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Best post-holiday events for kids photo
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Best post-holiday events for kids

Maura Judkis  |  Updated 07/02/2013

The holidays are (almost) over. Time to kick back and relax, right? Well, if you're a parent that might not be possible. We've arrived at that wonderful/dreaded -- depending on the mood at the moment -- time between the holidays and the return to school.

So, beside play dates with the rambunctious neighbors, what can you to do entertain the little ones and get some kicks yourself? Here are a few ideas:


National Portrait Gallery - Smithsonian Institution

Washington, DC

Peel the kids away from the new Wii U and encourage them to get creative. The National Portrait Gallery has open-studio Fridays from 1 to 4 p.m., where visitors check out a Portrait Discovery Kit from the education center (Room E151, first floor), then get to work under the instruction of an artist. The kits feature a different art material each week, such as pen and ink, paint, charcoal or oil pastels. Children and adults are welcome to participate.


USDA Forest Service Visitors Center

Washington, DC

Everyone knows the story of Smokey Bear. But did you know you can actually meet him in Washington? Just inside the entrance to the Agriculture Department's Forest Service headquarters is Smokey Bear's Office, where a life-size Smokey reclines in a chair with his feet on his desk. As visitors walk past, the animatronic Smokey stirs to greet them. He raises his furry paw, points and reminds his guests, "Only you can prevent forest fires!" Beyond Smokey is the visitors center, which is decorated like a Western lodge. Kids can watch short videos on such topics as conservation and firefighting, look at nature photos and see such artifacts as fire helmets and snowshoes. There's also plenty of free Forest Service swag, such as the original 1960s "True Story of Smokey Bear" comic book, magnets, Junior Ranger pencils and notepads.


Brookside Gardens

Wheaton, MD

The "Seasons Greenings" exhibit at the U.S. Botanic Garden might be packing it up, and most holiday displays will be in storage after New Year's Day, but Brookside Gardens' train exhibit will be running through Jan. 6. The flower and plant display is in full bloom near the train area, where miniature villages, and even a scale model of the outdoor Wheaton Ice Rink, are encircled by model trains.


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