Tag Archives: Maryland Science Center

Family New Year’s Eve Celebrations to Ring in 2024

Count down to the 12pm balloon drop at Noon Yard’s Eve! (Photo: The Yards)

 

The countdown to 2024 is on, and if you’re looking for ways to ring it in with young revelers, you have many options! There are a bunch of family-friendly ways to celebrate around the area, from organized events to plan-it-yourself activities. Here are details and inspiration for your gang to get in on the fun — all of them taking place on December 31. Happy New Year!

Noon Yards Eve
Where: The Yards Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: 10am – 1pm
Admission: Free

The Yards’ annual New Year’s Eve celebration especially for families is back! Celebrate with complimentary activities for kids of all ages including trackless train rides through The Yards, an inflatable slide and bounce house, glitter tattoo artists, carnival games, music by DJ Alex Love, crafts, The Uncle Devin Show, a magician, and the balloon-drop countdown at 12pm! Families can also take pictures in the photo booth and participate in the 2024-themed giveaways.

Noon Year’s Eve Family Pajama Party
Where: Kraken Kourts & Skates | Bryant Street area, DC
When: 9am – 1pm
Admission: Starts at $15

DC’s indoor roller skating and pickleball venue, Kraken Kourts & Skates, will host a family skating pajama party in the morning and early afternoon. There will be a pickle-BALL drop at noon because who needs Times Square? Family skating will be available for $15/skater, which includes skate rental and party favors, plus the entertainment of a skating rink DJ. Private cabanas that seat up to 12 guests are available to rent at $150 for three hours. The largest cabana, accommodating up to 25 guests, will be priced at $300 for three hours.

Rocknoceros New Year’s Eve Party
Where: Jammin Java | Vienna, VA
When: 2pm (doors open 1:30pm)
Admission: $10

The widely popular band that always gets kids rockin’ will be back at Jammin Java to play a special New Year’s Eve concert. The hour-long program will include live music from the favorite area family-jam band, interactive New Year’s resolutions, the Ball Drop, and a complimentary apple juice toast.  Doors open at 11:30pm, and general admission seating is on a first come, first served basis.

Family New Year’s Party
Where: metrobar | Northeast DC
When: 4-7:30pm
Admission: Free, but reserve a spot

Jump aboard the “way-before-midnight” train at our family-friendly celebration starting at 4pm, with festive cocktails from our new winter menu and kids activities and games. The Experience Band and Show will provide live entertainment for all! Don’t worry about the cold — they’ll have the heated Railcar Bar with enclosed spaces aplenty, fire pits, patio and heaters. That, along with a selection of hot cocktails, will keep you warm as you celebrate 2024!

NYE Kids Pizza Party
Where: ANXO | Brightwood, DC
When: 5-7pm
Admission: $15

If you’re looking for something fun and tasty to do with your kids on New Year’s Eve, head to anxo look no further! Admission gets your kid their own cheese or pepperoni kids pizza, sparkling apple juice to toast, face painting, hummus & veggies, cookies, a piñata, a screening of everyone’s favorite movie, Frozen, and more! Not all of the fun is for the kids, parents are encouraged to order from the extensive menu of delicious beverages and pizza while their kids mingle and enjoy the festivities. Space is limited!

First Night Alexandria
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: Starting at 2pm
Admission: Free – $75

The largest family-focused and alcohol-free New Year’s Eve event in the region is back with family-friendly shows starting in the early afternoon.  See more than 100 performances on stages throughout Old Town Alexandria. Entertainers include children’s musicians, blue grass bands, jazz artists, rock cover bands, acapella groups, jugglers, magicians, and more. End the evening with a spectacular fireworks display on the Potomac River at the foot of King Street!  See the website for the full schedule pricing as it varies by age and timing.

New Year’s Eve Around the World
Where: Children’s Science Center Lab | Fairfax, VA
When: 10am – 12pm
Admission: $15 (adults, too)

Ring in 2024 STEM-style and enjoy New Year’s Eve fun without the late night! At this activity spot in Fair Oaks Mall known for hands-on, STEM-based activuities, the day’s fun will include kid-engineered sound shakers, sparkly slime, a Ball Drop at ‘Midnight,’ and a sparkling cider toast! Three, two-hour time slots are available, so you can celebrate at the Lab at a time that works for your family. Read more about the LAB in this KFDC post.

Show Time
Where: Theatres around the DC area
When: Times vary by show
Admission: Ticket prices vary by show

Make the last day of the year special with some live entertainment. Local stages will be presenting all kinds of shows on New Year’s Eve. See The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at Adventure Theatre, A Year with Frog and Toad at Imagination Stage, Disney’s Frozen at the Kennedy Center, As You Like It at Harman Hall, or another show running now.  See what’s else is in theatres in this round-up of winter entertainment.

Watch Night New Year’s Eve Celebration
Where: 100 Block of West Broad Street | Falls Church, VA
When: 7pm – Midnight
Admission: Free

Ring in the New Year with free, family-friendly festivities at Falls Church’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration. Enjoy food, music, singing, dancing, entertainment, performances and interactive festivities that appeal to all ages. Highlights include inflatable bouncy fun, a climbing wall, balloon art, karaoke, face painting, puppet shows, and special Watch Night menus at local restaurants.  All events take place within a four-block area that begins on the 100 Block of West Broad Street.

Midnight Noon
Where: Maryland Science Center | Baltimore, MD
When: 10am – 2pm
Admission: $26.95/adult, $20.95/3-12, free/2 & under

Join the MSC for their annual New Year’s Eve celebration, Midnight Noon, where kids can enjoy the ball drop before bedtime. Enjoy loads of festive activities and games, explore all three floors of hands-on science exhibits, and ring in the New Year with a noontime ball drop! Read all about the MSC here.  All activities are free with paid admission (and completely free to members).

Noontime New Year
Where: Port Discovery | Baltimore, MD
When: 10am – 5pm
Admission: $23.95 ages 2+

The children’s museum in Baltimore is hosting its annual New Year’s Eve celebration! Ring in 2024 with all kinds of fun. Take a family photo in front of a New Year’s Eve backdrop. Make your own confetti cannon or number template. Write or draw your resolution on our Wish Tree. Watch a comedy show and make your own jokes or listen to stories and play musical instruments. Participate in a sensory exploration. And don’t forget to countdown to noon! Read more about the wonderful spot for kids here.

New Year’s Night Lights
Where: Around the DC area
When: After dark
Admission: Varies by locale

Start your own family New Year’s Eve tradition with a seasonal treat: Bundle up for a stroll or take a drive through one of several spectacular holiday light displays! Most of the light shows that dazzle this time of year are open on New Year’s Eve.  If you’re enjoying it from the comfort of a car, pack a thermos of hot chocolate, yummy snacks, and prepare a festive playlist for the ride.

Glide into 2024
Where: Ice rinks around the DC area
When: Throughout the day & evening
Admission: Varies by rink

Skate under the stars to celebrate the start of the new year. Gliding on ice surrounded by twinkling lights, art sculptures, and/or the hubbub of people in festive spirits is a fun, active way to revel.  Be sure to check times for each rink, as hours may change for the holiday.

Swoosh into 2024
Where: Ski resorts around the region
When: Through winter
Admission: Varies by resort
Hit the slopes for a fun, active way to ring inthe new year. There are a bunch of ski resorts within a few hours’ drive that are great for young, newbie skiers (and veteran swooshers, too). This post has info about Whitetail and one of our day trips there a couple of years ago, and other relatively close resorts are Liberty and Bryce.  Farther away, but good to check out if you can swing an overnight or longer are RoundtopMassanutten,  Wintergreen,   Seven Springs, Hidden Valley,  Snowshoe,  Timberline, and Wisp.

 

Do you know of any New Year’s Eve events or activities that you don’t see here?  Leave a comment and let us know!

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Filed under 2023, 2024, DC, Maryland, Virginia, Winter

Interactive Fun & Learning at the Maryland Science Center

[Note:  This post was written by KFDC Contributor Emily Moise, a local writer and mom of two young children.   She always has excellent recommendations for kids’ activities around the DC area. See some of them herehere and here.  You can also read a KFDC write-up about the Maryland Science Center from several years back — we loved it when the kids were younger and used to visit at least a couple of times a year!]

 

Parenting in pandemic times has often felt like being stranded on a deserted island (I hope you packed lots of snacks!). With many local businesses for kids shuttering or altering their offerings, it has been a daily forage for something, anything to do. If only it was as warm as a deserted island right now.

There are diamonds in the rough, though – especially if you’re willing to journey a bit – and Baltimore’s Maryland Science Center is one of those places. While it’s a 40-60 minute drive from the DC metro area, and not as new and shiny as the National Children’s Museum, it’s everything you would hope a children’s science museum to be…and more.

Upon entering, your kids will immediately spy a fan-favorite: dinosaurs. Unlike the Natural History Museum, you’ll find hands-on exhibits that are spot-on for young minds, like dusting sand off bones and measuring them to determine the species. I’m not sure what my kids were listening to on the telephone audio stations, but they were excited to absorb anything and everything. Try not to get sidetracked here, because there is just so much more to explore.

Newton’s Alley” on the second level is packed with interactive exhibits that teach principles of physics and “people power” in fun, age-appropriate ways. A seated pulley, tornado simulator, weighted wheel race, and more. There is so much to try – and little ones will want to get their hands on everything (thank you, hand sanitizer). Stay close by, because many exhibits will require adult instruction or strength depending on your kids’ ages.

Next, we were immersed in exhibit after exhibit teaching my kids about their personal favorite: the human body. Test your strength and reaction time, remove parasitic bugs from a human body, activate a fart machine — there’s something for kids of any age and attention span within that area. Before rushing off to the next exhibit hall, we made sure to test out our depth perception in an optical illusion room hooked up to a video camera.

Across the way, we found the space exhibits – much of which is still over my kids’ heads (I can relate). We breezed through but made sure to stop and play a few games that sorted planets by size and distance from the sun. The can’t-miss feature is the planetarium, which we returned to for a later showtime exploring constellations through storytelling. After almost four hours at the Science Center, my kids lasted a decent 15 of the 30 minute showing.

Are you exhausted yet? I haven’t even gotten to the best feature for little ones, which we almost missed since it’s on the third level: the Kid’s Room. This is a confined space designed for kids ages 8 and under, featuring water play, a ship to captain, and my daughter’s favorite: a pneumatic mail chute to send messages in tubes overhead. If you’re a member or repeat visitor with toddlers and preschoolers, I imagine this area is the go-to every time.

 

Speaking of membership, there is currently a Groupon deal for an annual family membership that pays for itself in just a few visits (get it through the end of January). We plan on returning soon to check out more exhibits, workshops in The Shed (or SciLab for older ages), new shows in the planetarium (featuring Big Bird and aliens!), science experiments on the Demo Stage, and documentaries in the IMAX theater. See the full calendar of events.

Maryland Science Center
Where: 601 Light St | Baltimore, MD 21230 (Directions & Parking)
When: Friday, 10am – 4pm, Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $19.95/age 3-12, $25.95/adult, $24.95/senior (+$5 for IMAX)
COVID Policy: Masks required 

 

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The KFDC Guide to Exploring Baltimore with Kids

A view of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor from the Maryland Science Center

 

I recommend visits to Baltimore quite often.  Not only is it nice to get a change of metro area scenery sometimes, our sister city just a 45-minute drive away is full of fantastic, family-friendly attractions to visit on a day trip or even a weekend getaway.  Even more, it’s fun to explore the neighborhoods, spend time by (or on) the water, and savor tasty eats (Baltimore has an excellent food scene). So, after way too long, here’s a round-up of all of the Baltimore places covered on KFDC in one big post, plus a few extras recommended by friends, and even more tips for a great visit there with kids. Happy exploring, hon!

 

PLACES TO GO

Miss Perception’s Mystery House at Port Discovery

Port Discovery
Where: 35 Market Place
When: Weds, 10am – 2pm | Fri & Sat, 10am – 4pm | Sun, 11am – 4pm
Admission: $17.95/ages 2+, free/under 2
The children’s museum in Baltimore has several levels full of exhibits that keep kids entertained all day long. Renovated just a couple of years ago, some areas are very new, while others are from older days — but still much loved. The famous Sky Climber was updated, and the floor to ceiling structure with a ship at its core, tunnels to crawl through, and twisting slide to zip down, is always a favorite. And there are lots of interactives for hand-on fun and learning. The linked review was written by KFDC contributor Emily Moise after the renovation, but we’ve visited Port Discovery many times over the years — I can’t even count the days off from school that we spent there — so we can vouch for its awesomeness.
KFDC Tip: If you think you might go a few times this year, I recommend checking out their membership options.

 

Go big at the Maryland Science Center

Maryland Science Center
Where: 601 Light Street
When: Friday 10am – 4pm | Saturday & Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $25.95/adult, $19.95/child
At the Maryland Science Center, you can discover a variety of science fields through an amazing array of exhibits, just about all of them hands-on and appealing to young visitors. It’s not a museum with collections of artifacts and tangible history; rather, there are models, demos, and interactive displays that encourage learning through engagement. Dinosaurs, the earth, physics, the body, energy, and space are some of the main areas to explore. There is also a Kids Room full of all kinds of hands-on fun for children in a safe enclosed space, including a special area for the under-two set.
KFDC Tips: If you think you’d go often, membership is worth checking out. The Science Center validates parking at nearby garages.

 

A view of the National Aquarium – with the USS Torsk moored in front

National Aquarium
Where: 501 East Pratt
When: Mon-Thurs 9am – 5pm, Fri 9am – 8pm, Sat 9am – 7pm, Sun 9am – 6pm
Admission: $39.95/adult, $29.95/age 3-11, free/2 & under

Get a glimpse of the underwater world at the venue right on the water. The exhibits at the National Aquarium highlight marine life and other animals from around the world — you can see hundreds of species in recreated habitats, from the Chesapeake Bay to the Amazon Rainforest to the Indo-Pacific. Sharks, dolphins, reptiles, all kinds of reef fish, sea anemones and jellyfish, tropical birds, even sloths are among the animals there. Admission may sound steep, but it’s a very cool venture that you really can’t do anywhere else in the area. Along with the exhibits are experiences like 4-D films, special tours, and animal encounters (they all cost extra).
KFDC Tip: If you can swing a visit on a Friday night, admission is half price!

 

Outrageously creative art awaits at the AVAM

American Visionary Art Museum
Where: 501 East Pratt
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $15.95/adult, $9.95/child, free/6 & under
The American Visionary Art Museum houses some of the most wonderful, whimsical art around. The vibrant, quirky collections — including some interactive pieces — can be appreciated by art buffs of all ages. From the kooky WhirliGig outside the entrance to a replica of the Lusitania made entirely of toothpicks to a sculpture garden with amusing works to a building full of kinetic sculptures big and small, the museum is a brilliant showcase of craft and imagination.
KFDC Tip: Be sure to check out the museum shop, Sideshow. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s a hoot to browse all of the fun, offbeat items.

 

All little hands on deck of the USS Constellation

Historic Ships
Where: 301 East Pratt Street
When: Thursday – Monday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: $15/adult, $13/teen, $7/youth
Historic Ships of Baltimore welcomes visitors aboard the USS Constellation, USS Torsk, USCGC Taney, and LV116. Touring the vessels moored at the Inner Harbor is a fun and fascinating experience for all ages. You can ring the ship’s bell, check out the cannons on deck, (pretend) take the helm, and get a glimpse at what were once the inner workings of the ship and crew. And on the USS Torsk, a World War II submarine, you can see the tight space the crew once lived in hundreds of feet underwater (which is at once creepy and cool).
KFDC Tip: For an immersive experience, the Historic Ships offers an Overnight Adventure for ages 6 and up. They are scheduled to start up again in September 2021.

 

The recreated cannery in the Baltimore Museum of Industry

Baltimore Museum of Industry
Where: 1415 Key Highway
When: Open by appointment only
Admission: $12/adult, $7/child, free/6 & under

The Museum of Industry is a great Baltimore attraction that doesn’t get nearly enough attention as it should. Highlighting the trades and people that helped build the port city, it’s full of fun and interesting exhibits and installations, many with hands-on elements, that both children and adults will enjoy. Several permanent exhibits are set up just as the real businesses would have been when they existed, giving visitors an insightful glimpse at life during that time period.
KFDC Tip: Go on a Saturday from mid-May through November and check out the BMI Farmers Market that runs from 9am – 1pm before your museum visit.

 

The birthplace of the star spangled banner, Fort McHenry

Fort McHenry
Where: 2400 East Fort Avenue
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 9am – 4:45pm
Admission: $15/adult, free/age 15 & under
The birthplace of “The Star Spangled Banner,” Fort McHenry is the site of a key battle in the War of 1812. During non-Covid times, you can learn about the history of the national monument through all kinds of interesting exhibits, both in the Visitors Center and throughout the grounds. Children will especially enjoy seeing the cannons, exploring underground spaces, and touring the barracks that now house lots of neat exhibits, including several interactives. Right now, you can access the Historic Star Fort and Visitors Center, but exhibits in the Visitor Center are closed.
KFDC Tip: When the Visitor Center is open, be sure to watch the 10-minute, very moving film depicting the history of Fort McHenry shown there.

 

Chug on down to the B&O

The B&O Railroad Museum
Where: 901 West Pratt Street
When: Mon-Sat 10am – 4pm, Sun 11am – 4pm
Admission: $20/adult, $17/senior, $12/age 2-12

All aboard for a railroading adventure! Kids who are into trains will looove the B&O, with all kinds of exhibits all about locomotives, including real train cars on display, some they even climb aboard and explore. They also have programming especially for children like story times and the annual Day Out with Thomas event when the beloved Tank Engine visits with his crew.
KFDC Tip: Check the schedule before you go, so you can plan for a real train ride on the One Mile Express.

Urban Pirates
Where: 911 South Ann Street
When: Saturday & Sunday, 9:30am – 5:30pm
Admission: $22 ($12/age 2 & under

Set sail for some arrr-some fun on the high Chesapeake Bay seas! Urban Pirates offers family adventure cruises on weekends, taking little swashbucklers on a cruise to search for lost treasure. On the journey, there are fun activities and water canons, plus guests can get suited up for it with vests, tattoos, and drawn-on facial hair.
KFDC Tip: These adventures make for great birthday parties — my kids went to a couple here and loved them!

Maryland Zoo
Where: One Safari Place
When: March – Dec, Daily 10am – 4pm | Jan-Feb, Fri-Mon, 10am – 4pm
Admission: $22-26/age 12+, $18/age 2-11

When you have a fantastic zoo with free admission right in your own city, it’s hard to justify making a long drive to pay somewhat steep admission to see the same animals. Thus, we’ve actually never been to the Maryland Zoo. That said, I hear it’s fun (much like many zoos), and since visiting the National Zoo may be tougher since timed-entry passes are required, this is a good alternative.

Baltimore Museum of Art
Where: 10 Art Museum Drive
When: Wednesday-Sunday, from 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free with timed-entry passes
The Baltimore Museum of Art has an extensive collection of work from many centuries and genres. Pre-Covid, the BMA offered free in-person, hands-on programming for kids on weekends; now you can find family art activities online as well as tips for visiting with children.

Walters Art Museum
Where:
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free
We have yet to visit the museum in the Mount Vernon neighborhood, but I’ve heard the Walters’ space is just as interesting as the exhibits. Housed in several historic buildings, you apparently wind your way through galleries as you explore, kind of like a navigating labyrinth. It gets raves for its eclectic collection, with artifacts and works that include a mummy, an ark door, paintings by some of the masters, plus thousands of other pieces.

Cylburn Arboretum
Where: 4915 Greenspring Avenue
When: Tuesday – Sunday, 8am – 8pm
Admission: Free

In the same vein as the zoo, we have an amazing, huge Arboretum right here in DC, so we haven’t been to this one. But if you want some green space in Baltimore, you apparently can find 200 acres of it at Cylburn. The grounds contain hundreds of trees and plant varieties, trails, gardens, and a historic mansion (though not open right now).

 

Baltimore’s Little Italy

PLACES TO EAT

Little Italy
Where: Southeast area of downtown Baltimore
When: Varies by restaurant
Cost: Varies by restaurant

The charming neighborhood in southeast Baltimore is known for restaurants that serve delicious, authentic Italian food. And the options range from casual carry out pizza and subs to family-style meals to more upscale dining. We’d often head that way after a visit to Port Discovery — a day of play works up appetites! — and the neighborhood is just a few minutes’ drive from the children’s museum. Amicci’s and Isabella’s are a couple of great places to go with kids, but you’re practically guaranteed a scrumptious meal at any of them.

Baba’s Mediterranean
Where: 745 East Fort Avenue
When: Tues – Sat, 11:30am – 8pm & Sun 12-7pm
Cost: Sandwiches and salads under $10

This has been a go-to for us after a day at the Baltimore attractions. Falafel sandwiches, greek salad, kabobs, super tasty Baba’s Ghannous and hummus, and more yummy bites always make everyone happy. I always get extra dips to bring home, too.

Miss Shirley’s Cafe
Where: 750 E. Pratt Street 
When: Daily, 8am – 3pm
Cost: Entrees $15-20, Kids Box $10
It can sometimes be hard to get a table, but if you do, you are in for a treat. Plan to start your Baltimore visit there — Miss Shirley’s is known for its breakfast and brunch (great for lunch, too).  The food is downright delicious. Kids’ meals are served in a cute bento box, and children’s books are available while they wait (in non-Covid times, anyway).

Nacho Mamas
Where: 2907 O’Donnell Street 
When: Sun-Thurs 12-10pm, Fri-Sat 12-11pm
Cost: Entrees under $20
Located in the Canton neighborhood of Baltimore, Nacho Mamas is about a 10-minute drive from many of the big attractions, but worth heading that way after you’re done playing by the Inner Harbor. The quesadillas, tacos, wings, burgers, sandwiches, and other easy fare are scrumptious and substantial — and served in big hubcaps. Lots of Elvis-themed decor makes it awesome, too. Take time to walk around Canton, a fun waterfront area in the city.

 

Stroll, shop, eat, and drink along the charming streets of Fell’s point

EXPLORE MORE

Fell’s Point
Most folks are aware of Fell’s Point, the lively, historic neighborhood on the water in southeast Baltimore. It’s an easy mile walk from the Inner Harbor (or a fun, little water taxi cruise) and a great area to check out with the fam. All kinds of eateries and boutiques line the streets, plus the Broadway Market is great to browse for treats.

Canton
Just mentioned above, Canton is a vibrant waterfront neighborhood — fun to stroll, shop, eat, and drink. There are a variety of stores to browse and places to get a bite, from easy, casual snacks to finer dining.  The annual Baltimore Seafood Festival takes place there, this year from September 12-14.

Baltimore Farmer’s Market & Bazaar
The open air market runs every Sunday 7am – 12pm underneath the Jones Falls Expressway at Holliday & Saratoga Streets. It’s fun to walk around and check out the fresh produce stands, gourmet foods, sweet treats, crafts, and other goods. Concessions are for sale, too — you can even stop there for breakfast or lunch, then head over to the larger attractions on the Inner Harbor.

 

Getting There
Baltimore is an easy drive from DC, just 45 minutes up I-95 or the BW Parkway (295) depending on where you are departing from. However, if you want to relax and enjoy the ride there, you can take the MARC train from Union Station. The hour-ish ride to Baltimore’s Penn Station is $9/passenger each way, and there are several departure times throughout the day.

Do you have a favorite Baltimore adventure you don’t see here?  Let us know in the comments!

 

 

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Anchors Aweigh, Kids, at Baltimore’s Port Discovery

[Note: This post was written by KFDC contributor Emily Moise, who visited Port Discovery with her family, including her 3-year-old daughter and baby son. In all the years our family visited the children’s museum in Baltimore, I never did a proper write-up, and my kids have aged out of a lot of it. But as Port Discovery recently underwent a major renovation, the timing is great for one now.]

As we await the *almost open* children’s museum here in Washington, DC, a half-day trip up to Baltimore’s Port Discovery will certainly tide you over. The Inner Harbor, and its historic seaport, provides the perfect metaphorical backdrop for this children’s museum that has, without exaggeration, something for every child, with every interest, to embark on.

Open since 1998, the museum completed a $10.5 million renovation in 2019, notably with the floor-to-ceiling “SkyClimber” and twisting slide, as well as a life-size ship facade where kids can play captain and load “cargo” on the third-story overlook. The museum has the latest and greatest in hands-on, creative play — though, like all children’s museums, things become “well-loved” so some of the 10+ exhibit spaces aren’t as brand-sparkling new as others.

If you have a preschooler in tow, your first stop will likely be at the “Store & Fill’er Up Station” which is one of the most authentic fake food shopping set-ups I’ve experienced. It’s a convenience store modeled after sponsor Royal Farms, allowing kids to fill up a grocery tote, get a pretend fountain soda, put gas in the car, and “drive.” A few levels up, “Tiny’s Diner” offers even more for the play food lovers with a large space conducive to collaborative play and parent engagement.

Perhaps the most unique exhibit space is “Wonders of Water” where my daughter’s love of squeegeeing grew exponentially with the addition of spray bottles and free-range windows. Also found here are STEM-infused water tables, a giant bubble hoop, and a musical water play (and spray) area. The most thoughtful touches are the amenities: raincoats, crocs, and a drying station for all sizes.

For those with younger toddler-age children, you won’t want to miss “Tot Trails” which is limited to children three and under. This exhibit space is set up with simple yet stimulating activities for all levels—sitters, crawlers, climbers, and walkers. Like most of the museum, STEM and arts are intertwined in a rudimentary, unintimidating way. For example, here you’ll find a classic wind tube with leaves for little ones to insert and catch with a butterfly net.

Lastly, “The Oasis” provided a much-needed wind down from the stimulation. It’s a children’s library-esque space stocked with books, cozy nooks, and exploratory play stations. By chance, we walked in just as story time was about to start—on this Martin Luther King Jr. weekend day, themes of community and connection were shared throughout the three books read. This was the perfect ending to our visit, leading to an instantaneous car nap for both of my children.

From the archives: Little Sasha serves up big sandwiches at Tiny’s Diner

Port Discovery is located at 35 Market Place on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. General admission to the museum is $17.95 for visitors ages 1+. If you think your family will go at least couple of times in a year, consider a membership starting at $140.

KFDC Tips:
* There are lockers to store your items (for free) in “The Pier” eating area — use them! The museum is three levels of non-stop movement, particularly for a first-time visitor trying to see and do everything.
* The Pier is also where you can take a snack or lunch break. Bring your own food or carry out from one of the neighboring establishments.
* There are many, many exhibits — more than mentioned here, including a bunch for grade school ages — so be ready for a long day (or plan on more visits!)
* Port Discovery hosts lots of special events and themed weekends — check the calendar for any you might want to experience.
* You could make it a longer trip to Baltimore, overnight or even weekend, and also visit the Maryland Science Center, American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore Museum of Industry, or tour the historic ships docked at the Inner Harbor.

 

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Filed under All ages, Educational, Exhibit, Indoor Play, Maryland, Museums, Ongoing, Play, Weekdays, Weekend

Family Celebrations to Ring in 2020

The 12pm balloon drop at Noon Yards Eve


The year is winding down, and the countdown to 2020 is on! If you’re looking for ways to ring in the new decade with young revelers, you have some great options! There are a bunch of family-friendly ways to celebrate around the area, from organized events to plan-it-yourself activities. Here are details and inspiration for your crew to get in on the fun. Happy New Year!

Rumpus Room (Almost) NYE Family Dance Party
Where: Black Cat | 14th Street NW, DC
When: December 29, 2-4:30pm
Admission: $12-15

Celebrate a trip around the sun in style with DC’s best (and only) family dance party! Get the fun started early (and practice your moves for the actual day) at this event that caters to tiny dancers and their fams. Tunes are played at a kid-friendly volume and all ages are welcome to groove on the dance floor together. Rumpus Room is designed for kids 10 and under and their caregivers, but older siblings are welcome.

Family Paint Countdown Party
Where: ArtJamz | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 29, 11:30am – 1pm
Admission: $22

Start the countdown a couple of days early at ArtJamz with creative and kid-friendly afternoon New Year’s celebration. Admission includes 1.5 hours of studio time, plus access to paints, brushes, art tools, pens, glitter and more to decorate and paint the jamming studio walls with resolutions and goals. Kids can enjoy festive decorations, a noon countdown and non-alcoholic toast, family-friendly party tunes, and tips, guidance and encouragement from jamming local artists. For adults, the bar will be open! While kids paint downstairs, the lounge upstairs will be serving creative cocktails, wine, mimosas, and beer.

Noon Yards Eve
Where: The Yards Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: December 31, 10am – 1pm
Admission: Free

The Yards is once again hosting its Noon Yards Eve festival to ring in 2020! The seventh annual event will transform the park into a family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration with fun for both kids and adults. Activities will include trackless train rides through the park, inflatable moon bounces, glitter tattoo artists, balloon artistry, music, and a countdown and big balloon drop at noon.

First Night Alexandria
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: December 31, 6pm – 1am
Admission: $30-35/adult, free/age 12 & under

It’s the 25th anniversary of the area’s largest family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration, so the fun and entertainment will be in abundance. Enjoy Kids Karnivals in four locations, with loads of activities for young revelers — face painting, story time, balloon sculptures, interactive games, and much more ($5). And numerous performances on multiple indoor stages throughout Old Town Alexandria will feature live entertainment from a wide variety of genres. The evening will conclude with a spectacular fireworks display on the Potomac River at the foot of King Street. For details on where shows will take place, see the schedule on the website.

Rocknoceros New Year’s Eve Party
Where: Jammin Java | Vienna, VA
When: December 31, 11am & 2pm
Admission: $10

For the 13th straight year, the widely popular band that always gets kids rockin’ will be playing a special New Year’s Eve gig at Jammin Java. Sing along to some of your favorite tunes and enjoy the full menu of food and drinks while you’re there. Opt for the lunchtime show at 11am, or go in the afternoon at 2pm. Doors open half-hour before the show and general admission seating is on a first come, first served basis.

Show Time
Where: Around the DMV
When: December 31
Admission: Varies by venue

Let some live entertainment take you into the new decade! There are several shows running that the whole family can enjoy…here’s what’s on stage at local theatres with tickets still available for December 31:
* The Velveteen Rabbit at Adventure Theatre (use code 5OFF to save!)
* Squeakers & Mr. Gumdrop at the Atlas Performing Arts Center
* Singin’ in the Rain at Olney Theatre
* Jersey Boys at National Theatre (find discount)
* My Fair Lady at the Kennedy Center (find discount)
* The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at Imagination Stage

Noon Year’s Eve
Where: Badlands | Rockville, MD
When: December 31, 9am – 2pm
Admission: $20/age 3+, $12.50/2 & under, $5/adult

Dance, play, and craft it up all day with an amazing balloon drop goin’ down at noon. They’ll have their egular Toddler Time but all ages are welcome to join in on the festivities and to run, jump, play, and ring in the new year!

Noon Year’s Eve
Where: The St. James | Springfield, VA
When: December 31, 10:30am – 12:30pm
Admission: $37/non-members, $15/under 4, free/adults

Ring in the new year with a New Year’s Eve kids party in the active entertainment center. Super, Awesome & Amazing will feature a magician, DJ, photo booth, face painting and a balloon drop at noon. We’ll have a few light bites, desserts, snacks and juice and water for the kids in case they get hungry. Parents do not need to purchase tickets but will have access to a cash bar. Tickets are limited and may sell out prior to the event. If available, ticket prices will increase and be available for purchase at the door.

Midnight Noon
Where: Maryland Science Center | Baltimore, MD
When: December 31, 10am – 2pm
Admission: $24.95/adult, $18.95/3-12, free/2 & under

Join the MSC for their annual New Year’s Eve celebration, Midnight Noon, where children can enjoy the ball drop before bedtime. There will be fun New Year’s festivities throughout the day, including a live concert by popular kids band Milkshake — their Grammy-nominated tunes will keep everyone dancing throughout the day. And, of course, the rest of the museum will be open to explore! All activities are free with paid admission (and completely free to members).

New Years at Noon
Where: Port Discovery | Baltimore, MD
When: December 31, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $15.95 ages 2+

Countdown to the new year at this family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration! Help Port Discovery welcome 2020 with a celebration that includes a magical noontime countdown, a juice and cookie toast, festive tunes, and more. Other special activities along with the whole multi-level children’s museum include noisemaker and party popper making, a photo ops corner, and a wishing tree to spread your hopes for the new year.

Get Medieval on NYE
Where: Medieval Times | Hanover, MD
When: December 31, 3:30pm (doors open at 2pm)
Admission: $37.95/adult, $30.95/child

Experience an epic afternoon of fun and celebration as you countdown to 2020. Along with a four-course feast and thrilling jousting action, young guests can get free knight training (space limited, arrive early), a free activity book, and story time with Lord Cedric. Be sure to use the code NYE20 for the ticket discount!

Watch Night New Year’s Eve Celebration
Where: Intersection of Broad & Washington St. | Falls Church, VA
When: December 31, 7pm – Midnight
Admission: Free

Ring in the New Year with free, family-friendly festivities at Falls Church’s 22nd annual New Year’s Eve celebration. Enjoy food, music, singing, dancing, entertainment, performances and interactive festivities that appeal to all ages. Highlights for kids include an Extreme Air Jumper, rock climbing wall, mechanical bull, obstacle course, inflatable slides, bungee jump, Velcro wall, puppet shows, face painting, caricaturist, balloon sculptor, and more. Plus, restaurants will have special Walking Watch Night Menus at local restaurants. The evening concludes at midnight with the traditional countdown and lowering of the City of Falls Church Star. All events take place around the intersection of Broad and Washington Streets. A free shuttle bus with 11 stops runs from the East Falls Church Metro throughout the evening.

Midnight at 7
Where: Merriweather Post Pavilion | Columbia, MD
When: December 31, 5-7:30
Admission: $15-20, $50/family 4-pack, free/3 & under

Head to the Merriweather in Columbia for early fireworks on New Year’s Eve surrounded by the twinkling Lights. The event will feature food, activities, music, and fireworks at 7pm, as well as the last chance to walk through the lovely Symphony of Lights course.

Swoosh into 2020
Where: Ski Liberty | Carroll Valley, PA
When: 5pm – 1am
Admission: Lift tickets start at $24/child (free/5 & under)

Hit the slopes to ring in the new year! Ski Liberty’s celebration will include late-night skiing and snowboarding until 1am, fireworks at midnight, and a variety of special events happening around the resort. There is also a special, by reservations only, party at Boulder Ridge with Snow Tubing from 10pm to 1am. Find something for everyone and every age!

Glide into 2020
Where: Ice rinks around the DMV
When: Throughout the day & evening
Admission: Varies by rink

Skate under the stars to celebrate the start of the new decade. Gliding on ice surrounded by twinkling lights, art sculptures, and/or the hubbub of people in festive spirits is a fun, active way to revel. Join a special event like Rock & Skate at Washington Harbour or just do your own thang. Be sure to check times for each rink, as hours may change for the holiday.

New Year’s Night Lights
Where: Around the DMV
When: After dark
Admission: Varies by locale

Start your own family New Year’s Eve tradition with a seasonal treat: Bundle up for a stroll or take a drive through one of several spectacular light displays! Most of the light shows that dazzle this time of year are open on New Year’s Eve. If you’re enjoying it from the comfort of a car, pack a thermos of hot chocolate, yummy snacks, and prepare a festive playlist for the ride.

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Filed under 2019, 2020, All ages, Annual, DC, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, Seasonal, Special Event, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays, Winter