Tag Archives: Virginia Nature Centers

Where to Play on the Weekdays: January 9-13

Taking in the view at Kenilworth Aquatic Garden

Taking in the view at Kenilworth Aquatic Garden

Monday – Jump with joy at Flight Trampoline Park in Springfield, VA. This bouncy nirvana hosts Kid Flight sessions, when the whole park is open only to children under the age of 6, from 10am – 2pm Monday through Friday. Special pricing starts at $8/30 minutes ($10/hour), and an accompanying adult jumps free! I recommend buying tickets and submitting waivers online in advance to save time when you get there.

Tuesday – Take your toddlers to story hour at East City Bookshop on Capitol Hill. The children’s book readings are perfect for future readers ages 0-4. The session starts at 11am, and admission is free. After, browse the inventory then grab a lunch at one of many nearby eateries.

Wednesday – Join wacky citizen-scientist Professor Wingnut and his friend Seymour Seagull as they explore the amazing science of flight! This show presented by Discovery Theater fittingly takes places at the National Air & Space Museum. Tickets are still available for the 1pm performance (on Thursday, too!) and cost $3-8, depending on age. If they sell out, you can catch a different kind of show at the museum’s Albert Einstein Planetarium or just explore the amazing space 😉 . Museum hours are 10am – 5:30pm, and admission is free.

Thursday – Enjoy what will hopefully be a warmer, sunnier day at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Go on a nature walk among the 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 8am – 4pm this time of year, and at 2pm you can join a Garden Walk with a park ranger. Admission is free.

Friday – Explore the local environment from the comfort of the indoors at Buddie Ford Nature Center, which I just posted about last week. The facility in Alexandria boasts fascinating exhibits (including live creatures!), hands-on activities, and a staff of friendly and knowledgeable naturalists that all ages will appreciate. And if weather permits, continue the fun outdoors with a short hike at the adjacent Dora Kelley Nature Park. Buddie Ford hours are 10am – 5pm. Admission is free.

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Filed under All ages, Babies, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Museums, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays, Winter

A Wildlife Fix at Long Branch Nature Center

Watching pond activity at Long Branch


One day a few weeks ago, Sasha asked if we could visit some animals. It was one of those 100-degree days, so the obvious places — the Zoo and area farms — were out.  I thought about where else we might see some wildlife sans sweltering conditions and decided to take her to a nature center.  And I figured it would be a good opportunity to check out one we hadn’t been to yet, so we headed to the Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington.  (After that intro, you’re probably wondering why the feature photo is outdoors.  I’ll get to that!)

The indoor part of the center isn’t very big, but there are at least 10 terrariums where you can get a close look at snakes, turtles, frogs and toads.

Wall of Wildlife

Eye to eye with a turtle

Just off the main room is a small area with an indoor pond.  An outdoors scene on the wall wraps around it, fish swim in the waters, and turtles hang out on the rocks along the sides. There is also a Discovery Room where kids can find nature-related toys and games, books, and activities.

Bringing the outdoors in

Busy in the Discovery Room

That was about it…in the indoors part, anyway.  We saw everything in less than an hour, so I told Sasha we could take the “scenic route” on the way out and see the outdoor sights, despite feeling like we were in swampland. After having a look at a rescued owl out back, we followed a path to a small pond, where we could see turtles, small fish, and lots of dragon flies buzzing around. We skipped a hike on a longer path that winds through the woods — something to save for another day.

Off to explore

Captivated by pond activity

Ironically, we probably spent more time outdoors than we did inside (so much for staying cool!), but I guess the real thing is always better.

Long Branch Nature Center is located at 625 S. Carlin Springs Road in Arlington. Hours are Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm, Sunday 1-5pm, closed Monday. Admission is free. They also host birthday parties for children ages 4 and up — see the website for more.


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Filed under All ages, Animals, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Indoor Play, Nature, Outdoor, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend