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The 2018 KFDC Guide to the Best of Summer in the DC Area

The look of summer fun

I love this time of year as we make the casual shift into summer. The weather is warming up (though maybe a little too fast for some). We’re swapping boots for sandals, replacing jackets with baseball caps on coat hooks, and enjoying slushies outside instead of hot chocolate indoors. The end-of-school-year excitement is starting to build.

Even though summer doesn’t officially begin for a few more weeks, seasonal activities around the area are starting to kick off, and the warm months bring some of the area’s best recreation. From water-inspired fun to music and movies in the open air to special fests and feasts to bonus attractions at everyday places, the joys of summer are abundant around DC — and this annual guide will help you take advantage of it all!

So, unpack the flip flops, get out the blender for frozen drinks (slushies for kids, margaritas for adults), bookmark this page, and start planning your local summer fun. The 2018 KFDC Guide to the Best of Summer in the DC area has all the details and inspiration you need!

* * * * *

Play in the Sprays
Outdoor Pool Season
Water Parks
Summer Concerts
Festivals
Beaches
Big Screen Under the Stars
Museum Programs & Seasonal Exhibits
Movies, Storytimes, & More
Mini Trains, Carousels, Mini Golf, & a Ferris Wheel
Theatre Time
Summer Sports
Crab Feasts
Seasonal Experiences


A refreshing run through the sprays at Georgetown Waterfront Park


PLAY IN THE SPRAYS
Kids can run through fountains and splash around at many area spraygrounds. Several are within the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, but some of the best are built right into the urban landscape, making the concrete jungle a cool place to hang out during the hottest months.

  • Georgetown Waterfront Park, right next to the Washington Harbour, has a fountain with arcing sprays that makes for a fun, refreshing way to cool off on a hot, summer day. The rest of its pretty green space along the Potomac is a great place to hang out, too.
  • Yards Park is a favorite for many in the city with two levels of super fun sprays, a wading pool and wall of water (essentially a water fall between the levels), plus a great scenic location on the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard.
  • The newest addition to the splash circuit is the in-ground fountain at The Wharf in Southwest. Kids can run through water shooting up from jets on opposite ends, play in mist spraying up in the center, and ride on waterproof rocking horses amid all of it, all with the beautiful new waterfront area as a backdrop.
  • Canal Park in the Navy Yard is great for all ages with both a gentle, shallow fountain that is perfect for really little ones to enjoy, plus a bigger fountain with lots of sprays for more enthusiastic play where the ice rink is in the winter.
  • Starting Memorial Day Weekend, May 26, DPR Spray Parks will be open for the season from 10am – 7pm daily.
  • Some of the area’s most popular spray parks — Lyon Village Park, Hayes Park, and Drew Park — can be found in Arlington.
  • The interactive fountain in Downtown Silver Spring plaza is open daily from 10am – 8pm. While my kids have never played there, I recall seeing very happy youngsters playing in the sprays on the colorful mosaic design during my lunch breaks when I worked at Discovery. It always looked like a blast.
  • The fountain in the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza located at 14th and Park Road, NW is a great place to cool down on a hot day, with many sprays that surge up from a pretty, circular tiled surface. Do a little shopping while you’re there — Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and many other big retail stores are right there — and plan to grab a bite at one of many kid-friendly eateries around. Plan to stop in Tivoli’s Astounding Magic Supply Co. at 826DC located nearby.
  • The Fountain on the Square at Rockville Town Square welcomes kids to splish splash from May to September. It’s open Monday – Saturday 11am to 9pm and Sunday 12-8pm, but it’s turned off for maintenance at certain times during the week, so be sure to check the schedule before you go.
  • Also on the sprayground scene, the fountains in the Mosaic District welcome all to play in the sprays that jet up from concrete. Surrounded by retail stores and restaurants, you can make a day of it there with some shopping and eating, too. Plan to go on a Tuesday with little ones when you can also enjoy Stories from Strawberry Park.


  • Rosedale pool in NE DC has slides and even a kiddie pool


    OUTDOOR POOL SEASON
    Nothing says summer like swimming under the sun, and there are plenty of public pools in the area where you can jump in for free or a small admission fee.

  • DC outdoor public pools will open on Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 26. Days and hours vary from pool to pool so be sure to check the schedules before you go. A couple of years ago, they began opening earlier on weekdays, at 11am, and that’s continuing! (And some open even earlier than that for lap swim.)
  • For outdoor swimming outside of the city, Montgomery County outdoor public pools will open on May 26 through Labor Day — the Department of Recreation website has locations and hours.
  • In Northern Virginia, Arlington’s Upton Hill has a whole water park for guests to enjoy, and Alexandria has several places where the public is welcome to swim. Be sure to check the City of Alexandria website for hours, as they vary by pool.


  • Make  splash at Soak City in Kings Dominion

    Make splash at Soak City in Kings Dominion


    WATER PARKS
    Giant water slides, wave pools, waterfalls, sprays and splash pads…this is the stuff kids’ summer dreams are made of. There are actually several water parks around the area offering many of these attractions, just about all of them opening Memorial Day weekend for limited hours, until they open daily in a few weeks. Here’s a quick list — visit the websites for more details.

  • Ocean Dunes Water Park at Upton Hill in Arlington
  • Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro, MD
  • Great Waves at Cameron Run in Alexandria
  • The Water Park at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg
  • Atlantis Water Park at Bull Run in Centreville
  • Splash Down Water Park in Manassas
  • Chesapeake Beach Water Park
  • Soak City Water Park at Kings Dominion
  • Water Country USA at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA


    Friday night concerts at Yards Park are a great way to kick off a summer weekend

    Friday night concerts at Yards Park are a great way to kick off a summer weekend


    SUMMER CONCERTS
    Free music in the fresh air has become a staple of the season, and there are opportunities to enjoy just about every genre regularly at outdoor venues all around the DC-Metro.

  • The Capitol Riverfront Friday Night Concert Series at Yards Park begins May 25 and will run through August 24, presenting a different band each week on the boardwalk stage overlooking the Anacostia River. Along with the free music, food and beverages are available for purchase. (Unfortunately, the NO BYOB polic still holds). I recommend getting there early, so the kids can play in the fountains before the concert starts at 6:30pm. And on a hot summer day, it’s nice to continue the water fun even while the tunes are playing — you can still hear them from across the park!
  • Experience live music amid art at Jazz in the Garden, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden’s free concert series, every Friday from 5–8:30pm. The first performance of the season is May 18, rain or shine, and there will be weekly shows through August 24. Spread out a blanket, pack a picnic dinner or purchase food and drinks there, and enjoy the sounds of a variety of jazz artists. Note: Adult drinks are available from the pavilion; BYO alcohol is not permitted.
  • The U.S. Air Force Band’s Summer Concert Series begins June 1 and runs through Aug 28: Fridays at the Air Force Memorial at 7:30pm, Saturdays on the National Plaza (National Harbor) at 7pm, and Tuesdays at the U.S. Capitol (West Side Steps) at 8pm. Outdoor concerts are subject to weather cancellation.
  • In Silver Spring, the TGIF Downtown Street Party brings free music once a month on Friday evenings to the Fountain Plaza 6:30-8:30pm. Enjoy everything from pop to jazz to R&B to classic rock from May 11 through September 14.

  • All summer long, families can enjoy a variety of free fun at Rockville Town Square. Concerts for all ages on Friday evenings started in April and will run through September 14 — enjoy live music, good food, and beverages from 6-9pm.
  • Rock at the Row returns to Pentagon Row Thursdays July 12 – August 23. From 7-9pm, all are invited to the lounge on the new plaza for food samples and craft beer in the VIP section or to gather at one of the outdoor cafés while enjoying live music, giveaways, and merchant specials.
  • The U.S. Botanic Garden is bringing back the American Roots Music Concert Series every other Thursday 5-7pm. Celebrate American roots with Americana and folk, country, blues, jazz, and even zydeco outside on the Conservatory Terrace from June 14 – August 23
  • You can kick-start your weekends at Tysons Corner Center’s Fresh Artists Concert Series. Grab a blanket and enjoy performances ranging from ballet to blues, folk to funk, poetry to pop. Schedule still TBD, so check back.
  • Get a nice dose of nature as you listen to live tunes at Potomac Overlook Park in Arlington on Second Saturdays of the month from mid-May 13 – early September. The free, family-friendly performances take place on a stage in the woods surrounded by trails to explore. (FYI: The Nature Center — with snakes, turtles, owls, hawks — is great, too.
  • Enjoy music in Northern Virginia parks! The Fairfax County Park Authority presents their Summer Entertainment Series, a summer-long calendar of shows, concerts and movies appropriate families held in local parks. Bring a picnic dinner, blankets, and lawn chairs to enjoy the best local and regional entertainers.
  • Strathmore, the North Bethesda performing arts center, hosts Live from the Lawn, free outdoor concerts, every Wednesday from July 11 – August 29.


  • There’s a whole festival to celebrate the lotus and water lilies at Kenilworth!


    FESTIVALS
    Several stand-out events are anticipated around the area this time of year, celebrating everything from music to art & culture to neighborhoods to food.

  • Get folksy at Glen Echo Park June 2-3, when the 38th Annual Washington Folk Festival showcases the diversity of traditional music in Washington. All of the artists hail from the DC area, but cultures from around the nation, as well as the world, will be represented through music, dance, crafts, and stories. The public is invited to enjoy the free festival that is renown in the folk community.
  • It sounds like a grown-ups-only event, but the Vintage Virginia Wine & Food Festival offers plenty of family fun, too. Taking place June 2-3 at Bull Run Park in Centreville, VA, festivities include wine tasting (of course), chef demos, food truck fare, live music, and a whole family-friendly area with activities especially for kids.
  • Imagination Bethesda, an annual festival occurring in the heart of its namesake city, is all about children. On June 2 from 10am – 3pm, Woodmont & Elm downtown will be lined with activity tents offering tons of fun for kids — arts & crafts, face painting, games, etc. There will also be live entertainment, food from local restaurants, and more. Admission is free.
  • The DC Jazz Festival presents a variety of performers at venues all around the city from June 8-17, but the most family-friendly of them actually precedes the main event. Jazz n’ Family Fun Days will take place June 2-3 with free shows for all ages at The Phillips Collection.
  • The Kingman Island Bluegrass Festival make sits first appearance in the guide this year, as it’s taking place a few week later than past years. The celebration of local music, food, and culture as well as the revitalization of the Anacostia River features a whole day and evening of performances by local bluegrass and folk acts on multiple stages. Fuel up with DC’s favorite food trucks (and beer). Kids are very welcome, and there are usually activities for kids presented by Living Classrooms and other organizations.
  • Attend one of the biggest summer barbeques around June 23-24 as the National Capital Barbeque Battle returns to pit some of the nation’s best barbequers against each other as they compete for big prizes. The reward for attendees: Samples from all the entrants (plus, more food), live music, cooking demos, kids’ fun, and more.
  • Every summer, the National Mall becomes stomping grounds of folks from around the globe to celebrate living cultural heritage and community traditions at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This year’s event will run from June 27 – July 1 and July 4-8, celebrating Armenia and Catalonia, and ending with a Sisterfire Concert
  • For the first time since the in over 50 years, DC is hosting the MLB All-Star Game, and there will be a week of festivities leading up to the main event, including a FanFest at the Washington Convention Center, Play Ball Park . an interactive area of fun at Yards Park, and tons more fun from July 13-17.
  • The lotus and water lilies in full bloom at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are such a ravishing sight it calls for a celebration. Along with the spectacular display of flowers, the annual Lotus & Water Lily Festival on July 21 will feature traditional Asian and African dancing and drumming, gardening workshops, park tours, arts & crafts, face painting, and other family-friendly pursuits. View scenes from last year’s bloom here.
  • Take a little time trip back to the 18th century at the Claude Moore Colonial Farm Summer Market Fair the weekend of July 21-22. There are all kinds of hands-on activities to do, interesting demos to view, foods to savor, and vendors to browse at the seasonal event. Read more about the living history farm here.
  • It might run into fall, but it starts in August, so I’m counting the Maryland Renaissance Festival among the summer fun. Plus, it’s one of my very, very favorite annual events (more confirmation on that here). The merriment begins August 25 and will continue every weekend through October 21. (Go! I promise, it’s the best.)



    Beach it a Flag Ponds Nature Park


    BEACHES
    Summer and beach trips go hand-in-hand, so why not hit one with the kids? You don’t have to drive all the way to the ocean for it; there are several places where you can get a nice dose of sand and surf that are within day trip-distance from DC.

  • Head out to Calvert County for a day at Flag Ponds Nature Park. Not only is there plenty of sand for playing and nice mellow waters for swimming, it’s also a great spot for fossil hunting — look for shark teeth and other prehistoric remnants along the shores while you’re there, too! Hours are 9am – 6pm Memorial to Labor Day. Admission is $8/car.
  • Bayfront Park aka Brownie’s Beach is a nice little spot in Chesapeake Beach, MD. With a small but nice stretch of sand, gentle shallow water, shark teeth to fin, and cliffs edging the shoreline, it’s a great place to spend a day — especially with little ones since they can’t roam too far. The only downside is the admission fee: $18/adult, $10/child for non-residents of the county.
  • Enjoy views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge from the beach at Sandy Point State Park near Annapolis. At nearly 800 acres, it’s a big beach park with lots of recreational opportunities — swimming, picnicking, fishing, crabbing, hiking, and more. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, there are lifeguards on duty. And snack food and beach and picnic supplies are available. Hours are 6am – sunset. From May 1 through September, admission is $5/Maryland resident, $7/non-resident on weekend, and $4/ Maryland resident, $6/non-resident on weekdays.
  • The beach is narrow, and you’re on a river, but you still get sand and water at Purse State Park in Charles County, MD. This is best if your main purpose is fossil hunting — it’s a great place to go for it — and you want to get in some “beach” time, too. Wear swimsuits, bring a picnic, and be sure to check the tide table so you can make the most of your time there. Open sunrise to sunset, and admission is free.


  • Sit back, relax, and enjoy a film outdoors at the Union Market Drive-in


    BIG SCREEN UNDER THE STARS
    Outdoor movies have become a DC summer tradition in the last few years with films al fresco in several neighborhoods. Even better, all of them are FREE! (*Before you make plans to enjoy any of the series, be sure to check schedules, as some movies may not be appropriate for children.)

  • Catch a flick on the big screen from the comfort of your car at the Union Market Drive-In Series, occurring monthly on Fridays throughout the summer, with several family-friendly films in the mix. Get there as early as 6pm and have a bite to eat in the Market or bring food back to your car. The film starts at 8:30pm. Admission is $10/car, free for walk-ins. Advance purchase is recommended.
  • National Harbor’s Movies on the Potomac already started their Sunday night film series for families, and it will run through September 30. Movies are shown on the plaza screen starting at 6pm.
  • Movie lovers of all ages can head to the Four Mile Run Movie Series in Alexandria on the last Friday of the month from May 25 – August 31, when the park is transformed into an outdoor cinema. This free event will also include two hours of activities and entertainment leading up to show time. Films start at dusk, fun begins at 6:30pm
  • The Golden Triangle (BID) is raising the curtain on its Golden Cinema Film Series to be hosted this summer in Farragut Park. Outdoor movies will be shown at sunset every Friday beginning June 1 – August 3, and there are many family-friendly films among the line-up.

  • This year’s Wonder Women-themed NoMa Summer Screen features a variety of movies with strong female leads. The 12-week outdoor film series starts on June 6 and runs weekly on Wednesdays through August 29. The movies begin at sunset, but you can get there early to picnic — BYO or grab a bite from a food truck
  • See your favorite stars beneath the stars at the Capitol Riverfront’s Canal Park Outdoor Movie Series. Catch films every Thursday evening at sundown from June 7 through August 23.
  • Every Friday starting June 29, Rosslyn Cinema presents a night of fun and films in Gateway Park. Bring a blanket or low chairs and a group of friends and enjoy a night under the stars with your favorite movies. Movies start at dusk, but the fun starts at 5 p.m. with games and their Pub in the Park. Kids and pups welcome!
  • Events DC’s Summer Movie Series kicks off July 11-12, when you can catch free films every Wednesday and Thursday at Oxon Run Park and the Festival Grounds at RFK Stadium.
  • Bethesda Outdoor Movies will bring five days of flicks al fresco to downtown at the corner of Norfolk and Auburn Avenues from July 24-28. Be sure to check the titles to see what’s appropriate for your kid.


  • A fairy house almost as tall as Owen at Annmarie Sculpture Garden


    MUSEUM PROGRAMS & SEASONAL EXHIBITS
    Extraordinary installations, lovely annual exhibits, kids’ programs during the school break, and admission deals are some of the special experiences at our museums and galleries to take take advantage of over the summer.

  • First there was indoor mini-golf, after that it was a giant maze, then came the super awesome Beach, followed by Icebergs, and last year it was Hive. This summer, the National Building Museum will welcome visitors to FUN HOUSE, “a freestanding structure that recalls and re-imagines the idea of the traditional home” with interactive elements and a “peculiar, yet accessible way of reinterpreting the built environment”. Admission is $5/youth member, $10/adult member and $13/youth non-member, $16/adult non-member. Open July 4 through September 3.

  • Annmarie Sculpture Garden is enchanting any time of year, but it’s especially so in the summer when the fairy and gnome houses are on display. The adorable collection of little whimsical abodes for spritely creatures have all been selected from many submissions in an annual fairy house building contest. And they are just fantastic. Created by all ages, individuals and groups, each one has a different theme, but together they are a brilliant showcase of imagination and craftiness. View scenes from last year’s exhibit here.
  • You can walk amid a garden of butterflies at Brookside Garden’s amazing Wings of Fancy exhibit. The seasonal display featuring live butterflies and caterpillars from all over the world opened in April and will welcome visitors through September 16, 10am – 4pm. Admission is $8/ages 13 and up, $5/3-12, free ages 0-2 (admission to the rest of Brookside is free). Read about a KFDC experience there and view some of our pics from last year’s exhibit.
  • No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man at the Renwick isn’t a special summer exhibit, but it will make for a great outing with kids while they’re on break from school. It brings a piece — or, make that pieces, and big ones! — of the annual Black Rock Desert event to DC in the form of large-scale installations, several of them taking up whole galleries in the museum. The works range from sculptures to immersive installations to jewelry to costumes, and much of it appeals to all ages. Museum hours are 10am – 5:30pm, and admission is free.

  • Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree for Washington, DC, is returning to the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden for its third year. It opens on Solstice Saturday, June 23, and will be there through the summer. The public is welcome to write wishes on small cards and tie them to the tree’s branches. They’re collected throughout the summer, then sent to Ono’s “Imagine Peace Tower” in Reykjavik, Iceland.
  • Every year, the Newseum offers the Summer Fun Deal. From July 1 – September 3, there is no admission fee for kids ages 18 and under. The promotion waives the $12.95 regular entrance charge for youth with one paid adult admission, senior admission, or Newseum membership (a benefit to ages 7 and up, as kids 6 and under are always free). Up to six kids can enter free with the offer. Read a KFDC take on the Newseum and look for a deal on adult admission here.
  • ARTECHOUSE, the destination fusing art and technology that debuted last summer with XYZT: Abstract Landscapes, will dazzle us once again with Fractal Worlds. The exhibit will be “a visual journey through mind-bending sci-fi worlds and infinite 3D geometric patterns. Incorporating both projection and virtual reality elements, the exhibition transports viewers to another dimension.” All ages are welcome! Runs July 7 – September 30, and admission is $15/adult, $8/12 & under.
  • The National Gallery of Art’s wonderful drop-in program for children returns! Art Investigators, geared toward ages 4-7, introduces kids to art and encourages them to make observations and use their imaginations as they discover different works. It’ll run Friday – Monday from July 7-31. Read a KFDC review of the program from a few years back when it had a different name (we’ve been since, and it was just as good!).
  • During the warm months, little ones can flex their green thumbs in the outdoor Children’s Garden at the U.S. Botanic Garden. Renovated last year, the adorable outdoor area features dirt to dig in, plants to tend to, and a cute play structure to romp in. The rest of the USBG’s outdoor gardens are great to explore, too!
  • The National Archives is hosting some free programs for kids and families in June and July, including it’s regular monthly drop-in storytime, Family Learning Labs, and a few special events on weekends. Some require advance registrations and have age recommendations, so check them out and sign up soon!

  • For the T(w)een Scene and older, Carne Y Arena is a very powerful virtual reality experience that immerses viewers in the Sonoran desert as a group of migrants attempts to cross the border from Mexico to the US. Be sure to read the review to determine if your tween or teen should go! It’s running through August in Northeast DC, and tickets are being released every two weeks and going very quickly — reserve yours here.


  • The National Gallery of Art's Drop-In program returns this summer

    The National Gallery of Art’s Drop-In program returns this summer


    MOVIES, STORY TIMES, & MORE FOR KIDS
    Family movies at local theaters are a great way to stay cool and keep kids entertained when the weather heats up. And several seasonal programs keep little ones engaged with storytimes and more interactive fun. Even better, they’re all free or super cheap!

  • The Regal Summer Movie Express presents flicks for kids on many Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10am starting June 26. Admission is just $1. Be sure to check the website for the film schedule and theater locations, as it doesn’t run at all theaters every week.
  • The Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse will also offer fun films for kids throughout the summer for just $1. Dates and films vary by theater, so check the schedule to see what’s playing at a theater near you

  • On Wednesdays From May 17 – September 27, Kids Corner on The Plaza at CityCenter welcomes little ones for outdoor story time, singing, and fun with DC Public Library.
  • Kids in Canal is coming back with its weekly series of kid-friendly entertainment every Wednesday 10:30-11:30am beginning June 6. Bring little ones to the middle block of Canal Park to enjoy magic shows, kids tunes, science demonstrations, and puppet shows. Top off the day with a refreshing splash in the dancing water fountains!
  • The National Gallery of Art’s wonderful drop-in program for children returns once again! Formerly Stories in Art, Art Investigators, geared toward ages 4-7, introduces kids to art and encourages them to make observations and use their imaginations as they discover different works. It’ll run Friday – Monday from July 13 – August 5. Read a KFDC review of the program from a few years back (we’ve been since, and it was just as good!).
  • The Mosaic District‘s Stories from Strawberry Park series takes it outdoors during the warm months (in the Angelika Film Center on rainy days and the rest of the year). Join them there on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 10:30am from May through September for live interactive performances by unique storytellers.

  • Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Ashburn welcomes families to Kids Camp, a movie series that is inexpensive ($1-3) and benefits local charities, to boot.
  • Old Greenbelt Theatre, a nonprofit cinema located in Greenbelt, MD, presents their School’s Out Summer Family Series every Thursday at 1pm from June 21 through August 30. The movie line-up is all kid-friendly and admission to all of them is FREE!


  • Give the National Harbor carousel a whirl

    MINI TRAINS, MINI GOLF, CAROUSELS, & A FERRIS WHEEL!
    These extra delights bring even more fun to several parks around the area that are already great outdoor places to hang with the kids.

  • Watkins Regional Park opens its attractions on a limited schedule in early May, but come Memorial Day weekend, they can be enjoyed for extended hours almost every day of the week. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10am – 7pm; Sundays 12–5 pm, closed Mondays except May 26 (Memorial Day), July 4 (July Fourth Holiday; closes at 4pm) & September 3 (Labor Day). Read about the rest of the fun you can enjoy at Watkins!
  • Cabin John Regional Park opened its Miniature Train on weekends only back in April, but as of June 1, it’ll be operating daily 10am – 7pm through September 3. After that, hours will be limited, so check the schedule. Read about the wonderful Cabin John playground here
  • The Miniature Train and Ovid Hazen Wells Carousel at Wheaton Regional Park started taking guests for spins in early April on weekends and will be open daily May 19 through September 3 (limited times after that). Hours are 10am – 6pm Monday to Friday, and 10am – 7pm Saturday & Sunday. Read about the super fun Wheaton playground here.
  • The beautiful historic Dentzel Carousel is open for its 98th season at Glen Echo Park. Plan to go for a spin before or after a show at Adventure Theatre or The Puppet Co. From May through August, it’s open Wednesday – Friday 10am – 2pm, and Saturday and Sunday 11am – 5pm.

  • The Clemyjontri carousel has been running on weekends since April, but will be offering rides daily starting May 26 on weekdays 9:30am – 1:00pm and weekends 9:30am – 6:30pm. Read more about Clemyjontri here.
  • There are a couple of ways to go for a spin at National Harbor. Kind of like a London Eye of the U.S., The Capital Wheel is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of DC. The 42-gondola ride (all closed and climate-controlled with room for 8) soars 180 feet above the Potomac River waterfront, offering vistas of the White House and Capitol, the National Mall, Arlington Cemetery, and more amazing sites. Ticket prices start at $15. For an on-ground whirl, the Carousel features a herd of whimsical creatures and the sparkling Potomac as a backdrop. It’s $7 for each rider, and they can ride an unlimited number of times. Read about both rides and more National Harbor fun here.
  • The RIO Express Train and Carousel at RIO Washingtonian are open 3pm – dusk on weekdays, 11am – dusk on weekends through June 10. After that, they’ll open daily 11am – 9pm. A day pass is $6.
  • Burke Lake Park’s Mini Train and Carousel are open April to October, daily from Memorial Day – Labor Day 11:30am – 5:30pm. The park is free to access for Fairfax county residents. For non-county residents, the park is free on weekdays and has a $10 entrance fee on weekends/holidays for a car or large capacity van. Carousel rides are $2-3, and train rides are $3-4.

  • A setting as great as the entertainment at Children's Theatre in the Woods

    A setting as great as the entertainment at Children’s Theatre in the Woods


    THEATRE TIME
    All the world’s a summer stage at these venues that present special entertainment series for children and families throughout the season.

  • From late June through early August, Wolf Trap presents the fantastic Children’s Theater-in-the-Woods, over 70 family-friendly performances at 10am Tuesdays through Saturdays. Amidst 117 rolling wooded acres and nestled in a shady grove, the stage is set for lively adventures in music, dance, storytelling, puppetry, and theater. All of the productions are recommended for children between Kindergarten and 6th grade, though I think kids even younger can enjoy them, too (mine did!). Read a KFDC review of the series from a few summers ago.
  • Backyard Theater for Children, Strathmore’s summer theater series brings live music and fun to kids – all outdoors under a big tent. Weekly performances take place every Thursday at 9:30am and 11:30 from July 5-26. Admission is $8/advance, $10/day of, free/2 & under.
  • See a Shakespeare play in the park! The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company presents Shakespeare in the Ruins at the Picturesque Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park in Ellicott City this summer. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s play featuring fairies, magic, and romantic mix-ups, runs from June 22 – July 29. Not only can you picnic as you watch the play, kids are free (two for every adult). Advance reservations are recommended as tickets are limited.

  • Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual Free For All will present Romeo and Juliet from August 21 – September 1 this summer. The Washington tradition offers free performances of a Shakespearean classic to the public. Get tickets through an online lottery or waiting in line day-of with a limited number available.


    Root for the home team at a Nats game


    SUMMER SPORTS
    Some of the season’s best action takes place in ballparks, stadiums, and arenas thanks to our local sports teams. Here’s where you can join the fan clubs.

  • A day at Nationals Park is all it takes to understand why baseball is America’s favorite pastime. Catching a Nats game is one of our family’s preferred ways to enjoy a nice summer (or spring) day (or evening), anyway. The excitement extends well beyond the diamond with games and activities in the park, a playground for kids, the Racing Presidents, fun in the stands, and more. Before you go, check out these tips on doing a Nats game without breaking the bank. And I highly recommend the Jr. Nationals Kids Club for children 12 and under. Just $20 gets them membership, which includes Nats swag, plus a coupon book with offers for free meals, BOGO tickets, a ballpark tour, and all kinds of discounts. Even a few months into the season, it’s still worth it!
  • Tennis, anyone? The Washington Kastles, the DC franchise of World TeamTennis, will bring some on-court thrills to the Smith Center, where Kastles Stadium is located, July 15 – August 2. For some background, see this post and this one from a few years back.
  • Every summer, the Citi Open Tennis Tournament serves up exciting competition along with other fun activities for fans of all ages. See some of the sport’s top players in action and enjoy the thrills on and off the court at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center July 28 – August 5.
  • Whether or not you’ve got a little soccer fan in your fam, DC United matches are fun experiences for all ages. And since games only last 90 minutes, it’s not too long for antsy young spectators. Be sure to check for any pre- or post-game activities for kids.
  • Can’t stand the heat? Head to the Verizon Center to see the Washington Mystics (w)hoop it up on the basketball court. Tickets start at $13.
  • Swing up to Charm City to see the Baltimore Orioles play. Camden Yards is a beautiful ballpark, and you can head to the Inner Harbor before or after to make a day of it up north.
  • If the Nats or O’s aren’t in town, or you want to see baseball on a smaller but still fun scale, you’ve got several great options around the area. Take ’em out to the minors at a Bowie Baysox, Potomac Nationals, or Aberdeen Ironbirds game. Summer collegiate team Bethesda Big Train is also very popular for non-majors baseball action.
  • Women’s pro soccer team, Washington Spirit, plays in Germantown. Per a KFDC reader, “you get affordable tickets and concessions, picnic seating behind the goal, a really intimate, family-friendly environment, and top-level soccer.”


  • One of the best treats of the season

    One of the best treats of the season

    CRAB FEASTS
    Easily one of the best activities during summer in Maryland and neighboring areas (this is where I get non-DC-centric because I have to give credit where it’s due). Here are some suggestions for places to get ’em, though the “best” is always a subject for debate.

  • Cantler’s is an Annapolis institution.
  • Mike’s Crab House in Annapolis also gets raves.
  • Enjoy great crabs and an awesome beach area at Kentmorr.
  • The Jetty on Kent Narrows has crabs, scenic views, and a fun beachy vibe.
  • In Baltimore, Bo Brooks on the Canton Waterfront is popular.
  • Enjoy a feast in the District at Ivy City Smokehouse.
  • Stay close to the city at Quarterdeck in Arlington.
  • Eat crabs in the ‘burbs at Bethesda Crab House.
  • Make it a day trip to Waterman’s in Rock Hall, MD.
  • Pick up your own at the Maine Avenue Fish Market. Buy them already steamed or get them while they’re still alive to cook at home.


  • Reaping the fruits at Homestead Farm


    SEASONAL EXPERIENCES
    Some particularly cool activities and offerings are only possible this time of year. Sure, you can say that’s most of this guide, but these experiences that fall into the “other” category shouldn’t be missed.

  • On Thursday evenings and some Saturdays during late spring and summer, the Anacostia Watershed Society hosts their free Discovery Series, which include boat tours, paddle tours, and wetland walks a few local parks. Bladensburg Waterfront Park, Anacostia Park, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Diamond Teague Park, and Kingman Island are locations for these jaunts.
  • For other adventures on the water, a bunch of places around the area rent kayaks, canoes, rowboats, and stand up paddleboards. Fletcher’s Boathouse is a popular place to go and has a great riverside area to hang out and picnic when you’re off the water. You can also row from Ballpark Boathouse near Yards Park. Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis has paddling options along with lots of other outdoor recreation. This post has a whole round-up of even more places to go with the flow on local waterways.

  • Pick your own produce at local farms. While it starts in the spring with strawberries, it carries on through summer with even more delicious fruits — blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, plus veggies and more produce you can gather yourself. Find out where you can PYO around the DC area.
  • Friday Night Fishing begins June 15 and runs through August 17. Join Anacostia Riverkeeper on most Fridays from 6-8:30pm for catch and release fishing at the dock at Diamond Teague Park (located next to Yards Park). Rods, reels, bait, and instruction are free. No sign up is required.
  • Aaaaaar, mateys! As the weather warms up and cruising conditions become more comfortable, pirate voyages are offered on local waters. In DC, take a Family Treasure Hunt Cruise on the Boomerang Pirate Ship. Head out to Annapolis for Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake. Go for a jaunt with Urban Pirates in Baltimore or stay closer to home where they’re invading National Harbor.
  • Some of the most spectacular flower blooms occur during the summer. Enjoy a gorgeous display of azaleas. View a whole park bursting with pink, white, and peach-hued lotus fowers and water lilies. Fields upon fields of sunflowers are sure to brighten any day. Stop and smell the roses at a favorite National Mall spot. Get details on all of them in this post about our bloom town.
  • Get rolling in Southeast! The Anacostia Park Skating Pavilion, the only skating pavilion within in a national park, opens May 26 will welcome skaters daily from 9am – 5pm. Even better, both admission and skate rentals are FREE! And along with skating, Anacostia Park offers a multitude of water and land based recreation, including Ranger led programs, birding, tennis, fishing, biking, and three playgrounds. Read more about the park in this KFDC post.


    Have I left out anything really good? If you think so, let me know in the comments below!

    Summer in the City: Keeping it cool at Yards Park



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    Filed under 2018, DC, Exhibit, Festival, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Seasonal, Special Event, Sports, Summer, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

    The 2017 KFDC Guide to the Best of Summer in DC

    Summer in the city:  Evening play in the sprays at Yards Park

    Summer in the city: Evening play in the sprays at Yards Park



    It’s time to bring back one of my favorite annual guides! Summer may not officially begin for a few more weeks, but as we head into the warm months, many seasonal favorites around DC are starting up again. And this guide has the scoop on the best of them, so you can jump in on the fun.

    Ah, summer. The time of year to shift gears, from closed toed shoes to sandals, jeans to shorts, red wine to margaritas. It’s when play dates extend well into the evening, a dip in the pool counts as a bath, and the folks at the neighborhood water ice shop know the kids by name.

    It’s also when we can enjoy some of the area’s best activities. Water-inspired recreation, music and movies in the open air, special fests and feasts, and bonus attractions at everyday places are just some of the joys of the season.

    So, unpack the swimsuits and flip flops, get out the blender for cocktails (smoothies for the kids), bookmark this guide, and get ready to have some summer fun!

    Outdoor Pool Season
    Play in the Sprays
    Water Parks
    Summer Concerts
    Festivals
    Beaches
    Big Screen Under the Stars
    Museum Programs & Seasonal Exhibits
    Movies, Storytimes, & More
    Mini Trains, Carousels, Mini Golf, & a Ferris Wheel
    Theatre Time
    Summer Sports
    Crab Feasts
    Seasonal Experiences


    Outdoor Pool Season
    Nothing says summer like swimming under the sun, and there are plenty of public pools in the area where you can jump in for free or a small admission fee.

    • DC outdoor public pools will open on Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 27. Days and hours vary from pool to pool so be sure to check the schedule before you go. Last year they began opening earlier on weekdays, at 11am, and that’s continuing! (And some open even earlier than that for lap swim.)
    • For outdoor swimming outside of the city, Montgomery County outdoor public pools will open on May 27 through Labor Day — the Department of Recreation website has locations and hours.
    • In Northern Virginia, Arlington’s Upton Hill has a whole water park for guests to enjoy, and Alexandria has several places where the public is welcome to swim. Be sure to check the City of Alexandria website for hours, as they vary by pool.


    A refreshing run through the sprays at Georgetown Waterfront Park

    A refreshing run through the sprays at Georgetown Waterfront Park

    Play in the Sprays
    Kids can run through fountains and splash around at many area spraygrounds. Several are within the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, but some of the best are built right into the urban landscape, making the concrete jungle a cool place to hang out during the hottest months.

    • Georgetown Waterfront Park, right next to the Washington Harbour, has a fountain with arcing sprays that makes for a fun, refreshing way to cool off on a hot, summer day. The rest of its pretty green space along the Potomac is a great place to hang out, too.
    • The Yards Park is a favorite for many in the city with two levels of super fun sprays, a wading pool and wall of water (essentially a water fall between the levels), plus a great scenic location on the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard
    • Canal Park in the Navy Yard is great for all ages with both a gentle, shallow fountain that is perfect for really little ones to enjoy, plus a bigger fountain with lots of sprays for more enthusiastic play where the ice rink is in the winter.
    • Starting Memorial Day Weekend, May 27, DPR Spray Parks will be open for the season from 10am – 7pm daily. See locations on a map here.
    • Some of the area’s most popular spray parks — Lyon Village Park, Hayes Park, and Drew Park — can be found in Arlington.
    • The interactive fountain in Downtown Silver Spring plaza is open daily from 10am – 8pm. While my kids have never played there, I recall seeing very happy youngsters playing in the sprays on the colorful mosaic design during my lunch breaks when I worked at Discovery. It always looked like a blast.
    • The fountain in the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza located at 14th and Park Road, NW is a great place to cool down on a hot day, with many sprays that surge up from a pretty, circular tiled surface. Do a little shopping while you’re there — Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and many other big retail stores are right there — and plan to grab a bite at one of many kid-friendly eateries around. And don’t miss a chance to stop in Tivoli’s Astounding Magic Supply Co. at 826DC located right there.
    • The Fountain on the Square at Rockville Town Square welcomes kids to splish splash from May to September. It’s open Monday – Saturday 11am to 9pm and Sunday 12-8pm, but it’s turned off for maintenance at certain times during the week, so be sure to check the schedule before you go.
    • One of the newest to the sprayground scene, the fountains in the Mosaic District welcome all to play in the sprays that jet up from concrete. Surrounded by retail stores and restaurants, you can make a day of it there with some shopping and eating, too. Plan to go on a Tuesday with little ones when you can also enjoy Stories from Strawberry Park at 10-11am. (Note: Currently closed for renovations, but check back for reopening date!)


    Make  splash at Soak City in Kings Dominion

    Make splash at Soak City in Kings Dominion


    Water Parks
    Giant water slides, wave pools, waterfalls, sprays and splash pads…this is the stuff kids’ summer dreams are made of. There are actually several water parks around the area offering many of these attractions, just about all of them opening Memorial Day weekend for limited hours, until they open daily in a few weeks. Here’s a quick list — visit the websites for more details.


    Friday night concerts at Yards Park are a great way to kick off a summer weekend

    Friday night concerts at Yards Park are a great way to kick off a summer weekend


    Summer Concerts
    Free music in the fresh air has become a staple of the season, and there are opportunities to enjoy just about every genre regularly at outdoor venues all around the DC-Metro.

    • The Capitol Riverfront Friday Night Concert Series at Yards Park begins May 26 and will run through September 1, presenting a different band each week on the boardwalk stage overlooking the Anacostia River. Along with the free music, food and beverages are available for purchase. (Unfortunately, the NO BYOB policy implemented last year still holds). I recommend getting there early, so the kids can play in the fountains before the concert starts at 6:30pm. And on a hot summer day, it’s nice to continue the water fun even while the tunes are playing — you can still hear them from across the park!
    • Experience live music amid art at Jazz in the Garden, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden’s free concert series, every Friday from 5–8:30pm. The first performance of the season is May 19, rain or shine, and there will be weekly shows through August 25. Spread out a blanket, pack a picnic dinner or purchase food and drinks there, and enjoy the sounds of a variety of jazz artists. Note: Adult drinks are available from the pavilion; BYO alcohol is not permitted.
    • The U.S. Air Force Band’s Summer Concert Series begins May 26 and runs through Aug 29: Fridays at the Air Force Memorial at 7:30pm, Saturdays on the National Plaza (National Harbor) at 7pm, and Tuesdays at the U.S. Capitol (West Side Steps) at 8pm.
      Outdoor concerts are subject to weather cancellation.
    • In Silver Spring, the TGIF Downtown Street Party brings free music once a month on Friday evenings to the Fountain Plaza 6:30-8:30pm. Enjoy everything from pop to jazz to R&B to classic rock starting May 12.
    • All summer long, families can enjoy a variety of free fun at Rockville Town Square. Concerts for all ages on Friday evenings run from June 2 through September 30 — enjoy live music, good food, and beverages from 7-9pm.
    • Rock at the Row returns to Pentagon Row Thursdays July 13 – August 17. From 7-9pm, all are invited to the lounge on the new plaza for food samples and craft beer in the VIP section or to gather at one of the outdoor cafés while enjoying live music, giveaways, and merchant specials.
    • The U.S. Botanic Garden is bringing back the American Roots Music Concert Series every Thursday 5-7pm. Celebrate American roots with Americana and folk, country, blues, jazz, and even zydeco outside on the Conservatory Terrace. Schedule still TBD, but check back soon!
    • You can kick-start your weekends at Tysons Corner Center’s Fresh Artists Concert Series. Grab a blanket and enjoy performances ranging from ballet to blues, folk to funk, poetry to pop. Schedule still TBD, so check back.
    • Get a nice dose of nature as you listen to live tunes at Potomac Overlook Park in Arlington on Second Saturdays of the month from May 13 – September 9. The free, family-friendly performances take place on a stage in the woods surrounded by trails to explore. (FYI: The Nature Center — with snakes, turtles, owls, hawks — is great, too.
    • Enjoy music in Northern Virginia parks! The Fairfax County Park Authority presents their Summer Entertainment Series, a summer-long calendar of shows, concerts and movies appropriate families held in local parks. Bring a picnic dinner, blankets, and lawn chairs to enjoy the best local and regional entertainers.
    • Strathmore, the North Bethesda performing arts center, hosts Live from the Lawn, free outdoor concerts, every Wednesday from July 12 – August 30.


    Tour de Fat is as zany as it is fun!

    Tour de Fat is as zany as it is fun — and it stops in DC during summer this year!


    Festivals
    Several stand-out events are anticipated around the area this time of year, celebrating everything from music to art & culture to neighborhoods to food.

    • Get folksy at Glen Echo Park June 3-4, when the 37th Annual Washington Folk Festival showcases the diversity of traditional music in Washington. All of the artists hail from the DC area, but cultures from around the nation, as well as the world, will be represented through music, dance, crafts, and stories. The public is invited to enjoy the free festival that is renown in the folk community.
    • It sounds like a grown-ups-only event, but the Vintage Virginia Wine & Food Festival offers plenty of family fun, too. Taking place June 3-4 at Bull Run Park in Centreville, VA, festivities include wine tasting (of course), chef demos, food truck fare, live music, and a whole family-friendly area with activities especially for kids.
    • Imagination Bethesda, an annual festival occurring in the heart of its namesake city, is all about children. On June 3 from 10am – 3pm, Woodmont & Elm downtown will be lined with activity tents offering tons of fun for kids — arts & crafts, face painting, games, etc. There will also be live entertainment, food from local restaurants, and more. Admission is free.
    • The DC Jazz Festival presents a variety of performers at venues all around the city from June 9-18, but the most family-friendly of them actually precedes the main event. Jazz n’ Family Fun Days will take place June 3-4 with free shows for all ages at The Phillips Collection.
    • Attend one of the biggest summer barbeques around June 24-25 as the National Capital Barbeque Battle returns to pit some of the nation’s best barbequers against each other as they compete for big prizes. The reward for attendees: Samples from all the entrants (plus, more food), live music, cooking demos, kids’ fun, and more.
    • Every summer, the National Mall becomes stomping grounds of folks from around the globe to celebrate living cultural heritage and community traditions at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This year’s event will run from June 29 – July 4 and July 6-9, celebrating circus arts and migrations of people to and within this U.S.
    • The lotus and water lilies in full bloom at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are such a ravishing sight it calls for a celebration. Along with the spectacular display of flowers, the annual Lotus & Water Lily Festival will feature traditional Asian and African dancing and drumming, gardening workshops, park tours, arts & crafts, face painting, and other family-friendly pursuits. The exact date is TBD, but it always takes place sometime mid-July.
    • The annual Del Ray Music Festival is always a popular event. On July 23, count on a celebration of the Alexandria community with a day of food, games, and lots of kids’ activities along with a varied line-up of live entertainment.
    • Tour de Fat, easily one of my favorite annual festivals, takes place at Yards Park on July 22. The celebration of all things bicycle is zany in the best way possible. There’s a bicycle parade, bicycle art, reconfigured bicycles to ride, a dance contest to win a bicycle, a car-for-bike swap, a bike-themed kids area, and bikes just… everywhere. There’s also beer (New Belgium is the sponsor), circus performers, vaudeville acts, musicians, magicians, and more. It’s weird and wild and so much fun for the whole family.
    • It might run into fall, but it starts in August, so I’m counting the Maryland Renaissance Festival among the summer fun. Plus, it’s one of my very, very favorite annual events (more confirmation on that here). The merriment begins August 26 and will continue every weekend through October 22. Go. Just go.


    Have some fun in the summer sun at a local beach

    Have some fun in the summer sun at a local beach


    Beaches
    Summer and beach trips go hand-in-hand, so why not hit one with the kids? You don’t have to drive all the way to the ocean for it; there are several places where you can get a nice dose of sand and surf that are within day trip-distance from DC.

    • Head out to Calvert County for a day at Flag Ponds Nature Park. Not only is there plenty of sand for playing and nice mellow waters for swimming, it’s also a great spot for fossil hunting — look for shark teeth and other prehistoric remnants along the shores while you’re there, too! Hours are 9am – 6pm Memorial to Labor Day. Admission is $6/car.
    • Bayfront Park aka Brownie’s Beach is a nice little spot in Chesapeake Beach, MD. With a small but nice stretch of sand, gentle shallow water, shark teeth to fin, and cliffs edging the shoreline, it’s a great place to spend a day — especially with little ones since they can’t roam too far. The only downside is the admission fee: $16/adult, $9/child for non-residents of the county.
    • Enjoy views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge from the beach at Sandy Point State Park near Annapolis. At nearly 800 acres, it’s a big beach park with lots of recreational opportunities — swimming, picnicking, fishing, crabbing, hiking, and more. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, there are lifeguards on duty. And snack food and beach and picnic supplies are available. Hours are 6am – sunset. From May 1 through September, admission is $5 for Maryland residents, $7 for non-residents.
    • The beach is narrow, and you’re on a river, but you still get sand and water at Purse State Park in Charles County, MD. This is best if your main purpose is fossil hunting — it’s a great place to go for it — and you want to get in some “beach” time, too. Wear swimsuits, bring a picnic, and be sure to check the tide table so you can make the most of your time there. Open sunrise to sunset, and admission is free.


    Big Screen Under the Stars
    Outdoor movies have become a DC summer tradition in the last few years with films al fresco in several neighborhoods. Even better, all of them are FREE! (*Before you make plans to enjoy any of the series, be sure to check schedules, as some movies may not be appropriate for children.)

    • Catch a flick on the big screen from the comfort of your car at the Union Market Drive-In Series, occurring on select Fridays throughout the summer, with several family-friendly films in the mix. Get there as early as 6pm and have a bite to eat in the Market or bring food back to your car. The film starts at 8:15pm. Advance purchase is recommended.
    • National Harbor’s Movies on the Potomac already started their Sunday night film series for families, and it will run through September 24. Movies are shown on the plaza screen beginning at sunset, usually around 8:30pm.
    • Movie lovers of all ages should head to the Four Mile Run Movie Series in Alexandria on the last Friday of the month from May 26 – August 24, when the park is transformed into an outdoor cinema. This free event will also include two hours of activities and entertainment leading up to show time. Films start at dusk, fun begins at 6:30pm
    • See Your favorite stars beneath the stars at the Capitol Riverfront’s Canal Park Outdoor Movie Series. Catch films every Thursday evening at sundown from June 1 through August 10.
    • The Golden Triangle (BID) is raising the curtain on its Golden Cinema Film Series to be hosted this summer in Farragut Park. Outdoor movies will be shown at sunset every Friday beginning June 2 – August 4, and just about all of the films are family-friendly.
    • The NoMa Summer Screen 13-week outdoor film series starts on June 7! The movies begin at dark, so get there to picnic at 7pm.
    • Bethesda Outdoor Movies will bring five days of flicks al fresco to downtown at the corner of Norfolk and Auburn Avenues from July 18-24.


    Make a wish at Yoko Ono's Wish Tree in the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden

    Make a wish at Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree in the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden


    Museum Programs & Seasonal Exhibits
    Extraordinary installations, lovely annual exhibits, kids’ programs during the school break, and admission deals are some of the special experiences at our museums and galleries to take take advantage of over the summer.

    • First there was indoor mini-golf, after that it was a giant maze, then came the super awesome BEACH, and last year it was ICEBERGS. This summer, the National Building Museum will be buzzing with excitement over HIVE! The massive installation will be built from more than 2,700 wound paper tubes, taking up much of the space in the Great Hall, with an aim to “explore how a structure can modify and reflect sound, light, scale, and human interaction.” Admission is $5/youth member, $10/adult member and $13/youth non-member, $16/adult non-member. Open July 4 through September 4. Read a KFDC write-up and get a peek at HIVE here.
    • What sounds like an amazing virtual experience is coming to DC for the summer. ARTECHOUSE, a brand new destination for art, music, film, theater, and technology presents XYZT: Abstract Landscapes, an immersive sensory art exhibition composed of ten interactive digital installations. Manipulate time and space as you step into imaginary territory, manipulate algorithms, and immerse into a virtual playground of digital landscapes. For ages 6 and up. Get a glimpse and read a KFDC review of the exhibit here.
    • Annmarie Sculpture Garden is enchanting any time of year, but it’s especially so in the summer when the fairy and gnome houses are on display. The adorable collection of little whimsical abodes for sprite-like creatures have all been selected from many submissions in an annual fairy house building contest. And they are just fantastic. Created by all ages, individuals and groups, each one has a different theme, but together they are a brilliant showcase of imagination and craftiness.
    • The National Gallery of Art’s wonderful drop-in program for children returns — with a new name! Formerly Stories in Art, Art Investigators, geared toward ages 4-7, introduces kids to art and encourages them to make observations and use their imaginations as they discover different works. It’ll run Friday – Monday from July 7-31. Read a KFDC review of the program from a few years back (we’ve been since, and it was just as good!).
    • You can walk amid a garden of butterflies at Brookside Garden’s amazing Wings of Fancy exhibit. It’s back after being closed last summer during renovations. The seasonal display featuring live butterflies and caterpillars from all over the world opened in April and will welcome visitors through September 25, 10am – 4pm. Admission is $8/ages 13 and up, $5/3-12, free ages 0-2 (admission to the rest of Brookside is free). Read about a KFDC experience at the exhibit.
    • The Hirshhorn has a couple of special exhibits happening this summer starting with sunrise, sunset, a large-scale, site-specific wall mural by Swiss artist Nicolas Party. The mural will be painted directly onto the museum wall in the circular inner gallery on the third floor over the course of two weeks, and will be on view June 7 – October 1. It’ll be a great backdrop for Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree for Washington, DC, returning for its second year. From July 17 through September 17, the public is welcome to write wishes on small cards and tie them to the tree’s branches. They’re collected throughout the summer, then sent to Ono’s “Imagine Peace Tower” in Reykjavik, Iceland.
    • As you make your way around the area near CityCenter, look out for the Fancy Animal Carnival, an installation of whimsical, larger-than-life sculptures by renowned Taiwanese contemporary artist Hung Yi. Scattered around for all to enjoy, they’ll be here until October 15.
    • Every year, the Newseum offers the Summer Fun Deal. From July 1 – September 5, there is no admission fee for kids ages 18 and under. The promotion waives the $12.95 regular entrance charge for youth with one paid adult admission, senior admission, or Newseum membership (a benefit to ages 7 and up, as kids 6 and under are always free). Up to six kids can enter free with the offer. Read a KFDC take on the Newseum and look for a deal on adult admission here.
    • The National Academy of Sciences has been showcasing Igniting the Imagination since March, and it will be on display through August 7. The exhibition of 28 children’s book illustrations from the Mazza Museum in Findlay, Ohio, all relate to science, engineering, or medicine in some way. The show looks at the power of images and stories to ignite the imagination of young people. Copies of the books are on hand in the gallery for families to read as well as several comfortable couches and chairs.
    • During the warm months, little ones can flex their green thumbs in the outdoor Children’s Garden at the U.S. Botanic Garden — they can dig in dirt, water plants, and explore a cute little Bamboo Forest. (Note: It’s currently closed for renovations, but expected to be open by summer.) The rest of the USBG’s outdoor gardens are great to explore, too!
    • The National Archives is hosting some free programs for kids and families in June and July, including it’s regular monthly drop-in storytime, Family Learning Labs, and a few special events on weekends. Some require advance registrations and have age recommendations, so check them out and sign up soon!


    The National Gallery of Art's Drop-In program returns this summer

    The National Gallery of Art’s Drop-In program returns this summer


    Movies, Storytimes, & More for Kids
    Family movies at local theaters are a great way to stay cool and keep kids entertained when the weather heats up. And several seasonal programs keep little ones engaged with storytimes and more interactive fun. Even better, they’re all free or super cheap!

    • The Regal Summer Movie Express presents flicks for kids on many Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10am. Admission is just $1. Be sure to check the website for the film schedule and theater locations, as it doesn’t run at all theaters every week.
    • From May 10 – September 27, Kids Corner on The Plaza at CityCenter welcomes little ones for outdoor story time, singing, and fun with DC Public Library.
    • The new Kids in Canal is a 12-week series of kid-friendly entertainment every Wednesday 10:30-11:30am beginning June 7. Bring little ones to the middle block of Canal Park to enjoy magic shows, kids tunes, science demonstrations, and puppet shows. Top off the day with a refreshing splash in the dancing water fountains!
    • Starting July 11, THEARC Theater will present Showtime Tuesdays, free children’s movies every Tuesday at 10am and 2pm through August 1. The program includes a fun pre-show activity, snack, and movie screening — all on them.
    • Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Ashburn welcomes families to Kids Camp, a movie series that is inexpensive ($1-3) and benefits local charities, to boot.


    Go for a spin on the carousel at Watkins Regional Park

    Go for a spin on the Antique Carousel at Watkins Regional Park

    Mini Trains, Carousels, Mini Golf, & a Ferris Wheel!
    These extra delights bring even more fun to several parks around the area that are already great outdoor places to hang with the kids.

    • Watkins Regional Park opens its attractions on a limited schedule in early May, but come Memorial Day weekend, they can be enjoyed for extended hours almost every day of the week. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10am – 7pm; Sundays 12–5 pm, closed Mondays except May 30 (Memorial Day), July 4 (July Fourth Holiday; closes at 4pm) & August 30 (Labor Day). Read about the rest of the fun you can enjoy at Watkins!
    • Cabin John Regional Park opened its Miniature Train on weekends only back in April, but as of June 1, it’ll be operating daily 10am – 7pm through August. After that, hours will be limited, so check the schedule. Read about the wonderful Cabin John playground here
    • The Miniature Train and Ovid Hazen Wells Carousel at Wheaton Regional Park started taking guests for spins in early April on weekends and will be open daily June 1 through August (limited times after that). Hours are 10am – 6pm Monday to Friday, and 10am – 7pm Saturday & Sunday. Read about the super fun Wheaton playground here.
    • The beautiful historic Dentzel Carousel is open for its 97th season at Glen Echo Park. Plan to go for a spin before or after a show at Adventure Theatre or The Puppet Co. From May through August, it’s open Wednesday – Friday 10am – 2pm, and Saturday and Sunday 11am – 5pm.
    • The Clemyjontri carousel has been running on weekends since April, but will be offering rides daily starting May 31 on weekdays 9:30am – 1:00pm and weekends 9:30am – 6:30pm. Read more about Clemyjontri here.
    • Kind of like a London Eye of the U.S., The Capital Wheel at National Harbor is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of DC. The 42-gondola ride (all closed and climate-controlled with room for 8) soars 180 feet above the Potomac River waterfront, offering vistas of the White House and Capitol, the National Mall, Arlington Cemetery, and more amazing sites. Ticket prices start at $15. Read more about it here.
    • The RIO Express Train and Carousel at RIO Washingtonian are open 3pm – dusk on weekdays, 11am – dusk on weekends through June 19. After that, they’ll open daily 11am – 9pm. Rides are $3.
    • Burke Lake Park’s Mini Train and Carousel are open April to October, daily from Memorial Day – Labor Day 11:30am – 5:30pm. The park is free to access for Fairfax county residents. For non-county residents, the park is free on weekdays and has a $10 entrance fee on weekends/holidays for a car or large capacity van. Carousel rides are $2-3, and train rides are $3-4.


    A setting as great as the entertainment at Children's Theatre in the Woods

    A setting as great as the entertainment at Children’s Theatre in the Woods


    Children’s Theatre
    All the world’s an outdoor stage at these venues that present entertainment especially for children throughout the summer.

    • From late June through early August, Wolf Trap presents the fantastic Children’s Theater-in-the-Woods, over 70 family-friendly performances at 10am Tuesdays through Saturdays. Amidst 117 rolling wooded acres and nestled in a shady grove, the stage is set for lively adventures in music, dance, storytelling, puppetry, and theater. All of the productions are recommended for children between Kindergarten and 6th grade, though I think kids even younger can enjoy them, too (mine did!). Read a KFDC review of the series from a few summers ago.
    • Backyard Theater for Children, Strathmore’s summer theater series brings live music and fun to kids – all outdoors under a big tent. Weekly performances take place every Thursday at 9:30am and 11:30 from July 6-27. Admission is $8, free for ages 2 and under.
    • See a Shakespeare play in the park! The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company presents Shakespeare in the Ruins at the Picturesque Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park in Ellicott City this summer. The Tempest, Shakespeare’s magnificent final play of storm and shipwreck, mystery and magic, and profound redemption, runs from June 16 – July 23. Not only can you picnic as you watch the play, but kids are free (two for every adult). Advance reservations are recommended as tickets are limited.
    • Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual Free For All will present Othello from August 15-27 this summer. The Washington tradition offers free performances of a Shakespearean classic to the public. Get tickets through an online lottery or waiting in line day-of with a limited number available.


    Minor League is major fun at a Bowie Baysox game

    Minor League is major fun at a Bowie Baysox game


    Summer Sports
    Some of the season’s best action takes place in ballparks, stadiums, and arenas thanks to our local sports teams. Here’s where you can join the fan clubs.

    • A day at Nationals Park is all it takes to understand why baseball is America’s favorite pastime. Catching a Nats game is one of our family’s preferred ways to enjoy a nice summer (or spring) day (or evening), anyway. The excitement extends well beyond the diamond with games and activities in the park, a playground for kids, the Racing Presidents, fun in the stands, and more. Before you go, check out these tips on doing a Nats game without breaking the bank. And I highly recommend the Jr. Nationals Kids Club for children 12 and under. Just $20 gets them membership, which includes Nats swag, plus a coupon book with offers for free meals, BOGO tickets, a ballpark tour, and all kinds of discounts. Even a few months into the season, it’s still worth it!
    • Tennis, anyone? The Washington Kastles, the DC franchise of World TeamTennis, will bring some on-court thrills to the Smith Center, where Kastles Stadium is located, July 18-29. For some background, see this post and this one from a few years back.
    • Every summer, the Citi Open Tennis Tournament serves up exciting competition along with other fun activities for fans of all ages. See some of the sport’s top players in action and enjoy the thrills on and off the court.
    • Whether or not you’ve got a little soccer fan in your fam, DC United matches are fun experiences for all ages. And since games only last 90 minutes, it’s not too long for antsy young spectators. Be sure to check for any pre- or post-game activities for kids.
    • Can’t stand the heat? Head to the Verizon Center to see the Washington Mystics (w)hoop it up on the basketball court. Tickets start at $19.
    • Swing up to Charm City to see the Baltimore Orioles play. Camden Yards is a beautiful ballpark, and you can head to the Inner Harbor before or after to make a day of it up north.
    • If the Nats or O’s aren’t in town, or you want to see baseball on a smaller but still fun scale, you’ve got several great options around the area. Take ’em out to the minors at a Bowie Baysox, Potomac Nationals, or Aberdeen Ironbirds game. Summer collegiate team Bethesda Big Train is also very popular for non-majors baseball action.
    • Women’s pro soccer team, Washington Spirit, plays in Germantown. Per a KFDC reader, “you get affordable tickets and concessions, picnic seating behind the goal, a really intimate, family-friendly environment and top-level soccer.”


    One of the best treats of the season

    One of the best treats of the season

    Crab Feasts
    Easily one of the best activities during summer in Maryland and neighboring areas (this is where I get non-DC-centric because I have to give credit where it’s due). Here are some suggestions for places to get ’em, though the “best” is always a subject for debate.

    • Cantler’s is an Annapolis institution.
    • Mike’s Crab House in Annapolis is also a popular spot.
    • Drive over the Bay Bridge to Kentmorr for great crabs and an awesome beach area for hanging out while you wait
    • The Jetty on Kent Narrows has crabs, scenic views, and a fun beachy vibe
    • In Baltimore, Bo Brooks on the Canton Waterfront often tops crab eaters’ lists.
    • Stay close to the city at Quarterdeck in Arlington.
    • Waterman’s in Rock Hall after a hike at the Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge makes for a great Eastern Shore day trip.
    • Pick up your own at the Maine Avenue Fish Market. Buy them already steamed or get them while they’re still alive to cook at home.


    Enjoy recreation on local waterways during the warm months

    Enjoy recreation on local waterways during the warm months


    Seasonal Experiences
    Some particularly cool activities and offerings are only possible this time of year. Sure, you can say that’s most of this guide, but these experiences that fall into the “other” category shouldn’t be missed.

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    Filed under 2017, All ages, Annual, Art, DC, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Farm, Festival, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Playground, Seasonal, Special Event, Sports, Summer, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

    The 2015 KFDC Guide to Summer in DC

    Make a summer day (and night) of it at Yards Park

    Make a summer day (and night) of it at Yards Park



    Are you ready for the summer? If, like me, you answered that with a resounding, “Yeah!” then you’re in luck. The season may not officially begin for a few more weeks, but this is the time of year that I start shifting gears — from close-toed shoes to sandals, jeans to shorts, red wine to margaritas. It’s when play dates extend well into the evening, a dip in the pool counts as a bath, and the folks at the neighborhood water ice shop know the kids by name.

    It’s also when some of DC’s most quintessential “summer” activities begin. Music and movies in the open air, special fests and feasts, water-inspired recreation, and bonus attractions at everyday places are just some of the joys of the season. This guide has details on all of them, most of it updated from last year, plus a few choice additions. So, unpack the swimsuits and flip flops, get out the blender for margaritas (and smoothies for the kids), and get ready to have some summer fun!

    Outdoor Pool Season
    Play in the Sprays
    Water Parks
    Summer Concert Series
    Festivals
    Big Screen Under the Stars
    Movies at Theaters Near You
    Mini Trains, Carousels, Mini Golf, & a Ferris Wheel
    Children’s Theater Series
    Summer Sports
    Crab Feasts
    Museum Programs
    PYOP


    Outdoor Pool Season
    Nothing says summer like swimming under the sun, and there are plenty of public pools in the area where you can jump in for free or a small admission fee.

    • DC outdoor public pools will open on Saturday, May 23, from 12 – 6pm and will be open weekends only until June 20 (though they will be open Memorial Day, Monday, May 25). After that, they will open daily, though all pools are closed one day a week for maintenance, so be sure to check the schedule before you go.
    • For outdoor swimming outside of the city, Montgomery County outdoor public pools will open on May 23 through Labor Day — the Department of Recreation website has locations and hours.
    • In Northern Virginia, Arlington’s Upton Hill has a whole water park for guests to enjoy, and Alexandria has several places where the public is welcome to swim. Be sure to check the website for hours, as they vary from pool to pool.


    A refreshing run through the sprays at Georgetown Waterfront Park

    A refreshing run through the sprays at Georgetown Waterfront Park


    Play in the Sprays
    Kids can run through fountains and splash around at many area spraygrounds. Several are within the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, but some of the best are built right into the urban landscape, making the concrete jungle a cool place to hang out during the hottest months.

    • Georgetown Waterfront Park, right next to the Washington Harbour, has a fountain with arcing sprays that makes for a fun, refreshing way to cool off on a hot, summer day. The rest of its pretty green space along the Potomac is a great place to hang out, too.
    • The Yards Park is a favorite for many in the city with two levels of super fun sprays, a wading pool and wall of water (essentially a water fall between the levels), plus a great scenic location on the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard
    • Canal Park in the Navy Yard is great for all ages with both a gentle, shallow fountain that is perfect for really little ones to enjoy, plus a bigger fountain with lots of sprays for more enthusiastic play where the ice rink is in the winter.
    • Starting May 23, DPR Spray Parks will be open for the season, but hours vary by location, so be sure to check the website for hours.
    • Some of the area’s most popular spray parks — Lyon Village Park, Hayes Park, and Drew Park — can be found in Arlington.
    • The interactive fountain in Downtown Silver Spring plaza is open daily from 10am – 9pm. While my kids have never played there, I recall seeing very happy youngsters playing in the sprays on the colorful mosaic design during my lunch breaks when I worked at Discovery. It always looked like a blast.
    • The fountain in the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza located at 14th and Park Road, NW is a great place to cool down on a hot day, with many sprays that surge up from a pretty, circular tiled surface. Do a little shopping while you’re there — Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and many other big retail stores are right there — and plan to grab a bite at one of many kid-friendly eateries around. And don’t miss a chance to stop in the Museum of Unnatural History at 826DC.
    • The Fountain on the Square at Rockville Town Square welcomes kids to splish splash from May to September. It’s open Monday – Saturday 11am to 9pm and Sunday 12-8pm, but it’s turned off for maintenance at certain time during the week, so be sure to check the schedule before you go.
    • One of the newest to the sprayground scene, the fountains in the Mosaic District welcome all to play in the sprays that jet up from concrete. Surrounded by retails and restaurants, you can make a day of it there with some shopping and eating, too. Plan to go on a Tuesday with little ones when you can also enjoy Stories from Strawberry Park at 10-11am.


    Water Parks
    Giant water slides, wave pools, waterfalls, sprays and splash pads…this is the stuff kids’ summer dreams are made of. There are actually several water parks around the area offering many of these attractions, just about all of them opening Memorial Day weekend for limited hours, until they open daily in a few weeks. Here’s a quick list — visit the websites for more details.


    Rockin' on the Riverfront is a great start to a summer weekend

    Rockin’ on the Riverfront is a great start to a summer weekend


    Summer Concert Series
    Free music in the fresh air has become a staple of the season, and there are opportunities to enjoy just about every genre regularly at outdoor venues all around the DC-Metro.

    • One of my personal favorites is Rockin’ on the Riverfront. The Yards Park Friday concert series, running May 15 – September 11, presents a new band each week on the boardwalk stage overlooking the Anacostia River. Along with the free music, food and beverages are available for purchase (or you can BYO — adult beverages okay, too). I recommend getting there early, so the kids can play in the fountains before the concert starts at 6:30pm. And on a hot summer day, it’s nice to continue the water fun even while the tunes are playing — you can still hear them from across the park!
    • Experience live music amid art at Jazz in the Garden, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden’s free concert series, every Friday from 5:30–8:30pm. The first performance of the season is May 22, rain or shine, and there will be weekly shows through August 28. Spread out a blanket, pack a picnic dinner or purchase food and drinks there, and enjoy the sounds of a variety of jazz artists. Note: Adult drinks are available from the pavilion; BYO alcohol is not permitted.
    • The U.S. Air Force Band 2015 Summer Concert Series kicks off Friday, May 29, at 8pm, at the Air Force Memorial. After that, you can catch free performances all summer long at locales around the DC-Metro area, including other iconic spots like the Capitol steps and Sylvan Theater on the Washington Monument grounds. Show times vary so be sure to check the U.S. Air Force Band website for the complete summer schedule.
    • Carter Barron Amphitheater’s annual concert series takes place amid the woods of Rock Creek Park. While most shows are free, a few require admission. The 2015 lineup has not yet been announced, but check the website for an update soon!
    • All summer long, families can enjoy a variety of free fun at Rockville Town Square. Kids Night will be every Wednesday with live entertainment for the younger set (more info to come soon). And concerts for all ages on Friday evenings began May 1 and will run through September 4 — enjoy live music, good food, and beverages from 6:30-9:30pm.
    • Strathmore, the North Bethesda performing arts center, will host free outdoor concerts every Wednesday from July 1 – August 19.
    • Starting July 16, Rock the Row returns to Pentagon Row through August 20. On Thursdays from 7-9pm, all are invited to the lounge on the new plaza for food samples and craft beer in the VIP section or to gather at one of the outdoor cafés while enjoying live music, giveaways, and merchant specials.
    • You can kick-start your weekends at Tysons Corner Center’s Fresh Artists Concert Series, co-hosted by 94.7 Fresh FM and powered by Intelsat. Featuring “Fresh Artists,” the series has a little something for everyone. Grab a blanket and enjoy performances ranging from ballet to blues, folk to funk, and poetry to pop. This will run from July 26 – August 29.


    Bicycles and bemusement at Tour de Fat

    Bicycles and bemusement at Tour de Fat


    Festivals
    Several stand-out events are anticipated around the area this time of year, celebrating everything from music to art & culture to neighborhoods to food.

    • Tour de Fat may just be my second-favorite festival (Renn Fest takes the top cake), and it’s only been happening for a few years. The celebration of all things bicycle is zany in the best way possible. There’s a bicycle parade, bicycle art, reconfigured bicycles to ride, a dance contest to win a bicycle, a car-for-bike swap, a bike-themed kids areas, and bikes parked everywhere. There’s also beer (New Belgium is the sponsor).
    • Get folksy at Glen Echo Park May 30-31, when the annual Washington Folk Festival showcases the diversity of traditional music in Washington. All of the artists hail from the DC area, but cultures from around the nation, as well as the world, will be represented through music, dance, crafts, and stories. The public is invited to enjoy the free festival that is renown in the folk community.
    • It sounds like a grown-ups-only event, but the Vintage Virginia Wine & Food Festival offers plenty of family fun, too. Taking place May 30-31 at Bull Run Park, festivities include wine tasting (of course), chef demos, food truck fare, live music, and a whole Family Tent with activities especially for kids.
    • Imagination Bethesda, an annual festival occurring in the heart of its namesake city, is all about children. On June 6 from 10am – 3pm, Woodmont & Elm downtown will be lined with activity tents offering tons of fun for kids — arts & crafts, face painting, games, etc. There will also be live entertainment, food from local restaurants, and more. Admission is free.
    • Attend one of the biggest summer barbeques around on June 27-28 as the National Capital Barbeque Battle returns to pit some of the nation’s best barbequers against each other as they compete for big prizes. The reward for attendees: Samples from all the entrants (plus, more food), live music, cooking demos, kids’ fun, and more.
    • The DC Jazz Festival presents a variety of performers at venues all around the city from June 10-16. Keep up to date on details by visiting the website.
    • Every summer, the National Mall becomes stomping grounds of folks from around the globe to celebrate living cultural heritage and community traditions at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This year’s event will run from June 24-28 and July 1-5, celebrating Peruvian culture and heritage.
    • The annual Del Ray Music Festival is always a popular event. The date is still TBD, but count on a celebration of the Alexandria community with a day of food, games, and lots of kids’ activities along with a varied line-up of live entertainment.
    • It might run into fall, but it starts in August, so I’m counting the Maryland Renaissance Festival among the summer fun. Plus, it’s one of my very, very favorite annual events (more confirmation on that here). The merriment begins August 29 and will continue every weekend through October 19. Go. Just go.


    Big Screen Under the Stars
    Outdoor movies have become a DC summer tradition in the last few years with films al fresco in several neighborhoods. Even better, all of them are FREE! (*Before you make plans to enjoy any of the series, be sure to check schedules, as some movies may not be appropriate for children.)

    • “Dance, Dance, Dance” is the theme of this year’s NoMa Summer Screen, so mark your calendars for Breakin 2: Electric Bugaloo, Grease, Footloose, and a bunch of other family-friendly flicks. begins May 27 and will run weekly on Wednesdays until August 19. The series will take place at Storey Park Lot (1005 First Street NE), which will be temporarily transformed into a mural-filled urban park. Get there to picnic at 7pm, and the movie begins at dark. See the list of films on the website.
    • The Capitol Riverfront will start presenting the Canal Park Outdoor Movie Series on June 4, and it will run every Thursday evening at sundown through September 3. Celebrating characters whose decisions shape the world, space, and time, the lineup includes plenty of movies that kids will enjoy
    • Union Market’s drive-in movie series is returning to the vibrant district in Northeast DC and will “flashback” every Friday, rolling out films that salute the ‘80s and ‘90s decades.
    • The National Harbor hosts Movies on the Potomac, with family films every Sunday night. It started May 10 and runs through September 27. Movies begin at sunset, usually around 8:30pm.
    • The longest running, Screen on the Green, takes place on the National Mall on Mondays in July and August. See the lineup of films here.
    • Bethesda Outdoor Movies will bring five days of flicks al fresco to downtown at the corner of Norfolk and Auburn Avenues from July 21-25.
    • Catch Films in the Park at the Mosaic District every Friday from June 5 – September 4. The entire film line-up is family-friendly, and they’re kicking it off with one of my all-time faves (Rudy never fails to make me cry.)


    Movies at Theaters Near You
    Special summer movie series for families at local theaters are a great way to keep kids entertained and stay cool when the weather heats up. Even better, these programs invite guests to view films on the cheap.

    • The Regal Summer Movie Express presents flicks for kids on many Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10am. Admission is just $1. Be sure to check the website for the film schedule and theater locations, as it doesn’t run at all theaters every week.
    • Starting July 7, THEARC Theater will present Showtime Tuesdays, free children’s movies every Tuesday from 9:30am-11:30am through August 13. The program includes a fun pre-show activity, snack, and movie screening — all on them.
    • The Atlas Performing Arts Center presents a Summer Film Series every year, including A Family Series that takes place on Fridays at 5pm. The schedule has yet to be released, so stay tuned for an update


    Mini Trains, Carousels, Mini Golf, & a Ferris Wheel!
    These extra delights bring even more fun to several parks around the area that are already great outdoor places to hang with the kids.

    • Watkins Regional Park opened its attractions on a limited schedule in early May, but come Memorial Day weekend, they can be enjoyed for extended hours almost every day of the week. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10am – 7pm; Sundays 12–7 pm, closed Mondays except May 25 (Memorial Day), July 4 (July Fourth Holiday; closes at 4pm) & September 7 (Labor Day).
    • Cabin John Regional Park opened its Miniature Train on weekends only back in April, but as of June 1 it’ll be operating daily 10am – 7pm through August. After that, hours will be limited, so check the schedule.
    • The Miniature Train and Ovid Hazen Wells Carousel at Wheaton Regional Park started taking guests for spins in early May and will continue daily through August 30 (limited times after that). Hours are 10am – 6pm Monday to Friday, and 10am – 7pm Saturday & Sunday.
    • The Clemyjontri carousel has been running on weekends since April, but will be offering rides daily starting May 25 on weekdays 9:30am – 1:00pm and weekends 9:30am – 6:30pm.
    • The Carousel at RIO Washingtonian in Gaithersburg will celebrate its Grand Opening on May 31 at 11am. Be among the first to take a spin or catch a ride another time. The Americana-themed classic carousel will feature 30 Allan Herschell-style dancing horses, whimsical creatures, and two chariots, allowing for up to 38 adult and 30 children passengers, with wheelchair access and chariot wheelchair positions. Rides are $3.
    • Kind of like a London Eye of the U.S., The Capital Wheel at National Harbor is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of DC. The 42-gondola (all closed and climate-controlled with room for 8) will soar 180 feet above the Potomac River waterfront, offering vistas of the White House and Capitol, the National Mall, Arlington Cemetery, and more amazing sites. Ticket prices start at $15. Read more about it here.


    A setting as great as the entertainment at Children's Theatre in the Woods

    A setting as great as the entertainment at Children’s Theatre in the Woods


    Special Children’s Theatre Series
    All the world’s an outdoor stage at these venues that present entertainment especially for children throughout the summer.

    • From late June through early August, Wolf Trap presents Children’s Theater-in-the-Woods, over 70 family-friendly performances at 10am Tuesdays through Saturdays. Amidst 117 rolling wooded acres and nestled in a shady grove, the stage is set for lively adventures in music, dance, storytelling, puppetry, and theater. All of the productions are recommended for children between Kindergarten and 6th grade, though I think kids even younger can enjoy them, too (mine have). Read a KFDC review of the series from a couple of summers ago.
    • Backyard Theater for Children, Strathmore’s summer theater series brings live music and fun to kids – all outdoors under a big tent. Weekly performances take place every Thursday at 9:30am and 11:30 from July 9-30. Admission is $8, free for ages 2 and under.


    Boys of summer

    Boys of summer


    Summer Sports
    Some of the season’s best action takes place in ballparks, stadiums, and arenas thanks to our local sports teams. Here’s where you can join the fan clubs.

    • A day at Nationals Park is all it takes to understand why baseball is America’s favorite pastime. Catching a Washington Nationals game is one of our family’s preferred ways to enjoy a nice summer (or spring) day (or evening), anyway. The excitement extends well beyond the diamond with games and activities in the park, a playground for kids, the Racing Presidents, fun in the stands, and more. And I highly recommend the Jr. Nationals Kids Club for children 12 and under. Just $20 gets them membership, which includes Nats swag, plus a coupon book with offers for free meals, BOGO tickets, a ballpark tour, and all kinds of discounts. Even a few months into the season, it’s still worth it!
    • Tennis, anyone? The Washington Kastles, the DC franchise of World TeamTennis, will bring some on-court thrills to The Wharf on the Southwest Waterfront, where Kastles Stadium is located, July 12-29. For some background, see this post and this one from a few years back.
    • Whether you’ve got a little soccer fan in your fam or not, DC United matches are fun experiences for all ages. And since games only last 90 minutes, it’s not too long for antsy young spectators. Be sure to check for any pre- or post-game activities for kids.
    • Can’t stand the heat? Head to the Verizon Center to see the Washington Mystics (w)hoop it up on the basketball court. Tickets start at $19.
    • Swing up to Charm City to see the Baltimore Orioles play. Camden Yards is a beautiful ballpark, and you can head to the Inner Harbor before or after to make a day of it up north.
    • If the Nats or O’s aren’t in town, or you want to see baseball on a smaller scale, you’ve got several great options around the area. Take ’em out to the minors at a Bowie Baysox, Potomac Nationals, or Aberdeen Ironbirds game. Summer collegiate team Bethesda Big Train is also very popular for non-majors baseball action.


    Crab Feasts
    Easily one of the best activities during summer in Maryland and neighboring areas (this is where I get non-DC-centric because I have to give credit where it’s due). Here are some suggestions for places to get ’em, though the “best” is always a subject for debate.


    Tending to the USBG Children's Garden

    Tending to the USBG Children’s Garden


    Museum Programs & Seasonal Exhibits

    • First there was indoor mini-golf, last year it was a giant maze. This summer, the National Building Museum is riding the seasonal wave and bringing The BEACH to the Great Hall. The installation will cover 10,000 square feet and include an “ocean” of nearly one million recyclable translucent plastic balls. Visitors are welcome to “swim” in the ocean or spend an afternoon at the “shore’s” edge. Admission is $5/youth member, $10/adult member and $13/youth non-member, $16/adult non-member. Open July 4 through September 7.
    • During the warm months, little ones can flex their green thumbs in the outdoor Children’s Garden at the U.S. Botanic Garden — they can dig in dirt, water plants, and explore a cute little Bamboo Forest. The rest of the USBG’s outdoor gardens are great to explore, too!
    • You can walk amid a garden of butterflies at Brookside Garden’s amazing Wings of Fancy exhibit. It’s back after being closed last summer during renovations. The seasonal display featuring live butterflies and caterpillars from all over the world will be open daily July 1 – September 25, 10am – 4pm. Admission is $8/ages 13 and up, $5/3-12, free ages 0-2 (admission to the rest of Brookside is free). Read about a KFDC experience at the exhibit.
    • Every year, the Newseum offers the Summer Fun Deal. From July 1 – September 7, there is no admission fee for kids ages 18 and under. The promotion waives the $12.95 regular entrance charge for youth with one paid adult admission, senior admission, or Newseum membership (a benefit to ages 7 and up, as kids 6 and under are always free). Up to six kids can enter free with the offer. Read a KFDC take on the Newseum and look for a deal on adult admission here.


    Gonna eat me a lot of peaches

    Gonna eat me a lot of peaches


    PYOP: Pick Your Own Produce

      While the picking season starts in the spring with strawberries, it carries on through summer with even more delicious fruits — blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, plus veggies and more produce you can gather yourself. Find out where you can PYOP at farms around the area.

    Have I left out anything really good? If you think so, feel free to let me know in the comments.

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    Filed under All ages, Animals, Annual, DC, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Farm, Festival, Free, Holidays, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Sports, Summer, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

    The 2014 KFDC Guide to Summer in DC

    Summer in the city: Water play at Canal Park

    Summer in the city: Water play at Canal Park



    If you follow KidFriendly DC on Facebook, you may have seen this gem that I posted recently. To say I can relate is an understatement. Couple that with the fact that Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and you can probably guess where my mind is these days: Summer.

    The season may not officially begin for a few more weeks, but now is when I start embracing the best of it. Luckily, there are loads of quintessential summer activities around DC that follow the same early timeline as me. Music and movies in the open air, special fests and feasts, water-inspired recreation, and bonus attractions at everyday places are just some of the ways we can enjoy summer in the area. This guide has details on all of them, most of it just updated from last year, plus a few choice additions. So, unpack the swimsuits and flip flops, start marking the stretch through Labor Day on the calendar, and get ready to have some FUN!

    Outdoor Pool Season
    Nothing says summer like swimming under the sun, and there are plenty of public pools in the area where you can jump in for free or a small admission fee.

    • DC outdoor public pools will open on Saturday, May 24, from 12 – 6pm and will be open weekends only until June 22 (though they will be open Memorial Day, Monday, May 26). After that, they will open daily, though all pools are closed one day a week for maintenance, so be sure to check the schedule before you go.
    • For outdoor swimming outside of the city, Montgomery County outdoor public pools will be open on weekends May 24 – June 13, then weekdays, too, through Labor Day — the Department of Recreation website has locations and hours.
    • In Northern Virginia, Arlington’s Upton Hill has a whole water park for guests to enjoy, and Alexandria has several places where the public is welcome to swim. Be sure to check the website for hours, as they vary from pool to pool.

    Play in the Spray
    Kids can run through fountains and splash around at many area spraygrounds. Several are within the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, and there are a few in other areas, too.

    • Georgetown Waterfront Park, right next to the Washington Harbour, has a fountain with arcing sprays that makes for a fun, refreshing way to cool off on a hot, summer day. The rest of its pretty green space along the Potomac is a great place to hang out, too.
    • The Yards Park is a favorite for many in the city with both super fun sprays and a wading pool, plus a great scenic location on the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard
    • A relative newcomer to DC’s recreational scene, Canal Park in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood has both a gentle, shallow fountain that is perfect for really little ones to enjoy, plus a bigger fountain with lots of sprays for more enthusiastic play where the ice rink is in the winter.
    • Starting May 24, DPR Spray Parks will be open for the season, but hours vary by location, so be sure to check their website for hours).
    • Some of the area’s most popular spray parks — Lyon Village Park, Hayes Park, and Drew Park — can be found in Arlington.
    • The interactive fountain in Downtown Silver Spring plaza is open daily from 10am – 9pm. While my kids have never played there, I recall seeing very happy youngsters playing in the sprays on the colorful mosaic design during my lunch breaks when I worked at Discovery. It always looked like a blast.
    • The fountain in the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza located at 14th and Park Road, NW is a great place to cool down on a hot day, with many sprays that surge up from a pretty, circular tiled surface. Do a little shopping while you’re there — Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and many other big retail stores are right there — and plan to grab a bite at one of many kid-friendly eateries around. And don’t miss a chance to stop in the Museum of Unnatural History at 826DC.

    Water Parks
    Giant water slides, wave pools, waterfalls, sprays and splash pads…this is the stuff kids’ summer dreams are made of. There are actually several water parks around the area offering many of these attractions, just about all of them opening Memorial Day weekend for limited hours, until they open daily in a few weeks. Here’s a quick list — visit the websites for more details.

    Summer Concert Series
    Free music in the fresh air has become a staple of the season, and there are opportunities to enjoy just about every genre regularly at outdoor venues all around the DC-Metro.

    • Already underway, the Yards Park Friday Concert Series presents a new band each week on the boardwalk stage overlooking the Anacostia River. Along with the free music, food and beverages are available for purchase (or you can BYO – adult beverages okay, too). I recommend getting there a little early, so the kids can play in the fountains before the concert starts. And on a hot summer day, it’s nice to continue the water fun even while the tunes are playing — you can still hear them from across the park!
    • Experience live music amid art at Jazz in the Garden, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden’s free concert series, every Friday from 5:30–8:30pm. The first performance of the season is this Friday, May 23, rain or shine. Spread out a blanket, pack a picnic dinner or purchase food and drink there, and enjoy the sounds of a variety of jazz artists. Note: Adult drinks are available from the pavilion; BYO alcohol is not permitted.
    • The U.S. Air Force Band 2014 Summer Concert Series kicks off Tuesday, June 3 at 8pm, on the U.S. Capitol West Steps. After that, you can catch free performances all summer long at locales around the DC-Metro area, including other iconic spots along with the Capitol steps, like the Air Force Memorial and the Air & Space Museum. Show times vary so be sure to check the U.S. Air Force Band website for the complete summer schedule.
    • All summer long, families can enjoy a variety of free fun at Rockville Town Square. Kids Night is every Tuesday from June 11 – August 20 with live entertainment for the younger set at 6:30pm and 7:30pm. And concerts for all ages on Friday evenings began May 2 and will run through September 26 — enjoy live music, good food, and beverages from 6:30-9:30pm.
    • Starting July 17, you can Rock the Row at Pentagon Row’s summer concert series every Thursday evening from 7-9pm through August 21. Join the fun behind Champps in the closed-off access street running between Pentagon Row and Pentagon City Mall.
    • Carter Barron Amphitheater’s annual concert series takes place amid the woods of Rock Creek Park. While most shows are free, a few require admission. The 2014 lineup has not yet been announced, but check the website for an update soon!

    Festivals
    Several stand-out events are anticipated around the area this time of year, celebrating everything from music to art & culture to neighborhoods to food.

    • Get folksy at Glen Echo Park May 31 – June 1, when the annual Washington Folk Festival showcases the diversity of traditional music in Washington. All of the artists hail from the DC area, but cultures from around the nation, as well as the world, will be represented through music, dance, crafts, and stories. The public is invited to enjoy the festival that is renown in the folk community.
    • It sounds like a grown-ups-only event, but the Vintage Virginia Wine & Food Festival offers plenty of family fun, too. Taking place May 31 – June 1 at Bull Run Park, festivities include wine tasting (of course), chef demos, food truck fare, live music, and a whole Family Tent with activities especially for kids.
    • Imagination Bethesda, an annual festival occurring in the heart of its namesake city, is all about children. On June 7 from 10am – 3pm, Auburn & Norfolk Avenues downtown will be lined with activity tents offering tons of fun for kids — arts & crafts, face painting, games, etc. There will also be live entertainment, food from local restaurants, and more. Admission is free.
    • Attend one of the biggest summer barbeques around on June 21-22 as the National Capital Barbeque Battle returns to pit some of the nation’s best barbequers against each other as they compete for big prizes. The reward for attendees: Samples from all the entrants (plus, more food), live music, cooking demos, kids’ fun, and more.
    • The DC Jazz Festival presents a variety of performers at venues all around the city from June 24-29. Keep up to date on details by visiting the website.
    • Every summer, the National Mall becomes stomping grounds of folks from around the globe to celebrate living cultural heritage and community traditions at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This year’s event will run from June 25–29 and July 2–6 celebrating Chinese creativity and heritage and the cultural and national heritage of Kenya.
    • The annual Del Ray Music Festival, always a popular event, is on June 28. Celebrating the community in Alexandria with a day of music and fun, the festival features food, games, and lots of kids’ activities along with a varied line-up of live entertainment.
    • It might run into fall, but it starts in August, so I’m counting the Maryland Renaissance Festival among the summer fun. Plus, it’s one of my very, very favorite annual events (more confirmation on that here). The merriment begins August 23 and will continue every weekend through October 19. Go. Just go.

    Big Screen Under the Stars
    Outdoor movies have become a DC summer tradition in the last few years with films al fresco in several neighborhoods. Even better, all of them are FREE! (*Before you make plans to enjoy any of the series, be sure to check schedules, as some movies may not be appropriate for children.)

    • The NoMa Summer Screen, which includes a few family-friendly movies, begins May 28 and will run weekly on Wednesdays until August 20 on L Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue NE. Food and music start at 7pm, and the movie at dark. This year they are also hosting special Family Film Nights, which features flicks for all ages on four Tuesdays during the summer — see the list of them on the website.
    • The Capitol Riverfront will start presenting Canal Park Thursday Movies: It’s a Whole New Ballgame on June 5 and the series will run every Thursday evening at sundown through September 11. With a sports theme theme, the lineup includes plenty of movies that kids (probably elementary age) will enjoy
    • The National Harbor hosts Movies on the Potomac, with family films every Sunday night beginning May 25. Movies begin at sunset, usually around 8:30pm.
    • Movies on the Square will take place at Rockville Town Square Thursdays at 8:30pm June 12 – August 21, and several kids flicks are included among them.
    • The longest running, Screen on the Green, takes place on the National Mall on Mondays in July and August. See the lineup of films here.

    Movies at Theaters Near You
    Special summer movie series for families at local theaters are a great way to keep kids entertained and stay cool when the weather heats up. Even better, these programs invite guests to view films on the cheap.

    • The Regal Summer Movie Express presents flicks for kids on many Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10am starting June 10. Admission is just $1. Be sure to check the website for the film schedule and theater locations, as it doesn’t run at all theaters every week.
    • Starting July 8, THEARC Theater will present Showtime Movie Tuesdays, free children’s movies every Tuesday from 10am – 12pm through August 13. Doors open at 9:30am, and the program includes a fun pre-show activity, snack, and movie screening — all on them.
    • Catch a movie at the museum at the National Gallery of Art’s Summer Famly Films series. There will be screenings of three films highlighting different artists this summer.
    • The Atlas Performing Arts Center presents a Summer Film Series every year, including A Family Series that takes place on Fridays at 5pm. The schedule has yet to be released, so stay tuned for an update

    Mini Trains, Carousels, Mini Golf, & a Ferris Wheel!
    These extra delights bring even more fun to several parks around the area that are already great outdoor places to hang with the kids.

    • Watkins Regional Park opened its attractions on a limited schedule in early May, but come Memorial Day weekend, they can be enjoyed for extended hours almost every day of the week. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10am – 7pm; Sundays 12–7 pm, closed Mondays except May 26 (Memorial Day), July 4 (July Fourth Holiday; closes at 4pm) & September 1 (Labor Day).
    • Cabin John Regional Park opened its Miniature Train on weekends only back in April, but as of Memorial Day it’ll be operating daily 10am – 7pm through August. After that, hours will be limited, so check the schedule.
    • The Miniature Train and Ovid Hazen Wells Carousel at Wheaton Regional Park started taking guests for spins in early May and will continue daily through August 24 (limited times after that). Hours are 10am – 6pm Monday to Friday, and 10am – 7pm Saturday & Sunday.
    • The Clemyjontri carousel has been running on weekends since April, but will be offering rides daily starting May 26 on weekdays 9:30am – 1:00pm and weekends 9:30am – 6:30pm.
    • The Carousel at RIO Washingtonian in Gaithersburg will celebrate its Grand Opening on May 31 at 11am. Be among the first to take a spin or catch a ride another time. The Americana-themed classic carousel will feature 30 Allan Herschell-style dancing horses, whimsical creatures, and two chariots, allowing for up to 38 adult and 30 children passengers, with wheelchair access and chariot wheelchair positions. Rides are $3.
    • Kind of like a London Eye of the U.S., The Capital Wheel at National Harbor is set to open on Friday, May 23. The 42-gondola (all closed and climate-controlled with room for 8) will soar 180 feet above the Potomac River waterfront, offering vistas of the White House and Capitol, the National Mall, Arlington Cemetery, and more amazing sites. Ticket prices start at $11.25.

    Special Children’s Theatre Series
    All the world’s an outdoor stage at these venues that present entertainment especially for children throughout the summer.

    • From late June through early August, Wolf Trap presents Children’s Theater-in-the-Woods, over 70 family-friendly performances at 10am Tuesdays through Saturdays. Amidst 117 rolling wooded acres and nestled in a shady grove, the stage is set for lively adventures in music, dance, storytelling, puppetry, and theater. All of the productions are recommended for children between Kindergarten and 6th grade, though I think kids even younger can enjoy them, too (mine have). Read a KFDC review of the series from a couple of summers ago. And tickets are on sale now, so go ahead and reserve yours!
    • Backyard Theater for Children, Strathmore’s summer theater series brings music and mystery of exotic locales from around the world to kids – all outdoors under a big tent. Weekly performances take place every Thursday at 9:30am and 11:30 from June 26 – July 31. Admission is $8, free for ages 2 and under. Check the calendar for the line-up of performances.

    Summer Sports
    Some of the season’s best action takes place in ballparks, stadiums, and arenas thanks to our local sports teams. Here’s where you can join the fan clubs.

    • A day at Nationals Park is all it takes to understand why baseball is America’s favorite pastime. Catching a Washington Nationals game is one of our family’s preferred ways to enjoy a nice summer (or spring) day (or evening), anyway. The excitement extends well beyond the diamond with games and activities in the park, a playground for kids, the Racing Presidents, fun in the stands, and more. And I highly recommend the Jr. Nationals Kids Club for children 12 and under. Just $20 gets them membership, which includes Nats swag, plus a coupon book with offers for free meals, BOGO tickets, a ballpark tour, and all kinds of discounts. Even a few months into the season, it’s still worth it!
    • Tennis, anyone? The Washington Kastles, the DC franchise of World TeamTennis, will bring some on-court thrills to The Wharf on the Southwest Waterfront, where Kastles Stadium is located, July 7-23. For some background, see this post and this one from a few years back.
    • Whether you’ve got a little soccer fan in your fam or not, DC United matches are fun experiences for all ages. And since games only last 90 minutes, it’s not too long for antsy young spectators. Be sure to check for any pre- or post-game activities for kids.
    • Can’t stand the heat? Head to the Verizon Center to see the Washington Mystics (w)hoop it up on the basketball court. Tickets start at $19.
    • Swing up to Charm City to see the Baltimore Orioles play. Camden Yards is a beautiful ballpark, and you can head to the Inner Harbor before or after to make a day of it up north.
    • If the Nats or O’s aren’t in town, or you want to see baseball on a smaller scale, you’ve got several great options around the area. Take ’em out to the minors at a Bowie Baysox, Potomac Nationals, or Aberdeen Ironbirds game. Summer collegiate team Bethesda Big Train is also very popular for non-majors baseball action.

    Crab Feasts
    Easily one of the best activities during summer in Maryland and neighboring areas (this is where I get non-DC-centric because I have to give credit where it’s due). Here are some suggestions for places to get ’em, though the “best” is always a subject for debate.

    Museum Programs

    • The Corcoran Gallery of Art presents Free Summer Saturdays May 24 – August 31. Tours, workshops, demonstrations, and performances are all usually part of the museum’s programming, though this year’s schedule is not yet available. Be sure to check the website for an update on details soon.
    • The National Gallery of Art’s Summer Drop-In Series starts begins July 12 with art sessions for kids that are both educational and fun. Stories in Art, geared toward ages 4-7, is a fantastic program that introduces kids to art and encourages them to use their imaginations as they discover different works, this season they’ll be exploring Italy as they “meet” Italian artists and investigate their paintings and sculptures. Read a KFDC review of the program. Artful Conversations, designed for ages 8-11, uses observation and discussion to explore works of art in the museum’s collection.
    • Every year, the Newseum offers the Summer Fun Deal. From July 1 – September 1, there will be no admission fee for kids ages 18 and under. The promotion waives the $12.95 regular entrance charge for youth with one paid adult admission, senior admission, or Newseum membership (a benefit to ages 7 and up, as kids 6 and under are always free). Up to six kids can enter free with the offer. Read a KFDC take on the Newseum.
    • Find your way to — and through — the National Building Museum! For the first time ever this summer, the Museum, in partnership with BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, is creating a never-before-seen large-scale maze in its historic home. Soaring 18 feet high and measuring 61 feet by 61 feet, the birch plywood structure will boast a series of twists and turns for visitors to weave through and explore. The “BIG Maze” will be open July 4 to September 1.

    Pick-Your-Own Berries
    While the picking season starts in the spring with strawberries, it carries on through summer with even more delicious fruits — blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, plus more produce you can gather yourself. The strawberry season usually lasts until about mid-June, and this post has a list of farms with pick-your-own patches and details. For other berry picking opportunities later on, this post from previous years will tell you where to go.

    Have I left out anything really good? If you think so, feel free to let me know in the comments.

    5 Comments

    Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, Class, DC, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Festival, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Sports, Summer, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

    The 2013 KFDC Guide to Summer in DC

    The fountain at Georgetown Waterfront Park, a summer favorite

    A summer favorite: The fountain at Georgetown Waterfront Park



    It’s that time of year when I declare the start of summer before the season officially begins. But as I’ve discussed several times now (see here, here, and here), this coming weekend — Memorial Day weekend — is when summer begins in my book (or blog, that is). This is when I start shifting gears, from close-toed shoes to sandals, jeans to shorts, martinis to margaritas (okay, not true…I’ll take that martini, thank you…it just sounded good). It’s when evening strolls prevail over early bedtimes, a dip in the pool counts as a bath, and the folks at the neighborhood gelato shop know the kids by name.

    This weekend is also when we kick off many quintessential summer activities around DC. Music and movies in the open air, special fests and feasts, water-inspired recreation, and bonus attractions at everyday places are just some of the ways we can embrace summer in the area. This guide has details on all of them, much of it just updated from last year, plus a few choice additions. So, get out the sunblock and flip flops, start marking the Memorial Day to Labor Day stretch on the calendar, and prepare to have some FUN!

    Outdoor Pool Season
    Nothing says summer like swimming under the sun, and there are plenty of public pools in the area where you can jump in for free or a small admission fee.

    • DC outdoor public pools will open on Saturday, May 25, from 12 – 6pm and will be open weekends only until June 24 (though they will be open Memorial Day, Monday, May 27). After that, they will open daily, though all pools are closed one day a week for maintenance, so be sure to check the schedule before you go.
    • For outdoor swimming outside of the city, Montgomery County outdoor public pools will be open on weekends May 25 – June 9, then weekdays, too, through Labor Day — the Department of Recreation website has locations and hours.
    • In Northern Virginia, Arlington’s Upton Hill has a whole water park for guests to enjoy, and Alexandria has several places where the public is welcome to swim. Be sure to check the website for hours, as they vary from pool to pool.

    Play in the Spray
    Kids can run through fountains and splash around at many area spraygrounds. Several are within the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, and there are a few in other areas, too.

    • Georgetown Waterfront Park, right next to the Washington Harbour, has a fountain with arcing sprays that makes for a fun, refreshing way to cool off on a hot, summer day. The rest of its pretty green space along the Potomac is a great place to hang out, too.
    • A newcomer to DC’s recreational scene, Canal Park in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood has both a gentle, shallow fountain that is perfect for really little ones to enjoy, plus a bigger fountain with sprays for more enthusiastic play where the ice rink is in the winter.
    • Starting May 25, DPR Spray Parks will be open for the season, but hours vary by location, so be sure to check their website for hours).
    • Some of the area’s most popular spray parks — Lyon Village Park, Hayes Park, and Drew Park — can be found in Arlington.
    • The interactive fountain in Downtown Silver Spring plaza is open daily from 10am – 9pm. While my kids have never played there, I recall seeing very happy youngsters playing in the sprays on the colorful mosaic design during my lunch breaks when I worked at Discovery. It always looked like a blast.
    • The Yards Park has both super fun sprays and a wading pool, plus a great location on the Anacostia River, but the water features are closed while the park is undergoing construction. Check back soon for an update.
    • The fountain in the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza located at 14th and Park Road, NW is a great place to cool down on a hot day, with many sprays that surge up from a pretty, circular tiled surface. Do a little shopping while you’re there — Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and many other big retail stores are right there — and plan to grab a bite at one of many kid-friendly eateries around. And don’t miss a chance to stop in the Museum of Unnatural History at 826DC.

    Water Parks
    Giant water slides, wave pools, waterfalls, sprays and splash pads…this is the stuff kids’ summer dreams are made of. There are actually several water parks around the area offering many of these attractions, just about all of them opening Memorial Day weekend for limited hours, until they open daily in a few weeks. Here’s a quick list — visit the websites for more details.

    Summer Concert Series
    Free music in the fresh air has become a staple of the season, and there are opportunities to enjoy just about every genre regularly at outdoor venues all around the DC-Metro.

    • Already underway, the Yards Park Friday Concert Series presents a new band each week on the boardwalk stage overlooking the Anacostia River. Along with the free music, food and beverages are available for purchase (or you can BYO – adult beverages okay, too). When the fountains are on, I recommend getting there a little early, so the kids can play before the concert starts. And on a hot summer day, it’s nice to continue the water fun even while the tunes are playing — you can still hear them from across the park!
    • Experience live music amid art at Jazz in the Garden, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden’s free concert series, every Friday from 5:30–8:30pm. The first performance, featuring Ruthie and the Wranglers, is this Friday, May 24, rain or shine. Spread out a blanket, pack a picnic dinner or purchase food and drink there, and enjoy the sounds of a variety of jazz artists. Note: Adult drinks are available from the pavilion; BYO alcohol is not permitted.
    • The U.S. Air Force Band 2013 Summer Concert Series kicks off Friday, May 24, at 7pm, in Waldorf, Md. After that, you can catch free performances all summer long at locales around the DC-Metro area, including some iconic spots, like the west steps of the U.S. Capitol, the World War II Memorial, the Air Force Memorial, and the Air & Space Museum. Show times vary so be sure to check the U.S. Air Force Band website for the complete summer schedule.
    • All summer long, families can enjoy a variety of free fun at Rockville Town Square. Kids Night is every Tuesday from June 11 – August 20 with live entertainment for the younger set at 6:30pm and 7:30pm. And concerts for all ages on Friday evenings began May 3 and will run through September 27 — enjoy live music, good food, and beverages from 6:30-9:30pm.
    • Starting June 6, you can Rock at the Row at Pentagon Row’s summer concert series every Thursday evening from 7-9pm. Join the fun behind Champps in the closed-off access street running between Pentagon Row and Pentagon City Mall.
    • Carter Barron Amphitheater’s annual concert series takes place amid the woods of Rock Creek Park. While most shows are free, a few require admission. The 2013 lineup has not yet been announced, but check the website for an update soon!
    • Strathmore’s annual Free Summer Outdoor Concerts presents a lineup of genre-crashing, feel-good bands that’ll be playing the lawn for the public every Wednesday at 7pm from June 26 through August 14.

    Festivals
    Several stand-out events are anticipated around the area this time of year, celebrating everything from music to art & culture to neighborhoods to food.

    • It sounds like a grown-ups-only event, but the Vintage Virginia Wine & Food Festival offers plenty of family fun, too. Taking place June 1-2 at Bull Run Park, festivities include wine tasting (of course), chef demos, food truck fare, live music, and a whole Family Tent with activities especially for kids.
    • The DC Jazz Festival presents a variety of performers at venues all around the city from June 5-16, but the most family-friendly of them actually precede the main event. Jazz n’ Family Fun Days will take place June 1-2 with free shows for all ages at The Phillips Collection.
    • Imagination Bethesda, an annual festival occurring in the heart of its namesake city, is all about children. On June 1 from 11am – 4pm, Auburn & Norfolk Avenues downtown will be lined with activity tents offering tons of fun for kids — arts & crafts, face painting, games, etc. There will also be live entertainment, food from local restaurants, and more. Admission is free.
    • Attend one of the biggest summer barbeques around on June 22-23 as the National Capital Barbeque Battle returns to pit some of the nation’s best barbequers against each other as they compete for big prizes. The reward for attendees: Samples from all the entrants (plus, more food), live music, cooking demos, kids’ fun, and more.
    • The annual Del Ray Music Festival, always a popular event, is on June 22. Celebrating the community in Alexandria with a day of music and fun, the festival features food, games, and lots of kids’ activities along with a varied line-up of live entertainment.
    • Every summer, the National Mall becomes stomping grounds of folks from around the globe to celebrate living cultural heritage and community traditions at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This year’s event will run from June 26–30 and July 3–July 7 celebrating Hungarian Heritage, Endangered Languages and Cultural Heritage, and African American Diversity, Style, and Identity.
    • It might run into fall, but it starts in August, so I’m counting the Maryland Renaissance Festival among the summer fun. Plus, it’s one of my very, very favorite annual events. The merriment begins August 23 and will continue every weekend through October 20. Go. Just go.

    Big Screen Under the Stars
    Outdoor movies have become a DC summer tradition in the last few years with films al fresco in several neighborhoods. Even better, all of them are FREE! (*Before you make plans to enjoy any of the series, be sure to check schedules, as some movies may not be appropriate for children.)

    • The NoMa Summer Screen, which includes a few family-friendly movies, begins May 22 and will run weekly on Wednesdays until August 14 on L Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue NE. Food and music start at 7pm, and the movie at dark. This year they are also hosting a special Family Film Night, which features flicks for all ages on four Tuesdays during the summer — see the list of them on the website.
    • The Capitol Riverfront will start presenting Front Flicks on May 30 and the series will run every Thursday evening at sundown through August 8. With a DC vs. Marvel Comics theme, the lineup includes plenty of movies that kids (probably elementary age) will enjoy
    • The National Harbor hosts Movies on the Potomac, with family films every Sunday night beginning May 26. Movies begin at sunset, usually around 8:30pm.
    • Movies on the Square will take place at Rockville Town Square Wednesdays at 8:30pm June 12 – August 21, and several kids flicks are included among them.
    • The longest running, Screen on the Green, takes place on the National Mall on Mondays from July 22 – and August 12, and the lineup of films this year includes several that kids will dig too, including E.T., Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and Tootsie.

    Movies at Theaters Near You
    Special summer movie series for families at local theaters are a great way to keep kids entertained and stay cool when the weather heats up. Even better, these programs invite guests to view films on the cheap.

    • The Regal Summer Movie Express presents flicks for kids on many Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10am starting June 11. Admission is just $1. Be sure to check the website for the film schedule and theater locations, as it doesn’t run at all theaters every week.
    • Starting July 9, THEARC Theater will present Showtime Movie Tuesdays, free children’s movies every Tuesday from 10am – 12pm through August 13. Doors open at 9:30am, and the program includes a fun pre-show activity, snack, and movie screening — all on them.
    • Catch a movie at the museum at the National Gallery of Art’s Summer Famly Films series. In July, there will be three screenings of Movin’ & Groovin’ on July 6, 7, and 10. In August moviegoers can enjoy the beloved classic Mary Poppins on August 10 & 11.
    • The Atlas Performing Arts Center presents a Summer Film Series every year, including A Family Series that takes place on Fridays at 5pm. The schedule has yet to be released, so stay tuned for an update

    Mini Trains, Carousels, & Mini Golf
    These extra delights bring even more fun to several parks around the area that are already great outdoor places to hang with the kids.

    • Watkins Regional Park opened its attractions on a limited schedule in early May, but come Memorial Day weekend, they can be enjoyed for extended hours almost every day of the week. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10am – 7pm; Sundays 12–7 pm, closed Mondays except May 27 (Memorial Day), July 4 (July Fourth Holiday; closes at 4pm) & September 4 (Labor Day).
    • Cabin John Regional Park opened its Miniature Train on weekends only back in April, but as of Memorial Day it’ll be operating daily 10am – 7pm through August. After that, hours will be limited, so check the schedule.
    • The Miniature Train and Ovid Hazen Wells Carousel at Wheaton Regional Park started taking guests for spins on May 1 and will continue daily through August 26 (limited times after that). Hours are 10am – 6pm Monday to Friday, and 10am – 7pm Saturday & Sunday.
    • The Clemyjontri carousel has been running on weekends since April, but will be offering rides daily starting May 27 on weekdays 9:30am – 1:00pm and weekends 9:30am – 6:30pm.

    Special Children’s Theatre Series
    All the world’s an outdoor stage at these venues that present entertainment especially for children throughout the summer.

    • From late June through early August, Wolf Trap presents Children’s Theater-in-the-Woods, over 70 family-friendly performances at 10am Tuesdays through Saturdays. Amidst 117 rolling wooded acres and nestled in a shady grove, the stage is set for lively adventures in music, dance, storytelling, puppetry, and theater. All of the productions are recommended for children between Kindergarten and 6th grade, though I think kids even younger can enjoy them, too (mine have). Read a KFDC review of the series from a couple of summers ago. And tickets are on sale now, so go ahead and reserve yours!
    • Backyard Theater for Children, Strathmore’s summer theater series brings music and mystery of exotic locales from around the world to kids – all outdoors under a big tent. Weekly performances take place every Thursday at 9:30am and 11:30 from July 11 – August 1. Admission is $8, free for ages 2 and under. Check the calendar for the line-up of performances.

    Crab Feasts
    Easily one of the best activities during summer in Maryland and neighboring areas (this is where I get non-DC-centric because I have to give credit where it’s due). Here are some suggestions for places to get ’em, though the “best” is always a subject for debate.

    Museum Programs

    • The Corcoran Gallery of Art presents Free Summer Saturdays May 25 – August 31. Tours, workshops, demonstrations, and performances are all part of the museum’s programming. Be sure to check the website before you go to see what’s on the schedule — some sessions may be more appealing to kids than others, though Sidewalk Chalk Drawing will also take place every Saturday 10am -2pm.
    • The National Gallery of Art’s Summer Drop-In Series starts begins July 19 with art sessions for kids that are both educational and fun. Stories in Art, geared toward ages 4-7, is a fantastic program that introduces kids to art and encourages them to use their imaginations as they discover different works. Read a KFDC review of the program. Artful Conversations, designed for ages 8-11, uses observation and discussion to explore works of art in the museum’s collection.
    • Every year, the Newseum offers the Summer Fun Deal. From July 1 – September 1, there will be no admission fee for kids ages 18 and under. The promotion waives the $12.95 regular entrance charge for youth with one paid adult admission, senior admission, or Newseum membership (a benefit to ages 7 and up, as kids 6 and under are always free). Up to six kids can enter free with the offer. Read a KFDC take on the Newseum.
    • Tee up at the National Building Museum as they bring back a unique, interactive exhibit that explores the design of our built world: Mini Golf! With holes designed and built by leading architects, landscape architects, and contractors in the DC area, the attraction has been expanded to two nine-hole course options this year. Visitors to the Museum will be able to play the one-of-a-kind courses, designed for ages 4 and up, in air-conditioned comfort starting May 27. Cost is $5 per round per person. With purchase of full-price Museum exhibition admission ticket, the price per round is reduced to $3. Museum members play for $3. Open during Museum hours 10am – 5pm Monday – Saturday, and 11am – 5pm on Sunday. (Last entry at 4pm weekdays and 3pm weekends and holidays.)

    Pick-Your-Own Berries
    While the picking season starts in the spring with strawberries, it carries on through summer with even more delicious fruits — blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, plus more produce you can gather yourself. The strawberry season usually lasts until about mid-June, and this post has a list of farms with pick-your-own patches and details. For other berry picking opportunities later on, this post from previous years will tell you where to go.

    Have I left out anything really good? If you think so, feel free to let me know in the comments.

    6 Comments

    Filed under All ages, Annual, DC, Eats, Educational, Festival, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Summer, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend