Summer is fast approaching and school will ending in a few short weeks. It is time to start planning some local summer outings. Take advantage of the endless list of activities and adventures that await you in the DC Metro area. Get your copy of our book, Kid Trips Northern Virginia, Plus Top Picks For Family Fun In Washington DC! Don't let the name fool you, in addition to an insanely comprehensive list of Northern Virginia fun, we also have over 75 pages of must-see museums, parks and events in DC and Maryland.
Kid Trips Northern Virginia features hundreds of perfect trips and activities for children of all ages. Whether you have tots, tweens or teens, you’ll find wondrous things for them to experience and learn about in Northern Virginia including: Museums, Parks, Playgrounds, Nature Centers, Zoos, Pick-Your-Own Farms, Indoor Playrooms, Water Parks, Skating, Children’s Theaters, Sports, Laser Tag, Paint Ball, Arts & Crafts, Building Workshops, Jewelry Making, Skateparks, Campgrounds, Amusement Parks, and much more!
Want to avoid the crowds? Maybe find a nearby restaurant or know which routes are stroller-friendly? You’ll find all that and more in the authors’ secret " Insider Tips" and local "Top Picks" such as:
• Best Consignment Shops
• Great Birthday Parties
• Best Kid’s Haircuts
• Favorite Baby & Toy Stores
• Kid-Friendly Restaurants
• Best Ice Cream & Frozen Yogurt
• Stroller-Friendly Trails
• Places to Ride Trains
• Places for a Tea Party
• Tween and Teen-Friendly Fun
Our book is ideal for weekend explorations, day tripping or last minute outings. Parents, grandparents and caregivers will all love the convenience of a local family-fun guidebook! Get your copy today!
By Amy Suski
When you think beach vacation, Connecticut may not be one of the first places to come mind, but it is for us. From the time our kids were little we've enjoyed visiting family at the stretch of Connecticut shore between the Connecticut and Mystic Rivers. Here are some reasons we think you'd fall in love with its New England coastal charm too:
Family Friendly Beaches: The sandy beaches along the Long Island Sound offer a gentle surf which is perfect for kids. On a nice day, the waves are gentle enough for preschoolers to play in and for tweens to try out their S.U.P. skills. Our favorite beach communities are in Old Lyme and Groton Long Point. Although there are points of public access to both, its most convenient if you can rent a house at the beach.
Lobsters: Throughout New England, summer is the season for eating lobsters in the rough by the water. Our favorite place in Connecticut is Abbott's in Noank, located right on the Mystic River. After piling your tray high with lobsters, steamers, and corn you can sit under a striped tent or by the dock and enjoy the river-view. Afterwards, kids will love the outrageously sized desserts and playing on the grass. If you'd like wine or a brew with your feast, BYO cooler.
Mystic Aquarium: Meeting the Beluga Whales at the Mystic Aquarium is an unforgettable experience. When they are not gliding gracefully by, they often engage with visitors through the 20-foot long underwater window. Children are so mesmerized by them that its easy to forget there is much more to see at the aquarium, including playful African Penguins, Shark and Ray Touch Pools, hands-on shallow pool Discovery Lab, coral reef fish, Loggerhead Turtles, and much more. Check the schedule in advance for scheduled shark feedings and sea lion show times.
Mystic Seaport: Long before Mystic was made famous by Julia Roberts in Mystic Pizza (which by the way, is a real pizza joint), Mystic was a bustling maritime village. You can learn about this historic past by visiting Mystic Seaport to see (or ride on) some of oldest surviving fishing vessels in the country. The seaport is also home to historic maritime buildings that have been moved from all over New England to recreate a 19th-century seafaring village. In the village you can see shipsmiths at work, ride a horse-drawn carriage, and hear stories and music about the seafaring life.
Essex Steam Train & Riverboat Ride: The whole family will enjoy the picturesque round-trip journey along the Connecticut River that starts on the historic 1892 Essex Steam Train and returns on the Becky Thatcher riverboat. If you don't have time for the full round trip adventure (2.5 hours), a 1 hour steam train ride is also available. Excursion options include first class (plush seating with beverage service), open car (wooden bench seats with open car sides), caboose rides, dinner trains, and a hiking trip to Gillette Castle.
Submarine Museum: The U.S. Navy's Submarine Force Museum houses the world's best collection of submarine artifacts, documents, photographs, and torpedoes dating as far back as the Revolutionary War. Inside the museum kids can take hold of the wheel in a control room, spy passing boats through a periscope, and examine replicas of Bushnell's Turtle and the USS Gato. Outside you can walk around mini-subs and board the historic submarine Nautilus to view torpedo rooms, the crew's living quarters, the galley, officer staterooms, control rooms and more. We were also lucky to be enough to be topside just as a brand new Virginia class submarine was cruising in under escort by naval security boats. That doesn't happen every day, but it sure was a thrill!
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and do not reflect those of the businesses and organizations mentioned. We did not receive any special discounts or benefits on this trip. All rights are reserved by KidTrips © 2015.
By Amy Suski
We've stayed at the Williamsburg Woodlands Hotel & Suites for two years in a row and both times we were impressed by how nice it is for the rate. A comfortable suite (shown above) has a separate bedroom for Mom and Dad while kids shared the fold-out queen sofa bed. This was the arrangement we preferred, but families can also get a room with 2 double beds and a fold-out chair, which works well for families of 5. Aside from providing ample elbow room for the whole family, we loved these features:
Free Breakfast: One of the nicest cost savers of staying at the Woodlands is the free breakfast buffet. Every morning the kids helped themselves to an ample selection of fresh fruit, eggs, cereals, pastries, bagels, and (drumroll please)...two waffle bars! Even the pickiest kid will love that. And since the buffet is self-serve, there is no wait. You can eat as fast or as leisurely as you want and start your day without delay. A busy and friendly staff kept the breakfast room clean and well stocked at all times. It's not fancy (the cutlery is plastic and the dishes are styrofoam) but when traveling with kids, an easy non-breakable breakfast with carry-out coffee is just right.
Spray Park: In addition to an outdoor pool, the Woodlands has added a nifty little spray park just for kids. Although it was too cold to try it out when we visited, I spied a pirate ship, water cannons, and sprinklers, all of which could keep a little tyke happy for hours.
Huzzah! BBQ Grille: Although the hotel doesn't have room service, its easy to dine-in or carry-out food from the family-friendly BBQ Grille Huzzah! Huzzah's also has a cozy bar where we enjoyed some local microbrews before turning in for the night. What's nice for families is that Huzzah's does not attract a bar crowd like some other hotel bars do. When we're trying to settle our light sleepers at night, the last thing we want is a rowdy group returning to their room after carousing in the lobby bar. Huzzah's closes at a respectable 10:30 p.m. and is located just outside the hotel in a lovely courtyard where you're likely to see families enjoying the evening around a picnic table or firepit.
Car-Free Convenience: As an official Colonial Williamsburg hotel, the Woodlands is convenient to all the Colonial Williamsburg attractions. Once you park your car in their free lot, there is no need for it to get around. The Visitor Center is located immediately adjacent to the Woodlands and the rest of the Colonial Williamsburg attractions are within walking distance or a short shuttle ride away. (Even though its close enough to walk I recommend taking the shuttle so that the kids don't get tired out too soon.)
Discounts: Depending on when you stay at the Woodlands, there may be special discounts or packages including tickets to Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens, and more. Be sure to check their website for the latest offers.
The opinions expressed are entirely my own and do not reflect those of the businesses and organizations mentioned. We did not receive any special discounts or benefits on this trip. All rights are reserved by KidTrips © 2014.
After two-and-a-half years where I rarely had time to take my children to a park during the day — and I also had a large garden that made it easy to play outside at home — I now find myself in an entirely new situation. For the next few months, at least, we’re living in an an apartment in downtown Copenhagen where I can’t just send the kids out back to get a dose of fresh air and open space. I also have far more flexibility in my schedule (and far less stress in my life, but more about that later). So outings to the playground, or legeplads in Danish, have become almost a daily occurrence around these parts.
Our leisurely tour of Copenhagen’s parks and playgrounds have rekindled my great love affair with the Danish legeplads, and here’s why:
1) Thanks to a more relaxed parenting atmosphere and a less litigious society, Danish playgrounds are designed first and foremost to be fun and challenging for kids. They aren’t as wrapped up in concerns about what could go wrong and who could get sued over it. Design seems to focus more on what the park can inspire kids to do and how it can motivate kids to engage with the equipment, rather than being preoccupied with how safe every step will be. If you think this sounds like a recipe for playground accidents, you may be right. I haven’t seen the statistics on Danish playground injuries, and I have to admit that some of the slides here are shockingly steep. But I do know that this article from The Atlantic in 2014 reminded me of how much I like and embrace the idea that playing should, at least some of the time, be challenging, independent and a carry a small degree of risk.
by Micaela Williamson
"Since the film’s 1992 theatrical release and subsequent DVD release, NEWSIES has grown into a cult phenomenon, and for years had been the single most requested title of all the Disney musical films not yet adapted for the stage" (Official Press release.) I have been a fan of show since the film (hint: young Christian Bale and awesome music.) When I found out this Tony® Award-winning smash hit musical will play an exclusive two-week engagement at National Theatre, I was excited to see NEWSIES coming to my hometown!
Inspired by the real-life "Newsboy Strike of 1899," which began when newspaper publishers raised the price for newsies, the musical tells the fictional story of Jack Kelley, a charming newsboy leading the strike against Pulitzer, Hearst, and other powerful newspaper publishers. Besides great original songs from the movie, including "King of New York," "Carrying the Banner," "Seize the Day," and "Sante Fe," the stage production introduces seven new songs created by the original and iconic Menken and Felden musical team.
Here are 5 Fun Facts about NEWSIES to get you excited for the show:
Tickets to NEWSIES are now available at the National Theatre box office, online at thenationaldc.com, or by calling (800) 514-3849. A day-of-performance lottery for a limited number of best available seats at $25 each – cash only – will be held at the theater two hours before each performance.
INSIDER HINT: Look for a giveaway for a pair of tickets to see NEWSIES on our Facebook page later this week!
Disclosure: I was given a pair of tickets to opening night of Newsies for sharing this information. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.
By Claudine Kurp
As I get older, I have come to realize that I no longer have the time or patience to shop with the same joie de vivre that I had before children. Taking a preschooler to the mall or to a furniture store is simply not fun! Even my tween is a bit of a nightmare to take to the mall. I always seem to get rerouted to the carousel or to a clothing store like Justice or Gap Kids. My children have taken over my shopping experience and I find myself avoiding the mall at all costs!
After my recent move to Texas, I quickly realized that I needed a number of items for my home and closet. In my quest for home décor, furniture, clothing (we went from 30 degrees to 70 degrees overnight), and even pool equipment, I quickly learned that I could find any number of items online. I also discovered that I could often get a more competitive price versus a brick and mortar store. Even better, I could shop for my wares at 11pm in the comfort of my own home. Yes…I was aware that online shopping did indeed exist before my move, but I have definitely embraced it and taken my love for discounts to another level.
Here are my top picks for online shopping sites:
This article is a guest post by British Swim School of MD & VA
When traveling with kids, remember drowning is preventable! Take your common sense with you; don't leave it at home!
1) NEVER let your child in any body of water without adult supervision. NEVER. There is no such thing as WATER SAFE or DROWN PROOF. Even children who know how to swim can get into trouble quickly in pools, lakes, rivers and oceans
2) Teach your child to always swim with a buddy, never swim alone.
3) PAY ATTENTION to your child. PUT THAT CELLPHONE DOWN! It only takes a few seconds for a child to drown. Always assign an adult to be in charge of WATER WATCHING, never assume someone else is doing it.
4) NEVER rely on water wings, pool noodles, water rings or any other sort of “toy” floatation device to save your child.
5) ALWAYS swim near a Lifeguard. Teach your children to constantly be looking for the lifeguard. When in the ocean, teach your children about undertow and to always swim in between the flags that the lifeguards post on the beaches. Teach your child to pay attention to any warning flags on the beach. DO NOT RELY ON THE LIFEGUARD TO WATCH YOUR CHILD!
6) While on a boat or any other watercraft, ensure your child is wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD) that fits. Do not let them on the watercraft without one.
7) Take frequent breaks from the water, make sure your child is hydrated and make sure you stop swimming when your child is tired.
by Micaela Williamson
Throughout the past few years, "Dinosaur Train" has remained one of my kids' favorite PBS KIDS television shows. With science and dinosaur facts, charming characters, and sweet story lines, the show show transcends generations and appeals to a variety of children. As PBS KIDS kicks-off its annual Explore the Outdoors initiative, a new "Dinosaur Train" DVD from PBS Distribution is now available, and we're giving away five copies!
Here are the details:
“Dinosaur Train: Explore Outdoors!”
Run Time: Approx. 100 Minutes
The DVD features eight, "dino-mite" adventures, including:
For fun ideas about engaging the whole family in outdoor exploration, check out all the great suggestions at pbskids.org/outdoors.
Enter to win a copy of the "Dinosaur Train" DVD just by leaving a comment below. Five winners will be selected on Friday, May 15, 2015. Good luck!
I am a PBSKIDS VIP insider. I sometimes receive special products and PBSKIDS perks for sharing information on my blog. For this blog, I received a complimentary "Dinosaur Train" DVD for my family. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.
by Claudine Kurp
I recently moved to The Woodlands, TX from Northern Virginia. Despite the fact that I was told about the move/company relocation in June of 2011, I still wasn’t quite ready to relocate my ENTIRE life when the time came in February. The experience was both mentally and physically taxing on my family. I think if this move just involved my husband and I, I would not have had all of the emotionally baggage that went with the journey.
While moving some 1,500 miles away from everything you know is fairly brutal in the base case, doing it with children takes it to another level. For over a month prior to our move, my 9-year-old daughter would break down before bedtime and cry and tell me she didn’t want to leave her friends, her soccer team, her home and her everything. I tried to be positive, but I knew change was coming and some of her fears were warranted. Despite the great distance we were moving, in reality whether you move 15 miles or 1,500 miles, if your child has to switch schools and leave neighborhood friends it will be traumatic! Psychologically moving out-of-state is worse especially if there really isn’t an easy way to go back and visit friends and family with any type of ease. So what is a parent to do?
I did my best to tackle this move with my children in mind. I tried to manage the logistics of the move and the emotions of the event. It wasn’t easy, but we are getting there day by day.
Here are some of my tips to help you navigate a move with children.
Crazy humidity and afternoon thunderstorms aside, Northern Virginia is actually a fun place to be in the summer. Every year we scope out the local happenings and bring you the best family-friendly events of the summer. Here are our not-to-be-missed picks for Summer 2015.
Big Truck Days Town of Herndon: May 7 & 8, 2015
Get up close and personal with some of the public works' big trucks and heavy equipment. Children will get photo opportunities, see how the trucks operate and get free souvenirs. Light refreshments will be served.
Spring Farm Day at Frying Pan Farm Park: May 9, 2015
Bring the whole family to watch farm demos, meet sweet baby animals, participate in games, ride a wagon pulled by a tractor, enjoy crafts and much more.
1771 Market Fair at Claude Moore Colonial Farm: May 16 & 17, 2015
Purchase herbs, plants, crafts and more. Children will love playing colonial games, learning from costumed interpreters, making crafts, watching live entertainment and trying delicious period food, including lemonade and sugar cakes.
Viva Vienna!: May 23-25, 2015
This giant community festival lines the streets of downtown Vienna with community booths, hundreds of vendors, carnival rides, live entertainment for all ages, food and much more. It is bigger than ever this year!
Strawberry Jubilee at Great Country Farms: May 23, 24, 30 & 31, 2015
Pick your own strawberries in the field, enjoy great food, contests, and take advantage of all the fun the farm always has to offer; such as farm animals, giant slides, the bouncing pillow, cow train, pedal carts and more.
Celebrate Fairfax: June 5-7 2015
This is Northern Virginia's largest festival! Celebrate Fairfax is filled with midway rides, community exhibits, vendors, lots of hands-on booths for children, animals, live entertainment for all ages and Friday and Saturday nights are capped off with fireworks!
Manassas Heritage Railway Festival: June 6, 2015
Elaborate model train displays, memorabilia, entertainment, booths and more take over the streets of historic Old Town Manassas. Plus, train excursion rides to Clifton and back take place throughout the day.
Tall Ship Hermione in Alexandria: June 10-12, 2015
Explore Hermione, an exact replica of the 18th century wooden tall ship that brought the Marquis de Lafayette to George Washington in 1780. Families can watch rope and sail-making demonstrations, view waterfront exhibits, interact with living history characters and enjoy related events and French dining throughout Old Town Alexandria.
George Mason Day at Gunston Hall: June 13, 2015
Commemorate the June 1776 ratification of Virginia's Declaration of Rights with free admission to Gunston Hall. Converse with characters from the past, tour the home, watch a film about George Mason, view demonstrations and savor samples from the hearth kitchen.
Taste of Reston: June 19 & 20, 2015
Reston Town Center comes alive with two days of the best local food and drink tastings, live entertainment, interactive demonstrations, carnival rides, and vendors. Plus, The YMCA Fairfax County Reston presents games, demonstrations, arts and crafts for children.
Peter Pan Live at Threesixty Theatre Tysons: June 24- July 12, 2015
Sour to Neverland in this innovative live stage production that combines theater-in-the-round seating,
overhead surround CGI projection, actors in dazzling flying sequences forty feet in the air, and whimsical puppets that this favorite tale to life.
Films in the Park: Mosaic District: (kid-friendly films on select Fridays in July and August)
Come to the hip Mosaic District to enjoy FREE outdoor films. Grab a picnic from one of the many amazing locations that make the Mosaic District a foodie's paradise. Family-friendly titles for the summer include:
An American Celebration at Mount Vernon: July 4, 2015
This 18th century style celebration includes fireworks, old-fashioned fun and games, period costumed characters, mansion tours, military re-enactments, free cake and more. All activities are included with admission.
City of Fairfax 4th of July Parade: July 4, 2015
One of the largest and most fun local parades complete with spectacular floats, performers, characters, fire trucks, marching bands and some big "Macy's style" balloons. Tip: Go early to secure your spot and park in the library parking garage for free, shaded parking.
Shrek the Musical at Encore Stage and Studio: July 17-26, 2015
Join the gang of fairytale misfits for this must-see, musical comedy based on the 2001 DreamWorks Film Shrek and William Steig's 1990 book Shrek. Encore Stage and Studio is Northern Virginia's premier theatre for kids, by kids.
Loudoun County Fair: July 27-August 1, 2015
A massively fun county fair with a carnival, professional bull riding, dairy and pet shows, children's activities, vendors, live music and much more.
Starlight Cinema Drive-In: August 2015
This is Fairfax County's only free drive-in movie opportunity. It is a free, community favorite. Visit the link for information about parking, arrival times and what to bring. Each evening always begins with an outdoor pre-movie program of music, food and children's activities.
Brick Fair: August 1 & 2, 2015
LEGO brick fans take over the Dulles Expo Center with incredible models, displays, vendors, competitions and plenty of hands-on activities for kids and adults alike.
Prince William County Fair: August 14-22, 2015
A highly-regarded county fair with animals, midway exhibits, rides, vendors, food, interactive booths, live entertainment and more. Check their website for coupons and special discounted admission days.
Lucketts Fair: August 15-16, 2015
A charming annual event that caters to family and kids and celebrates Lucketts' agrarian roots Come for food, fun, demonstrations, antiques, music and more in this lovely little town.
Disney in Concert at Wolf Trap: August 21, 2015
Watch Disney magic light up the stage as songs from Frozen, Aladdin, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and more are sung live, with accompaniment by the Wolf Trap Orchestra and synchronized video from the movies displayed on huge screens.
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Kid Trips' blogs profile fun events and cool family-friendly venues. We focus on regional and national family travel articles.
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