Holiday lights and history on a tour through Georgetown
[Note: This is a Guest Post contributed by Canden Arciniega from DC By Foot.]
Hi! I’m Canden, a tour guide and historian in Washington, DC, and a mom of two. It has been a weird line between getting the kids out of the house and keeping the kids in the house this year, not quite knowing what to do or what’s open and meets the safety standards that we’ve set for our family. KidFriendly DC has been my go-to in figuring out what is happening [editor’s note: 😊], so I’m excited to share with you what my company is doing this December as a kid-friendly option for something fun, festive, and perfect for these social distancing times.
DC by Foot offers over a dozen walking tours, available each day. Let’s get the safety protocols out there first: All our tours are entirely outdoors, in small groups to allow physical distancing, with mask requirements of all guests and guides.
For the holiday season, starting December 4, we’re excited to offer a Holiday Lights and History tour of Georgetown daily! This 1.5-hour tour starts at 6pm and explores the holiday windows and light displays. We’ll weave in stories of Georgetown history as we walk — for instance, did you know the Gap in Georgetown used to be a Civil War prison for deserters?
If you’re not interested in Georgetown, we also offer a Downtown History & Lights tour on a private basis that visits the Holiday Market, Macy’s Windows, Willard Hotel, and National Christmas tree display.
Wondering whether our guides will be engaging and fun enough for your kids? Not to worry! In the before times, our team of full time guides worked mostly with student groups. We tell jokes so bad they are good and pride ourselves in winning over even the most angsty teen.
See festive window displays in local shops
Our Georgetown Holiday Lights tours are name-your-own-price from Wednesday to Saturday, and ticketed Sunday to Tuesday. Name-your-own-price tours allow you to take the tour and then decide at the end what you thought it was worth, paying the guide directly when the tour is finished. Guides strive to make the tour such a memorable experience that you’ll want to support them, but if that’s not in your budget, or you didn’t feel like it was worth it… that is your choice.
With the limited number of people and tours right now, many of our tours are ticketed in order to support our guides, but we’re happy to be able to offer select tours on the name-your-own-price basis.
Interested in more information about our Holiday Lights or any other tours? You can find them all on our website, DC by Foot, or send me a message at email@example.com.
It’s your last chance to play with the “northern lights” of ARETCHOUSE’s Aurora exhibit
Happy First Weekend of 2020!
Wizards Star Wars Night
Where: Capitol One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Friday, 7pm
The Washington Wizards have partnered with Lucasfilm to host a movie night following the game on Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers. Fans purchasing the movie night ticket will see the Wizards vs. Trail Blazers game and enjoy Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope on the new LED boards following the game. Fans will also be able to watch an episode of Star Wars Resistance before the movie starts. The ticket package also includes a Star Wars-themed popcorn bucket with unlimited refills. Fans are encouraged to arrive early and capture the moment with Star Wars characters throughout the concourse.
Where: Throughout the DMV
When: All weekend long
Admission: Varies by activity
The holidays may be over, but many activities celebrating them are still running through this weekend. Live entertainment, spectacular light displays, model trains, and seasonal events are some of the ways you can savor the holiday magic just a little bit longer. The 2019 KFDC Holiday Guide will tell you where to find them.
Summer Camp Sampler
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: Saturday, 9:45am – 12:45pm
Warm up on this winter weekend with thoughts of summer! Get an up-close and personal look at what summer camp is like at Imagination Stage. Sample camps are 20 minutes long, with the exception of longer drop-off Musical Production. Parents are encouraged to join the samplers for children in grades 2 or younger. Parents of campers in grades 3 or older are welcome to observe the sampler, but not required. Register for a sample class here. This is geared toward children aged 4 – Grade 9. While some are filled, there are still spots left in several others.
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: Thursday – Sunday
Admission: $25-95 varies by day (ages 6-12 are 50% off)
This 4-day music and gaming festival is dedicated to the appreciation of video game music, gaming of all types, and the gaming community. Run by fans for fans, there are consoles, arcades, tabletop, LAN, live video game cover bands, chiptunes, vendors, guest speakers, and much much more to discover and enjoy.
Family (Art) Playdate
Where: Phillips Collection | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Saturday, 10:30-11am
Admission: $10/adult, free for kids
The first Saturday of the month, join the Phillips for a family-friendly playdate. Guided by a professional art educator, explore one to two galleries through fun, hands-on activities. Then plan to stay and tour the rest of the museum yourself! Geared for families with children ages 4 to 8.
The Great Zucchini
Where: Jammin Java | Vienna, VA
When: Saturday, 10am
Take little ones to see The Great Zucchini perform his zany and colorful a colorful magic show where every child is a star and guaranteed to laugh. They also get to learn a magic trick at the end of show! Smoothie, juice, acai bowl, and coffee menu will be available, too.
Peter Pan and Wendy
Where: Sidney Harman Hall | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Through January 11(find discounts)
Catch a performance of Shakespeare Theatre Company’s version of a classic. It’s a fantastic production with one of the most magical sets ever — audiences of all ages will be enchanted! Bold, budding scientist Wendy Darling dreams of earning a Nobel Prize. When Peter Pan arrives at her bedroom window, she takes a leap and leaves finishing school behind, chasing adventure among the stars. Facing down fairies, mermaids, and the dastardly Captain Hook, Wendy, Peter, and their friends discover the power of standing up together for what’s right. J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan is reimagined for a new generation of theatregoers. Recommended for ages 5+.
Singin’ in the Rain
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: Through Sunday
Bring the whole fam to see this movie musical come to life on the Mainstage. Comden and Green’s ingenious tale of Hollywood’s transition from the silent era is buoyed by the thrill of live singing and dancing to some of the greatest songs in the American canon including “Good Mornin’,” “Make ‘em Laugh,” and “Moses Supposes.” If this were a film it would be rated G.
Weekend Walk-In: Crazy Crowns
Where: American Visionary At Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: Saturday, 1-4pm
Join the museum for this month’s Weekend Walk-in, a hands-on, drop-in, art-making workshop in the AVAM classroom! During this session, Create a custom royal headpiece just for YOU using shiny tape, faux flowers & more — because everyone needs a crown. Supplies & boundless inspiration provided. Read more about the wonderful American Visionary Art Museum here.
AURORA: The Spirit of Northern Lights
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
When: Through Sunday
Admission: $16-20/adult, $13-15/senior, $8-10/child
This weekend is your final chance to experience ARETCHOUSE’s winter exhibit that celebrates the season with digital art installations and activations inspired by the aurora borealis. It consists of one large-scale and several smaller light art installations, all of them interactive and beautiful, the icy blue, purple, green, and occasionally soft yellow colors giving everything an ethereal feel. Guests can grow leafless winter trees, guide snowballs, and make snowflakes with their own movements detected by sensors. As Sasha aid, “It makes me feel like I have powers!” Get 20% off 2 adults + 2 children Sundays through Thursdays within bar hours (it includes hot chocolate).
Where: Book shops around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Several local bookstores around the area host free story times for children on weekends that often include more than just a reading. At Kramerbooks in Dupont Circle, they’ll watch your kiddos while you grab a coffee on Sundays at 11am. Head to Hooray for Books in Old Town Alexandria on Friday or Saturday for story time from 10:30-11am. Solid State Books hosts readings on Saturday and Sunday at 10:30am. You can also join sessions at DC Public Libraries — see where and when they take place this weekend.
(W)Hoop it Up!
Where: Colleges around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Ticket prices vary
With so many universities in the area, there’s always some good college hoops action going on during the season — and it’s always a good time for families. Here are some games to catch this weekend: *Maryland men vs Indiana on Saturday at 12pm *George Mason women vs GW on Saturday at 2pm *George Mason men vs. Virginia Commonwealth on Sunday at 12pm * American men vs. Boston on Sunday at 3pm *GW men vs. St. Bonaventure on Sunday at 4pm
Walk in the Woods
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale
Bundle up and get out for some active fun. Enjoy the beauty of nature in winter, tramp in places with scenic views, hike and explore history at interesting locales, and savor the time outdoors. This post has a a bunch of recommendations for places to walk in the woods with the kids.
Family Stretch and Chill
Where: Yoga District | H Street NE, DC
When: Sunday, 1:30pm
Children ages 8 and up (and accompanying adult) are welcome to join yoga teacher Ari for a 30-minute stretch and chill class. This will be a weekly vinyasa yoga class during which students will warm up with flowing postures, learn a new peak pose each week, cool down with back bends and twists and then relax it out in a final savasana. Register in advance here.
Complimentary Community Day
Where: National Museum of Women in the Arts | Downtown, DC
When: Sunday, 12-5pm
The first Sunday of every month is a great opportunity explore the National Museum of Women in the Arts when admission is FREE! Works span the centuries, from the 16th to the present in a variety of mediums, highlighting women artists all over the world. Plan for a Fierce Women tour, offered 1-2pm or explore the museum on your own.
Three Kings Day Brunch
Where: Jaleo | Locations in DC, MD & VA
When: Sunday, 10am – 2pm
Admission: The cost of your meal
Jaleo’s annual family-friendly Three Kings Day brunch is back. Guests can enjoy brunch and a complimentary slice of Roscón de Reyes (King Cake) alongside live performances by Adventure Theatre. Kids 10 and under will enjoy meeting the Three Kings, cake and hot chocolate, an arts & crafts “Crown Corner,” and a chance to win a prize for finding the traditional bean in their slice of cake! Jaleo has locations in Penn Quarter, Bethesda, and Crystal City. Make a reservation!
***MORE GOOD STUFF*** * Technically, lots of local kids are still on break from school, so check the Winter Break Guide for even more things to do. * You still have a little bit of time (through Friday, 1/3) to enter the giveaway for tickets to American Pops Orchestra’s The Pied Piper! *Come From Away is finishing its run at the Kennedy Center this weekend. It’s sold out (tickets may be available through other outlets), but if you ever have a chance to see it, I can’t recommend it highly enough. * Watson Adventures’ next Wizard School Scavenger Hunt is coming up on January 19 and you can get a discount with code JAN2020. (Read a KFDC review of the experience.) *Planet Word, a soon-to-be new DC museum, will open May 31! * A Best Podcasts list to bookmark. * Currently reading Florida, a collection of short stories by Lauren Groff. She’s a fantastic writer. * My friend Molly, a big reader, shares her favorite books of the past year. * Season 2 of You (Netflix) is a glorious, off-the-rails binge. * Movie rec: The Farewell is really good and available on Amazon. *New Year’s resolutions 😂
* Along with these daily recommendations, don’t forget to check the Winter Break Guide, which contains a great mix of ideas for activities and adventures with the kids during the winter break from school.
Monday – Make your way up to Baltimore to visit the Maryland Science Center, which is open this Monday during Winter Break (regularly only open Tuesday – Sunday). You can easily make a whole day of it exploring the variety of neat hands-on exhibits, playing in the Kids Room, and so much more. Hours are 10am – 5pm. Admission is $25.95/adults, $19.95/ages 3+, free for 2 and under. (I suggest checking out their membership options — if your family of 4 goes just twice in a year, it’s worth it. Plus, there’s reciprocity with other museums around the country.) Read more about the museum in this KFDC post.
For something local and easier on the wallet, visit the largest library in the world, the Library of Congress, to explore children’s books, see interesting exhibits, and marvel at one of DC’s most beautiful buildings. The Young Readers Center is open 9am – 4pm and welcomes visitors to read books and hang out in the cozy space. And be sure to spend time checking out the rest of the LOC, too — it’s truly magnificent and a must-see for both locals and visitors to DC. Hours are 8:30am – 4:30pm. Admission is free.
Tuesday – Celebrate New Year’s Eve at one of many events around town that not only welcome kids, but in most cases center around them. See this post for a list of family-friendly options to ring in 2020. 🎉Happy New Year! 🎉
Wednesday – A couple of suggestions: Take a New Year’s Day hike — this post has details on a bunch of great places to hit the trail with the kids. Or, go out for a fun family meal. All Purpose Pizza at the Capitol Riverfront is doing a special New Year’s Day brunch. Pinstripes in Georgetown has a bistro, plus bowling and bocce. Jaleo, located in Penn Quarter, Bethesda, and Crystal City, has tapas to please everyone — and they might seat you at a Foosball table. Carmine’s serves food family-style and is very family-friendly. Ted’s Bulletin is always a hit with kids.
Thursday – Go ice skating! It’s always a fun, active way to take advantage of the season, especially when you glide under the sky at one of the many outdoors rinks in the area. Several offer push aids to help newbie skaters, and most are located in places with even more to do beyond the ice. This post has all the details on all of them.
Friday – Experience AURORA: The Spirit of Northern Lights before it closes after this coming weekend! The art installation at ARTECHOUSE is beautiful, enchanting, and interactive with a little bit of magic that both kids and adults will love. Family-friendly hours are 10am – 5pm (21+ 5:30-10pm), and admission is timed entry. Tickets are $16-20/adult, $8-10/child, and they are offering a 20% discount package for 2 adults + 2 children, Sundays through Thursdays (the deal will auto-populate when tickets are requested online).
Exploring Patrick Doherty’s amazing Stickwork Sculpture Installation at the US Botanic Garden
This is the one weekend each year that I take a break — from compiling a regular Weekend Round-Up, that is. Just like the modified title, I’m keeping it simple, though definitely not leaving you hanging. The links below will still lead you to tons of info and inspo to fill the next few days with as much (or little) activity as you want. You can also check KFDC on Facebook and Instagram for any updates or extra ideas. Happy Last Weekend of 2019!
The National Menorah and Christmas Tree from a past holiday season
Last week I posted the Winter Break Guide, a big mix of ideas for activities and adventures with the kids during the winter break from school, so be sure to check it out! Below is a suggested itinerary that you can easily switch up with the recs from the guide. Have fun & Happy Holidays!
Monday – Bundle up the kids (and yourself) and take advantage of The Beauvoir School’s Winter Break. Their fantastic playground is open to the public when class is not in session. Open all day. Admission is free.
Later on, get into the holiday spirit by viewing some holiday lights! Visit one of the many twinkling displays around the area or go see the National Menorah and Christmas Tree on the Ellipse or the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. (This is something you can do any evening during the week, though check schedules on Christmas night, as some of them are closed.)
Tuesday – Watch Santa have some fun before his big night out, as he water skis his way up the Potomac along with knee boarding reindeer, flying elves, the jet-skiing Grinch, and Frosty the Snowman in a dinghy! You can view it all for free from the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria starting at 1pm sharp — the best viewing spots will be from the Torpedo Factory to Point Lumley Park.
In the afternoon, enjoy a performance of The Velveteen Rabbit at Adventure Theatre. They are offering a special promo for select dates and time, including shows on Christmas Eve at 2pm and 4:30pm — use the code 5OFF to save! (Note: This is also good for shows on December 28 at 2pm, December 29 at 4:30pm, December 31 at 4:30pm, and January 1 at 4:30pm.)
Wednesday – Have a very Merry Christmas! And enjoy some activities out of the house, too! The U.S. Botanic Garden and Mount Vernon are open. You can bundle up and get out for a hike. Or do what’s a tradition for many who don’t celebrate Christmas and go out for Chinese food and a movie.
And one more idea: Fill your morning with Chanukah excitement! With 4 different live shows plus crafts, food activities, and more, Chanukah Wonderland, hosted by Chabad DC at TheSHUL, is a great way for kids of all ages and their families to celebrate. Food and snacks will be available for purchase and free raffles will take place every 30 minutes! Get your tickets by signing up at ChanukahFun.com. It takes place 9:30am – 1pm, and admission is $10/child or $35/max per family.
Thursday – Get Q?rius at the National Museum of Natural History. Visitors can view up close — and in many cases handle — real artifacts and specimens from the museum’s collections. It’s recommended for ages 11 and up, but some younger ages could also enjoy it. For really little ones, there is Q?rius Jr: A Discovery Room for more age-appropriate exploring. And, of course, there’s the whole rest of the museum — including the much loved Fossil Hall — for everyone. Hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free.
When the sun goes down, go ice skating! There’s something kind of magical about skating under the stars, and there are several rinks around the area where you can glide on ice at night.
Friday – Go bowling! Take advantage of Kids Club bowling at Pinstripes in Georgetown and North Bethesda. From 11am – 1pm Monday – Thursday, kids can bowl for $6/hour and parents are free (limit 4 kids per adult). Eat while you bowl or stay after for lunch — they have a good kids menu and a pretty extensive main menu, too. Read more about it in this KFDC post.
If you’re with really little ones, catch a performance of Squeakers & Mr. Gumdrop, running at the Atlas Performing Arts Center December 27-31. Showtimes are 10am and 11:30am (varies other days, so check the schedule), and tickets are $12.
In the evening, experience Georgetown GLOW, the annual exhibition of outdoor public light art installations that makes the neighborhood sparkle. Plan on dinner while you’re there — you’ve got your pick of places in the bustling community.