Every other Wednesday at noon, local experts from washingtonpost.com share their best bets for arts and entertainment options for kids and their families. Our group specializes in local dining, museum, sports and recreations, day trips, children's theaters and the special events that keep life in metropolitan Washington interesting.
We're happy to answer questions, but we need to hear from you too. Tell us about
your favorite public swimming pool, a movie that wowed your family, a toy shop with
a "do touch" policy, or a restaurant where pizza is as welcome on the floor as it is on
the plate. This is an hour for kids of all ages: So if you have teenagers who need a
night out without you -- or vice versa -- ask away. Together we can fill our calendars
with memorable activities.
Our "With Kids" editor hosts each discussion, but the entire group will be sitting at the kids' table. If you need more ideas, see KidsPost and the Entertainment Guide.
Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.
The Kids' Table:
Helloooo out there! On a beautiful day like today, I (Vicki) feel like I have the Kids' Table all to myself!! School's out. The sun's out. Harry Potter's out (no fair reading "Order of the Phoenix" at the table unless you plan to share -- your "review" perhaps). Even two of our resident gurus -- Maura and Kate -- are out at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival even as we speak (it opens today). Anne -- our Summer Guide and Fourth of July expert (but go ahead and test her on any other day, too) will be joining us later. Lynette (sports and recreation) and Alexa (restaurants) are here and, never fear, I'm a mom: You need answers, I'll find the guru that has them. So let us hear from you, there is plenty of room for questions and comments at the Kids' Table.
Washington, D.C.: I was looking to take my little one butterfly collecting this summer at the National Arboritum. Are their any rules concerning the collecting butterflys on Federal lands?
The Kids' Table: Hi DC, I (Lynette) checked with the National Arboretum staff and they do not allow the collection of pollinating insects, which unfortunately does include butterflies. National parks do not allow collecting of anything -- plant or animal material, rocks, etc. -- except for scientific research, which is strictly regulated. Do you and your little one really need to take the butterflies home? There is a major concern among naturalists these days that we are losing too many of our pollinators (bees, butterflies, certain flies, moths and midges) through pesticide use and loss of habitat. This doesn't mean you can't enjoy the butterflies though. Why not take part in one or more of this summer's Butterfly Counts. These annual events, scattered around the area, are open to all butterfly lovers. Your young'un is welcome as long as you're along to supervise. Or visit the Wings of Fancy butterfly exhibit at Brookside Gardens, which is open through Sept. 22. Another option is to create your own Butterfly Garden so the butterflies can come visit throughout the summer. Also, here's a list of public butterfly gardens you can visit.
College Park, Md.: Hi Gang,
Thanks for the great chats! I'm leaving tomorrow a.m. for four days at Bethany with my five-year-old son and my boyfriend and his four-year-old son. The weather looks iffy and we are racking our brains with ideas of things to do. I know this may be more appropriate for the Travel folk, but since it's already tomorrow, I'm desperate! Thanks for your help -- also any suggestions on places to eat crabs (at Bethany or Rehobeth) that also have kids' food -- nuggets, etc.?
Soon to be Beach Bunny!
The Kids' Table: Hi College Park, Lucky you. Have fun for all of us still stuck here in the city. To prepare ahead for rainy-day activities, check with your local toy store for portable games and ideas. Story books, favorite toys and arts supplies are always handy. Clay, bubble blowers and water paints (and plenty of newspaper to control the mess) are always good. This site offers a lot of crafty-type tips. If you think the kids will enjoy it, you can also check out the DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum at 708 Ocean Highway Fenwick Island to see hundreds of artifacts recovered from area shipwrecks. In Rehoboth Beach, you can visit the Indian River Lifesaving Station Museum at 130 Coastal Highway. Maybe some of our other chatters have tips as well. Feel free to share everyone!
Blacksburg, Va.: I've read over your suggestions in the article for reserving rooms in local dining establishments but didn't quite find what I was looking for. A large-ish group of my extended family will be gathering in DC for a weekend in July. We'll have about 20 adults and a couple handfuls of kids. We don't plan on too many organized group outings but would like to have dinner together one night. Are there any places we should consider in our dinner plans? I guess it would be about 30 people, kids included. We'd rather not pay to rent a room but would consider it if the price was right. A few of the family members consider themselves very stylish epicures and would like good food. The children are quite well behaved and do well in adult situations. Thanks for your help.
The Kids' Table: Hi Blacksburg. What about somewhere like Potowmack Landing off the GW Parkway in Alexandria. Call them and see what they say about having a group that size on their deck. It's pretty perfect for kids who can muck about on the grass while you have drinks. Or else perhaps, Chef Geoff's pretty outdoor patio. Another option -- but call first -- is the bar area at 2 Amys. They are very kid-friendly in there, in an easy European way. -- Alexa
Silver Spring, Maryland: My kids, two and four, have taken an interest in geography. They really enjoy looking at maps to see where their friends and relatives live in relation to them. "Grandma lives in Lynchburg, Virginia," "My cousin lives in Detroit," etc. I wanted to take the various pictures we have of friends and relatives a place them on a map indicating where everybody lives. Where can I get a kid friendly map for this purpose? They also seem to have the beginning interest in astronomy. Most every night they ask me where did the sun go and when is it coming back? I tell them that the kids on the other side of the world get to see the sun now and it will be our turn tomorrow morning. They seem to understand this, but I would like to show them. Any good planetariums around the area? Also, is the National Geographic Explorers' Hall fun for kids younger than five?
The Kids' Table: Hi Silver Spring, You may want to wait a couple of years before taking your kids to Explorers Hall (the exhibits are great but best if you can read the captions), but here is National Geographic's Web site specifically for kids. Also, this Star Struck feature includes a list of area planetariums and observatories. The Library of Congress has a whole collection of maps but don't know if that includes kid-friendly ones. You might also try the Rand McNally Map & Travel Store at 1201 Connecticut Ave. NW (202-223-6751) or the Map Store at 1636 I St NW (202-628-2608). Do other chatters have ideas in this area? Thanks, Lynette
New At This: Hi, thanks for taking my question. Significant other's younger brother just moved in with us. His 18th birthday is Friday and he still has one more year of high school left. We'd like to do something special with him. He mentioned paint ball, but we live in Clarendon (Arlington, Va.) and aren't sure where there is a course. Any other fun, popular things for kids his age to do with their "parents?" He's done the Spy Museum and an amusement park is out until later in the summer. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!
The Kids' Table: Don't sweat it, NAT. This is Fritz, and if you can get out to Leesburg, there are a few paintball fields/courses there that he'd probably love. Try Virginia Adventure Games (703-631-0909), which was a popular response when this came up in Got Plans for Adults. Another option this weekend is the Bop N' Bowl at the Falls Church Duckpin Lanes -- for $8, it's all-you-can-bowl to the sound of rockabilly and roots rock bands. (You can have Schlitz in a can, you lucky dog.) It's usually a fun outing, "parents" or not.
For camper w/ kids:: I think it was in last week's "adult" Got Plans that camping came up. There's a great state park in VA Beach, about 3 1/2 hours away - it's called First Landing State Park. Log-on the VA state park website for the link. The campsites are big and have built in grills. It's only a short walk from the shore and a short drive to a grocery store and restaurants (in case of rain). There are a couple of playgrounds, tons of very well maintained bathrooms w/ showers and electricity, and a camp store right around the corner. We go every Memorial Day and Labor Day w/ our kids and extended families and it's a blast. They even have cabins on the other side of the park for those who don't want to really rough it. Very cheap also, maybe $20 a day? But, book early. It fills up fast around holidays. Happy camping!
The Kids' Table: Hi For Camper and thanks for the great tip. Here's the link to First Landing State Park's Web site. Other family-friendly campgrounds in the area include Bull Run Regional Park, Pohick Bay Regional Park and Catoctin Mountain Park in Maryland.
Takoma Park, Md.: We love hearing live music outside but find most of the summer concerts start after our kids have gone to bed. Can someone compile a list of concerts that are kid-friendly (e.g., Millennium Stage is NOT kid-friendly) that are in the afternoons/early evenings this summer? Thanks!
The Kids' Table: Hi Takoma . . . I (Vicki) think your answer may be a click away.
College Park Aviation Museum: The College Park Aviation Museum is getting ready to Soar into Summer! We have three terrific ongoing programs this summer: Fun in Flight, Hollywood Flyers, Jr. and Zing Wing Fridays.
Fun in Flight happens every Tuesday from noon to 4 pm. Kids can do an aviation craft on the museum's mezzanine for a $2 workshop fee in addition to regular admission.
Hollywood Flyers, Jr. takes place on the 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month and showcases the best in children's aviation-related film. This Friday, come see "Leonardo: A Dream of Flight." Hollywood Flyers, Jr. is free with regular admission and is at 2 pm. Popcorn and lemonade are free!
Zing Wing Fridays take place on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Fridays of the month, and allow kids to decorate a styrofoam glider. This takes place from noon to 4 pm and is free with regular museum admission.
And for Jay Jay the Jet Plane fans, Jay Jay will be landing at College Park Aviation Museum for a second year! Jay Jay will be hanging out at the museum on Saturday, Sept. 13, and Sunday, Sept. 14. $7 timed entry tickets are on sale July 1st and will be sold through the Prince George's County Parks and Recreation SMARTlink system at www.pgparks.com.
Feel free to check out our website at www.collegeparkaviationmuseum.com or to call 301-864-6029 for more information.
The Kids' Table: Whoa, move over guys, we have a museum at the table. Lucky us. Thanks for the info.
Somewhere in VA: Hi there,
Besides the usual fireworks can someone suggest some activities for a 2 yr old for July 4th celebrations. Thank you.
The Kids' Table: Hi Somewhere. Of course it partly depends on how active your 2-year-old is. Check with your local library, YMCA and recreation center to see if they're having holiday activities for the younger crowd. Other things (i.e. non-firework events) going on the Fourth include the Arlington Bell Ringing, where citizens get to take part, and the National Zoo's Bald Eagle Refuge Opening in Beaver Valley. Visit the Great Meadow Roaring Fourth of July during the day for the fire engine parade, pony races, pony rides and ice cream-eating contests. Most other towns have similar events during the day and you can always go home before it gets dark, which is when the fireworks start. Hope this helps. Lynette.
Arlington, Va.: A friend is coming into town on July 10 with her 2 1/2 year old daughter. What is a good after work activity that my 1 1/2 year old son and I can join them for? The national zoo comes to mind, but nothing else seems obvious. Any ideas?
The Kids' Table: The National Zoo is a natural choice. During the summer, the zoo is open until 8 p.m. Coming to visit the animals during a cooler part of the day (for them and for you) all but guarantees the beasts and birds will be more active. You may not see the pandas (they sometimes go inside earlier) but you won't see them panting in the shade. As of July 3, on Thursday evenings there are free, family-friendly concerts on Lion-Tiger Hill. If you're looking to picnic, find sammiches at Firehook or pick up some slices at Vace in Cleveland Park above the Metro. If you'd all be willing to leave the strollers at the coat check, the Phillips Collection is open late on Thursdays too. The current show, a retrospective of the enigmatic Marsden Hartley has the bright colors to engage your tinies and for them, admission is waived. Afterwards you could grab a bite to eat in Dupont Circle. Public parks are free and open until dusk. After a day behind a desk, you might enjoy the swings too.
Andrews AFB Maryland: My husband and I are looking to do something on the 4th of July that is memorable, as this is our last 4th here in DC. We have 2 children, a two year old and six month old and we would like something kid friendly to do on the 4th. What are your suggestions?
The Kids' Table: The Morningside Fourth of July celebration has a parade at 11:30, and afternoon family activities like sack races and popsicle-eating contests. The fireworks go off at dusk, and you won't have too far a drive to get home. -- Anne
Falls Church, Va.: Hey
I'm not a regular chatter, like I am at Got Plans Without Kids cause I ain't got no kids, but my friends do.
So maybe you get this question all the time.
Recommendation for something to do where their kids can be amused, and we can talk, or play. Their kids, I think their like 3 and 6 (or in the other case 3 and 1).
Putt-putt is the only thing I can think of, but is there anything maybe "port-discovery-like" but closer, and perhaps a little more engaging for the post-Elmo set?
The Kids' Table: Hey, Falls Church. If you're looking to stay close to home, have you considered bowling with the 3- and 6-year-olds? There's Bowl America and Falls Church Duckpin Bowling Center right in your back yard. For the younger pair, why not just go to the park and drop a blanket for the kids to crawl around on? A ball and a frisbee are toys everyone (even the grown-ups) can play with.
Folklife festival: Can a three year old handle it?
The Kids' Table: Yes, I think so. What do you mean exactly? That it might be too much stimulation? Too hot? I think all kids love that stuff -- music, food and bustle. Just make sure they have plenty of water to drink. (Why on earth they plan these festivals at the height of the summer beats me.) -- Alexa
montgomery village mom: Thanks for your help last time on traveling with young kids! I just got back from a week at Rehoboth Beach with two kids ages 3 and 1. The weather was cloudy or rainy the entire time. On cloudy days we still took the kids to the beach and they loved it. We built sandcastles, collected seashells and stones and blew bubbles. On the days it rained we bundled everyone up in raincoats and walked around town and along the boardwalk. We also played games indoors at the house and we had also brought along two of our children's favorite cds/dvds (the wiggles--which they got up and danced to) and the They Might Be Giants children's album "No" which has great silly songs to sing and dance to. We also took our kids as a special treat to Funland amusement area on the Rehoboth board walk. It has great toddler rides. My 3 year old loved it! I also thought about trying miniature golf but didn't get around to it. If it's just cloudy but still okay to be outside you may want to try that, a good course near Bethany is the Salt Pond miniature golf course at 400 Bethany Loop in Bethany (302) 539-7525 (it looks like a real golf course.) It turns out that even though the weather wasn't great, my kids had a great time. It was only the adults who found themselves wistfully looking at the sky and wishing for sun, but a few good books and a screened in porch at the beach house was a good substitute!
The Kids' Table: Hi Montgomery Village Mom,
Thanks for the great report. That's so helpful. I'm sure all of our rainy-day-weary moms are happy for the tips whether they're at the beach or not. Here's a link to general info about Rehoboth Beach for anyone who's headed that way this summer. Lynette
city in MD: Is the online chat still active?
The Kids' Table: Oh, yes. Don't give up on us. Anne's back now -- so send along all those tough questions.
Silver Spring, Md.: I just discovered this site and am in heaven reading all the archives and getting lots of fun ideas of things to do with my two boys, 3 and 1. I noticed someone wrote in recently that "One of the best fountains in the area is in Silver Spring. It's a wave fountain that you can hear from a half-block away. For little kids (and adults) who aren't near the ocean, this one is a don't-miss luncheon spot." Do you know exactly where this is because I don't know about it. Thanks.
The Kids' Table: Hi Silver Spring. Your town is definitely blessed with fountains and swimming pools. A lot of the fountains are designed to be played in during those hot summer days. Here's a list of swimming pools, but your question is really about the fountain. Hmmmm. I'm afraid we're drawing a blank there. Maybe some of our other chatters know -- a wave fountain near a luncheon spot? Does anyone know where this is?
NAT - thanks: Schlitz in a can, bowling & a trip to the Leesburg outlets for me.
The Kids' Table: No worries, NAT. Enjoy the shoppin' and Bowlin'. -- Fritz
A great kids' activity in Bethany: Hey, College Park, we were in Bethany over Mem. Day weekend with our toddler (when it rained EVERY DAY and the temps never got above 64) and we discovered that the public library at Bethany has a fabulous kids' room -- in addition to a good book collection and comfortable places to read, there were also toys and a fully-stocked puppet theater, which our daughter loved. Since the kids' area is reasonably segregated from the rest of the library, she could be herself (i.e., not quiet) without disturbing other patrons.
The Kids' Table: A helpful tip for our soon to be beach bunny from College Park. Thanks for chiming in.
Damascus, Md.: Our 2-year old and 4-year old's Grandparents are visiting from out-of-state on Sunday, June 29. We're looking for a place all six of us can go and enjoy. Because my husband and I getting a sitter and are returning to D.C. with my parents that evening, we hope to go someplace out our way during the day with the kids. We're a little concerned about any place that's too physical because the grandparents are 68+ Any ideas?! Thanks.
The Kids' Table: Hey, Damascus. I don't know if your kids are into history, but Sunday is Montgomery County history day at the Sandy Springs Museum in Sandy Springs. They have a farm area, old cars and artifacts, and an art gallery if you (or the grandparents) want to slow down and rest while the kids play. -- Fritz
montgomery village mom: Hi, I am not sure if this is the wave fountain you are looking for but there is one by the NOAA buildings:
NOAA office is located at 1305 East West Highway which is at the Metro Subway Silver Spring stop (Red Line). Get off at Silver Spring stop. When exiting the train go left and take the furthest stairwell to the left. Upon exiting the train station go left, and then left again under the subway. Keep bearing left, and follow the red street tiles between two buildings (these are NOAA's 1st and 2nd buildings). NOAA has four buildings and the fourth building, has a wave pool in front of it.
The Kids' Table: Thanks, montgomery village mom, if not the fountain we're looking for, this is a great one to know about.
VA Aunt having kids visit: My sister is coming this weekend with various kids - 5, 3, 3 months. We have the old standbys if the weather is nice - the zoo, the water park, the festival on the mall - but what to do if it rains? I found a place called Fun Company for Kids in Falls Church but have never been. Any thoughts? PS: I considered a movie for me and the older two (sis & baby are on there own), but the 3 yr old isn't very good at sitting through a movie in the theater.
The Kids' Table: Wow, the Fun Company sounds like a Dave 'n' Busters strictly for the kid set. Like an indoor festival everyday. If you go, please write back and let us know what you think. If you do the movie, many of us would cast a vote for Finding Nemo -- but be warned that the sharks and other fang-toothed fishes are pretty scary. For other inside options: Consider an hour at a bookstore or a library ... the Potter fans should have cleared out by now. -- Anne
AU Park: OK, so normally I like to hop on the Gurus' Thursday chat and pretend that I still have a going out life as the mom of a two and a half year old (and another on the way). As I come to grips with the fact that I don't have the same kind of life I used to, I'd like to get your feedback on a couple of things: Public pools in DC or B-CC and their hours of operation, and any type of eating establishment that's cool for little kids that isn't Chuckie Cheese and won't be totally awful to bring a kid to on a Friday night (like I think Cafe Deluxe is)...thanks for helping me cope with momhood.
The Kids' Table: Hi AU Park, Hang in there. You're a member of the biggest club in the world now and there are lots of things you can do. Here's Alexa's fine feature on where to eat out with the kids, Small Plates
, and here's a list of D.C.-area swimming pools. Enjoy. Lynette
List of pools in Fairfax?: Do you have a similar list for us Virginians?
The Kids' Table: Here you go Fairfax. This is our list of Fairfax County pools and this link takes you to the Fairfax County Park Authority Web site for a whole list of aquatic and other activities. Lynette.
foutain thought: The fountain you speak of may be on Colesville Road in Silver Spring. There are several Adventists buildings that have beautiful fountains -- but they haven't run the water in a while
The Kids' Table: We're thinking the same fountain thoughts . . . not sure if and when they're splashing. For instance, there's a fountain in Chevy Chase Circle -- not pedestrian-friendly, mind you; but I think it's bone dry most days.
Gaithersburg, MD: Are there any activities in DC for the 2 to 4 age group in DC on the 4th of July?
The Kids' Table: All the Fourth of July festivities are kid-friendly. For parades, you can choose either the small-town-y Palisades parade or the National Independence Day parade downtown. The National Archives puts on a whole day of family activities at Union Station -- kids can read other kids' letters to presidents or contribute drawings to the "Freedom of Expression" wall. The fireworks display and the Capitol Fourth concert both go until 9:30 and tend to be crowded -- possibly too much for some little ones' patience. -- Anne
montgomery village mom: For the person looking for crabs and a kids menu in Bethany you should try:
Mango Mikes (for crab cake sandwiches and a kids menu with nuggets etc) or believe it or not McDonald's (only in that area) is featuring crabcake sandwiches. As for steamed crabs you could try Mickey's near Sea Colony or Fenwick Crab House in Fenwick closer to Ocean City, DE.
The Kids' Table: Have I (Vicki) told you lately, mvm, that you have wonderful table manners?
North Potomac, MD: I have two children, a boy age 1 and a girl age 8. Do you have any activity suggestions that they can enjoy together?
The Kids' Table: Music unites all age groups, so unless your 8-year-old is too jaded to dig a live concert, she and the baby can both groove to many free community concerts. How about a bike ride? Your 8-year-old can pedal her own, and the little one can roll along in a trailer or a jogging stroller. Do other readers have suggestions? I'm guessing that any event your 8-year-old loves, the 1-year-old won't mind either, as long as it's easy to leave whenever you need to. I recently took my 8-year-old friend to an exhibit at the Hirshhorn. A little over his head, yes, but it wasn't crowded and he got a kick out of hanging out with the grownups. -- Anne
Plano, TX: We are planning on visiting Wash DC from July 16-19 with my 10 year old daughter. can you give us a comprehensive list of things to see (for kids) in Wash DC?
The Kids' Table: What a wonderful opportunity you've given me, Texas, to remind everyone at the table where to look for what's happening. You can always enter "kids" in a search box and get a solid return of ideas to go from there. Among those features, be sure to check out Carousel, a weekly feature in The Post Weekend section that's devoted to the here-and-now weekend. In fact, you should bookmark Weekend for Saturday's Child, On the Move, Plan Ahead -- a lot of good ideas to take you to farmers markets, museums, plays, etc.
And, of course, please come back to visit with us at the Kids' Table, at noon July 9. We'll be ready to welcome you with ideas.
Thanks, tablemateys, for being such good company. And make sure to have your dessert outside.
The Kids' Table: As always, I (Vicki) have some link-cleaning-up to do. Check back later for dusted and vacuumed info. Bye for now.