Tag Archives: DC hikes with Kids

Five Things: October 17, 2022


1. One of my favorite things about Halloween in our neighborhood, Capitol Hill, is the many houses decked out in decor for the holiday. And strolling (or biking or scooting) around to see them makes for a wicked fun family activity.  The Hill is Home makes that easier with their 2022 Spooky Hill Map.  Even if you don’t live here, it’s worth coming to the area to experience, especially since you can make a longer day of it and plan for a visit to the Library of Congress or the U.S. Capitol, some browsing at Eastern Market, or play time at one of the many parks or playgrounds.


2. A great time to plan for a day on the Hill would be this Saturday, October 22, when the Library of Congress is hosting a Halloween Family Day.  From 10am – 4pm, guests can enjoy family-friendly festivities, including a very special program with beloved authors R.L. Stine, author of the “Goosebumps” series, and Mary Pope Osborne, author of the “Magic Tree House” series! There will also be“spooky” art activities, stories available in a reading corner, creepy music, and fantastical images from the Library’s collections. Halloween costumes welcome. And note that the program with Stine and Osborne will feature spooky elements, including eerie lights, frightening characters, and surprises for the audience. The Family Day runs from 10am – 4:30pm, but note that the program with the authors is at 2pm. Free timed-entry passes are required, so be sure to reserve them in advance — a lot are already hone, and I can guarantee they’ll go fast once word gets out more.  (PS: Check out this sweet video of Owen interviewing Mary Pope Osborne at the National Book Festival when he was 6! I shared it back then here.)


3. Also, speaking of wicked fun… the smash Broadway hit, Wicked, is coming to the Kennedy Center from December 8 to January 22! And right now you can find discounts on select seats through Goldstar.


4. Have you heard about Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience coming to the area in a couple of weeks?  The outdoor light trail will immerse guests of all ages into the magical wizarding world from the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts series. Throughout the journey, guests will experience their favorite moments from the Forbidden Forest, encounter mystical creatures such as Hippogriffs, centaurs, unicorns, and Nifflers, and even have the opportunity to cast their own spells.  The adventure will take place at Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia from October 29 – January 29.  Ticket prices start from $25 for children and $36 for adults.  It’s selling out quickly — there are some remaining dates/times for November and December, but still plenty for January.  This has holiday gift written all over it!


5. Have you been yet? 😉


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Filed under 2022, DC, Fall, Five Things

Five Things: October 13, 2022


1. Do you know about Dumbarton Oaks Park in Georgetown?  Not to be confused with Dumbarton Oaks Garden that I’ve written about and recommended a lot, the Park is a lovely little stretch of nature that is actually located right behind the gardens.  I first wrote about the Park here a bunch of years ago… it’s part of Rock Creek Park and contains well maintained trails and features like footbridges, seating areas, and stone walls built into the landscape, kind of giving it all a fairytale feel.  It’s a perfect place to go for a hike with young children — it’s not too big, the paths are flat and easy for little ones to navigate, and it’s right next to Montrose Park, where there’s a playground and lots of grassy space to run around — but all ages would enjoy a walk there.  You can make a whole day of it in that tucked away area of the neighborhood and visit Dumbarton Oaks Park, Montrose Park, and Dumbarton Oaks Garden all in one great outing!  The Park is  open daily dawn to dusk, and admission is free.  Access it near the intersection of R & 31st Streets NW.  [Note that Dumbarton Oaks Garden is only open to the public Tuesday – Sunday, 2-6pm, and admission is $7 through October 31, then free through mid-March).


2. There have been some additions to the round-up of Halloween events around the area, including the haunted lab at the Children’s Science Center Lab, a special scavenger hunt at Meadowlark Botanic Garden, and a Halloween Party at the Parc at Tysons.  Get all the details for these wicked fun ways to celebrate Halloween, plus many more, here.


3. Smithsonian’s Discovery Theater will be back in person soon after nearly two years! Their first show will be Seasons of Light, the annual holiday production that was a tradition for many pre-Covid. In case you’re not familiar with the venue, it’s located in the Smithsonian Ripley Center connected to the National Museum of Asian Art.


4. 13 family-friendly shows and movies perfect for Halloween.


5. And to balance it out: The scariest movies of all time. 😱


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Explore the Anacostia Watershed at Kingman & Heritage Islands

I’ve chaperoned a lot of field trips with my kids’ classes over the years, and one of my favorites is the annual third grade excursion to Kingman and Heritage Islands as part of the Anacostia Watershed Society’s Rice Rangers program. The visit involves planting arrow arum and wild rice in the muddy banks of the Anacostia River to help restore the wetlands, and there’s also a guided hike around the park to learn more about the ecosystem.

Rice Ranger, Sasha

And Owen a few years ago

It was the field trip with Sasha’s class this week that prompted me to feature Kingman Island here on the blog. We’ve been to the park many times for various activities. It’s located next to RFK Stadium — you actually have to go through the RFK parking lot to access the entrance — which isn’t too far from our house. Besides field trips, we’ve gone for short hikes and just to get an easy dose of nature close to home. And, of course, we’ve also been for the Kingman Island Bluegrass Festival, which is probably what the park is best known for (and which I highly recommend attending if you enjoy bluegrass music).

The reason I haven’t covered Kingman Island on the blog until now is because I wasn’t sure if it was a great recommendation for a kid outing. The location is somewhat isolated, and there have been some safety concerns (this WaPo article from a few years ago touches on that). But on this recent visit, we saw several people there that weren’t part of our group hiking, biking, walking their dogs, and enjoying the natural oasis. The park is owned by the District, but operated by Living Classrooms, and along with other organizations like the Anacostia Watershed Society, they are working to help the area thrive and make it more accessible to the community.

There are two long wooden bridges in the park — the first crosses over to Heritage Island, the second takes you to Kingman Island. Both offer views of the wetlands, and you can spot turtles in the water below and birds all around. On this visit, we saw a box turtle, lots of tree swallows, mallards, geese, and a hawk. In the past, we’ve also spotted egrets, great blue herons, frogs, and foxes. There are short trails on both islands to hike, check out the vegetation, and try to spy wildlife. Some other things to know: Several tables are available in nice spots for a picnic, and a couple of port-a-potties are located along the trail on Kingman Island.

Occasionally, the Anacostia Watershed Society leads explorations of Kingman Island along with boat tours of the river. And some events in their Anacostia River Discovery Series take place at Kingman, too.

Duck, duck…goose!

Kingman & Heritage Islands are accessible from RFK Parking Lot 6 near 575 Oklahoma Avenue NE. It’s open sunrise to sunset, and admission is free.

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Filed under All ages, DC, Educational, Free, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: December 26-30

Checking out some of the Q?rius collection

Checking out some of the Q?rius collection

Monday – Take advantage of The Beauvoir School’s Winter Break and head to their fantastic playground, open to the public when class is not in session. Open all day. Admission is free.

Tuesday – Hit the trail for a hike. It should be a great day for it as the mercury rises a bit. Riverbend Park in Great Falls, Huntley Meadows in Alexandria, and Roosevelt Island are all great for tramping with kids. And this post has even more recommendations for local walks in the woods.

Wednesday – Head up to Baltimore on a Winter Break day off! Learn about the city’s early business days at the Museum of Industry. The Inner Harbor attraction highlights the trades and people that helped build the port city through exhibits that showcase relics from the past and recreate various industry environments. Hours are 10am – 4pm (Tuesday – Sunday). Admission is $12/adult, $7/ages 7-12, free for 6 and under. If you prefer some fresh air, take a tour of Fort McHenry, birthplace of the National Anthem. The park is open 9am – 5pm. Admission is $10/adult, children 15 and under are free.

Thursday – Get Q?rius at the National Museum of Natural History. During winter break, the interactive and experiential learning space 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. It’s recommended for ages 11 and up, but some younger ages could also enjoy it. 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. Hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free.

Friday – Reach new heights of fun at ClimbZone in Laurel, MD. Kids and adults will have a blast scaling the many colorful, whimsically-themed walls at the new indoor climbing center. Hours are 10am – 9pm (10am – 8pm other weekdays). Admission is $25/ages 6 and up, $12/5 and under for a three-hour session.

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Filed under All ages, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Indoor Play, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Virginia, Weekdays, Winter

Where to Play on the Weekdays: September 15-19

A life-size "in the flesh" model of Spinosaurus in the Nat Geo courtyard is a must-see along with the exhibit

See a life-size “in the flesh” model of Spinosaurus in the Nat Geo courtyard along with the exhibit

Crocs, Inc.

Monday – Visit the National Geographic Museum to see the brand new Spinosaurus: Lost Giants of the Cretaceous. All ages can enjoy the exhibit, whether it’s to learn about the discovery of the prehistoric beasts or just to gawk at the colossal skeleton models and real dino fossils. Hours are 10am – 6pm. Admission is $11/adult, $9/senior, $7/ages 5-12, free for 4 and under.

Tuesday – Get a dose of nature and history in one fell swoop, while also enjoying the sublime weather at Roosevelt Island. Hike the easy trails, look out for wildlife, and explore the Memorial Plaza to learn about the legacy of President Theodore Roosevelt. The entrance to the park is located right off the GW Parkway, just past the Roosevelt Bridge. It’s accessible only from the northbound lanes. Hours are 6am – 10pm. Admission is free.

Wednesday – Check out some art at the Corcoran Gallery. Thanks to a recent merger with George Washington University and the National Gallery of Art, admission to the museum is now FREE. Be sure to take the kids upstairs to see the exhibit American Metal: The Art Of Albert Paley, which includes models of incredible metal sculptures of animal scenes that Paley created for the St. Louis Zoo and Cleveland Botanical Garden. Museum hours are 10am – 5pm (Wednesday – Sunday).

Thursday – Play the day away at Anacostia Park. The locale stretching along the Anacostia River in SE DC is full of opportunities for recreation with three playgrounds, including one that’s pirate themed; a skating pavilion; a nature center; tennis courts; and fields for playing ball or tossing a Frisbee. Plus, you can walk, run, or bike along the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail or just find a table or nice spot in the grass to relax, have a picnic, and take in the views. Open dawn to dusk. Admission is free.

Friday – Be among the first audiences to see Rapunzel at The Puppet Co. The marionette version of the classic Grimm’s fairytale is opening at the Glen Echo theatre for a three-week run. Showtimes are 10am and 11:30am. Tickets are $10. Plan to stay at the park after to romp on the playground and go for a spin on the carousel.

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Filed under All ages, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Outdoor, Park, Play, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays