by Claudine Kurp
I finally made it out to the Capital Wheel at National Harbor last weekend. What took me so long? Every time I make my way over the bridge I am reminded of just how close this unique destination is to my home in Northern Virginia. Even in traffic, it was such a quick ride to National Harbor.
After arriving at National Harbor, on a gorgeous Saturday, we parked up and set out for adventure. With all of the shops, restaurants, play areas for kids and now the Capital Wheel, National Harbor is an absolute home run for my family. We were able to have a fun morning followed by lunch and made it home for nap time. If only I could have stayed longer! I have attached some highlights of our visit to the Capital Wheel. I have also splashed in some information about the National Harbor. My advice, get your calendar out and pencil in a trip!
Wild, Wonderful Ride on the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad: Our trip to the West Virginia Mountains
by Micaela and Jay Williamson
The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad offers a variety of regular and special trains from April through December. While each ride is unique, they all offer a chance to learn more about railroad history and see the beautiful West Virginia countryside. The rides are scenic and relaxing as well as a great opportunity to spend time together watching the world roll by. Even better, no one’s feet get tired riding the train.
Some of the regular trains include:
The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad also has a number of special trains and options suited to various interests, such as:
The Durbin Rocket
The Durbin Rocket leaves from Durbin, WV. If you’re in Elkins, you’ve missed your train. It is an easy mistake, but you know better, now.
The first glance you get of the Rocket is impressive. Black smoke floats from the chimney while white steam billows forth in multiple directions from the engine. Bells sound and the engine hisses as it pulls forward into position. The engine pulls four cars, an open air car, a converted mail car that has several small tables, a covered seating car, and a caboose. While on-board you can pass easily between the cars.
Our boys liked the caboose and open air car best. In the caboose they were able to climb into the cupola and watch for sparks, just like old-time engineers. The train wasn’t crowded when we went and they played there for a significant portion of the trip. Their other favorite location was the open air car. The seats face outwards providing unobstructed views of the forest and river that are a constant part of the journey. Occasionally the smokestack exhaust would push tree branches skywards, cheering us on like fans doing the wave at a baseball game. Sometimes we’d get an early fall leaf shower too; it is the only shower we haven’t heard them complain about. Another highlight occurred during the second half of our 2 hour journey when our train had to stop for water. Everyone on the train enjoyed watching the boiler being filled with a hose from a nearby creek and the friendly engine crew filled the time talking with us and answering questions. It was a good chance to talk about how the train operated and the work necessary to keep it running.
by Micaela Williamson
Pilot Pals, a new app from the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, teaches children about airplanes and rockets through four games inspired by the history of early flight. This is the museum's first app and is geared toward children ages 4 to 6. While playing Pilot Pals, kids can name their hanger and chose a Pilot Pal to accompany them on their journey. Plus, the app features content, aesthetics, artifacts, and games based on the early learners exhibits at the the museum's "Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery."
Pilot Pals features four games—Gears, Weather, Rocket Stacking and Airplane Parts which introduce children to basic concepts about weather, parts of the airplane, rockets, sizes, shapes and patterns. All the aircraft in Pilot Pals are based on aircraft from the museum’s collection and include the Douglas World Cruiser Chicago, the Lockheed 5B Vega, the Piper J-2 Cub and the Autogiro Company of America AC-35.
“This new app helps us advance our strategy of reaching beyond the walls of the museum,” said Maureen Kerr, education chair at the museum. “It allows us to provide fun and meaningful educational experiences for children who are unable to visit and learn with us in person.”
The Pilot Pals iPad app is free and is available on the App Store. Pilot Pals can also be played on computers and mobile devices on the "Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery” website. This new app is made possible through the generous support of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
The National Air and Space Museum building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Va., near Washington Dulles International Airport. Both facilities are open daily from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free, but there is a $15 fee for parking at the Udvar-Hazy Center.
If you are looking for something different that is still within your home’s overall design scheme, consider large format tile. I am really into the large formatting, particularly what can be done with porcelain. Say you want the look of hardwood for your floors, but need the durability of tile -- the photo above shows your answer. These porcelain tiles can be found in various wood tones and sizes to meet your needs.
Porcelain slab is huge in Italy and Spain and now becoming very popular in the US. It’s a great choice for homeowners wanting the look of marble without the price and maintenance associated with marble. Porcelain slab comes in many colors and patterns and is perfect for kitchen countertops and backsplashes as well as bath countertops, floors and showers. It is heat and scratch-resistant like granite and non-porous like quartz thereby alleviating homeowners’ concerns about damaging their countertops. Porcelain can even be used outdoors because it will stand up to the elements without deterioration.
Large format tiles also come in 3-D. Instead of just changing the tile pattern or paint color, how about these choices for taking your kitchen backsplash or accent wall from flat to WOW?
Whether you are doing a full-scale remodel or just need a little update, using large format tiles will really update your look. I’d love to see your photos if you give it a try!
Photos courtesy of moss building & design and houzz.com.
If you’re in the market for some home remodeling, call the experts at Moss Building & Design. We will consult with you and help you explore the many possibilities for updating your home. Call 703-961-7707 to schedule an appointment for a free estimate.
In addition to blogging about all things home and family-related, Jeannine Miller manages Moss Building & Design’s Community Relations Department, which includes the popular HandyMOM 101 and HandyGirl 101 workshop programs.
This is a sponsored blog post. We were compensated for sharing this information about Moss Building & Design and believe highly in their services. All opinions are our own.
by Micaela Williamson
At first glance, the chic and trendy Hotel Monaco, a Kimpton Hotel, in Old Town Alexandria seemed like a great boutique hotel for a romantic getaway, not like a spot I wanted to take my kids. However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn about all their family friendly offerings and creative touches that make the hotel a special place for children. Plus, with an unbeatable location close to many shops, restaurants, and attractions in Old Town, the Hotel Monaco is a great site for a getaway.
We stayed in an incredibly spacious 750 square foot Loft Suite (Notably larger than my first apartment!) The suite offered a main level living area with large pullout sofa bed couch, flat screen TV, table, and half bathroom. Upstairs in the loft was a guest bedroom with another large flatscreen TV, and a state of the art bathroom featuring a Fuji tub (sadly my kids used this tub, not me,) and separate shower.
Due to the stairs and different levels, I would not recommend this room for families with toddlers, but it was ideal for me. I was able to read and watch a television show in my own space while my kids slept downstairs ( jumped on the bed and chatted in the dark.) Kimpton's Hotel Monaco has a diverse offering of suites and accommodations that fit different needs. Learn more about all the wonderful types of rooms available here.
Another highlight of the stay was eating at the onsite restaurant, Jackson 20, which boasts a great menu for kids and adults alike. At Jackson 20, Chef Brian McPherson’s menu features modern American comfort food with Southern influences, and relies heavily on fresh, local ingredients. The menu is diverse and has something on there from the picky eater to the aspiring foodie. We highly recommend the signature country ham & corn fritters for an appetizer...amazing!
By Amy Suski
If you've been longing for a European family vacation without the jet-lag or sticker-shock, our Canadian neighbor Montreal is the perfect choice. With old world cobblestone streets, sidewalk cafes, chic shops, open air markets, and world-class performing arts venues and museums, Montreal has all the panache of a European city with some key differences. First, although French is the official language, most signs and menus are also in English and most residents are more than happy to switch back-and-forth with visitors. Second, Montreal is not a pretentious city. There is a casual, friendly vibe in Montreal that welcomes families to come as they are and simply enjoy. Finally, although it's a foreign country (don't forget your passports!) you can drive there -- which is a huge savings when traveling with kids.
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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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