Tag Archives: Fun with Kids in Maryland

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

Celebrate Black History, Online and Around DC Through February — and Beyond

 

February is Black History Month, and if you’re looking for ways to celebrate it with kids, you have plenty of options, both virtually and in person around the DC area.  Museum programs, guided and self-guided tours, visits to significant sites, story time sessions, online concerts, and more will be enlightening and entertaining for all ages. And while some of these are happening on specific dates this month, many of them are ongoing for year-round enjoyment and education.  For even more good reads and related content, check out the Black Lives Matter page.

African American History and Culture
Where: NMAAHC | Online
When: Through February
Admission: Free

The National Museum of African American History & Culture may just be the best place to learn about Black history and culture in America. And while the actual place is closed right now, there still are lots of digital resources available through the website that let you explore it all, including online exhibits, programming for children and adults, and a whole section on talking about race.

The Underground Railroad Experience Trail
Where: Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park | Sandy Spring, MD
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free

Take a hike that provides insight into the experience of enslaved peoples’ escape to freedom. This 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, socially distanced way to spend time outdoors.

Visit BLM Plaza
Where: 16th Street NW | Downtown DC
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free

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 this past summer as the BLM movement began to swell after the murder of George Floyd. The now pedestrian area became a meeting place and focal point of protests and other events — and a site of historic significance in DC. The protest signs that covered the fence around the park have been removed, but the location still provides good context for a conversation with kids about BLM.

Tour Memorials
Where: Several locations in DC
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free

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 quote 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.

Discover Women’s Landmarks
Where: Various locations around the DMV
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free

The Wander Women Project, a has gathered all the places honoring pioneer black women in the DMV area (and slightly further). Since many indoor museums are closed due to Covid-19, mostly outdoor sites and online resources are listed, making outings to visit to them perfect for social distancing.

Black History in Alexandria
Where: Throughout Alexandria, VA
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by activity
A new blog post from Visit Alexandria discusses their renewed commitment to racial equity that pre-dated the surge in the Black Lives Matter movement. There are new major projects and programs that highlight Black history experiences throughout the city, including the Duke Street Black History Trail, Courageous Journey: Alexandria’s Black History Driving Tour, a waterfront African American Heritage Trail and an Underground Railroad-themed tour from Manumission Tour Company.

Black History in MoCo Parks
Where: Parks around Montgomery County, MD
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies

Several sites within the Montgomery Parks system have connections to Black history. See Civil War ruins, visit a place named for the man who inspired Uncle Tom’s Cabin, explore the site of a 19th century African American roadside community, and more. Get more details here.

Black History with PG Parks
Where: Parks around PG County, MD
When: Through February
Admission:

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 throughout Prince George’s County, both virtual and in person.

The Slave Memorial & Exhibits
Where: Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: Ongoing
Admission: $20/adult, $12/ages 6-11, free/5 & under

Make a point to see these on a visit to George Washington’s estate in Northern Virginia. 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. The exhibit Lives Bound Together explores the personal stories of the people enslaved at Mount Vernon while providing insight into George Washington’s evolving opposition to slavery.

Introducing…
Where: National Portrait Gallery | Online
When: February 3, 10, 17, and 24
Admission:

The National Portrait Gallery’s program for children ages 3+ shines a light on Black historymakers and their portraits this month. Kids will learn more about art, hear the stories behind the portraits, and even hear some new vocabulary.

Royal Fun with Culture Queen
Where: Online
When: February 6, 2-2:30pm & February 21, 1:30-2pm
Admission: Free

Culture Queen, the children’s author, entertainer, and educator known for presenting empowering entertainment — music, movement, and storytelling — for kids, has a couple of online events this month. Join for Black History Live on February 6 and for a Virtual Dance Party on February 21.

Library Programs
Where: DC Public Library | Online
When: Throughout February
Admission: Free

The DC Public Library proudly celebrates Black History Month during February with all kinds of online programs — story times, book discussions, crafts, and more. Visit the website to see when they are taking place.

Let It Shine
Where: Port Discovery | Baltimore, MD
When: February 6 & 13
Admission: $17.95

At the wonderful children’s museum in Baltimore, celebrate Black History Month by reading festive stories inside The Oasis at the Reading Corner. Of course, plan to enjoy the multiple levels of fun and educational exhibits while you’re there.

Black History Month at the Tiny Desk
Where: NPR Music | Online
When: Through February
Admission: Free

NPR Music’s awesome Tiny Desk Concert series is celebrating Black History Month by featuring 13 Tiny Desk (home) concerts by Black artists across genres and highlighting performances by Black artists from the archives with weekly curated playlists. The celebration will spotlight different genres and generations each week.

 

*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!

 

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Filed under 2021, All ages, Annual, Black Lives Matter, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Maryland, Museums, Ongoing, Outdoor, Social Distancing, Special Event, Virginia, Virtual Programs, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Scenes from a Lovely Fall Outing to Brookside Gardens

 

Is it just me, or has this fall been especially beautiful?  The scenery seems ablaze with golden yellow, fiery orange, and deep red as the foliage puts on its seasonal performance. Perhaps the general gloom of this past year makes the bright spots that much more vivid, or maybe Mother Nature just knows how much we need it right now.

The fam framed by fall foliage

It’s this autumn luster that brought us to Brookside Gardens this past weekend — well, coupled with a little photography agenda.  We wanted to get out and enjoy the day before the rain came, someplace relaxing that would showcase the season.  So, I checked the round-up of the best outdoor places for ideas (yep, I use my own blog!), and in one glance I knew where we were going: Brookside Gardens, the beautiful public display garden within Wheaton Regional Park in the Montgomery Parks system.

Owen, circa 2010

Owen, circa 2015

The lead image in that post, the one of oh-so-sweet, four-year-old Owen chilling in the tree, was taken at Brookside almost exactly 10 years ago.  We recreated the photo when we happened to be back there five years later, so when I saw it again and did the math, I realized it was time for the next installment.

Paved paths traverse the gardens…

…as do leave strewn dirt trails

As those photos indicate, we’ve been enjoying Brookside Gardens for a long time.  Along with an occasional fall visit, we usually go for the wonderful annual Wings of Fancy butterfly exhibit and Garden of Lights holiday display, however, both were among the many beloved area events cancelled this year.  But this autumn outing was lovely and serene and perfect for right now.  Plus, we got that shot.

Owen at 14

Of course, we had to capture our best girl, too

Brookside Gardens is located at 1800 Glenallan Avenue in Wheaton, MD.  Right now, the grounds are open to wander and enjoy daily from sunrise to sunset, and the Visitor Center 10am – 2pm.   The sweet Children’s Garden is not accessible during Covid.  Along with the links above, read more about Brookside in this KFDC post.

And get more of a glimpse of the gorgeous fall in the pics below…

 

Goose watching

 

And it was all yellow

 

Japanese maple…wowza

 

View from a gazebo

 

Shimmering woods

 

A serene pond scene

 

This pergola turns into a fab pink walkway during Garden of Lights

 

Masks highly encouraged!

 

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Filed under 2020, All ages, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Fall, Free, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Social Distancing, Weekdays, Weekend