Tag Archives: National Children’s Museum

Host Your Next Party or Event at the National Children’s Museum!


This post is paid for by the National Children’s Museum, however, I only promote places, programs, services that I genuinely believe in and think would appeal to KFDC readers.

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Explore the Rails with Thomas & Friends at the 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


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Filed under 2022, DC, Exhibit, Gradeschoolers, Museums, Preschoolers, Toddlers, Winter

Full STEAM Ahead at the New National Children’s Museum!

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.


Design your own car – and race it!

Make it rain…and cloudy and lightening with your hands in Innovation Sandbox

A quiet space for nursing moms

Dora Dora Dora the Explorer (those lyrics will forever be etched in my brain)

Learn about collecting data through string art

Batter up!

Play with lights

One more of that Dream Machine


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Filed under 2020, All ages, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Indoor Play, Museums, Weekdays, Weekend

2020 Vision: 10 Awesome Things Families Can Look Forward to in DC this Year

To infinity and beyond… Yayoi Kusama’s art will return to DC this year

Some people make New Year’s resolutions, I make new… plans. (Well, mental notes for plans, anyway.) I like to take a look ahead at the coming year, see what new and exciting things are on the horizon, and put them on my radar to, hopefully, enjoy at some point — and, of course, share with the KFDC community. Which is just what I’ve done here. With this new year comes many opportunities for awesome experiences. Here are 10 that I think will be especially appealing to DC families. Happy 2020!

1. National Children’s Museum | Late January
The much anticipated reopening of the redesigned and newly-located museum especially for children is slated for the end of January. And if the sneak peek back in the fall is a good indicator of what’s to come, it sounds like the wait will be worth it. There will be STEAM-focused exhibits and creative play spaces, with the Dream Machine, a three-story climber and slide, as the centerpiece. This will all be easily accessible right downtown at Woodrow Wilson Plaza, next to the Ronald Reagan Building. I’ll, of course, keep you posted on opening specifics as more details are released.

2. The Lane | February
How I wish something like this existed when my kids were younger! Opening in February, The Lane Social Club will be a place where families — kids and parents — can hang. And by hang, I mean engage in active play, partake in special programming, throw birthday parties, enjoy good food or a drink, and make new friends. This is all the brainchild of two local moms, Rachel and Molly, who decided to make their yearning for a venue like this a reality. I’ve had a chance to spend some time with them, and can tell you that 1) They have thought of all the details 2) You’ll want to include them among those new friends. The location is in Ivy City near the new Target. Look for more info about the opening soon!

Get ready to welcome back the World Series Champions!

3. Nationals Baseball Season | March – October
Rooting for our home team isn’t a new thing, but cheering them on as the World Series Champions is — and it definitely adds some extra excitement to the anticipation of the Nats baseball season. Sure, the roster has changed a bit (we miss you, Tony!) but most of the squad is returning, and there are a couple of new players to watch out for. Plus, I’ve always recommended a day at the ballpark as a fun way to enjoy family time together. While Opening Day is March 26, the first home game this year isn’t until April 2. You can view the whole schedule here, and as you’re planning for game days, be sure to check out these KFDC tips first.

4. Yayoi Kusama Returns to the Hirshhorn | April 4 – September 20
Three years ago, Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibition at the Hirshhorn was the hot ticket to score. The presentation of five infinity rooms — immersive installations that transformed small rooms into boundless wonderlands with brilliant, imaginative sculptures and mirror-lined walls — caused quite a frenzy among art enthusiasts, Instagram fiends, and what seemed like everyone else, for that matter. I, personally, had mixed feelings about it — I loved the art, but wasn’t super keen on the viewing experience. This spring, some of Kusama’s works, including two infinity rooms, are coming back to the museum for an exhibit called One with Eternity. This time, there will be no advance tickets, just same-day passes. Fingers crossed it will be easier to get them!

5. Planet Word Museum | May 31
I am so intrigued by and excited for this opening! With a mission to “inspire a love of words and language,” the museum promises immersive exhibits and magical experiences to demonstrate how words and language help shape our lives. According to the website, there will be all kinds of word play opportunities (that go well beyond your crosswords and Scrabble) — create a marketing campaign, give a famous speech and watch it, hear authors read from their books, join songwriting and storytelling classes, and more. Details for visiting aren’t yet available, but I’ll be sure to share when they are!

6. Hamilton Revisits the Kennedy Center | June 16 – September 20
If you missed seeing the award winning Broadway smash when it was here in 2018 (like I did) and still have yet to see it anywhere else (like me), you have another chance this summer. Hamilton will be back at the Kennedy Center for a three-month run. Tickets will go on sale in the spring, and tip: Kennedy Center members always get first dibs at a selection of tickets (though this didn’t do me much good last time, as there was an online glitch and I got booted out of the system before finishing my purchase… but I’m not throwin’ away my shot to try for them again). It’s recommended for kids ages 10 and up, so be sure to take that into consideration and get some feedback if you’re hoping to bring children younger than that.

7. The Bard at the Building Museum
This year’s Summer Block Party at the National Building Museum is presented as a partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library. Shakespeare’s Playhouse will feature an Elizabethan-inspired outdoor stage, designed by a team from the University of South Carolina, in the cool comfort of the museum’s Great Hall. Guests will be able to engage in Shakespearean activities, like stage combat, during the day, and in the evenings, there will be performances of the enchanting A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (PS: If you think Shakespeare and kids don’t mix, think again! Read about some of our experiences with it here and here.)

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival brings international art and culture to DC every summer

8. Smithsonian Folklife Festival | June 24-28, July 1-5
The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is far from a new event to DC, but I’m including it here because after being shortened to a weekend last year, it will return to its regular, longer 10-day run. I always recommend checking out the festivities on the National Mall during that time, because they’re always a fantastic celebration of living cultural heritage, showcasing different regions around the world through hands-on activities, performances, demonstrations, and exhibits for all ages to enjoy. And the great thing about the return to the long run is more opportunities to go. This summer, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates will be highlighted as well as the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon and Smithsonian Conservation Commons. Admission to all of it is free. Read about and get a glimpse of the 2018 festival here.

9. MLK Jr. Library Reopening | Fall
DC’s flagship public library closed in early 2017 to undergo a major renovation, and it will reopen this fall with loads of modernized features. Newly designed spaces include an transparent entryway, large auditorium and conference center, creative spaces for the arts, a ground level café with a patio, an interactive children’s space, and more. And like all of our public libraries, there will be programming to go along with it, with plenty of it especially for kids. MLK Jr. Library is located in Penn Quarter at 9th and G Streets NW.

10. Presidential Election | November 3
So, this is more an ongoing event for 2020 even though the actual election isn’t until November. It also reaches well beyond DC, but it’s always especially interesting and exciting (and stressful) to be here during the race for the White House. Kids all over the country learn about our government and politics, but here in DC ours practically have front row seats for it. For a related activity, take a tour of the U.S. Capitol. And as we head into the election year, note these important dates: DC primaries are June 2, Maryland primaries are April 28, and Virginia primaries are March 3. Be sure to vote — and bring your kiddos along!

What are you looking forward to most in the coming year? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Filed under 2020, All ages, Annual, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Festival, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Museums, Outdoor, Special Event, Sports, Spring, Summer, Theatre, Winter

New Year’s Eve, Family-Style

Yards Park is hosting its first-ever Noon Year's Eve for families

Yards Park is hosting its first-ever Noon Year’s Eve for families

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
Admission: Free

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
Admission: $10

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
Admission: $10

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!

Midnight Noon
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
Admission: $13.95

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
When: 4-6pm
Admission: $30/family

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
When: 5pm
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
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 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.

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