As you’re making plans for the holiday season, here’s one to include on your family’s agenda: Adventure Theatre’s unique production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Opening November 17 and running through January 7, the show is sure to delight audiences of all ages!
In this 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?
The kids and I saw Adventure Theatre’s magical version of the show several years ago, and I’ve been told it’s the same, just with different actors. We loved it then — you can read my review of it here.
Giveaway: For a chance to win the Family 4-Pack of Tickets to see The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at Adventure Theatre, simply leave a comment below telling me what tops your (or your kid’s) holiday gift wish list. Get an extra chance to win by entering on the KFDC Facebook Page, too. This giveaway will run through Tuesday, November 14, 2023, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!
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This post is sponsored by Adventure Theatre, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.
The season may not be official on the calendar yet, but summer fun has begun around the DC area! Spray parks are open, outdoor movies are being screened, temps are warm enough for beach days, carousels are spinning, local sports are in full swing, exhibits are opening, crab feasts are being served, and more seasonal experiences are underway. Even better, there’s still much more to come! This annual guide, that I’ve been putting together in this version for 10 years, has all the info and inspiration you need to make the most of the season…starting now! Happy Summer!
Kids can run through fountains and splash around at many of them around the area. Several are within the DC, MD, & VA Departments of Parks and Recreation, but some of the best are built right into the urban landscape, making the concrete jungle a cool place to hang out during the hottest months. Dates are TBD at some, but look for updates soon!
Canal Park in the Navy Yard is great for kids of varying ages with both a gentle, shallow fountain that is ideal for really little ones to enjoy, plus a bigger fountain with lots of sprays for more enthusiastic play where the ice rink is in the winter.
The Wharf in Southwest DC has a nice in-ground fountain that opens before other nearby fountains and stay open longer. Kids can run through water shooting up from jets, play in mist spraying up in the center, and ride on waterproof rocking horses within all of it, all with the beautiful waterfront area as a backdrop.
DC DPR Spray Parks opened 16 locations early on May 15 — they will be open daily from 12-4pm. All of the spray park will be open full hours starting Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 27, through September 4, 10am – 8pm. Be sure to view the list, as open days vary by location. See all of the locations throughout the city on this map on the DPR website.
Yards Park in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood is a favorite for water play in the city, with two levels featuring Dancing Fountains up top and the Canal Basin and Waterfall below, plus a great scenic location on the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard. Grassy areas for hanging out and lots of nearby eateries make it a perfect place to spend a summer day. Read more about the water features at The Yards here.
Georgetown Waterfront Park, right next to the Washington Harbour, has a fountain with arcing sprays that makes for a fun, refreshing way to cool off on a hot, summer day. The rest of the park’s pretty green space along the Potomac is a nice, relaxing place to hang out, too.
Our Special Harbor at Lee District Recreation Area in Alexandria gets raves for its Chesapeake-Bay themed sprayground complete with a spraying osprey nest, Chessie the sea serpent, misting sunflowers, and a lighthouse. Open weekends Memorial Day – June 16, then daily June 17 – August 18, then only weekends again through September 4.
Potomac Yard Park, among the many city of Alexandria parks, has an interactive in-ground fountain that kids can play in — along with a couple of playgrounds and many other recreational features. Even better, you can plan to do some shopping at the nearby Target and other big stores while you’re out that way. Opens Memorial Day Weekend, 10am – 9pm daily through Labor Day, then 10am – 8pm through mid-October.
There’s an in-ground fountain on Capitol Hill at the C Street Plaza right across from Eastern Market. On most weekday afternoons during summer, there’s a small crowd of little ones playing in the gentle sprays.
OUTDOOR POOL SEASON
That first jump into summer fun
Nothing says summer like swimming under the sun. There are plenty of public pools in the area where you can jump in for free or a small admission fee, plus a few other options for a nice pool day.
DC outdoor public pools will open on Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 27. They’ll operate on a weekend-only schedule (Saturday & Sunday) through June 25. Starting Monday, June 26, all outdoor pools will operate on individual summer schedules, six days a week. Days and hours vary from pool to pool so be sure to check schedules before you go.
For outdoor swimming outside of the city, Montgomery County outdoor public pools will open May 27 through Labor Day — the Department of Recreation website has locations and hours.
In Northern Virginia, there are several waterparks (see below) in Arlington with outdoor pools and much more for guests to enjoy, and the city of Alexandria has three outdoor public pools: Memorial Pool at Charles Houston Rec Center open June 17 – August 20 and Old Town Pool and Warwick Pool are open May 27 – September 4. Hours vary by days, so be sure to view details for all of them.
Swimply, a service that started a few years ago, lets you search for private pools to rent. You can find pools at residences all over and pay to use them by the hour.
It’s a bit of a splurge, but if you want to enjoy a day at a nice hotel pool, the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Woodley Park offers Day Passes for $75/adult and kids with them are free. Purchase here.
Beach day at Calvert Cliffs State Park
Summer and beach trips go hand-in-hand, so why not hit one with the kids? There are a bunch of places where you can get a good dose of sand and surf that are within day trip distance from DC.
Calvert Cliffs State Park in Calvert County is known as a fossil hunting locale — as its cliffs erode, prehistoric remains of marine life are revealed — but it’s even better for beach fun, swimming, and hiking. To access the beach, you have to hike a couple of miles through woods (and there are even more trails if you’re up for it), but the walk is worth it for a dose of quintessential summer fun. Open daily sunrise – sunset, and admission is $8/vehicle.
Flag Ponds Nature Park, also in Calvert County, has a large sandy beach for playing and nice mellow waters for swimming. It’s also a great spot for fossil hunting — look for shark teeth and other prehistoric remnants along the shores while you’re there, too. Hours are 9am – 6pm on weekdays and 9am – 8pm weekends from Memorial to Labor Day (days/hours are reduced the rest of the year). Admission is $8/car. Be sure to read more about Flag Ponds for tips and get a glimpse here and here
Sandy Point State Park inAnnapolis offers striking views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge along with loads of beach fun. At nearly 800 acres, it’s a big park with lots of recreational opportunities — swimming, picnicking, fishing, crabbing, hiking, and more. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, there are lifeguards on duty. And snack food and beach and picnic supplies are available. Hours are 6am – sunset. From May 1 through September, admission is $5/Maryland resident, $5/person weekends, and $4/person weekdays.
The Purse Area within the Nanjemoy Wildlife Management Area in Charles County, MD, is best if your main purpose is fossil hunting — it’s a great place to go for it — and you want to get in some “beach” time, too. The beach is narrow, and you’re on a river, but you still get to enjoy sand and water. Wear swimsuits, bring a picnic, and be sure to check the tide table so you can make the most of your time there. Open sunrise to sunset, and admission is free.
Mayo Beach Park in Anne Arundel County, MD, is open for swimming in summer to enjoy some sand and surf. Passes to access the beach park must be reserved in advance. Be aware of other beach rules like no grills or dogs allowed. Open Memorial Day – Labor Day on Friday 4-7pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am – 7pm.
Greenbrier State Park, just over an hour’s drive from DC in Boonsboro, MD, has a beach area on a man-made freshwater lake, where visitors can swim, paddle, boat, and fish. Swimming is only allowed from May through September in designated areas when swim ropes are in place, with lifeguards there Memorial Day to Labor Day, 11am – 6pm.
Lake Anna State Park in Spotsylvania, MD, is popular for weekend-long trips, but also good as a day trip destination, being less than two hours’ drive from DC. It’s especially great with little ones, since it’s very organized with a designated beach/swim area, lifeguards, a bathhouse for changing and restrooms, and a snack bar — all from Memorial Day to Labor Day (for the most part… the snack bar and bathhouse times will change starting August 11 due to renovations). Hours are 10am – 7pm weekends and holidays, 10am – 6pm weekdays May 27 – August 9. Admission is$7/weekdays per vehicle, $10/weekends.
Cape Henlopen State Park is a little over two hours from DC in Lewes, DE, but definitely doable as a day trip if you leave early, especially on a weekday when there is less traffic. We’ve done this and have had a fantastic day at the beach — packed up the car with a cooler and beach gear, got on the road early, and we were on the beach by 10:30am. Enjoyed dinner outdoors and ice cream in town before heading back, arrived home at 9:15pm. Totally worth the time in the car. Open daily, 8am – sunset, and admission is $8-10/vehicle. Get a glimpse here.
They may not all be beaches, but this round-up of swim spots has a bunch more recommendations for places to take a dip around DC within day trip distance.
Make splash at Soak City in Kings Dominion
Giant water slides, wave pools, waterfalls, sprays and splash pads…this is the stuff kids’ summer dreams are made of. There are some great water parks around the area offering many of these attractions, just about all of them opening Memorial Day weekend for limited hours, until they open daily a few weeks later. Here’s a quick list — visit the websites for more details.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy a film outdoors at the Union Market Drive-in
Outdoor movies have become a DC summer tradition in the last few years with films al fresco in several neighborhoods. Even better, many of them are FREE! (*Before you make plans to enjoy any of the series, be sure to check schedules, as some movies may not be appropriate for children.)
Catch a flick on the big screen from the comfort of your car at the Union Market Drive-In Series, occurring bi-monthly on Fridays through July 21, with mostly family-friendly films. Get there as early as 6pm and have a bite to eat in the Market or bring food back to your car. Film start times vary, so be sure to check on that. Admission is $20/car, free for walk-ins. Advance purchase is recommended.
National Harbor’s Movies on the Potomac series is back through the September 28.Every Sunday (family night) at 6pm and Thursday (date night) at 7pm, guests can see a free film on the big outdoor Plaza Screen right on the waterfront. .Pack your chairs, grab food to go from one of the many eateries, and meet at the Plaza’s big screen for a FREE evening of fun and entertainment.
CiNOMAtic, the NoMa BID’s outdoor movie series at Alethia Tanner Park is will screen “Villains We Love” films Wednesdays at sunset through June 7.
Adams Morgan Movie Nights is back with free movies on Tuesday evenings from May 23 – June 27 with all comedies to ensure some summer laughs. Even more, each Movie Night will kick off with a stand-up feature from a local comedian before the movie begins! The program runs 8-11pm at Marie Reed Recreation Center’s soccer field (18th & California St, NW). Restaurants in the neighborhood will be offering special takeout meals that attendees can bring to the field.
Family Movies Nights take place on The Plaza at Tysons Corner Center each month: May 26: Moana, June 30: E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, July 28: Boss Baby: The Family Business, August 18: Matilda. They are free, and programming runs from 7-10pm.
Audi Field will transform into an outdoor cinema as Movies on the Pitch shows four films on the stadium’s jumbotron screen — May 18, June 22, July 6, August 24, and September 7 — all of them family-friendly.
At the Navy Memorial Plaza (7th & Pennsylvania Ave NW) catch Movies on the Memorialon Thursday evenings through October 12. The series of Navy-themed films started in April and pays tribute to our rich maritime heritage.
Golden Triangle BID will host GLDN+ CINEMA on Thursdays in Farragut Square (17th & K, NW). The family-friendly films begin at sunset. Dates TBA.
Join the Rosslyn BID this summer for the Rosslyn Cinema Series to enjoy your favorite movies on the lawn in Gateway Parkon Fridays in June!
Cinematery, this year themed “Tim Burton’s Summer of Sureal” will take place monthly at Congressional Cemetery on Capitol Hill, on June 2, July 7, August 4, and September 1.
The Library of Congress will host its sixth annual Summer Movies on the Lawn on Thursday evenings from July 7 – August 3. Films will begin at sundown on the southeast lawn of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building. Music will be presented prior to each film, with live performances on July 6, July 20 and Aug. 3.
Films at the Stone hosts monthly screenings on Fridays, June 16, July 21, & August 25 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.
Georgetown Sunset Cinema presets movies on Tuesdays in the lovely Georgetown Waterfront Park, with the panoramic backdrop of the sunset, Potomac River, Kennedy Center, and Key Bridge. Free and open to all. 2023 dates TBA.
Catch a summer concert at an iconic DC spot
Free music in the fresh air has become a staple of the season, and there are opportunities to enjoy just about every genre regularly at outdoor venues all around the DC-Metro.
The Bethesda Summer Concert Series’ Friday Night Streetery Concerts will run Fridays, 6-8pm, from May 19 – September 15. Enjoy music, food, and fun at the corner of Norfolk & St. Elmo Avenues.
Jazz in the Garden, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden’s free concert series, is back. Experience live music amid art at every Friday from 6–8:30pm starting May 29, and there will be weekly shows through August 4. Spread out a blanket, pack a picnic dinner or purchase food and drinks there, and enjoy the sounds of a variety of jazz artists. Note: Adult drinks are available from the pavilion; BYO alcohol is not permitted. NOTE: New this year is a lottery system! Each concert has its own lottery, which opens the week prior on Monday at 10am and closes that Friday at noon. Results will be emailed to all entrants the week of the concert on Monday at 110am. Registration is required for all ages 2+.
Rock the Dock at The Wharf on Transit Pier every Wednesday evening at 7pm from May 31 – August 30. R&B, Americana, Motown, Jazz, Reggae, Go-go, Country, and your favorite pop covers will be among the sounds you can hear, all for free. There’s much more to enjoy on the Southwest Waterfront — read about it here.
The U.S. Navy Band is bringing back Concerts at the Capitol, performances on the west steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, on most Mondays, June 12 – August 28 at 8pm. All performances are free and open to the public.
Glen Echo Park’s 2023 Summer Concerts Series presents free live music in the historic Bumper Car Pavilion on Thursdays at 7:30pm from June 15 – August 24. featuring a variety of local bands and musical genres, from country to reggae, swing to Latin jazz, African to Cajun and blues.
Friday Night Concerts at Yards Park will be back for the 13th season from June 16 – August 24! The series will feature performances by popular local artists with cold beverages and food available for purchase, lots of grassy space for hanging out, and the water features for kids to play in nearby to make it a bigger family evening out.
Rockville Town Square is bringing back its Summer on the Square concert series.Enjoy live music on Friday,s 6:30-8pm, fro June 16 – August 25.
Tysons Corner Center presents a Summer Concert Seriesas part of their Summer on the Plaza activities. Bring your dancing shoes and enjoy live music from 7-9pm on June 17, July 15, and August 19.
Enjoy music Live from the Lawn at Strathmore on Wednesday evenings from July 5 – August 16. (They also have Cool Concerts for Kids on select Thursdays!)
Starting June 2 through August 26, enjoy music in Northern Virginia parks! The Fairfax County Park Authority presents their Summer Entertainment Series, a summer-long calendar of family-friendly shows, and concerts in local parks. Bring a picnic dinner, blankets, and lawn chairs to enjoy the best local and regional entertainers. There are many shows throughout the summer, so view the schedule here.
The Kennedy’s Center’s Millennium Stage continues to present free live performances on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 6pm, occasionally outside on The REACH plaza. While you’re there, plan for time to hang out at Victura Park and food and drinks, too.
NaLa Fridays at the Park will bring live music and food trucks to Long Bridge Park at National Landing (formerly Crystal City, VA) on Fridays during the summer. The concert schedule is TBA.
FESTIVALS & SPECIAL EVENTS
Kids always dig the big Truck Touch
Several stand-out events are anticipated around the area this time of year, celebrating everything from music to art & culture to neighborhoods to food. There are also a few smaller happenings to plan for in advance.
The 41st Annual Washington Folk Festival at Glen Echo Park June 3-4 showcases the diversity of traditional music in Washington. All of the artists hail from the DC area, but cultures from around the nation, as well as the world, will be represented through music, dance, crafts, and stories. The free festival that is renowned in the folk community and the public is welcome to enjoy it.
Sound Scene, an interactive sound and multi-sensory arts festival, will be back at the Hirshhorn June 3-4. The free, all-ages celebration of sonic and sensory arts will feature artists from DC and around the world. With a theme of “After The End?” visitors can explore various concepts and issues through interactive art installations, live performances, and small group workshops.
Celebrate Capital Pride during the month of June, especially June 10-11 at the annual parade and festival that culminates a week of gay pride events around the city. The Saturday parade is always a spectacular extravaganza of ornate floats, street performers, music and dancing, glitter and beads, and plenty of reveling. Sunday’s family-friendly festival, on Pennsylvania Avenue from 3rd to 7th Streets NW, features several stages of live entertainment, hundreds of exhibitors, and activities for all ages. It’s all a fun and fabulous opportunity to show support for the LGBTAQ community and join the celebration.
Awesome Con, the Mid-Atlantic’s premier pop culture convention, takes place June 16-18 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, celebrating all aspects of geekdom and pop culture with a wide assortment of engaging events, comic books, collectibles, toys, games, original art, cosplay and more.
Attend one of the biggest summer barbeques around June 24-25 as the National Capital Barbeque Battle returns to pit some of the nation’s best barbequers against each other as they compete for big prizes. The reward for attendees: Samples from all the entrants (plus, more food), live music, cooking demos, kids’ fun, and more.
The Smithsonian Folklife Festival will take place this year June 29 – July 4 and July 6-9. Every summer (well, except during Covid), the National Mall becomes stomping grounds of folks from around the globe to celebrate living cultural heritage and community traditions at the annual event. Celebrating the Ozarks and Living Religions in the US this year, get ready for all kinds exhibits, demonstrations, live performances, talks, food, markets, and much more!
Independence Day in DC is a pretty big deal, the city being the nation’s capital and all, so the annual July 4th celebrations are significant. It starts with the National Independence Day Paradedown Constitution Avenue, then the A Capitol Fourth concert at the U.S. Capitol, and fireworks launched from both sides of the Lincoln Memorial.
The lotus and water lilies in full bloom at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are such a ravishing sight it calls for a celebration. Along with the spectacular display of flowers, the annual Lotus & Water Lily Festival offers more ways to appreciate the flowers and park. This year the festival will take place over a couple of weekends, from July 15-22. View scenes from a previous bloom here.
The Hip Hop Block Party at the National Museum of African American History & Culture was so successful in its inaugural event last year, it’s returning this summer on August 12. Details have yet to be announced, but tickets went fast last year, so be ready to snag them!
It might run into fall, but it starts August 26, so the Maryland Renaissance Festival counts among the summer fun. Plus, if you’ve been reading KFDC while then you know it’s one of my very, very favorite annual events. (More confirmation on that here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.) I take a lot of pride in the number of people I have turned into Ren Fest believers. So, go! I promise, it is the absolute best. (PS: I shared these tips last year, and they’ll be very helpful again.)
Find fairy houses in the woods at Annmarie Sculpture Garden
Extraordinary installations, lovely annual exhibits, and kids’ programs during the school break are some of the special experiences at our museums and galleries to take take advantage of over the summer.
The National Children’s Museum will welcome the Curious George: Let’s Get Curious! exhibit to its Visiting Exhibit Hall, where children can explore math, science, and engineering concepts in interactive experiences inspired by the classic stories and television series. Its’ recommended for ages 3-7, and there will be a celebration of the exhibit’s opening on Saturday, May 27, with a day of special offerings, including a special story time, scavenger hunt, and tinkering activity.
On May 27, the National Building Museum will debut Brick City. Visitors can take a world tour of iconic architecture, all carefully recreated from LEGO bricks. See lively streetscapes from Cartagena, Columbia; Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans; intricate temples from India to Mexico; imaginative castles from medieval Japan to modern Las Vegas, and more. Museum hours are Thursday through Monday, 10am – 4pm, and admission is $10/adult, $7/age 3-17.
One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection is still on view through July 16. While it’s not exclusively a summer exhibit, it’s a good one to catch during the season as kids are out of school, so there are more opportunities to take them. Two infinity rooms, the yellow and black polka dot Pumpkin, and more artwork and elements about Kusama’s life are interesting, beautiful, and kinda trippy to experience.
In the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden, Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree for Washington, DC, is an annual exhibit. Through the summer, the public is welcome to write wishes on small cards and tie them to the tree’s branches. They’re collected regularly, then sent to Ono’s “Imagine Peace Tower” in Reykjavik, Iceland. Get a glimpse of past one here.
National Building Museum’s Summer Block Party started with indoor mini-golf, after that it was a giant maze, then came the super awesome Beach, followed by Icebergs, then Hive buzzed in, a couple of years ago we played in the Fun House, in 2019 we hung out on the LAWN, and last year The Playhouse celebrated Shakespeare. This summer LOOK HEREwill “transform the Museum’s Great Hall with an elegant and provocative new installation.” More details to come, but it will be open July 1 through Labor Day.
Throughout July, the beloved BubbleWorks will return to CityCenterDC. The immersive installation in The Plaza surrounds guests in a fantasy world of bubbles and lively music at the top of every hour Sunday – Thursday, 1-7pm and Friday – Saturday 1-8pm.
Annmarie Sculpture Garden is enchanting any time of year, but it’s especially so in the summer when the fairy and gnome houses are on display. The adorable collection of little whimsical abodes for spritely creatures are just fantastic to view and find throughout the grounds. Created by all ages, individuals and groups, each one has a different theme, but together they are a brilliant showcase of imagination and craftiness. Read more about it and view scenes from a past exhibit here and here.
During the warm months, little ones can flex their green thumbs in the outdoor Children’s Garden at the U.S. Botanic Garden. Renovated a few years ago, the adorable outdoor area features dirt to dig in, plants to tend to, and a cute play structure to romp in. The rest of the USBG is great to explore, too!
SPECIAL ENTERTAINMENT & PROGRAMS
You can’t beat the lovely outdoor setting of Wolf Trap’s Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods
From super cheap movies in local theaters to stay cool on hot days to live theatre at fun places, there are some great ways to keep kiddos entertained all season long.
The Regal Summer Movie Express presents flicks for kids on many Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10am from late May 24 through early September 7. Admission is just $2! Be sure to check the website for the film schedule and theater locations, as it doesn’t run at all theaters every week — this year’s program details should be available soon!
National Harboris hosting a free Kids Day on the Plaza every Tuesday at 10:30am at the waterfront plaza stage. The fun Tuesday mornings will run June 6 – August 29. Enjoy summer sunshine and cool river breezes along with a rotation of family-friendly activities.
After being on hiatus for the past year, the beloved Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo Park will be back in action, presenting the show The Fisherman and His Wife from June 8 – July 20!
The National Postal Museum is presenting a special Guest Artist Serieson select dates from June 28 – August 30. Join the museum and artist John Parra, both virtually and in person, as they examine a collection of themes illustrated in his original stamp designs and illustrations through hands-on activities for all ages.
Millennium Stage Films is presenting several family movies — Hugo on June 9, The Iron Giant on June 30, Fantastic Mr. Fox on July 21 — all of them are FREE and will be screened at 8pm outside on the wall of The REACH.
Discovery Theater in the Ripley Center on the National Mall just reopened its doors (and stage) this spring after curtains closed for Covid — and they have programming for kids through July. View the full schedule!
Throughout summer on select dates from June 13 – August 12, Montgomery Parks is hosting Parks Playhouse Junior, an entrainment series for kids featuring live puppet shows, sing-alongs, and music lessons by performers that will keep kids moving and grooving, engaged, and informed. (FYI: There is also Parks Playhouse that caters more toward adults — see the schedulefor dates and locations.
From June 20 through August 5, Wolf Trap presents the fantasticChildren’s Theater-in-the-Woods, over 70 family-friendly performances at 10am Tuesdays through Saturdays. Amidst 117 rolling wooded acres and nestled in a shady grove, the stage is set for lively adventures in music, dance, storytelling, puppetry, and theater. All of the productions are recommended for children between Kindergarten and 6th grade, though I think kids even younger can enjoy them, too (mine did!). Read a KFDC review of the series from a past summer (it’s an old one, but still relevant!)
Starting mid-June, Arts in the Parks, Fairfax County Park Authority will present a free children’s entertainment series on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10am. Locations vary — catch shows at Burke Lake Park, Frying Pan Farm Park, EC Lawrence Amphitheater, Mason District, and Waterfield Park.
The Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse is back and offering fun $1 films for kids every Wednesday from June 19 – August 10. Check the schedule to see what’s playing at a theater near you!
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, with locations in NoMa, Loudoun and Woodbridge, welcomes families to Kids Camp, a movie series that is inexpensive ($5) and benefits local charities, to boot.
The Broadway musical production of The Lion King is coming to the Kennedy center June 22- 29.
The Bethesda Summer Concert Series is presenting Concerts for Kids for the first time. Enjoy the free shows on Friday morning from June 30 – July 21 at the corner ofNorfolk & St. Elmo Avenues in Bethesda.
UniverSoul Circus, the world-class, live entertainment attraction is coming back to National Harbor June 30 – late July. The production celebrates the unique and familiar aspects of global cultures and ethnicities, blending circus arts, theater, and music — a fresh, cool, and hip approach to live family entertainment! Tickets start at $27.50.
Olney Outdoors is back! Olney Theatre presents over 25 summer programs to be held on the newly renovated Root Family Stage at Omi’s Pavilion, this summer from July 7 – September 3.
See a Shakespeare play in the park! The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company presents its annual Shakespeare in the Ruins at the picturesque Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park in Ellicott City, MD. Macbeth will run June 16 – July 23. Tickets are $65/adult, $33/age 19-25, and one kid is free with every adult. Bring along a picnic to enjoy as you watch the play — there are no food vendors, but you can BYO fare, beer, and wine.
Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual Free For All will, hopefully, return this summer. The Washington tradition offers free performances of a Shakespearean classic to the public, with tickets available through an online lottery or a limited number given out day-of. Look for more info about it soon!
MINI TRAINS, MINI GOLF, CAROUSELS, & A FERRIS WHEEL!
Go for a spin on the beautiful Dentzel Carousel at Glen Echo Park
These extra delights bring even more fun to several parks around the area that are already great outdoor places to hang with the kids.
Watkins Regional Park opened its Antique Carousel and Mini Golf (the Miniature Train is not open as it’s undergoing a restoration) on a limited schedule in early May, but come Memorial Day weekend, they can be enjoyed for extended hours almost every day of the week. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10am – 7pm; Sundays 12–5 pm, closed Mondays except May 29 (Memorial Day), July 4 (closes at 4pm) & September 4(Labor Day). This along with all of the other fun features — Nature Center, Old Maryland Farm, and Wizard of Oz Playground!
Cabin John Regional Park opened its Miniature Train on weekends only in early May, and will run on weekends through September 10am – 6pm. Rides are $3.50. Plan to spend time at the wonderful Cabin John playground, too — read more about it here.
The Miniature Train and Ovid Hazen Wells Carousel at Wheaton Regional Park started taking guests for spins in early April on weekends and will be open through the summer. After Memorial Day, it’s open Thursday – Sunday, but hours vary, so be sure to check the website.. Rides are $3.50. Plan to stay and play at the super fun Wheaton playground — read more about it here.
At Glen Echo Park, the beautiful historic Dentzel Carousel is celebrating its 102nd season! Plan to go for a spin before or after a show at Adventure Theatre or The Puppet Co. From late April through August 27, it’s open Wednesday – Friday 10am – 2pm, and Saturday and Sunday 11am – 5pm. Tickets are $2/ride, $5/all-day pass.
The Clemyjontri carousel in McLean, VA, will be offering rides daily starting May 29 on weekdays 9:30am – 1pm and weekends 9:30am – 6:30pm. (Until then only on weekends) Cost is $3.50/weekdays, $4.50/weekends & holidays. Read more about Clemyjontri here.
National Harbor offers a couple of ways to go for a spin. Kind of like a London Eye of the U.S., The Capital Wheel is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of DC. The 42-gondola ride (all closed and climate-controlled with room for 8) soars 180 feet above the Potomac River waterfront, offering vistas of the White House and Capitol, the National Mall, Arlington Cemetery, and more amazing sites. Ticket prices are $17/age 13+, $13.50/12 & under. For an on-ground whirl, The Carouselfeatures a herd of whimsical creatures and the sparkling Potomac as a backdrop. It’s $7/ rider, and they can ride an unlimited number of times. Read about both rides and more National Harbor fun here.
Burke Lake Park’s Mini Train, Carousel, and Mini Golf are open daily from Memorial Day – Labor Day. The train 11am – 5:45pm, the carousel 11am -5:30pm, and mini golf 11am – 8pm (last play 7pm). The park is free to access for Fairfax county residents. For non-county residents, the park is free on weekdays and has a $10 entrance fee on weekends/holidays for a car or large capacity van. Carousel rides are $3.50-4.50, train rides are $4.50-5.50, mini golf is $7-9. See more about the park here.
Play Mini Golf in the District at East Potomac Park. (Fun fact: It’s on the National Register of Historic Places listed as the oldest continually operating miniature golf course in the country!) Open Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 8pm. Admission is $6/kids and seniors, $7/adults. Read more about hanging out at East Potomac Park’s Hains Point. (FYI: You can also play Foot Golf there!)
Tee up at several NoVa Parks that have mini golf courses.Cameron Run, Upton Hill, Pohick Bay, and Algonkian Regional Parks all welcome guests to putt around. Cost is $5/age 12 & under, $7/13+. Check websites for hours at each park.
Lee District Family Rec Area in Alexandria offers ides on its Chesapeake Bay-themed carousel. Open daily May 29 – August 19 (and weekends until May 28 and August 20 – October 29) — hours are 11am – 6pm Monday/Tuesday/Thursday, 11am – 5pm Wednesday, and 9am – 6pm Saturday/Sunday. Cost is $3.50 per ride on Fridays, $4.40 per ride weekends & holidays.
Show your Spirit for women’s soccer!
Some of the season’s best action takes place in ballparks, stadiums, and arenas thanks to our local sports teams. Here’s where you can join the fan clubs.
A day at Nationals Park is all it takes to understand why baseball is America’s favorite pastime. Our family always enjoys catching a Nats game on a nice summer (or spring) day (or evening), anyway. The excitement extends well beyond the diamond with games and activities in the park, a playground for kids, the Racing Presidents, fun in the stands, and more. Before you go, check out these tips on doing a Nats game without breaking the bank. And I highly recommend the Jr. Nationals Kids Club for children 12 and under. Just $20 gets them membership, which includes Nats swag, plus a coupon book with all kinds of offers and discounts.
Whether or not you’ve got a little soccer fan in your fam, DC United matches are fun experiences for all ages, and Audi Field is a great venue for watching them. Plus, since games only last 90 minutes, they’re not too long if young spectators get antsy.
Women’s pro soccer team, Washington Spirit, are playing their matches at Audi Field this season — and they are always very exciting to watch!
Can’t stand the heat? Head to the Entertainment & Sports Arena in southeast DC to see the Washington Mystics (w)hoop it up on the basketball court. Tickets start at $14.
Every summer, the Mubala Citi DC Open Tennis Tournament serves up exciting competition along with other fun activities for fans of all ages. See some of the sport’s top players in action and enjoy the thrills on and off the court at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center July 29 – August 6.
Swing up to Charm City to see the Baltimore Orioles play. Camden Yards is a beautiful ballpark, and you can head to the Inner Harbor before or after to make a day of it up north.
If the Nats or O’s aren’t in town, or you want to see baseball on a smaller but still fun scale, you’ve got several great options around the area. Take ’em out to the minors to see the Bowie Baysox, Potomac Nationals, or Aberdeen Ironbirds play. Summer collegiate team Bethesda Big Train is also very popular for non-majors baseball action.
The Breeze, DC’s Ultimate Frisbee pro team, plays at Catholic University’s Carlini Field. It’s fast-paced, fun to watch, and there’s a welcoming family vibe — plus, kids 8 and under get in free!
A very snap-worthy bloom
Some particularly cool activities and offerings are only possible this time of year. Sure, you can say that’s most of this guide, but these experiences that fall into the “other” category shouldn’t be missed.
Public boat rides along the C&O in Georgetown recently returned. They are available throughout the day, Wednesday – Sunday at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm through October, offering one-hour guided historical tours along the first mile of the C&O Canal National Historical Park. Cost is $15/adult, $10/senior, $8/child.
For other adventures on the water, a bunch of places around the area rent kayaks, canoes, rowboats, and stand up paddleboards. Fletcher’s Boathouse is a popular place to go and has a great riverside area to hang out and picnic when you’re off the water. You can also row from Ballpark Boathouse near Yards Park. Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis has paddling options along with lots of other outdoor recreation. This post has a whole round-up of even more places to go with the flow on local waterways.
Pick your own produce at local farms. While it starts in the spring with strawberries, it carries on through summer with even more delicious fruits — blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, plus veggies and more produce you can gather yourself. Find out where you can PYO around the DC area.
Summer in the Parkswill offer weekly events every Thursday evening 6-8pm at Carter Barron in June and at Fort Slocum in August in partnership with Rock Creek Park/National Park Service. The FREE, family-friendly events will have music from DJ Lance Reynolds and fun-for-all-ages games and activities.
Join Anacostia Riverkeeper and Earth Conservation Corps on Friday evenings from June 23 – August 25 forFriday Night Fishing, their catch and release fishing program at the dock at Diamond Teague Park (located next to Yards Park). Rods, reels, bait, and instruction are free. No sign up is required. Dates still to come — will keep you posted!
Get rolling in Southeast! The Anacostia Park Skating Pavilion, the only skating pavilion within a national park will officially welcome skaters daily from 9am – 5pm starting Memorial Day through Labor Day. Even better, both admission and skate rentals are FREE! (You can still BYO skates and roll around the rest of the year.) And along with skating, Anacostia Park offers all kinds of recreation, including large fields for sports and running around, tennis, fishing, basketball, biking, running, and three playgrounds. Read more about the park in this KFDC post.
One of the best treats of the season
Crab feasting is easily one of the best activities during summer in Maryland and neighboring areas (this is where I get non-DC-centric because I have to give credit where it’s due). Here are some suggestions for places to get ’em, though the “best” is always a subject for debate.
* Make it a day trip to Waterman’s in Rock Hall, MD.
* Pick up your own at The Fish Market at The Wharf. Buy them already steamed or get them while they’re still alive to cook at home.
Lawn games like Kadima elevate summer hangs
There are some items that help enhance your summer experiences, whether you’re going to the pool, headed to the beach, or just enjoying a day outdoors in the sunshine. These KFDC posts have great recommendations for gearing up for summer fun.
See a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt (and the cherry blossoms!) this month
March is Women’s History Month, and there are so many great ways to celebrate it around DC, with something for all ages. See some exhibits, tour local landmarks, enjoy live entertainment, attend a festival… all of it showcasing women and their accomplishments. Here’s where you can do that over the next month — and beyond!
Women’s History in American History
Where: National American History Museum | National Mall, DC
The American History Museum houses several exhibits that focus on women, from a section on women inventors to displays about women’s suffrage to the First Ladies dresses and much more. See all the ways to explore women’s history through the museum here.
Statue-esque Women Where: Around DC When: Ongoing Admission: Free
Yes, there are some statues honoring women amid the many memorials and monuments dedicated to men — even one on the National Mall! Make it a mission to visit them over the month and see how many you can get to. You can find a map of them here on Curbed.
Creativity is Magic: Maya Lin Festival
Where: National Portrait Gallery | Penn Quarter, DC
When: March 11, 12-3pm
Join this all-ages festival to celebrate Women’s History Month and the life and work of Maya Lin. Known best as the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the architect, sculptor, and environmentalist creates work that meets at the intersection of art and environmentalism. At the festival, you can tour the museum’s One Life: Maya Lin exhibition, participate in Lin’s multi-site memorial “What is Missing?”, take part in workshops, and create art inspired by her designs. (PS: Women are showcased in many other ways throughout the Portrait Gallery… see a painting of the female Supreme Court justices, photographs of great female athletes, portraits of pop stars, and so many more notable women.) Read more about the museum here and here.
Women of the Freer
Where: National Museum of Asian Art | National Mall, DC
When: Daily through March, 12-1pm
To celebrate Women’s History Month, everyday through March, the National Museum of Asian Art is offering docent-led tours of art by the women in their collection — ancient and modern, human and divine. The tours will introduce you to influential women and their little-known stories. No reservation needed.
Sisterhood of Spies
Where: International Spy Museum | L’Enfant, DC
The Spy Museum highlights women of espionage through many exhibits in the museum. You can learn about the Mata Hari, find how Harriet Tubman and Julia Childs gathered intel, discover how Josephine Baker used her star status to spy, and more! Go here for more details about where you can find them. And read more about the Spy Museum in this KFDC post.
Put It This Way
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
Explore art by women in this exhibition that brings together nearly a century of works by 49 female and nonbinary artists. Put It This Way: (Re)Visions of the Hirshhorn Collection displays a variety of works in many mediums, some that are part of the museum’s collection and some that have have never been on view at the Hirshhorn. If you go, plan to see other fantastic exhibits by notable women artists like Yayoi Kusama’s One with Eternity (note that you need free passes) and Laurie Anderson’s Chalkroom, still there from The Weather exhibit there in 2021-22.
One of my favorite Georgia O’Keefe paintings a the NGA
More Works by Women
Where: National Gallery of Art | National Mall, DC
The National Gallery of Art is full of remarkable works by women artists, from Georgia O’Keefe to Alma Thomas to Mary Cassat to Faith Ringgold — and so many more. Wander around them museum to explore them or take a tour (while not solely about women, they will cover some of them). And see below for special programs coming up to celebrate Women’s History Month at the NGA.
Legacies on Call Boxes
Where: Around DC
Find old fire call boxes and see where several notable women are commemorated. The Wander Women Project, a travel blog that celebrates women’s creations and follows female legacy, landmarks, and heritage trails, has a map to follow, plus more info about all of the women on their website. It’s a fun way to explore downtown and learn about some pioneering women!
Music HerStory Zine Workshops
Where: National Museum of American History | National Mall, DC
When: March 4, 10:30am & 2pm
Get creative and celebrate at a Zone Workshop focusing on women’s music. Zines are vibrant celebrations of self-expression using simple materials. In the early 1990s, they were propelled by the riot grrrl movement, connecting like-minded readers and musicians. Today, zines continue to promote community-building and creativity, especially among young women. These Zine Workshops will be led by comic artist Evan Keeling and last 2-3 hours. All supplies will be provided, just bring yourself and some creativity! The early workshop is suggested for kids and families, the later one for tens and adults. Reserve a spot for each member of your party. And sign up soon, as spaces are limited!
Where: National Gallery of Art | National Mall, DC
When: Select dates in March
Join the museum during Women’s History Month for a series of concerts by five exceptional women in an exploration of music, scholarship, and mastery. Hear works by female composers from the 17th century to the present performed on harp, violin, guitar, and piano by some of today’s most talented and innovative musicians. One is highlighted below, and you can see the rest of the schedule here.
The Future is Female Piano Concert
Where: National Gallery of Art | National Mall, DC
When: March 8, 12-2pm & 2:45-4:45pm
On International Women’s Day, pop in at the National Gallery of Art to enjoy music by pianist Sarah Cahill, described as “a sterling pianist and an intrepid illuminator of the classical avant-garde” by The New York Times. The Future is Female features more than seventy compositions by women around the globe, from the Baroque to the present day. Cahill will perform music from the project spanning from the 1600s to 2022 by composers including Élisabeth-Claude Jacquet de La Guerre, Regina Harris Baiocchi, Margaret Bonds, Teresa Carreño, Fanny Mendelssohn, Hélène de Montgeroult, Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, Clara Schumann, Arlene Sierra, Mary D Watkins, Theresa Wong, and many more.
Where: National Gallery of Art
When: March 9, 6-9pm
National Gallery Nights, after hours events at the museum, are returning with a salute to women. During this one, you can dance to tunes by iconic women musicians, experience experimental pop-up performances, explore works by women artists, get a preview of the future Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum, and make art inspired by Called to Create: Black Artists of the American South. A variety of beverages, special-edition gelato flavors, and snacks will also be available for purchase. And extra points for dressing as your favorite shero! (This one sounds like more of an adult event, but teens could probably attend, too.)
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: March 9-12
Admission: Vary by activity
This multi-day, live, immersive experience celebrates and recognizes the exceptional cultural contributions of Black women artists, thought leaders, and creatives. The festival’s headlining feature is the Black Girls Rock Concert boasting a lineup of Black women artists Alice Smith, Estelle, and Jade Novah. There will also be a more live performances, a late-night music and DJ series, and a film screening. Find more details along with the full schedule of events on the website.
Jagged Little Pill
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: March 14-26
Tickets: $55-105 (look for discount)
See a show based on the music of a fierce female musician (not to mention a book by a woman writer and producer, Diablo Cody)! Alanis Morisette’s songs are the score to this Broadway musical that encompasses joy, love, heartache, strength, wisdom, catharsis, LIFE. It’s recommended for ages 14+ — be sure to read plot details if you’re bringing kids.
Where: Parklands-Turner Neighborhood Library | Congress Heights, DC
When: March 15, 4-5pm
Take kids to the library to learn the stories of women who changed our way of life through their inventions. We’ve all heard of Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison, but very few female inventors are household names.
Sunday Cinema: A Month for Women
Where: Juanita E. Thornton Library | Sherpherd Park, DC
When: March 19, 2-4pm
Head to the library for a showing “Moana.” The theme of the movie is an important one for kids and adults alike — it’s never too late to find your true self and follow your heart. Moana sets out on an epic journey to find Maui, a legendary demigod, who can help her save her people. Along the way, she discovers her true identity and learns to follow her heart.
We Who Believe: Black Feminist DC
Where: MLK Memorial Library | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Opens March 30 through September 2024
The National Women’s History Museum has existed online for years, but at the end of March, its first-ever physical exhibit will be launched at the MLK Memorial Library. We Who Believe in Freedom: Black Feminist DC traces Black feminism in Washington, DC from the turn of the 20th century through the civil rights and Black Power movements to today. The exhibit examines the voices and stories of more than a dozen trailblazing women, from the early Black feminism of the “Jane Crow” era to the future of Black feminism. Learn more about the Women’s History Museum here and see more about the MLK Library here.
Where: Around the DC area
Admission: Free (but plan to spend — and support!)
A fun activity this month: Shopping! (And some eating, too!) This is a great time to make a point to patronize women-owned businesses around DC, and there are many awesome, beloved places to do that. This Washingtonian article from last year highlights a bunch. I’d also add Labyrinth Games and Puzzles, Steadfast Supply (an amazing selection of giftable goods), the best family photographer in the area, and an incredible interior designer if you’re in need of a home spruce up.
Do you know of any activities or events that celebrate women that you don’t see listed here? Feel free to share in the comments!
Do you ❤️ celebrating Valentine’s Day with your little (and big) sweeties? If you’re looking for ways to enjoy the occasion, here are some ideas — with something for everyone to love. Happy V-Day! XOXO
XOXO: An Exhibit About Love & Forgiveness
Where: National Children’s Museum | Downtown DC
When: Through May 14 | Weds -Mon, 9:30am – 4:30pm
How about a whole exhibit that pairs perfectly with Valentine’s Day? Recommended for ages 2-12m, XOXO: An Exhibit About Love & Forgiveness provides children and caregivers the opportunity to think about and explore feelings to help them understand, appreciate, and express their emotions through facial expressions, words, movement, art-making, and other hands-on activities. Read more about the museum here.
Kids Workshop: Valentine’s Vase
Where: Home Depot locations around the DC area
When: February 4, 9am – 12pm
Admission: Free – be sure to register in advance!
Home Depot’s free monthly workshop for kids will help them prep for the day (or make a gift) as they build a Valentine’s Vase. All supplies are provided, including a little apron, and kids get to keep their craft along with a certificate of achievement and collectible pin. All attendees must be accompanied by a parent or adult at all times. Register in advance!
Love from the Library
Where: Select DC Public Libraries
When: Through February 14
DC Public Libraries are hosting a bunch of love-ly programs that celebrate the holiday. Attend a Valentine movie night, do some card making and other crafts, join a Valentine’s Day story time. Visit the website for details on these events and more — just set the date through February 14 and use keyword “Valentine.”
Valentine Makers Market
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Lusby, MD
When: February 11, 9am – 2pm
Find thoughtful and handmade gifts for all the sweeties in your life at this Valentine Maker’s Market. Shop a variety of options, including small batch chocolates, jewelry, leather goods, pottery, clothing, and much more! You will find vendors offering a wide selection of homemade, handmade or homegrown products, and every vendor is from the DEL-MAR-VA region. Be sure to tour the grounds, check out the Arts Center inside, and take kids to play in the Fairy Lolly while you’re there — it’s all fantastic (admission is a suggested $5 donation). Read more about Annmarie Sculpture garden here and here.
Maker Morning: Art from Your Heart
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: February 11, 10am – 1pm
Color your February with love at the Hirshhorn’s self-guided drop-in program geared toward kids. Look for stations throughout the museum, all love-themed and hands-on. Try out Valentine’s Day activities including writing a love letter, magnet poetry, and a love library — all inspired by art in the museum. Stroller parking is available in the Lobby and Lower Level.
Kids Workshop: Swan Sweetheart Note Holder
Where: Lowe’s locations around the DC area
When: February 11, 10am – 1pm
Bring your mini-DIYer to Lowe’s for a workshop hosted by a Red Vest expert. This month is Valentine’s-themed, and kids will build their own Swan Love Note Holder — a perfect gift for someone they love. All participants will receive a kit with materials. Be sure to reserve a time slot! Walk-ins are welcome, but space is not guaranteed.
Cupcake Decorating Class
Where: La Fantome Food Hall | Riverdale, MD
When: Saturday, 11am-12:30pm & 1-2:30pm
Join celebrity chef Kareem “Mr. Bake” Queeman for a special Valentine’s Day cupcake decorating class. Aspiring bakers can join the highly decorated baker, currently featuring on Cooking Channel’s “Bake It Til You Make It.” Participants will leave with four decorated cupcakes, a certificate of completion, and specialized baking tips and knowledge from Mr. Bake himself. Parents are invited to join the fun and accompany their baker, as well as enjoy food and drinks (including a special kid’s menu) for breakfast or lunch following their session. Two sessions are available: Kids ages 5-11 can join the first hour-long session at from 11am-12:30pm, while bakers 12-16can join 1-2:30pm. Parents must accompany children ages 5-11 to the first session.
Won’t You Be My Owlentine?
Where: Potomac Overlook Regional Park | Arlington, VA
When: February 11, 1-2pm
Admission: $7/age 6+
Love is in the air, and literally, for the beautiful birds of prey! Join Potomac Overlook staff as they discuss the mating habits of owls during their breeding season and get a picture with a live bird of prey! Register in advance, as space is limited. And be sure to explore the rest of the park while you’re there — it’s great for kids of all ages. Read more about Potomac Overlook in this KFDC post.
Unshrink My Heart – Shrinky Dinks Workshop
Where: Gateway Arts Center | Brentwood, MD
When: February 11, 2-4pm
The DIY arts and crafts icon from the 80’s is back! And nothing says “love” like a hand-made pre-shrunk Valentine. Families are invited to create beautiful jewelry, key chains, and other Valentine’s Day gifts for their loved ones. Receive the first 2 sheets of blank Shrinky Dinks for free; additional sheets will be available to purchase for 50 cents each.
Nature DIY Valentines
Where: Ellanor C. Lawrence Park | Chantilly, VA
When: February 11, 3-4pm
Nothing says I love you more than a homemade card. Use natural materials to create your own card just in time for the holiday. Materials will be provided for cards that kids can make. Stay for a little while, or the whole time. Recommended for ages 6-12.
Family Festival with Black Panther + Beauty & the Beast
Where: Shipgarden | McLean, VA
When: February 11, 1-6pm
Admission: Free, but reserve a spot!
This Valentine’s Day keep it cozy with hot drink specials from Shipgarten’s winter menu. On February 11, bring the fam to their Valentine’s Family Festival hosted by Black Panter and Beauty & the Beast. Take pics in the photo booth and compete for prizes — they have games, activities, and competitions for all ages.
Valentine’s Day Pop-Up
Where: WAP Gallery in Westfield Wheaton Mall | Wheaton, MD
When: February 11-12, 1-5pm
The Wheaton Arts Parade is hosting a special Valentine’s pop-up this weekend. In addition to their shop where you can meet the artists, the WAP Gallery will have a free Valentine art making table for kids. The Gallery is located in Westfield Wheaton Mall, Lower Level Entrance 11.
Say ‘Be Mine’ in the Animal World
Where: Burke Lake Park | Burke, VA
When: February 11, 2-3pm
Animals communicate in many ways. Kids can learn how to express their affection in chimpanzee, toad, wolf, and more on this outside Valentine’s Day walk and talk. Children must be accompanied by a registered adult.
Sunday Makebreak: Watercolor Heart Frame
Where: Michael’s locations around the DC area
When: February 12, 2-4pm
Drop in a Michael’s location to do some Valentines crafting. Make a watercolor heart frame to put a picture of your special someone in — or picture of yourself to give to someone special. All ages welcome, no reservations needed.
Queen of Hearts Tea Party
Where: Colvin Run Mill | Great Falls, VA
When: February 12
For ages 3+…Bring your child to the mill and celebrate Valentine’s Day with this heart-themed tea party. We’ll have tea, savory and sweet treats and play 19th century parlor games. Children must be accompanied by a registered adult.
Valentine’s Tea & Poetry
Where: Burke Lake Park | Burke, VA
When: February 12, 10:30-11:3-am
For ages 12 and up… Sip some mint tea with your best friend or significant other as a naturalist helps you pen your own love poems based off of famous love poems. Practice your penmanship while learning some helpful calligraphy tips to give your poems a more personalized feel.
Say ‘Be Mine’ in the Animal World
Where: Lake Fairfax Park | Reston, VA
When: February 12, 2-3pm
Join the Fairfax Park Authority for a Valentine-themed event about ways animals communicate. Learn how to express your affection in chimpanzee, toad, wolf, and more on this outdoor Valentine’s Day walk and talk.
Where: Maydale Nature Classroom | Colesville, MD
When: February 12, 3-4pm
Winter is full of celebrations. Join us as we celebrate the Winter Solstice by making lanterns, the holiday season by making nature ornaments, and Valentine’s Day by making nature valentines. Register for one or all of these family fun activities.
Valentine’s Day Science
Where: Hidden Oaks Nature Center | Annandale, VA,
When: February 13, 6-7pm
Kids love science when they learn with engaging hands-on activities. Join the Fairfax Park Authority for science activities to let kids share that love this Valentine’s Day! Recommended for ages 5-10.
Where: Storefronts around Adams Morgan, DC
When: Through February 14
Take a walk around Adams Morgan to see all storefront decorated especially for Valentine’s Day! The Adams Morgan Partnership BID is sponsoring a window decorating contest for all businesses facing the street. Enjoy a family outing to the neighborhood to walk around and see them all, then grab at bite at one of the many eateries there. You can also vote on your favorites through an online poll on our website from Friday, February 11, through Sunday, February 13!
The Love Shop
Where: Milk Bar | Logan Circle, DC
When: Through February 14
Cost: Depends on order
Milk Bar, the bakery that makes my favorite Birthday Cake, has special products for the holiday. Mini cakes, soft serve ice cream, and truffles are perfect desserts for an at-home date night or family celebration. Available for pick-up or delivery.
Ice Skate Date
Where: Ice rinks around the DC area
When: Through February 14
Admission: Varies by rink
If you just want to do something fun, active, and sweet with your kids, plan an ice skating date. Go to the Sculpture Garden, then enjoy photo ops by the AMOR sculpture. Glide along the Figure 8 path at Canal Park, then get a bite to eat at one of the many eateries nearby. Skate by the Potomac River at Washington Harbour, or over the Potomac at The Wharf — and both have even more to do beyond skating at their waterfront locations. Get details for all of the DC rinks, plus more in Maryland and Virginia in this post about ice skating around the DC Area.
Where: At home
When: Whenever you have time
Admission: Just the cost of supplies
So, this is just my suggestion. One of my favorite annual programs has been the National Postal Museum’s Valentine’s Day Card Workshop, and we tried to go every year. The museum would provide all kinds of supplies — pretty papers, stamps, washi tape, stickers, markers, and more — for guests to create Valentines. Everyone from families with young children to teens hanging out together to groups of adults attend, and there’s always a great sense of community as you share tables with others there to celebrate love. It’s not happening again this year, but we can still keep the make-your-own tradition going. So, grab some artsy supplies and get creative at home — and make your loved ones’ Valentine’s Day! And for more about the wonderful yet often overlooked Postal Museum, see this KFDC post.
Some wweet suggestions if you’re seeking gift ideas…
Celebrate at the National Gallery of Art with works by Black artists + more museum programs
February is Black History Month, and there are many great events and activities throughout the DC area to celebrate it. Museum programs (including an entire museum), special events, tours and exhibits, and more will be enlightening and fun for all ages. Here’s where many are happening over the next few weeks.
African American History & Culture
Where: NMAAHC | National Mall, DC
When: Ongoing | Mon, 12- 5:30pm, Tues-Sat 10am – 5:30pm
The National Museum of African American History & Culture may just be the best place to learn about Black history and culture in America, covering everything from early slave trading to modern day achievements by Black people. If you’ve never been, this month is a great, meaningful time to go. And if you have been, there is so much to be gleaned, teach to kids, contemplate, and celebrate, you can never visit too much . It’s a huge museum with a lot of exhibits to navigate, some of them very heavy and somber, so be sure to read the KFDC Guide to visiting the museum with kids before you go. Free, timed-entry passes are required, and they are available online here. You can reserve in advance or try for same-day tickets — a limited number are released online beginning at 8:15am.
American Folklife Center Open House
Where: Library of Congress | Capitol Hill, DC
When: February 2, 5-7pm
Admission: Free with timed-entry ticket
To kick off Black History Month, the American Folklife Center is hosting an open house featuring items related to African-American history and heritage in the U.S. Visitors are welcome to stop by and view the collections, and chat with Folklife Center staff. Reserve tickets here. And read more about visiting the Library of Congress in this KFDC post.
Kids’ Films: Celebrating Black Stories
Where: National Gallery of Art | National Mall, DC
When: February 4, 10:30am – 12pm
Recommended for ages 10 and up, the National Gallery of Art showcases short films for kids that highlight Black stories. The films share the joy, determination, resilience, and complexity of being Black and young, and explore a range of genres and styles in a program that spans the globe.
Culture Queen Kids Hour: Magnificent Monuments
Where: Anacostia Community Museum | Anacostia, DC
When: February 4, 12-1
In this session of the monthly Culture Queen Kids hour, participants will honor African Americans who inspire them by creating their own monuments. Grammy-nominated children’s entertainer, Culture Queen, holds court once a month at ACM for live performances, interactive community building, stories, crafts, movement and more. Registration recommended.
Explore Works by Black Artists
Where: National Gallery of Art | National Mall, DC
When: Ongoing, Daily, 10am – 5pm
Explore works from Black artists across centuries, mediums and geographies, ranging from 19th century still life painter Robert Seldon Duncanson to modern and contemporary pieces by Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Alma Thomas, Sam Gilliam, Kara Walker, and more. The current exhibit, Called to Create: Black Artists of the American South, is great to see now. And check the museum calendar for special programs that celebrate Black artists.
How Old is a Hero?
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: February 7-10
This Discovery Theater original play infused with archival music of the Civil Rights era celebrates three young people who helped change the nation by their heroic actions. Meet Ernest Green of the Little Rock Nine, the first black student to graduate from an integrated high school; Claudette Colvin, who months before Rosa Parks, also refused to give up her seat on a bus; and Ruby Bridges, who was only six in 1960 when she stepped into first grade—and into history—as the first student to desegregate an all-white school in New Orleans. Their inspiring stories demonstrate that hope begins with the courage of young people. Recommended for ages 6-12.
Frederick Douglass Birthday Celebration
Where: Capital Turnaround | Southeast DC
When: February 11, 2-4pm
Join the National Park Service for this annual event celebrating Frederick Douglass’s Birthday! The program will include music by the Jubilee Voices of the Washington Revels, performances by the student winners of the Douglass Oratorical Contest, and a light-hearted debate style program that asks the question: “What place did Frederick Douglass call home?” Douglass lived in three states and the District of Columbia during his lifetime, and while it is impossible to ask Douglass this question, our panelists will support their positions in the debate, and we will let the audience decide! Doors open at 12:30pm and include music by DC Strings, exhibitors, info about about Frederick Douglass’ interest in DC’s streetcars, and photo ops with Frederick Douglass. Capital Turnaround is located at 770 M Street SE.
Young Portrait Explorers: Toni Morrison
Where: National Portrait Gallery Online
When: February 13, 10:30-11:30am
The National Portrait Gallery’s program that highlights African Americans who have made significant contributions has an in-person event this month. Kids can learn about author Toni Morrison as they take a close look at her portrait and enjoy movement and art-making, too. This is geared toward toddler and preschoolers up to age 6. See more about the museum here.
Community Day: 25th Anniversary of The Lion King on Broadway
Where: NMAAHC | National Mall, DC
When: February 20
Admission: Free, but tickets required
THe National Museum of African American History & Culture is hosting a Community Day to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Lion King on Broadway. Festivities will include show-themed workshops led by Disney Theatrical Teaching Artists (separate passes required–information upon registration) and other in-museum activities for the whole family. All are invited you to join us in the celebration of Black Joy! Register here!
Hike the Underground Railroad Experience Trail
Where: Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park | Sandy Spring, MD
When: Daily, sunrise to sunset
A great outing with kids during Black History Month (or anytime), this hike offers insight into the experience of enslaved peoples’ escape to freedom. The walk through woods and along edges of fields (with a map and explanation of the hike) is interesting and enlightening as well as an active way to spend time outdoors. On February 18, Woodlawn Manor will be hosting a special Black History Month Family Day, when you ca stop in the Visitors Center to pick up take-home activities for kids as well as a trail map (though you can also print that out at home if you go a different day).
Meetinghouse Open House
Where: Frying Pan Baptist Meetinghouse | Herndon, VA
When: Saturdays in February, 12-2pm
In honor of Black History Month, the Frying Pan Baptist Meetinghouse will be open each Saturday of February. Established in the 18th century, the original congregation of the meetinghouse included enslaved, free Black, and slaveholding members. Join the Fairfax Park Authority to explore a different facet of Black history in Floris and Herndon each weekend. Pop in for a few minutes or stay the whole two hours.
Where: Public Libraries throughout DC
When: Throughout February
The DC Public Library proudly celebrates Black History Month during February with all kinds of offerings for kids (and adults) of all ages. Participate in a Black history themed scavenger hunt. Watch a related film. Go on a StoryWalk. Play black History Jeopardy…. and more! Visit the website to see what activities are being offered at each library.
Visit BLM Plaza
Where: 16th Street NW | Downtown DC
The two blocks along 16th Street NW, between K Street and Lafayette Park just across from the White House, was emboldened with the giant yellow BLACK LIVES MATTER statement in the summer of 2020 as the BLM movement began to swell after the murder of George Floyd. It’s since been repainted and become permanent. The pedestrian area is now a site of historic significance in DC, a meeting place and focal point of protests and other events, and a location providing good context for a conversation with kids about BLM.
Where: Several locations in DC
Tour some memorials around the city that highlight notable African Americans and related historic events. Head to the MLK Memorial at the Tidal Basin, where you can view the grand sculpture of Dr. King and read some of his most inspiring quotes engraved in surrounding walls. From there, head to the Lincoln Memorial, where even more MLK words, “I Have a Dream” are etched into the steps where he gave his famous speech. In the Shaw neighborhood, the African American Civil War Memorial honors the service and sacrifice of soldiers and sailors who served in the U.S. Army and Navy. On Capitol Hill, the Mary McLeod Bethune Memorial in Lincoln Park isa tribute to the civil rights leader.
Black History with PG Parks
Where: Sites around PG County, MD & Online
When: Through February
Admission: Varies by location
Celebrate and honor African American heritage with the PG County park system during Black History Month in February. From performances to history lessons to tours, there are a lot of exciting events and activities planned both in person at locations throughout Prince George’s County and online.
Celebrate with Dance
Where: Maryland Youth Ballet In Person & Online
When: Throughout February
Admission: Varies by event
To celebrate Black History Month, Maryland Youth Ballet is presenting virtual and in-person masterclasses, plus performances and talks led by black dance artists. It will bring together numerous dancers, choreographers, and teaching artists from throughout the metropolitan DC region as well as nationally to celebrate and recognize the culture and contributions of Black people in dance. Events will take place at various locations around the DC area and online — see the website for specifics.
The Slave Memorial
Where: Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
Admission: $20/adult, $12/ages 6-11, free/5 & under
Make a point to see this on a visit to George Washington’s estate. The memorial is located approximately 50 yards southwest of George and Martha Washington’s tomb, on a bluff above the Potomac River. A gray, truncated, granite column which represents “life unfinished” is the center of three concentric brick circles. The three steps leading up to the column are inscribed, respectively, “Faith,” “Hope” and “Love” — the virtues that sustained those living in bondage.
Celestial Navigation and the Underground Railroad
Where: Josiah Henson Museum and Park | North Bethesda, MD
When: February 25
This educational program explores the crucial role of the night sky in guiding and empowering freedom seekers on their journeys north along the Underground Railroad. Historian Dr. Sylvea Hollis, astronomer Dr. Lou Strolger, and PhD candidate Sophie Hess will provide more insight as you observe the stars. The free, family-friendly program will take place at the Josiah Henson Museum and Park visitor center and does not include museum admission. Recommended for ages 6+.
*Do you know of a Black History Month event or activity that you don’t see listed here? Feel free to share in the comments!