Tag Archives: Butler’s Orchard

Take Your Pick at Local Farms

Hitting the fields for pick-your-own fun


Though wonderful and delicious while it lasted, the pick-your-own strawberry season has ended. But you can still have a “berry” (I know…couldn’t resist) good time at local farms, as the fields are yielding a whole new crop of fruits. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and more fresh produce are ripe for the picking for at least the next few weeks.

This post about the strawberry season lists area farms that offer pick-your-own opportunities, or you can scroll down for quick details. Just about every farm listed is cultivating some kind of berry (most have a few) in its fields. Note that Schlagel Farms is closed, as their pickings are limited to strawberries. And Huber Farms won’t have berries until late July when their blackberries are ready, though they do have other veggies right now (see the website or call for specifics).

And here’s one to add to the list that will help you keep antioxidant-ful: Blueberry Gardens in Ashland, MD, has U-pick organic blueberries all summer — they expect their season to last through August. And if you’re so inclined, the farm also offers yoga classes, massages, and wellness workshops, which you can read all about on their website.

If you don’t want to jump to the old post for the scoop on area farms, here’s the quick list of places  offering berry picking. Just click to visit their websites for more info.

Great Country Farms
Admission is $8/ages 3-10, $10/ages 11 and up (kids under 2 are free) on weekdays, and $10/everyone on festival weekends. Open daily 9am- 6pm.

Homestead Farm
No admission fee. Open seven days a week from 9:30am – 6pm, though pick-your-own ends at 5:30. Call the hotline at 301.977.3761 or check the website for updates.

Mackintosh Fruit Farm
Open daily from 8am – 6pm.

Larriland Farm
Hours are Tuesdays 9am – 8pm, Wednesday to Friday 9am – 6pm, Saturday & Sunday 9am – 5pm, closed Mondays.

Westmoreland Berry Farm
Open Monday – Saturday 8am – 6pm, Sunday 10am – 6pm

Huber’s Farm
Open 9am – 7pm seven days a week.

Butler’s Orchard
Blueberry fields are open Tuesday – Friday 8:30am -1pm, Saturday & Sunday 8:30am – 5pm

Hollin Farms
Hours are 9am – 5pm, and they recommend calling ahead to confirm that picking fields are open.


Filed under All ages, Eats, Farm, Maryland, Outdoor, Seasonal, Summer, Virginia, Weekend

The 2011 Strawberry Season is Underway

One of the season’s most anticipated activities has begun, and it’s only going to get better. Strawberry picking has started at several local farms, and many more will open their fields to the public over the next couple of weeks. You can also celebrate the season at a few strawberry festivals taking place this coming weekend.

As mentioned in last year’s post about the same topic, I love going out to the farm and picking produce with the kids. The slow pace and open space are a nice change from the hubbub and confines of the city.  It’s a fun, active way for the kids to see where their food comes from.  And then there’s the obvious: the enjoyment continues with a basketful of delicious hand-picked berries at home.

So, I confess: Much of this list of local farms offering pick-your-own strawberry opportunities has been regurgitated from last year. But all the vital info has been updated, plus a few farms have been added to the mix. All you have to do is take your pick (pun intended).  Happy Picking!

Schlagel Farms
Less than 20 miles from the city in Waldorf, Md, Schlagel Farms is one of the most popular pick-your-own berry places in the area with their season often beginning before other area farms. Their fields have been open to the public for a couple of weeks, and their hotline currently says the pickings ” remain excellent.” While there, you can also purchase other produce and plants grown in their greenhouse. And you no longer have to worry about hitting the ATM before going—they now accept credit cards, too.  Schlagel’s is open for picking from 8am – 7pm seven days a week.

Great Country Farms
At the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Shenandoah Valley, Great Country offers more than just pick-your-own opportunities. The farm is well known for its big seasonal festivals and fun farm-themed attractions. A hayride takes you out to the picking fields, and kids might spy an emu or goat on the way. Visitors also have access to the barnyard, mazes, a cow train, and jumping pillow. The weekend of May 28-29 is the Strawberry Jubilee U-Pick Festival with live music, pie eating contests, tart tosses, tasty food, and more. Babies four to nine months can compete in the diaper derby, a crawl to the finish line, to compete for great prizes. Admission is $8/ages 3-10, $10/ages 11 and up (kids under 2 are free) on weekdays, and $10/everyone on festival weekends. Open daily 9am- 6pm.

Homestead Farm
Strawberry season doesn’t begin here until next week, but given the consistently good quality of its pick-your-own produce, the wait is sure to be worth it. And Homestead scores just as high on aesthetics as it does on its crops—the lovely pastoral setting in Montgomery County makes you feel like you’re way more than 20 miles from the city. The farm opens when their strawberry season begins–call the hotline at 301.977.3761 or check the website for updates (I will also update here). They will be open seven days a week from 9:30am – 6pm, though pick-your-own ends at 5:30. 5/20 UPDATE: Homestead is open for the season, and strawberries ar ready for picking!

Mackintosh Fruit Farm
The family-owned farm in the Shenandoah Valley opened their strawberry fields to the public last week, and there is still plenty of time to reap the fruits. The annual Strawberry Festival will take place on Saturday, May 21. Plan on lunch while you’re there—along with fruits and veggies, the farm also offers a variety of menu items prepared fresh every day from their own produce. Walk it all off afterward along a new trail that winds through the fields and woods of the farm. Open daily from 8am – 6pm.

Larriland Farm
About an hour’s drive from DC in Howard County, Larriland Farms has gotten really good reviews on Yelp for both it’s produce and beauty. The pick-your-own season begins with strawberries around May 27—as it gets closer, call or check online to confirm the opening date. Larriland employs Integrated Pest Management, meaning pesticides are a last resort, to keep pests below an acceptable level with minimum harmful impact on the environment. Hours are Tuesdays 9am – 8pm, Wednesday to Friday 9am – 6pm, Saturday & Sunday 9am – 5pm, closed Mondays (but open Memorial day 9am – 1pm).

Westmoreland Berry Farm
Their strawberries have been ripe for the picking since Mother’s Day, and they expect them to be available for another couple of weeks. The hour or so drive from DC to Oak Grove, Va, apparently is worth it, as there’s much more to do there than gather fruit. A goat walk is a fun sight for kids, and the adjoining Voorhees Nature Preserve contains trails, a boardwalk spanning over wetlands, bird and wildlife sightings, and scenic views.

Huber’s Farm
If you want to celebrate strawberry season, head to Huber’s Farm May 21-22 for an Old Fashioned Strawberry Festival. The farm is kicking off the start of the season with a weekend of fun—the Strawberry Express Hayride, a moon bounce, face painting, strawberry shortcake, and more.  The festival will run from 12-5pm both days. The berries will be ready for picking in a couple of weeks along with many other spring veggies. Hours will be from 9am – 6pm seven days a week.

Butler’s Orchard
The farm might be best known for it’s Halloween and Easter extravaganzas, but they have a bounty of great crops, too. They are anticipating the strawberry season to begin May 25, but it wouldn’t hurt to call ahead before you go to make sure the pickings are ready—a recorded message is constantly updated. During strawberry season their hours are 8am – 6pm during the week, and 8am – 5pm on weekends. 5/21 UPDATE: Butler’s is open for the season, though pickings are currently “scattered,” so be sure to call ahead.

Hollin Farms
Across the river in Fauquier County, VA, Hollin Farms opens their strawberry picking season the weekend of May 21-22 and expects it to last through mid June. Hours are 9am – 5pm, and they recommend calling ahead to confirm that picking fields are open. And a special P.S. to meat lovers: they pride themselves on their grass-fed beef.


Filed under All ages, Annual, Eats, Farm, Festival, Free, Maryland, Outdoor, Seasonal, Spring, Virginia, Weekend

Easter Weekend (Including Ideas for Non-Holiday Fun)

Getting ready for the Easter egg "hunt" at last year's Eggstravagana in Lincoln Park

If you’re looking for an egg hunt, you’ll have no problem finding one. Sheep shearing? Got you covered there, too. And if the forecast proves reliable, and thunderstorms soak the area, I’ve got plenty of suggestions for family fun indoors. Happy Weekend!  And Happy Easter, too!

Earth Day Party for the Planet  – Looking for a Friday morning activity?  Celebrate Earth Day at the National Zoo!  From 10am – 12pm, guests can create eco-crafts, a meet the Zoo’s Green Team, get tips on enjoying a environmentally friendly lifestyle, and recycling opportunities (check the website for the list of recyclable items).  This free event will take place at the Zoo in Your Backyard exhibit.

Hop to It – It’s Easter weekend, and with it come many egg hunts and festivals. Celebrate at Cox Farms on Saturday from 11am–2pm with games, egg coloring, farm animals, and a visit from the Easter Bunny.  Annual Eggstravaganzas will be taking place at Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill from 1-3pm and in Ballston at 10:30am. The Reston Zoo will host Easter egg hunts on Saturday and Sunday at several times both days.  And ongoing are holiday festivities at Ticonderoga Farms and Bunnyland at Butler’s Orchard (open through Monday, though it’s closed on Easter Sunday).

Show Time From Snow White on strings to Rocknoceros at Jammin’ Java, there’s a variety of live entertainment to enjoy this weekend.  For details on what’s playing, see this post about what’s on stage this spring.

The Plane, The Plane! –  Love the Air & Space on the Mall, but not all the crowds?  Head to the College Park Aviation Museum, just 15 minutes out of DC.  The state-of-the-art facility located on the grounds of the world’s oldest continuously operating airport in College Park, MD, contains relics of early aviation, including some interactive fun.  Open daily from 10am -5pm, though closed on major holidays.  Admission is $4/adults, $2/children, free for ages 2 and under.

A Walk in the Park – It’s still National Park Week, and entrance to over 100 parks that usually charge admission is free.  If weather permits, take advantage and hit the trails at a local park or even one a bit further away. For suggestions on good hikes with kids, see this post about tramping with little ones.

Think Outside…  The list of best places to enjoy the outdoors with the kids keeps growing.  Check it out for ideas on where to have fun al fresco. Again, if weather permits.

Space for Children at House of Sweden – The Swedish Embassy welcomes families to experience a unique exhibit through April 24.  Two rooms of “interactivity creativity” celebrate the parent-child bond and encourage creative play. The free exhibit is open Saturdays from 11am – 4pm and Sundays from 12 – 5pm.  Read more about it on the Embassy’s website.

Nature at Its Best and Biggest – See some amazing moments in the natural world captured in photos and on the big screen at the National Museum of Natural History.  The Nature’s Best Photography exhibit showcases winners of a prestigious photography competition.  And most of the films playing at the museum’s Samuel C. Johnson IMAX Theater have themes of nature at their core.

Portrait Story Days: Dizzy Gillespie – Drop in at the National Portrait Gallery on Sunday from 1 – 4pm to listen to a story about a person who has influenced American history and culture and to create a special piece of art.  On Saturday and Sunday, learn about jazz trumpeter, band leader, singer, and composer Dizzy Gillespie.

Shearing MadnessSunday is Sheep Shearing Day at Watkins Regional Park, and you’re invited to watch the wool fly. This free event will feature sheep and llama shearing demonstrations, displays of products made from wool and hair, and more. Hayrides will be available during the event for $1.

Rainy Day RecsI’m listing this last in hopes that it’s a last resort, and those thunderstorms in the forecast don’t materialize. But if it turns out to be a wet weekend, this post contains many suggestions on where to have fun and stay dry.




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Filed under All ages, Animals, Art, DC, Educational, Farm, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Park, Spring, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend

Celebrate this Weekend

There is a lot of celebrating happening this weekend.  Many area farms and organizations are kicking off Easter festivities with egg hunts and more spring fun.  An Emancipation Day commemoration is taking place with a big event downtown.  National Parks are kicking off a special week.  William Shakespeare is turning 395 years old.  The earth will also be an honoree.  Even coral reefs have a family festival dedicated to them.

And you’re invited to be part of it all.  Here are details on all of the above-mentioned, plus a few more recommendations for family fun.  Happy Weekend!

Its a scramble for Easter eggs at a local Eggstravaganza last year

Thank You Easter Bunny – Local festivals celebrating the spring holiday have begun, and several will be on this weekend.  Already underway through April 24 is Ticonderoga Farms’ annual festival. Saturday marks the start of Bunnyland at Butler’s Orchard, and the National Community Church is launching their seasonal Eggstravanganzas on Saturday  at Top Golf in Alexandria from 10:30am -1pm and Grace Church in Georgetown (1041 Wisconsin Avenue NW) from 9:30-11am.  See the website for more details.  For something with a little extra sparkle, the annual Adeler Jewelers Children’s Spring Festival and Egg Hunt is on Sunday in Great Falls.  For more area Easter celebrations, Go Out & Play has a lengthy list of local egg hunts.

Park ItNational Park Week begins on Saturday and runs through April 24.  To celebrate, entrance to over 100 parks that usually charge admission will be free.  Log some time on the trails at a local park or even one a bit further away. For suggestions on good hikes with kids, see this post about hiking with little ones.

Get OutFor more outdoor pursuits, see my new list of the area’s best places to spend a beautiful day outdoors.  As this weekend round-up goes up, the weather forecast for the weekend isn’t looking fabulous, but there’s always a chance that will change.  Fingers crossed.

DC I AM: An Emanicpation Day CelebrationCommemorate the signing of the DC Compensated Emancipation Act 149 years ago with National Geographic.  The museum is hosting a special event on Saturday from 10am – 4pm that will include readings, performances, art and writing activities, family workshops, opportunities to tour the American I Am exhibit, and more.  Admission to the event is free.

Explore the Universe On Saturday, the National Air & Space Museum invites guests of all ages to a special Family Day that explores the skies and beyond.  Observe the sky through a telescope, experience how different cultures see the sky, hear stories about astronomy, and participate in hands-on astro-activities.  The free event runs from 10am – 3pm.

Coral Reef Family FestivalCelebrate the National Museum of Natural History’s exhibition of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef on Saturday from 11am – 3pm.  There will be Discover Stations in the Sant Ocean Hall, a chance to learn about different corals with scientist Stephen Cairns, and other special activities throughout the day.

Nature’s Best PhotographyTake the kids to see some amazing moments in nature captured in pictures.  A new exhibit is opening at the National Museum of Natural History on Saturday that features the winning photos from the Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards. The images of wildlife, the plant world, sea creatures, and more will be fascinating and fun for the whole family.  Admission to both the exhibit and museum are free.

On the Really Big Screen – If you’re planning on a visit to the museums (or even if not), how about catching an IMAX as well?  Most are less than an hour long and can easily be combined with a trip to see the exhibits or one of the special festivals happening at the Natural History and Air & Space Museums, which just happened to be where both Smithsonian IMAX theaters are located.  Read reviews of a few films currently playing:  Born to Be Wild 3D, Arabia 3D, and Grand Canyon Adventure 3D.  All tickets are $9.

Happy Birthday to the BardCelebrate William Shakespeare’s birthday at the Folger Shakespeare Library on Sunday from 12 – 4pm. Enjoy jugglers and jesters, music, song and dance, stage combat workshops, and more. It’s the one day of the year when the Folger reading rooms are open to all.  Plus, there will be birthday cake for everyone!  Admission is free, but there will be a charge for some food and drink.

Jammin’ Musical ExperiencesTwo kids’ music performers will be at Jammin’ Java this weekend entertaining with their unique shows and super fun sounds.  The Diggity Dudes will take the stage in Vienna on Saturday at 10:30am, and Gustafer Yellowgold will take the audience on a musical journey on Sunday at 2pm.  Tickets for both shows are $10 and available for purchase online.

Celebrate the EarthJoin Brookside Gardens on Sunday for a daylong Earth Day celebration. Festivities will kick off at 9am with an Earth Day Garden Project – volunteers are welcome to help Brookside get ready for the gardening season. Enjoy nature, wildlife, and plant walks starting at 10am. Participate in interactive family-friendly activities throughout the afternoon and visit the “green” vendor and craft fair.

Show TimeSeveral productions are happening in local theatres this weekend.  Find out what you can see where in this post about spring shows.

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Filed under All ages, Animals, Annual, DC, Educational, Farm, Festival, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Spring, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend

Celebrate Fall from City Streets to Country Farms

Owen and his friend, Amelia, at last year's Cox Farm Fall Festival.

The leaves may not be turning colors just yet, but there’s a feeling of fall in the air.  The kids are back in school, temps are no longer blazing, Halloween costume catalogs are thickening up the mail, and I wore jeans for the first time in months last week.  But one of the real indicators that autumn is here are the festivals.  From street fairs in the city to pumpkin picking extravaganzas on the farm, festival season is officially ON (one actually starts today).  Here are some of your best bets for celebrating fall in the DC area.  And if you have any other festivals to recommend, please feel free to do so in the comments.

H Street Festival
The corridor in northeast DC has plenty to celebrate—it’s become one of the most popular areas to hang out since revitalization began a few years ago, and the H Street Festival 2010 is sure to reflect that.  More than 20,000 people attended last year, and numbers are expected to be even greater this Saturday, September 18.  Guests can expect live entertainment on three stages, art gallery exhibits, foods from area restaurants, crafts and wares from local vendors, dancin’ in the street, fashion shows, parades, pie eating contests, and lots of kids’ activities (think face painting, story telling, carnival games, and more).  And don’t bother driving—free shuttle bus service is available from Gallery Place and Eastern Market Metros.  Enjoy the festivities from 12pm – 6pm.

Ticonderoga Farm
The pumpkins may not be at their peak yet, but that’s not stopping Ticonderoga Farm in Chantilly from kicking off their Fall Pumpkin Festival.  The special activities begin today, September 15, and run through November 10.  The $8.95 weekday and $14.95 weekend admission fee (free for cihildren under 2) grant access to hayrides, hillside slides, a pumpkin patch visit, a petting zoo, a swinging bridge, play areas, a Panda Puzzle maze, and much more.  Concessions, face painting, karaoke, and a candy corn hunt are available on the weekends only.  Open daily from 9am – 6pm. For more details, visit the Ticonderoga Farm website.

Barracks Row Fall Festival
There will be two weekends in a row of festival fun on Capitol Hill.  Not quite as big as it’s H Street counterpart, the Barracks Row Fall Festival is a fantastic showcase of the marine barracks and commerce on 8th Street SE.  There will be tours of the historic barracks and Home of Commandments, live entertainment on the main stage, a military chef culinary competition, food and art vendors, and plenty of fun for kids (clowns, magicians, face painting, and more).  Don’t miss:  A skydiver will make a precision landing at 8th and G Streets sometime during the afternoon (check the schedule as it gets closer for the time).  The festival runs from 11am – 5pm.

Cox Farms Fall Festival
The Cox Farm Fall Festival is sprawling.  As in 90 acres of slides, swings, games, mazes, pumpkins, picnics, entertainment, farm animals sprawling. Owen’s class went on a field trip here last year, and once we split up, we only ran into one other classmate in the whole three hours we were there.  But it is a blast, especially the giant slide that takes you swooping down several humps over a hillside. That’s right, I know firsthand because parents can enjoy many of the festival activities just as much as their kids. But there is also a special Kiddie Zone for little ones aged 5 and under.  Admission to Cox Farms Fall Festival is $9 on weekdays, $15 on weekends (children under 2 are free).  The Festival is officially open from September 25 – November 7, but you can go for a special preview weekend this Saturday and Sunday, September 18-19.  For a discount on select dates, see this deal from Groupon.  Open daily from 9am – 6pm in October, 10am – 5pm in November.

Fall for Fairfax Kids Fest
On Saturday, October 2, the 18th Annual Fall for Fairfax Kids Fest will offer a day of autumn fun for children.  Attractions will include hay rides, pony rides, carnival rides, slides, moonbounces, model trains, scarecrow making, a climbing wall, festival food, and more.  Admission to the fair is free, but many of the activities require a fee.  The KidZone, featuring many of the slides and bounces, is $12 for an all-day wristband or $2 per ride.  The Festival runs from 9am – 6pm and is located at the Fairfax County Government Center.  Visit the website for directions.

Butler’s Orchard
The Germantown farm’s 30th Annual Pumpkin Festival will take place every Saturday and Sunday in October, plus Columbus Day (Monday, October 11) from 10am – 5pm.  Kids will love getting lost in the hayloft, hayrides, the tube slide, a rubber ducky derby, animal petting area, pony rides, pumpkin picking, corn maze, face painting, and much more.  Admission is $10 (children under 2 are free), and a few of the activities cost extra.  Bring a picnic lunch or purchase food there.  And don’t leave without treating the kids, or yourself, to a delicious caramel apple!

Homestead Farm
One of our favorite places to take the kids for our annual pumpkin picking, Homestead in Poolesville, MD, doesn’t have an official festival, but the farm embraces the spirit of autumn.  Tractor rides out to the pumkin patches, apple picking, hot cider, farm animals, and scarecrows make it a great place to spend a few hours enjoying the season with the family.  And the good thing about the lack of a festival, admission is free!  Of course, you still pay for pumpkins and cider. And caramel apples.


Filed under All ages, Animals, Annual, Art, DC, Eats, Fall, Festival, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, Outdoor, Seasonal, Virginia, Weekend