Tag Archives: Washington DC Family Activities

Wicked Fun Ways to Celebrate Halloween Around the DC Area

 

Why wait until the actual day to celebrate one of the best holidays of the year? Besides the bonus of getting extra mileage out of costumes and having more excuses to indulge in sweets, Halloween festivities are a treat any day. And there are gobs of ways to get into the spirit during the days leading up to the grand event. From no-fright fun to cool and creepy thrills, this annual KFDC round-up has all of the details on where and when you and the kids can have a wicked good time around DC and even a bit…beyond.  Happy Halloween!

“Eye Spy” Halloween Trains
Where: Cabin John & Wheaton Regional Parks | Bethesda & Wheaton, MD
When: Saturdays & Sundays, October 2-31
Admission: $6

Hop on board the Halloween Trains! All ages can take a ride through “Trainslyvania” on Montgomery Parks’ Cabin John Miniature Train and the Wheaton Miniature Train.  They’ll run every Saturday and Sunday in October 10am – 6pm, and it’s best to purchase tickets in advance online to guarantee a ride (only a limited amount are available onsite.)

Drive-In “Spooky” Movie Nights
Where: DC Party Box | Rockville, MD
When: Many dates through October
Admission: $15/adult, $10/13 & under

Enjoy Spooktacular theater at this drive-in, featuring an LED screen, FM broadcasting, and spooky surprises. There are two showings each night, a family-friendly film at 6pm and a classic or scary movie 8pm. Different movies are shown every night, so check the website to see what’s playing. A Family Movie Bundle is available that includes 2 adult tickets, 2 child tickets, popcorn, drinks, and priority parking. Reserve in advance online, one reservation per car.

Witchwartsmith’s Halloween Spooktacular
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: Thurs-Fri, 10:30am |Sat-Sun, 11:30am & 1pm
Admission: $15/age 2+

The wonderful Puppet Co. has reopened and just in time for Halloween! Witch Wartsmith (the sister of Witch Wartsmith from our Legacy show Rapunzel,) hosts the annual Halloween Spooktacular and you get to vote on the winner! Part contemporary competition show, part vintage telethon, and part punpalooza, this spooky variety show will tickle your funny bone. Don’t miss this year’s performances, because some contestants will change year to year!

Howl-O-Ween
Where: Great Wolf Lodge | Williamnsburg, VA
When:  October 1-31
Admission: Rates vary

Enjoy a Halloween-themed family getaway to Great Wolf Lodge, where there will be spooktacular fun all month. Kids and parents alike can enjoy special activities including a Trick-or-Treat Trail, Howl-O-Ween House, Costume Parade, Monster Bash Dance Party, Spooktacular Story Time, and much more. This, plus the ongoing fun and indoor waterpark will make for an extra special and spooky Halloween! Read more about Great Wolf Lodge in this KFDC post.

Halloween Movies on the Potomac
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: Sundays through October
Admission: Free
Throughout October, National Harbor will be screening Halloween-inspired films for their Movies on the Potomac series. They are shown every Sunday from 4-6pm, and all are welcome to grab food (or not) from one of the many eateries and head to the Plaza to enjoy the free showing. Here’s the line-up: October 3: Nightmare Before Christmas, October 10: Casper, October 17: Addams Family, October 24: Hocus Pocus, October 31: Goosebumps.

Pumpkins & Pours
Where: West Grove Urban Park | Chevy Chase, MD
When: October 16, 4-8pm
Admission: Free

There’s something for the kids and adults at this event! Local craft beer, pumpkins, pizza, and more will be part of the festivities at this event to in the fall and Halloween spirit. Join for drinks from 7 Locks Brewing, delicious food from Flame and Cones Food Truck, and while you’re at it, grab a FREE pumpkin from Maynes Tree Farm and get decorating. Lawn games and picnic seating will also be available to make an afternoon and evening of it. All ages are welcome, so bring the whole fam!

Soul Strolls
Where: Congressional Cemetery | Capitol Hill, DC
When: October 16-17 & 23-24
Admission: $35/adult, $15/child

Trespass into the past and discover the secrets of some of Congressional Cemetery’s “residents.” Soul Strolls, the Cemetery’s annual twilight tours, explore the stories of individuals buried here through guided tours and costumed interpreters. Experience the history of this hallowed ground exactly the way it should be experienced in October – in twilight and darkness, happening upon vignettes and individuals under the guidance of one of our “Dozen Decent Docents.” Hour-long tours depart every 15 minutes 7-10pm on Fridays, and 6-10pm on Saturdays.

Meet some of the souls of Congressional Cemetery

PumpkinPalooza
Where: Alethia Tanner Park | NoMa, DC
When: October 28, 4-8pm
Admission: Free

NoMa’s free annual community-wide celebration of Halloween returns to in-person this year with live entertainment, free food, music, a seasonal scavenger hunt, and, of course, free “pick-your-own” pumpkin patch! This year’s event also includes a kids’ costume contest with amazing prizes and a special performance by the award-winning children’s entertainer, The Great Zucchini. Capping off the celebration is a special showing of everyone’s favorite Halloween movie, Hocus Pocus from 6:30–8pm. Registration is encouraged to confirm your free pumpkin.

Mystery Mansion and Bonfire Bash
Where: Woman’s Club of Chevy Chase | Chevy Chase, MD
When: October 22-23 & 29-30, 5-9pm
Admission: $5-15

This Halloween experience for the entire family has it all — a Haunted House, Bonfire Bash, Pumpkin Patch, and Costume Shop. The Bonfire Bash will feature live entertainment, food sales, outdoor Halloween movies, photo backdrops, and fire pits with s’mores. A hay bale maze and spooky surprises will add to the festival atmosphere. The Women’s Club of Chevy Chase is locate at 7931 Connecticut Ave.

Glow in the Park
Where: Adventure Park at Sandy Spring | Sandy Spring, MD
When: October 29-30
Admission: $42

Celebrate in the trees at a special Halloween themed night of climbing under the stars, complete with neon colored lights and lively music!  Wear your costume (just make sure it’s comfortable & safe to climb in, no capes or masks). Start times will be available every 10 minutes between 6pm & 8:20pm, and tickets are good for two hours of climbing & ziplining + 40 minutes for the safety briefing and getting geared up. Online reservations are highly recommend, as this event tends to sell out. Ages 5 & up are welcome!

Halloween Toddler Time
Where: B&O Railroad Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: October 21, 10:30am
Admission: $20/adult, $12/age 2-12

Bring little ones in costume for this spooktacular session of Toddler Time, as the B&) celebrate the end of this year’s program Halloween-style. Featuring festive fun, hear a reading of The Spooky Express Maryland by Eric James, before joining a trick-or-treating parade around the Museum’s campus.

Scarea 51: Haunted Car Wash Experience
Where: Splash In ECO Car Wash | Clinton, MD
When: OCtober 21-24 & 28-31, 6-10pm
Admission: $29

“Scarea 51” is a Prince George’s County first! Haunted car washes are a trend coming out of the pandemic and are created to provide car owners and their families with a socially distanced haunted house experience — all while getting their car scary clean. Splash In’s custom-designed experience of surprising and startling moments is sure to deliver an evening of family-fun and spooky (splashy) scares. Splash In is located at 7509 Old Branch Avenue in Clinton, MD.

Howl-O-Ween
Where: Gateway Interim Dog Park | Rosslyn, VA
When: October 22, 3-7pm
Admission: Free

The Rosslyn BID and the Rosslyn Dog Owners Group are teaming up for a Halloween themed celebration of Rosslyn’s new Interim Dog Park at Gateway Park West! Rosslyn’s pet community is invited to enjoy local pet-themed vendors, speakers, a social media dog costume contest and giveaways. After the event, all guests (humans & dogs) are encouraged to walk over to Gateway Park East to enjoy onsite food and drinks beginning at 5pm for Rosslyn Cinema.

Halloween at DPR
Where: Multiple DPR locations around DC
When: October 22-31
Admission: Free

It’s Halloween in DC, and the Separtment of Pars and Rec is hosting events in all eight wards to celebrate. Enjoy a family Halloween movie, pick up a costume accessory kit, join a boos and ghouls parade, tour a House of Horrors, play some Halloween tennis, and much more. Visit the website to see where all the spooky fun is happening and sign up to attend!

Halloween in the Garden
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Solomons, MD
When: October 23, 10am – 4pm
Admission: $2

Dress the whole family and enjoy a day of trick-or-treating, art activities, and more!  Timed-entry tickets and activities spread out across the park’s 30 acres will make this a fun and safe event.  More than 50 local businesses and organizations will be here handing out treats for the kids, plus there will be fun and games, a DJ dance party, food trucks, and lots of other festivities.  Masks are required for all guests over the age of 2 (more safety info here).  Read more about Annmarie here and here.

Spooky Pooch Howl-o-ween Celebration
Where: Hillwood Museum & Gardens | Northwest DC
When: October 23, 3-5pm
Admission: $13/adult, $8/member $5/age 6-18, free/under 6

Hillwood’s Halloween event for pooches (and their people) is back!  Bring your “best friend” for Halloween fun — explore Hillwood’s 25 acres of landscaped gardens and lush natural woodlands with your four-legged friend, while enjoying a costume competition and yappy hour.  Interesting tidbit:  This event is inspired by Marjorie Post’s affection for dogs and the memorial dog cemetery she created.

Haunted Tales: The Online Halloween Scavenger Hunt for Kids
Where: Online | Watson Adventures
When: October 23 & 30, 6-7pm
Admission: $19

Are you prepared to Zoom with ghosts? Kids and adults team up to explore real places that are said to be haunted, and you’ll learn the tales of the ghosts who linger there. You’ll follow a trail of clues across eerie websites, in search of answers to tricky questions. Ghost-plagued places include the Hollywood Hotel where Marilyn Monroe and other celeb ghosts haven’t checked out; the White House in search of presidential ghosts, and the Salem Witch Trial Memorial where you’ll learn the chilling fate of Giles Corey, just to name a few. For ages 10 and up. No previous knowledge is required. Teams of up to six can play together or remotely, and each team must have one adult.

Día de los Muertos
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: October 24, 2-5pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the Day of the Dead at The Wharf! Head to the District Pier for a free afternoon of activities, including live music, street food, a beer garden, and more. If the season has your creative juices flowing, decorate a sugar skull or get your face painted!  Read more about The Wharf.

Bethesda Row Trick or Treat
Where: Bethesda Row | Downtown Bethesda, MD
When: October 27, 5-7pm
Admission: $5

Bring all the little ghosts and goblins and other cute costumed kids to Bethesda Row for an early trick or treating experience and some retail scare-apy! Tickets are required, and all proceeds will go to the Capital Area Food Bank.

Air & Scare Outside
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center | Chantilly, VA
When: October 30
Admission: Free

The annual Air & Scare event at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center will be back this year and taking place outdoors with lots of fun festivities: Trick or treat stations with free candy and snacks; creepy crafts, spooky experiments, and other Hallloween-themed activities; special story times and puppet shows for the youngest Halloween revelers; photo ops with your favorite Star Wars characters; and a chance to enter a costume contest to win sweet prizes (get all the details and rules).   For those who aren’t comfortable going to the event in person,  there are be digital treats to enjoy, too.

Día de los Muertos Virtual Family Celebration
Where: Online | American Art Museum
When: October 30, 10-11am
Admission: Free

Celebrate Día de los Muertos online with Ballet Folklórico Mi Herencia Mexicana and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. There will be fun for the whole family during the virtual performance. Watch as ballet group demonstrates several Mexican folk dances including El Toro Viejo from Sinaloa and the popular, El Son de La Negra from Jalisco. Learn more about Día de los Muertos as the dancers perform and explain the history behind their dance traditions.

17th Street High Heel Race
Where: 17th Street NW, btwn P & S | Dupont Circle, DC
When: October 26, 9pm
Admission: Free

The High Heel Race is a 30+ year DC tradition, with a rich history of “Crossing The Line Since 1986.” On the Tuesday before Halloween, thousands of spectators pack the Dupont Circle Neighborhood to watch hundreds of costumed drag queens show off their extravagant outfits and race down Historic 17th Street, NW. There’s also live entertainment, a parade, and more festive fun!  The race begins at 9pm, but people start gathering at 6pm.

Día de los Muertos | Day of the Dead Festival
Where: Online | National Museum of the American Indian
When: October 28
Admission: Free

The museum’s annual Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration will be online again this year. In recorded presentations by two renowned Mexican families, the program will showcase two traditions central to Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos): The art of making figures from sugar and papier-mâché. These two presentations will take place in Spanish.

Hill-O-Ween
Where: Eastern Market | Capitol Hill, DC
When: October 29
Admission: Free
Capitol Hill’s annual neighborhood event that is legendary for little ones will be back this year! Details are still to come, but for past events the block of 7th Street SE next to Eastern Market is closed to traffic for one of the best community Halloween celebrations in the city. There have been moon bounces, goody giveaways, wagon rides, face painting, and more exciting festivities (this is very likely to change this year). The best part is seeing the masses of jubilant kids in all kinds of costumes indulging in the extravaganza.

BOO-Thru
Where: 3 Locations in PG County, MD (see below)
When: October 29, 6:30-8:30pm
Admission: Free

From the safety of your vehicle, enjoy touring through a unique holiday themed drive-thru (or a spooky themed trail with lots of scenes to view)! This will take place at three locations in PG County: Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro, Cosca Regional Park in Clinton, and Glenn Dale Community Center. Children will receive a goody bag, a pumpkin (while supplies last), and more! T Please register your vehicle for the event, not each participant. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis and will be limited to the first 500 registered vehicles (sign up through links).

Halloween Night Hunt with Sweets
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: October 29-31
Admission: $50

Celebrate the BOO season on a zany treasure hunt at one of the neatest places in the city.  Dress in costume, pick up your complimentary bag of Trick or Treat candy, and have a spooktacular time exploring the 100 room Mansion — decorated special for Halloween. Look for some of the 70 secret doors — be warned they are tricky to find! — and check out the eclectic collection of secondhand items, all of them for sale.  Learn more about the Mansion on O Street here.

Howl-O-Ween
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: October 30, 9:30-11am
Admission: Free

The Hirshhorn is hosting its first-ever dog-friendly event, just in time for Halloween! Join with (or without) your dog for a morning of costumes and coffee in the Hirshhorn’s outdoor Sculpture Garden. Dress up your pup, and if they’re feeling fierce, sign them up to strut their stuff in a furry fashion contest ($25 to register, free for Hirshhorn Insiders) for the chance to win a few special prizes. Local experts District Dogs will be there to keep the dog party going with free activities like peanut butter portraits. This event is open to all ages, and kids are encouraged to join in on the fun with Hirshhorn-inspired creative projects geared toward little artists.

Haunted Halloween Hunt
Where: Tudor Place | Georgetown, DC
When: October 30, 10-11am
Admission: $15/non-member, $10/member, $5/adult

Experience Halloween at Tudor Place with a spooky one-of-a-kind scavenger hunt. Wear your costume and join with your friends and family. Create a creepy craft to take home, then explore our garden to discover bats, spiders and other outdoor Halloween secrets. Scavenger hunt finishers will receive a special prize. Recommended for ages 7–12. Capacity is limited, so reserve tickets in advance.

Family Day Piano Show
Where: Bobby McKey’s | National Harbor, MD
When: October 30, 4-6pm
Admission:

It’s a Family Show at Bobby McKey’s on Halloween weekend, so it’s likely to celebarte the spooky season, too (ie, go ahead and dress up!)Head down to the National Harbor for 2 hours of all request live piano music, plus food and drinks, and of course encouragement of singing along and wiggling in your seats! Bar is open for non-driving parents.​

Trick-or-Treating at Mount Vernon
Where: Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens | Mount Vernon, VA
When: October 30, 2-6pm
Admission: $17-25/adult, $9-15/child

Trick-or-treat at Mount Vernon as George Washington’s estate open its gates for Halloween fun and spook-tacular activities. Along with collecting candy around the historic grounds,  enjoy live entertainment, check out a chocolate-making demo (and get a taste!), watch sparks fly in the Blacksmith Shop, learn about wool carding and spies, stop at selfie station, and more!

Nightmare on Elm Street Urban Park
Where: Elm Street Urban Park | Bethesda, MD
When: October 30, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

You won’t find Freddy Kreuger there, but Montgomery Parks’ FREE Nightmare on Elm Street Halloween event at Elm Street Urban Park will have spooky, silly fun for everyone! Go on a “Trick or Treat Trails” scavenger hunt, play lawn games, enjoy clices and scoops from O’Boy Pizza & Ice Cream, get into the spooky groove with a Halloween DJ. There will be also be lots of Halloween props and decorations for snapping pic and plenty of picnic seating.

Halloween Spooktacular
Where: The St. James | Springfield, DC
When: October 30
Admission: $15, $10/members, free/2 & under

The St. James is hosting a fun-filled, safe Halloween evening. BYO blanket for socially-distanced family movie night in Field House. Guests cal also join for trick-or-treating, a costume contest, pizza, popcorn, and more. Additional food, plus beer and wine for adults, will also be available for purchase. Read more about The St. James here.

Best in Show at The Boro
Where: The Boro | Tysons, VA
When: October 30, 1-3pm
Admission: Free

Join The Boro for the ultimate dog costume contest at Boro Park! Pets will be able to strut the doggy catwalk and pose for judges with one winner crowned “Best in Show”. The top three looks will take home a prize-packed doggy gift basket. Don’t have a dog? Join anyway for some fall family fun! The spooktacular day will be filled with trick-or-treating, games, and Halloween crafts. It is guaranteed to be a paws-itively wonderful day! Free, but registration required.

Halloween Carnival
Where: Community Center | Falls Church, VA
When: October 30, 6-8:30pm
Admission: $2/children ages 2 and up (adults free)

The City of Falls Church has been hosting the annual Halloween Carnival for over 30 years, welcoming babies through elementary-aged kids to enjoy all kinds of fun activities.  More details for this year’s event to come soon, but it will all take place outdoors.

Halloween Mystery at the Cabin
Where: Riverbend Park | McLean, VA
When: October 30
Admission: $10

Can you solve the history mystery at Riverbend Park? Meet people of the past and discover their secrets to uncover the mysteries along the Potomac on a walk through the woods. A sweet treat will reward your success. The program runs from 3:15-4:30pm, 4:45-6pm, and 6:15-7:30pm.

Family Dance Party
Where: Hi-Lawn @ Union Market | Northeast DC
When: October 31, 11-1pm
Admission: $10

The Rumpus Room, DC’s only daytime dance party for families, returns for Halloween! They’ll be getting (slightly) spooky outdoors under the sun, so put on your costumes and go boogie! Get ready for dance floor filled with little ghosts, goblins, witches, dragons, and pumpkins of all ages. Adults can relive their night-life glory days and show off those rusty moves with little ones in tow. The soundtrack for the day will be a family-friendly mix of dance floor and Halloween classics, all at a kid-friendly volume. Use promo code SPOOKYSEASON for an early bird discount (limited time only).

Pumpkin Chunkin’
Where: Great Country Farm | Bluemont, VA
When: November 1-2 & 6-7
Admission: $16/adult, $14/child

Continue the Halloween fun after the holiday!  Bring your leftover jack-o-lantern to Great Country’s smashin’ station and let it fly! The Silo Drop and the Zip Wire Sploosh let you do the smashin’ yourself or opt for the Pumpkin Drop Zone and add it to the upside down “fireworks display” as  pumpkins are dropped from a 40-foot lift — so fun to watch! (What happens to all those smashed pumpkins? The pigs and cows love to eat them and GCF composts the rest.) There will also be live music, marshmallow roasting, and cider press demos, plus The Roosteraunt concession stand will be open. Of course, plan to enjoy the farm’s playground, full of fun, too!

Fall Festivals
Where: Around the DMV
When: Through early November
Admission: Varies by locale

Many of the fall festivals around the area incorporate Halloween fun into their offerings. Pick out potential jack-o-lanterns, do Halloween-themed crafts, go on rides, and more. See a list of seasonal celebrations here.

 

Step right up for some haunted fun

HAUNTED (SCARIER) EXPERIENCES

Fields of Fear
Where: Cox Farms | Centreville, VA
When: Fridays & Saturday through November 6
Admission: $20-35 (purchase in advance online)

When night falls on Cox Farms, it’s time for Fields of Fear — for ages 12 and up! The Dark Side Hayride feature The Lost Circus, a circus abandoned in the early 1900s that now comes to life when the living approach. The friendly Imaginature Trail takes a dark turn for Fields of Fear, transforming into The Forest: Back 40, which consists of half a mile of fear. The Forest joins two other haunted attractions at Fields of Fear, the Dark Side Hayride and the Cornightmare. The Firegrounds feature several bonfires, a six-lane slide, music, karaoke, entertainment, tasty treats, Foamhenge, and more!

Shocktober
Where: Paxton House | Leesburg, VA
When: October 1-30
Admission: $40-60 

Paxton Manor is Northern Virginia’s only REAL Haunted House. Brand new this year, the first 3 levels of the haunted manor have turned into Paxton Hall, a horrifying and haunted boarding school. Encounter new characters, including rebellious students and frightening teachers, as you unravel the dark and mysterious past of Paxton Hall. The haunt also includes Carnival of Souls, the basement of Paxton Manor, an attraction full of creepy clowns and carnival carnage. These haunted attractions are not for the faint of heart; this annual event is PG-13 Scary Fun.

Fright Fest
Where: Six Flags America | Upper Marlboro, MD
When: Select days through October 31
Admission: $43+

Fright Fest is back at Six Flags America. It’s a spooky time of year as zombies and ghouls take over the park. Enjoy thrills and activities for the whole family throughout the day and go back for a truly frightening evening of fun after the sun goes down. Fright Fest offers a wide variety of places to get your scare on, including several haunted houses and scare zones located throughout the park. The stuff of nightmares lurk around every corner as the dark of night washes over the park. The ghouls are set free for their daily hunting rituals.

Laurel’s House of Horror
Where: Laurel, MD
When: October 1 – November 6
Admission: $25 and up

We all enjoyed this creepy and fun haunted experience.  Built inside an abandoned movie theater, it’s sensory overload with a lot to look at and listen to and several good jump scares.  There’s always chilling sense of anticipation as you get ready to round the next corner. There are also escape rooms open all year during the weekends, and for private parties and special dates. Recommended for ages 10 and up.

A neighborhood yard transformed for the holiday

Halloween Decor
Getting into the spooky spirit at home can be just as fun as going out for it! Elevate the experience for your fam and neighbors by decorating the front yard and adding some festive accessories inside. Here are quick links to find Halloween supplies to help with that:
Amazon
Michael’s
Target
Home Depot
World Market

 

Did I leave out any good events? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Filed under 2021, All ages, DC, Halloween, Maryland, Virginia

Scenes from a Pop-In at the National Postal Museum

 

The National Postal Museum just reopened in late August for the first time since March 2020, the last of the DC Smithsonians to once again welcome visitors.  I was running an errand nearby yesterday, so I decided to pop in for a little museum fix and see what is/isn’t currently on view, and to enjoy what I think is one of the most stunning spaces in the city.

The museum is in the Postal Square Building, which was DC’s main post office from 1914 to 1986

I’ve always recommended the museum as a particularly great one to visit with young children.  Located in the Postal Square Building between Union Station and North Capitol Street, it doesn’t draw the big crowds that its Smithsonian counterparts on the Mall often do, which is especially nice right now.  And the space isn’t huge, making it easy to explore with little ones.   That said, it’s appealing to all ages and fantastic to visit without kids, too, like I just did…

Mailboxes from around the world

 

Since there’s already a whole KFDC write-up about the museum,  this post of scenes is really just a reminder that it’s open again and a strong recommendation to go, plus a quick update of what’s on display and some highlights. The Pony Express area is closed, but most other exhibits are currently open.  You can digitally design a stamp and start a collection in the Stamp Gallery,  learn how the post office serves cities and  scan and sort mail, read letters sent to and from soldiers in WWI, and go Behind the Badge to explore the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.  And the lofty atrium featuring airmail planes, mail trucks, a train car, a horse & buggy, the trailer of a semi that you can climb aboard, and other large-scale modes of mail transport is as stunning as ever.

The National Postal Museum
Where: 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE | Union Station Area, DC
When: Friday – Tuesday, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free
COVID Guidelines

 

Click for larger images…

The first glimpse of the atrium

 

The Stamp Gallery is located on the Main Floor of the building

 

Stamps available to start collection

 

Design your own digital stamp

 

Learn about the U.S. Postal Inspection Service

 

An old Ford Model A mail truck

 

A modern one

 

And a trailer of a semi mail carrier that you can sit in

 

View from the inside

 

A digital image and transcription of a moving letter from WWI

 

Scanning (pretend) mail is one of many hands-on ops

 

Wes Anderson vibes?

 

A last look at the space

 

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Filed under All ages, DC, Museums, Reopened, Weekdays, Weekend

The 2021 County Fair Season Around the DC Area

 

Where do you get carnival rides and games, farm animals, the junk food gamut, live entertainment, pony rides, piglet races, and wares for sale all in once place? Down at the county fair. The season for them runs from early August through mid-September, and you can get the lowdown on this year’s events around the area below. Happy Fairin’!

Howard County Fair
The 75th annual fair begins this coming weekend, and you have through next Saturday to enjoy rides, magic shows, musical entertainment in the evenings, pig races and pony rides, the Kids & Critters barn, Demolition Derby, a pro rodeo, and more. Most of the rides cost extra, and packages are available, so be sure to check out the website to see what’s available if you plan to go.
When: August 7-14, 9:30am – 11pm daily, though activity times vary, so be sure to check schedules.
Where: 2210 Fairground Road | West Friendship, MD
Cost: Admission is $5-7/age 10+, $3/seniors, free/under 10. Rides and games are extra.

Montgomery County Fair
This fair is a family fave. (You can get a glimpse of one of our experiences there and read a review from a few years ago), so trust me when I say that there is so much to do, you have to see the schedule on the website for yourself to get the full scope. Highlights include lots of 4-H exhibits and demos, including opportunities to visit with some of the animals; animal races, pony rides, a KidZone with interactive games and activities, tons of carnival and kiddie rides, arts & crafts, monster trucks and a demolition derby, and much more.
When: August 13-21, times vary by day so check the schedule for specifics.
Where: Montgomery County Fairgrounds | 501 Perry Parkway, Gaithersburg, MD.
Cost: Admission is $12/advance $15/at gate for age 12+, free/11 & under. Tickets for rides cost extra. A one-day all-u-can-ride carnival wristband is available for $20/online until 8/14, $30/on site. And note that parking is $10 at the fairgrounds, but FREE parking and shuttle bus service are available from Lakeforest Mall, located at Lost Knife Rd. and Odenhal Ave.

Prince William County Fair
Virginia’s largest annual county fair includes 4-H exhibits, rides, contests (think pie eating and water balloon tossing), animal shows, craft demos, the Children’s Barn, Kid’s Zone, live performances, and more. Note that August 9 is Kid’s Friday when all admissions are $6. And there are other special days with all kinds of promos, so be sure to check the schedule for details.
When: August 13-21, Hours vary by day, so check the daily schedules.
Where: Prince William County Fairgrounds | 10624 Dumfries, Manassas, VA.
Cost: Admission is $8-12/age 14-59, $7-8/seniors and age 5-13, free/4 & under. Look for package deals and daily specials, too!

Arlington County Fair
We’ve been to this fair and have had a great time. It’s big enough for a fun-filled day, but not so huge that it’s overwhelming, and you feel rushed to get to everything. There are carnival rides for everyone from toddlers to adults, and the kids especially loved the pony rides and piglet races. You can also check out competitive exhibits, enjoy live entertainment, cheer on a variety of racing animals, view outdoor movies, and take little ones to the Kids’ Court for moon bouncing, face painting, a beer garden for adults, and more.
When: August 18-22, hours vary by day, so check the schedule for specifics.
Where: Thomas Jefferson Community Center | 3501 Second St., Arlington, VA. Get parking/shuttle information here.
Cost: Admission is FREE. But, of course, you need to buy tickets for rides and other activities: $1/ticket, $20/24 tickets, $40/48 tickets. There is an online special of 72 ride tickets for $55.

Prince George’s County Fair
A variety of entertainment and attractions for all ages — 4-H exhibits magic and dance shows, pig and duck races, a horse pull competition, a chain saw artist, a K-9 show, and much more.
When: September 9-12, hours vary by day.
Where: Showplace Arena | Upper Marlboro, MD.
Cost: Admission is $6/age 12+, $5/age 6-11, free/5 & under. Rides and games are extra.

Anne Arundel County Fair
Carnival rides and games, animal exhibits, monster trucks, pony rides, garden tractor pulls, pig races, pie eating contests, a talent show, live music and much more
When: September 15-19, check the website for hours.
Where: Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds | 1450 General’s Highway, Crownsville, MD
Cost: Admission is $10/age 9+,free/8 & under. Rides and games cost extra.

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Filed under 2021, All ages, DC, Maryland, Virginia

The 2021 KFDC Guide to Summer Around the DC Area

 

 

 

 

This annual guide to summer fun around the DC area has always been one of my favorite posts to put together for a couple of reasons:  It reflects that awesome shift from structured days to carefree time.  Plus, it’s a reminder of how much fun summer is around the area.  And even though the guide isn’t quite as robust as previous years — some activities and events are still on hold — the joys of summer are still abundant, from water-inspired fun to movies in the open air to special exhibits to seasonal programs, and so much more.

Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial start of summer, so bookmark this post and start making plans. The 2021 KFDC Guide to the Best of Summer Around the DC Area has details and inspiration to help you get going.  Happy Summer!

* * * * *

Play in the Sprays
Outdoor Pool Season
Beaches
Waterparks
Big Screen Under the Stars
Summer Concerts
Festivals
Seasonal Exhibits
Entertainment
Mini Trains, Carousels, Mini Golf, & a Ferris Wheel
Summer Sports
Crab Feasts
Seasonal Experiences

Water features and fun will be back ON at The Yards!

PLAY IN THE SPRAYS
Most spray parks will be back this summer!  Kids can run through fountains and splash around at many of them around the area. Several are within the DC, MD, & VA Departments of Parks and Recreation, but some of the best are built right into the urban landscape, making the concrete jungle a cool place to hang out during the hottest months. Dates are TBD at some, but look for updates soon!

DC DPR Spray Parks will be open for the season daily starting Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 29, through September 6, 10am – 8pm. Find locations and see them all on a map on the DPR website.

The Yards Park in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood is a favorite for water play in the city with two levels featuring Dancing Fountains up top and the Canal Basin and Waterfall below, plus a great scenic location on the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard. (Opening date to come!) Grassy areas for hanging out and lots of nearby eateries make it a perfect place to spend a summer day. Read more about the water features at The Yards here.

Georgetown Waterfront Park, right next to the Washington Harbour, has a fountain with arcing sprays that makes for a fun, refreshing way to cool off on a hot, summer day. It’s run by the National Park Service, but I heard from the Georgetown BID that it’s supposed to open this summer, but still awaiting word on when.  The rest of the park’s pretty green space along the Potomac is a nice, relaxing place to hang out, too.

Canal Park in the Navy Yard is great for kids of varying ages with both a gentle, shallow fountain that is ideal for really little ones to enjoy, plus a bigger fountain with lots of sprays for more enthusiastic play where the ice rink is in the winter.

Lyon Village Park, Hayes Park, Virginia Highlands Park, and Drew Park, some of the area’s most popular spray parks, can be found in Arlington along with Penrose Square, which has an in-ground interactive fountain.

There’s an in-ground fountain on Capitol Hill at the C Street Plaza right across from Eastern Market. On most weekday afternoons, there’s a small crowd of little ones playing in the gentle sprays.

 

That first jump into summer fun

OUTDOOR POOL SEASON
Nothing says summer like swimming under the sun, and there are plenty of public pools in the area where you can jump in for free or a small admission fee.

DC outdoor public pools will reopen at full capacity on Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 29. Days and hours vary from pool to pool so be sure to check the schedules before you go.  They will be open weekend  only thorough June 27  10am – 6pm (and on Memorial Day, May 31).  Starting Monday, June 28, pools will open six days a week 10am – 6pm.  Locations and a map are on the linked DPR website. Admission is free for DC residents.

For outdoor swimming outside of the city, Montgomery County outdoor public pools will release pool hours and schedules for the 2021 season on Saturday, May 29. Check the Department of Recreation for those details.

In Northern Virginia, Arlington’s Upton Hill has a whole water park for guests to enjoy, and Alexandria has several places where the public is welcome to swim — check the City of Alexandria website for hours, as they vary by pool. But note that all outdoor public pools will open June 26.

 Swimply, an online service that started last year, lets you search for private pools to rent. You can find pools at residences all over and pay to use them by the hour.

 

Day trip to Cape Henlopen State Park… worth every second of the drive there

BEACHES
Summer and beach trips go hand-in-hand, so why not hit one with the kids? There are a bunch of places where you can get a nice dose of sand and surf that are within day trip-distance from DC.

Calvert Cliffs State Park in Calvert County is well known as a fossil hunting locale — as its cliffs erode, prehistoric remains of marine life are revealed — but it’s even better for beach fun, swimming, and hiking. To access the beach, you have to hike a couple of miles through woods (and there are even more trails if you’re up for it), but the walk is worth it for some quintessential summer fun. Open daily sunrise – sunset, and admission is $8/vehicle.

Also in Calvert County,  Flag Ponds Nature Park has a large sandy beach for playing and nice mellow waters for swimming.  It’s also a great spot for fossil hunting — look for shark teeth and other prehistoric remnants along the shores while you’re there, too.  Hours are 9am – 6pm on weekdays and 9am – 8pm weekends from Memorial to Labor Day. Admission is $8/car. Be sure to read more about Flag Ponds for tips and get a glimpse here and here

Enjoy views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge from the beach at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis. At nearly 800 acres, it’s a big beach park with lots of recreational opportunities — swimming, picnicking, fishing, crabbing, hiking, and more. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, there are lifeguards on duty. And snack food and beach and picnic supplies are available. Hours are 6am – sunset. From May 1 through September, admission is $5/Maryland resident, $7/non-resident on weekend, and $4/ Maryland resident, $6/non-resident on weekdays.

The beach is narrow, and you’re on a river, but you still get sand and water at the Purse area within the Nanjemoy Wildlife Management Area in Charles County, MD. This is best if your main purpose is fossil hunting — it’s a great place to go for it — and you want to get in some “beach” time, too. Wear swimsuits, bring a picnic, and be sure to check the tide table so you can make the most of your time there. Open sunrise to sunset, and admission is free.

Mayo Beach Park in Anne Arundel County is open for swimming in summer to enjoy some sand and surf. Passes to access the beach park must be reserved in advance.  Be sure to know other beach rules like no grills or dogs allowed. Open Memorial Day – Labor Day on Friday 4-7pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am – 7pm. Admission is

Cape Henlopen State Park is a little over two hours from DC in Lewes, DE, but still doable as a day trip if you leave early, especially on a weekday when there is less traffic. We’ve done this and have had a fantastic day at the beach — packed up the car with a cooler and beach gear, got on the road early, and we were on the beach by 10:30am. Enjoyed dinner outdoors and ice cream in town before heading back, arrived home at 9:15pm. Totally worth the time in the car. Open daily, 8am – sunset, and admission is $8-10/vehicle.

On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, you can reserve a beach spot at Dirty Dave’s Tiki Bar on Kent Island.  Don’t let the name fool ya, it’s family-friendly and very fun.  The beach is right behind Kentmorr, the excellent crab house,  so if you plan well, you can make a day of it there with some beach time and a crab feast!  Or you can just hang and enjoy fare from Dave’s. Be sure to read details — pricing, hours, rules, etc. — on the website.

They may not all be beaches, but this round-up of swim spots has a bunch more recommendations for places to take a dip around DC and within day trip distance.

 

Make splash at Soak City in Kings Dominion

Make a splash at Soak City in Kings Dominion

WATERPARKS
Giant water slides, wave pools, waterfalls, sprays and splash pads…this is the stuff kids’ summer dreams are made of. There are some great water parks around the area offering many of these attractions, just about all of them opening Memorial Day weekend for limited hours, until they open daily a few weeks later. Here’s a quick list — visit the websites for more details.

* Ocean Dunes Waterpark at Upton Hill in Arlington, VA
* Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro, MD
* Great Waves at Cameron Run in Alexandria, VA
* The Water Park at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg, MD
* Atlantis Water Park at Bull Run in Centreville, VA
* Pirate’s Cove Waterpark in Lorton, VA
* Volcano Island Waterpark in Sterling, VA
* Splash Down Water Park in Manassas, VA
* Chesapeake Beach Water Park
* Soak City Water Park at Kings Dominion in Doswell, VA
* Water Country USA at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA

 

Sit back, relax, and enjoy a film outdoors at the Union Market Drive-in

BIG SCREEN UNDER THE STARS
Outdoor movies have become a DC summer tradition in the last few years with films al fresco in several neighborhoods. And during the past Covid year, more drive-ins popped up to allow for social distancing, some of the continuing this season.  (*Before you make plans to enjoy any of the series, be sure to check schedules, as some movies may not be appropriate for children.)

The Alexandria Drive-In Movie is a fun way to enjoy some outside entertainment with the fam.  Movies are shown on the big outdoor screen on Friday and Saturday nights at 8pm at least through June. Food trucks are there offering savory and sweet concessions with online ordering through Goodfynd! Purchase movie tickets in advance! Admission if $40/acr

Catch a flick on the big screen from the comfort of your car at the Union Market Drive-In Series, occurring monthly on Fridays throughout the summer, with several family-friendly films in the mix. This year, they are are skipping the dramas in favor of action, comedy and cult classics. Get there as early as 6pm and have a bite to eat in the Market or bring food back to your car. The film starts at 8:30pm. Admission is $10/car, free for walk-ins. Advance purchase is recommended. Runs monthly through October.

Every Tuesday in June at 8:30pm, catch Downtown DC Summer Flicks — Can I Kick It? on the west lawn of the National Building Museum.  With “The Future” as its theme, weekly screenings will travel through time and space.  And each film will be scored with an original music soundtrack of hip-hop, soul, and more mixed by weekly guest DJs, including Shaolin Jazz’s own DJ 2-Tone Jones.

The Bowie Baysox and Prince George County organizations are presenting Drive-In Movies at Prince George’s Stadium. Starting June 4, the program will run Fridays through the month.  Admission is $30/vehicle, and tickets must be purchased in advance.

On Thursdays throughout the summer, Sunset Cinema at The Wharf will feature a variety of classic on the 20′ LED screen on Transit Pier. The series is free, but you must reserve a ticket, which includes seats for up to six people. Each movie starts at 8pm with seating available beginning at 7:30pm.  BYO food from restaurants at The Wharf, but drinks (both hard and soft) must be purchased from Cantina Bambina.

National Harbor’s Movies on the Potomac series will run on Thursdays at 7pm in June.  Pack your chairs, grab food to go from one of the many eateries, and meet at the Plaza’s big screen for a FREE evening of fun and entertainment.

Enjoy Summer in the Parks at the Rock Creek Carter Baron Amphitheater! Join the fun and entertainment on Thursday evenings in June, starting at 5pm, for music from DJ Lance Reynolds, food trucks, and themed activities.

Join the Rosslyn BID this summer for the Rosslyn Cinema Series to enjoy your favorite movies on the lawn in Gateway Park on Fridays in June!

Moonlit Movies: Flashback Fridays, presented by the City of Greenbelt and Old Greenbelt Theatre, feature nostalgic favorites on Braden Field, behind the Youth Center. Reserve a 10-foot circle for up to 5 people for $25.  Pre-order concessions from the movie theater, follow the link above. Contactless pick-up at the movie theater will be available before each showing.

The Library of Congress will host its fourth annual “LOC Summer Movies on the Lawn” outdoor film festival. The series of five movies will be presented on Thursday evenings at sundown from July 8 to August 5 on the north lawn of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, across the street from the U.S. Capitol.

Adams Morgan Movie Nights will present free films every Monday evening from July 12 – August 9. Movies, all with a “Made in DC” theme, are shown about 30 minutes after sunset at the Marie Reed Recreation Center’s soccer field at 18th and California Streets, NW. Restaurants in the neighborhood will be offering special takeout meals that attendees can bring to the field.

 

A past US Air Force Band concert at an iconic DC spot

SUMMER CONCERTS
Free music in the fresh air has become a staple of the season, and there are opportunities to enjoy just about every genre regularly at outdoor venues all around the DC-Metro.

The Kennedy’s Center’s Millennium Stage is back with free outdoor performances on Thursdays – Saturdays from May 27 through October 2.  On The REACH plaza, there will be films, live shows, arts vendors, dance and yoga lessons, plus food and drinks for sale at Victura Park!  Register in advance.

Jammin Java’s 20th Anniversary Outdoor Concert Series includes a variety of free all ages shows. Check the website to see what’s coming up and reserve your complimentary tix.

The U.S. Air Force Band’s Summer Concert Series is returning. Enjoy outdoor concerts on Fridays at the Air Force Memorial at 7:30pm, and Saturdays at National Harbor at 7pm.

Every third Wednesday of the month from June to August at 7pm, catch the U.S. Marine Band playing in Yards Park while you picnic and take in the views of the Anacostia River. Admission is free.

Tysons Corner Center‘s Summer Concert Series doesn’t actually begin until September, but they will have live performers on the Plaza all summer before that on Thursdays and Fridays 4-7pm and Saturdays and Sundays.  As you grab a bite to eat and hang out, enjoy shows from the blues to ballet, funk to folk, pop to poetry 2-7. More family-friendly entertainment will also be there on Saturdays 4-7pm — think caricature and balloon artists, face painters, walking performers.

Glen Echo Park’s 2021 Summer Concerts Series will take place every Thursday at 7:30pm from  July 1  – September 9. Concerts will be held in the historic Bumper Car Pavilion and are free and open to the public, featuring a variety of local bands and musical genres, from country to reggae, swing to Latin jazz, African to Cajun and blues.

Friday Night Concerts at Yards Park will be back for its 11th season from July 9 – August 13! The six-week series will feature performances by popular local artists and cold beverages on the boardwalk from 7-9pm each week.

Olney Theatre Center will present Olney Outdoors on its Root Family Stage from July 2 – August 25, featuring free Shakespeare, an in-person edition of its popular online series “Just Arts: A Celebration of Arts and Activism,” jazz concerts, theatre for young audiences and more.

Enjoy music in Northern Virginia parks! The Fairfax County Park Authority presents their Summer Entertainment Series, a summer-long calendar of family-friendly shows, concerts, and movies held in local parks. Bring a picnic dinner, blankets, and lawn chairs to enjoy the best local and regional entertainers. More details to come!

The National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, VA, presents its annual Summer Concert Series, featuring three military bands performing American hits and patriotic classics, each in their own style. The free performances will be held at 7pm on July 8 and 22, and August 26, outdoors on the grand entry plaza, weather permitting.

Huzzah for Ren Fest, which begins in late summer

FESTIVALS & SPECIAL EVENTS
Several stand-out events are anticipated around the area this time of year, celebrating everything from music to art & culture to neighborhoods to food (some of them going virtual in 2021).  There are also a few smaller happenings to plan for in advance.

The Yards is hosting its first-ever Garden Party. The event June 4-6 will features socially-distanced floral themed pods designed to accommodate 6-8 guests, each with Instagram-worthy areas with drinks, snacks , and garden-inspired decor in an exclusive section of the Sun Deck. Reservations include garden baskets priced at $50-150 for different drink and snack offerings from local restaurants. Family-friendly reservations are available Saturday and Sunday mornings; it’s 21+ afternoons and evenings. Reserve via Tock or at theyardsdc.com.

Celebrate Capital Pride during Pride Month June.  While the annual, much loved parade and other events aren’t happening in quite the same way, there still are things to do to celebrate and support the LGBTQ community. From June 1-12,  Paint the Town Colorful invites residents and businesses to decorate the public facing space (building fronts, yards, patios, balconies), to express Pride.  On June 12, the Pridemobile Parade will travel around DC, its colorful caravan of cars led by the Pridemobile trolly spreading joy, resilience, and Pride throughout the city.

The National Park Service DC announced that Independence Day will be celebrated with fireworks on the National Mall.  Like previous years, they’ll start shortly after 9pm, though this time they’ll be set off by the Lincoln Memorial.  It remains to be seen what kind of access the public will have to see them, but many folks views them from across the river and rooftops around the city.

It’s not quite as big as previous years, but the National Building Museum’s Summer Block Party is back for the season!  This year’s exhibition is very family-friendly, featuring a handful of smaller projects and programs both in the museum and on the West Lawn that are better for the early post-pandemic era of smaller gatherings and social distancing aptly titled Inside Out, the Block Party includes Maze of Knowledge, a wooden maze filled with books; a hand-built cathedral truss; interactive art; outdoor films; and more! And for memories’ sake, have a look at some of the past Summer Block Parties: The Big MazeThe BeachIcebergs, HiveFun HouseLawn. (Whew! I’ve been at this a long time.)

The annual Capitol Hill July 4th Parade will be back, when the neighborhood turns out to view and participate in a fun procession down Barracks Row that showcases many community organizations, schools, and city groups.

It might run into fall, but it starts in August, so the Maryland Renaissance Festival counts among the summer fun. Plus, if you’ve been reading KFDC while then you know it’s one of my very, very favorite annual events. (More confirmation on  that herehere, herehereherehere, here, and here.) I take a lot of pride in the number of people I have turned into Ren Fest believers!  As of now, the faire is ON, and the merriment is scheduled to begin August 28 and will continue every weekend through October 24. Go!  I promise, it is the absolute best.

Virtual this year:

The Washington Folk Festival that usually takes place at Glen Echo Park the first weekend after Memorial Day is not happening IRL this year.  Instead, there will be a free livestream concert and dance from Glen Echo’s Spanish Ballroom on June 6 at 7:30pm.

In late June and early July, the National Mall usually becomes stomping grounds of people from around the globe to celebrate living cultural heritage and community traditions at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. However, this year’s event on June 26-27 will be all digital.

Independence Day in DC is always a pretty big deal, the city being the nation’s capital and all, so the annual July 4th celebrations are significant. This year, though, the National Independence Day Parade will be live streamed, and the Capitol Fourth concert at the U.S. Capitol will not be open to the public.

The lotus and water lilies in full bloom at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are such a ravishing sight it calls for a celebration. Along with the spectacular display of flowers, the annual Lotus & Water Lily Festival  features traditional Asian and African dancing and drumming, gardening workshops, park tours, arts & crafts, and other family-friendly pursuits. This year, however, it’s going virtual.  View scenes from a previous bloom here.

 

A fairy house find in the woods at Annmarie Sculpture Garden

SEASONAL EXHIBITS
Extraordinary installations, lovely annual exhibits, kids’ programs during the school break, and admission deals are some of the special experiences at our museums and galleries to take take advantage of over the summer.

See Georgetown in a whole new, cool light — literally! Georgetown Glow, an exhibition of modern light art installations, runs through June 27.  You can take the fam to dinner, then go for a stroll to check them all out. Artworks will be viewable by day, but obviously much brighter at night. It’s free to tour, and you just go and see them at your leisure.  Special talks and walks are available, too. Get a glimpse of a past Glow here.

Forces of Nature at the Renwick Gallery is a great exhibit to check out with kids.  Striking and intricate works take up entire galleries and make you want to examine them from all angles. Even little ones will dig seeing the big pieces that sparkle, look like giant flowers, resemble a rain storm, and sometimes make you feel like you’re within the art. On view until August 15.  Renwick hours are Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 5:30pm, and free, timed-entry passes are required for admission.

Annmarie Sculpture Garden is enchanting any time of year, but it’s especially so in the summer when the fairy and gnome houses are on display. The adorable collection of little whimsical abodes for spritely creatures are just fantastic to view and find throughout the grounds. Created by all ages, individuals and groups, each one has a different theme, but together they are a brilliant showcase of imagination and craftiness. Read more about it and view scenes from a past exhibit here and here.

A cascade of 2,000 origami doves makes up Les Colombes (The Doves) at the National Cathedral. The beautiful art installation symbolizing hope looks like it’s suspended in midair in the magnificent space. Tickets for some June dates are available. Plan to spend time in the lovey Bishop’s Garden outside while you’re there.

ARTECHOUSE, the destination in southwest known for fusing art and technology, is dazzling with Renewal 2021. Inspired by DC’s annual cherry blossom bloom, it aims is to promote hope amid the global pandemic and concerns of climate change. Experience it through Sept 6. Admission is $16-20/adult, $8-10/12 & under.

So, it’s not necessarily a special exhibit, but the rest of the Smithsonian Museums will be reopening over the summer. June 18: National Museum of Natural History; July 16: National Museum of African Art & National Museum of Asian Art Freer Gallery; July 30: National Air and Space Museum & Smithsonian Institution Building (Castle); August 6: Anacostia Community Museum; August 20: Hirshhorn Museum; August 27: National Postal Museum. Free timed-entry passes will be required for admission — be sure to snag yours, as they go fast!

 

A setting as great as the entertainment at Children's Theatre in the Woods

Entertainment especially for kids at Wolf Trap’s Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods

SPECIAL ENTERTAIMENT & PROGRAMS
From super cheap movies in local theaters to stay cool on hot days to live theatre at fun places, there are some great ways to keep kiddos entertained all season long.

Wolf Trap is bringing back  Children’s Performances with slight changes this year.  Instead of the theatre-in-the-woods setting, the family-friendly shows will take place at the Filene Center to offer guests more space, with tickets sold in socially-distanced “pods” of 2 to 8 tickets. Enjoy lively adventures in music, dance, storytelling, and more. All of the productions are recommended for children between Kindergarten and 6th grade (though I think kids even younger can enjoy them, too — mine did). Tickets are available now!

Starting June 7, enjoy Arts in the Parks, a free children’s entertainment series from Fairfax County Park Authority on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10am beginning.  Catch shows at Burke Lake Park, Frying Pan Farm Park, EC Lawrence Amphitheater, Mason District, and Waterfield Park.

The Regal Summer Movie Express presents flicks for kids on many Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10am from May 25 – September 8. Admission is just $1. Be sure to check the website for the film schedule and theater locations, as it doesn’t run at all theaters every week.

The Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse is back and offering fun $1 films for kids every Wednesday from June 16 – August 4. Check the schedule to see what’s playing at a theater near you!

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Ashburn welcomes families to Kids Camp, a movie series that is inexpensive ($1-3) and benefits local charities, to boot.

UniverSoul Circus, the world-class, live entertainment attraction is coming back to National Harbor July 1 – August 8.  The production celebrates the unique and familiar aspects of global cultures and ethnicities, blending circus arts, theater, and music — a fresh, cool, and hip approach to live family entertainment!  Tickets start at $27.50.

Olney Theatre Center will present Olney Outdoors on its Root Family Stage from July 2 – August 25, featuring free Shakespeare, an in-person edition of its popular online series “Just Arts: A Celebration of Arts and Activism,” jazz concerts, theatre for young audiences and more.

See a Shakespeare play in the park! The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company is bringing back its annual Shakespeare in the Ruins at the picturesque Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park in Ellicott City, MD. The Adventures of Pericles will run July 1 – August 2.  Tickets are $19, and one kid is free with every adult.  Bring along a picnic to enjoy as you watch the play — there are no food vendors, but you can BYO fare, beer, and wine.

Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual Free For All will, hopefully, be back this summer. The Washington tradition offers free performances of a Shakespearean classic to the public, with tickets available through an online lottery or a limited number given out day-of.  Look for more info about it soon!

 

Go for a spin on the carousel at Watkins Regional Park

MINI TRAINS, MINI GOLF, CAROUSELS, & A FERRIS WHEEL!
These extra delights bring even more fun to several parks around the area that are already great outdoor places to hang with the kids.

Watkins Regional Park opened its Antique Carousel and Miniature Train on a limited schedule in early May, but come Memorial Day weekend, they can be enjoyed for extended hours almost every day of the week. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10am – 7pm; Sundays 12–5 pm, closed Mondays except May 31 (Memorial Day), July 4 (July Fourth Holiday; closes at 4pm) & September  (Labor Day).  This along with all of the other fun features — Nature Center, Old Maryland Farm, and Wizard of Oz Playground!

Cabin John Regional Park opened its Miniature Train on weekends only back in April, and will run on weekend through September 10am – 6pm. Rides are $2.50. Plan to spend time at the wonderful Cabin John playground, too — read more about it here.

The Miniature Train and Ovid Hazen Wells Carousel at Wheaton Regional Park started taking guests for spins in early April on weekends and will be open through the summer. Hours are 3-7 on Friday, 10am – 7pm on Saturday & Sunday.  Rides are $2.50.  Plan to stay and play at the super fun Wheaton playground — read more about it here.

The beautiful historic Dentzel Carousel is celebrating its 100th season at Glen Echo Park and recently reopened!  Plan to go for a spin through June 13 on Saturday & Sunday, 10am- 6pm.   Then from June – August 29, it will be open Wednesday – Friday, 10am – 4pm  and Saturday-Sunday, 10 am – 6 pm.

The Clemyjontri carousel in McLean, VA, will be offering rides daily starting May 29 on weekdays 9:30am – 1:00pm and weekends 9:30am – 6:30pm. Cost is $3/weekdays, $4/weekends & holidays. Read more about Clemyjontri here.

There are a couple of ways to go for a spin at National Harbor. Kind of like a London Eye of the U.S., The Capital Wheel is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of DC. The 42-gondola ride (all closed and climate-controlled with room for 8) soars 180 feet above the Potomac River waterfront, offering vistas of the White House and Capitol, the National Mall, Arlington Cemetery, and more amazing sites. Ticket prices start at $15. For an on-ground whirl, the Carousel features a herd of whimsical creatures and the sparkling Potomac as a backdrop. It’s $7 for each rider, and they can ride an unlimited number of times. Read about both rides and more National Harbor fun here.

Burke Lake Park’s Mini Train, Carousel, and Mini Golf are open daily from Memorial Day – Labor Day.  The train 11:20am – 5:40pm, the carousel 11:25am -5:25pm, and mini golf 11am – 8pm (last play 7pm). The park is free to access for Fairfax county residents. For non-county residents, the park is free on weekdays and has a $10 entrance fee on weekends/holidays for a car or large capacity van. Carousel rides are $2-3, train rides are $3-4, mini golf is $7-8.

Play Mini Golf in the District at East Potomac Park.  (Fun fact: It’s on the National Register of Historic Places listed as the oldest continually operating miniature golf course in the country!) Open Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 8pm. Admission is $6/kids and seniors, $7/adults. Read more about hanging out at East Potomac Park’s Hains Point.

Tee up at several NoVa Parks that have mini golf courses. Cameron RunUpton HillPohick Bay, and Algonkian Regional Parks all welcome guests to putt around.  Cost is $5/age 12 & under, $6/13+. Check websites for hours a each park.

Ride the Chesapeake Bay-themed carousel at Lee District Family Rec Area in Alexandria. Open daily through August 29 — hours are 11am – 6pm Monday/Tuesday/Thursday, 11am – 5pm Wednesday, and 9am – 6pm Saturday/Sunday.  Cost is $3 per ride on Fridays, $4 per ride weekends & holidays.

 

Kick up the summer fun at a Washington Spirit match!

SUMMER SPORTS
Some of the season’s best action takes place in ballparks, stadiums, and arenas thanks to our local sports teams. Here’s where you can join the fan clubs.

A day at Nationals Park is all it takes to understand why baseball is America’s favorite pastime. Catching a Nats game is one of our family’s preferred ways to enjoy a nice summer (or spring) day (or evening), anyway. And Nationals Park will open at full capacity again starting June 10!   Before you go, check out tips on doing a Nats game without breaking the bank. And I highly recommend the Jr. Nationals Kids Club for children 12 and under. Just $20 gets them membership (there’s also a free version), which includes Nats swag, plus all kinds of other cool offers. Even a few months into the season, it’s worth it!

Whether or not you’ve got a little soccer fan in your fam, DC United matches are fun experiences for all ages, and Audi Field is a great venue for watching them. Plus, since games only last 90 minutes, they’re not too long if young spectators get antsy.

Women’s pro soccer team, Washington Spirit, will have several matches at Audi Field this season — and they are always very exciting to watch!

Every summer, the Citi Open Tennis Tournament serves up exciting competition along with other fun activities for fans of all ages. See some of the sport’s top players in action and enjoy the thrills on and off the court at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center July 31 – August 8.

Swing up to Charm City to see the Baltimore Orioles play. Camden Yards is a beautiful ballpark, and you can head to the Inner Harbor before or after to make a day of it up north.

If the Nats or O’s aren’t in town, or you want to see baseball on a smaller but still fun scale, you’ve got several great options around the area. Take ’em out to the minors to see the Bowie Baysox, Potomac Nationals, or Aberdeen Ironbirds play. Summer collegiate team Bethesda Big Train is also very popular for non-majors baseball action.

The Breeze, DC’s Ultimate Frisbee pro team,  plays at Carlini Field (CUA).  It’s fast paced, fun to watch, and there’s plenty of space to spread out in the bleachers.  Even better, there’s a welcoming family vibe, and kids 12 and under get in free!

The Fish Market at The Wharf has all you need for a DIY crab feast

CRAB FEASTS
Easily one of the best activities during summer in Maryland and neighboring areas (this is where I get non-DC-centric because I have to give credit where it’s due). Here are some suggestions for places to get ’em, though the “best” is always a subject for debate.

* Cantler’s is an Annapolis institution for many.
* Mike’s Crab House in Riva has a great tiki area if there’s a table wait.
* Enjoy great crabs and an awesome beach area at Kentmorr.
* The Jetty on Kent Narrows has crabs, scenic views, and a fun beachy vibe.
* In Baltimore, Bo Brooks on the Canton Waterfront is popular.
* Enjoy a feast in the District at Ivy City Smokehouse.
* Stay close to the city at Quarterdeck in Arlington.
* Eat crabs in the ‘burbs at Bethesda Crab House.
* Make it a day trip to Waterman’s in Rock Hall, MD.
* Pick up your own at The Fish Market at The Wharf. Buy them already steamed or get them while they’re still alive to cook at home.

 

A paddling excursion on the Potomac

 

SEASONAL EXPERIENCES
Some particularly cool activities and offerings are only possible this time of year. Sure, you can say that’s most of this guide, but these experiences that fall into the “other” category shouldn’t be missed.

On Thursday evenings and some Saturdays during late spring and summer, the Anacostia Watershed Society hosts their free Discovery Series, which include boat tours, paddle tours, and wetland walks at a few local parks. Bladensburg Waterfront Park, Anacostia Park, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, and 11th Street Bridge Park are locations for these jaunts.

For other adventures on the water, a bunch of places around the area rent kayaks, canoes, rowboats, and stand up paddleboards. Fletcher’s Boathouse is a popular place to go and has a great riverside area to hang out and picnic when you’re off the water. You can also row from Ballpark Boathouse near Yards Park. Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis has paddling options along with lots of other outdoor recreation. This post has a whole round-up of even more places to go with the flow on local waterways.

Pick your own produce at local farms. While it starts in the spring with strawberries, it carries on through summer with even more delicious fruits — blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, plus veggies and more produce you can gather yourself. Find out where you can PYO around the DC area.

Join Anacostia Riverkeeper and Earth Conservation Corps on Friday evenings From July 9 – August 27 for Friday Night Fishing, their catch and release fishing program at the dock at Diamond Teague Park (located next to Yards Park). Rods, reels, bait, and instruction are free. No sign up is required.  Dates still to come — will keep you posted!

Aaaaaar, mateys! As the weather warms up and cruising conditions become more comfortable, pirate voyages are offered on local waters. In DC, take a Family Treasure Hunt Cruise on the Boomerang Pirate Ship. Head out to Annapolis for Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake. Or go for a jaunt with Urban Pirates in Baltimore.

Some of the most spectacular flower blooms occur during the summer. View a whole park bursting with pink, white, and peach-hued lotus flowers and water lilies. Fields upon fields of sunflowers are sure to brighten any day. Stop and smell the roses at a favorite National Mall spot (if it’s open again). Get details on all of them in this post about our bloom town.

Get rolling in Southeast! The Anacostia Park Skating Pavilion, the only skating pavilion within a national park will officially welcome skaters daily from 9am – 5pm starting June 17 (but you can roll around there before that). Even better, both admission and skate rentals are FREE! And along with skating, Anacostia Park offers all kinds of recreation, including large fields for sports and running around, tennis, fishing, basketball, biking, running, and three playgrounds. Read more about the park in this KFDC post.

Have I left out anything really good? If you think so, let me know in the comments below!

 

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Filed under 2021, DC, Maryland, Summer, Virginia