The Washington Auto Show rolled into town at a good time for our family. We’re actually thinking about getting a new car, and the event is an excellent way to get a look at a lot of them all at once. But even if we weren’t in the market, we still would have gone. Levi is somewhat of a car enthusiast, so the show is kind of nirvana for him. On top of that, we think it’s a really fun outing with the kids — which I wrote about a few years back.
This year, you can check out more than 600 new car and truck models from over 30 manufacturers on three levels of the Washington Convention Center. And by check out, I mean you can sit in most of the models on the floor to get a close look at interior details, sign up for test drives and ride alongs, see demo drives of a few models on indoor courses, and talk to representatives from the manufacturers.
Especially for children is a Family Fun Zone located on the lowest level. There are craft activities and shows for little ones, plus characters from PBS. Fun photo ops in sports gear and with Stars Wars characters as well as some interactive games are scattered around the expo floor. Of course, kids also love climbing in the cars and checking them out, too. And when they get hungry, concessions are available at several stands throughout, and there are also lots of restaurants nearby the Convention Center if you want to plan for a meal before or after.
If you can get to the Washington Auto Show during the week, it’ll likely be less crowded. On weekday evenings, there are also celeb appearances, mostly local sports stars — check the schedule for specifics. Nearby street parking is limited, but Metro is a great option. Take yellow/green line to the Mt. Vernon Square/7th St. Convention Center stop or the red line to Gallery Place.
Washington Auto Show
Where: Washington Convention Center | Mount Vernon Place, DC
When: Through February 4
Hours: Mon – Thurs 12-9pm, Fri 12-10pm, Sat 10-10pm, Sun 10-6pm
Tickets: $12/adult, $5/age 6-12, free/5 & under
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You can bet we totally took the backseat opportunity to squabble and demand they play that one Imagine Dragons song over and over again
Accessories like kayaks make the cars look even more fun
Donuts on your lawn (pleeease tell me others got that, so I don’t feel old)
Monday – No matter what the weather outside, it’s always pleasant in the U.S. Botanic Garden. Walk amid tropical rainforest, desert, and woodland flora without a drop of precipitation falling on you, unless you count the misters in the jungle area. Be sure to stop in the “Plants in Culture” exhibit, where you can smell the scents of herbs and spices and learn about their everyday uses. Hours at the USBG are 10am – 5pm. Admission is free.
Tuesday – Let the kids take the wheel at the Washington Auto Show. The annual event showcasing the newest models of cars and trucks will be at the Washington Convention Center through February 1. Kids (and adults) can sit in the driver’s seat, pretend to cruise around, check out dashboard details, and more. Hours are 12-9pm Monday – Thursday (12-10pm on Friday). Admission is $12/adult, $5/ages 6-12, free for 5 and under. Read more about what to expect in this post about one of our experiences there.
Wednesday – Little ones can shop at the market, tend to the ranch, bake in the kitchen, decorate cupcakes, and do some art projects — all possibilities in the Playseum’s various themed rooms and crafts areas. Visit the Capitol Hill or Bethesda location and plan on lunch while you’re out; both are convenient to many eateries for a pre- or post-play meal. Hours are 9am – 4pm. Admission is $7/person (siblings under 10 months are free) and is good for the whole day.
Friday – See “Grandest Show on Strings” at The Puppet Co., where Circus! is the new main stage production. Featuring a collection of clowns, death-defying acrobats, and an amazing menagerie of fauna from the farthest reaches of the globe, children are guaranteed to be entertained. Showtimes are 10am & 11:30am. Tickets are $10.
Crossing a high footbridge at Living Classrooms in Glen Echo Park
Who would ever guess that near-60-degree nice days in DC would be a regular occurrence in the middle of winter? This is exactly why this weekend round-up is steeped with recommendations that take place indoors, despite at least one of those glorious days on the way. If you want to get out and seize it — because who knows when Snowmageddon II could hit? — scroll right down to the end of the list for a link to a wealth of outdoor ideas. Otherwise, read on to explore all of your options for family fun, from the Auto Show and the Monster Jam, to Chinese Lunar New Year and birthday celebrations, to a puppet festival and puppet shows, and even more possibilities in between. Happy Weekend!
Auto Focus – The 2012 Washington Auto Show begins today and runs through next weekend. If there’s any “grown-up” event that is equally fun for all ages, this is it. And I know from firsthand experience; our family went to the show last year and practically had to drag the kids out when it was finally time to go. It’s like a Truck Touch, but with autombiles — more than 700 of them! — on display for guests to check out. And especially for kids will be Playland, an area filled with games, toys, videos, and cuddly mascots, including some from the PBS show SuperWhy! This all takes place at the Washington Convention Center. Tickets are $12/adults, $5/ages 6-12, free for 5 and under. Hours are 12-10pm Friday, 10am-10pm Saturday, and 10am-7pm Sunday. See this post for even more details.
Year of the Dragon – Usher in the lunar year 4017 on Sunday at the Chinese New Year Parade. Festivities kick off at 6th & I Streets NW at 2pm and will wind through the streets of Chinatown celebrating Chinese culture in a brilliant procession that includes traditional dance, music, and, of course, the iconic dragons. The parade is expected to last about two and a half hours, and spectating is free. View the route here to stake out your curbside spot.
Build-a-Saurus at Lowe’s – It’s another Build and Learn Clinic at the home improvement store on Saturday. Lowe’s hosts free bimonthly workshops for kids, and during this session guests can build a wooden dino, then choose the stickers to make it a cartoon or a realistic dinosaur. The store will provide all the materials, along with goggles, an apron, and other goodies to take home. We haven’t yet been, but a friend went to the last one and gave it a great review. Go here to find your local Lowe’s and register for the workshop.
Monster Jam – If you hear a rumble echoing around the city this weekend, chances are it’s coming from the Verizon Center where 12-foot-tall, 10-thousand-pound monster trucks will be wowing crowds with big stunts, power races, and wheelie contests (can you imagine one of those things popping a wheelie?!). There are shows Friday evening through Sunday afternoon. Tickets are $60/VIP seats, $25/Gold Circle seats, and Mid-Level are $20/adults, $10/kids 2-12, kids under 2 are free. There is also a pit party on Saturday from 11am – 12:30pm, where guests can meet drivers, check out cars up close, and more. According to the website, pit passes are generally available for free at Advance Auto Parts retailers while supplies last. They are also available for purchase at the Verizon Center the day of the show when accompanied by the appropriate event ticket.
Show Time– Sit back, relax, and enjoy the shows at local theaters. The Snowy Day is at Adventure Theatre, Peter and the Wolf and Tiny Tots are at The Puppet Co., and Mouse on the Move is at Imagination Stage. You can find details on all of these productions in this post about winter entertainment.
Living Classrooms – Whether you’re at Glen Echo Park to catch a show or just looking for a little nature fun for the kids, Living Classrooms, located just off the path that leads from the park to the parking lot is worth checking out. We’ve passed by numerous times, but never actually visited until last weekend, after we found out the show we were supposed to see was canceled. What a neat discovery — the small building contained a giant ant hill that kids cold crawl through, a high foot bridge to cross and a tree to slide down, various critters and creatures observe, and more. One of the highlights was a an animal encounter with a rosy boa and a chance to pet the snake. There’s also an art room that’s open to the outdoors — a great place to draw inspiration from nature when weather permits. It’s all open to visitors on Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 3pm both days. Admission is $5/person, free for children under 2.
Happy Birthday, Renwick! – Celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the opening of the Renwick Gallery. Enjoy live music, hands-on activities, a docent led touch table, craft activities, mini scavenger hunts through the galleries, and, of course, cake! This all takes place on Saturday from 11am – 2pm. Admission is free.
Happy 25th, IKEA Woodbridge – Everyone’s favorite DIY furniture and everything else store is celebrating 25 years at the Northern Virginia location with goodies for customers — four days of savings, giveaways, design workshops, and family fun! Be the first 100 in line on Saturday and Sunday and win an IKEA gift card worth anywhere from $5-$250. Also among the festivities: live entertainment, including a string quartet, pianist, and opera singer from the Opera Performance Group from the college of William and Mary; fun events for the kids, including face painting each day from 12-2pm; and on Sunday, Radio Disney will be there from 1-3pm with non-stop music, games and giveaways.
See Us Fly: The Wright Brothers – On Saturday at 11:30am and 1pm, the National Air & Space Museum presents a puppet performance about Orville and Wilbur Wright and their journey into the history books. This is the story of two very determined brothers who beat the odds to create the world’s first self-propelled flying machine. Rainbow Puppet Productions will perform two 40-minute performances. Recommended for ages 4-8. Admission is free.
The Artist in You – The National Children Museum’s Launch Zone welcomes kids to discover their inner-artists — the only supply needed is their creativity! They can learn about artists such as Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso, and Alexander Calder and have the chance to create their own artistic masterpieces using marbles, construction paper, and more interesting textiles. Drop in on Saturday from 11am – 4pm. Admission is free.
Puppet Festival – The McClean Community Center’s Alden Theatre is hosting a day dedicated to puppetry on Saturday. Guests can enjoy two puppet shows starting at 1:30pm, then make their own puppets at puppet creation stations. Admission is $10, children 2 and under are free. Purchase tickets through theAlden Theatre website.
Stories in Art – Henri Matisse is the featured artist once again at the National Gallry of Art’s drop in program this Sunday. Kids ages 4-7 can learn about him through storytelling, discussion, and an art project. Sessions are at 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, and 2:30pm. Sign-in will take place in the East Building Atrium, beginning at 11am, and will continue until all spaces are filled. Admission is free. Read a KFDC review of the Stories in Art program here.
Outward Bound – Near sixty-degree days in the middle of winter seem to be the new normal in Washington. And you will not hear a single complaint about it from me. Get out and enjoy the unseasonably awesome weather while you can; Snowmageddon 2012 could be right around the corner. For ideas on where to seize the sunny days, see this post about the best places in the DC area to enjoy a beautiful day outdoors with the kids.
The good news: We’re about half-way through winter. The bad news: We’re about half-way through winter. It’s been a crazy week for many, with hectic commutes, power outages, and school cancellations. You all deserve some fun and relaxation this weekend. Here’s where you can find some of the family-friendly variety. Happy Weekend!
Monster Jam – Twelve-foot-tall, ten-thousand-pound monster trucks will race on, tear up, soar over, and smash through a specially designed track loaded with obstacles. There are three shows: Tonight at 7:30, tomorrow at 2pm, then in the evening at 7:30pm. Tickets are $60/VIP seats, $25/Gold Circle seats, and Mid-Level are $20/adults, $10/kids 2-12. Kids under 2 are free. For more info, see this post from a few weeks ago.
Washington Auto Show – Sure, it’s a “grown-up” event, but any kid with a penchant for cars will love seeing the hundreds of wheels on display. Besides new models from more than 40 manufacturers, guests can check out Star Cars, replicas of some of the most famous cars from the big and small screens and one real Transformer. There will also be children’s activities, appearances by some of kids’ favorite characters as well as local and national celebs (come on, you know you want to meet Snooki!) Taking place at the Washington Convention Center, the show runs from Saturday through Sunday, February 6. Tickets are $12/adults, $5/kids 6-12, free for children 5 and under. Hours vary by day, so check the website for specifics.
Free Family Film Screening at DC Shorts REWIND – Local favorite film festival, DC Shorts, is getting ready to present REWIND, a re-screening and retrospective look at the biggest hits of the last seven years. Included is a Free Family Film screening on Saturday morning. Recommended for ages 8 and up, the review will feature 90 minutes of kid-friendly films from around the world. See this post from a a couple of weeks ago for more info.
“Be Mine” – Parent-Child Valentine – Tomorrow from 11am – 12pm, Paper Source in Georgetown is hosting a “Be Mine” – Parent-Child Valentine workshop, where participants can create accordion books with Valentine themes using all kinds of neat art supplies provided by Paper Source. Cost is $25 (add just $10 for a second child), and the class is recommended for ages 5-10. More details about this and other Valentine-themed events are here.
Pentagon Row Ice Skating Gala – Lace up your skates for the 2nd Annual Pentagon Row Ice Skating Gala. On Saturday from 5 -7pm, guests can enjoy live music by Fools & Horses, a fun photo booth, free hot and merchant specials, plus strolling family entertainment, including a stilt walker, magician, ice princess, and juggler. A portion of the ice skating proceeds benefits the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Capitol Chapter. Tickets are $8/adults, $7/children 12 and under, $3/skate rentals.
Michael Taggart: Magician Extraordinaire – This weekend’s Saturday Monrning at the National performer will amaze and amuse all ages. This adroit and personable magician does marvels with scarves and balls and wizard’s wands. Audience volunteers help him make the magic! At the conclusion of his performance, he floats up in the air into a mini-snowstorm: a lovely, magical moment not to be missed. Show times are 9:30am and 11am at the National Theatre. Tickets are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Ikat-Inspired Flower Garden Art – Search the galleries of the Textile Museum for colors and floral designs on a scavenger hunt. Afterward, use markers, colored pencils and paint to create a flower garden inspired by the designs in the Colors of the Oasis exhibition. The free workshop is recommended for ages 4-12. No reservations required, so just show up and have fun.
Puppet Shows for Little Ones – Two Tiny Tots shows will be performed at The Puppet Co. this weekend. Panda-Monium on Saturday and Old MacDonald’s Farm on Sunday. Both start at 10am. Tickets are $5 and available online. Tiny Tots shows are recommended for ages 0-4.
Portrait Story Days: Georgia O’Keefe – Drop in at the National Portrait Gallery to listen to a story about a person who has influenced American history and culture and to create a special piece of art. On Sunday, learn about artist Georgia O’Keeffe from 1pm – 4pm. This is a free program.
Theater Time – Several children’s stage productions are in local theaters, and tickets are still available for some of this weekend’s performances. Check out this post to see what’s playing and how to reserve your seats.
Stories in Art – Alexander Calder will again be the subject for this week’s Stories in Art at the National Gallery. The workshop will start with a reading of “Sophie’s Masterpiece,” a book about a spider and her wondrous creations. From there, the group will explore Calder’s “Spider” and learn to weave their own wire mobiles. Hour-long sessions begin at 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, and 2:30pm. Sign-in will take place in the East Building Atrium, beginning at 11am that day and will continue until all spaces are filled. No admission fee required.