Tag Archives: National Children’s Museum
[Note: This post was written by KFDC Contributor Emily Moise, a local writer and mom of two young children. She always has excellent recommendations for kids’ activities around the DC area. See some of them here, here, and here.
Attention all train lovers: Thomas has entered the National Children’s Museum! Thomas & Friends™: Explore the Rails!, an interactive exhibit created at the Minnesota Children’s Museum and geared for ages 2-7, is open now through Sunday, May 15. If you have a Thomas groupie like I do, or if you just want to discover the magic of the #1 blue engine and his friends, get your tickets to get on board today.
The large-scale Thomas and Percy trains will grab your kids attention immediately. Thomas is equipped with life-like levers that activate life-like train sounds. Percy is engineered to teach a science lesson through people-power. Spin wheels to input coal and water into the engine, creating enough steam to hear Percy roar. On the other side, Percy’s wheels need fixing to get him back on track.
The train set to put your train set to shame is likely where your kids will spend most of their time. We identified a few must-haves for our tracks at home, before prodding my son along to the rest of the exhibit. We also loved a smaller track set up for experimenting with ramp angles to get trains over a hill. For the littlest ones, you’ll find a confined space with toddler-appropriate engines.
Aside from the STEM-oriented play, pretend play is found throughout with a ticket booth, train cars, costumes, and props. And history buffs, or parents who have spent a lot of time with Thomas, will appreciate the corner of memorabilia and information on the creators, iterations, and celebrity narrators. There are also books and a viewing screen if your child needs a break from the action.
Covid Safety: The museum recommends purchasing tickets in advance to ensure admission with reduced capacity and timed sessions. Masks are required for all visitors ages 2+. You can learn more about the museum’s COVID safety protocols here. And you can read more about the National Children’s Museum in this KFDC post.
National Children’s Museum
Where: 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW | Washington, DC 20004
When: Thursday – Sunday, 9:30am – 12:30pm & 1:30-4:30pm
Admission: $15.95/ages 1+, free/under 1 & members
After months of teasing us, the new National Children’s Museum is finally open! And after getting a first look yesterday, I think it was worth the wait. Newly located just a block off the National Mall in the Ronald Reagan Building and freshly overhauled from the previous version at National Harbor, the museum is full of STEAM-inspired exhibits that are fun, engaging, and educational for kids.
Most of this is on the concourse level of the space — which is all that was open yesterday — with the reception/ticketing area, cafe, playzone, and top of the amazing Dream Machine (more on that in a sec) on the upper level set to open in a few weeks. With concrete floors and exposed pipes and ducts overhead, much of it has an industrial feel that, in my opinion, seems to work well with the STEAM theme. Exhibits and programming are geared toward children up to age 12, and there are areas especially for little ones, with soft, colorful play features (and floors) and themes that appeal to babes and toddlers.
Kids from grade school ages to tweens will dig the rest. The centerpiece of it all is the aforementioned Dream Machine, a multilevel, twisty climbing structure with rope tunnels, slides, pods, and platforms, that is sure to keep young visitors active and occupied for a good portion of their time at the museum. And not to worry about littles — a small area of it is just for smaller children up to age 5 for easier, gentler climbing and sliding.
All of the other exhibits will also attract curious museum-goers. From the On the Go-Go race car track to Nats-branded pitching and batting cages to Data Science Alley’s air tubes to the green screen in the Innovative Sandbox, they offer fun, and interesting ways to engage and exercise creativity while exploring fundamentals of STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. Read more about some of them in this post recapping a sneak peek of the museum back in October.
I visited yesterday without my kids — they were in school, not to mention Owen has aged out — but met up with KFDC contributor Emily, who brought her toddler daughter and baby son. They spent a good 40 minutes in Dora & Diego – Let’s Explore, a sweet traveling exhibit that will switch out in about a year, before moving on to a small crawling structure and Data Science Alley, where we all watched big pom pom balls get sucked through tubes with fascination.
Programming like story time with DC Public Library and family workshops in the Tinkerer’s Studio to complement all of this will start in few weeks. Some of it will take place in the playzone upstairs, and will not require an admission fee. Field trips and birthday parties are also available (and already booked up for a few months).
Over on Instagram, someone asked me how it compares to Port Discovery, the children’s museum in Baltimore. Here are my thoughts… While it’s not as big and there aren’t as many exhibits, what’s there is just as interesting and engaging, and it’s hard to explore all of Port Discovery in one visit anyway. This is also more than half the admission price and, perhaps best of all, located right here in downtown DC.
Ready to plan your visit? Tickets are timed entry, and I hear they’re selling fast for opening weekend, so reserve yours soon. In the meantime, get more of a glimpse in the photos below!
National Children’s Museum
Where: 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW | Downtown DC
When: Thursday – Sunday, 9:30am – 12:30pm & 1:30-4:30pm
Admission: $15.95/age 1+ | Membership options available, too
* The museum is located within the Ronald Reagan Building.
Looking for family-friendly ways to ring in 2014? Here are some events happening around the area that not only welcome kids, but in many cases, center around them. (And while you’re out enjoying them, chill the bubbly so it’s all ready to pop open for your evening celebration.) Happy New Year!
Noon Year’s Eve at the Yards
Where: Yards Park
When: 10am – 1pm
The Yards Park is hosting a family celebration to kick off the New Year. “Noon Year’s Eve” will feature music and activities, including moon bounces, trackless train rides through the park, face painting, stilt walkers, magic, and performances by The Guitar Man, John Henry England, Justin Trawick, and the hula hoop lady, Shannon ShapeShifter. And no New Year’s celebration would be complete with a countdown & ball (or balloon) drop…only this one will take place at 12pm!
First Night Alexandria
Where: Old Town
When: Starting at 1pm
Admission: $20, kids 12 and under are free
Fun and entertainment will be in abundance at the area’s largest family-friendy New Year’s Eve celebration. There will be more than 100 performances on indoor stages throughout Old Town Alexandria, with entertainment by blue grass musicians, honky-tonk bands, clowns, magicians, and classical musicians. Among the many kids activities will be live entertainment, model sail boat building and sailing, face painting, cookie decorating, nail art, moon bouncing, and interactive carnival games (for ages 10 and under). New this year is the ThinkFun game room and the Fun Hunt, a scavenger hunt through the streets of Old Town where you follow clues. 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
When: 11am & 2pm
For the 7th year in a row, 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 drink menu while you’re there. Doors open half-hour before the show and general admission seating in on a first come, first served basis.
Noon Year’s Eve
Where: National Children’s Museum
When: 10am – 5pm
The NCM will be ringing in 2014 all day with special activities and programs, including a performance by Culture Kingdom Kids from 12-1pm! Three “official” New Year’s Eve countdowns in the Map Zone will take place at 12pm, 1pm, and 2pm, and childen (and parents) will be able to decorate hats and create noisemakers for the festivities all day!
Where: Maryland Science Center
When: 10am – 2pm
Admission: $16.95/adult, $13.95/3-12, free for 2 and under
The Maryland Science Center’s annual New Year’s Eve family extravaganza will transform the midnight tradition into daytime delight. The 6th annual Midnight Noon will be bursting with fun as families celebrate a very Happy Noon Year! Baltimore’s own Grammy-nominated kid’s band Milkshake will light up the stage starting at 11:30am and will continue rockin’ and rollin’ right into the year “2014,” even leading the ball drop at noon. Visitors will also enjoy hands-on holiday arts & crafts, projects and interactive science activities. Special crafts will be available from 10am-2pm while supplies last. Guests can decorate party hats, make noisemakers and create wintry snow globes. There will be even more fun when Blue Sky Puppet Theatre performes Pig Tales, a story about friendship and sharing, at 10:30am and 1pm. And the rest of the Science Center will be open for exploration, too!
Noontime New Year
Where: Port Discovery
When: 9:30am – 5pm
The children’s museum in Baltimore is hosting its annual Noontime New Year Celebration as they celebrate Kings and Queens, Knights and Jokers. Dress up in your favorite costume to decorate numbers and make sound makers for the noon countdown with Eric Energy, complete with a juice and cookie toast! There will also be tons of performances, activities, and more, including mask and fairy wand making, jousting, dancing, theater and music shows, and science spectaculars. Be sure to check the schedule for timing of specific events.
Family New Year’s Eve Yoga Party
Where: lil omm
Ring in the New Year with family filled fun at lil omm! From 5-7pm, families with children of all ages are invited to dance the night away and explore a variety of playful partner poses. Family Yoga includes postures for the whole family, including appropriate variations to accommodate everyone (prenatal welcome). Pizza dinner is included.
Midnight at 7
Where: Symphony of Lights in Columbia
Admission: $20/individual, $40/group of 3, $50/group of 4
The New Year’s fireworks start early at the Symphony of Lights in Columbia, Md, where their annual drive-through light show has been dazzling oglers throughout the holiday season. You can enjoy it on foot on Saturday, along with a toasty bonfire, food vendors, music, party favors, face painting and more. It all begins at 5pm when gates open, then watch the fireworks at 7pm. Register here.
Watch Night: The City of Falls Church New Year’s Eve Celebration
Where: West Broad Street in Falls Church
When: 7pm – Midnight
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 restaurants with Walking Watch Night Menus, a children’s scavenger hunt, a wide variety of inflatables, free balloons, karaoke, face painting, caricaturist drawings, free popcorn and more. The evening concludes at midnight with the traditional countdown and lowering of the City of Falls Church Star. All events take place within a four-block area that begins on the 100 Block of West Broad Street. A free shuttle bus stops at each venue and the East Falls Church Metro throughout the evening, including a shuttle from the East Falls Church Metro station.