 has a nice in-ground fountain that opens before other nearby fountains and stay open longer.  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.

 

DC DPR Spray Parks opened 16 locations early on May 15 — they will be open daily from 12-4pm. All of the spray park will be open full hours starting Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 27, through September 4, 10am – 8pm. Be sure to view the list, as open days vary by location.  See all of the locations throughout the city on this 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.

 

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, Drew Park, and Mosaic 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. Open Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend. Hours vary by park, so be sure to view the websites.

 

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 16, then daily June 17 – August 18, then only weekends again through September 4.

 

Potomac Yard Park, among the many city of Alexandria parks, has an interactive in-ground fountain that kids can play in — along with a couple of playgrounds and many other recreational features.  Even better, you can plan to do some shopping at the nearby Target and other big stores while you’re out that way. Opens Memorial Day Weekend, 10am – 9pm daily through Labor Day, then 10am – 8pm through mid-October.

 

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.

 

OUTDOOR POOL SEASON

That first jump into summer fun

Nothing says summer like swimming under the sun.  There are plenty of public pools in the area where you can jump in for free or a small admission fee, plus a few other options for a nice pool day.

 

DC outdoor public pools will open on Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 27. They’ll operate on a weekend-only schedule (Saturday & Sunday) through  June 25. Starting Monday, June 26, 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 27 through Labor Day — the Department of Recreation website has locations and hours.

 

In Northern Virginia, there are several waterparks (see below) in Arlington with outdoor pools and much more for guests to enjoy, and the city of Alexandria has three outdoor public pools:  Memorial Pool at Charles Houston Rec Center open June 17 – August 20 and Old Town Pool and Warwick Pool are open May 27 – September 4.  Hours vary by days, so be sure to view details for all of them.

 

 Swimply, a service that started a few years ago, lets you search for private pools to rent. You can find pools at residences all over and pay to use them by the hour.

 

It’s a bit of a splurge, but if you want to enjoy a day at a nice hotel pool, the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Woodley Park offers Day Passes for $75/adult and kids with them are free. Purchase here.

 

BEACHES

Beach day at Calvert Cliffs State Park

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 good 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, $5/person weekends, and $4/person 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, MD, 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.

 

Greenbrier State Park, just over an hour’s drive from DC in Boonsboro, MD, has a beach area on a man-made freshwater lake, where visitors can swim, paddle, boat, and fish. Swimming is only allowed from May through September in designated areas when swim ropes are in place, with lifeguards there Memorial Day to Labor Day, 11am – 6pm.

 

Lake Anna State Park in Spotsylvania, MD, is popular for weekend-long trips, but also good as a day trip destination, being less than two hours’ drive from DC. It’s especially great with little ones, since it’s very organized with a designated beach/swim area, lifeguards, a bathhouse for changing and restrooms, and a snack bar — all from Memorial Day to Labor Day (for the most part… the snack bar and bathhouse times will change starting August 11 due to renovations). Hours are 10am – 7pm weekends and holidays, 10am – 6pm weekdays May 27 – August 9. Admission  is $7/weekdays per vehicle, $10/weekends.

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

WATERPARKS

Make splash at Soak City in Kings Dominion

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 in Chesapeake Beach, MD

* Soak City Water Park at Kings Dominion in Doswell, VA

* Water Country USA at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA

 

 

BIG SCREEN UNDER THE STARS

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

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 bi-monthly on Fridays through July 21, with mostly family-friendly films. Get there as early as 6pm and have a bite to eat in the Market or bring food back to your car. Film start times vary, so be sure to check on that. Admission is $20/car, free for walk-ins. Advance purchase is recommended.

 

National Harbor’s Movies on the Potomac series is back through the September 28. 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.

 

CiNOMAtic, the NoMa BID’s outdoor movie series at Alethia Tanner Park is will screen “Villains We Love” films Wednesdays at sunset through June 7.

 

Adams Morgan Movie Nights  is back with free movies on Tuesday evenings from May 23 – June 27 with all comedies to ensure some summer  laughs.  Even more, each Movie Night will kick off with a stand-up feature from a local comedian before the movie begins! 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 each month: May 26: Moana, June 30: E.T. The Extra TerrestrialJuly 28: Boss Baby: The Family Business, August 18: Matilda.  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 —  May 18, June 22, July 6, August 24, and September 7 — all of them family-friendly.

 

At the Navy Memorial Plaza (7th & Pennsylvania Ave NW) catch Movies on the Memorial on Thursday evenings through October 12.  The series of Navy-themed films started in April and pays tribute to our rich maritime heritage.

 

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

 

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, this year themed “Tim Burton’s Summer of Sureal” will take place monthly at Congressional Cemetery on Capitol Hill, on June 2, July 7, August 4, and September 1.

 

The Library of Congress will host its sixth annual Summer Movies on the Lawn on Thursday evenings from July 7 – August 3. Films will begin at sundown on the southeast lawn of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building.  Music will be presented prior to each film, with live performances on July 6, July 20 and Aug. 3.

 

Films at the Stone hosts monthly screenings on Fridays, June 16, July 21, & August 25 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

 

Georgetown Sunset Cinema presets movies on Tuesdays 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. 2023 dates TBA.

 

SUMMER CONCERTS

Catch a summer concert at an iconic DC spot

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.

 

The Bethesda Summer Concert Series’ Friday Night Streetery Concerts will run Fridays, 6-8pm, from May 19 – September 15. Enjoy music, food, and fun at the corner of Norfolk & St. Elmo Avenues.

 

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 29, and there will be weekly shows through August 4. 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. NOTE: New this year is a lottery system! Each concert has its own lottery, which opens the week prior on Monday at 10am and closes that Friday at noon. Results will be emailed to all entrants the week of the concert on Monday at 110am. Registration is required for all ages 2+.

 

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 starting June 3.

 

Rock the Dock at The Wharf on Transit Pier every Wednesday evening at 7pm from May 31 – August 30. R&B, Americana, Motown, Jazz, Reggae, Go-go, Country, and your favorite pop covers will be among the sounds you can hear, all for free.  There’s much more to enjoy on the Southwest Waterfront — read about it here.

 

The U.S. Navy Band is bringing back Concerts at the Capitol, performances on the west steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, on most Mondays, June 12 – August 28 at 8pm.  All performances are free and open to the public.

 

Glen Echo Park’s 2023 Summer Concerts Series presents free live music in the historic Bumper Car Pavilion on Thursdays at 7:30pm from June 15 – August 24. featuring a variety of local bands and musical genres, from country to reggae, swing to Latin jazz, African to Cajun and blues.

 

Friday Night Concerts at Yards Park will be back  for the 13th season from June 16 – August 24! 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.

 

Rockville Town Square is bringing back its Summer on the Square concert series.Enjoy live music on Friday,s 6:30-8pm, fro June 16 – August 25.

 

Tysons Corner Center presents a Summer Concert Series as part of their Summer on the Plaza activities. Bring your dancing shoes and enjoy live music from 7-9pm on  June 17, July 15, and August 19.

 

Enjoy music Live from the Lawn at Strathmore on Wednesday evenings from July 5 – August 16.  (They also have Cool Concerts for Kids on select Thursdays!)

 

Starting June 2 through August 26, 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.

 

NaLa Fridays at the Park will bring live music and food trucks to Long Bridge Park at National Landing (formerly Crystal City, VA) on Fridays during the summer.  The concert schedule is TBA.

 

 

 

FESTIVALS & SPECIAL EVENTS

Kids always dig the big Truck Touch

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.

 

The 41st Annual Washington Folk Festival at Glen Echo Park June 3-4 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.

 

The Mac Daddy of Truck Touch events around the area, the DC Department of Public Works’ Annual Truck Touch will take place on June 3, 8am – 1pm at RFK Stadium, Lot 8.  Tickets are free, but reserve a spot!

 

Sound Scene, an interactive sound and multi-sensory arts festival, will be back at the Hirshhorn June 3-4. The free, all-ages celebration of sonic and sensory arts will feature artists from DC and around the world. With a theme of  “After The End?” visitors can explore various concepts and issues through interactive art installations, live performances, and small group workshops.

 

Celebrate Capital Pride during the month of June, especially June 10-11 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.

 

Awesome Con, the Mid-Atlantic’s premier pop culture convention, takes place June 16-18 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.

 

Attend one of the biggest summer barbeques around June 24-25 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.

 

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival will take place this year June 29 – July 4 and July 6-9.  Every summer (well, except  during Covid), 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 Ozarks and Living Religions in the US this year, get ready for all kinds exhibits, demonstrations, live performances, talks, food, markets, and much 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 significant. It starts with the National Independence Day Parade down Constitution Avenue, then the A Capitol Fourth concert at the U.S. Capitol, and fireworks launched from both sides of the Lincoln Memorial.

 

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 offers more ways to appreciate the flowers and park. This year the festival will take place over a couple of weekends, from July 15-22. View scenes from a previous bloom here.

 

The Hip Hop Block Party at the National Museum of African American History & Culture was so successful in its inaugural event last year, it’s returning this summer on August 12. Details have yet to be announced, but tickets went fast last year, so be ready to snag them!

 

It might run into fall, but it starts August 26, 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, 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. (PS: I shared these tips last year, and they’ll be very helpful again.)

 

SEASONAL EXHIBITS

Find fairy houses in the woods at Annmarie Sculpture Garden

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.

 

The National Children’s Museum will welcome the Curious George: Let’s Get Curious! exhibit to its Visiting Exhibit Hall, where children can explore math, science, and engineering concepts in interactive experiences inspired by the classic stories and television series. Its’ recommended for ages 3-7, and there will be a celebration of the exhibit’s opening on Saturday, May 27, with a day of special offerings, including a special story time, scavenger hunt, and tinkering activity.

 

On May 27, the National Building Museum will debut Brick City. Visitors can take a world tour of iconic architecture, all carefully recreated from LEGO bricks.  See lively streetscapes from Cartagena, Columbia; Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans; intricate temples from India to Mexico; imaginative castles from medieval Japan to modern Las Vegas, and more. Museum hours are Thursday through Monday, 10am – 4pm, and admission is $10/adult, $7/age 3-17.

 

Another LEGO exhibit, this one nature-inspired, will be at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley from May 27  – September 4Sean Kenney’s Nature Connects® Made with LEGO® Bricks looks worthy of the two-hour drive out there!

 

One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection is still on view through July 16.  While it’s not exclusively a summer exhibit, it’s 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, is an annual exhibit. 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, in 2019 we hung out on the LAWN, and last year The Playhouse celebrated Shakespeare.  This summer LOOK HERE will “transform the Museum’s Great Hall with an elegant and provocative new installation.”  More details to come, but it will be open July 1 through Labor Day.

 

Throughout July, the beloved BubbleWorks will return to CityCenterDC. The immersive installation in The Plaza surrounds guests in a fantasy world of bubbles and lively music at the top of every hour Sunday – Thursday, 1-7pm and Friday – Saturday 1-8pm.

 

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, has extended the current, beautiful Pixelbloom: Timeless Butterflies exhibit through July 9. Get a glimpse of it! Admission is $20-25/adult, $17/age 4-15, $72/family 4-pack, free/under 4.

 

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 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!

 

 

SPECIAL ENTERTAINMENT & PROGRAMS

You can’t beat the lovely outdoor setting of Wolf Trap’s Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods

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 late May 24 through early 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 — this year’s program details should be available soon!

 

National Harbor is hosting a free Kids Day on the Plaza every Tuesday at 10:30am at the waterfront plaza stage. The fun Tuesday mornings will run June 6 – August 29. Enjoy summer sunshine and cool river breezes along with a rotation of family-friendly activities.

 

After being on hiatus for the past year, the beloved Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo Park will be back in action, presenting the show The Fisherman and His Wife from June 8 – July 20!

 

CityCenterDC and The Washington Ballet will present live performances in The Plaza at CityCenter.  See them for free June 8-10, 6:30pm-7:30pm.

 

The National Postal Museum is presenting a special Guest Artist Series on select dates from June 28 – August 30. Join the museum and artist John Parra, both virtually and in person, as they examine a collection of themes illustrated in his original stamp designs and illustrations through hands-on activities for all ages.

 

Millennium Stage Films is presenting several family movies — Hugo on June 9, The Iron Giant on June 30, Fantastic Mr. Fox on July 21 — all of them are FREE and will be screened at 8pm outside on the wall of The REACH.

 

Discovery Theater in the Ripley Center on the National Mall just reopened its doors (and stage) this spring after curtains closed for Covid — and they have programming for kids through July. View the full schedule!

 

Throughout summer on select dates from June 13 – August 12, Montgomery Parks is hosting Parks Playhouse Junior, an entrainment series for kids featuring live puppet shows, sing-alongs, and music lessons by performers that will keep kids moving and grooving, engaged, and informed.  (FYI: There is also Parks Playhouse that caters more toward adults —  see the schedule for dates and locations.

 

From June 20 through August 5, 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 mid-June, Arts in the Parks, Fairfax County Park Authority will present a free children’s entertainment series on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10am.  Locations vary — catch shows at Burke Lake Park, Frying Pan Farm Park, EC Lawrence Amphitheater, Mason District, and Waterfield Park.

 

The Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse is back and offering fun $1 films for kids every Wednesday from June 19 – August 10. Check the schedule to see what’s playing at a theater near you!

 

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

 

The Broadway musical production of The Lion King is coming to the Kennedy center June 22- 29.

 

The Bethesda Summer Concert Series is presenting Concerts for Kids for the first time. Enjoy the free shows on Friday morning from June 30 – July 21 at the corner of Norfolk & St. Elmo Avenues in Bethesda.

 

UniverSoul Circus, the world-class, live entertainment attraction is coming back to National Harbor June 30 – late July.  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.

 

Olney Outdoors is back! Olney Theatre presents over 25 summer programs to be held on the newly renovated Root Family Stage at Omi’s Pavilion, this summer from July 7 – September 3.

 

Strathmore is hosting Cool Concerts for Kids on Thursdays July 13, July 20, July 27, and August 3 at 7pm.

 

See a Shakespeare play in the park! The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company presents its annual Shakespeare in the Ruins at the picturesque Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park in Ellicott City, MD. Macbeth will run June 16 – July 23.  Tickets are $65/adult, $33/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!

 

MINI TRAINS, MINI GOLF, CAROUSELS, & A FERRIS WHEEL!

Go for a spin on the beautiful Dentzel Carousel at Glen Echo Park

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 Mini Golf (the Miniature Train is not open as it’s undergoing a restoration) 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 29 (Memorial Day), July 4 (closes at 4pm) & September 4(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 in early May, and will run on weekends through September 10am – 6pm. Rides are $3.50. 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 $3.50.  Plan to stay and play at the super fun Wheaton playground — read more about it here.

 

At Glen Echo Park, the beautiful historic Dentzel Carousel is celebrating its 102nd season! Plan to go for a spin before or after a show at Adventure Theatre or The Puppet Co. From late April through August 27, 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 29 on weekdays 9:30am – 1pm and weekends 9:30am – 6:30pm. (Until then only on weekends) Cost is $3.50/weekdays, $4.50/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 are $17/age 13+, $13.50/12 & under. 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 11am – 5:45pm, the carousel 11am -5:30pm, 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 $3.50-4.50, train rides are $4.50-5.50, mini golf is $7-9. See more about the park here.

 

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. (FYI: You can also play Foot Golf there!)

 

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, $7/13+. Check websites for hours at each park.

 

Lee District Family Rec Area in Alexandria offers ides on its Chesapeake Bay-themed carousel.  Open daily May 29 – August 19 (and weekends until May 28 and August 20 – October 29) — hours are 11am – 6pm Monday/Tuesday/Thursday, 11am – 5pm Wednesday, and 9am – 6pm Saturday/Sunday.  Cost is $3.50 per ride on Fridays, $4.40 per ride weekends & holidays.

 

 

SUMMER SPORTS

Show your Spirit for women’s soccer!

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, are playing their 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 Mubala Citi DC 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 29 – August 6.

 

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!

 

SEASONAL EXPERIENCES

A very snap-worthy bloom

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.

 

Summer in the Parks will offer weekly events every Thursday evening 6-8pm at Carter Barron in June and at Fort Slocum in August in partnership with Rock Creek Park/National Park Service. The FREE, family-friendly events will have music from DJ Lance Reynolds and fun-for-all-ages games and activities.

 

Join Anacostia Riverkeeper and Earth Conservation Corps on Friday evenings from June 23 – August 25 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.

 

 

CRAB FEASTS

One of the best treats of the season

Crab feasting is 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.

* The Point in Arnold, MD, has become one of our favorite crabby spots.

* Enjoy great crabs and an awesome beach area at Kentmorr.

* The Jetty on Kent Narrows has crabs, scenic views, and a fun beachy vibe.

* Skipper’s Pier in Deale is the most recent place we tried — and we all liked it.

* 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.

 


GEAR UP

Lawn games like Kadima elevate summer hangs

There are some items that help enhance your summer experiences, whether you’re going to the pool, headed to the beach, or just enjoying a day outdoors in the sunshine. These KFDC posts have great recommendations for gearing up for summer fun.

* Must-Haves for Keeping Kids Cool at the Pool

* 10 Outdoor “Lawn” Games for Extra Summer Fun

* Top Picks for the Best Beach Day

* Summertime Must-Haves for Little Ones

 

 

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

 

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Filed under 2023, DC, Maryland, Summer, Virginia

Where to Go and What to Do During Spring Break 2023

Get a whole new view of DC at the CEB Tower

 

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 (including this intro), 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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Filed under 2023, DC, Maryland, Spring, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Go & What to Do During Winter Break 2022

 

If you’re going to be in town over the Winter Break from school, you’ll likely be looking for activities to keep the whole gang happy (and that includes us parents)! Hence, I’m bringing back this guide once again, but with updated info and some new inspiration that reflects what’s going on now.

Many of these ideas are already on the blog, but sometimes a little guidance for what’s best at certain times helps. Among the recommendations are holiday activities to get into the spirit, exhibits and shows that are hot tickets right now, outings that take advantage of the season, adventures to keep your gang active no matter what the weather, special weekday programs happening during this time, and places and experiences that kids who are in school all day can’t get to easily.

Of course, the rest of the blog is packed with 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!) entertained during the time off — or on, depending how you look at it. 😉  Happy Winter Break!

 

Holiday Happenings

Special Exhibits & Museums

Must-See DC

#OptOutside

Show Time

Indoor Action

Weekday Programs

See Some Sports

Day Trips

Extra Tips

 

 

Holiday Happenings

The Season’s Greenings train display at the US Botanic Garden

Season’s Greenings
Where: US Botanic Garden | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Through January 2
Admission: Free

Season’s Greenings is a local must-do during the holiday season.  The exhibit in the Botanic Garden’s conservatory features Washington landmarks constructed from plant materials and one of the city’s largest Christmas trees. But the highlight is the model train railway, which never fails to impress and enchant with intricate, imaginative designs. This year see a display of agricultural scenes from across the United States and around the world. Even better (imo), it’s back outdoors in the National Garden!  For even more holiday magic at the garden, see it all twinkle as the USBG stays open until 8pm on Tuesday evenings.  Get a glimpse of a past exhibit in this post with scenes from the exhibit. For more on the seasonal favorite, see this post and this one about some of our Season’s Greenings experiences.

Chanukah, Oh Chanukah
Where: Around the DMV
When: Several Dates
Admission: Varies by activity

Chanukah begins during Winter Break this year, and all of its eight days occur within it, too. There are several activities going on to celebrate the Festival of Lights, many of them menorah lightings — including the National Menorah Lighting on the first night — as well as family programs. View details on all of them in the Holiday Guide here.

Search for Santa’s Critters
Where: Potomac Overlook PArk | Arlington, VA
When: December 17-21, 11am – 4pm
Admission: $5/child

Santa’s animal friends are lost in the park and need rescuing! Go on a scavenger hunt to locate the critters so they can help Santa deliver candy and treats for the holidays! Appropriate for families and children of all ages. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Christmas at Mount Vernon
Where: Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens
When: Daily through December
Admission: $28/adult, $15/age 6-11, free/5 & under 

Christmas past meets Christmas present at George Washington’s estate, and they celebrate the holidays with a variety of delights.  During the day, tour the Mansion, watch historic chocolate-making demonstrations, and meet Aladdin the Camel. Mount Vernon is open every day of the year, including Christmas Day and New Years. So bring the entire family to the home of George and Martha Washington this holiday season.

Holiday Festival of Trains
Where: B&O Railroad Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: Through December 31
Admission: $25/adult, $20/senior, $16/age 2-12, free/B&O members

At a venue dedicated to locomotives, you know the holiday model train exhibit is going to be special. The whole Museum has been transformed into a wonderland of festive fun including Reindeer Railway train rides, photos ops with Santa and winter friends, Santa’s Village, live entertainment, and more!  And just opened is  a new Model Train Gallery featuring a specially crafted HO Scale model layout of Baltimore in 1997.

Christmas at Gaylord National
Where: Gaylord National Resort | National Harbor, MD
When: Through December 31
Admission: Free, though some activities cost extra

The Gaylord National Hotel at National Harbor goes all out during the holidays. ICE! is often the big attraction, but there has always been plenty to do there to warrant a visit without the frozen entertainment. The atrium of the resort is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with a spectacular glass Christmas tree, nightly tree lightings, activities especially for little ones, photo ops with Santa, indoor snowfalls, fountain shows, and more.

See the Lights
Where: Around the DC area
When: Evenings through
Admission: Varies by locale

The many enchanting light displays that are a staple of the season always run through, even beyond, the holidays. And they make for a fantastic family activity.  Visit one of many parks or city corridors in the area that has transformed into a sparkling wonderland. Some you can walk through for an up-close experience, others you tour by car. Either way, expect to be dazzled.

* Find even more holiday happenings in the KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC!

 

 

Special Exhibits & Museums

 

An entertaining collection at the American History Museum

 

Entertainment Nation/Nación del espectáculo
Where: National Museum of American History | National Mall, DC
When: Daily except for 12/25, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free

The American History Museum just debuted its new Culture Wing with the permanent exhibition Entertainment Nation/Nación del espectáculo as its centerpiece. Featuring an extraordinary collection of theater, music, sports, movie and television objects, the exhibition exploring how entertainment has provided a forum for important national conversations about who we are, and who we want to be.  It’s very engaging and full of displays that will spark nostalgia for adults and wonder for kids — you’ll have a blast sharing memories with them!

Check It Out
Where: MLK Jr. Memorial Library
When: Mon – Fri, 10am – 8pm | Fri-Sat, 10am – 6pm | Sun, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

So, it’s not a museum (though it does contain great exhibits!), but the MLK Library is so much more than your typical library, it seemed like a good one to feature here.  Along with books to browse and check out for all ages from all genres, there is a cafe, an exhibit space, study and meeting rooms, a large auditorium, a recording studio, a gorgeous rooftop terrace, and what little ones will love most: a SLIDE in the Children’s section to zip down. And there are always special activities for a variety of ages, too.  It’s a great place for the whole family  to visit!

Word Up
Where: Planet Word | Downtown DC
When: Thursday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free

The museum all about language is full of fun and interesting exhibits, most of them interactive. There definitely are elements that all ages will love, though tweens and older will get the most out of it, having more grammar lessons under their belts and generally better comprehension. Our whole family loves it!  Admission is free, but you need to book tickets in advance. Right now, there are some available for dates over the break. And a limited number of day-of, walk-up passes are available on the half-hour.

An O-So-Cool Adventure
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle
When: Daily, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Starts at $26.50

Locate secret doors, see outrageously fabulous themed rooms, and browse a trove of secondhand treasures on a tour of one of the coolest spots in DC: The Mansion on O Street. The Dupont Circle landmark is a mansion, museum, secondhand store, and hotel all in one — and visitors are welcome to explore it all.  Admission can add up, so Winter Break is a great time to go if you’re looking for something special to do. Plus, it’s a unique adventure in a truly stunning space.  The Secret Doors tour is $26.50, and there’s a special Santa’s Elves Hunt through December 31 for $38.

An Art Tour for the T(w)een Scene
Where: Glenstone Museum | Potomac, MD
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

If you have kids 12 or older, Winter Break is a great time to take advantage of Glenstone’s Guaranteed Entry program, which admits students age 12+ and one accompanying adult without reserving tickets.  It’s an incredible indoor-outdoor art museum — just bundle up for the outside part!  Be sure to note that they don’t allow children under 12 at all, but it’s a wonderful place to visit with tweens and teens.

One with Eternity
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free (with timed-entry passes)

The days off from school give you more chances to experience Yayoi Kusama’s exhibit at the Hirshhorn.  Including two Infinity Rooms, the yellow and black polkadot Pumpkin, plus a couple more pieces and elements that illustrate Kusama’s fascinating life and artistry, all ages will dig it.   Next-day passes to the exhibit are released daily at noon on the Hirshhorn website.  All visitors age 12+ must have a pass!  Kids under 12 do not need passes, and adults with a pass can bring up to two children. Be sure to read this KFDC write-up about the exhibit that includes more info, tips, and a glimpse of what you’ll experience.

Emotions at Play
Where: National Children’s Museum | Downtown DC
When: December 18 – February 22
Admission: $15.95

The current visiting exhibit at the National Children’s Museum takes kiddos into the magical world of Pixar’s hit animated film Inside Out. Explore the important role emotions, memory, and imagination play in everyday lives.  Learn to recognize emotions and how they are expressed through hands-on and digital experiences featuring the characters who represent our five core emotions: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear. Of course, plan to explore the rest of the Museum’s exhibits, too — read more about them here.

Mind Tricks
Where: Museum of Illusions | CityCenter, DC
When: Sun – Thurs, 10am – 8pm |Fri – Sat, 10am – 9pm
Admission: $42/adult, $18/age 5-12

This just opened venue sounds like a fun one to explore. It’s a “one-of-a-kind edutainment destination where you can immerse yourself in the wonderful world of illusions! Guests will enjoy more than 50 visual and educational exhibits featuring holograms, stereograms, optical illusions, and immersive rooms that are designed to tease the senses and trick the mind.”

Spectacular Factory: The Holiday Multiverse
When: Through January 8
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
Admission: $17-30
ARTECHOUSE presents a holiday celebration with this exhibit that runs through the season.  Experience holiday joy brought to life through digital fantasy worlds, as you float among giant swinging bells, crash the party of a thousand nutcrackers, join a thrilling train ride through wreaths, take a spin in the candy cane carousel, and more in this interactive cutting-edge experience.

Mission: Fun
Where: International Spy Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Daily, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $26.95/age 13+, $16.95/7-12, free/6 & under

If you haven’t been to the Spy Museum at the L’Enfant Plaza location, no is a good time to check it out! Go undercover to explore the intriguing world of espionage. Discover tricks of the trade, view gadgets used to keep secrets and disguises to hide identities, and learn about some of the most famous spies and their missions.  And don’t miss the super fun museum shop!

African American History & Culture
Where: National Museum of African American History & Culture
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free with timed-entry passes

This phenomenal museum is a must-visit on the National Mall.  Timed entry passes are still required, and you can reserve in advance through the website.  Same-day passes are also released beginning at 8:15am daily.  Before you go to the museum, be sure to read the KFDC guide for visiting with kids.

Off the Beaten Museum Path
Where: Around DC
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by museum

If you don’t veer from the well trodden path of the National Mall now and then, you could miss out on some amazing museum exhibits and experiences. Check out this round-up of some these places in DC that may not be on your museum radar — but should be. They’ll be great places to stay warm too!

* Of course, there are the rest of the Smithsonians and National Gallery of Art, which always make for great outings!

 

Must-See DC

The impressive Thomas Jefferson Library within the Library of Congress

 

A Local & National Treasure
Where: Library of Congress | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Wednesday – Saturday, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Explore the largest library in the world and one of DC’s most iconic attractions. The Library of Congress is a trove of knowledge, art, history, and culture — and the public is welcome to enjoy it all, and for free!  Walk-ins are sometimes welcome, but it’s best to reserve free tickets in advance.

A Monumental Experience
Where: Washington Monument | National Mall, DC
When: Daily, 9am – 5pm
Admission: Free

The Washington Monument is super fun to tour — you can go up inside to check out interesting exhibits and take in DC views. Advance reservation tickets for the next day are available online for a nominal processing fee. Same-day, free tickets are also be available on a first-come, first-served basis daily starting at 8:30am at the Washington Monument Lodge, located on 15th Street NW, between Madison Drive NW and Jefferson Drive SW.  Get a peek of the experience from the inside here.

Abe’s Last Days
Where: Ford’s Theatre | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Daily, 9am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free – $3

Ford’s isn’t just a place to catch live entertainment. The site of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination highlights its historic significance through exhibits about the president, the circumstances surrounding his assassination, and that fateful night at the theatre. The National Historic Site features a museum, theatre walk-throughs and a presentation, and guests are welcome to explore it all. Best for about ages 8 and up. Reserve tickets online in advance for $3 or get them at the Box Office for free.

Time for a Tour
Where: Old Post Office Tower | Downtown DC
When: Daily, 9am – 4pm
Admission: Free

One of our back pocket places to take out-of-town guests for impressive views of the city! See DC from a new vantage point at the Old Post Office Tower. Located within the Waldorf Astoria at 12th & Pennsylvania, NW, it’s free to visit and go up to the observation deck of one of the tallest structures in DC. This post has info for visiting — be sure to read it for details on accessing the entrance.

A Bird’s Eye View
Where: Observation Deck at CEB Tower | Rosslyn, VA
When: Daily, but hours vary (closed 12/25 & 1/1)
Admission: Free

Gaze out of floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a new perspective of DC. The 30+ story high space in Rosslyn offers breathtaking 360-degree panoramic vistas.  Read more about it here, but note that not all of the exhibits and immersive experiences are still there.  However, the spectacular views and the thrill of being up that high make it worth going.  This was only open to Arlington residents for awhile, but they’re once again welcoming the general public.  And even better now, admission is FREE!

Tour the Memorials
Where: National Mall & Tidal Basin, DC
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free

Be a tourist in your hometown (unless you’re visiting, then just be a tourist). Take the opportunity to visit the many memorials on the Mall and around the Tidal Basin. Not only are the structures themselves marvel-worthy, there’s a lot to be gleaned from them, too. Learn about some of our country’s presidents and leaders — George, Abe, Tom, FDR, & MLK — from displays, park rangers, and in the Visitors Centers. And walk or bike among them all to add some exercise (and extra fun) to the venture!

 

 

#OptOutside

Get out for a round of disc golf

 

Go Disc Golfin’
Where: Courses around the DC Area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

Hit the links, the chain links, that is! Disc golf is a great way to enjoy some family time outdoors. Not only is it fun and challenging, many of the courses are set up in scenic places. This post has info about our favorite in College Park, and there are also great courses at Patapsco Valey State Park in MD,  Pohick Bay Regional Park in Lorton, VA,  Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg, MD, Burke Lake Park in Burke, VA.

Ready, Set…Hike!
Where: Around the DMV
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by locale

If you agree with the saying, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing” like I do, there are no excuses for not getting outdoors during winter. And a great, easy way to do so is on a hike. Hit the trail in places with scenic views, tramp and explore history at interesting locales, and enjoy a day of active fun. This post has a a bunch of recommendations for good walks in the woods and other places with kids.

Skate the Day Away
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by rink

Enjoy a quintessential winter activity: Ice skating under the sky! Take in art as you skate at the Sculpture Garden; glide over the Potomac on The Wharf’s awesome rink; circle around Washington Harbour as you enjoy river views; meander along the Figure 8 path at Canal Park; or do some shopping then skate at Pentagon Row, Rockville Town Square, or Reston Town Center. This post has details on alfresco (and indoor) ice skating options in the area.

Grounds for Play
Where: Playgrounds around the DMV
When: Daily
Admission: Free

Let the kiddos burn some energy and get some fresh air at one of many awesome area playgrounds. BeauvoirClemyjontriWatkins Regional ParkHains Point, Cabin John Regional ParkWheaton Regional Park, plus loads of DC Parks and Rec locations are great places to swing, climb, run, slide, romp, and even more!

Fossil Hunting
Where: Calvert & Charles Counties
When: Varies by place
Admission: Varies by place
Just because it takes place along beach areas, that doesn’t mean it’s a warm-weather-only activity. As long as you’re dressed for it — waterproof boots are a must! — searching for millions-of-years-old fossils can be just as fun and compelling in winter as it is in summer. There are several places to go in the region, all about an hour drive from DC. This post has a round-up of spots to check out.

Two-Wheel Time
Where: Around the DC Area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

There’s a bound to be a few unseasonably warm days to make for good biking conditions (though you can layer up for a cold day ride, too).  Cruise along paths lined with scenic surroundings, ride to destinations that offer even more fun, and get some exercise.  This post has a bunch of pedal-worthy recs, with something for riders of all levels, and this particular route is ideal for the whole crew.

 

* Find even more places for outdoor adventures.

 

 

Show Time

See a holiday classic at the historic Ford’s Theatre

 

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: Through January 8
Tickets: $12-39
It’s a new, high-energy musical to rock the holiday season! When clothing suddenly falls from the sky, Wilbur J. Mole Rat stuns the colony with his decision to get dressed! In a community where baring is caring and skin is in, can Wilbur find the courage to rock to the rhythm of his own electric guitar? Based on Mo Willem’s beloved picture book, the show explores what can happen when we have the courage to be ourselves. Recommended for ages 4-10.

A Christmas Carol
Where: Ford’s Theatre | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 18 – December 31
Tickets: $25-104
Join the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future as they lead the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge on a journey of transformation and redemption. Originally conceived by Michael Baron, this music-infused production captures the magic and joy of Dickens’s Yuletide classic. Acclaimed actor Craig Wallace returns to play Ebenezer Scrooge. Recommended for ages 5 and up. Performance is two hours (including a 15-minute intermission).

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: Through January 1
Tickets: $15/age 2+

It’s Hanukkah on strings once again at The Puppet Co. this year! In this puppet play, Hershel just wants to celebrate Hanukkah with the community, but the Queen and King of the Goblins have forbidden the lighting of the candles. Can Hershel save the day and lift the curse for this shtetl (village)?

The Nutcracker on Strings
Where: The Puppet Co.| Glen Echo, MD
When: Through January 1
Tickets: $15/age 2+

The Puppet Co.’s annual holiday treat and Washington tradition for 30 years is returning! The Nutcracker is the festive story of Clara-Marie’s favorite toy and their adventures together in the land of the Sugarplum Fairy. Music from Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet blends with marionettes and costume characters to create this unique production.

Wicked
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom
When: Through January 22
Tickets: $59-349 

The Broadway sensation looks at what happened in the Land of Oz…from a different angle. Long before Dorothy arrives, there is another young woman, born with emerald-green skin—smart, fiery, misunderstood, and possessing an extraordinary talent. When she meets a bubbly blonde who is exceptionally popular, their initial rivalry turns into the unlikeliest of friendships… until the world decides to call one “good,” and the other one “wicked.” Recommended for ages 8+.

Into the Woods
Where: Signature Theatre | Arlington, VA
When: Through January 29
Tickets: $40-109 (find discount)

Escape into a fantastical fairytale adventure where dreams come true, but not free. A trove of storybook characters’ paths intertwine as they chase their deepest desires through an enchanted forest. However, once they receive their happily ever after, the unintended consequences of granted wishes unravel their worlds. Weaving a euphoric score with a darkly humorous book, Into the Woods is a sophisticated musical twist on beloved childhood fables. Running time is approximately 2 hours 45 minutes, including one intermission. Parents should use discretion about what is age appropriate for their children.

A Soldier’s Play
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom
When: Through January 8
Tickets: $45–135 (find discount)

The Pulitzer Prize-winning thriller has rocketed back into the spotlight thanks to this 2020 Tony-winning Best Revival. In 1944, on a Louisiana Army base, two shots ring out. A sergeant is murdered, triggering a gripping barrage of questions about sacrifice, service, and identity in America. Broadway’s leading man Norm Lewis stars in the show Variety calls “a knock-your-socks-off-drama.” Recommended for ages 13+.

Rocknoceros New Year’s Eve Ball
Where: Jammin’ Java
Tickets: December 31, 11am – 12pm
Admission: $10

Rocknoceros is returning to Jammin Java for their 14th New Year’s Eve Ball. The hour-long program will include live music from the area’s favorite family-jam band, interactive New Year’s resolutions, the Ball Drop, and a complimentary apple juice toast.

* See what else is on stages now (or coming soon), and find holiday-themed entertainment here.

 

Indoor Action

Climb the day away at The St. James

 

Super, Awesome, and Amazing Fun
Where: The St. James | Springfield, VA
When: Thurs-Fri, 3-8pm | Sat-Sun, 9am – 8pm
Admission: Starting at $15/hour 

The Super, Awesome, and Amazing (that’s what it’s called) 30,000 square foot activity center in the St. Jame sports complex is filled with all kinds of climbing structures, trampolines, and obstacle courses. Kids can don harnesses and clip onto wires to climb, rappel, and navigate walkways 20 feet above the ground. They can bounce, flip, and execute acrobatic moves. They can swing from bars and on large platforms and crawl through tunnels. Essentially, every element in the space is conducive to active fun, and there is something for kids from toddler to tween ages to enjoy.

Reach New Heights
Where: ClimbZone | Laurel, MD
When: Daily, 10am – 8pm
Admission: $27/child, $18/age 2-4

The enormous facility is filled literally floor to ceiling with colorful themed climbing walls and moon bounces. Climbers can ascend Mt. Rushmore, reach the Jolly Roger on a pirate ship, conquer a game of Tetris, shimmy up a giant guitar, scale Jack’s bean stalk, negotiate a rope wall, and experience peak fun on a variety of other climbing areas.

Play in the Zone
Where: ZavaZone | Rockville, MD & Sterling, VA
When: Daily, 10am – 6pm
Admission: Starts at $25.50

Guests have their pick of fun at this indoor adventure park for ages 5-105. There are ninja courses, ropes courses, trampolines, climbing challenges, zip lines, and more under one soaring roof. Usually just open in the afternoons during the week, morning time slots will also be available during Winter Break week.

Spring Time
Where: Flight Trampoline Park | Springfield, VA
When: Daily
Admission: Starts at $14

Kids of all ages can jump, play, even flip for joy at Flight Trampoline Park. The huge space resembles a skate park, with an industrial look of exposed pipes and cinder block walls sprayed with graffiti. But where you’d find ramps, rails, and concrete to facilitate skills and tricks, there are trampolines instead. Be sure to check the schedule for any special jumping times, and buy tickets/sign waivers in advance online to avoid a line there.

Tee Up
Where: Top Golf | National Harbor & Gaithersburg, MD
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Starts at $27/bay
Practice your swing, enjoy a bite, and have some indoor/outdoor fun.  At Top Golf, you drive balls from climate controlled (ie, heated) sheltered bays, so you can still enjoy fresh air and be comfy.   Plus, there ’s a full service restaurant and bar (for parents, obvi) to make a full experience of it.

Movie & a Meal
Where: The Alamo | Northeast DC & Crystal City, VA
When: Ongoing
Admission: $13/adult, $11/child, $12/senior
After 4pm – $15/adult, $13/child, $14/senior

The action here occurs on screen, but catching a flick is a great option during the cold winter break days, even better when you can enjoy a meal with your movie, too. The Alamo is the only theater in the city where you can do that — and it’s a good one! The theaters are nice, the seating is comfortable, and the food is tasty. See , what’s playing there now.

 

Weekday Programs

The MLK Library hosts all kind of free programs

 

Library Activities
Where: Public Libraries in DC
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free

Our local libraries always offer free activities for kids (and adults), including over Winter Break.  Young children can join a music and movement session, teens can create zines, grade schoolers and tweens can do a Lego build, the whole crew can enjoy a family movie. Visit the DCPL events page to see what’s happening when at a library near you!

Fun at Fairfax Park
Where: Parks throughout Fairfax, VA
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by activity

The Fairfax County Park Authority hosts all kinds of events for guests of all ages on almost very day of the week. There are nature programs, activities that focus on the history of the area, special holiday celebrations, and more. View the calendar of events to see what is happening over Winter Break!

Play Date at NMNH: Investigating Insects
Where: Natural History Museum | National Mall, DC
When: December 20, 10:30am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Drop in at the National Museum of Natural History for this special program for families all about insects! Make close observations of select pieces from the insect collection related, learn about what makes an insect an insect, and create your own take-home craft to help remember key physical traits of insects!

Learn to Letterbox
Where: Winkler Botanical Preserve | Alexandria, VA
When: December 21, 10:30am – 12pm
Admission: $10

Letterboxing is a scavenger hunt style adventure for all ages that will take you to interesting locations all over the world, including Winkler Botanical Preserve, solving clues and searching for hidden treasures. Learn all you need to know to get started on this hobby, including where to find clues, basic how-to’s, and hints on deciphering clues and what to look for. Then, head off on an adventure in the Preserve to find some of the boxes hidden there. Participants will also receive a starter logbook and learn how to carve their own personal stamp! Ages 8 and up are welcome. Read more about Winkler Botanical Preserve here.

Winter Solstice Celebration
Where: Temporary Takoma Park Library | Takoma Park, MD
When: December 21, 7-8pm
Admission: Free

The Foggy Bottom Morris Men Dancers and Rock Creek Morris Women Dancers will delight all ages with their annual solstice dancing! Along with performances, enjoy solstice stories and a luminaria craft. Refreshments (including GF) will also be served.

Art Cart
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: December 22, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Brighten your winter with the Hirshhorn’s Art Cart! Drop in with young artists for a close look at Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian’s mirror mosaics, explore geometric shapes, and create glittering mosaics. Find the Art Cart on the Third Level and pick up your mosaic making materials.

Bilingual Baseball Story Time
Where: National Postal Museum | Union Market Area, DC
When: December 27, 11am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Join National Postal Museum educators for a bilingual story time program highlighting themes from the exhibit Baseball: America’s Home Run. This program is targeted for ages 3-6, but all are welcome. No registration required. And plan to tour the whole museum while you’re there — it’s one I always recommend as a great one with kiddos.

Moonshot Studio
Where: The REACH | Kennedy Center
When: December 28-30, 11am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free
Get creative at this studio within The REACH at the Kennedy Center, where all are groups are welcome and encouraged to partake in various art projects and activties. Usually open on Saturday and Sunday only, there will be extra days/hours over Winter Break. Through December 30, there will be hands-on projects inspired by The Day You Begin, a new “play with lots of music” based by the book of the same name.

 

See Some Sports

Cheer on our local teams!

 

Wizards
Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 27 & 28
Admission: Ticket prices vary

The Wizards have a couple of home games over the break, so catch some exciting action on the court. They host the Philadelphia 76ers on December 27 and Phoenix Suns on December 28.

Capitals
Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 19, 23, 29, & 31
Admission: Ticket prices vary (look for a deal)

Hockey fans can see the Caps play a few games. The Detroit Red Wings will be here on December 19, the Winnipeg Jets on December 23, the Ottawa Senators on December 29, and Montréal Canadiens on December 31.

Hoops, NCAA-Style
Where: Universities around the DC Area
When: Throughout the break
Admission: Ticket prices vary

With so many universities in the area, there’s always some good college hoops action going on. Here’s where you can check out schedules and look for tickets:
University of Maryland (Go, Terps!)
George Washington University
Georgetown University
American University
Howard University
George Mason University
Catholic University

 

 

Day Trips

Spend a day on slopes within easy driving distance

 

Hit the Slopes
Where: Around the region
When: Through winter
Admission: Varies

A fun, active way to take advantage of winter: Skiing!  There are a bunch of resorts within a few hours’ drive that are great for young, newbie skiers (and veteran swooshers, too).  Some resorts to check out that are within day trip driving distance: Liberty, Whitetail, Roundtop, and Bryce.

Charm City, Hon!
Where: Baltimore, MD
When: Daily
Admission: Varies by locale

Zip up I-95 for some fun in our sister city, where there are lots of great places to spend a day off. Play the day away at Port Discovery. Explore the exhibits and loads of hands-on activities at the Maryland Science Center. See some of the quirkiest, coolest art around at the American Visionary Art Museum. Get an eyeful of the underwater world at the National Aquarium. Tour the historic ships moored at the Inner Harbor. Or learn about Baltimore’s early business days at the Museum of Industry. The KFDC Guide to Exploring Baltimore with Kids has info for all of these adventures, plus dining recs and more to explore!

Go Underground
Where: Luray Caverns | Luray, VA
When: Daily, 9am – 7pm
Admission: $32/adult, $16/ages 6-12, free/5 & under  (look for discount)

Behold the spectacular underground world of stalagmites, stalactites, and other amazing limestone formations in the massive cave system at Luray. Afterward, make your way through the Garden Maze or check out vintage rides in the Carriage and Caravan Museum. Admission does not include attractions beyond the cavern. KFDC Tip: Be sure to make a pit stop before going into the caverns, because it can be a long walk out to a restroom, and once you’re out, you may not be able to go back in.

Go East
Where: Annapolis and Eastern Shore, MD
When: Hours vary by place
Admission: Varies by Place

Who says it has be warm to head out toward the Eastern Shore and enjoy adventures by the water? Drive over the Bay Bridge for a great hike at Wye Island Natural Resources Management Area on this side of the bridge at Quiet Waters. And while it’s not the best season for crabs, you can still enjoy yummy meals at places that are known for them. Try Kentmorr or The Jetty after Wye, Cantler’s or Mike’s closer in. Of course, you can also enjoy a day walking around the charming downtown area in Annapolis.

Art & Maritime Explorations
Where: Calvert County, MD
When: Daily, except Christmas
Admission: Varies by locale

Make a day of it in Calvert County, where you can visit a couple of places for fun, fascinating, hands-on adventures. Annmarie Sculpture Garden is full of artistic delights. Tour beautiful works, both indoors and out, play in the Fairy Lolly, and create some of your own art with inspiration from all you see there. Hours are 9am – 5pm in the gardens, and admission is a $5 suggested donation. Also out that way is the Calvert Marine Museum, where you can see interesting exhibits, including display cases full of fossils and artifacts, plus live fish and other creatures. There’s also a play area and a real lighthouse to tour. Hours are 10am – 5pm, and admission is $9/adult, $4/ages 5-12, free/4 & under.  You can enjoy some nature out there at Calvert Cliffs State Park, where you can hike and do a little fossil hunting. Open sunrise to sunset, and admission is $8/car.

 

Extra Tips
* Created especially for the Covid Winter a couple of years, this post has even more ideas for things to do, all of them outdoors.
* This is a great time to sign up for volunteering opportunities with kids.
* If you’re looking specifically for activities for foul weather days, see The Great Indoors round-up.
* And for where to enjoy time outside, check out The Best Places in the DC Area to Spend a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids
* Sometimes you just need a place to hang out for awhile, so why not make it a stunning one?
* And other times you just want a nice, peaceful place to chill out.
* Look for deals and discounts on CertifiKid and Goldstar.

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Filed under 2022, DC, Holidays, Maryland, Virginia, Winter

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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Filed under 2022, DC, Maryland, Seasonal, Spring, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend