Tag Archives: DC Family Activities

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 Play on Thanksgiving Day (2022)

A plant material replica of the US Botanic Garden at the wonderful Season’s Greenings

 

How about a side of recreation to go with your Thanksgiving meal? If you’re going to be in town for the holiday and are looking for pre- or post-feast activities, here are some ways to complement the main event of the day. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

1) Hit the ice to enjoy some active fun. You can ice skate under the sky at one of several outdoor rinks in the area that are open on the holiday.  Most of our faves, all DC rinks, will be welcoming skaters, so you can glide with beautiful Potomac views at Washington Harbour, right over the river at The Wharf, and amid the city bustle at Canal Park.  Find info on those and more in Virginia and Maryland.  And be sure to check ice rink websites for Thanksgiving Day hours!

 

2) Visit a Smithsonian museum or the National Zoo. They are all open on Thanksgiving from 10am – 5:30pm, except for the American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery which are open 11:30am – 7pm and the National Zoo 8am – 4pm. The National Gallery of Art (which is not part of the Smithsonian, just a neighbor on the Mall) is open, too, from 10am – 5pm.

 

3) Experience Season’s Greenings at the U.S. Botanic Garden. The always delightful model train exhibit, constructed from plant materials, is back outside in the National Garden again. And the Conservatory will be filled with its signature holiday decor, including sculptures of iconic DC sites, also made from plant materials.  Open 10am – 5pm. Admission is free.

 

4) Enjoy a holiday hike.  Looks like it should be a pleasant Turkey Day this year, great for some time on the trail.  In honor of the day, I suggest going to Turkey Run. 🦃😉  Rock Creek, Great Falls, Roosevelt Island, Huntley Meadows, and Riverbend are all nice parks for family tramping. This post has details on all of them along with even more recs for local walks in the woods.

 

5) Hang out at a playground.  BeauvoirHains PointClemyjontri, Cabin John Regional ParkWheaton Regional Park, plus loads of DC Parks and Rec locations, and many more in the DC Metro are good places to take littles to play while you’re waiting for the feast.

 

6) Get into the holiday spirit at National Harbor.  There is a nightly tree lighting and light show in the Waterfront District that runs every half hour from sunset until 9pm. Plus, there’s much more holiday magic at the Gaylord National.

 

7) Take an evening drive or stroll through a holiday light display— several around the area have started dazzling visitors with twinkling wonderlands.

 

8) Catch a flick.  Just about all of our local movie theaters will be open, and there are so many good films to see! (On my list:  Glass Onion, The Banshees of Inisherin, The Fabelmans, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, TÁR, She Said, The Menu.)  See what’s playing at a theater near you.

 

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

The Best Tip You’ll Get for the Rest of this Year’s Ren Fest

 

The Maryland Renaissance Festival has been bringing merriment galore to Revel Grove, a charming hamlet in the woods of Crownesville, MD, since late August.  But with a very busy schedule this fall, we didn’t make it there until yesterday.  This was actually quite serendipitous, as it turned out to be one of the most beautiful days of the season so far.  The cool, crisp,  sunny weather made for perfect conditions to roam the lively, sprawling grounds.  And the early fall scenery, with the first tinges of autumn foliage glowing amid the fading green, was a gorgeous backdrop for all the festivities.

 

Surely, you know by now how much I love Ren Fest and how strongly I recommend it for a fantastic, fun-filled outing.  So, I’ll just get to the gist of this post.  Along with scenes from our day there yesterday, I wanted to share a few extra tips (more are already listed here).  Let’s get to it…

 

1) The best tip you’ll get for the rest of this year’s Ren Fest is DO NOT WAIT TO GET TICKETS!  They are selling out, and earlier than they have in previous years.  This past Saturday was sold out by Wednesday.  I bought Sunday tickets for our family early in the day last Thursday, and when I went back on the website to get a couple more for friends, they were all gone.  And I just checked… the weekend of October 15-16 is already sold out, leaving only the last weekend, October 22-23. So, again, if you know you want to go, get your tickets!

 

2) It almost pains me to share this one because I never want to discourage anyone from going to Ren Fest, BUT if you really hate crowds and being around a lot of people, this may not be the event for you. A lot of people love Ren Fest, and sold out days means a lot of people will be there.  It’s not like you’ll be walking shoulder-to-shoulder — there is still plenty of space to move around  comfortably — but it’s heavy on stimulus and lines can get long.

 

3) And that leads to my next tip… be prepared to wait in lines for food and drinks, especially right around lunchtime.  This can be tough with little ones, but you can be strategic about it if you’re with other adults and take turns waiting and walking around with the kiddos (but note that if you’re buying adult beverages, all must be there, only one per person).  You can also plan to eat a little later in the afternoon when the lines let up.  But don’t skip the food!  There are so many fun, yummy options:  Turkey legs!  Meat on sticks! Fried mac-n-cheese balls! Fried pickle chips! Cones of cookies!  And much, much more.

 

4) Get to the jousting area early, at least 30 minutes ahead, if you want decent seats to see the show.  The jousts are a highlight of Ren Fest (fun fact: jousting is Maryland’s state sport!), and if you want to guarantee you and the kids get a good view, you need to get seats.  I suggest getting food and “having a picnic” at your joust seats to pass the time while you wait for the events to begin.

 

5) Dress up!  Our crew did not, but it felt like more people than ever were in costume this year.  It makes for the best people watching, and it would have been fun to be part of it.

 

6) This one is random, but good (credit goes to my friend, Margaret, for it) …  If you plan to eat a turkey leg, bring some of these along. It will make a big difference in your comfort for the rest of your day.

 

So, between these tips and my usual KFDC tips here, you’re all set for a fantastic time at Ren Fest.  Now go reserve your tickets.  And have a blast!

Huzzah!

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

 

A few more scenes…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 2022, Fall, Festival, Maryland, Weekend

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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Filed under 2022, DC, Outdoor, Weekdays, Weekend

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.

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.

Adams Morgan PorchFest
Where: Adams Morgan, DC
When: October 15, 2-6pm (rescheduled from Oct 1)
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 about 70 bands playing on porches, patios, and stoops in the neighborhood.  At the corner of Adams Mill and Columbia Road NW on Porchfest Day, pick up a music map and free wristband that will get you discount at over 30 Adams Morgan businesses.

Oktoberfest
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: October 16, 2-5pm
Admission: Free

It’s that time of year… put on your dirndl or lederhosen, grab your Dachshund, and head to The Wharf for  free Oktoberfest festivities. The highlight:  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.

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.

Takoma Park Street Festival
Where: Carroll Ave. to Carroll St. | Takoma Park, MD
When: October 23, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free

The streets of Takoma Park will be filled with music, artisans, community groups, kids activities, food vendors and a variety of green companies at the city’s 41st annual festival. Get a jumpstart on your holiday shopping — over 150 vendors will be selling all kinds of artistic wares. Music lovers will enjoy three stages hosting 18 bands playing all day.

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