— Moira E. McLaughlin
Play in a fountain
You know all those fountains around the city — especially outside museums and official-looking buildings — that you want to jump into but aren’t allowed to? At the Yards Park, you’re not only allowed, but you’re also encouraged to jump, sit, splash and play in a big pool right next to the Anacostia River. The water is only about one foot deep, so it’s like a really big bathtub. On a recent afternoon, kids (and parents) were wading in their bathing suits and even in their clothes.
At one end of the water park, you can play in a noisy waterfall or walk behind it — staying dry — on a path. The stairs next to the pool take you to rows of fountains shooting water up to the sky in long, thin columns. All of this is right next to a grassy park that is perfect for a rest and a snack.
Where: The Yards Park, Third and Water streets SE. No lifeguard is on duty, so don’t forget to walk, not run!
When: Daytime, but closed for maintenance Tuesdays and Fridays from 9 to 11:30 a.m.
How much? Free. Have a parent visit www.yardspark.org.
See sharks and a sea turtle
Have you ever been to Australia? Or Indonesia? Have you ever seen the brightly colored coral reefs in the ocean between those two countries, where sharks, stingrays and sea turtles play? (A coral reef is a bony formation on which tiny animals called corals live. It looks like sharp rocks.) A new exhibit at Baltimore’s
National Aquarium will take you there.
The coral in the Blacktip Reef exhibit is not real, but the more than 1,000 fish are very real, swimming around in a tank as big as a house. Calypso, the 500-pound sea turtle whom you may know from previous aquarium visits, has been moved to this exhibit along with two zebra sharks, Zeke and Zoe.
The highlight of the exhibit is the 20 blacktip reef sharks that are now about four feet long but will grow to be about six feet long, probably about the height of your dad. Swimming smoothly through the water, the sharks look so cool and sleek, with their fins painted black just at the tip.
To see fish closer to home, visit the National Aquarium in Washington. But make it soon! Home to about 1,500 fishy animals, this aquarium is closing Sept. 30.
Where: The National Aquarium in Baltimore, 501 E. Pratt St.
When: Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. to
5 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 8:30 a.m. to
How much? Adults $34.95, ages 3 to 11, $21.95, seniors $29.95, age 2 and younger free.
For more information: Have a parent go to www.aqua.org or call 410-576-3800.
Where: The National Aquarium, 14th Street NW between Constitution and Pennsylvania avenues.
When: Sunday-Thursday 9 a.m. to
6 p.m., Friday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
How much? Adults $9.95, seniors $8.95, ages 3 to 11 $4.95, age 2 and younger free.
For more information: Have a parent visit www.aqua.org or call 202-482-2825.
Hit the high seas, or high river
Ahoy there, matey! Have you ever sailed the seven seas? Dangerous Dave, a pirate in a black and red boat with Jolly Rogers (black skull-and-crossbones flags) flying overhead, wants to take all you sea dogs on a sail for booty. (That’s pirate talk. It means that a guy named Dave wants to take you on a boat ride in search of treasure.) To succeed, you and all the other scurvy dogs have to persuade another
pirate, Dangerous Doug, to give you the keys to the treasure chest on his boat, which is also sailing the seven seas (actually, the Potomac River).
“I’m on the lookout for pirates,” Nautical Nikki said as the pirate ship Boomerang set sail recently.
Soon the crew spotted the scalawag Doug in his small boat.
“Man the cannons!” Dangerous Dave commanded, and the mates shot water out of black guns, trying to hit Dangerous Doug.
When Doug surrendered, Nautical Nikki claimed the chest full of beads, treasure maps, balls, silver skull rings, lollipops and candies and passed them out to all the buccaneers.
Because pirates like to dance, Dangerous Dave then led the group in the limbo and some other pirate steps, such as the Clean the Deck, where everyone pretended to be mopping the deck. Nautical Nikki painted faces and put fake tattoos on any willing young pirate.
All in all, it was a pretty cool day at sea.
Where: Washington Harbor, 3000 K St. NW
When: Wednesday-Thursday at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 and 1:30 p.m., Friday 11:30 a.m., 12:30, 1:30 and 4:30 p.m.,
Saturday at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., 12:30, 1:45 and 2:45 p.m.
How much: $20.
For more information: Have a parent visit www.boomerangpirateship.com or call 888-217-2198 or 202-417-2055.
Cool off on the playground
The summer should be about simple fun, and two new spraygrounds are just that: a great way to stay cool, laugh and scream as your brother aims a water spout in your direction.
At Virginia Highlands Park in Arlington, colorful plastic flowers and buckets on tall poles fill up with water and then drench any willing (or unwilling) person below. The sprayground also includes shorter spouts that spray water.
A water slide is a fun feature of the Palisades Spray Park in the District. The park also includes water shooting from the ground and falling from the mouths of pretend fish hanging from a pole. After cooling off, warm up again on the park’s climbing structure.
Where: Virginia Highlands Park, 1600 S. Hayes St. (Check the Web site below for three other spray parks in Arlington.)
When: Daily through Labor Day, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
How much? Free.
For more information: Have a parent visit bitly.com/13EKFDh.
Where: Palisades Spray Park, 5200 Sherier Place NW (The Web site below lists nine other D.C. spray parks.)
When: Daily through Labor Day, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
How much? Free.
For more information: Have a parent visit
or call 202-282-2186.