Tag Archives: Yards Park

Paddling the Anacostia from Ballpark Boathouse


There have been some pretty sublime spring days lately, so we’ve been taking advantage and spending a lot of time outdoors. (And I have a spectacular farmer’s tan to show for it!) Recently, on an especially glorious day, we rented kayaks with friends at Ballpark Boathouse, located right next to Yards Park, for a paddling jaunt along the Anacostia River — a fun, active, and relaxing venture all in one outing.



Single and double kayaks and canoes are available for rent, and we were actually able to add a third seat in the double kayaks, since the kids were small enough. After filling out waivers and donning life jackets, we hopped in our vessels and set out on the river along the Capitol Riverfront.


This paddling excursion was more about the views from the water than the nature around it, since the area is very developed (unlike rowing from Fletcher’s). We got to get fresh perspectives of Nationals Park, Yards Park, and the Navy Yard, places we usually just see on land. And one of the coolest parts was paddling up close to the USS Barry, the display ship moored at the Navy Yard.



Rental rates are $20 per hour and pro-rated in 10-minute increments beyond that. You pay upon return, so there’s no limit to how much time you spend on the water. Really small kids need to be in a boat with parents, but older children can paddle on their own (8-year-old Owen and his friend could have had their own kayak, but opted to go with adults this time). I recommend bringing a hat, water, and snacks along. A small plastic bag for your phone is a good idea, too — water will splash in the boat from the paddles. And don’t forget the sunscreen!



When we got back, we enjoyed snacks at a picnic table set up on the boardwalk by the river, then made our way over to Yards Park to continue savoring the beautiful day — and do a little kayak-watching from there.


Ballpark Boatyard is located on the Anacostia River between Yards Park and Nationals Park. We rode bikes there via the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, but there is parking nearby both on the street and in a couple of lots.


Filed under All ages, DC, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Sports, Spring, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend

Art & Light at the Yards


For the last few weeks, an old abandoned building in the Navy Yard area near Yards Park has been the site of a public art project called Art Yards. Seven internationally renowned artists have turned the blank exterior and surrounding lot into a massive, evolving canvas. Giant murals have adorned both the building’s facade and the empty parking lot, and there have been a few events to showcase the unique, creative, offbeat works.


This past weekend, we braved the cold, windy weather and headed down to the Navy Yard for a Chalk it Up event for families. Street artist Michael William Kirby unveiled a fantastic large-scale surface mural, and kids had the opportunity to create their own chalk masterpieces and take a 3-D perspective photo within Kirby’s vast piece.


Starting tomorrow, December 12, through Saturday, December 14, Art Yards will be presenting the artists’ works in a whole new light — literally. The final unveiling of the completed murals and chalk installations will be accompanied by a light show by video artist trio 3-Search, Integrated Visions, and United VJ’s. They’ll take place each night from 6-10pm. And while this isn’t touted as a family event, it seems like something any age could appreciate.

Sure, you’ve got your pick of light shows around the area for the holiday season, but this one sounds like a pretty cool stand-out.

Art Yards is located at M Street and New Jersey Avenue SE. If you’re in the Navy Yard area, it’s worth stopping by to see the murals, some up to three stories tall!

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Filed under All ages, Art, DC, Exhibit, Free, Outdoor, Weekdays, Weekend

Peak Time in DC: The 2013 National Cherry Blossom Festival

DC at its peak last year

DC at its peak last year

How appropriate that the first day of spring also marks the start of the 2013 National Cherry Blossom Festival. If only the weather would follow suit. But I digress…

This is one of my favorite times of year in DC. Between the gorgeous flowers complementing the scenery around the National Mall and the many unique events that come along with the Festival, it’s a superb time to be here. Sure, the crowds descend on the city to ogle the blooming trees, but to me that’s a testament to what a beautiful, dynamic, and exciting place Washington is, a sought-after destination for travelers from all over the world.

The official start of the Festival is today, but the events that are open to the public — many of them free — begin this weekend. I’ve pared down the lot to make one easy list of the best for families. If it looks familiar, that’s because much of it is the same as last year, just with updated dates and details. Happy Spring!

Family Days at the Building Museum
Where: National Building Museum
When: Saturday & Sunday, March 23-24
Admission: Free
Kicking off public festival events for the 8th consecutive year, this program at the National Building Museum offers kids of all ages (and that means the kid in you, parents!) all kinds of hands-on activities inspired by Japanese culture as a tribute to the trees gifted by them. Build Cha-shitsu tea house structures and Soji screens, construct a paper torii gate, make wafuku-clothed paper dolls, and design a cherry blossom tree from popcorn. There will also be exciting performances that celebrate spring and explore Japanese arts and design, Nen Daiko taiko drummers, Kaution Dance Kru, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and youth arts groups from D.C. and across the country. And be sure to bring a camera along for photo ops with some of kids’ favorite characters like Snoopy and The Lorax.

Kites of Asia Family Day
Where: National Air & Space Museum
When: Saturday, March 23, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Get ready for the Blossom Kite Festival and celebrate the unique start of the National Air and Space Museum’s collection — the first aviation-related objects acquired by the Smithsonian were a group of Chinese kites, donated in 1876. At this annual Family Day, experience the artistry and beauty of Asian kites, see indoor kite flying, and make your own kite.

Blossom Kite Festival
Where: Washington Monument Grounds
When: Saturday, March 30, 10am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

Go fly a kite! Seriously. The Kite Festival is, in my humble opinion, the best event during cherry blossom season (when the weather cooperates, anyway). The sight of thousands of kites in all colors, shapes, and sizes soaring around the Washington Monument is truly a sight to behold. It’s absolutely magical for my kids, and even for me as a jaded adult. The sails you see flying at the Festival each spring range from simple to pretty darn creative. Dragons, sharks, butterflies, giant soccer balls, even some that look like intricate works of art actually outnumber your basic diamond. And anyone can go fly their kites, so be sure to bring one. There’s a competition aspect to the event, too; expert kite enthusiasts will wow crowds with cool stunts, and prizes will be awarded to winners of various categories such as most beautiful, funniest, and aerodynamics.

Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival
Where: Southwest Waterfront, 600-900 Water Street SW
When: Saturday, April 6, 1-9pm
Admission: Free

A fun family event happening along the water is the annual fireworks show at the Southwest Waterfront. It’s an all-day and part-evening affair with free live music and family-friendly festivities, including water-related activities, cultural experiences, and delicious foods. The grand finale will begin at 8:30pm when the National Cherry Blossom Festival Fireworks Show lights up the night sky.

Arts for Families: Koinobori
Where: Textile Museum
When: Saturday, April 6, 2-4pm
Admission: Free

This session of the Textile Museum’s free monthly program for families celebrates the Cherry Blossom Festival: In Japanese folklore, the carp is a symbol of determination and vigor, overcoming all obstacles to swim upstream. Families can drop in to the museum to explore pattern and texture as you create your own colorful paper koi mobiles.

Lantern Making Family Day
Where: Yards Park
When: Saturday, April 13, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Bring the whole family to construct Japanese lanterns at the Capitol Riverfront park. There will be two sessions of the activity, at 10am and 12pm, both followed by a parade through the Yards. Martial arts and a moonbouncing will also be happening throughout the event for kids to enjoy. Sushi and other Japanese foods will be available for purchase or BYO — either way it’s a great place for a picnic.

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue, 7th – 17th Streets NW
When: Saturday, April 13, 10am – 12:30pm
Admission: Free
The pinnacle of cherry blossom festivities is, hands-down, the parade. Thousands of people line Constitution Avenue every year to watch the spectacle of lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, and a variety of performers travel down Constitution Avenue. Tickets for grandstand seats are available for $20, but you can stake out a spot along the curb for free. Plan to arrive early to get a good view — the crowds come out for this one, especially if it’s a pretty spring day.

Sakura Matsuri
Where: 12th Street & Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
When: Saturday, April 13, 10:30am – 6pm
Admission: $5/ages 13 and older
Immediately following the Cherry Blossom parade, many folks head right over to Sakura Matsuri, the Japanese Street Festival that is America’s largest one-day exhibition of Japanese culture. Stretching down six city blocks from 9th to 14th Streets on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, there will be live music and dance performances, all kinds of Asian and Western foods, martial arts demos, Japanese art, and more. Be prepared for a crowd.

ImaginAsia Art Activities

Where: Freer-Sackler Galleries
When: April 6,7, 13 & 14
Admission: Free
The National Museums of Asian Art will host a a couple of activities for families during the festival’s run, both of them hands-on. Kids can create Japanese book based on folios featuring cherry blossoms and scenes and activities related to springtime. There will also be anime-focused exhibitions and activities.

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Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, DC, Educational, Festival, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Parade, Seasonal, Spring, Weekdays, Weekend

Science + You = Hands-on Fun and Learning

Putting the pieces in place for a healthy body


As if we needed another reason to visit the Yards Park, the Living Classrooms Foundation has given us a good one: Science + You, a fun and engaging free exhibit that gives children the opportunity to be a “scientist for a day.”  Located in the Foundry Lofts, just steps from the riverfront recreational space, the exhibit opens to the public today and will welcome curious visitors through most of the summer.

Sasha and I had a chance to get a sneak peek yesterday along with school groups who were invited to test it out. From the moment we walked in, she was intrigued. Designed for ages 3-8, Science + You is set up like a child-size lab with stations featuring hands-on activities and equipment that emulate processes scientists use in a real lab.

Cooking up healthy soup in the test kitchen

They start by pretending to wash their hands, then roam freely among areas where they can do some healthy cooking, use a glove box to handle equipment, study objects under a microscope, and much more. And along the way, the displays explore scientific concepts and educate about things like germs, disease, and health.

Getting a really good look in the magnifying station

Hosted by Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region, Science + You was created collaboratively by Kohl Children’s Museum in Chicago and scientists from the global health care company Abbott. It was designed to spark an interest in science among kids through fun, interactive displays and hands-on experiments.

During our visit, I had a chance to chat with Sheridan Turner, CEO and President of Kohl Children’s Museum. She explained one of the aims of the exhibit is to bring more focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education, as research has shown that introducing kids to science at an early age is critical to inspiring future interest in science.

Fighting off antibodies via ball game

All that glitters... the mixing displays are pleasantly sparkly

Watching Sasha and the other kids dart excitedly from station to station, it was evident that the design is successful.  The displays are presented with elements that attract and engage kids — the concept of fighting antibodies is demonstrated through a ball game, glitter swirls and sparkles in the mixing station, puzzle pieces help depict a healthy body. Of course, some explanation from an adult should accompany most of it, but the important part, the initial interest, is sparked by the exhibit alone.

Little scientists at work in the lab

Oh, did I mention that there are little lab coats for kids to wear, too?  Unfortunately, they were all in use by the time we arrived — it seemed that all of the kids wanted to be a “scientist for a day.”

Science + You will be on exhibit May 9 – August 5 at the Foundry Lofts – 301 Tingey Street SE.  Public hours are 12:30-4pm Tuesday – Friday, and 10am – 4pm Saturday & Sunday.  Admission is free.



Filed under DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Gradeschoolers, Indoor Play, Park, Preschoolers, Spring, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend