Tag Archives: Washington DC Outdoor Activities

Where to Play on the Weekdays: April 2-6

Spring break adventure in the Costa Rican jungle


So, a ziplining adventure in the Central American jungle may not be a plausible outing for everyone this week, but one in local forests is (for ages 7 and up, anyway).  That’s just one of several suggestions for fun with the kids during the spring break week. Enjoy!

Monday – The National Postal Museum is hosting a special weekday workshop especially for spring break. Drop in from 10am – 2pm for Collection Connection, where guests can make a stamp collection to take home and learn how to continue the hobby. Afterwards (or before, depending on when you go), head over to Union Station for a bite to eat or maybe even make your way over to the National Mall for more museum-going. (Note: the Postal Museum event repeats on Tuesday, April 3).

Tuesday – Construct your day around a visit to the National Building Museum.  Little ones can enjoy the Book of the Month program and play time in the Building Zone at 10:30am and 11:30am — this month’s reading is Taxi: A Book of City Words. Older kids can do some plastic brick design in the LEGO Architecture upstairs.  And everyone can hang out in the Great Hall for even more activities, including an indoor picnic lunch (BYO or grab something at the Firehook Cafe on premises). Admission is $3 to the Building Zone (with timed hourly entry), $5 to the exhibits, free if you have an NBM membership.

Wednesday – Zip through the treetops at the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring Friends School, which opened for the season this past weekend. Kids ages 7 and older can experience fun and adventure on the ropes courses and ziplines in the park’s aerial forest, the largest in North America. Hours are 9am – dark this week, and admission is $38/ages7-9, $43/ages 10-11, $48/ages 12 and older.

Thursday – Keep the academics in mind (under the guise of fun) at the new MathAlive! exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Ripley Center.  Through an array of interactive displays, guests can ride in a 3D snowboard race, operate NASA robotics simulations, design and play their own video games, control a Mars rover, and experience real math at work in everything from nature to music to dancing to movie-making.

Friday –  If the forecast holds out, it’ll be nice weather all week, so take your pick from one of many in this list of the best places in the DC area to spend a beautiful day outdoors with the kids. And a heads-up: Cabin John Regional Park opened its Miniature Train for the week — a spring break bonus for visitors!

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Filed under All ages, DC, Educational, Free, Maryland, Museums, Outdoor, Seasonal, Spring, Virginia, Weekdays

The Weekend Round-Up: March 16-18

A view of the Capitol through a shroud of magnolia flowers


It may not be March 20, but for all intents and purposes, spring has sprung! So, I’ll just cut to the chase and urge you to get outside at some point; if the forecast holds out, we’re in for one gorgeous weekend. The first recommendation in this round-up links to a huge list of outdoor adventures. Balance it out with some indoor time — you’ve got your pick of fun and interesting pursuits, from museum exhibits to an environmental family film fest to theatre shows and more. Happy Weekend!

The Great Outdoors
Where: All around the area
When: All weekend long
Admission: Varies by pursuit

Get out and enjoy the superb “spring” days this weekend. At the rate the temps are rising, it’s going to be 106 degrees by May. If you need ideas for pursuits al fresco, see this big list of the best places in the DC area to spend a beautiful day outdoors with the kids.

Supra Cool Art
Where: Hirshhorn Museum
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free
Suprasensorial: Experiments in Light, Color and Space, a relatively new exhibit at the Hirshhorn, may not have been created with kids in mind, but many of the installations can be appreciated on several levels, including from a child’s perspective. All of the displays are interactive in some way, and a few are exceptionally fascinating — and quite fun. Read more about it in this post from yesterday.

Go Ape!
Where: National Zoo
When: Saturday, 11am – 3pm
Admission: Free
It’s a Featured Creature day at the Zoo, and the apes are the stars of this one. Head to the Great Ape house for feedings, keeper chats, and demonstrations. See the schedule for specific times. Support Friends of the National Zoo and gorilla conservation by bringing an old cell phone to recycle and receive a Green for Gorillas sticker!

Culturally Different Adventures
Where: National Chidren’s Museum Launch Zone
When: Saturday, 11am – 3:30pm
Admission: Free
Drop in at the NCM’s Launch Zone and learn about classic folk tales told from the perspective of other cultures with Story Tapestries. This will be a fun and adventurous program that explores the characteristics of a traditional hero in a non-traditional style. Discover how, even though you might be little, you are very, very smart. Leave the program singing like a bird, dancing like a monkey, slithering like a snake and roaring like a tiger!

Hang with Globetrotter Lang
Where: National Chidren’s Museum Launch Zone
When: Sunday, 12pm & 1pm
Admission: Free
The NCM proudly welcomes Flight Time Lang, the Harlem Globetrotters’ 6’3 guard, best known for his dunks and dribbling skills. Head to the Launch Zone for a show featuring Flight Time’s unique ball handling techniques and tricks. Stick around after to meet and take photos with Flight Time Lang. NCM will also be raffling off a set of four tickets to the Globetrotters game on either March 24 or March 25. Due to the size of the Launch Zone, they will be welcoming kids and families on a first come, first served basis to best accommodate as many people as possible. And as a special thank you their fans, the Globetrotters’ have created a $5 off discount code good for each ticket purchased for one of their upcoming games. To take advantage, go to: www.ticketmaster.com/promo/8v2pmu and use the code NCM.

Environmental Film Festival: An Animated Perspective
Where: National Geographic
When: Saturday, 1pm
Admission: $12
Enjoy some of the most popular animated films screened during our 20 years of participating in the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital. Bring the whole family for a stunning retrospective of the favorites from years past—Turtle World, Old Man and the Sea, For the Birds, and The Man Who Planted Trees—selected and introduced by festival founder Flo Stone.

Gaithersburg St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Where: Washingtonian Center
When: Saturday, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free
The city’s 12th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade will include both traditional Irish performances and classic parade pageantry. Celtic dancers, bagpipes bands, marching bands, clowns, firetrucks, and more will make their way through town. Afterward, stay for live music in the Lakefront Plaza until 1pm.

St. Paddy Party Family Special
Where: Discovery Theater
When: Saturday, 2pm
Admission: $3-12
A rollicking traditional Irish band, lively dancers, and some wearing o’ the green make everybody Irish at this special show! Learn how to count sheep in Gaelic, learn a bit of Ceili dancing. Join Pete Moss and members of the Bog Band, with champion dancer Shannon Dunne, and start the spring off right! After the show, families can learn about color filters, make an acid and base rainbow, plant a sprouting “grasshead” leprechaun to take home, and more. Explore some St. Paddy’s Day ‘green’ science with Curiosity Zone.

That’s Entertainment
Where: Various local theatres
When: Througoutthe weekend
Admission: Varies by venue
Basil Twists’ Petrushka opens at the Lansburgh Theatre tonight. The Puppet Co’s version of Rapunzel opened yesterday. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is still on stage at Adventure Theatre. The Alden Theatre in McLean presents The Revenge of the Space Pandas. Out of the Box is at Landmark Mall. And Encore Stage and Studio’s toupe of young actors is performing The Magic Lamp of Alladin for its final weekend. Get details on all of these productions in this post about spring entertainment or this one listing winter shows.

Spring Clean & Book Launch
Where: Claude Moore Colonial Farm
When: Saturday, all day & 1pm
Admission: Volunteer & Free
The farm doesn’t officially open until April 1, but there are a couple of other happenings there this weekend in the meantime. The Spring Clean-Up is an opportunity to help the living history museum prepare for the 2012 season and spend a nice day outdoors. Families with children are welcome; there are jobs for every age — raking leaves, clearing and mulching paths, hauling brush and firewood, moving rail fences, waterproofing outbuildings, whitewashing the Farmhouse, splitting firewood, filling garden pots, and more. A complimentary picnic hot dog lunch and passes to the upcoming Market Fair provided in thanks. There will also be a reading of the children’s book The Penguin Lady in the museum shop at 1pm. Author Carol A. Cole will be signing copies of her book, and kids can take home coloring and word search activities.

Pong, Anyone?
Where: Smithsonian American Art Museum
When: Opens March 16
Admission: Free
We parents might appreciate this more than our kids: The Art of Video Games is one of the first exhibitions to explore the 40-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium. With a focus on striking visual effects and the creative use of new technologies, the exhibit showcases the interplay of graphics, technology and storytelling through some of the best games for 20 gaming systems ranging from the Atari VCS to the PlayStation 3. Eighty games, selected with the help of the public, demonstrate the evolution of the medium. The games are presented through still images and video footage. In addition, the galleries will include video interviews with twenty developers and artists, large prints of in-game screen shots, and historic game consoles.

Truth & Fiction
Where: 826DC
When: Saturday, 12-2pm
Admission: Free

826DC, an organization dedicated to supporting students with their creative and expository writing skills, is hosting a writing workshop on Saturday for kids ages 11-14. Taught by author and Georgetown professor Fanny Howe, “Truth and Fiction” will explore the differences between writing real and fictional stories. Go here to register. Space is limited to 15, so sign up soon!

Port Discovery for $2
Where: Port Discovery
When: Friday, 4-7pm
Admission: $2
How about some cheap fun in Charm City? Tonight (Friday) is a Target Family Fun Night at Port Discovery. From 4 – 7pm, admission to the popular kids museum in Baltimore is just a couple of bucks a person (children under two are free).

Stories in Art
Where: National Gallery of Art
When: Sunday, 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm
Admission: Free
It’s the very last day for Stories in Art this season. Kids ages 4-7 can drop in at the National Gallery to learn how Helen Frankenthaler’s abstract paintings were inspired by landscapes, hear a related reading of A Day Without Crayons, then make a painting without using brushes. Sessions are at 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, and 2:30pm. Sign-in takes place in the East Building Atrium, beginning at 11am, and continues until all spaces are filled.


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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.




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