Tag Archives: Family Fun

Scenes from the Finally Reopened, Very Much Missed Dumbarton Oaks Garden

 

Of the many re-openings happening over the next month, the Dumbarton Oaks Garden may just be the one I am happiest about, mostly because it’s the first time visitors can return since it closed last spring.  While many places welcomed the public for a brief period last summer and fall, the Garden’s gates remained closed — and I, for one, really missed being able to visit.

Dumbarton is one of my go-to places for peace and calm, when I just want to stroll around and relax in a beautiful setting.  (So, it’s probably understandable why I missed it so much over the last year.)  The Garden’s 16 acres are a horticultural haven, with countless varieties of flowers, plants, and trees throughout the many plats of the terraced grounds.  It’s breathtaking year-round, but especially vibrant right now with spring blooms and bright, fresh foliage.  Pre-Covid, Dumbarton was a regular recommendation from me, and I’ve written about it several times —  you can read more here, here, and here.

 

The hardscapes are just as lovely as the landscapes. There are several fountains (that look freshly cleaned!), benches and other lovely spots to sit, and many garden sculptures.  And the Pebble Garden, probably my favorite area, is a patterned pebble mosaic with a fountain at one end and encircling walls covered in wisteria.  It’s absolutely enchanting… though, really, the whole garden feels like it’s out of a fairytale,.

 

Dumbarton isn’t just a place I love; our whole family enjoys visiting together.  We’ve been there many times over the last decade.  When the kids were younger, we’d take them to play next door at Montrose Park or go for a short hike on the Dumbarton Oaks Park trail (located behind the estate), maybe have a little picnic, then head to the garden for its afternoon open time (note that picnics are not allowed at Dumbarton).  They always loved walking around, exploring, and seeing what delights awaited around every corner.

As the kids have gotten older, we usually pair a visit to the Garden with a meal in Georgetown.   If we want something quick, we walk down to Jaco Juice and Taco Bar a few blocks away on Wisconsin Avenue and sit outside.  We might also walk a little farther to Martin’s Tavern (a DC institution), Peacock Cafe, or Cafe Milano.

Right now, the Garden is only open to those with season passes, which are available for purchase and start at $75 for one person (and you still need to get timed-entry tickets).  Beginning May 15, it will be open to all with timed-entry tickets to control capacity.  Masks are also required as a safety precaution, and the bathrooms are not open, so prepare for that.

 

Dumbarton Oaks Garden is located at 31st and R Streets NW in Georgetown.  You can usually find two-hour street parking very close to the entrance.  Hours right now are 3-6pm on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Beginning May 15, it will be open Tuesday – Sunday, 3-6pm.  You must reserve a timed-entry ticket in advance.  Admission is $10/adult, $5/child | FREE November thru mid-March.

Get more of a glimpse in these snaps from my recent visit…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 2021, All ages, COVID-19, DC, Outdoor, Social Distancing

Quick Links for this Week

     Spring Break 2021

 

It’s Spring Break for most DC students, including ours, so a couple of things:  1) You may be looking for extra things to do around the DC area during the time off from school  and  2) We’re taking advantage with a beach trip, so I won’t be posting much, but I’m also not leaving you hanging — here are quick KFDC links that will come in handy.  Have a great week!

 

Where to Go & What to Do During Spring Break 2021

Spring Things to Get Excited About Around the DC Area

The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids

Inside Info: Indoor Places Open During COVID

Local Hikes with Kids

Bike Routes for Everyone Around the DC Area

 

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Filed under 2021, All ages, Maryland, Seasonal, Spring, Virginia, Weekdays

Where to Go & What to Do During Spring Break 2021

Paddle season has begun — just in time for Spring Break!

 

Spring Break begins soon for many local students, so you may be in need of some extra reminders of all the great activities there are to do around the area to keep your kids engaged and entertained over the next couple of weeks, depending on when they’re off from school. And if some of this sounds familiar, that’s because a version has been posted in previous years, but it’s been updated to reflect what’s going on right now.

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

And, of course, the rest of the blog is full of suggestions if you want even more options. So, whether you’re enjoying a staycation or visiting from out of town, you should have no problem keeping the kids (and yourself!) happy during the week off — or on, depending how you look at it. Happy Spring Break!

Special & Seasonal Activities

A Rapunzel fairy house at a past Fairies in the Garden

Fairies in the Garden
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Lusby, MD
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $5 suggested donation

Guaranteed to delight, the annual exhibit of fairy and gnome houses at Annmarie Sculpture Garden just began.  This year more than 100 homes for spritely creatures will be scattered throughout the grounds. Viewing them (and more art) as you walk along a trail through the woods is a fantastic adventure for all ages. Plan for play time in the adorable Fairy Lolly, and stop in the Arts Center for more creative works. Get a glimpse of it all here and here.   PS: The Fairy & Gnome Home Festival is this coming Sunday, April 18, in case you want to save a visit for then.

Go with the Flow
Where: Waterways around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies

Row, row, row your boat or kayak or canoe! Paddle season has started as several places have started offering boat rentals. Boating in DC has several locations in the District and a few NoVa Parks offer it, too. This post about places to go with the flow has more details.

Bloom Town
Where: Around the DC Area
When: Varies by locale
Admission: Varies by locale

The cherry blossom peak may have passed, but there are more big blooms to enjoy around the DC area, a couple of them literally coming now. Bluebells are blanketing the the grounds around the area, and azaleas are just beginning to bloom, too.  And the best places to see them are fab for more than just the flowers. This post has details on where to go for those and other big blooms coming up. [Update: Burnside Farms just announced their annual Festival of Spring featuring a brilliant variety of tulips opens Wednesday, April 13!]

It’s Glow Time
Where: Around Georgetown, DC
When: Through June 27
Admission: Free

Georgetown Glow, the annual exhibition that usually takes place during the holiday season, was rescheduled for spring. You can see the neighborhood sparkle with modern light art installations throughout the bustling community.  Artworks will be viewable by day, but obviously much brighter at night! Take the fam to lunch or dinner, then go for a stroll to check them all out. Get a glimpse of a past light show here.

An O-So-Cool Adventure
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle
When: Daily, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Starts at $25

Locate secret doors, see outrageously fabulous themed rooms, and browse a trove of secondhand treasures on a tour of one of the coolest spots in DC: The Mansion on O Street. The Dupont Circle landmark is a mansion, museum, secondhand store, and hotel all in one — and visitors are welcome to explore it all. (And through April 5, they are hosting special Easter Treasure Hunts – $40.) Admission can add up, so Spring Break is a great time to go if you’re looking for something special to do. Plus, it’s a unique adventure in a truly stunning space.

Natitude
Where: Nationals Park & Around the DC Area
When: Starting April 1
Admission: Varies

Baseball season is back, and while it still won’t be quite the same as it was pre-Covid, there are some fun ways to root for our home team. Maybe you’re lucky enough to be among the 5,000 fans who get to watch the game in person in the stadium. If not, you might head to a local spot where you can watch while social distancing and enjoying a bite with your crew — this WaPo article has some suggestions for that. (FYI, The Brig is our fave and very family friendly.)  Update!  The Nats are now offering single game tickets to the general public, including for the weekend’s for every game throughout the upcoming homestand April 15-18 vs Arizona and April 19-21 vs. St. Louis. Tickets start at just $14 and will be sold in socially distanced pods of 1 to 6 tickets.

 

Museums & Galleries

Interact with language at Planet Word

Word Up
Where: Planet Word | Downtown DC
When: Starting April 1
Admission: Free

The museum dedicated to language opened briefly last fall before closing due to rising Covid rates. It will finally welcome visitors again starting April 1, and I highly recommend going! Three levels full of interactive and immersive exhibits engage, educate, entertain, and delight. Older kids, tweens and up (and that includes the kid in us adults), will get the most out of it, but elementary ages definitely could enjoy it, too. Read a full write-up about it here. Free, timed-entry passes will be available on March 29 — reserve them through the website.

Mission: Fun
Where: International Spy Museum | L’Enfant Plaza, DC
When: Wed – Fri, 9am – 6pm & Sat – Tues 8:30am – 8pm
Admission: $24.95/age 13+, $14.95/7-12, free/6 & under

The Spy Museum has reopened its doors, so you can explore the intriguing world of espionage.  Exhibits are engaging for both kids and adults, with state-of-the-art multimedia installations and loads of cool interactives — used with stylus pens + extra safety measures in place for Covid.  Discover tricks of the trade, view gadgets used to keep secrets and disguises to hide identities, learn about some of the most famous spies and their missions, and much more.  It’s a fun day out for all!

Celebrate Women in Art
Where: National Museum of Women in the Arts | Downtown DC
When: Mon – Sat, 10am – 5pm | Sun 12-5pm
Admission: $10/adult, free for kids

The museum dedicated to women’s art makes for a great outing with kids, especially tweens and teens, but younger children could enjoy it, too. Works span the centuries, from the 16th to the present in a variety of mediums, highlighting women artists all over the world. The current exhibition Sonya Clark: Tatter, Bristle, and Mend is so interesting and creative, using human hair, pocket combs, other materials as it explores Black history and culture in America.

Renewal 2121
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
When: Through September 6
Admission: $24/adult, $17/age 4-15, free/under 4

The latest exhibit at ARTECHOUSE is inspired by the cherry blossoms and spring. Here’s the description of 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.”

Maritime Explorations
Where: Calvert Marine Museum | Calvert County, MD
When: Daily, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $9/adult, $4/ages 5-12, free/4 & under

Head out to Calvert County to explore the heritage and history of the Chesapeake Bay.  The array of interesting exhibits includes display cases full of fossils and artifacts, plus live fish and other creatures. For extra safety, they are limiting capacity and using a timed entry system — reserve a 2-hour time slot here.  (Note that the play area and real lighthouse are closed to visitors right now.)

 

#OptOutside

Hit the beach for fossil hunting

Beachy Keen: Sand, Surf, & Fossils
Where: Around the area
When: Daily
Admission: Varies by beach

Many of us associate Spring Break with beach trips, so why not hit the shore with the kids? There are several places within day trip-distance from DC that are nice for sand and surf. Even if the weather is cool, you can still picnic, play, maybe fossil hunt, and enjoy beachy vibes.  Head out to Calvert Cliffs State Park or Flag Ponds Nature Park (note limited days at FPNP). Or go east to Sandy Point State Park. You can also play paleontologist and look for prehistoric fragments along the Potomac at the Purse Area in Charles County, MD (one of our very favorite outings in the area).

Art al Fresco
Where: Around the DC Area
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies

Enjoy the outdoors and get an art fix at the same time. Both the Hirshhorn (10am – 4:30pm) and National Gallery of Art Sculpture Gardens (11am – 4pm) have reopened again. Tour the lovely Annmarie Sculpture Garden in Calvert County and enjoy more art experiences there.  You can also see works all over the city on a DC Murals Tour.

Take a Hike
Where: Around the area
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by locale

It’s a great time of year to spend some time on the trail as the weather warms up and color returns to the landscape. See flowers in bloom, tramp in places with scenic views, hike and explore history at interesting locales, and enjoy a day of active fun. This post has a a bunch of recommendations for good walks in the woods with the kids.  KFDC Tip: It’s a good time to take advantage of lesser crowds on weekdays at places that usually draw them, like Great Falls, Scott’s Run, Roosevelt Island, Sugarloaf Mountain, and Patapsco.

Ride Bikes
Where: Around the DC Area
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free

The weather during spring is perfect for biking, and with kids off from school, you can all get in some good cycling time together. Explore memorials and Smithsonian gardens as you ride on the National Mall. Bike along the Anacostia and make some fun stops on the way. Two-wheel it on fun trails in Virginia and Maryland. There are a bunch of great routes to ride around the area, and this post will help you find one perfect for your crew to pedal.

Roam a Garden
Where: Around the area
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by locale

With flowers blooming and landscapes bursting with color, a visit to a garden is a fantastic outing, especially when there’s often more to do than just look at plants and flowers. Explore and play at the National Arboretum, wander around Green Spring Gardens on a scavenger hunt, enjoy the array of flora at Brookside, venture out to the gorgeous Meadowlark Botanical Garden, or relish in the peace at the Franciscan Monastery in Brookland. Plus, the Enid A. Haupt Garden, Mary Livingston Ripley Garden, Pollinator Garden, and more small Smithsonian gardens are all open to visitors and fun to explore on the National Mall.

 

Day Trips & Overnights

Annapolis, capital city on the Chesapeake

Explore Another Capital City
Where: Annapolis, MD
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by activity

Maryland’s capital city is as beautiful as it is fun, and you can easily make a day (or few) of it there. Stroll around town and take in views the Chesapeake, enjoy some outdoor recreation at Quiet Waters Park, and of course, plan to feast on crabs. It’s all an easy drive out Rt. 50 from DC.

Baltimore, Hon!
Where: Inner Harbor Area | Baltimore, MD
When: Varies by place
Admission: Varies by locale

Zip up I-95 for some fun in our sister city, where there are lots of great places to spend a day off. Explore the exhibits and loads of hands-on activities at the Maryland Science Center. Play the day away at Port Discovery. See some of the quirkiest, coolest art around at the American Visionary Art Museum. Get an eyeful of the underwater world at the National Aquarium. Or learn about Baltimore’s early business days at the Museum of Industry.  And the historic ships should be opening for tours again!  All of these places require advance reservations, and be sure to check days/hours as not all of them are open everyday.

Hiking & History
Where: Harpers Ferry
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free ($10 if you park in lot)

Get some fresh air and exercise as you enjoy spring weather and historic sites. Harpers Ferry is an easy day trip or quick getaway destination from DC, and spring is a great time to go. For more about a visit there, see this KFDC post.

Go Underground
Where: Luray Caverns
When: Ongoing, 9am – 7pm
Admission: $30/adults, $15/ages 6-12, 5 and under free

Behold the spectacular underground world of stalagmites, stalactites, and other amazing limestone formations in the massive cave system at Luray. Afterward, make your way through the Garden Maze or check out vintage rides in the Carriage and Caravan Museum. Admission does not include attractions beyond the cavern. KFDC Tip: Be sure to make a pit stop before going into the caverns, because it can be a long walk out to a restroom, and once you’re out, you may not be able to go back in.

Tramp & Camp
Where: Shenandoah National Park
When: Ongoing
Admission: $35/vehicle, campsites are extra & vary

Whether you go for a day or even several, Shenandoah National Park is a boon for outdoor recreation close to DC. If you can only swing a day, find some good trails to hike or even ride along Skyline Drive and take in the beautiful vistas from the car. If you can stay overnight, it’s a great place for a camping experience with kids. Either way, enjoy being immersed in nature and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife sightings!

 

Last minute getaway? Colonial Williamsburg is fantastic!

Extra Tips
* For more suggestions to relish the sublime spring weather, check out The Best Places in the DC Area to Spend a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids.
* If you’re looking specifically for rainy day ideas and are comfortable with being inside, see this list of indoor places that are open now.
* If you’re considering a last minute Spring Break getaway, here are some ideas for easy trips from DC.
* Check for deals and discounts on CertifiKID.

 

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Filed under 2021, All ages, DC, Maryland, Seasonal, Spring, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Scenes from the Start of Spring at the National Arboretum

 

This spring had to be the most anticipated one ever.  I mean, we always look forward to emerging from the cold and darkness of winter, to color returning to the landscape as trees begin to flower, to longer days, to renewal.  But this year it’s about so much more.

With this spring comes hope and optimism in a way that we couldn’t have fathomed in previous years. After a year of fear, uncertainty, disruption, and heartbreak that Covid heaved upon us, we are finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. There’s still a ways to go, but that glimmer is getting brighter all the time.

This first day of spring did not disappoint.  The sun was shining, the weather pleasant, and it was a Saturday, so we could be out and about to enjoy it all.  We did that at one of our very favorite places in DC:  The National Arboretum.  We hadn’t been in awhile, because we thought there was a no dogs rule — we like being able to bring Teddy on our outings, especially if we’re hiking around outdoors — but we just learned that our pup can go to the Arb as long as he’s leashed.

So, that’s where we headed to ring in the new season.  If you’ve been reading KFDC awhile, you probably know how much I love the Arboretum — it tops the round-up of best outdoor spots.  (You can see more about it here, here, here, and here.) It’s a wonderful place to go any time of year, but this visit was especially auspicious as some of the cherry trees were blooming…on the first day of spring!

There is a self-guided cherry blossom tour to follow through the US National Arboretum app, or you can do what we did and see them as you wander around randomly and just refer to the app for the few that are blooming right now.

 

Be sure to explore the rest of the Arboretum to see even more bloom beginnings — rhododendrons, dogwoods, daffodils — and the many collections of plants and trees.  The Capitol Columns in the Ellipse Meadow are quite striking and have to be one of the most photographed spots in DC.

 

Get out and celebrate spring and all the hope that comes with it this year. The U.S. National Arboretum is located in Northeast DC, off of Bladensburg Road and New York Avenue, the entrance at 24th & R Streets (from Bladensburg). Hours are 8am – 5pm. Admission is free.

PS: We are happy to report that Teddy loves the Arboretum just as much as we do.  And now that we know he can go, he’ll be a regular visitor, too!

 

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Filed under 2021, All ages, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Free, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Social Distancing, Spring, Weekdays, Weekend