Tag Archives: Fun with Kids in Washington DC

Where to Play on Thanksgiving Day

The Air & Space Museum and all of the Smithsonian Museums remain open on Thanksgiving!

How about a side of recreation to go with your Thanksgiving turkey? If you’re going to be in town for the holiday and looking for pre- or post-feast activities, here are some ways to complement the main event of the day. Happy Thanksgiving!

* Visit a Smithsonian museum or the National Zoo. They are all open on Thanksgiving from 10am – 5:30pm, except for the American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery which are open 11:30am – 7pm. The National Gallery of Art (which is not part of the Smithsonian, just a neighbor on the Mall) is open, too, from 10am – 5pm.

* Experience Season’s Greenings at the U.S. Botanic Garden on opening day! Get an idea of what to expect in this post.

* Hang out at a playground. Hains Point, Clemyjontri, Watkins Regional Park, Beauvoir, Cabin John Regional Park, Wheaton Regional Park, plus loads of DC Parks and Rec locations, and many more in NoVa and Maryland are great places to play while you’re waiting for the feast.

* Get gliding and enjoy some active fun. You can skate under the sky at one of several ice rinks in the area that are open on the holiday. Find info for them here.

* Enjoy a holiday hike. For those who like to get out, it looks like it should be a pleasant Turkey Day this year. Rock Creek, Great Falls, Roosevelt Island, Huntley Meadows, Prince William Forest, Riverbend, and Turkey Run are all great parks for family tramping. This post has details on all of them along with even more recs for local walks in the woods.

* Go bowling. Pinstripes in Georgetown hosts Kids Bowling from 10am – 12pm, when ages 12 and under bowl for just $6 (and parents bowl free!). There is a locaton in Rockville, too. You can also hit the lanes at Lucky Strike in Penn Quarter, Bowlmor in Bethesda or Rockville, or Bowl America in several NoVa locations.

* Get into the holiday spirit at Christmas on the Potomac, the Gaylord National Resort’s spectacular seasonal attraction.

* Dance off the turkey dinner at the Kennedy Center. The evening’s free Millennium Stage performance features their annual Thanksgiving Day Swing with music by Josh Christina, an infectious blend of piano driven, high octane boogie-woogie and pop ’n’ roll. This all takes place from 5:30-8pm, and admission is free.

* Take an evening drive or stroll through a holiday light display — several in the area have started dazzling visitors with twinkling wonderlands.

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Filed under All ages, Animals, Annual, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Free, Holidays, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Virginia, Weekdays

What’s Open Today – Quick Update!


Is cabin fever setting in? Are ready to do something that doesn’t involve snow? Here’s a quick update on some places open today, Tuesday, January 26, where you can get out for some indoor fun with the kiddos.

Smithsonian Museums: A few of the museums are opening back up today: The Air & Space and Natural History Museum (10am – 5:30pm) and the National Portait Gallery and American Art Museum (11:30am – 7pm) are welcoming visitors again.

Movie Theaters: Many area theaters are open, but be sure to confirm hours before you go.

DC Public Library: Opening late today. Hours at most locations will be 12-7pm. Rosedale, Deanwood, and Northwest One will be open 1-7pm.

Arlington Public Library: Open at 12pm, though all programs for children are canceled through Wednesday.

(Alexandria, Fairfax, PG, and Montgomery County Libraries still closed)

DC Aquatic Centers: Indoor public pools in the District are opening back up today, though some are delayed, so be sure to check hours before you go.

MagicGround: The new play space in Columbia Heights has resumed its regular hours.

SportRock Climbing Centers: The Alexandria location is open, and the Sterling site will make a decision later today.

Kettler Capitals IcePlex: Open with several Freestyle sessions, but be sure to check the schedule before you go.

Port Discovery: If you feel like making the drive to Baltimore, the children’s museum and play place will open at 12pm.

SkyZone: The trampoline park in Columbia, MD, is open 11am – 8pm.

As mentioned in Where to Play on the Weekdays, the Washington Auto Show is back on as of today through January 31, and Flight Trampoline Park is open.

*Also of note: DC Public Schools will be providing breakfast and lunch to students and families at 10 schools across Washington, DC, from 10am – 12pm.

Do you know of any other places open today to bring the kids? Let us know in the comments!

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Filed under All ages, DC, Educational, Free, Indoor Play, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Seasonal, Virginia, Weekdays, Winter

Play & Learn Through American History at Wegmans Wonderplace

Climb aboard for some fun in Wegmans Wonderplace

Climb aboard for some fun in Wegmans Wonderplace

Parents with little ones, take note: The new Wegmans Wonderplace at the National Museum of American History should be among your go-to places to take your babe to play. Designed especially for children 0-6 years old, the activity center in the recently opened Innovation Wing incorporates play and learning in the museum’s context with fun and interesting features that cater to curious young visitors as well as their accompanying adults.


My kids are too old for it now, but it’s exactly the kind of place I sought out in their early years. (I know this from joining a friend and her 4-year-old on a recent visit there.) As the museum puts it, “Wonderplace is built around the enduring wonders of childhood, the things kids are naturally curious about — blocks, animals, sounds — and branches out to make connections to the museum’s diverse collections and exhibitions.”

Active play in the museum

Active play in the museum

Taking the wheel of the boat

Taking the wheel of the boat

What's for dinner, Stig?

What’s for dinner, Stig?

They achieve this with a variety of exhibits that appeal to little guests with hands-on activities, active fun, and pretend play opportunities. A big boat in the middle of the room welcomes children to climb aboard, slide down, and drive. There’s a market to shop for veggies, and a kitchen where they can use them to prepare a meal. A farm area lets them collect eggs from chickens, and a corner dedicated to blocks and building encourages them to use their imaginations to create all kinds of structures. A wall of full of framed portraits shows how history is the story of people. And throughout the space are items from the museum’s collections on display that relate to the exhibits.

The blocks station is a must-play

The blocks station is a must-play

Down on the farm

Down on the farm

A nice feature at the stations are panels that explain the connection of the activities to both the museum and childrens’ learning, plus tips for parents on ways to explore them at varying stages — infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. And all of the exhibits are at eye-level for kids, so they can engage completely and comfortably.

The collections section

The collections section

Tips to make the most of your visit

Tips to make the most of your visit

These are among many thoughtful details that parents can appreciate. Some others are boppy pillows in the reading area for nursing moms, a crawling area for babies with soft toys and a low-hung mirror, and a restroom within the space that includes a changing table and child-sized toilet. And enthusiastic museum staff are on hand to answer questions and occasionally jump in with helpful suggestions for both adults and children.

Room for reading, nursing... and snuggling

Room for reading, nursing… and snuggling

Take your own portrait

Take your own portrait

When I asked my friend, Jody, what she and her son thought of Wegmans Wonderplace, she said, “I think the fact that I had to drag him out of there speaks volumes!” She noted that the mix of activities kept him occupied for a full two hours and also pointed out that the location inside the American History Museum is a bonus “because it gives some good variety in the outing for grownups, as opposed to trucking to a play zone place just for that purpose.”

All kinds of building materials in the blocks area

All kinds of building materials in the blocks area

A great point, indeed! You can extend your visit beyond Wegmans Wonderplace and explore other parts of the museum that young children enjoy, like some of the displays in the Innovation Wing and America on the Move, where they can sit on an L train car and gawk at other vehicles. And the newly renovated Spark!Lab is adjacent, but generally geared toward older kids. (That’s also good to keep in mind…while Wonderplace is supposed to be for ages 0-6, I thought it seemed like 4 and under would enjoy it best. But you can always bring your 5/6-year-old, and move to the Spark!Lab next door if they seem too old.)

A little marble run fun in the Spark!Lab

A little marble run fun in the Spark!Lab

And did I mention that it’s all free? That’s right, like many Smithsonian gems, there is no entrance fee. There’s a chance of a short wait if it happens to be crowded, but you have a whole museum to explore until it’s your turn to go in.

Wegmans Wonderplace is located on the First Floor West of the American History Museum (14th & Constitution NW). It’s open every day except Tuesdays and December 25 from 10am – 4pm. Admission, as mentioned, is free. There is street parking nearby, and you can probably find a close spot on a weekday, but weekends will be more challenging. The nearest Metro station is the Smithsonian stop, just across the National Mall at 12th and Independence SW.


Filed under Babies, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Indoor Play, Museums, Preschoolers, Toddlers, Weekdays, Weekend

NSO in Your Neighborhood Brings Free Music to Downtown & Penn Quarter

NSONeighborhood_Downtown_PennQuarter logo

The National Symphony Orchestra has brought back its wonderful NSO in Your Neighborhood initiative. From January 5-11, Downtown DC and Penn Quarter will be a hive of musical activity as the NSO presents a week’s worth of free events for the entire family.

The American Art Museum, International Spy Museum, MLK Library, community churches, local theatres, and more venues around the Downtown/Penn Quarter area will host a variety of presentations, including chamber music performances, orchestral concerts, and educational events.

The performances highlighted below will likely appeal to families with young children most, but just about all of the events can be appreciated by any age. You can view the complete schedule on the Kennedy Center website.

Saturday, January 9
The Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th & F Streets NW
All day & 7pm

There will be pop-up performances throughout the day, including the NSO Family Concert: Inspiration! at 2-3pm, plus instrument petting zoos. And the entire National Symphony Orchestra will perform a special evening concert in the Kogod Courtyard.

Calvary Baptist Church, 755 8th Street NW
Master Class, 10:3am – 12:30pm

Audiences are invited to observe NSO musician Holly Hamilton (violin) leading a master class for Symphony Kids of the Prince George’s Philharmonic.

Sunday, January 10
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G Street NW
Artistic Exchange: Music and Spoken Word, 2-4pm

NSO musician Glenn Donnellan (violin) performs with spoken word artists from Words, Beats & Life and members of the Hip Hop Orchestra of UMD.

International Spy Museum , 800 F Street NW
Spy-themed music 3-4pm

NSO musicians Nurit Bar-Josef (concertmaster), Natasha Bogachek (violin), Eric deWaardt (viola), and James Lee (cello) perform an espionage-themed program for this family-friendly event. Patrons who attend the performance will also receive a coupon for $5 off the price of admission to visit the museum’s exhibits.

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Filed under All ages, Annual, DC, Educational, Free, Live Entertainment, Museums, Music, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter