Tag Archives: DC Museums with Kids

Where to Go and What to Do During Spring Break 2024

 

Spring Break has begun in the DC area, so you may be in need of some extra reminders of all the great activities there are to do around the area to keep your kids entertained over the next few weeks — depending on when they’re off from school. And if some of this sounds familiar (including this intro), that’s because a version of this post has been published in many previous years, but it’s been updated to reflect what’s going on now.

Many of the ideas here are already on the blog, but sometimes a little guidance for what’s best at certain times helps. Among these recommendations are special and seasonal activities,  exhibits and shows that are currently running, iconic spots in DC, easy day trips out of the city, and outings that take advantage of the great spring weather.

And, of course, the rest of the blog is full of 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!) happy during the week off — or on, depending how you look at it. Happy Spring Break!

 

 


Special & Seasonal Activities

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Filed under 2024, DC, Spring

Where to Go & What to Do During Winter Break 2023

 

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 trusty 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 Greening train at the US Botanic Garden is always a delight

Season’s Greenings
Where: US Botanic Garden | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Through January 1
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 outside, which never fails to impress and enchant with intricate, imaginative designs. This year’s pollinator theme is adorable, and kids will love seeing model trains chug around sculptures of insects, a lemur, and other creatures. For even more holiday magic at the garden, see it all twinkle as the USBG stays open until 8pm on December 21 & 28.  Get a glimpse of the train, and for more on the seasonal favorite, see this post and this one about some of our Season’s Greenings experiences.

Santa Encounters
Where: Around the DC area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

If you’re still hoping to hang with Santa around DC, you can find him at many places, often along with extra fun and treats. This post has a round-up of places he’ll be for the rest of the season, from free gatherings to special brunches to holiday shows to train rides to classic photo stops at the mall.

Search for Santa’s Critters
Where: Potomac Overlook Park | Arlington, VA
When: December 16-26, 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.

Kwanzaa Party with the Culture Queen
Where: Anacostia Community Museum | Anacostia, DC
When: December 27, 1-3pm
Admission: Free

Join Kwanzaa expert Culture Queen as she teaches your royal children super fun and festive ways to celebrate the seven principles of Kwanzaa through interactive music, crafts, storytelling, games, and the world-famous “Kwanzaa Slide” line dance for which she co-created. This joy-filled Culture Kingdom Kids program is appropriate for all ages; and will leave participants feeling more excited to incorporate Kwanzaa into their family traditions for generations to come.

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.

Night 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 fun and sweet 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

A magical Encanto experience for kids

Disney Encanto x CAMP
Where: Tysons Corner | Tysons, VA
When: Through March
Admission: Starts at $32

The immersive experience inspired by the beloved movie is delivers on the magic for kids!   Tickets are very limited in December, but you might luck out and get them.  If not, then let this be your heads-up to snag them for a 2024 visit — they would make a great holiday gift!

Dopamine Land
Where: Friendship Center | Friendship Heights, DC
When: Through February 11
Admission: $22.50/adult, $16.99/child
This brand new multisensory experience combines media, technology, and play in one place. Bring the kids during the day for an interactive experience that wants everyone to embrace their inner child and explore all the colorful installations.

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, and there are more opportunities to go while kids are off from school.  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.

Back to Natural History
Where: Natural History Museum | National Mall
When: Daily, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free

The National Museum of Natural History is one of DC’s most popular museums, and for good reason: There are exhibits galore that fascinate visitors of all ages, from dinos to insects (and more creatures in between) to geological wonders to human origins to oceanic discoveries. Two special exhibitions are also currently on view — one about cell phones and their connection to the natural world and another about the night sky and light pollution.  [PS: Of course, all the Smithsonians are fantastic and worth a visit… find logistics for all of them here.]

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. 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!

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.

Hot Wheels Champion Experience
Where: Tysons Corner Center | Tysons, VA
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $25-115 (a family pack is also available)

Another exciting immersive experience for kids opens just in time for Winter Break!  The Hot Wheels Champion Experience combines exhilarating digital and hands-on play in a 16,000-square foot interactive environment for all ages. Collect exclusive digital badges, video, and other digital memorabilia across 10 exciting challenges.  Look for a review with more details soon!

Allegre Mente/Happy Brain
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 celebrates loving, playful connections through dance, storytelling, and more.  Set in a whimsical forest full of families of all kinds, both human and animal, is in both English/Spanish exhibit. Of course, plan to explore the rest of the Museum’s exhibits, too — read more about them here.

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.

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!

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.

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.”

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!

 

* Of course, there are the rest of the Smithsonians and National Gallery of Art, which always make for great outings!

 

Must-See DC

Capitol views from the Old Post Office Tower

 

Time for a Tour
Where: Old Post Office Tower | Downtown DC
When: Daily, 9am – 4pm
Admission: Free

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. It’s was kind of a secret for years, but lately has been more on the radar, so there may be a short line to get in, but worth the wait.  This post has info for visiting — be sure to read it for details on accessing the entrance.

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.

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

The festive skating scene at Washington Harbour

Skate the Day (Or Night) 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. Get a good deal on ice skating at Canal Park here!

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

 

* Find even more places for outdoor adventures.

 

 

Show Time

Adventure Theatre’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe will delight!

The Lion, the Witch , and the Wardrobe
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo, MD
When: Through January 7
Tickets: $25

In a two-person version of the classic tale, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy discover a secret portal to a magical world called Narnia. With an evil White Witch ruling the kingdom, can Lucy, her new friend Mr. Tumnus, and her family band together to save this land from the eternal winter?

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).

A Year with Frog and Toad
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: Through January 7
Tickets: $12-44 (look for discount)

A musical celebration of friendship and holiday fun! In this hit Broadway musical, two best friends with opposite personalities wake up from hibernation and enjoy hilarious adventures through the seasons. Light-hearted, with a sprinkle of nostalgia, this show is inspired by the acclaimed children’s books.

Disney’s Frozen
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 20 – January 21
Tickets: $35-185

From the producer of The Lion King and Aladdin, Frozen, the Tony® Award–nominated Best Musical, is now on tour across North America—and the critics rave, “It’s simply magical!” (LA Daily News). Frozen features the songs you know and love from the original Oscar®-winning film, plus an expanded score with a dozen new numbers by the film’s songwriters, Oscar winner Kristen Anderson-Lopez and EGOT winner Robert Lopez. It’s everything you want in a musical: It’s moving. It’s spectacular. And above all, it’s pure Broadway joy.

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.

Snow Maiden
Where: Synetic Theater | Crystal City, VA
When: Through January 6
Tickets: $25-35 (look for discount)

In a frozen silver forest high in the mountains, a lonely boy builds a girl from snow. When she mysteriously comes to life, mischief, laughter, and enchantment abound. But what will happen when the ice begins to melt? Told through Synetic’s signature style of dazzling movement, dance, and acrobatics, this magical take on the beloved folktale Snegurochka is a heart-warming story of love, hope, and the transformative powers of awe and wonder. Snow Maiden comes to life in a 45-minute production set to an enchanting score to get us all in the holiday spirit.

Rocknoceros New Year’s Eve Ball
Where: Jammin’ Java
Tickets: December 31, 11am – 12pm
Admission: $10

Rocknoceros is returning to Jammin Java for their 15th 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.

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.

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.

Skate & Swing (and more)
Where: Kraken | Penn Quarter & Bryant Street, DC
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by activities
Play some pickleball, go roller skating, maybe do some axe throwing, and more at this one-stop shop for all those activities. Note that kids must be at least 13 to wield axes and go in the rage room. Be sure to make reservations!

Great Escape
Where: Escape the Room | Penn Quarter & Downtown, DC
When: Daily, various times
Admission: $35

Bring the whole crew to enjoy a challenge together! Experience a live-action adventure complete with mystery, hidden clues, and puzzles that help you escape dinosaur clones in DC, a spy situation, the depths of the earth, an Old West bank, a submarine, or a pandemic.

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.

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

Investigate insects at the Natural History Museum

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!

Storytime: Rosie Revere, Engineer
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: December 20, 10-11am
Admission: Free

Put on your red bandana and jointhe Hirshhorn a special Storytime. Look at the installation Belief+Doubt by artist Barbara Kruger, participate in a lively read-aloud of Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, and engineer your own work of art!

Winter Solstice Celebration
Where: Temporary Takoma Park Library | Takoma Park, MD
When: December 21, 7-8pm
Admission: Free

The  Rock Creek Morris Women Dancers will delight all ages with their annual solstice dancing! Along with performances, enjoy storytelling and a campfire-themed craft. Refreshments will also be served.

Holiday Stop Hop
Where: Across the DC Metrorail system
When: Through December 22
Admission: Free

WMATA is presenting this first-ever scavenger hunt that takes place across the Metrorail system. Parents and kids aged 4-18 are invited to embark on this festive quest. Here’s how it works: Pick up your free passport through December 22 from Metro Headquarters at 300 7th Street SW. Visit the featured festive stations — 20 are included in the passport book — and pick up a sticker for your passport at each location. Go in any order! Look for a designated Holiday Stop Hop sign, where you can grab a sticker from the take-one rack at the kiosk close by. Once your passport is filled, drop it off at the designated dropbox in the Metro HQ lobby December 22-29 and claim your prize! Three grand prize winners, aged 4-18, will be selected at random to receive a prize pack of exclusive Metro swag.

Holiday Family Activity Series
Where: Library of Congress | Capitol Hill, DC
When: December 27-30
Admission: Free

This will be a good one to keep in mind after when you’re looking for activities with the kids during the school break after Christmas… Join the Library’s Informal Learning Office for a crafting activity to celebrate the holiday season and the coming New Year. Learn about the Library’s holiday collections while you make your own crafts including writing cards, creating countdown chains for upcoming celebrations, and learning how to write thank you letters.

Family Card Making with Habeebah Muhammad
Where: Anacostia Community Museum | Anacostia, DC
When: January 1, 1-3pm
Admission: Free

Join for the last day of Kwanzaa to focus on the principle Imani. Habeebah Muhammad will lead a discussion on the importance of faith in the family. Participants will create and design cards to express what they are thankful for in each family member.

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!

Park it in MoCo
Where: Parks in Montgomery County, MD
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by activity

Montgomery Parks also presents loads of special activities for visitors of all ages, from nature programs to crafts to holiday-inspired fun. Go here for details on what’s happening over the next couple of weeks.

 

 

See Some Sports

See some on-court action!

 

Wizards
Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 15, 26, 27, 29, & 31
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 Indiana Pacers on December 15, Orlando Magic on December 26, Toronto Raptors on December 27, Brooklyn Nets on December 29, and Atlanta Hawks on December 31.

Capitals
Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 20, 23, & 30
Admission: Ticket prices vary 

Hockey fans can see the Caps play a few games. The NY Islanders will be here on December 20, the Tampa Bay Lightning on December 23,  and Nashville Predators on December 30.

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!

Festive Road Trips
Where: Around the region
When: Through the holiday season
Admission: Varies by place
Mix it up with a quick getaway to a festive destination! When you feel like you’ve seen and done it all around DC, or just want to add a little extra magic to the season, road-trip-it to a locations less than three hours away from the DC metro area — and maybe make some fun stops on the way. This post have five suggestions for places to go.

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
* 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
* Created especially for the Covid Winter a few years ago, 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.
* 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 Goldstar.

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Filed under 2023, DC, Maryland, Virginia, Winter

Create & Connect at Planet Word’s FREE Enchanted Pages Community Day, November 18!

Photo by Scott Suchman, courtesy of Planet Word

 

Planet Word’s Schwarzman Family Library is growing, and that’s something to celebrate! In honor of 25 new interactive books being inducted into the magical, interactive Library, Planet Word presents Enchanted Pages Community Day, a free, all-day event featuring book-inspired activities for people of all ages.

On Saturday, November 18, drop in for a bit or stay all day. Explore all three floors of the interactive museum, connect with some of the authors featured in Planet Word’s magical library, and much more!

 

Photo courtesy of Planet Word

 

A DAY OF CREATION
Book-themed activities include DIY bookmaking, a performance by award-winning teaching artist and children’s entertainer Culture Queen, and live art by Chalk R!ot.

 

A DAY OF CONNECTION
Meet some of the children’s and young adult authors whose titles are newly featured in the Planet Word’s Library, including:
* Derrick Barnes, Crown, An Ode to the Fresh Cut
* Michelle Coles, Black was the Ink
* Erin Entrada Kelly, Hello, World
* Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, Your Name is a Song

All authors will be available for book signings (see the full schedule HERE).

 

Photo courtesy of Planet Word

 

A DAY OF DISCOVERY
Afternoon events include Between the Lines with Jason Reynolds and Tony Keith, Jr., a discussion about the art of storytelling, featuring the acclaimed author in conversation with award-winning spoken word artist and educator Dr. Tony Keith, Jr. Reynolds’ award-winning young adult novel Long Way Down is among the original titles featured in the Library. Due to space limitations, free registration is required for this event. 

The day ends with a screening of the documentary film Judy Blume Forever.  Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is among the 25 titles being added to Planet Word’s collection. Due to space limitations, free registration is required for this event. 

 

Watch how Planet Word’s magical library brings stories to life.

 

ABOUT THE SCHWARMAN FAMILY LIBRARY
Located on the second floor of Planet Word, the Schwarzman Family Library is a one-of-a-kind interactive experience that brings beloved books to life. Each of the Library’s books is equipped with a radio-frequency identification chip (RFID) that, when placed on the Library’s Story Table, triggers illustrations, narration, and insights into the book and its author.

 

Enchanted Pages Community Day
Where: Planet Word | 925 13th Street, NW
When: Saturday, November 18, 2023, 10am – 6pm
Admission: FREE

* Advanced registration is encouraged, and due to space limitations, registration is required for events after 4pm. Visit www.planetwordmuseum.org for more information.
* Nearest Metro stations: McPherson Square (Orange/Silver/Blue) & Metro Center (Red/Blue/Silver/Orange).

 

* * * 

 

This post is sponsored by Planet Word, however, I only promote events, places, and programs that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under 2023, DC, Fall, Museums, Weekend

Where to Go and What to Do During Spring Break 2023

Get a whole new view of DC at the CEB Tower

 

Spring Break has begun in the DC area, so you may be in need of some extra reminders of all the great activities there are to do around the area to keep your kids entertained over the next few weeks — depending on when they’re off from school. And if some of this sounds familiar (including this intro), that’s because a version of this post has been published in many previous years, but it’s been updated to reflect what’s going on now.

Many of the ideas here are already on the blog, but sometimes a little guidance for what’s best at certain times helps. Among these recommendations are special and seasonal activities,  exhibits and shows that are currently running, and outings that take advantage of the (usually) great spring weather.

And, of course, the rest of the blog is full of 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!) happy during the week off — or on, depending how you look at it. Happy Spring Break!

 

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Filed under 2023, DC, Maryland, Spring, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

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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