A COVID-era visit to the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center
[Note: This round-up was written by KFDC contributor Emily Moise, local mom to two young children.]
“Winter is coming” brings a whole new shiver this year, as parents of little balls of energy are bracing themselves for the COVID Winter. Most will bundle up and tough it out, with fingers crossed for lots of sled-able snow. Many will enter a new phase of pandemic panic shopping for indoor play equipment. For those seeking respite at indoor spaces, some local businesses have taken extra measures to open with COVID precautions. Here are six little-kid-friendly indoor places to consider as the days get colder. (Please keep in mind CDC guidelines to limit activity indoors, and masks for ages 2+.)
Kids Play Gallery
When: 9:30am – 2:30pm daily
Where: Gaithersburg, MD
Admission: $15/ages 1+ (more details here) COVID policies
An imaginative play space with a tiny town of play houses suited for ages 5 and under. The space is very clean and well-maintained, with a separate, closed-off area for eating. Business hours have been reduced and private play reservations are available. Call ahead to confirm drop-in play hours are as listed.
Launch Trampoline Park
When: Varies by location
Where: Rockville, MD | Columbia, MD | Herndon, VA
Admission: $22+ or $13+ on Groupon COVID policies
Kids can run, jump, and literally bounce off the walls here, expending lots of energy. My active 18-month-old has held his own here, but it’s generally recommended for preschool ages and up. With timed-entry reservations, you should have plenty of space to yourself/your family. Professional-grade sanitizing is done between sessions. Reserve time online in advance; call to reserve time if tickets purchased through Groupon.
When: 12:30pm – 7:30pm daily; closed Tuesdays
Where: Gaithersburg, MD
Admission: Starts at $11.99/age 6 months+ (more details here) COVID policies
Recently opened in 2019 and now reopened with COVID precautions, OmniFun features a soft climbing zone, giant building blocks, an arts and crafts space, a toddler play area, and more. Now, two hour sessions are reserved in advance for up to 9 kids at a time, and groups are rotated in 40 minute intervals. Recommended for ages 6 months – 12 years. Reserve a time sot in advance.
When: 9am – 5pm weekdays; 11am – 5pm weekends
Where: Falls Church, VA
Admission: $15/child, free/parents and ages 1 & under COVID policies
A chain of indoor playgrounds known for cleanliness, BusyBees features soft play climbing structures, slides, and spinning rides. Currently, only the Falls Church location is open, and it is unfortunately the smallest of the three locations. The space is closed for 30 minutes every hour-and-a-half for cleaning, so plan your visit accordingly. Be sure to check the website daily for modified hours.
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
When: 10am – 5:30pm daily
Where: Chantilly, VA
Admission: Free with timed-entry passes COVID policies
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum annex has found itself to be a relatively low-risk space in COVID times with its spacious facility and timed-entry passes. Little kids should be well-attended here but have the flexibility to roam and, on a slow day, maybe even run circles around the massive aviation and space artifacts.
While their actual play spaces are closed, malls may make it into your weekly activities rotation. They are barren right now offering wide open lanes for kids to roam and browse. Plus, hand-sanitizing stations are set up throughout. Check your local mall for updated hours and safety precautions like these. (PS: A new LEGO Store is expected to open at Westfield Montgomery mall this fall!)
Tips for decreased risk:
* Go weekdays at opening times or midday when some places empty out for lunch and naps.
* Call ahead to see how crowded a place is prior to your planned arrival time.
* For a more controlled environment, look for places that allow reservations for private group play times like Kids Play Gallery, My Gym or Kids Ground.
Social distancing indoors at the National Gallery of Art
More and more indoor places around the DC area are figuring out how to safely open their doors to visitors again. I’ve been to a couple of Smithsonian museums and felt very comfortable and safe with the extra measures taken for COVID — and was very happy to wander the galleries and enjoy art in person once again. As weather gets colder and our itch for outings that aren’t outdoors grows, having some go-to indoor spots will be appreciated by many. (But, of course, everyone should do what they’re comfortable with during this unusual and uncertain time!) Here’s a handy list of them, and I’ll continually add to it as more places reopen. Happy revisiting!
When: Thursday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Where: 925 13th Street NW | Downtown DC
Admission: Free timed entry passes required COVID policies
National Building Museum Where: 401 F Street NW | Judiciary Square, DC
When: Friday – Monday, 11am – 4pm
Admission: $10/adult, $7/child (free for members) COVID policies [Note: It’s free to hang out in the Great Hall, most exhibits require admission.]
When: Indoor areas Thursday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Where: 12100 Glen Road | Potomac, MD
Admission: Free with timed-entry tickets Covid Policies [Note: There is also an outdoor area that shouldn’t be missed.]