Tag Archives: Winter Break 2017

Where to Go & What to Do Around DC During Winter Break 2017

Get out and enjoy DC during Winter Break!



Just like in the spring, I’ve been asked a lot about things to do during the Winter Break from school. So, just like I did back then, I’ve put together a guide to help you make the most of the time and keep everyone happy (and that includes us parents!).

Many of these ideas are already on the blog, but sometimes a little guidance for what’s best at certain times helps. Among these recommendations are holiday activities that keep the spirit going a little longer, exhibits and shows that are hot tickets right now, outings that take advantage of the season, adventures to keep your gang active no matter what the weather, and places and experiences that kids who are in school all day can’t get to easily.

And, of course, the rest of the blog is loaded with suggestions if you want even more options. So, whether you’re enjoying a staycation or visiting from out of town, you should have no problem keeping the kids (and yourself!) entertained during this time off — or on, depending how you look at it. 😉 Happy Winter Break!

Holiday-Inspired Happenings

See trains wind through Roadside Attractions at the U.S. Botanic Garden

Season’s Greenings
Where: U.S. Botanic Garden | National Mall area, DC
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

If you haven’t yet made it to Season’s Greenings, the annual holiday exhibit at the U.S Botanic Garden, you still have time to go — and it’s one that all ages will love. The conservatory exhibit features Washington landmarks constructed from plant materials, including a new botanical inspired National Museum of African American History & Culture. But the highlight is the garden railway, which never fails to impress and enchant with intricate, imaginative designs. This year’s Roadside Attractions-themed exhibit is as pretty and whimsical as it is impressive. Be sure to tour the rest of the plant collections while you’re there — not only are they gorgeous to view, there are some pieces from the holiday exhibit sprinkled throughout!

Magical Holiday Express
Where: B&O Railroad Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: Through December 31
Admission: $18/adult, $17/senior, $12/age 2-12, free/B&O members


This is a venue dedicated to locomotives, so you know the holiday model train exhibit is going to be special. Trains are magical during the holidays, and the museum invites all aboard the B&O’s Magical Holiday Express, a spectacular celebration in the B&O Roundhouse devoted to trains of all sizes and shapes, holiday festivities, and a winter wonderland of family fun and activities. There is something to see and do every day at this annual holiday event! Be sure to look for special events like North Pole Adventures, Winter Royal Adventures, Frosty Fest, and WinterFest Wonderland on the website.

Holiday Hunts
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Through December 31
Admission: $35

Look for special goodies found only at O Museum in The Mansion on this festive holiday treasure hunt. This includes a self-guided tour through the many fantastic themed rooms and secret doors. Bring your own shopping bags — everything is for sale! See more about this wonderfully unique DC attraction in this KFDC post.

Christmas on the Potomac
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: Through January 1
Admission: Free, though some activities cost extra

National Harbor goes all out during the holidays. ICE! might be the big attraction, but there’s also plenty to do there to warrant a visit without the frozen entertainment. Most of it takes place in the Gaylord National Resort, which is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with a spectacular glass Christmas tree, nightly tree lightings, the Potomac Express train offering rides for guests, photo ops with Santa, indoor snowfalls, fountain shows, and more. (Read about a KFDC experience there during a Christmas season past.)

Christmas at Mount Vernon

Where: Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: Through January 6
Admission: Online – $18/adults, $9/ages 6-11, free/ 5 & under

They do it up for the holidays at George Washington’s old digs. During the day, tour the Mansion, watch historic chocolate-making demos, and meet Aladdin the Camel. FYI: Mount Vernon is open every day of the year, including Christmas and New Year’s Day!


Special Exhibits

One of the whimsical interactive works of The Utopian Projects att he Hirshhorn

Imaginary World of the Nutcracker
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
When: Through January 7
Admission: $15/adult, $8/child

Since ARTECHOUSE opened this past June, the gallery has been bringing us art experiences that are beautiful, innovative, and immersive through the fusion of art and technology. The newest exhibition, “Imaginary World of the Nutcracker,” follows suit with an installation that engages and enchants. You can view Nutcracker scenery projected on walls, manipulate light and color with your own movements, and look for magical surprises throughout. Bring the kids during daytime hours 10am – 5pm, but I also recommend this for an adult outing 5:30-10:30pm or 11:30pm when special cocktails (and some extra magic) are served, too!

The Utopian Projects
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: Through March 4
Admission: Free

This collection of impressive, whimsical models of sculptural works by Russian artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov is fun and interesting to view — especially when you discover that some of them have been executed in their intended life-size form. With lots of delightful details, plus a few interactives, it’s an exhibit that all ages can appreciate. Take time to browse other exhibits while you’re at the museum. Kids will particularly enjoy Ann Hamilton’s “at hand” installation, a room full of blank white sheets of paper in which guests can immerse, in What Absence is Made Of.

Q?rius
Where: National Museum of Natural History | National Mall, DC
When: Mon-Fri, 10am – 5pm | Sat-Sun 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free

The interactive and experiential learning space is designed for kids ages 11 and up (though some younger ages could enjoy it, too). During winter break, it opens earlier at 10am (instead of 2pm). Visitors can view up close — and in many cases handle — real artifacts and specimens from the museum’s collections. For really little ones, there is Q?rius Jr: A Discovery Room for more age-appropriate exploring. And, of course, there’s the whole rest of the museum for everyone. Read the KFDC take on Q?rius.

Murder is Her Hobby
Where: Renwick Gallery | Downtown DC
When: Through January 28
Admission: Free

This exhibit featuring dollhouse-sized recreations of real crime scenes is at once fascinating, creepy, and bizarrely delightful (all the tiny things!) as it explores the “surprising intersection between craft and forensic science.” Created by Frances Glessner Lee in the early 20th century, the dioramas are actually still used in forensic training today. You can play detective, too, and try to solve the crimes based on what you see in the miniature scenes. For obvious reasons, I recommend this one for older kids — or make it a KidFree outing.


#OptOutside

Hit the trail for a walk in the woods

Take a Hike
Where: Around the DMV
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by locale

If you agree with the saying, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing” like I do, there are no excuses for not getting outdoors during winter. And a great, easy way to do so is on a hike. Hit the trail in places with scenic views, tramp and explore history at interesting locales, and enjoy a day of active fun. This post has a a bunch of recommendations for good walks in the woods and other places with the kids.

Grounds for Play
Where: Playgrounds around the DMV
When: Daily
Admission: Free

Let the kiddos burn some energy and get some fresh air at one of many awesome area playgrounds. Beauvoir, Clemyjontri, Watkins Regional Park, Hains Point,Cabin John Regional Park, Wheaton Regional Park, plus loads of DC Parks and Rec locations, and many more in NoVa and Maryland are great places to swing, climb, run, slide, romp, and even more!

Ice It
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by rink

Enjoy a quintessential winter activity: Ice skating under the sky! Take in art as you skate at the Sculpture Garden; glide above the Anacostia on The Wharf’s new rink; circle around Washington Harbour as you enjoy views of the Potomac; meander along the Figure 8 path at Canal Park; or do some shopping then skate at Pentagon Row, Veteran’s Plaza, Rockville Town Square, or Reston Town Center. This post has details on alfresco (and indoor) ice skating options in the area.

See the Lights
Where: Around the DMV
When: Evenings through
Admission: Varies by locale

Twinkling lights forming enchanting displays are are a staple of the season and some continue to shine into January. Visit one of several parks or gardens (or the Zoo!) in the area that has transformed into a sparkling wonderland. While some you tour by car, others you can walk through for a truly enchanting experience. See where you can see the lights around the area.

Show Time

Step Afrika will have everyone stomping with joy!

Step Afrika’s Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE, DC
When: Through December 30
Tickets: $18-45

Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show is a KFDC fave! This fun, family-friendly performance will have you stomping your feet and clapping your hands to energetic beats from Step Afrika! and special guest, DJ Frosty the Snowman. The show features friendly, furry characters, plus there is pre-show instrument-making workshops, photo ops, and even a dance party. It is so much fun for both kids and adults!

Frosty the Snowman
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo, MD
When: November 17- January 7
Tickets: $19.50

Keep the holiday magic going at a seasonal show! Do you want to build a snow man? How about watching him spring to life in front of you for one day of adventures before he melts away? In this merry wintertime romp, chock-full of chuckles and comic antics, Frosty dances into the hearts of kids and adults alike- even the heart of one near-sighted cop through his uproarious antics.

Charlotte’s Web
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: November 18 – January 7
Tickets: $10-32

Take kids to see the beloved classic (now infused with live music!), Fern, a soft-hearted farm girl, forms an unlikely bond with Wilbur, a charismatic pig. At the Zuckerman Farm, Wilbur meets a silly goose, a moody sheep, a selfish rat, and Charlotte, a clever spider. In an effort to save her friend, Charlotte weaves flattering messages about him into her web that cause a sensation in the small town. Recommended for age 5+.

How to Catch a Leprechan
Where: Keegan Theatre | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Through December 31
Tickets: $15

Keegan Theatre’s Play-Rah-Ka program, which offers theatre experiences for families, brings this familiar Irish folktale to the stage through the holiday season. How To Catch a Leprechaun follows the comical adventures of the wistful minstrel Riley O’Really, who really wants to catch a leprechaun. She’s got everything she needs for her trap: a pair of sharp eyes, a good Irish folk song in her heart and, most importantly, an irresistible pitcher of green lemonade. The wee leprechaun who Riley catches seems more than willing to give up his pot of gold – but is his offer a leprechaun trick or a leprechaun treat?

An American in Paris
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: Through January 7
Tickets: $59-129

For a bigger theatre experience, Kennedy Center presents An American in Paris, a show that has captivated both audiences and critics. Its stunning combination of classic music, timeless story, breathtaking dance, and state-of-the-art design results in a spectacular production the New York Times declares “outshines anything else currently on Broadway.” Recommended for ages 8+.

Indoor Action

Scaling the walls at ClimbZone

Mountains of Fun
Where: Badlands | Rockville, MD
When: Tuesday – Sunday, 9am – 6pm
Admission: $22.50/child and $12.50/toddler

Enjoy all kinds of indoor adventures at Badlands Play Space. From active fun to creative explorations to learning experiences to relaxation options, the facility has it all. They also have a cafe to get a bite to eat while you’re there and where adults can hang out while they watch their kids play (if kids are old enough to playon their own). Best for children about preschool age to 10.

Reach New Heights
Where: ClimbZone | Laurel, MD
When: Daily, 10am – 8pm
Admission: $25+tax ($12+tax/toddler)

The enormous facility is filled literally floor to ceiling with colorful themed climbing walls and moon bounces. Climbers can ascend Mt. Rushmore, reach the Jolly Roger on a pirate ship, conquer a game of Tetris, shimmy up a giant guitar, scale Jack’s bean stalk, negotiate a rope wall, and experience peak fun on a variety of other climbing areas.

Play in the Zone
Where: ZavaZone | Rockville, MD & Sterling, VA
When: Daily, 10am – 6pm
Admission: Starts at $19.50

Guests have their pick of fun at this indoor adventure park for ages 5-105. There are ninja courses, ropes courses, trampolines, climbing challenges, zip lines, and more under one soaring roof. Usually just open in the afternoons during the week, morning time slots will also be available during Winter Break week.

Spring Into Action
Where: Flight Trampoline Park | Springfield, VA
When: Daily
Admission: Starts at $11

Kids of all ages can jump, play, even flip for joy at Flight Trampoline Park. The huge space resembles a skate park, with an industrial look of exposed pipes and cinder block walls sprayed with graffiti. But where you’d find ramps, rails, and concrete to facilitate skills and tricks, there are trampolines instead. Be sure to check the schedule for any special jumping times, and buy tickets/sign waivers in advance online to avoid a line there.



See Some Sports

Cheer on our local teams!

Wizards
Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 23, 29, 31
Admission: Ticket prices vary

The Wizards have a few home games over the break, so catch some exciting action on the court. They host the Orlando Magic on December 23, Houston Rockets on December 29, and you can see them play the Chicago Bulls on the last day of the year.

Caps
Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 28 & 30
Admission: Ticket prices vary

Hockey fans can see the Caps play a couple of games. The Boston Bruins will be here on December 28, and the New Jersey Devils on December 30.

Hoops, NCAA-Style
Where: Universities around the DMV
When: Throughout the break
Admission: Ticket prices vary

With so many universities in the area, there’s always some good college hoops action going on. Here’s where you can check out schedules and look for tickets:
University of Maryland (Go, Terps!)
George Washington University
Georgetown University
American University
Howard University
George Mason University


Museums & More DC Sights

The only fake news you’ll hear at the Newseum 😉

Mission: Fun
Where: International Spy Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Daily, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $21.95/adult, $14.95/age 7-11, free/6 & under

Go undercover to explore the intriguing world of espionage. Discover some the tricks of the trade, view gadgets used to keep secrets and disguises to hide identities, and learn about some of the most famous spies and their missions. Look for a deal on admission before you go!

Focus on News and Media
Where: Newseum
When: Daily, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $24.95/adult, $14.95/ages 7-19, free for 6 and under

The museum dedicated to all things news and journalism is fascinating — and one of my personal favorites in DC. Much of the collection is better appreciated (and understood) by older children, so while they have off from school is a good time to take advantage of an outing there. Read more about the Newseum in this KFDC post. And (look for a deal) on admission!

African American History & Culture
Where: National Museum of African American History & Culture
When: Daily, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free

This phenomenal museum is a must-see on the National Mall. Advance passes are currently unavailable, but with the kids home and open days ahead of you, it’s a good time to try for day-of admission — up to four(4) same-day timed entry passes are available online everyday starting at 6:30am until they run out. A limited number of walk-up passes are also available beginning at 1pm on weekdays. (Heads-up: The release for April 2018 passes is on Wednesday, January 3 at 9am.)

Tour the Capitol
Where: U.S. Capitol Building | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Daily, 8:30m – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

Take a tour of the U.S. Capitol! You can usually get on a guided tour day of, but even if you can’t there are still plenty of interesting exhibits and statues to see in the Visitor’s Center. A tour lasts about an hour, and includes a short film, walks through the The Rotunda and National Statuary Hall, and a peek into the Old Congress Chamber. Before you go, be sure to read these guidelines on what you can and can’t bring with you. (KFDC Tip: You can walk through an underground tunnel to get to the Library of Congress and make it a bigger outing on the Hill.)

Abe’s Last Days
Where: Ford’s Theatre | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Daily, 9am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free – $3

Ford’s isn’t just a place to catch live entertainment. The site of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination highlights its historic significance through exhibits about the president, the circumstances surrounding his assassination, and that fateful night at the theatre. The National Historic Site features a museum, theatre walk-throughs and a presentation, and guests are welcome to explore it all. Best for about ages 8 and up. Reserve tickets online in advance for $3 or get them at the Box Office for free.


Day Trips

Go big at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore

Charm City, Hon!
Where: Baltimore, MD
When: Daily
Admission: Varies by locale

Zip up I-95 for some fun in our sister city, where there are lots of great places to spend a day off. Play the day away at Port Discovery. Explore the exhibits and loads of hands-on activities at the Maryland Science Center. See some of the quirkiest, coolest art around at the American Visionary Art Museum. Get an eyeful of the underwater world at the National Aquarium. Tour the historic ships moored at the Inner Harbor. Or learn about Baltimore’s early business days at the Museum of Industry.

Hit the Slopes
Where: Liberty Mountain | Carroll Valley, PA
When: Through winter
Admission: Varies

Take advantage of winter and enjoy a quintessential seasonal activity — skiing! Liberty Mountain is one of the more convenient places to go with the kids, especially if they are newbies. Just over an hour from DC in PA, it’s easy to get to for a one-day venture on the slopes, the runs aren’t too difficult, and kids can do a couple of hours of ski school (be sure to sign up in advance). Get the scoop on their children’s programs here. (KFDC Tip: If you have a 4th or 5th graders, be sure to check out the SkiPa Snowpass!)

Go Underground
Where: Luray Caverns | Luray, VA
When: Daily, 9am – 7pm
Admission: $24/adults, $21/seniors, $12/ages 6-12, 5 and under free

Behold the spectacular underground world of stalagmites, stalactites, and other amazing limestone formations in the massive cave system at Luray. Afterward, make your way through the Garden Maze or check out vintage rides in the Carriage and Caravan Museum. Admission does not include attractions beyond the cavern. KFDC Tip: Be sure to make a pit stop before going into the caverns, because it can be a long walk out to a restroom, and once you’re out, you may not be able to go back in.

Art & Maritime Explorations
Where: Calvert County, MD
When: Daily, except Christmas
Admission: Varies by locale

Make a day of it in Calvert County, where you can visit a couple of places for fun, fascinating, hands-on adventures. Annmarie Sculpture Garden is full of artistic delights. Tour beautiful works, both indoors and out, play in the Fairy Lolly, and create some of your own art with inspiration from all you see there. Hours are 9am – 5pm in the gardens, and admission is $5/adult, $3/ages 6-17, free/5 & under. Also out that way is the Calvert Marine Museum, where you can see interesting exhibits, including display cases full of fossils and artifacts, plus live fish and other creatures. There’s also a play area and a real lighthouse to tour. Hours are 10am – 5pm, and admission is $9/adult, $4/ages 5-12, free/4 & under.

I Scream, You Scream
Where: Turkey Hill Experience | Lancaster, PA
When: Daily, except Christmas
Admission:

Get the scoop on the ice cream-making process through a series of interactive exhibits (note: it’s a museum, not a factory). Create your own virtual ice cream flavor, sit in a vintage milk truck, milk mechanical cows, star in your own Turkey Hill commercial, and enjoy free samples of iced tea and ice cream. Consider making it an overnight and visiting the Lancaster Central Market and other area attractions while you’re there.

Extra Tips
* If you’re looking specifically for ideas for foul weather days, see The Great Indoors list or the round-up of Indoor Playgrounds
* And for where to hang outside, check out The Best Places to Spend a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids
* The Smithsonian Event Calendar is always worth checking before you head to the museums or the Zoo
* Look for deals and discounts on CertifiKID and Goldstar.

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Filed under 2017, All ages, Annual, Art, Christmas, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Holidays, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Playground, Seasonal, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

DC Way Kicks off Futsal & More Indoor Fun to Keep Kids Active All Winter



With winter weather and a holiday break from school on the way, many of us parents are looking for new activities to keep our kids moving and having fun. DC Way, the soccer program that gets loads of raves from local families (including ours!), is offering instruction that not only teaches and boosts players’ skills, but also fuels a love for the game. Here are some ways kids can get in on the fun this season:

FUTSAL
DC Way is excited to add futsal, FIFA’s official indoor soccer game, to its roster of programs for kids! Played with just five on a team and a ball that’s a bit heavier than a regular soccer ball, futsal gives players the opportunity for more touches on the ball, which is easier to control since it doesn’t bounce away.

DC Way has created a unique program that introduces players to futsal, with an emphasis on improvisation and creativity, as well as ball control and passing in small spaces. Due to the fast surface of the gym, tight spaces in games, and high pressure situations, players learn to think more quickly and make better decisions. And futsal keeps them playing — being in the gym during the winter months allows players remain interested in soccer and develop a passion for the sport!

Weekly clinics for players in U4-U13 will run December 1-23 at Kingsman Academy Public Charter School on Capitol Hill. Register here!


GIRLS U13-U15 WINTER FUTSAL TOURNAMENT
Registration is open for the 2018 Winter 5 v. 5 Indoor Futsal Tournament! No walls in play mean better chances to develop skills and technique. The fast game is excellent for mastering creative footwork, ball control, and passing in small spaces. It helps to build confidence and appreciate the teamwork.

The tournament will be held January 6 – February 10, 2018 at Sherwood Recreation Center on Capitol Hill. There will be six teams total and five games with a sixth final game on February 10. Sign up as a single player or as a team — if you have a complete team, email [email protected]

More Winter Clinics!
Several other programs will be available to kids throughout the winter, including One Day Camps on days off from school, Holiday Camp on some of the Winter Break days, weekly indoor series, and goalkeeping clinics. They are also bringing back the U5-U6 clinics for younger soccer players! Dates are still TBD, but check the DC Way website soon for more information.

This post is sponsored by DC Way, however, I only promote places, programs, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will be of interest to KFDC readers.

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Filed under 2017, 2018, Camp, DC, Indoor Play, Professional Service, Seasonal, Sponsored Post, Sports, Winter