Tag Archives: Playgrounds

Spring Flowers & Year-Round Attractions at the National Cathedral

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There are certain weekends throughout the year that you can count on being packed with awesome annual events. On one hand, that’s a great thing — who doesn’t love having their pick of terrific things to do? On the other hand, it’s frustrating, because you have to pick, and opting for one means you’re missing out on the others.

The first weekend of May presented just that scenario. There was the Around the World Embassy Tour, Flower Mart, Glen Echo Family Day, Cheverly Truck Touch, and Space Day among many other fun happenings. And for us, between the kids’ sports and a baby shower taking up most of Saturday, it was practically impossible to make it to any of them.

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Except for one. Flower Mart, the National Cathedral’s annual spring family festival, also takes place on Friday. And as luck would have it, the kids were off from school that day, so we made a plan to spend it at one of Washington’s premiere seasonal events.

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Both the National Cathedral and the public benefit from Flower Mart. Funds raised help maintain WNC’s beautiful grounds and gardens, and those who attend the event get to enjoy tons of great festivities and exhibitions. Spread out around the grounds are plant and flower sales, plus a variety of other vendors offering everything from art and housewares to accessories and handmade children’s clothes to tasty treats and gourmet foods. You can browse a used book sale, take the kids on a carousel, and see a puppet show. Food trucks and stands make lunch and snacks easy. And inside the Cathedral, there are gorgeous flower displays contributed by the embassies.

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There’s a whole Children’s Area with carnival rides and games, with something for all ages — moon bounce, inflatable slide, whirly rides, bungee jumps, a climbing wall, and more. Tickets are cheap, though some of the lines can be slow-going, but the kids generally had a blast there.

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On top of all this, there are the National Cathedral’s permanent attractions that visitors are welcome to explore. You can view the magnificent interiors — both guided and self-guided tours are available. Stained glass windows and gargoyles are especially interesting for kids. The observation gallery on the seventh floor also showcases interesting architectural designs and stunning birds-eye views of DC. On that same level, “Though the Earth Be Moved” exhibit reveals the impact of the 2011 earthquake on the Cathedral, displaying large chunks that broke off from the tower and illustrations detailing how it happened.

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Outside, the grounds also make for a nice stroll. The Bishop’s Garden is lovely and includes plants found in medieval gardens, that are native to the area, and some referenced by the Bible. And nearby is a statue of George Washington and Olmsted Woods & Pilgrim Way.

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And while you’re there, take the kids to the Beauvoir School playground. A short walk behind the Cathedral along 34th Street, it’s open to the public when school is not in session. With several great wooden climbing and sliding structures, swings, a kid-size basketball court, a small soccer pitch, and…drumroll…a ZIPLINE, it’s a nice addition to a National Cathedral visit, but can easily make for its own fantastic outing.

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There’s even more at the National Cathedral especially for children, including a scavenger hunt and a scaled down chapel, that you can read more about on the website. And there are many programs and special events open to the public throughout the year — see the calendar for details.

The Washington National Cathedral is located at 3101 Wisconsin Avenue NW. It’s accessible by car and public transportation (Metro & bus). Hours are 10am – 5:30pm Monday – Friday, 10am – 4:30pm Saturday, and services are 8am – 5pm Sunday. Admission is $15/adult, $10/ages 5-17, free for 4 and under. Tour times vary, so be sure to check schedules if you plan to take one.

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Filed under All ages, Annual, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Festival, Free, Outdoor, Play, Seasonal, Spring, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: March 12-16

Stop and smell at the USBG's "Plants in Culture" exhibit.

Monday – Visit the U.S. Botanic Garden, where there’s plenty to enjoy both indoors and out. The gorgeous orchid exhibit is currently on view. And the rest of the plant collections are always wonderful to tour, making you feel like you’ve been transported to another region. Kids can flex their green thumbs in the Children’s Garden, where they can play in a miniature house, plant flowers (when available), and pump water.  Be sure to stop in the “Plants in Culture” exhibit where little ones will have fun sniffing the aromas of various plants and learning about their everyday uses.

Tuesday – Take advantage of the weather and plan for a picnic at The Yards Park. Lunch at a table overlooking the Anacostia River or spread out a blanket on one of the open grassy areas.  Bring along a ball to kick around and, perhaps, a towel and swimsuit for the kids — it may actually be warm enough to play in the fountains.

Wednesday –Bring the kids to play amid the lovely wooded setting of Cabin John Regional Park. They can climb, swing, jump, slide, and run on the sprawling Adventure Playland. Unfortunately, the Miniature Train hasn’t opened yet for the season, but they won’t even miss it with so much other playground to cover.

Thursday – Go on a nature walk at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. See ponds filled with giant lily pads and other interesting marsh plants and look for geese, great blue herons, turtles, frogs, and tiny fish on the way. Open 7am – 4:30pm. Admission is free.

Friday – Ride the water taxi between National Harbor and Old Town Alexandria.  The Potomac Riverboat Company operates daily between the two destinations. It’s about a 20-minute ride on the river, plenty of time to thrill young mariners. Catch the taxi from either point, cruise to the other side, then stay awhile to explore and eat lunch.  Round-trip rides are $16/adults and $10/kids ages 2-11, and you can get a $2 discount by booking online.

 

 

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Filed under All ages, DC, Educational, Free, Maryland, Outdoor, Park, Preschoolers, Seasonal, Toddlers, Virginia, Weekdays