Tag Archives: DC Family Activities

Chill Time: Activities Around DC During the Covid Winter

A socially distanced visit to The REACH at the Kennedy Center

 

Winter is looming, and it’s going to be a lot different than any we’ve previously experienced.  Most of our usual go-to places for fun and entertainment (and warmth) inside aren’t accessible right now.  So, we adapt.  Instead of heading to museums and theatres and indoor play spaces this season, plan on adventures outdoors instead.  (Remember, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!)  So, layer up, bundle up, invest in gear that makes the cold outdoors more comfy, and try some of these activities that aren’t just alternatives to the winter outings you aren’t enjoying, but that are awesome adventures in themselves.  Happy Winter!

 

TAKE A HIKE

GET AN ART FIX

EXPLORE A GARDEN

TRY SEASONAL SPORTS 

ENJOY ALL-YEAR ACTIVITIES

SEE THE LIGHTS

 

* * * * * 

 

TAKE A HIKE

A scenic break by the river at Turkey Run Park

Taking a walk in the woods probably seems like an obvious suggestion, but a reminder of some great places to go never hurts. Here are a few that are especially good to visit now, either because they don’t draw huge crowds or are big enough to offer plenty of space if they do.

Turkey Run Park
This seems to be one of the best overlooked parks in the area, as it’s never crowded when we go. Nearly 700 acres of woods contain trails that ramble along the Potomac, streams that flow down from the woods to the river, great views from the shoreline, and a variety of wildlife. Hikes are fairly easy, and you can opt for trails anywhere from about one to four miles long. There are clusters of big rocks on the riverbanks, where it’s nice to stop and take in the views. Scramble over fallen trees, cross a few small footbridges, and run through clearings. A few picnic areas with tables are perfect for lunch al fresco, and the open spaces are great areas to toss a Frisbee or kick a ball around. Access the park via the GW Parkway, right before the Beltway. Hours are 6am -10pm, and there is no admission fee.

Rock Creek Park
Our local national park is a great place to enjoy outdoor recreation right here in the city.  Layer up and hit one of the many trails. We usually park at the Nature Center lot or by Peirce Mill, then hop on a marked path from there.  Some areas might be closed right now, but there are maps on trees indicating where to go. Admission to Rock Creek Park is free.  [Note: Links above offer more info about the Nature Center and Peirce Mill, but both places are closed right now.]

Sky Meadows State Park
The park in Delaplane, VA, is vast, perfect for good social distancing, plus you can enjoy nice walks through woods and along pastures with beautiful scenic views. You can even hike the AT — a three-mile stretch of it runs through the park. There are bunch more trails to follow, plenty of them easy and short for young trampers, including a Sensory Trail especially for kids and a Children’s Discovery Area. The Visitor Center is open if you need facilities and a little warming up, but only Thursday – Monday, with weekday hours from 11am – 4:30pm, and weekends 10am – 4:30pm. The park is open 8am – dusk, and parking is $7/weekdays, $10/weekends.

Patapsco Valley State Park
With over 16,000 acres sprawling through Howard and Baltimore counties, there are hiking options galore at Patapsco. The trails vary, which keeps it interesting — there are easy, flat routes along the river and rooty paths that wind through the woods, some leading to waterfalls or crossing over footbridges. We usually head in at the Avalon or Hilton entrances and hit the trails from there.  Both offer the best access to trails that lead to the lovely Cascade Falls, plus other nice routes.  There is a playground next to the Hilton parking area for some extra fun for kids.  I recommend checking the Patapsco website or Trails.com to find the right hike for your family and detailed info.

Sugarloaf Mountain
Located in Dickerson, MD, just south Frederick, Sugarloaf is a great place to go for a family hike.  You can start at the base and opt for a 7-mile loop or drive farther up the mountain for a shorter hike — there are a bunch of trails to hop on close to the parking area.  A couple of good ones are the white trail, which winds around and ascends gradually to the summit, and the orange trail that is a steeper, more direct climb up.  However you go, you’re guaranteed great views on the way and at the top.  Afterward, plan a stop at the Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard or The Comus Inn, both just down the road. The latter is a family-friendly restaurant with a great outdoor dining area, plus shuffleboard, corn hole, and ping pong — all of it surrounded by gorgeous scenery. Get a glimpse of our recent outing to Sugarloaf and Comus in my IG highlights.

Find even more great hikes around the area!


 

GET AN ART FIX

Some of the DC Statehood murals near The Atlas on H Street

You don’t always have to go into a museum to enjoy great works of art. They are outdoors in gardens, along our landscapes, and even the city streets. For many, seeing the creative output of others is such a fantastic boost — here are some varied ways to find that around the area.

DC Murals Tour
You can find art by local artists all over the city on sides of buildings, temporarily boarded-up storefronts, even right on the street. MuralsDC, an initiative from the DC Department of Public Works, is an excellent resource for locating, learning about, and touring local murals. You can refer to the digital map and find tours of collections, including the 51 Murals for DC Statehood and U Street Corridor Walking Tour.

Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden
While all of the Smithsonian museums are currently closed, you can still enjoy the outdoor areas, including the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden on the National Mall. Take a stroll through the works, and check out this FAQ for more about visiting. You can pop in for free daily from 10am – 4:30pm. And to make the most of your time, visit the lovely garden between the Hirshhorn and Arts & Industries Building and the Enid A. Haupt Garden behind the castle.

The REACH at the Kennedy Center
The beautiful grounds of The REACH, the Kennedy Center extension that opened just over a year ago, are open to visitors. Not only are there works of art located around the area, the artfully designed buildings are so impressive and amazing to view. You can stroll around, check out the sculptures and structures — and take in vistas of the Potomac. The Kennedy Center terrace and plaza are also open, and you can take a very short walk through The Reach indoors. Even more, Victura Park, an outdoor pop-up wine garden & café, is there on weekends, with a Winter Holiday Market, too. The REACH grounds are always open; indoors are Friday 4-8pm, Saturday 12-6pm, & Sunday 12-6pm; Victura Park hours are Friday 4-8pm, Saturday 12-8pm, ad Sunday 12-7pm. Admission to everything is free.   See my IG posts, here and here, for some REACH scenes.

Tour the Memorials
Surely, DC’s grand iconic structures can be considered artistic works. So, be a tourist in your hometown (unless you’re visiting, then just be a tourist), and take the opportunity to visit the many memorials on the Mall and around the Tidal Basin. Along with being 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.

Annmarie Sculpture Garden
The grounds of the arts center in Calvert County are filled with all kinds of creative works, from large abstract sculptures to “tree pops” and birdhouses to a few fairy houses left over from the annual summer exhibit. Some of the bigger works are part of the permanent collection, and many more are on loan from the Hirshhorn, National Gallery of Art, and other private collections. A stroll among all of it along a looping path is lovely, relaxing, and kind of magical. And the Fairy Lolly is the most delightful play area! The indoor galleries with even more art are also open and good for warming up (plus, restrooms). Hours right now are Sunday – Friday 12-3pm, and Saturday, 10am-3pm. Admission is free during Covid, but a donation of $5 is suggested. Read more about Annmarie here.


 

EXPLORE A GARDEN

Winter wetlands at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Exploring a garden might seem the same as a hike — after all, both involve mostly walking — but they’re quite different to me.  Gardens are deliberately designed with plantings that are thought out, and they usually offer more than walks, like pretty seating areas, special demo sections, and sometimes play areas and other structures.  Here are some places you can find all of those.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
With its lily pad-filled ponds, gorgeous lotus and water lilies (in summer), and acres of wetlands, Kenilworth  is unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere in the area. Even without the colorful flower bloom or fall hues, the park is still a gorgeous oasis in the city during winter.  You can hike around and explore the different areas — wander the paths around the ponds or follow the boardwalk to the wetlands area.  A couple of lookouts showcase the natural scenery, and you may even spy a great blue heron in the distance.  A great way to get there is by bike along the Anacostia River Tail if that’s convenient for you; otherwise, parking is easy with a lot right there if you drive.

National Arboretum
Of course I have to include one of my very favorite outdoor places here. The Arboretum’s nearly 450 acres contain an amazing variety of plant, tree, and flower collections that are just as interesting to explore as they are beautiful. Trails and paths wind through them, and you’ll also find hidden seating areas to take a break and enjoy the scenery. The Old Capitol Columns standing smack in the middle of the Ellipse Meadow make for a striking scene, but tend to draw more people. I recommend heading to less visited areas like the dogwoods and conifers — it’s like strolling around a secret, magic garden. The herb garden is fun to sniff around, too! Unfortunately, the Youth Garden, natural play area, and Bonsai Museum are closed right now, but what’s open is plenty to enjoy. And if you bring along a picnic, the Grove of State Trees is a designated eating spot with tables. See more about the Arb here and here,

Brookside Gardens
The beautiful public display garden within Wheaton Regional Park in the Montgomery Parks system is lovely and relaxing to visit all year round.  You can stroll along paths through wooded areas, seek out gazebos and other nice spots to sit, and run through open grassy areas.  The turtle pond is especially pretty, with stone and wooden footbridges leading to different parts and a large gazebo, from which you can look for turtles swimming below or just sit in and enjoy the surroundings.  (There is also a sweet Children’s Garden with play structures, though it’s closed right now.)  Right now, the grounds are open to wander and enjoy daily from sunrise to sunset, and the Visitor Center 10am – 2pm.

Green Spring Gardens
Tucked away in Alexandria, Green Spring is a great place to hang out. It’s divided into sections of more than 20 thematic demonstration gardens, plus there’s a wooded stream valley with ponds. Stop in the Horticultural Center and ask for scavenger hunt instructions — this adds an element of adventure to your explorations. The grounds are open dawn to dusk, and the Horticultural Center 9:30am – 4pm. Admission is free.

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
The grounds at Meadowlark are gorgeous and vast and so nice to roam around. You can follow trails to the lake and check for geese and turtles, visit the Korean Bell Garden featuring pavilions, whimsical totems, and a lovely fountain, and visit a restored 18th Century log cabin. For warming up and restrooms, the Visitor Center is open with limited capacity. Hours are 10am – 4:30pm in November/December and 10am – 5pm January/February. Admission is $6/adults, $3/ages 7-17 and seniors, free for ages 6 and under.

Find a few more DC gardens to explore!


SEASONAL SPORTS

Hit the slopes for some seasonal fun

Take advantage of the season with a quintessential winter activity!  Hit the slopes, glide on ice, whiz down a hill, and enjoy thrills and delights only the cold and snow can bring.

Skiing
Not only is skiing a fun, active way to take advantage of winter, area ski resorts are open with Covid safety measures in place, notably advanced reservations required since admission is limited.  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: LibertyWhitetail, Roundtop, Massanutten, Wintergreen, Seven SpringsHidden ValleyBryceSnowshoe, Timberline, and Wisp.

Snow Tubing
If you’re not into skiing, there’s another, easier, more comfy way to enjoy whizzing down a snow covered hill at a local resort — on an inner tube! It’s not nearly as pricey as skiing, and equipment (ie, inner tubes) are included.  All of the places listed above offer snow tubing, and here are direct links for all of them: Liberty, WhitetailSeven SpringsHidden ValleyBryceSnowshoe, and Wisp.

Ice Skating
While some places are not opening for the season, several area ice rinks have returned this year.  Pentagon RowSilver Spring at Veterans Plaza, Rockville Town Square, and Reston Town Center are once again welcoming skaters to glide the day — and night — away. The Color Burst Ice Rink at the Merriweather District in Columbia, MD, just started its inaugural skating season. The Winter Village at Cameron Run in Arlington also includes ice skating.  All rinks have Covid precautions in place for safe, socially distanced skating.

Sledding
This one obviously requires some help from Mother Nature, since we can’t make our snow like the ski resorts. Most of us have our local sledding spots, but if you’re looking for more places around the area, this Curbed post has suggestions. You just might see your local spot among them like ours — Capitol Hill is a blast for sledding (though it remains to be seen if it will be open to sledders to this Covid year.)


 

ALL-YEAR ACTIVITIES

Tee up for disc golf

Some pursuits can be enjoyed year-round with the right gear and clothing. Just add some extra layers, warm socks, and maybe bring along a thermos of hot chocolate or tea, and you’re ready for action. Here are some activities to enjoy during the cold (and warm) months!

Disc Golf
If you haven’t played or even heard of disc golf, or Frisbee golf as it’s sometimes called, it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like, a combo of Frisbee and golf. Not only is it fun and challenging, many of the courses are set up in scenic places. This post has info about one in College Park, and there are also great courses at Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg, MD, Patapsco Valley State Park in Marriottsville, MD, and Burke Lake Park in Burke, VA.

Golf
You can tee up all year at many local golf courses. Owen and his friends have been spending some time on the greens, and certainly it makes for a great family activity, too.  There are three courses in DC — East Potomac Park, Langston (near Anacostia Park), and Rock Creek — where the public is welcome to play. Family tees are available for younger beginner players. You can also just hit balls at the driving range, and if you don’t have clubs, East Potomac Park offers complimentary sanitized loaner clubs. For public golf courses beyond the District, go here.  And if you want to drive some balls in a private bay while hanging out and enjoying a bite to eat, check out Top Golf — there are area locations open at National Harbor and in Germantown and Loudoun.

Shark Tooth Hunting
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, and note that there are restrictions for at least one.

Geocaching
This is a really fun way to explore some of your favorite outdoor places and discover new ones. It’s like a scavenger hunt, and perfect for adding a little adventure to your outings. Even better, you can pick and choose where and when you want to do it. In fact, most of the hiking spots mentioned above (and in the larger round-up of hikes) likely have geocaches to find. This KFDC post has info on how to get started.

Biking
Don’t let the cold stop you from taking to two wheels! Biking is a great way to be active outdoors while social distancing. Just layer up for warmth and continue to enjoy cruising around the DC area. There are plenty of routes to ride, and there is something for every age and rider level. This post has a round-up of pedal-worthy places.

 

SEE THE LIGHTS

See Stars at Light Yards

Twinkling lights forming enchanting displays are are a staple of the season and some continue to shine into January. Visit one of several parks or gardens in the area that has transformed into a sparkling wonderland. While some you tour by car, others you can walk through for a truly enchanting experience.

Light Yards
The Yards’ annual holiday installation returns with “Stars,” larger-than-life illuminated star sculptures constructed from metallic mesh that twinkle with dancing lights and festive music.  There aren’t many of them, and it’s not interactive like most previous installations, but along with the sparkling Sundeck, it’s a nice, easy way to experience some socially-distanced holiday cheer and a bright start to 2021 — it will be lit nightly 6-10pm through January 10.  If it’s not too cold, you can pick up take-out from one of the many eateries at The Yards and enjoy dinner al fresco amid the lights or pair your visit with outdoor dining at one of the nearby restaurants.  A couple of take-out recs:  Takorean and Sweetgreen. Restaurants with heated outdoor seating: Agua 301Blue JacketOsteria MoriniNandos, and All Purpose Pizzeria and Salt Line are a short walk away by Nationals Park.

DC Holiday Lights
During December, Main Streets throughout the District are joining together to bring DC residents a spectacular holiday experience: DC Holiday Lights! Residents are invited to take a stroll down each of the participating corridors to experience a dazzling array of lights and decor, enjoy holiday promotions, and shop local. Visit the website to see where corridors are located and what to expect at each of them. You can also take a guided tour of the lights with Free Tours By Foot!

Festival of Lights
This spectacular holiday drive-through event of more than one million twinkling lights has been dazzling holiday-goers for over 25 years. This is great way to get into the holiday spirit from the comfort of your car — bring a thermos of hot chocolate, put on some holiday music, turn on the seat warmers, and take in the adorably festive illuminated scenes. Purchase tickets in advance online and pay only $8.

Garden of Lights
The grounds of Annmarie Sculpture Garden in Lusby, MD, are transformed into an outdoor twinkling wonderland that transports to an enchanted world where you’ll discover glowing “light sculptures” and wondrous light installations. See wild animals, wintery wonderlands, musical holiday scenes, deep sea treasures, magical creatures, glowing trees, and more. New this year: An outdoor Holiday Market with shopping, music, fun holiday photo opps, and food and drink.

Find more holiday light displays and other holiday happenings around the area!

 

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Filed under 2020, 2021, All ages, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Maryland, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Seasonal, Social Distancing, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

The KFDC Guide to the 2020 Fall Festival Season (yes, it’s happening!)

In the pumpkin patch back in very pre-COVID times

 

We’ve gotten so used to most annual events being canceled, it may come as a surprise (and delight) to learn that a bunch of fall festivals are still taking place this season.  The locales — outdoors with lots of space — make it possible, and all of them are taking extra precautions to keep guests safe (follow links to websites for specifics about each place).  With capacity limited at just about all of the festivals listed for safe social distancing, advanced reservations are recommended if not required.  So, put on those sweaters (and masks), grab a basket for apples (and a bottle of hand sanitizer), and go have some autumn fun.  Happy Fall, y’all!

 

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

Celebrate everything apple at Great Country with apple picking, apple cider donuts, and a romp in the 12-acre play area. On Saturdays & Sundays there’s also live music, marshmallow roasting, cider pressing demos and fresh cider samples.

 

Fall at Clark’s Elioak Farm
Where: Ellicott City, MD
When: Tuesday – Sunday through November 3
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). See Humpty Dumpty, the Three Bears, Cinderella’s pumpkin coach,  the Old Woman’s shoe, and more. 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. See the website for hours by day. Closed Mondays.

 

Fall Fun Festival
Where: Gaver Farm | Mt. Airy, MD
When: Through November 3
Admission: $9/weekdays, $13.50/weekends, free/2 & under

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 50 attractions appropriate for any age including mini mazes, playgrounds, duck races, ball games, photo centers, and much more.

 

Harvest Festival
Where: Belvedere Plantation | Fredericksburg, VA
When: Through November 8
Admission: $9.95 – $16.95, depending on day/time

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. New this year is the Sunflower September Spectacular, a pick-your-own sunflowers field open September 21-22, 24-26, and 27-29. Plan to eat there — the Red Rooster Grill offers a variety of grilled favorites to satisfy all appetites.

 

Corn Maze & Fall Festival
Where: Winterbrook Farms | Thurmont, MD
When: Through November 1
Admission: $12

The farm in Frederick County claims the largest corn maze in Maryland, and it comes with loads of other farm fun, including slides, a pumpkin patch, animals, the moo choo train, cornhole, zip lines pedal karts, apple cannons, a tractor tire mountain, and lots more.  Their first annual Sunflower Festival will be happening the weekend of September 19-20.

 

Colonial Market & Fair
Where: Mount Vernon, VA
When: September 19-20
Admission: $18-20/adult, $10/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 expert artisans demonstrate period crafting techniques. Learn how the Washingtons enjoyed ice cream and watch as interpreters showcase the process. There’s plenty of fun for the whole family!

 

Montpelier Farms Fall Festival
Where: Upper Marlboro, MD
When: September 19 – November 8
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. This year, it’s open on weekdays, too.  And a tip based on our experience there: Do not miss the corn maze. It’s EPIC.

 

Pumpkin Village Fall Fest
Where: Leesburg Animal Park | Leesburg, VA
When: September 19 – November 3
Admission: $16-18/adult, $14-15/child & senior, 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. Guests can spend a crisp fall day enjoying loads of great activities such as giant hill slides, hay rides, moon bounces, pedal carts, and more.

 

Fall Festival
Where: Summers Farm | Frederick, MD
When: September 19 – November 8
Admission: $10-17, depending on time/day

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.

 

Reston Farm Garden Market Fall Fest
Where: Reston, VA
When: September 25 – November 1
Admission: $20/child + 1 adult, $5/add’l adult
This annual Fall Fest is on! Families will enjoy a pumpkin moon bounce and bouncy slides, inflatable corn maze, train rides and farm animals. There is also their talented balloon artist, face painter and caricature portrait artist, along with food, pumpkins and more for additional on-site purchases.

 

Wayside Farm Fall Fun
Where: Berryville, VA
When: September 26 – November 3
Admission: $12, free/2 & under (see discount below!)

There is farm fun for visitors of all ages. This year the 10-acre corn maze theme is Everyday Heroes to honor first responders — there is an an easy route and a challenging route depending on interest level. Families can make a reservation to pick pumpkins in the u-pick fields where they come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors. There are also have pig races, slides, a John Deere playground, apple cider donuts, and lots  more. KFDC readers can get $2 off the ticket price on Fridays and Mondays — use the code “Weekday” at check out!

 

Butler’s Orchard Pumpkin Festival
Where: Germantown, MD
When: Weekends September 28 – October 27
Admission: $13-15, free/2 & under

Enjoy a country outing and join Butler’s in celebrating the harvest with traditional autumn activities. Take a hayride, jump in the hay loft, visit Barnyard Buddies, navigate through a couple of mazes, play corn hole, and more! Make advance reservations.

 

Fall 2020 Activities
Where: Cox Farms | Centreville, VA
When: Through November 2
Admission: $15/drive-thru hayride

In normal times, the fall fest at Cox is massive, but out of lot of caution, they are greatly limiting activities. A self-drive “hayride” lets visitors will drive their cars through the traditional hayride route to pick a pumpkin. You can also load up on apple cider donuts and kettle corn from the farm market to enjoy on the ride.

 

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 Sunday’s.

 

Fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: September 28 – October 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 (and grown-ups, too) include P-Rex, the pumpkin eating dinosaur; Rubber Ridge, the tractor tire mountain; the Pumpkin Princess in the pumpkin patch, a giant Pumpkin’ Jumpin’ Pillow; five mazes; 60-foot slides, rope swings, tractor rides, and even more fun in the country. Find a future jack o’ lantern in the pumpkin patch, the largest u-pick patch in the area.

 

Homestead Farm Fall Festival
Where: Poolesville, MD
When: Daily through October, 9am – 5pm
Admission: $2

While Homestead doesn’t have an official festival, the farm embraces the spirit of autumn every year. There are no hayrides out to the pumpkin patches this year, but you can still select a pumpkin, pick apples while they have them,  enjoy hot cider, see farm animals and scarecrows, and  enjoy the season with the family at this scenic locale.

 

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Tips for Families Viewing the Cherry Blossoms (2020)

[Note: This was originally written in 2011 (hence, the now very outdated Lost reference) and has been updated every year since. But because the tips always apply, I’m re-posting yet again, just with a few minor updates applicable to this year’s bloom. Also, I realize that coronavirus may be a factor as you make plans to see the flowers; however, I am not a health expert, but know that KFDC has an audience of smart, discerning parents, so I will leave those judgements up to you.]

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, it is NOT recommended to go see the cherry blossoms, especially at the Tidal Basin and on the National Mall, as it is NOT conducive to social distancing. Instead, view them virtually from home or just wait to set them next year.

🌸 🌸 🌸 🌸 🌸

Taking the family to the National Mall to see some pretty flowers sounds easy enough. If only it actually was. The cherry blossom peak, predicted to occur March 27-30 this year, is one of the best times to visit DC. The city is at its most beautiful, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival provides loads of fun activities to help enjoy it all. But viewing the famous blooms can also be a bit challenging without being aware of a few things. Here are seven recommendations to consider if seeing the cherry blossoms is on your family’s spring agenda.

1. Don’t drive if you value your sanity. Take the Metro, ride the bus, bike, walk, jet pack. Get here however you can, just leave the car at home. Traffic is beyond frustrating during the cherry blossom peak, and your chances of finding decent parking are about as good as hitting the Powerball with Hurley’s numbers (okay, slight exaggeration, but it ishard). The masses descend on Washington, DC, this time of year, and way too many do so in their vehicles. Besides, kids love riding the Metro — it’s like an urban version of Hogwarts Express. The Smithsonian stop on the Blue/Orange Line is mere minutes from all of the blossom action, but it’s also guaranteed to be crowded. Consider riding to L’Enfant on Yellow/Green, Federal Center on Blue/Orange, or even a stop downtown or in Penn Quarter and taking a nice stroll to the Tidal Basin for the blossom scene. Another good option is the bus — the DC Circulator will run between Eastern Market and L’Enfant Plaza, a convenient route with even more to do on both ends. And the 32, 34, and 36 routes of Metrobus stop at the National Mall close to the Washington Monument. *If you absolutely must drive and need parking you might find a spot at Hains Point, where there is free and metered parking, then walk or take the Cherry Blossom Shuttle ($1/person) to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial at the Tidal Basin. There is also a parking garage at L’Enfant Plaza. Your best bet, though, might be to find a garage in the downtown or Penn Quarter area, then walk or Metro to the National Mall. You can ensure yourself a spot with Parking Panda, an online parking reservation service that lets you search for and reserve garage spaces in advance.

Flying amid the flowers

2. Visit on a weekday if you have the flexibility. Crowds are significantly smaller from Monday to Friday, so you can stroll around the Tidal Basin at a nice pace, and public transportation won’t be nearly as packed (though it still will be more crowded than usual). But if the kids are in school or daycare during the week, think about going later in the day. The National Mall and monuments look beautiful at sunset, and the blossoms make it even more sublime. In the same vein, if you can go super early, the morning light on the Mall makes for quite a picturesque setting, too.

Peak time around the National Mall

3. Consider using a child carrier instead of a stroller for little ones. This is especially applicable if you take Metro, since elevator lines can be very long and slow-going. I learned my lesson back in my kids’ baby days on a weekday and ended up taking my daughter out of the stroller and carrying both on the escalator, which was probably as unsafe as it was difficult. Even if you don’t take Metro, a carrier is still a wise option. Navigating crowded walkways while pushing a pram takes focus, and you could end up spending more time concentrating on not rolling over others’ heels than enjoying the sights you came to see. It’s a bonus for wee ones, too — perched on your back, your babe will get a better view of the blossoms.

4. Check the National Cherry Blossom Festival schedule, so you can plan your visit accordingly. Some of the city’s most anticipated events are part of the annual celebration, the Blossom Kite Festival, National Cherry Blossom Parade, and Sakura Matsuri among them, and there are many non-official festival happenings as well. Most events take place nearby the blossoms or an easy Metro ride away. Peak bloom is expected to occur mid-Festival this year, so you can enjoy blossom-inspired activities and the efflorescent trees at the same time. This post has details on the best cherry blossom season celebrations and activities for families.

Get a view of the blossoms from a paddle boat

5. Get a new view of the blossoms and enjoy a fun activity on the Potomac. Several companies offer boat rides along the river, many of them specifically for the season when the cherry trees are in bloom. Right now you can find great deals with Washington Marina National Ferry Corp, Capitol River Cruises, and Boomerang Boat Tours. Potomac Riverboat Company and DC Water Taxi are a couple more to check out. You can also opt for a paddling excursion and navigate the waters yourself.

Playing under blossoms at the Arboretum

6. Seek out other spots to see the cherry blossoms if you don’t want to deal with crowds and chaos around the Tidal Basin and National Mall. Several places around the DC-Metro area are well known for their annual cherry blossom displays. When I worked in Bethesda many years ago, it was an annual tradition for my colleagues and me to take a drive through Kenwood, a lovely neighborhood between Little Falls Parkway and River Road with cherry tree-lined streets. The National Arboretum also has a nice collection of the trees and offers a beautiful, peaceful environment in which to view them in bloom. Dumbarton Oaks Gardens is one of the prettiest places in DC and its annual blossoms only add to it. And Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD, has a lovely collection of cherry trees, too.

7. Have your camera ready to take advantage of some of the best photo ops DC offers. The peak colors plus the memorials are about as iconic as you can get when photographing Washington. Get your kids to sit still — or even let them run and play for a fun candid — and you’ve got this year’s holiday card.

Can’t beat the blossom backdrop for photos



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Filed under 2020, All ages, Annual, DC, Free, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Special Event, Spring, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Go & What to Do Around DC During Winter Break 2019

Skate under the stars (and over the Potomac) at The Wharf



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.

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 that keep the spirit going a little longer, 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, and places and experiences that kids who are in school all day can’t get to easily, and movies (an obvious one, but I’ve included quick links).

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-Inspired Happenings

Special Exhibits & Museums

#OptOutside

Show Time

Indoor Action

See Some Sports

Must-See DC

Day Trips

Screen Time

Extra Tips




Holiday-Inspired Happenings

Continue the holiday celebration at Enchant

Enchant
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: Through December 29
Admission: Varies by Date, time, and age

There’s been a lot of buzz about the new holiday attraction at Nationals Park — and I think it’s deserving. The world’s largest Christmas light maze and market is dazzling and delightful and really captures the spirit of the holidays. Purchase tickets here, and read a KFDC review of it, including tips for visiting, if you haven’t already.

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

Chanukah begins during Winter Break this year all of its eight days occur within it, too. There are several activity 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.

Season’s Greenings
Where: U.S. Botanic Garden | National Mall area, DC
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

If you haven’t yet made it to Season’s Greenings, the annual holiday exhibit at the U.S Botanic Garden, you still have time to go — and it’s one that all ages will love. The Main Garden features Washington landmarks constructed from plant materials, including a new botanical inspired Union Station. But the highlight is in the East Gallery: The garden railway model train display never fails to impress and enchant with intricate, imaginative designs. This year’s Gardens of America-themed exhibit features structures from botanic gardens around the U.S. — all made from plant materials, of course. Be sure to tour the rest of the plant collections while you’re there — all are lovely to view, and walking among the flora indoors kind of feels like you pulled a fast one on the weather gods.

Christmas at Mount Vernon

Where: Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: Through December 31
Admission: Online – $18/adults, $9/ages 6-11, free/ 5 & under

They do it up for the holidays at George Washington’s old digs. During the day, tour the Mansion, watch historic chocolate-making demos, and meet Aladdin the Camel. FYI: Mount Vernon is open every day of the year, including Christmas and New Year’s Day!

Magical Holiday Express
Where: B&O Railroad Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: Through December 31
Admission: $18/adult, $17/senior, $12/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. Trains are magical during the holidays, and the museum invites all aboard the B&O’s Magical Holiday Express, a spectacular celebration in the B&O Roundhouse devoted to trains of all sizes and shapes, holiday festivities, and a winter wonderland of family fun and activities. There is something to see and do every day at this annual holiday event!

Christmas on the Potomac
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: Through January 1
Admission: Free, though some activities cost extra

National Harbor goes all out during the holidays. ICE! might be the big attraction, but there’s also plenty to do there to warrant a visit without the frozen entertainment. Most of it takes place in the Gaylord National Resort, which is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with a spectacular glass Christmas tree, nightly tree lightings, the Potomac Express train offering rides for guests, photo ops with Santa, indoor snowfalls, fountain shows, and more. (Read about a KFDC experience there during a Christmas season past.)

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



Special Exhibits & Museums

Visit the Newseum before it closes its doors for good

Newsflash: Museum on Deadline
Where: Newseum | Near Navy Memorial, DC
When: Daily, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $24.95/adult, $14.95/ages 7-19, free for 6 and under

The deadline is nearing! The museum dedicated to all things news and journalism (and one of my personal favorites in DC) is closing its doors on December 31, so get there while you can — I highly recommend it! Much of the collection is better appreciated and understood by older children, so while they have off from school is a good time to take advantage of an outing there. Read more about the Newseum in this KFDC post. And (look for a deal) on admission!

AURORA: The Spirit of Northern Lights
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
When: Through January 5
Admission: $16-20/adult, $13-15/senior, $8-10/child

The winter exhibit at ARTECHOUSE celebrates the season with digital art installations inspired by the aurora borealis, all of them interactive and beautiful, the icy blue, purple, green, and occasionally soft yellow colors giving everything an ethereal feel. Guests walk through arctic scenes, including an ice cavern, frosted forest, and dancing lights. They can grow leafless winter trees, guide snowballs, and make snowflakes with their own movements detected by sensors. As Sasha aid, “It makes me feel like I have powers!” Get 20% off 2 adults + 2 children Sundays through Thursdays within bar hours (it includes hot chocolate).

Becoming Jane
Where: National Geographic Museum | Downtown DC
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $15/adult, $12/seniors & students, free/5 & under

In this hands-on, transportive multimedia exhibition celebrating Jane Goodall’s extraordinary life and work, you’ll explore her early years through iconic images and a multiscreen experience and venture on a 3D exploration of Tanzania’s Gombe Stream National Park, where she did her famous behavioral research on chimps. You’ll also see a life-size hologram of Dr. Goodall, enter a replica of her research tent, and learn about her current role as a leader in community-centered conservation and youth empowerment. And before you leave, you will find out what you can do today to make a positive impact in the world.

African American History & Culture
Where: National Museum of African American History & Culture
When: Daily, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free

This phenomenal museum is a must-see on the National Mall. And right now during off-peak season, you can walk right in without tickets. Timed entry passes are still required on weekend, though, and there are none available for awhile. (If that’s when you want to go, you can try for same-day online passes –they are released at 6:30am, Saturday and Sunday.) Before you go to the museum, read this KFDC guide for visiting with kids.

Q?rius
Where: National Museum of Natural History | National Mall, DC
When: Daily, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free

The interactive and experiential learning space is designed for kids ages 11 and up (though some younger ages could enjoy it, too). During winter break, it opens earlier at 10am (instead of 2pm). Visitors can view up close — and in many cases handle — real artifacts and specimens from the museum’s collections. For really little ones, there is Q?rius Jr: A Discovery Room for more age-appropriate exploring. And, of course, there’s the whole rest of the museum for everyone. Read the KFDC take on Q?rius.

Mission: Fun
Where: International Spy Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Daily, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $24.95/age 13+, $14.95/7-12, free/6 & under

If you haven’t been to the Spy Museum at its new L’Enfant Plaza location, this is a great 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.



#OptOutside

A lovely, cool-weather hike at Scotts Run Nature Preserve

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 the kids.

Let There Be Lights
Where: Around the DMV
When: Evenings through
Admission: Varies by locale

Twinkling lights forming enchanting displays are are a staple of the season and some continue to shine into January. Visit one of several parks or gardens (or the Zoo!) in the area that has transformed into a sparkling wonderland. While some you tour by car, others you can walk through for a truly enchanting experience. See where you can see the lights around the area.

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

Kiddos can burn some energy and get some fresh air at one of many awesome area playgrounds. Beauvoir, Clemyjontri, Watkins Regional Park, Hains Point,Cabin John Regional Park, Wheaton Regional Park, plus loads of DC Parks and Rec locations, and many more in NoVa and Maryland are great places to swing, climb, run, slide, romp, and even more!

Ice It Up
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 cool 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, Veteran’s Plaza, Rockville Town Square, or Reston Town Center. This post has details on alfresco (and indoor) ice skating options in the area.



Show Time

Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Peter Pan and Wendy will dazzle the whole fam

Peter Pan and Wendy
Where: Sidney Harman Hall | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Through January 11
Tickets: $35-120/adult, $35/14 & under (find discounts)

Bold, budding scientist Wendy Darling dreams of earning a Nobel Prize. When Peter Pan arrives at her bedroom window, she takes a leap and leaves finishing school behind, chasing adventure among the stars. Facing down fairies, mermaids, and the dastardly Captain Hook, Wendy, Peter, and their friends discover the power of standing up together for what’s right. J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan is reimagined for a new generation of theatregoers. This beloved tale of adventure and wonder is sure to delight adults and children alike this holiday season. Recommended for ages 5+.

The Velveteen Rabbit
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo Park
When: Through January 1
Tickets: $20.50

Margery Williams’s classic toy story gets a vibrant retelling in this brand new adaptation. When the Child gets the Rabbit for Christmas, she is at first disappointed in her gift. But as the two quest and adventure through her storybooks, both Rabbit and Child grow and care for each other. And they discover that love is the greatest force in the Universe and can make impossible things Real. Recommended for all ages.

The Snow Queen
Where: Synetic Theatre | Crystal City, VA
When: Through December 29
Tickets: $15-35

Just in time for the holidays, Synetic presents a whimsical, family-friendly adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s beloved fairy tale, The Snow Queen. Join Gerda, a little girl with gumption, a magic mirror, and a quest to save her best friend, as she sets out on a life-changing journey that takes her over mountains and across distant lands to the Snow Kingdom. Once there, she harnesses her inner-strength and wit to defeat the coldest threat of all.

Singin’ in the Rain
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: Through January 5
Tickets: $54-$99 (find discounts)

The greatest movie musical of all time comes to life on the Mainstage and for once, rain during the holidays is guaranteed to make you smile. Comden and Green’s ingenious tale of Hollywood’s transition from the silent era is buoyed by the thrill of live singing and dancing to some of the greatest songs in the American canon including “Good Mornin’,” “Make ‘em Laugh,” and “Moses Supposes.” Olney’s biggest production of the year is certain to impress Broadway regulars and enchant kids meeting this musical for the first time. If this were a film it would be rated G.

Step Afrika’s Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE, DC
When: Through December 30
Tickets: $25-45

Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show is a KFDC fave! This fun, family-friendly performance will have you stomping your feet and clapping your hands to energetic beats from Step Afrika! and special guest, DJ Frosty the Snowman. The show features friendly, furry characters, plus there is pre-show instrument-making workshops, photo ops, and even a dance party. It is so much fun for both kids and adults and great entertainment even after the holiday has past!

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: Through January 5
Tickets: $15-35

Leap through the wardrobe and into a winter wonderland in this dance-based adaptation of C.S. Lewis’s treasured novel from the Chronicles of Narnia. A remount of Imagination Stage’s Helen Hayes award-winning 2012 production, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe tells the story of four siblings who journey from war-torn England to a magical land frozen in eternal winter, where the powerful lion Aslan leads them on a journey to discover their destiny. Music, modern dance, and breathtaking puppetry tell a story of love, sacrifice, and redemption. Recommended for ages 5+.

Jersey Boys
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: December 17 – January 5
Tickets: $39-99 (find discounts)

They were just four guys from Jersey, until they sang their very first note. They had a sound nobody had ever heard… and the radio just couldn’t get enough of. But while their harmonies were perfect on stage, off stage it was a very different story — a story that has made them an international sensation all over again. Go behind the music and inside the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons in the Tony and Grammy Award®-winning true-life musical phenomenon, Jersey Boys. From the streets of New Jersey to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this is the musical that’s just too good to be true. Recommended for ages 12+.

My Fair Lady
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 17 – January 19
Tickets: $39-159 (find discounts)

From Lincoln Center Theater comes “a sumptuous new production of the most perfect musical of all time” (Entertainment Weekly), Lerner & Loewe’s My Fair Lady. Director Bartlett Sher’s glowing production is “thrilling, glorious and better than it ever was” (The New York Times). Boasting such classic songs as “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “The Rain in Spain,” and “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” My Fair Lady tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a young Cockney flower seller, and Henry Higgins, a linguistics professor who is determined to transform her into his idea of a “proper lady.” But who is really being transformed?

Squeakers & Mr. Gumdrop
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: December 27-31
Tickets: $12

Arts on the Horizon’s show will be at the Atlas at the end of December and is a perfect activity with littles ones, recommended for ages 2-5… One snowy winter morning, Mr. Gumdrop prepares for his annual holiday party! When an unexpected and curious mouse appears, Mr. Gumdrop’s routine is thrown for a loop. Can these two wildly different characters work together to get the holiday preparations done in time? This nonverbal, imaginative production captures the magic of making new friends and sharing ideas to accomplish big goals.​



Indoor Action

Climb the day away at The St. James

Super, Awesome, and Amazing Fun
Where: The St. James | Springfield, VA
When: Daily
Admission: $15-$23 (find discount)

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. Admission is $15 Monday – Thursday before 3pm. After 3pm and on Friday & Saturday, they are $23/hour.

Mountains of Fun
Where: Badlands | Rockville, MD
When: Tuesday – Sunday, 9am – 6pm
Admission: $20/child, $12.50/toddler, $5/adult

Enjoy all kinds of indoor adventures at Badlands Play Space. From active fun to creative explorations to learning experiences to relaxation options, the facility has it all. They also have a cafe to get a bite to eat while you’re there and where adults can hang out while they watch their kids play (if kids are old enough to playon their own). Best for children about preschool age to 10.

Reach New Heights
Where: ClimbZone | Laurel, MD
When: Daily, 10am – 8pm
Admission: $25/child, $12/toddler (find discount)

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 $19.50

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 $12

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.

* Find even more places for active indoor play here!



See Some Sports

Cheer on our local (or visiting) teams!

Wizards
Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 28 & 30, January 1 & 3
Admission: Ticket prices vary

The Wizards have a few home games over the break, so catch some exciting action on the court. They host the New York Knicks on December 28, Miami Heat on December 30, Orlando Magic on January 1, and Portland Trailblazers on January 3.

All Caps
Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 21, 27 & 31
Admission: Ticket prices vary

Hockey fans can see the Caps play a couple games. The Tampa Bay Lightening will be here on December 21, the Columbus Blue Jackets on December 27, and the New York Islanders on December 31.

Hoops, NCAA-Style
Where: Universities around the DMV
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



Must-See DC

Take in views of DC from the top of the Washington Monument

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

The Washington Monument recently reopened after being closed for repairs, so you can once again go inside for a tour and to take in DC views. You can order advance reservation tickets 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.

A Local & National Treasure
Where: Library of Congress | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Monday – Saturday
Admission: Free

Explore the largest library in the world and one of DC’s most iconic attractions. Not only does the Library of Congress have a whole great space dedicated to kids, it is a trove of knowledge, art, history, and culture — and the public is welcome to enjoy it all, and for free! Open Monday through Saturday, 9am – 4:30pm.

Tour the Capitol
Where: U.S. Capitol Building | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Daily, 8:30am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

Take a tour of the U.S. Capitol! You can usually get on a guided tour day of, but even if you can’t there are still plenty of interesting exhibits and statues to see in the Visitor’s Center. A tour lasts about an hour, and includes a short film, walks through the The Rotunda and National Statuary Hall, and a peek into the Old Congress Chamber. Before you go, be sure to read these guidelines on what you can and can’t bring with you. KFDC Tip: You can walk through an underground tunnel to get to the Library of Congress and make it a bigger outing on the Hill.

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.

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!



Day Trips

Go big at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore

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.

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 ski resorts within a few hours’ drive that are great for young, newbie skiers (and veteran swooshers, too). SkiPA is a good resource for finding slopes to suit your crew, and if you have a 4th or 5th grader, be sure to sign up for the SnowPass that offers free skiing opportunities. Some resorts to check out, both with or without the pass: Liberty, Whitetail, Seven Springs, Hidden Valley, Bryce, Snowshoe, and Wisp.

Go Underground
Where: Luray Caverns | Luray, VA
When: Daily, 9am – 7pm
Admission: $27/adults, $23/seniors, $14/ages 6-12, 5 and under free

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.

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 $5/adult, $3/ages 6-17, free/5 & under. 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.



Screen Time

Catch cool, often educational films (and wear some rad glasses) at an IMAX movie

(I)MAX Out
Where: Smithsonian IMAX Venues | National Mall, DC/Chantilly, VA
When: Ongoing
Admission: $9.50/adult

See a movie on the really big screen. You’ve got your choice of IMAX films playing right now. The Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater in the Air & Space Museum on the National Mall, the Airbus IMAX Theater at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA, are showing the following films that kids can enjoy: Journey to Space 3D, Aircraft Carrier: Guardians of the Sea 3D, D-Day: Normandy 1944 3D, Secrets of the Universe, Apollo 11: First Steps Edition, Superpower Dogs 3D, Jumanji: The Next Level, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (opens 12/20). Tickets are $9.50/adult, $7/child ($15/adult, $13.50/youth for Star Wars). Of course, plan for some time before or after to explore the museums, too. Hours are 10am – 5:30pm, and admission to both is free.

In Theaters Near You
Where: Cinemas around the DMV
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by theater

There are a bunch of movies out now (or opening soon) that are good for families with both young children and t(w)eens. Here are quick links for them:
Frozen II
Jumanji: The Next Level
Cats
Knives Out
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Spies in Disguise
Little Women




Extra Tips
* If you’re looking specifically for ideas for foul weather days, see The Great Indoors list or the round-up of Indoor Playgrounds
* And for where to enjoy time outside, check out The Best Places 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?
* The Smithsonian Event Calendar is always worth checking before you head to the museums or the Zoo
* Look for deals and discounts on CertifiKid, Goldstar, and TodayTix.

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