by Claudine Kurp
A truly magical thing has happened. I recently had an event that I really wanted to attend. It was a book signing in DC. Since I had to decided to go at the last minute, I struggled to think of a friend who could get out on Friday night at a moments notice. Bingo! I thought of the perfect person! My 9-year-old daughter would love to go with me. We have been moving at the speed of light with school, homework and soccer. I decided that we both needed to be rewarded with a night out! I jumped onto OpenTable and booked a table for two at Cafe Milano. We made our way into the city, parked up and enjoyed a wonderful meal.
Once dinner was done, we headed over to Jonathan Adler's shop on Wisconsin Avenue. My daughter and I wandered through the store, we bought the book for our special book signing with Erin Gates from Elements of Style (one of my favorite bloggers ever!) and just enjoyed each other's company.
We have done a handful of "Date Nights" over the past year and most are local and very simple. In the past, we have enjoyed dinner at Fairfax Corner followed by a trip to the movies to see Despicable Me. Each time we made a really nice memory. More importantly I was actually able to truly bond with my daughter. I wasn't yelling to get to the bus, griping about homework or racing to soccer. My only job was to be her mother and slow down long enough to find out what was going on in her world. Beyond nice!
These "Date Nights" can obviously work for younger children any gender, any parent. It is wonderful to have some one-on-one time with your kids sans all of the responsibilities that plague us at home. My daughter was desperate to get me away from her toddler sister and frankly I needed the break as well. A good time was had by all! With that in mind, I put together a list of possible "Kid Date Night" options. It doesn't have to be extravagant, it can be as simple as an ice cream cone and some alone time. The moments together are want count the most.
1. Museums - The area is littered with amazing museums. From Northern Virginia to DC, you have a number of options. The Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum followed by lunch or dinner at Reston Town Center would be perfect for a Northern VA date. Why not take your budding artist to the National Art Gallery or the National Portrait Gallery. Another fun idea, watch the movie National Treasure and then make a trip to the National Archives. The movie gives so much history, your kids will be excited for the opportunity to check out this great museum.
2. Kennedy Center Millennium Stage - This is a great location for free children's shows. Take in the grandeur of the Kennedy Center, step out onto the balcony and soak up beautiful views of the Potomac. In the summer or winter, the Georgetown Waterfront is a great place to begin or end your date night. In the winter, you can enjoy the nearby Washington Harbour Ice Rink and a cup of hot chocolate. In the summer you can have an outdoor meal and grab a reasonably priced boat ride on the Capitol River Cruise.
3. Planetarium & Observatory - There are a few planetariums in the area. One great one is the at the National Air and Space in DC at the Albert Einstein Planetarium. In Northern Virginia, you can take advantage of Arlington’s David M. Brown Planetarium. The Arlington planetarium isn't too far from two of my favorite cheap eats, Taqueria Poblano and Pie-Tanza. George Mason University has an observatory with designated hour for the public. The campus is close to a number of shops and restaurants.
National Harbor Is A Great Destination For Wonderful Views and Endless Fun!
4. Books Signings - We live in an exciting area that often serves as a hub for authors who want to promote their books. Keep an eye out for a favorite writer or celebrity who might be in the area promoting a book. I recently went to see one of my favorite design bloggers in Georgetown. I was also lucky enough to see Giada De Laurentiis at Sur La Table in Pentagon Row. After the Giada signing, I headed over to Lebanese Taverna. Sign up for Politics and Prose, your local library, Barnes and Noble and your locally owned books stores for book signing and event alerts. While doing this blog, I discovered this little website that does a nice job showing book signings throughout the country it is called www.FindBookSignings.com.
Fairfax Corner Shopping Center Is Now Glowing With Holiday Lights. Take In A Movie, Dinner & A Walk!
5. Movies - Keep is simple! You can create your own local magic by going to a movie. Check your local offering. Many theaters offer discounted tickets on specific days. Get to the theater a little early for a late afternoon show and save on tickets. Lastly, Fairfax Corner's Cinema De Lux offers some package with deals with local restaurants. For example, you can get a deeply discounted movie ticket with a the purchase of a sandwich. Better yet, the ticket is good at any time. Buy your sandwiches now and save your tickets for a movie on another night. Call your local theater to find out about the best deals.
6. Outdoor Fun - Regardless of temperature, there is always outdoor fun in the DC Metro area. There are a number of local parks that offer great walking trails. There are also zip lines courses that offer more advanced adventures for family fun. We have TONS of seasonal activities listed in our book, Kid Trips Northern Virginia.
7. Potluck - Pick what interests you and your child? Maybe a trip to the Lego store is all it will take to make for a meaningful night out or possibly a walk past the fire station followed by dinner or a small treat. Load up your daughter's American Girl doll and go to the American Girl Restaurant in Tyson's Corner. Don't have a doll, they will loan you one and the food is awesome! Try the salmon. Is there a local toy store or make-your-own pottery shop that would interest your little one? A favorite restaurant (my daughter's is Red Lobster...go figure) can be fun. Kids can get dressed up and really feel like this is a grown up night for them. Sit down and ask your child what they would like to do for your special outing.
Washington Harbour Rink
I was originally going to assemble a "Top Five" list but as you can see my list kept growing. The possibilities are endless anytime of the year and with any budget. The important take-away is that parents and children desperately need "fun" time together. Take yourself away from daily grind and create some personal time that doesn't involve practice, homework, etc. I don't do enough of it, but I am always so happy when I get out with my daughter. We are making beautiful memories.
My final note is a bit self-serving, but I will mention it anyway. Our book, Kid Trips Northern Virginia Edition: Plus Top Picks For Family Fun In Washington DC! is an EXCELLENT resource for outings both big and small. When you take three seasoned bloggers who have lived in the area for years with children of all ages, you get a really cool resource. For the price of a few lattes, you could have a wonderful book of local DC Metro adventures at your fingertips. If you have the book....buy one for a friend=;)
Here is to fun!
Empower Tree Top Tour
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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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