[Note: This post was written by KFDC Contributor Emily Moise, a local writer and mom of
two three young children. She always has excellent recommendations for kids’ activities around the DC area. See some of them here, here, here, and here.]
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LEGO is, of course, a master at building the ultimate kids space. The brand new LEGO Discovery Center Washington, DC is officially open in Virginia’s Springfield Town Center – just 30 minutes outside of the DC Metro area – and it may be the area’s coolest attraction yet. It targets ages 2-12, but regardless of your age or level of LEGO obsession, it is a must-see.
The LEGO Discovery Center features 12 zones with literally something for everyone. Your adventure begins with the Minifigure Creator zone., where you build your own LEGO figure that will be used throughout the experience, like for a photo-op in the LEGO Oval Office. (Fun tip: ask any staff member to trade minifigures and they have to, no questions asked!)
When you enter the main space, centered around the most incredible LEGO Tree of Togetherness, you may be overwhelmed with where to begin. Head straight for the Imagination Express to avoid any lines. I imagine this quick, interactive ride to be a small sampling of LEGOLAND rides, and, warning, your kids will want to do it more than once.
Before you head to the building zones, get inspired — and blown away — by the Mini World. No words can describe the extent of this exhibit built with over 1.5 million LEGO bricks, that includes DC’s most famous monuments, the National Mall, Nationals Park, and my kids’ favorite: an underground Metro train. Buttons and levers activate moving parts throughout.
You can do your own building at the Build Adventures zone and Spaceship Build & Scan zone. Construct vehicles to race on a volcanic, looped track, zip through a pyramid, or jump over an alligator. Then take your skills to the next out-of-this-world level. Build a rocket ship, scan it, set your mission settings, and launch it into cyber space.
If your kids have physical energy to burn after exercising their minds, head to the Hero Zone. Here you’ll find a small climbing gym and my family’s favorite feature, the Laser Maze, a “bank robbery” set up in LEGO City. Sneak through the laser beams at easy, medium, hard, and expert levels – fastest times are recorded for all to see!
Your littlest ones can bounce around DUPLO Park, where you’ll find a triceratops carousel, duck pond “fishing,” and more. After play time, it’s snack time. Head to the LEGO Café for treats and beverages. (Alternatively, the LEGO Discovery Center is located within a mall and surrounded by dining options—though re-entry is not permitted.)
Do NOT bypass the 4D Cinema during your visit, which offers a variety of LEGO short films (less than 15 minutes each) shown at scheduled intervals throughout the day. Put on your 3D glasses and prepare for light “snow,” water, and smoke to create that extra dimension. My son’s only complaint: the show was too short!
The Workshop is another zone with scheduled times where you can build along, step-by-step, with a Master Lego Builder. And if you haven’t exhausted your kids at this point, the Creative Club is yet another stop for open-ended designing and building.
And after what will easily be a half-day visit, exit through the Shop offering options to continue the creativity at home.
LEGO Discovery Center Washington DC
Where: Springfield Town Center | Springfield, VA 22150
When: 10AM – 6PM daily; last entry at 4:30PM
Admission: Starts at $28.99; free/age 2 & under | Purchase tickets in advance