[Note: This post was written by KFDC Contributor Emily Moise, a local writer and mom of two young children.]
Two moms on a mission defied a pandemic to open the play spaces of their — and your little ones — dreams. If and when you are ready to venture back out into the great indoors with your toddlers and preschoolers, put The Wonder on your list. You’ll (re)discover good old-fashioned creative play in seasonally-themed, modernized spaces.
My first impression of The Wonder – Chevy Chase: Playroom Goals. It is everything you’ve Pinterest-ed and more. The currently “vintage camp”-themed location is sleek yet cozy, with ways to play at every turn in the small space. The tee-pees, mini camper, and wooden rocking boat are standouts, but the biggest hit may be the bow-and-arrow and axe throwing corner — all kid-safe versions of course.
A wall full of toys eschews electronics and encourages creative and expressive play. I noted some of the updated yet stripped-down items like the dustless chalk and drawing boards, the trucks with interchangeable parts, and the build-your-own road set. The nearby tables and chairs seem set up for grown-ups to work or catch up with a friend while kids work on their independent play skills.
The Wonder – Arlington, located in the Ballston Quarter mall, is much larger and decked out in pool-themed decor for summer. The flamingo floatie and beach ball pit will draw your kids right in, and the mini mopeds will make them not want to leave (get ready for a good lesson in sharing!). The most unique feature is the tunneled climbing structure that will have your child asking, “are you sure I’m supposed to go up this?” and will require some bravery.
The Arlington location has separate rooms that make it well-equipped for birthday parties. And several areas are conducive to group play, like the Snack Shack taco/ice cream stand, the music corner, and dress-up station. Like the Chevy Chase location, it purposefully lacks fancy gadgets, but there is no shortage of things to do, and the two-hour play time passes before you know it.
There is much more to explore at each location, and even a “Superhero HQ” location to visit if you are ever in New York City. Plus, workshops like “Mad Scientist” and “Dream Bakery” are starting September 13! Check out all of the upcoming classes imagined for ages 0-7.
Even more, KidFriendly DC readers get a special discount when booking play time now through August 31, 2021! Enter promo code KidFriendlyDC5 when reserving your Day Pass online to receive $5 off.
Give David some new duds at Inside the Wardrobe. XO
As we emerge from the pandemic — and our comfy “house” clothes — many of us are ready and excited for new, unique experiences. One just opened in Georgetown, and it’s timely, relevant, and so much fun to explore: Inside the Wardrobe, an interactive art installation and fashion funhouse celebrating the return to getting dressed in real clothes and going out again.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first heard about the “journey through more than 20 interactive experiences focused on the fun and tactile nature of engaging with your closet.” But I was intrigued. I like clothes and fashion (though actually being fashionable is another story), plus I love checking out new things around town, especially after missing them for so long. So I visited with my friend, Torey, last weekend (my kids were way at camp) and we had a blast exploring it all!
The 20,000 square foot space in Georgetown Park contains more than 20 exhibits/spaces, all them wildly creative, fashion-inspired, interactive, even kind of trippy. It’s meant to be very Instagrammy — there is even a Hall of Selfies and placemarks on the floor for getting your best shots — which is not usually my thing; I prefer to be behind the camera. However, the imaginative environments and fun experiences had me both snapping and posing away!
There are interactives and photo ops galore as you explore different components of fashion. You can try on paper doll cutouts, play with size in a fun house, get a close look at beautiful handiwork, take pics in whimsical and delightful settings, strut the catwalk, and so much more.
I can’t wait to return with my kids when they get back — I know they’ll dig it, too. (Though I can also see this being something teen friends would love doing on their own.)
What’s your favorite outfit?
Inside the Wardrobe runs through August 29 September 26 (extended!) in Georgetown Park located at 3720 M Street NW (across from the DMV). Hours are Thursday – Friday 5-9pm, Saturday – Sunday 10am – 9pm. Admission is $28/adult | $24/students, seniors, military | $19/age 4 and up — a little steep, but worth it if you’re looking for something unique and delightful to do.
Cherry blossom season is one of the best times of the year to be in DC. Not only is the city at its prettiest when the iconic flowers are in bloom, there usually are loads of special events and activities to celebrate it all. It’s also when I share my tips for viewing the famous flowers, an annual post that I love and have been updating since 2011 that others seem to enjoy as well (it’s always very highly viewed and shared).
For obvious reasons, so much about cherry blossom season is different this year. It still remains to be seen what kind of access to the Tidal Basin the National Park Service will allow to see the peak bloom, which is predicted to occur April 2-5. Big, beloved in-person events like the Kite Festival, National Cherry Blossom Parade, and Sakura Matsuri have been cancelled along with museum programs that used to be IRL. And my annual viewing tips… well, much of them apply to seeing them at the Tidal Basin, so they may not get a redux this spring.
However, there still are some fantastic ways to celebrate cherry blossom season! The National Cherry Blossom Festival (NCBF), running March 20 – April 11, has reimagined many of its events as at-home or virtual activities to present them safely for Covid. And even though we may not be able to experience the bloom at its best near the National Mall, there are other spots to enjoy the pink and white brilliance around the area. I’ve highlighted the best of all of it for families to help you plan for a peak experience. Happy Spring!
Peak bloom in Stanton Park
Cherry Blossom Viewing
Where: Around the DMV
When: Late March – Early April
Viewing the cherry blossoms is the top thing to do during the season. As we’re still awaiting guidelines for viewing at the Tidal Basin this year, here’s a tip that comes straight from my annual post from previous years: Seek out other spotsto see the bloom. Several places around the DC-Metro area are well known for their annual cherry blossom displays. The National Arboretum also has a nice collection of the trees and offers a beautiful, peaceful environment in which to enjoy them. National Harbor has 200 trees planted on it grounds. Stanton Park on Capitol Hill flourishes with pick and white come spring. Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD, has a lovely collection of cherry trees. In Northern Virginia, Green Spring Gardens and Meadowlark Botanical Gardens have some of the pretty trees to see, too. (Thinking I should just put together a whole post about viewing sites…) In the meantime, check out these scenes from a peak bloom past.
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
When: March 15 – September 6
Admission: $24/adult, $17/age 4-15, free/under 4
ARTECHOUSE introduces a new exhibit every season, and spring is always inspired by the cherry blossoms in some way. Here’s the description of year’s show, Renewal 2121: “Transporting us 100 years into the future, it immerses us in an industrial city where nature fights to survive amid an overdeveloped metropolis. This is a future that will arrive if humanity continues unchecked at its current pace. However, there is a hopeful message to be discovered as blossoms are seen peeking through the plastic, concrete and neon lights, ready to renew the season with the help of those willing to take action.”
National Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony
When: March 20, 6pm
The Festival’s signature Opening Ceremony, an artistic celebration of the 1912 gift of trees from Tokyo to DC is also an annual tribute to the longstanding friendship between Japan and the United States. Watch a livestream of the event that will feature special performances from acclaimed artists with ties to both countries.
Petal Porch Parade
Where: At home & around the DC area
When: March 20 – April 11
Since we can’t have a big parade, locals are invited to get creative and show their cherry blossom spirit by decorating their porches, yards, or windows — and spread joy to neighbors and connect communities across the region! The National Cherry Blossom Festival will produce a virtual map with locations of all registered Petal Porches, so you can plan a walk or drive to see and share in the celebration of spring. On the weekend of April 10-11, a Petal Procession will drive through select Petal Porch Parade neighborhoods in and around DC. So, get your neighbors to register and join in the springtime celebration to increase your chances of having the Petal Procession cruise through your ‘hood!
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: March 20 – April 11
Celebrate spring and the blossoms at the The Wharf. Bloomaroo will bring nearly a month of cherry blossom-themed art installations, and specialty cocktails. Anime Movie Days will have 13 anime movie screenings, including the newest Sonic the Hedgehog movie, from March 26 through April 11 — all films will be dubbed in English. Check out a special mural created by ARTECHOUSE, too. Restaurants at the waterfront destination will have cherry blossom-inspired menus, and keep an eye out for special samplings, beer dinners, and more. Ride the Wharf Jitney or hop on the Water Taxi for an up-close look at DC’s favorite landmarks — the cherry trees. For more about The Wharf, see this KFDC post.
Book Hill in Bloom
Where: Book Hill Community | Georgetown, DC
When: March 20 – April 11
Georgetown is celebrating cherry blossom season at its Book Hill community. More than 25 small businesses on upper Wisconsin Avenue are participating by decorating their storefronts with pink and cherry blossom-themed decorations, offering special promotions, and donating prizes for an enter-to-win drawing.
Art in Bloom on Capitol Hill
Art in Bloom Where: Around the DC area When: March 20-31 Admission: Free
This visual arts exhibition spanning all eight wards of DC, plus a few areas in Maryland and Virginia, radiates the spirit of spring! Go on a Blossom Hunt to find 26 oversized cherry blossom statues painted by local artists and share on Instagram or Twitter with the #artinbloom tag. The NCB will randomly select winners of Festival prize packages.
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: Sundays during the Festival
With in-person Sakura Matsuri, the annual Japanese street fair presented during the Festival, off this year, National Harbor is stepping in. Free cultural activities, including Japanese inspired art creations, culinary classes, in person or virtual, and much more will be offered there. See what else will be at National Harbor during the season.
Virtual Cherry Blossom Celebration
Where: American Art Museum | Online
When: March 20, 10am
Join the Smithsonian American Art Museum for a virtual program full of springtime fun for the whole family. Enjoy a lively performance of traditional Japanese Taiko drumming by the group Nen Daiko. Then learn more as the group demonstrates how they plan their performances and design their own instruments. Explore art, nature, and color with SAAM‘s docents in the new virtual edition of our popular Art Cart series. For more activities, check out their ongoing Family Zone for seasonal crafts, coloring pages, videos, and more. Register here.
Where: Alley off 7th St NW (btwn H & G) | Gallery Place, DC
When: March 20 – April 30
Visit DowntownDC’s ChalkWalk to step into an immersive spring art experience. It will be a unique, Instagrammy, and cherry blossom-inspired 3D art installation backdrop to celebrate spring in the city. Share your photos using the hashtag #ChalkWalkDC for a chance to win prizes from the DowntownDC BID.
Pop-Up Street Theater
Where: Locales around Arlington, VA
When: March 21 & 28 April 4 & 11 | 11am – 2pm
Synetic Theatre, which presents some of the most innovative shows around, will be clowning around with pop-up performances all around Arlington during the Festival. To work with these social distancing times, they are bringing back street theater as a pair of improv actors make appearances at the Art Wall in Virginia Highlands Park, the Crystal City Water Park, and the Long Bridge Park Esplanade.
Blossom Kite Fly
Where: Your backyard or local park
When: March 27-28
The annual Kite Festival on the Mall — one of the best events of the NCBF (& anytime in DC, for that matter) — is not happening this year. Instead, the Festival encourages all to take part in the kite-flying tradition on their own — but with the help of workshops and demos. Find more information about registering here.
Celebrating Cherry Blossoms
Where: National Museum of Asian Art | Online
When: March 27, 10-10:45am
Just in time for peak bloom, ring in the arrival of spring with the art doctors in this online Art & Me Preservation Family Workshop. From paintings to Japanese tea bowls, discover how Smithsonian conservators preserve these colorful artworks. Then try your hand at making your own cherry blossom-inspired creation. Designed for ages 3-8 and caretakers. Register in advance, one per family, and a Zoom link and list of suggested materials will be sent to participants 24–48 hours in advance of the workshop.
Blossoms & Baseball Drive-in
Where: Akridge Lot | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: April 2 & 3, 7pm
The Capitol Riverfront BID is welcoming the spring season back to the neighborhood during MLB Opening Day Weekend with cherry blossom cheer and baseball-themed movies featuring 42: The True Story of an American Legend and A League of Their Own.
Kimono for Kids
Where: GWU & Textile Museum | Online
When: April 3, 11am – 1pm
Kids can enjoy an interactive discussion of Japanese traditional clothing, plus a simple craft project made from materials found at home and inspired by Japanese textiles in this program led by staff from the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum. Be sure to register to get the program link.
Virtual Sakura Matsuri
When: April 3, 12-3pm
Join Japan-America Society of Washington DC for the Sakura Matsuri – Virtual Community Gathering. Enjoy stage performances and the opportunity to interact live with many of your favorite Sakura Matsuri exhibitors, vendors and participants.
* Do you know of a great cherry blossom event that’s not listed here? Let us all know in the comments!
[Note: This was originally written in 2011 (hence, the now very outdated Lost reference) and has been updated every year since. But because the tips always apply, I’m re-posting yet again, just with a few minor updates applicable to this year’s bloom. Also, I realize that coronavirus may be a factor as you make plans to see the flowers; however, I am not a health expert, but know that KFDC has an audience of smart, discerning parents, so I will leave those judgements up to you.]
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, it is NOT recommended to go see the cherry blossoms, especially at the Tidal Basin and on the National Mall, as it is NOT conducive to social distancing. Instead, view them virtually from home or just wait to set them next year.
🌸 🌸 🌸 🌸 🌸
Taking the family to the National Mall to see some pretty flowers sounds easy enough. If only it actually was. The cherry blossom peak, predicted to occur March 27-30 this year, is one of the best times to visit DC. The city is at its most beautiful, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival provides loads of fun activities to help enjoy it all. But viewing the famous blooms can also be a bit challenging without being aware of a few things. Here are seven recommendations to consider if seeing the cherry blossoms is on your family’s spring agenda.
1. Don’t drive if you value your sanity. Take the Metro, ride the bus, bike, walk, jet pack. Get here however you can, just leave the car at home. Traffic is beyond frustrating during the cherry blossom peak, and your chances of finding decent parking are about as good as hitting the Powerball with Hurley’s numbers (okay, slight exaggeration, but it ishard). The masses descend on Washington, DC, this time of year, and way too many do so in their vehicles. Besides, kids love riding the Metro — it’s like an urban version of Hogwarts Express. The Smithsonian stop on the Blue/Orange Line is mere minutes from all of the blossom action, but it’s also guaranteed to be crowded. Consider riding to L’Enfant on Yellow/Green, Federal Center on Blue/Orange, or even a stop downtown or in Penn Quarter and taking a nice stroll to the Tidal Basin for the blossom scene. Another good option is the bus — the DC Circulator will run between Eastern Market and L’Enfant Plaza, a convenient route with even more to do on both ends. And the 32, 34, and 36 routes of Metrobus stop at the National Mall close to the Washington Monument. *If you absolutely must drive and need parking you might find a spot at Hains Point, where there is free and metered parking, then walk or take the Cherry Blossom Shuttle ($1/person) to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial at the Tidal Basin. There is also a parking garage at L’Enfant Plaza. Your best bet, though, might be to find a garage in the downtown or Penn Quarter area, then walk or Metro to the National Mall. You can ensure yourself a spot with Parking Panda, an online parking reservation service that lets you search for and reserve garage spaces in advance.
Flying amid the flowers
2. Visit on a weekday if you have the flexibility. Crowds are significantly smaller from Monday to Friday, so you can stroll around the Tidal Basin at a nice pace, and public transportation won’t be nearly as packed (though it still will be more crowded than usual). But if the kids are in school or daycare during the week, think about going later in the day. The National Mall and monuments look beautiful at sunset, and the blossoms make it even more sublime. In the same vein, if you can go super early, the morning light on the Mall makes for quite a picturesque setting, too.
Peak time around the National Mall
3. Consider using a child carrier instead of a stroller for little ones. This is especially applicable if you take Metro, since elevator lines can be very long and slow-going. I learned my lesson back in my kids’ baby days on a weekday and ended up taking my daughter out of the stroller and carrying both on the escalator, which was probably as unsafe as it was difficult. Even if you don’t take Metro, a carrier is still a wise option. Navigating crowded walkways while pushing a pram takes focus, and you could end up spending more time concentrating on not rolling over others’ heels than enjoying the sights you came to see. It’s a bonus for wee ones, too — perched on your back, your babe will get a better view of the blossoms.
4.Check the National Cherry Blossom Festival schedule, so you can plan your visit accordingly. Some of the city’s most anticipated events are part of the annual celebration, the Blossom Kite Festival, National Cherry Blossom Parade, and Sakura Matsuri among them, and there are many non-official festival happenings as well. Most events take place nearby the blossoms or an easy Metro ride away. Peak bloom is expected to occur mid-Festival this year, so you can enjoy blossom-inspired activities and the efflorescent trees at the same time. This post has details on the best cherry blossom season celebrations and activities for families.
6.Seek out other spots to see the cherry blossoms if you don’t want to deal with crowds and chaos around the Tidal Basin and National Mall. Several places around the DC-Metro area are well known for their annual cherry blossom displays. When I worked in Bethesda many years ago, it was an annual tradition for my colleagues and me to take a drive through Kenwood, a lovely neighborhood between Little Falls Parkway and River Road with cherry tree-lined streets. The National Arboretum also has a nice collection of the trees and offers a beautiful, peaceful environment in which to view them in bloom. Dumbarton Oaks Gardens is one of the prettiest places in DC and its annual blossoms only add to it. And Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD, has a lovely collection of cherry trees, too.
7. Have your camera ready to take advantage of some of the best photo ops DC offers. The peak colors plus the memorials are about as iconic as you can get when photographing Washington. Get your kids to sit still — or even let them run and play for a fun candid — and you’ve got this year’s holiday card.
Looking for a unique, fun, and meaningful way to bond with your family this holiday season? The National Postal Museum’s Annual Holiday Card Workshop is a perfect opportunity for just that! Visitors of all ages can enjoy the free, open-house event that will be held on Saturday, December 7 and Sunday, December 8, 10am – 4pm.
The museum’s card making workshops are a KFDC favorite, and I highly recommend going if you haven’t yet been to one — or even if you have. They provide a beautiful, bountiful spread of patterned papers, postage and rubber stamps, gems and other 3-D embellishments, special cut-out scissors, washi tape, stickers, markers of every color and more. Guests can follow their own creative instincts, choosing whichever supplies they would like to design one-of-a-kind greetings for any holiday, or even just a wintery “Hello!”
The workshop takes place in the Postal Museum’s lower-level Atrium, which is full of various postal mail transports from over the years, including a real train car, semi-truck (that kids can climb in and pretend to drive), a horse-drawn carriage, and airplanes hanging from the ceiling. It’s quite a stunning space! And thanks to Smithsonian Gardens, the Atrium will be decked out in festive foliage to help get everyone in the holiday spirit.
The layout of the card-making stations and supply tables encourages sharing, friendliness, and a sense of community. We always enjoy meeting and chatting with our table mates, and the fun, creative vibe always has everyone in a good mood. The museum’s pleasant staff and volunteers are also available to answer questions, provide examples of completed cards, or help in any other way.
For many, a handmade gesture can mean much more to a friend or a loved one than a store-bought gift. What better way to get into the holiday spirit than taking the time to express your love and gratitude with a heartfelt greeting?
*As a special treat this year, the U.S. Postal Service’s Operation Santa will be featured at the event. Each year, hundreds of thousands of letters sent to Santa from children and families arrive at Post Offices around the country. Most letters ask for toys and games. Some ask for basic necessities. Some ask for help for themselves and their loved ones. USPS Operation Santa makes it possible for individuals and organizations to adopt these letters and send responses and thoughtful gifts in Santa’s place.