Tag Archives: Maryland Parks

Where to Play on the Weekdays: June 20-24

Spray fun at Turkey Thicket

Spray fun at Turkey Thicket


Monday – Catch a family-friendly performance at Folger Shakespeare Library. Gravediggers Tale, featuring comedic actor Louis Butelli, is a one-man show based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet that encourages audience participation. Showtime is 10:30am, and tickets are free — reserve yours here.

If you’re with really little ones, Rise + Rhyme at Busboys and Poets in Takoma or Hyattsville, MD. The weekly series welcomes children 5 and under with their caregivers to enjoy a morning of performances and stories from 9:30-11am. Admission is $5. Plan on breakfast, too — full service will be available while the little ones are grooving! (FYI: The series also takes place in Shirlington, VA, the last Tuesday of every month.)

Tuesday – Beat the heat in the cool comfort of a movie, a heavily discounted one!. The Regal Summer Movie Express begins this week, presenting family films for just $1 every Tuesday and Wednesday at participating theaters during the summer. See what’s playing at a theater near you — there are two movie choices every week.

Wednesday – Climb-A-Tree with Montgomery Parks Arborists. Find out how fast, how far, how high you can go when you climb a giant tree at Fairview Urban Park! Arborists will provide safety gear, assistance, and encouragement to help kids put their heads in the clouds and see our parks from a new perspective. Hours are 9am – 12pm, and admission is free. The park is located at 8900 Fairview Road in Silver Spring.

Thursday – Jump in to summer fun at a public pool, which are now open daily! Even better, they’re free (or a small fee if you’re not a resident of the District or county where it’s located). Check out the 2016 Summer Guide for links to public pools in the area and be sure to note open times, as they may vary from pool to pool.

Friday – Take kids ages 4-9 to Walls of Books for Storytime Yoga. Join Sierra Yoga and Wellness as they make stories come alive with games, songs, and yoga poses, encouraging the connection of mind and body and bringing together the best of two worlds: storytelling and yoga! The free 45-minute session starts at 12pm.

For an outing with younger children, head to the Turkey Thicket playground in Brookland, where they can enjoy running through sprays along with slides, swings, climbing equipment, and more. Admission there is free.

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Filed under All ages, Class, DC, Educational, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Movies, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Summer, Virginia, Weekdays

Fancy a Butterfly Garden Giveaway and Fall Festivals from Montgomery Parks


While many summer joys in the DC area come to an end on Labor Day, there’s one that will continue well into fall this year: Wings of Fancy, the wonderful butterfly and caterpillar exhibit at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD. And one lucky KFDC reader can win a four-pack of tickets to experience it — and I can assure you, it’s pretty fantastic.

Nearly 20 different species of butterflies from North America, Central America, and Asia flutter around the garden full of colorful flowers and plants. There are also cases on display containing cocoons and opportunities for visitors to learn about their amazing metamorphosis. It’s about 10 degrees warmer inside the garden than it is outside, so autumn will be an ideal time to go.

Wings of Fancy will be on display at Brookside Gardens through October 25. Hours are 10am – 4pm daily. Tickets are $8/ages 13 and up, $5/ages 3-12, free for 2 and under — you can also try to win them through the giveaway below!

There’s even more to enjoy at Montgomery County Parks this fall! These festivals and programs happening in September and October are perfect for family outings:


Giveaway: For a chance to win the four-pack of tickets to the Wings of Fancy exhibit at Brookside Gardens, simply leave a comment telling me your favorite activity this Labor Day weekend, either that you already experienced or are looking forward to doing. To be eligible, you must like KidFriendly DC on Facebook and be a blog subscriber (see the sign-up on the left sidebar). This giveaway will run through Wednesday, September 9, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Montgomery County Department of Parks, however, I only promote activities, events, and programs that I sincerely enjoy and/or think would appeal to KFDC readers.


Filed under All ages, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Festival, Free, Giveaway, Maryland, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Weekdays, Weekend

Dig the Recreation at Purse State Park



[2020 Update: Purse State Park is now known as the Purse area within the Nanjemoy Wildlife Management Area in Charles County, MD.  And since this post was first published in August 2015, it has grown greatly in popularity and is not quite the special find it once was.  The small parking lot is now often full, cars are parked down the side of the road near the trailhead that leads to the beach, and many more people fill up the narrow stretch of sand along the river.  It may not be a bad idea to check out some alternative places to find fossils around the area.]


You’ve got to love when a recommendation for a great adventure comes straight from an expert. I also appreciate when friends think of KFDC upon finding out about cool places to explore. Those two things combined are exactly what what brought us to Purse State Park (now the Purse Area of the Nanjemoy WMA) in Charles County, MD, a couple of weeks ago.

On a recent visit to the National Museum of Natural History, my friend Jody got into a conversation with a paleontologist about searching for fossilized shark teeth (a random obsession she and I share), and learned that Purse is known for yielding excellent fossil finds. Once she shared that information with me, it wasn’t long before we made a trip out there with our kids for a day of digging, swimming, picnicking, and exploring.


Purse State Park is just over an hour’s drive away from DC along a part of the Potomac River called Wades Bay, where woods meet water. There’s a very small parking lot across the street from the trailhead that leads to the pretty and peaceful beach area about a quarter of a mile away.


A narrow strip of sand stretches along the shoreline, tree branches from the woods overhanging in a few spots. But the “jewels” of the locale are hidden among the piles of shells and small rocks at the water’s edge, where you’ll easily find fossils from sharks, fish, shells, even crocodiles, many of them over 30 million and some up to 60 million years old.


It’s important to check the tide table (search Potomac River/Liverpool Point, MD) when you plan a visit, since the already narrow strip of sand thins out even more at high tide. Not only is it easier to sift through the piles of shells and rocks, but the kids have space to play in the sand and spread out a bit. The water is also nice and shallow for swimming (yes, in the Potomac!) at that time.



Having those extra activities for the kids was ideal, since they did their fossil hunting in short spurts, though Sasha found one of the larger shark teeth of our stash. Jody and I, however, were crouched by the river for long stretches of time, plucking all kinds of fossils from handfuls of sand and shells. A small area at the end of a little stream trickling from the woods to the river was a boon for shark teeth of all sizes, dental plate fragments, shellfish molds, fossilized shells, and possibly part of a turtle shell (this website is great for helping identify fossils). We met an Arlington woman there who does a lot of fossil hunting, and she said Purse is by far one of the higher yielding spots for shark and occasionally crocodile teeth.



We both left with nice stashes of fossils, and back home I added our new findings to a collection in a mason jar, save for a few teeth that Sasha included in birthday cards for friends. And I have to confess: I’m already jonesing for a fossil hunting fix — it’s that addicting! — and the nerd in me really, really hopes to score a crocodile tooth next time.

Jody's findings from the day all cleaned and sorted

Jody’s findings from the day all cleaned and sorted

Purse State Park (now the Purse Area in the Nanjemoy WMA) is located in Charles County in Nanjemoy, MD, according to GPS. It’s open sunrise to sunset, and admission is free. There are no concessions or facilities, so plan accordingly.



Filed under All ages, Maryland, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend

Over the Rainbow and Beyond at Watkins Regional Park



Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro, MD, was one of my early parent discoveries. And by parent discovery, I mean it took having a child to realize the place existed, even though I had lived in the area for years. We first start visiting when Owen began toddling around, not long after his first birthday, and it’s been a constant in our rotation of go-to outings since.


So, the park is far from new to KFDC (as you probably knew if you’ve been reading the blog awhile…I recommend it quite often), but with a new, recently opened Wizard of Oz themed playground, it seems like a perfect time to spotlight one of our favorites.



When I first heard about the playground, which was replacing an older one, I thought it could either be terribly cheesy or super cute. Luckily, it turned out to be the latter, full of vibrantly colored apparatuses that embrace the story of Dorothy and friends: Children can slide down ruby red slippers, swing over the rainbow, play in and on a farm house, romp down the yellow brick road, and so much more.



That’s not all there is to do at Watkins — far from it, in fact. Just across the road from the playground are the Chesapeake Carousel, Miniature Train, and Mini golf that open from mid-spring through summer. And just beyond that is Old Maryland Farm, where you can visit chickens, peacocks, turkeys, bunnies, llamas, cows, horses, and ducks.



A bit further up the road, but still within walking distance is the Watkins Nature Center, one of the best in the area, in my opinion. Inside, rescued birds and reptilian creatures are on view in caged areas and terrariums, along with a small turtle pond. There are also sweet activity areas for puppet shows and bird watching. Outside, you can visit larger rescued birds like owls and hawks and stop by the frog pond and try to spot them hiding among the lily pads. A small amphitheater, where story time sessions and other programs sometimes take place, is a fun place for spontaneous performances when it’s not in use. And short trails nearby that loop through the surrounding woods make for nice easy hikes with the kids.




Even more, the park is fantastic for birthday parties! Owen and Sasha had a joint bash at the Nature Center, and it was easily one of the best parties they’ve had. We’ve attended many others there and at Old Maryland Farm (which includes a hayride), and they’ve never disappointed. The Carousel area also offers parties during the season, though we’ve never been to one.


The carousel, train, and golf, which all require a small fee, are only open during the week from Memorial Day weekend until early September and weekends through the end of month beyond that. The rest, though, is open year-round, and even better, it’s all free to explore and enjoy. And I highly recommend you do so.


Watkins Regional Park is located at 301 Watkins Park Drive in Upper Marlboro, MD. Park hours are dawn to dusk, and admission is free, but some venues within the park have their own hours and fees:
Old Maryland Farm is open Tuesday –  Saturday 10am – 5pm, Sunday 10am – 4pm 
Watkins Nature Center is open Tuesday –  Saturday 10am – 5pm, Sunday 10am – 4pm 
– The Carousel, Train, and Golf are open seasonally – see the website for details.



Filed under All ages, Animals, Birthday Parties, Educational, Exhibit, Farm, Free, Indoor Play, Maryland, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: November 3-7

Roam free at Dumbarton Oaks gardens -- there's no entry fee right now!

Roam free at Dumbarton Oaks gardens — there’s no entry fee right now!


Monday – Hit the playground at Wheaton Regional Park. Two levels of slides, climbing nets, monkey bars, swings, and more fun features will appeal to all ages and abilities. Pack lunch to eat at nearby picnic tables under the lofty trees. It’s open sunrise to sunset, and admission is free.

Tuesday – Spend the morning at the National Building Museum, where the Book of the Month program will take place in the Building Zone. Readings of Digger Dozer Dumper by Hope Vestergaard will begin at 10:30am & 11:30am. Get there early for play time, as entry is on the hour ($3/person). Afterwards, stay to romp in the Great Hall or the PLAY WORK BUILD exhibit upstairs ($8/adult, $5/child). Museum hours are 10am – 5pm. Exhibit admission for members is free.

Wednesday – Roam the enchanting gardens at Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown. The grounds don’t open to the public until 2pm, but you can play at nearby Montrose Park or grab a bite to eat on M Street beforehand. I promise, it’s worth waiting for the afternoon visit. And admission is free to both — there’s never an entry fee at Montrose, and Dumbarton waives it from November 1 – March 14.

Thursday – Check out your local library. Drop in for story time, sing-a-longs, art & crafts, and other activities, or just go to browse for books. See this post from the early KFDC days for a little background and quick links to libraries around the area.

Friday – Learn about the history of flight at the College Park Aviation Museum. It’s a perfect place for young visitors with eye-popping displays and hands-on fun. They can view early airplanes up close, dress up like aviators, create flight-inspired art, and more. Keep an eye on the runway right outside the floor-to-ceiling windows — you might see planes take off and land at the College Park Airport, the oldest continuously operating airport in the world! Open daily 10am – 5pm. Admission is $4/adults, $2/children, free for ages 2 and under.

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Filed under All ages, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Free, Maryland, Museums, Outdoor, Park, Play, Seasonal, Weekdays