Tag Archives: DC Family Activities

You’re Never Too Old (or Cool) for a Visit to the National Zoo

 

Too old (or cool) for the zoo? Never!  We proved this a few weeks ago when our family — yes, even the two teens — went to the National Zoo.  It started off as Sasha and I deciding what to do on a nice day. She didn’t have soccer or other plans with friends, so I snagged the opportunity while I could.   I suggested a hike, but she said, “Nah.”   So, I asked somewhat randomly, “How about the zoo?” thinking I’d probably get a thumbs down and a response that it’s for little kids.  But she instead surprised me with an enthusiastic, “Okay!”

When we mentioned our plan to Owen and Levi, they unexpectedly wanted to join, too.  Though looking back,  it was silly of me to assume they wouldn’t want to go.  The zoo isn’t just for young children… I mean, Levi and I used to go before we even had kids.

The National Zoo is a great place for anyone to enjoy a day out.  Besides just visiting the residents — and there are so many different species! — you can catch animal demos, like elephant feedings and reptile meetings.  When the kids were younger, they’d enjoy spins on the carousel. It’s also really nice to just stroll the grounds and even enjoy a picnic (BYO or buy food from concession stands there).

A surprise visitor in the elephant habitat

It had been since pre-Covid that most of us had been to the Zoo. (Owen had been on a photography field trip with school, but that was it.) Some things are a bit different now, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to share current logistics, upcoming events, and a few tips for visiting.

And, by the way, we saw loads of people there without young children, from couples of all ages to adult friends on an outing…  and even groups of teens.

* * * 

 

Passes
Timed-entry passes have been required for entry to the National Zoo since it reopened after Covid. They can be reserved in advance online. And don’t fret if you like to pop in to places if you’re in the area… passes don’t seem to sell out, and there are signs with QR code displays at the entrances, so you can get online with your phone and register for passes right there (but you can’t just walk in without passes). And admission to the Zoo is still free.

Parking
While admission to the Zoo is free, parking in the lot on site is $30 per car. Parking passes can be purchased in advance online. Note that cars can no longer access the parking lot from Beach Drive. The only vehicle entrance is at 3100 Connecticut Ave. NW.

KFDC Tip: If you don’t need to park that close and want to save the $30, you can look for street parking nearby. We found a spot on Adams Mill Road NW and walked to the back entrance at Harvard Street Bridge just off Beach Drive. Of course, you can avoid parking altogether by taking Metro (Woodley Park is the closest stop) and walking a few blocks down Connecticut to the Zoo.

Hours
The Zoo is open daily, with the exception of Christmas Day, though hours vary by time of year. Summer hours (July 1 – September 30) are 8am – 6pm with last admittance at 5pm. Winter hours (October 1 – June 30) are 8am – 4pm with last admittance at 3pm.

KFDC Tip: Go early during warmer months if you can for more animals sightings, as some retreat to their indoor areas on hot days.

Events
The National Zoo hosts several annual events that are fun to attend. It’s worth keeping an eye on their Events page to see what’s coming up.
* Boo at the Zoo, the annual Halloween fest, is back in person this year on October 28, 29, and 30 — and it’s super fun for young kids (we went several time when the kids were little).
* ZooLights is the annual animal-themed holiday light display. It’s free and always very popular.
* Easter Monday always takes place the day after Easter welcoming the public for an egg hunt, live entertainment, and special activities (2023 info TBA).
* Adult events like Brew at the Zoo are occasionally hosted at the zoo.
* Events to celebrate animal birthdays, zoo anniversaries, and more come up throughout the year and are always fun times to visit.

Planning
The Zoo is a big place, and it can take a long time to walk the whole thing, especially if you like to spend a decent amount of time watching the animals and/or you’re with little ones with little legs. It’s not a bad idea to look at the map before you go and strategize on animal visits based on location. Also check the Daily Animal Demos schedule so you can factor that in to your timing.

Concessions
For lunch or snacks, concession stands and a few food trucks are located throughout the Zoo selling burgers, chicken tenders, hot dogs, pizza, pretzels, popcorn, etc. plus sweet treats. As mentioned above, you can also BYO — there are tables where you can sit down to eat as well as some grassy spots.

More to know
* Paved paths are very stroller friendly.
* Some fun beyond the animals: Speedwell Conservation Carousel ($4), Me and the Bee Playground, The Good of the Hive Mural, and the Squirt Zone (in summer).
* There is a limit on the number of people allowed inside the animal houses, so there could be a short wait to go in.
* The Visitor Center near the Connecticut Ave entrance usually has an exhibit on display and a gift shop with lots of cute items.
* There are two more gift shops near the pandas and lions, plus a few kiosks around the park.
* If you’re so inclined, the Vintage Views food (drink) truck offers cocktails and beer along with coffee and lemonade.

Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Where: Woodley Park, DC
When: Daily, except for December 25
Admission: Free with timed-entry passes

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From City Streets to Country Farms… 2022 Fall Festivals Around the DC Area

Clarks Elioak Farm is a fall favorite!

 

Fall is just about here and so are the scores of festivals that come along with it.  And in the DC area, they celebrate everything from the season to communities to cuisine to historic times. Enjoy local art and culture, take a hayride to the pumpkin patch and play on the farm, savor local and international food, take a time trip back a few centuries…  Some of the fun has already begun, and even more will start over the next few weeks. This list of festivals, ordered by start date, will help you plan for it all. Happy Fall!

Corn Maze & Apple Harvest
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: Through September 30
Admission: $12-16/adult, $10-14/child, free/2 & under

September may mean back to school for many, but at Great Country it means back to the farm for freshly pressed cider and apple picking. You can celebrate it with apple picking, award-winning apple cider donuts, a romp in the 12-acre play area, and in the Stories from the Stars Corn Maze where you can learn about the constellations of the Zodiac. On weekends, there’s live music, marshmallow roasting, pig races,  and cider pressing demos, too!

Fall at Clark’s Elioak Farm
Where: Ellicott City, MD
When: Tuesday – Sunday through November 6
Admission: $8

This fairytale of a farm doesn’t have a special fall festival per se, but with so many activities, including seasonal delights like pumpkins, cider, and Halloween fun, it’s like a celebration all the time. And it all takes place on the sprawling grounds adorned with installations practically straight out of a storybook (they were actually salvaged from The Enchanted Forest, an old Ellicott City amusement park). Kids can sit on a wall with Humpty, Peek in the Three Bears’ windows, climb aboard Cinderella’s pumpkin coach, explore the Old Woman’s shoe. If that’s not enough, there are hayrides, cow train rides, slides, farm animals to pet, a pumpkin patch, the pine tree maze, and even more. Hours are 10am – 5pm Tuesday – Friday; 10am – 5:30pm Saturday & Sunday. Closed Mondays.

Maryland Renaissance Festival
Where: Revel Grove | Crownsville, MD
When: Weekends through October 23
Admission: Thru 9/11: $24/age 16+, $12/age 7-15
9/17-10/23: $30/age 16+, $15/age 7-15 | free/6 & under

It may not be your typical fall festival with hayrides and pumpkins, but this medieval time trip that began in late August and gets a huge endorsement from me as the best annual events of the season.  You just can’t beat the amazing variety of entertainment — exciting jousting matches, cheeky comedy shows, fire eaters, sword swallowers, tight rope walkers and other balancing acts, jugglers, musical performances, puppetry, plus slides, play areas, and games. And walking among knights, maidens, pirates, and villagers in Revel Grove, the charming location that resembles a 16th-century Tudor village, as you chomp on turkey legs and down cups of “mead” is an immensely fun and interesting jaunt back in time that any age can enjoy. Huzzah!

Fall Fun Fest
Where: Gaver Farm | Mt. Airy, MD
When: Through October 31
Admission: $12.50/weekdays, $17.50/Sept wknds 19.75/Oct wknds

Celebrate the arrival of fall in Frederick, MD, with farm activities for the whole family family and other great seasonal traditions. Conquer twists and turns of the corn maze, jump on the giant pillow, pet and feed farm animals, and cruise down giant slides. There are over 60 attractions appropriate for any age including mini mazes, playgrounds, duck races, ball games, photo centers, and much more.

Cox Farms Fall Festival
Where: Centreville, VA
When: September 17-18, September 24 – November 7
Admission: $10-25 depending on dates

This festival is enormous! So big I recommend giving the website a good look to help prepare and navigate your way around the sprawling grounds that contain multiple slides, swings, games, mazes, pumpkins, picnics, live entertainment, farm animals, and much more. Expect some lines, especially for the giant slides that take you swooping down several humps over a hillside. There is also a Kiddie Zone just for little ones aged 5 and under. Be prepared for a crowd, especially on weekends.

Falls Church Festival
Where: City Hall Campus | Falls Church, VA
When: September 17, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but tastes and rides are a fee

The 46th Annual Falls Church Festival returns to The Little City with plenty of family fun. It features The Taste of Falls Church, a beer garden, live music, children’s entertainment, plus booths of local crafters, businesses, and civic organizations.

Harvest Festival
Where: Belvedere Plantation | Fredericksburg, VA
When: September 17 – November 7
Admission: $16.95-21.95

This heritage farm has loads to keep the whole gang entertained for hours. The Maize maze, slides, hayrides, ziplines, pumpkin patch, playground, flower picking, jumping pillow are just some of the attractions that little ones will love. Plan to eat there — the Red Rooster Grill offers a variety of grilled favorites to satisfy all appetites.

H Street Festival
Where: H Street NE, DC
When: September 17, 12-7pm
Admission: Free

The annual festival on northeast DC’s thriving hip corridor is returning! This one is always huge — so beware that there could be a crowd — and there is tons to see and do.  In past years, the event has featured loads of live entertainment, including a kids stage; cool art exhibits; food trucks; crafts for sale by local vendors; fashion shows; dancin’ in the street; and children’s activities, including face painting, story telling, and moon bounces. Public transportation is highly recommended, as parking is always difficult.

Colonial Market & Fair
Where: Mount Vernon, VA
When: September 17-18
Admission: $28/adult, $15/age 6-11, free/5 & under

At George Washington’s old stomping grounds, they re-create a lively early-American marketplace with demonstrations, crafts, and entertainment. Take in the sights and sounds of it all on Mount Vernon’s 12-acre field and chat with colonial artisans selling traditional handcrafted food and wares. Colonial music transports you back to the 18th century as experts demonstrate period crafting techniques. And you can see General Washington in the General’s Tent. There’s plenty of fun for the whole family! Read more about Mount Vernon here.

Montpelier Farms Fall Festival
Where: Upper Marlboro, MD
When: Weekends September 17 – November 6
Admission: $12, free/2 & under

Enjoy all of the staples of a fall festival on the farm — pumpkins, hayrides, animals, hill slides, farm-themed games and rides, and much more. Some of the festivities are add-ons, so plan to spend extra.  They also offer field trips and birthday parties, something to keep in mind for autumn-born children. And a tip based on our experience there: Do not miss the 7-acre corn maze. It’s EPIC.

Homecoming at Abe’s Place
Where: President Lincoln’s Cottage | Petworth, DC
When: September 17, 9am – 6pm
Admission: Free for Family Day, $40 for the 5k

Lincoln’s Cottage is once again combining their two popular events, the Freedom 5K and Family Day, into one full day of racing and family fun: Homecoming! During the Civil War the Lincoln family called the Cottage home. This year they welcome everyone back “home” to join in a full day of activities where you can run, walk, and play like Lincoln. There will be arts and crafts, pony rides and a petting zoo, hands-on activities for young learners, cottage tours, and picnic ops. Go for just the race, just Family Day activities, or stick around to enjoy both!

Pumpkin Village Fall Fest
Where: Leesburg Animal Park | Leesburg, VA
When: September 17 – November 6
Admission: $16.95-20.95/adult, $14.95-17.95/child, free/2 & under

The animals are usually the main draw at the park, but this time of year, there are activities galore that bring visitors to enjoy some seasonal fun. Year after year, families, groups, and schools spend a crisp fall day enjoying loads of great activities such as giant hill slides, hay rides, moon bounces, pedal carts, and more.

Fall Adventures at Summers Farm
Where: Frederick, MD
When: September 17 – October 31
Admission: $12.50-$20.50

With so much farm fun, there undoubtedly will be something to excite every kid. A pumpkin patch, giant jumping pillows, live entertainment, hay rides, hay slides, pig races, rubber ducks races, straw mountains, a mini obstacle course, even a campfire area if you want to “chill” out. Be sure to check the calendar for any special events going on.

Artsfest ’22
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Lusby, MD
When: September 17-18
Admission: $10, free/age 11 & under

Celebrate the visual and performing arts at this event that brings together the country’s most accomplished artists for a fabulous weekend extravaganza of the arts! Set amidst the spectacular backdrop of the beautiful woods of Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center, Artsfest is a unique art experience with a multitude of artist booths, 35 performers on four stages, creative fun for kids, artist demos, and great food and drink. Read more about Annmarie Sculpture Garden here and here.

Oktoberfest
Where: The Boro | Tysons, VA
When: September 17
Admission: Free

Celebrate Oktoberfest early at The Boro. Join an afternoon of fall-themed festivities, including outdoor games, crafts, and a special Polka concert by The TKO Band (dirndls and lederhosen optional!). Embroidered pins, a glitter tattoo station, pretzel necklace making, and plenty of IG-worthy photo ops will be part of the fun. Registration is encouraged.

Celebrate Petworth
Where: 800 block of Upshur St. NW | Petworth, DC
When: September 18, 11am – 5pm
Admission: Free

This free neighborhood festival is organized by and for the residents of Petworth, but all are welcome to enjoy. Celebrating the creativity, diversity, culture, and people of Petworth and its surrounding neighborhoods, festivities include Petworth history storytelling, live music and performers, kids activities, tasty food, and a dog show. View the schedule here.

Celebrate Latino culture at Fiesta DC!

Fiesta DC
Where: Pennsylvania Ave. 9th to 14th Streets | Downtown, DC
When: September 24-25
Admission: Free

Celebrate Latino culture at the 50th Annual Fiesta DC.  On both days of the weekend, Pennsylvania Avenue from the Navy Memorial Plaza to Freedom Plaza will be filled will lively festivities, including stages featuring a variety of performances, children’s activities, international cuisine, arts & crafts, and more!

Susquehanna Wine & Seafood Festival
Where: Concord Point Lighthouse | Havre de Grace, MD
When:September 24, 12-7pm
Admission: $15-115
Experience some Maryland’s best seafood in a fun, casual, waterfront setting at the 2nd Annual Susquehanna Wine & Seafood Festival. The family-friendly event will feature 20+ local restaurants and food trucks, each serving signature seafood dishes. Along with the culinary offerings, the festival will feature live music, a family zone, cooking demos by local chefs, wine pairings, mixology demos, unique shopping, and more fun.

Mosaic’s Fall Festival
Where: Mosaic District | Fairfax, VA
When: September 24-25
Admission: Free

The big shopping enter in Fairfax is hosting a fall event. Festivities include live entertainment and musical performances; the FRESHFARM Farmers Market with 50+ vendors; the URBNmarket with 90 handmade and vintage vendors; beer and wine gardens; kids activities like bouncy fun, balloons, and face painting; plus more special activities for all.

Farm Market Fall Fest
Where: Reston Farm Market | Reston, VA
When: September 24 – October 30
Admission: $28/child, $7/adult

Celebrate the season and have fun at the Reston Farm Market. Bring the whole fam for all kinds of activities, including train rides, a petting zoo, a learning maze,  bouncy fun, and more. Get ready to pick a pumpkin, pansies, and mums as well. Seasonal produce will be available for purchase, and food trucks will be there with concessions on weekends. Visits will be offered in 90-minute sessions.

PYO Pumpkins & Fall Fun
Where: Berryville, VA
When: September 24 – November 7
Admission: $15-25

The whole family can enjoy hours of farm fun for visitors of all ages. Get lost in the corn maze, pick out a pumpkin, watch piggies race, bounce around, visit farm animals and check out the goat walk, whiz down slides, romp in the play yard. Admission covers all of those activities and even more. Plan on lunch from the Feed Trough and stock up on fresh farm goods from the Food Stall.

Jumbo’s Pumpkin Patch
Where: Middletown, MD
When: September 24 – October 31
Admission: Free/weekdays, $12/Saturday & Sunday

Pick out a pumpkin and enjoy other fun activities for little ones at this 131-acre farm. A 15-acre corn maze, pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting, and wagon rides will delight young farm-goers. Concessions and craft shopping are part of the offerings, too. Some activities may cost extra, and note that only pumpkin picking and pony rides are available Monday – Friday.

Occoquan Fall Arts & Crafts Show
Where: Mill Street in Occoquan, VA
When: September 24-25
Admission: Free

Plan for a day of family fun as the streets of Occoquan come to life with beautiful art, live music and great food! The historic town will close its street and host over 200 contemporary and country crafters and artisans from across the US. Find one-of-a-kind, hand crafted items galore! Located just 20 minutes south of DC, but far from the hustle and bustle of a big city, exhibitors and shoppers alike will enjoy the small town oasis nestled along the Occoquan River.

Butler’s Orchard Pumpkin Festival
Where: Germantown, MD
When: Wednesday – Sunday, September 24 – October 30
Admission: $10-12/weekdays, $12-17/weekends 

Enjoy a country outing and join Butler’s in celebrating the harvest with traditional autumn activities. An area favorite, kids love jumping in the hayloft, heading out on hayrides, the tube slide, a rubber ducky derby, animal petting area, pony rides, pumpkin picking, corn maze, face painting, and much more. Some activities and food cost extra. Purchase there or bring along a picnic, but be sure to treat the kids – and yourself – to a yummy caramel apple!

Autumn Activities
Where: Larriland Farm | Woodbine, MD
When: Late September thru October
Admission: Free (fee for some activities)

Larriland is best known for their PYO fields, but in the fall, they offer a little more for farm-goers. Take a hayride out to the pumpkin patch to find a potential jack-o-lantern, then play in the Boo Barn or make your way through the straw maze. Apple fritters and food trucks are available on Saturdays and Sundays.

Fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: October 1-31
Admission: $10-12/adult $8-10/child, free/2 & under

Great Country is known for its awesome festivals, and the Pumpkin Harvest is no exception. Thrills for little people (okay, us grown-ups, too) include P-Rex, the pumpkin eating dinosaur; Oinkintucky Derby pig races; a cow train; wagon rides to pick pumpkins; five mazes; big slides; rope swings; tractor rides; and even more fun in the country. Find a future jack o’ lantern in the pumpkin patch, one of the largest u-pick patches in the area. See allllll of the many activities here.

Homestead Farm Fall Festival
Where: Poolesville, MD
When: October – exact dates TBD
Admission: $3 (extra fro some activities)

While Homestead doesn’t have an official festival, the farm embraces the spirit of autumn every year. Tractor rides out to the pumpkin 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. The good thing about the lack of a festival, admission is cheap! You still pay for pumpkins and cider – and their can’t-miss caramel apples.

Frederick’s Oktoberfest
Where: Great Frederick Fairgrounds, MD
When: October 1
Admission: $12/age 13+, $5/ages 3-12, free for 2 and under

The Frederick Fairgrounds once again will be transformed into a German village where dancing, live music, children’s events, bratwurst, Oktoberfest bier, German wines, and much more will make for a fun time for all ages. Especially for kids: face painting, pumpkin decorating, scarecrow making, and musical entertainment. Note that Friday night is 21+ only.

Oktoberfest
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: September 30 – October 2
Admission: Free

It’s that time of year… put on your dirndl or lederhosen, grab your Dachshund, and head to The Wharf for a weekend of free Oktoberfest festivities. Kick it off with Polka dance lessons on the pier and cheer on the dogs competing in the 10th Annual Wiener 500 Dachshund Dash to benefit Rural Dog Rescue. Throughout the weekend, enjoy German fare, Bavarian decor and costumes, and Sam Adam Octoberfest beer for adults. Hours are Friday 7-9pm, Saturday and Sunday: 2-5pm.

Adams Morgan PorchFest
Where: Adams Morgan, DC
When: October 1, 2-6pm
Admission: Free

Get the best seats in the house (or on the sidewalk) as the front porches of homes and store fronts of local businesses are transformed into intimate performance spaces to be enjoyed by anyone who happens to stroll by. Enjoy a variety of music styles from over 60 bands playing on porches, patios, and stoops in the neighborhood. Music maps are usually available at the corner of Adams Mill and Columbia Road NW on Porchfest Day.

Art on the Avenue
Where: Mt. Vernon Avenue in Del Ray | Alexandria, VA
When: October 1, 10am – 6pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the diversity of Alexandria’s Del Ray community at this multicultural arts festival. Numerous artists — jewelers, woodworkers, pottery makers, soap crafters, glass makers, painters, sculptors, fabric artists, and musicians — will have their work on display and for sale. And kids activities have always been a vital part of the festival — there will be crafts especially for young festival-goers to enjoy and take home. Food vendors will also be there offering hot dogs, BBQ, Indian fare, crab cakes, chocolate bananas dipped on a stick, and home made cider donuts.

Marker-Miller Orchards Festivals
Where: Winchester, VA
When: October 8-9-10 & 22
Admission: Free

There’s a variety of fun to be had throughout the season with a couple of different festivals taking place. The Apple Harvest Festival is October 9-10, offering a weekend of, well, everything apples: multiple varieties of apples, apple cobbler, apple caramel sundaes, plus the wagon rides and cow train for kids. October 23 is their annual Pumpkin Festival, when you can find your own Great Pumpkin and enjoy all the usual festivities at the orchard.

Bethesda Row Arts Festival
Where: Downtown Bethesda, MD
When: October 8-9
Admission: Free

All ages are welcome to join one of the region’s most exciting and esteemed outdoor festivals. Bethesda Row’s Shopping and Entertainment District is transformed into an outdoor art gallery, featuring more than 200 juried fine arts and crafts from artists around the nation.

College Park Day
Where: College Park Aviation Museum | College Park, MD
When: October 15, 12-6pm
Admission: Free

Join friends, neighbors, and the entire City of College Park community at the Annual College Park Day Festival. This FREE event is fun for the whole family. Details for 2022 are still to come, but past years have included live music and bands, awesome kids zones, delicious food and drink, a variety of performers, helicopter fly-ins, exhibitors, and much more.

Turkish Festival
Where: Pennsylvania Ave, 3rd-7th St NW | Downtown DC
When: October 16, 11am – 7pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Turkish heritage and culture on the streets of DC!  The free event will include live music, folk dancing performances, kids games, arts & crafts, cultural events, and more. Enjoy authentic Turkish cuisines and shop Turkish ceramic bowls, carpets, and other cultural items from local vendors.

Autumn Harvest
Where: Schlagel Farm | Waldorf, MD
When: Weekends in October
Admission: $9

The farm known for its strawberry picking in spring also welcomes guests to pick out pumpkins in the fall. Hayrides, farm animals to visit, and small slides, and a straw maze give kids a little extra fun, too. More details available soon!

Have a favorite festival you don’t see listed here? Let us know about it in the comments!

 

Another glimpse of the Clarks Elioak fun

 

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Filed under 2022, DC, Fall, Farm, Festival, Maryland, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

InterACT Story Theatre Presents “The Hero of EVERYTHING” + a Ticket Giveaway!

 

As we soar into September, InterAct Story Theatre is bringing back a fan-favorite show to make the trip even more fun for children — and I have three Family 4-Packs of tickets to see it up for grabs!

The Hero of EVERYTHING explores the importance of teamwork and the perils of trying to do everything yourself.  This action-packed interactive play is performed by three actors on stage and a whole team of superheroes in the audience, who join in to become part of the action to save the day in Citytown City.

Who needs a sidekick or a team when you can do everything yourself, and do it just the way it should be? Captain Everything loves saving the day and doesn’t need anyone’s help to do it. Sure, she has an Amazing Alliance of Superheroes, but no one minds if she just does everything herself. Or do they? What happens when everyone else gets tired of being left out of everything and quits? And what happens when Captain Everything faces something she can’t do? Can she face her fears and cooperate with her team to save Citytown City? Or will it be too late?

Parents come away from the show with activities in the playbill they can use to explore the ideas in the play. Kids come away with an amazing superhero adventure and an invitation to create adventures of their own to share.

The Hero of EVERYTHING will run at Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center in Silver Spring, MD, September 23-October 2. Public performances are on Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30pm and 3:30pm. Recommended for ages 5 and up, tickets are $13.50 (free for ages 3 and under).

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Giveaway: For a chance to win a Family 4-Pack of tickets to see The Hero of EVERYTHING  on Saturday, September 24, simply leave a comment telling me your (or your child’s) super power. Get an extra chance to win by entering on the KidFriendly DC Facebook Page! This giveaway will run through Tuesday, September 20, then three winners will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!

 

This post is sponsored by InterAct Story Theatre, however, I only promote programs, events, and services that I truly believe in and/or think would appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under 2022, Fall, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Theatre, Ticket Giveaway, Weekend

Check It Out: The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library

 

We had a lot going on this summer, so I wasn’t quick to post about the some of the share-worthy things we did.  And by that I mean I’m a good couple of months behind on a few of them.  But as summer break has come to an end for us — yup, the kids are already back in school — I’m ready to write about those places and pursuits that are way overdue for a feature.

In the spirit of the school year beginning, I’m starting with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in Penn Quarter — because school and libraries are a natural connection and because it’s an A+ of a place for all ages — kids and adults — to enjoy. (Spoiler alert: It has an awesome slide!)

Walking up the beautiful sculptural staircase

The building underwent a major, three-year renovation that was completed in 2020, and the result is an inviting, innovative, architecturally interesting, even playful space.   (And while it reopened in September 2020, its offerings were very limited and mostly virtual for the following year.  So, it’s really only been welcoming visitors to fully enjoy it for about a year now.)

Watching a video in the exhibit area

Sasha was actually the first to tell me how awesome the MLK Library is since its renovation.  She and her friends would often go there after school last year to study and hang out.  Yes, hang out at the library.  (And let me digress a bit here… Something pretty great about my kids getting older in regards to KFDC is that now, they sometimes let me know about new, cool things to do around town.  As they’ve become more independent and explore DC with their friends and sans me, they occasionally discover places or new ways of experiencing familiar ones.)

So, it was actually Sasha who took me on my first tour of the newly renovated space earlier this summer when we popped in after running some errands nearby. I was so impressed by both the library itself and how well she knew her way around it all!

The Alma Thomas Teen Space

The vibrant, spacious Children’s Library

MLK Library is so much more than your typical library.  Not only is it much larger and more modern than other DC public libraries, there are features and amenities you won’t find at them either.  Along with books to browse and check out for all ages and from all genres, there is a cafe, an entire 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.

A must-do (for all ages!)

The gorgeous rooftop

Viewing all of it, I completely understood why Sasha and her friends spent so much time there.  They took advantage of the study rooms to prepare for upcoming tests or do homework together, but would also just go to grab a snack at the cafe or sit on the rooftop to hang and enjoy a nice afternoon and great city views.  I was also happy to see she was familiar with the multimedia exhibit area, with videos and displays about DC history and culture, the Civil Rights movement, the mission for statehood, and more.

An exhibit on Statehood

And then there’s the space itself, which is open and airy with interesting architectural elements and clever design touches, like the beautiful winding staircase, unique light fixtures, and great art.  When you enter the building into the Great Hall, there’s a MLK mural spanning the wall space behind the Information Desk,  Just going to take a tour of it all would be an activity in itself (essentially, it was for us when we visited).

The public is welcome to drop in anytime during open hours, and I also recommend checking the schedule to see when special programs are running.  There are story times for little ones, board games for youth, art projects for teens, talks and movies series for adults, and much more.

A bird’s eye view of Penn Quarter

Ready to go check it out? A few KFDC Tips first:
* Take public transportation if possible, as parking can be difficult. Gallery Place (Red/Yellow/Green) is the closest stop. Metrobus runs nearby, too.
* The American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery are right across 9th Street, and the National Building Museum is a short stroll away, so you can make a longer day of it in the Penn Quarter neighborhood.
* The Library is surrounded by restaurants, if you want to include a meal with your outing.
* If you don’t have a library card, you can apply for one here (and you don’t have to live in DC to get one.. residents if nearby MD and VA counties can apply, too).

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library
Where: Penn Quarter, DC
When: Mon – Fri, 10am – 8pm | Fri-Sat, 10am – 6pm | Sun, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

 

A view of the American Art Museum

 

Snag a seat in the fresh air

 

Perfect for homework and test prep

 

Marianne’s Cafe

 

Seating and reading in the Great Hall

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Filed under DC, Weekdays, Weekend

Huzzaaah! It’s Time for Ren Fest!

 

I won’t go into a long, rambling introduction about this one, because if you’ve been reading KFDC for any length of time longer than a year, you likely already know how I feel about the Maryland Renaissance Festival.

That it’s my hands-down very, VERY favorite annual event in the area.  That I’ve adored it since well before I  had kids.  That I love not just the fun and food and entertainment and amazing people watching it brings, but also that it celebrates eccentricity, welcomes the weird with open arms, and presents all its mirth and delight in an easy, free-flowing way.  If you want more specifics on all of that, just go here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, or here.  And if you want to enjoy a day of extraordinary fun , just go.

Logistics
The merriment begins this Saturday, August 27, and runs every weekend, rain or shine, through October 23 in the lovely 16th century-style hamlet of Revel Grove in Crownsville, MD. Hours are 10am – 7pm. Through September 11, admission is $24/adults, $21/seniors, $12/ages 7-15, free for ages 6 and under.  After that, ticket prices go up to $30/adults, $26/seniors, $15/ages 7-15, still free for 6 and under. Multi-day passes that offer a discount are also available. Like last year, tickets must be reserved in advance online. There are no day-of, in-person ticket sales.

 

Notable Dates
There are promos and special themes on many weekends. Here’s a quick list, and you can find more info here.
*  August 27-28: Children’s Weekend – FREE admission for ages 15 and under with adult
*  September 3-4: Romance Weekend — Special events for singles 21+ on 9/3 & partners can renew their commitments in a ceremony on 9/4
*  September 5: Seniors day — Free admission for all seniors age 62+
*  September 10-11: Celtic Celebration
*  September 11 & October 10: ASL Interpretation Days – Selected stage shows will be interpreted in ASL
*  September 17-18: Pirate Adventure Weekend
*  September 24 & 25: Myth & Magic Weekend
*  October 1 & 2: Shakespeare Weekend

KFDC Tips
*  Bring a stroller or carrier for little ones, as there is  a lot of walking. I recommend a stroller that rolls over rough terrain easily.
*  Get a map and schedule on your way in to help you navigate and plan your day, but I recommend not overthinking it; Ren Fest is best experienced with a “go with the flow” mindset.
*  If there’s a show you really want to see, get to the stage a few minutes ahead of time to get good seats, so the kids have a good view.
You might encounter less crowds on Sunday, when many folks are watching football.
*  Plan to spend on extras like food, games, and fun for kids — all reasonably priced, but it can add up.
*  Tickets can sell out, especially on beautiful fall days as the chances to go dwindle. Between that and the online sales only, you might want to reserve further in advance than usual.
*  Consider pros and cons to going at different times: Early in the season, crowds are smaller because it’s usually very hot, and the admission fee is lower. Later in the season, the cool, crisp weather and autumn foliage adds some extra splendor to the visit, but also draws the masses.
*  Let the kids dress up! Princesses, knights, fairies, and pirates will fit right in.

Maryland Renaissance Festival
Where: Revel Grove | Crownsville, MD ( get directions)
When: Weekends August 28 – October 23, 10am – 7pm
Admission: $24-30/adult, $21-26/senior, $12-15/age 7-15, free/6 & under

* * * 

Growing up, Ren Fest-style (2013 & 2021)…

 

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Filed under 2022, Fall, Festival, Maryland, Special Event, Summer, Weekend