Take a New Year’s Day hike at Huntley Meadows Park
A couple things to note as we head into the new week (and year!): * The government shutdown will affect a lot of popular places after January 1, including Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo, National Parks, and the National Gallery of Art (after January 3). This post from the last shutdown has been updated to reflect the current one, and it offers ideas for things to do around DC while many local go-tos are closed. * The Winter Break Guide contains a big mix of ideas for activities and adventures with the kids during the winter break from school, so be sure to check it out.
Happy New Year!!
Monday – Celebrate New Year’s Eve at one of several events around town that not only welcome kids, but in most cases center around them. See this post for a list of family-friendly options to ring in 2019.
Tuesday – A couple of suggestions: Take a New Year’s Day hike — this post has details on a bunch of great places to hit the trail with the kids (but note that places within the National Park Service system may not be accessible). Or, go out for a fun family meal. All Purpose Pizza at the Capitol Riverfront is doing a special New Year’s Day brunch. Pinstripes in Georgetown has a bistro, plus bowling and bocce. Jaleo, located in Penn Quarter, Bethesda, and Crystal City, has tapas to please everyone — and they might seat you at a Foosball table. Carmine’s serves food family-style and is very family-friendly. Ted’s Bulletin is always a hit with kids.
Wednesday – Head up to Baltimore for a day at the Maryland Science Center. Explore several levels of fascinating hands-on exhibits, play in the Kids Room, and so much more. Hours are 10am – 5pm. Admission is $24.95/adults, $18.95/ages 3+, free for 2 and under. (I suggest checking out their membership options — if your family of 4 goes just twice in a year, it’s worth it. Plus, there’s reciprocity with other museums around the country.) Read more about the museum in this KFDC post.
Thursday – Visit the largest library in the world, the Library of Congress, to explore children’s books, see interesting exhibits, and marvel at one of DC’s most beautiful buildings. The Young Readers Center is open 9am – 4pm and welcomes visitors to read books and hang out in the cozy space. And be sure to spend time checking out the rest of the LOC, too — it’s truly magnificent and a must-see for both locals and visitors to DC. Hours are 8:30am – 4:30pm. Admission is free.
Friday – Reach new heights of fun at ClimbZone. Kids and adults will have a blast scaling the many colorful, whimsically-themed walls at the indoor climbing center in Laurel, MD. Hours are 10am – 9pm (10am – 8pm other weekdays). Admission is $25/age 6+, $12/5 & under for a three-hour session.
Crossing a high footbridge at Living Classrooms in Glen Echo Park
Who would ever guess that near-60-degree nice days in DC would be a regular occurrence in the middle of winter? This is exactly why this weekend round-up is steeped with recommendations that take place indoors, despite at least one of those glorious days on the way. If you want to get out and seize it — because who knows when Snowmageddon II could hit? — scroll right down to the end of the list for a link to a wealth of outdoor ideas. Otherwise, read on to explore all of your options for family fun, from the Auto Show and the Monster Jam, to Chinese Lunar New Year and birthday celebrations, to a puppet festival and puppet shows, and even more possibilities in between. Happy Weekend!
Auto Focus – The 2012 Washington Auto Show begins today and runs through next weekend. If there’s any “grown-up” event that is equally fun for all ages, this is it. And I know from firsthand experience; our family went to the show last year and practically had to drag the kids out when it was finally time to go. It’s like a Truck Touch, but with autombiles — more than 700 of them! — on display for guests to check out. And especially for kids will be Playland, an area filled with games, toys, videos, and cuddly mascots, including some from the PBS show SuperWhy! This all takes place at the Washington Convention Center. Tickets are $12/adults, $5/ages 6-12, free for 5 and under. Hours are 12-10pm Friday, 10am-10pm Saturday, and 10am-7pm Sunday. See this post for even more details.
Year of the Dragon – Usher in the lunar year 4017 on Sunday at the Chinese New Year Parade. Festivities kick off at 6th & I Streets NW at 2pm and will wind through the streets of Chinatown celebrating Chinese culture in a brilliant procession that includes traditional dance, music, and, of course, the iconic dragons. The parade is expected to last about two and a half hours, and spectating is free. View the route here to stake out your curbside spot.
Build-a-Saurus at Lowe’s – It’s another Build and Learn Clinic at the home improvement store on Saturday. Lowe’s hosts free bimonthly workshops for kids, and during this session guests can build a wooden dino, then choose the stickers to make it a cartoon or a realistic dinosaur. The store will provide all the materials, along with goggles, an apron, and other goodies to take home. We haven’t yet been, but a friend went to the last one and gave it a great review. Go here to find your local Lowe’s and register for the workshop.
Monster Jam – If you hear a rumble echoing around the city this weekend, chances are it’s coming from the Verizon Center where 12-foot-tall, 10-thousand-pound monster trucks will be wowing crowds with big stunts, power races, and wheelie contests (can you imagine one of those things popping a wheelie?!). There are shows Friday evening through Sunday afternoon. Tickets are $60/VIP seats, $25/Gold Circle seats, and Mid-Level are $20/adults, $10/kids 2-12, kids under 2 are free. There is also a pit party on Saturday from 11am – 12:30pm, where guests can meet drivers, check out cars up close, and more. According to the website, pit passes are generally available for free at Advance Auto Parts retailers while supplies last. They are also available for purchase at the Verizon Center the day of the show when accompanied by the appropriate event ticket.
Show Time– Sit back, relax, and enjoy the shows at local theaters. The Snowy Day is at Adventure Theatre, Peter and the Wolf and Tiny Tots are at The Puppet Co., and Mouse on the Move is at Imagination Stage. You can find details on all of these productions in this post about winter entertainment.
Living Classrooms – Whether you’re at Glen Echo Park to catch a show or just looking for a little nature fun for the kids, Living Classrooms, located just off the path that leads from the park to the parking lot is worth checking out. We’ve passed by numerous times, but never actually visited until last weekend, after we found out the show we were supposed to see was canceled. What a neat discovery — the small building contained a giant ant hill that kids cold crawl through, a high foot bridge to cross and a tree to slide down, various critters and creatures observe, and more. One of the highlights was a an animal encounter with a rosy boa and a chance to pet the snake. There’s also an art room that’s open to the outdoors — a great place to draw inspiration from nature when weather permits. It’s all open to visitors on Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 3pm both days. Admission is $5/person, free for children under 2.
Happy Birthday, Renwick! – Celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the opening of the Renwick Gallery. Enjoy live music, hands-on activities, a docent led touch table, craft activities, mini scavenger hunts through the galleries, and, of course, cake! This all takes place on Saturday from 11am – 2pm. Admission is free.
Happy 25th, IKEA Woodbridge – Everyone’s favorite DIY furniture and everything else store is celebrating 25 years at the Northern Virginia location with goodies for customers — four days of savings, giveaways, design workshops, and family fun! Be the first 100 in line on Saturday and Sunday and win an IKEA gift card worth anywhere from $5-$250. Also among the festivities: live entertainment, including a string quartet, pianist, and opera singer from the Opera Performance Group from the college of William and Mary; fun events for the kids, including face painting each day from 12-2pm; and on Sunday, Radio Disney will be there from 1-3pm with non-stop music, games and giveaways.
See Us Fly: The Wright Brothers – On Saturday at 11:30am and 1pm, the National Air & Space Museum presents a puppet performance about Orville and Wilbur Wright and their journey into the history books. This is the story of two very determined brothers who beat the odds to create the world’s first self-propelled flying machine. Rainbow Puppet Productions will perform two 40-minute performances. Recommended for ages 4-8. Admission is free.
The Artist in You – The National Children Museum’s Launch Zone welcomes kids to discover their inner-artists — the only supply needed is their creativity! They can learn about artists such as Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso, and Alexander Calder and have the chance to create their own artistic masterpieces using marbles, construction paper, and more interesting textiles. Drop in on Saturday from 11am – 4pm. Admission is free.
Puppet Festival – The McClean Community Center’s Alden Theatre is hosting a day dedicated to puppetry on Saturday. Guests can enjoy two puppet shows starting at 1:30pm, then make their own puppets at puppet creation stations. Admission is $10, children 2 and under are free. Purchase tickets through theAlden Theatre website.
Stories in Art – Henri Matisse is the featured artist once again at the National Gallry of Art’s drop in program this Sunday. Kids ages 4-7 can learn about him through storytelling, discussion, and an art project. Sessions are at 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, and 2:30pm. Sign-in will take place in the East Building Atrium, beginning at 11am, and will continue until all spaces are filled. Admission is free. Read a KFDC review of the Stories in Art program here.
Outward Bound – Near sixty-degree days in the middle of winter seem to be the new normal in Washington. And you will not hear a single complaint about it from me. Get out and enjoy the unseasonably awesome weather while you can; Snowmageddon 2012 could be right around the corner. For ideas on where to seize the sunny days, see this post about the best places in the DC area to enjoy a beautiful day outdoors with the kids.