Entranced by the photography at the Natural History Museum
Monday – Head to one of DC’s most tried and true for kids: The National Museum of Natural History. With exhibits to indulge all kinds of interests, you really can’t go wrong. Gawk at the beasts in the Hall of Mammals, view the amazing National Geographic Into Africa photography exhibit, hold live creatures in the Insect Zoo, learn about early humans, see an IMAX film, and so much more. Admission to the museum is free, but films are $9. The museum is open 10am – 5:30pm.
Tuesday – Get a “Taste of Tinkergarten” at a free sample session. The skill-based curriculum for children 18-36 months is designed to help them become well-balanced people who can problem-solve, lead, and create. It’s engaging, memorable, play-based learning, all outdoors. The class begins at 10:30am at Norwood Park in Bethesda. Register in advance here.
Wednesday – Wander the beautiful grounds, play, and relax at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria. Be sure to stop in the Horticultural Center and pick up instructions for a kids’ scavenger hunt to add some extra fun to the outing. Hours are 9am – 4:30pm. Admission is free.
Thursday – Browse the Bilingual Book Fair at Oyster Adams Bilingual School. More than 500 children’s Spanish and bilingual book titles and hundreds of the newest titles in English will be available for purchase in the school cafeteria. Proceeds benefit their primary and secondary library programs. The Fair is open 8am – 8pm November 2-7. The Oyster Campus is located at 2801 Calvert Street NW.
Friday – Go Cruisin’ Around the World with Rainbow Puppet Productions at the National Air & Space Museum. This puppet show is based on the absolutely true tale of the pilots of the Douglas World Cruisers, who were the first to circle the globe. After the performance, see one of the original planes that made the expedition on display right in the Museum. Tour even more of the awe-inspiring collections while you’re there. Performances are at 10:30am and 11:45am. Museum hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free.
Monday –Celebrate fall in the city at the Ronald Reagan Building, where all this week there will seasonal fun on the Woodrow Wilson Plaza. Enjoy hay bale mazes, face painting, hot cider, pumpkin displays, and a Dia De Los Muertos/Day of the Dead sugar skull coloring table — all for free! The event runs 12-2pm daily through October 30.
Wednesday – Venture up to Baltimore for Wonderful Wednesday at Port Discovery. Designed for children from ages birth through 6 years to develop early learning skills, guests can participate in special art, music, and literacy programs. It all starts at 10:30am, and museum hours are 9:30am – 4:30pm. Admission is $14.95 for ages 2 and up (free for under 2).
Thursday – Take your little people to see the little trees in their brilliant autumnal colors at the National Arboretum. Autumn Bonsai: The Colors of Nature is a neat showcase of plant artistry and nature, and the miniature masterpieces glow with seasonal hues. Be sure to tour the big trees around the rest of the National Arb while you’re there – it’s easily one of the best places in the city to do some leaf peeping.
Friday – Play the day away at Clemyjontri, the brilliantly colored, sprawling playground in McLean that accommodates kids of all abilities. Hours are 7am to dusk, and admission is free. Later on, start your Halloween celebration early at Mount Vernon, where they’re hosting fun, spooktacular activities from 3:30-6:30pm. Admission is $10/adult, $5/child.
Enjoy Halloween-themed storytime at the National Archives this week
Monday – Head out to Dulles for Air & Space exploration beyond the District. The Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center showcases flight artifacts they can’t fit into the museum on the Mall. See all kinds of air and space crafts, pretend to pilot in a flight simulator, get hands-on in a discovery station, and much more. Hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free, but parking is $15. In the evening, catch a one-night-only performance of ADVENTURES, a blend of traditional and experimental techniques of clowning, physical comedy, and puppetry to create a fantastic journey for all ages. The 35-minute show will take place at 7pm at Source Theatre (14th & T Streets NW) — it’s Pay-What-You-Can and no reservations are required.
Tuesday – Take advantage of the sublime autumn weather and go geocaching. It’s like a scavenger hunt, and a great way to enjoy the outdoors with a little adventure. Even better, you can pick and choose where and when you want to do it. This KFDC post has all the info you need to get started.
Wednesday – Bring little ones to Story Time at the National Archives. Designed for children ages 3-5, guests can listen to tales about Halloween in the White House, participate in group activities, and create a craft. The session runs 10-11am in the Boeing Learning Center. After, check out more of the museum while you’re there. Hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission to the museum and story time are free.
Thursday – Play, picnic, and enjoy the surrounding scenery at Hains Point. Drive all the way down, almost to the tip, to reach the playgrounds. They’re set amid a large grassy area with picnic tables and bathrooms right there, too. And the spot offers great views of the rivers and airplanes taking off and landing at DCA. Admission is free.
Friday – Get a nature fix, indoors and out, at Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington. Peek inside terrariums for a close look at snakes, turtles, frogs, and toads, and see fish swim in a small indoor pond. Continue your viewing outdoors at a larger pond and hike the nearby trails to enjoy the fall foliage. Hours are 10am – 5pm (Tuesday – Saturday, 1-5pm Sunday), and admission is free.
Some of the fancy wings at Brookside Garden’s butterfly exhibit
Tuesday – Head to the National Building Museum for play time in the Building Zone ($3/person) and the PLAY WORK BUILD exhibit ($10/adult, $7/child). Make time to hang out in the Great Hall, a magnificent space perfect for an indoor picnic (BYO or buy a bite at the Firehook Bakery there). Museum hours are 10am – 5pm. Exhibit admission is free for NBM members.
Wednesday – Learn about the area’s wildlife, enjoy hands-on activities in the Nature Center, see the night sky, take a hike, and visit horses at Rock Creek Park. The Nature Center is open Wednesday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm, and admission is free. If you’re keen on seeing stars, there’s a planetarium show at 4pm. You can also visit the equine residents at the nearby Horse Center for free (pony rides are not offered on weekdays this time of year).
Thursday – Savor the great autumn weather as you go memorial hopping on the National Mall and around the Tidal Bason. The Lincoln, Jefferson, FDR, & MLK Memorials make for a nice walking tour and history lesson. You can also go in (and up!) the Washington Monument to take in some of the best views of DC — it’s open 9am – 5pm, and tickets are free day-of (get there early to make sure you get them). In the evening, enjoy some early Halloween fun at Frying Pan Farm Park’s annual Boo-Stravaganza for children ages 3-8. The event run 6-8pm. Admission is $10/child.
Friday – Walk amid a butterfly haven at Brookside Garden’s amazing Wings of Fancy exhibit while it’s still open through October 25. Plan to tour the rest of Brookside’s lovely grounds while you’re there. The exhibit is open 10am – 4pm. Admission is $8/ages 13 and up, $5/ages 3-12, free for 2 and under. The park is open sunrise – sunset, and admission is free. For more about the exhibit and Brookside, read about a KFDC experience there.
Go postal in a good way with Story Time and interesting exhibits, all in a beautiful space
Monday – Enjoy Story Time at the National Postal Museum, the monthly program that includes a book reading, plus other activities for little ones in the museum’s education space. Sessions take place at 10:30am and 11am. Stay after to explore the rest of the museum — it’s full of interactive exhibits that appeal to all ages. Read more about them in this KFDC post. Admission is free.
Tuesday – Get a unique dose of nature in the city at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Go on a nature walk among the ponds and marsh areas filled with giant lily pads and other interesting water plants. Look for geese, egrets, great blue herons, turtles, frogs, and small fish on the way. Hours are 9am – 5pm this time of year. Admission is free.
Wednesday – Play the day away amid the lovely wooded setting of Cabin John Regional Park. Kids can climb, swing, jump, slide, and run on the sprawling Adventure Playland. The Miniature Train is only open on weekends for Halloween rides starting this Saturday, but the playground alone has plenty to keep children happy. Bring along food for a picnic — there are several tables to eat on, or you can spread out a blanket in a nearby grassy area. Admission is free.
Friday – Visit a fall festival! Weekdays are a great time to go when the crowds thin out (it’s also a nice activity for the DCPS day off). Several farms are offering amusement during the week — Great Country, Ticonderoga, Summers, Clark’s Elioak, and Cox among them. The guide to autumn fun has details.