Orchids and sketching in the Kogod Courtyard back in 2019
1. The Kogod Courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum is always a stunning space to visit, and even more so now as the U.S. Botanic Garden and Smithsonian Gardens’ annual orchid exhibit is hosted there. Orchids: Hidden Stories of Groundbreaking Women “highlights unsung horticultural heroines and solidifies their ongoing influence on orchid collections.” Several hundred varieties of orchids will be on view through April 24 along with stories of women with notable connections to orchids — horticulturalists, scientists, painters, and more . It’s always beautiful, and past exhibits have included opportunities to sketch the orchids (the photo above from a few years ago offers a glimpse). That’s likely not being offered now, so perhaps bring along some pencils and paper for drawing. And, of course, plan to tour the museums, too — see more about both here and here. Current hours are 11:30am – 7pm Thursday – Sunday. Admission is free.
2. February is Black History Month! In case you missed it a couple of days ago, there’s a new post with all kinds of ideas for celebrating with kids around the DC area.
3. The enchanting Annmarie Sculpture Garden has put out a call for entries for this year’s Fairies in the Garden. The annual outdoor exhibit is always the most delightful collection of all things magical, whimsical, and fun, from fairy houses to dragon lairs to gnome homes to elf abodes. Kids can submit entries for the Children’s Fairy Garden that will showcase works in the sweet Fairy Lolly play area. Let imaginations run wild to create something wonderful! Read more about Annmarie and view scenes from Fairies in the Garden here and here.
4. Want to get your kids ages 5 and up on two wheels? REI offers a How to Ride a Bike for Kids class and has some spots open at area locations in March.
Winter Lanterns at The REACH
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: Through February 6
Ring in the Year of the Tiger at the Kennedy Center! In celebration of the Lunar New Year, The REACH will be illuminated with beautiful Winter Lanterns. Around 100 illuminations include a Coral Reef, Panda Grove, Mushroom Forest, Flower Path, Butterfly Garden, and Flamingo Lagoon — all crafted by Chinese artisans and made up of 10,000 colored LED lights total. It’s at once delightful and breathtaking, especially against the backdrop of the city skyline and the KC itself. Stroll among it all and enjoy some extra China-inspired activities this weekend, including photo ops with Tiger and Panda characters, letters to the Zoo’s pandas, wishes for 2022, and refreshments. There are tables on the Plaza with heat lamps, where you can warm up and enjoy them.
Where: Washington Convention Center | Mt. Vernon Square, DC
When: Through Sunday
Admission: $12/adults, $5/ages 6-12, free for 5 and under
The 2022 Washington Auto Show is in its second and final weekend. If there’s any “grown-up” event that is equally fun for all ages, this is it. More than 600 cars and trucks are on display for guests to check out, plus there are more activities like Ride ‘n Drives with Jeep, an Art of Motion exhibit, exotic car display, and Subaru Love Pets area with dogs from local animal shelters will give guests even more to do and see.. See this post from a couple of years ago and this one from earlier KFDC days for an idea of what to expect at the event.
Monster Jam Where: Capitol One Arena | Downtown DC When: Saturday & Sunday Tickets: $25+
The world’s largest and most famous monster truck tour featuring the biggest names in the circuit is thundering its way into DC this weekend. Twelve-foot-tall, ten-thousand-pound monster trucks will race on, tear up, soar over, and smash through a specially-designed track loaded with obstacles. El Toro Loco, Grave Digger, Dragon, Bad News Travels Fast, Whiplash, Hooked , and Stone Crusher (you’ve gotta love these names!) are among the vehicular beasts that will be tearing up the indoor terrain this year.
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by place
Don’t let these Omicron cold months keep you from getting out around the area. If you’re seeking ideas for activities that are Covid-safe outdoors, this round-up is full of suggestions. From hikes to art experiences to seasonal sports to garden explorations to all-season fun, there are all kinds of things to do that keep social distancing and safety in mind. All you really need are good layers and maybe a little extra outdoor gear.
Hit the Slopes
Where: Ski resorts around the region
When: Through winter
Admission: Varies by resort
With snow in the forecast, it’s a good time to hit the slopes for some downhill fun. There are a bunch of ski resorts within a few hours’ drive that are great for young, newbie skiers (and veteran swooshers, too). This post has info about Whitetail and one of our day trips there last winter, and other relatively close resorts are Liberty and Bryce. Farther away, but good to check out for longer trips are Roundtop, Massanutten, Wintergreen, Seven Springs, Hidden Valley, Snowshoe, Timberline, and Wisp.
Rapunzel on Strings
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: Throughout the weekend
Rapunzel will be letting down her hair as a puppet version of the fairy tale classic opens at The Puppet Co. this weekend. This charming retelling is performed by just one person! Princesses can be named after vegetables, witches can have good intentions, and sometimes you need a little song to help you get you through your day. Recommended for ages 4+. Run time is approximately 40 minutes.
Thomas & Friends
Where: National Children’s Museum | Downtown DC
When: Through May 15
Admission: $15.95/age 1+
Attention all train lovers: Thomas has entered the National Children’s Museum! This new interactive exhibit is geared toward ages 2-7 with all kinds of fun activities. Kiddos can climb into the cab and see the inner workings, fix Percy’s wobbly wheel, explore the Island of Sodor, load coal onto cars, play conductor, and much more. If you have a Thomas groupie or want to discover the magic of the #1 blue engine and his friends, get your tickets to get on board today. Of course there’s even more at the museum to enjoy — read more about it here.
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by place
The freezing temps and precipitation may have you seeking for indoor options this weekend. There are some specific recs included in this round-up, and you can find info for other indoor outings all around the area in this post. There are guidelines in place for Covid everywhere, masks are required in DC and some MD counties, and of course you can opt to wear one even without a mandate. Something to note: The Smithsonian has temporarily reduced hours and days at some museums.
Where: Nature centers around the DC area
When: Throughout the weekend
If you want to get a dose of the outside world in the comfort of the indoors head to a nature center. There are several great ones around the area that offer engaging exhibits, including live creatures. Buddie Ford Nature Center in Alexandria, Watkins in Upper Marlboro, Potomac Overlook in Arlington, Long Branch in Falls Church, and Brookside in Silver Spring all make for a great outing. (Be sure to confirm they are open before you go during inclement weather.)
PHILADANCO Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD When: Friday, 8pm Admission: $35-75
This weekend, CityDance and Strathmore co-present PHILADANCO, a Philadelphia Dance Company known for its innovation, superbly trained dancers, and electrifying performances. Celebrates 50 years as one of the premier African-American modern dance companies, the show will feature the group’s iconic works as well as new choreography that highlights its continued engagement with today’s most important social issues, the company continues its legacy of bridging cultural divides. Purchase tickets here.
Transient: Impermanent Paintings
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
When: Through March 6
Admission: $20-30/adult, $17/age 5-17, free/4 & under
The new digital exhibit at ARTTECHOUSE is a wonderful, vibrant escape from the cold. The fantastic fusion of art, music, and technology includes beautiful floor-to-ceiling projections on walls and floors along with music from a motorized piano that syncs up with the art. Watching the colors and patterns “dance” all around you is delightful, mesmerizing, and relaxing, too. Get a glimpse here. Look for a ticket discount here.
College Court Dates Where: Arenas around the DC Area When: Throughout the weekend Admission: Varies by game
With so many universities in the area, there’s always some good college basketball going on during the season — and it’s always a fun time for families. Here are some games to catch this weekend: *Maryland men vs Indiana on Saturday at 2:30pm (Go, Terps!) *American women vs Navy on Saturday at 2pm *George Mason women vs GWU on Saturday at 3pm *GWU men vs Fordham on Sunday at 12pm
Street Car Saturday
Where: National Capitol Trolley Museum | Colesville, MD
When: Saturday, 12-5pm
Admission: $10/adult, $8/child, $8/senior
The National Capital Trolley Museum is open on Saturdays offering hourly, docent-guided tours, followed by a streetcar ride. See model street cars on display as well as movies from the 1920’s, then board an actual street car for a ride into the woods (and back, obvi). Online reservations are strongly recommended; walk-ins will be accommodated if space is available, but not guaranteed.
Wheaton Winter Ice Skating Exhibition Where: Wheaton Ice Arena | Wheaton, MD When: Sunday, 4:45-6:15pm Admission: Free
Enjoy live entertainment on ice as local figure skaters perform at Wheaton Ice Arena. Plan to go early to do some skating of your own — there will be a public skate session from 3-4:30pm that day.
Where: Ice skating rinks around the DC area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by rink
For even more places to glide the day or night away check out this post with info for ice rinks around the area. Get your skate and art on at the Sculpture Garden. Glide over the Potomac on The Wharf’s awesome rink. Circle around Washington Harbour as you enjoy river views. Meander along the Figure 8 path at Canal Park. Do some shopping then skate at Pentagon Row, Rockville Town Square, or Reston Town Center. Or head to an ice arena for some skating out of the elements.
***MORE GOOD STUFF*** * Sad news: The Lane Social Club is closing its doors on February 13. If you’d like to help support their team and say thank you, they’ve set up a GoFundMe. * This weekend will be a good time to see a movie! * Real Simple has suggestions for cute Valentine’s Day gifts for kids.
* And here’s a fun one for bike-loving peops (this was one of my holiday gifts for Levi). * For a creepy yet oddly comical TV series, check out this show on Apple TV. (for adults!) * A great Humans of New York series…start here.
If there’s one activity to put on your must-do list sometime over the next week and a half, it’s The REACH Winter Lanterns at the Kennedy Center. In celebration of the Lunar New Year, the grounds overlooking the Potomac will glow with beautiful illuminations — around 100 lanterns, all of them crafted by Chinese artisans, made up of 10,000 LED lights. It’s breathtaking and delightful all at once, with luminescent scenes of cute, dazzling creatures and pretty flora. And it’s all free for the public to enjoy.
Stroll along the paths to view the Coral Reef, Panda Grove, Mushroom Forest, Flower Path, Butterfly Garden, and Flamingo Lagoon, all of them featuring a variety of animal and plant shaped lanterns.
And on select dates, Winter Lanterns Plus will offer extra activities. Featuring China from Thursday – Sunday, January 27-30, guests can take photos with Tiger and Panda characters, write letters to the National Zoo’s pandas, make wishes for 2022, and enjoy refreshments. And February 3-6 will have Korea-inspired activities, including photo ops with Korean mascots, a traditional costume display, and wish-making for 2022. Freebies and refreshments for sale will be available both weekends, too. There are tables on the Plaza with heat lamps, where you can enjoy them.
The closest, most convenient parking is in the Kennedy Center garage — it’s a flat rate of $25. There is also parking at the Watergate garage, which is just across the street, for about $15/two hours. There is street parking nearby, but it’s always tough to get a spot in that area. (And when you consider the event is free, paying a bit for parking isn’t so bad.) The closest Metro station is Foggy Bottom on the Orange/Blue line.
Make a plan to go, and in the meantime, view more scenes from the fantastic exhibition!
1.The REACH Winter Lanterns are returning to the Kennedy Center in celebration of the Lunar New Year! Starting this Thursday, January 27, through February 6, the outdoor grounds of the REACH will be illuminated by 100 lanterns made up of 10,000 colored LED lights, all crafted by Chinese artisans. You may remember this event from pre-Covid 2020 — pandas, butterflies, flowers, frogs, flamingos, sea creatures, and more luminescent designs will be on view, and it’s delightful and dazzling to stroll among them. There will also be special activities and Millennium Stage performance on select dates to ring in the Year of the Tiger. Admission to all of it is free. See more info here. And view scenes from the 2020 exhibition here.
2. In case you missed it over the weekend, there’s a new guest post from KFDC contributor Emily Moise about Thomas & Friends™: Explore the Rails!, a new exhibit at the National Children’s Museum!
3. The National Portrait Gallery is hosting its triennial Teen Portrait Competition, which is open to students ages 13-17. Teens are invited to submit original portraits in the medium of photography to the national competition. Gand-prize winners will have their art displayed in the Portrait Gallery this summer nearby the special exhibition “The Outwin 2022: American Portraiture Today,” which showcases portraits made by artists ages 18 and older. There is no fee to enter, and submissions are limited to one per person. Works must be submitted via email to NPG-TeenPortraitCompetition@si.edu by March 29. Winners will be selected by the National Portrait Gallery’s Teen Museum Council, a group of 20 high school students from DC, Maryland and Virginia, who create interactive programs and events inspired by the Portrait Gallery’s collection to increase teen engagement with the museum. The winners, along with those awarded honorable mentions, will also have their work featured on the museum’s website.
[Note: This post was written by KFDC Contributor Emily Moise, a local writer and mom of two young children. She always has excellent recommendations for kids’ activities around the DC area. See some of them here, here, and here.
Attention all train lovers: Thomas has entered the National Children’s Museum! Thomas & Friends™: Explore the Rails!, an interactive exhibit created at the Minnesota Children’s Museum and geared for ages 2-7, is open now through Sunday, May 15. If you have a Thomas groupie like I do, or if you just want to discover the magic of the #1 blue engine and his friends, get your tickets to get on board today.
The large-scale Thomas and Percy trains will grab your kids attention immediately. Thomas is equipped with life-like levers that activate life-like train sounds. Percy is engineered to teach a science lesson through people-power. Spin wheels to input coal and water into the engine, creating enough steam to hear Percy roar. On the other side, Percy’s wheels need fixing to get him back on track.
The train set to put your train set to shame is likely where your kids will spend most of their time. We identified a few must-haves for our tracks at home, before prodding my son along to the rest of the exhibit. We also loved a smaller track set up for experimenting with ramp angles to get trains over a hill. For the littlest ones, you’ll find a confined space with toddler-appropriate engines.
Aside from the STEM-oriented play, pretend play is found throughout with a ticket booth, train cars, costumes, and props. And history buffs, or parents who have spent a lot of time with Thomas, will appreciate the corner of memorabilia and information on the creators, iterations, and celebrity narrators. There are also books and a viewing screen if your child needs a break from the action.
Covid Safety: The museum recommends purchasing tickets in advance to ensure admission with reduced capacity and timed sessions. Masks are required for all visitors ages 2+. You can learn more about the museum’s COVID safety protocols here. And you can read more about the National Children’s Museum in this KFDC post.
National Children’s Museum
Where: 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW | Washington, DC 20004
When: Thursday – Sunday, 9:30am – 12:30pm & 1:30-4:30pm
Admission: $15.95/ages 1+, free/under 1 & members