Category Archives: Museum

National Building Museum’s “Hive” Exhibit

The National Building Museum’s highly anticipated Hive installation is now open and, trust us, it’s a must-do for both D.C. families and visitors! As part of the Summer Block Party series, Studio Gang (an architecture and urban design practice based in Chicago and New York) brings us the tallest installation to ever be constructed in the historic Great Hall—it’s built with more than 2,500 wound paper tubes. The Hive consists of three interconnected domed chambers reaching 60 feet tall that are designed to be experienced through sight and sound. This interactive exhibit is very kid-friendly and something the whole family can enjoy together. (Not to mention the perfect summer outing to escape the D.C. heat and humidity!) I took my girls the day it opened and we had such a fun morning at the museum.

Click here to read our article on Mommy Nearest to see what all the “buzz” is about, and make sure to plan your visit before the exhibit closes on September 4.

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Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum

Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum
21668 Heritage Farm Lane
Sterling, VA 20164
www.loudounmuseum.com

 

The Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum is one of the best hidden gems for entertaining little ones in the Washington, D.C. area. It’s located on the grounds of the Claude Moore Park in Sterling, Virginia, about 25 miles outside of the city. It has traditional museum exhibits that highlight the 250 years of Loudoun county’s agricultural history and interactive exhibits for kids, which is why I was drawn to visit the museum with my girls. The exhibits encourage role playing and are geared towards children under age 7. Here is what we loved about the hands on exhibits:

Claude Moore Children’s Farm

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In this exhibit children get to learn what it’s like to be a farmer. They can dress up in overalls and straw hats and get to work milking a life-like cow and collecting eggs from the play chickens. Kids love riding the equi-ponies in this area and learning how to care for them. There is a puppet stage where children can create and perform their own farm story. They can also go for a ride on the pedal tractors in the open space in front of the barn. This was definitely the favorite activity for my energetic girls!

The Waxpool General Store

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Another fantastic exhibit for children who like to role-play. In the Waxpool General store, kids can play shopkeeper, shopper, or postmaster. There are shelves and baskets full of play food and a charming antique cash register. This definitely beats the typical pretend grocery store found in children’s museums. My girls also loved sorting and delivering the mail in the post office area.

Grandma’s Kitchen

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In the back of the museum is the Grandma’s Kitchen exhibit, a replica of a century-old farm kitchen. My daughters loved using the old fashioned kitchen tools and wood burning stove to pretend to prepare and serve meals. Children who love play kitchens will definitely want to spend a good amount of time here.

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There is more to explore outside on the beautiful grounds surrounding the museum. The American Workhorse exhibit is located in a large barn behind the museum but it’s only available to view on select special events. If you keep walking along the path you will come to a pond. It has a few docks where you can feed the ducks and geese.

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In addition to the daily exhibits, the museum also holds popular annual events including Tractorpooloza, Bunny Bonanza, and the Princess for a Day Ice Cream Social. They also offer summer camps and Kids’ Night at the Museum drop off events the second Saturday of every month. Registration information can be found here.

We visited the museum on a regular Saturday morning and it wasn’t crowded at all. The museum is not a big place making it easy to manage multiple small children. It is the place to go if you are looking for a fun and low-key outing. There is enough to do here to keep your kids entertained for at least a couple of hours. After our visit I was asking myself why I didn’t hear about it sooner!

Good to Know:

• Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 9:30 – 4:30pm, Sunday 11:30 – 4:30pm, Closed Mondays.
• Admission: Adults $5, Seniors and Military $4, Children 2-12 $3, FREE/Children Under 2
• Food and drinks are not allowed inside the museum but there are picnic tables outside where you can have a snack on a nice day.
• There is ample parking available in front of the museum.
• There are bathrooms with changing tables available as well as designated stroller parking.
• The museum is located near Dulles Town Center and Dulles 28 Centre which both have kid friendly options for lunch.



The Original Playhouse Museum

The Original Playhouse Museum
4 West Main Street
New Market, MD 21774
originalplayhouse.com
 

The Original Playhouse is a children’s museum that encourages children to use their imaginations and learn through play. It is designed primarily for children ages 3-10 and offers an opportunity for cognitive and social growth. It is located in a charming 2-story house in the quaint downtown area of New Market, MD. It’s about a 40 minute drive north of Washington, DC but we discovered it is well worth the trip!

The museum has six different rooms, each with a different theme to promote various areas of learning. Here is what you need to know about each room:

Wonders of Water

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This is the first area that my girls were immediately drawn to once we arrived at the playhouse. They loved the large water table where they could experiment with various water toys. There are mini nets and fishing poles and an assortment of toys to use with discovering what floats and what sinks.

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Also, located in this room is a fun bubble station where the child can create a giant bubble surrounding their whole body. This was a big hit with Clara!

Engineerium Room

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This room is full of hands on equipment and toys designed to encourage the children to build, experiment, and solve problems. There are tools, legos, marble ramps, blocks, and magnetic toys all to help children discover how things work. My girls spent a lot of time building their own little city with wooden blocks.

Art Room

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Children can use their creativity and make their own masterpiece in the art studio. It is stocked with all kinds of art supplies including feathers, beads, tissue paper, googly eyes, markers, paint, and lots more. Each child receives tokens that are used to “pay” for their crafting materials and supplies. If your kids need a little guidance on where to start, there are ideas of projects to make hanging on the wall. Or they are free to come up with their own design. My girls loved making their craft and were excited to have something to take home with them.

Reader’s Theater

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The Reader’s Theater is a fun room where children can act out stories that are provided to them or make up their own. There is a wall full of costume and accessory options for both boys and girls – from princesses, to clowns, to superheroes. And lots of different props are available to help the children tell their story. In the corner of the room is a small stage where the children can perform. Clara and Mae are in the midst of the dress-up and imaginative play stage so we spent a lot of time in this room trying on costumes and acting out various characters.

Nature Nook

This room is filled with animal-centered activities. There are lots of stuffed animals and a veterinarian station where children can role play. In one corner of the room is a pet hamster that the kids enjoy observing.

Village Market and Home

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Children are transported to a foreign land in the Village Market and Home. The exhibits change regularly and are designed to teach children about different areas of our world. My girls loved shopping at the market and taking the food back to the village home next door to cook and eat.

Backyard Garden

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The last area to explore is the backyard garden. Children will enjoy the castle where they can continue their imaginary play. There is also a small bridge they can walk over and stop to look for the Koi fish in the pond below. There are a few other fun things to do in the backyard area: go down the slide next to the bridge, play in the sand box, explore the fairy garden, and try walking across the tight rope.

Good to Know:

• Admission: Adult $5, Toddlers 18 months – 2 years $5, Children ages 3 and up $10
• Hours: Sunday 11am-5pm, Closed Monday, Tuesday-Friday 8:30am – 4:00pm* (Wednesdays they close at 3:30), Saturday Open Only for Birthday Parties
• There is limited street parking in front of the museum. Additional parking is located behind the playhouse in the neighboring restaurant’s (Vintage) lot.
• It is a shoes-off playhouse, so bring your socks.
• Food and drinks are not allowed in the building.
• The playhouse strongly encourages a maximum ratio of 3 children per 1 adult.
• There is no reentry once you exit the playhouse, so save the backyard garden play area for last.



January 2016 – Monthly Roundup

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January is usually a pretty boring month and I start to feel the effects of cabin fever. So every year we take a trip down to Florida to visit my parents. It’s a nice break from cold, dreary DC and it feels so great to be able to play outside with my girls. This year we timed it just right and missed the blizzard! My girls were happy that the snow stuck around and they were still able to play in it when we got home.

Since we spent 10 days in Florida, our list of adventures and activities in DC is short this month. But we did make some time for a few fun outings in the area before and after our trip. At the beginning of the month we visited the Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum. It is one of the best hidden gems in the DC area for small children. I definitely recommend checking it out if you haven’t been yet. And last week we visited the Wonder exhibit at the Renwick Gallery. I had been wanting to see this exhibit for quite a while and when it was announced that we were having yet another snow day on Friday, I decided it was a great time to take my girls. I was a little unsure if it was appropriate for small children (especially questioning it for my 2-year old). But I ended up being surprised at how kid-friendly it is and how much my girls enjoyed the experience.

Places we visited:

Loudoun Heritage Farm MuseumBlog post here
Lake NeedwoodBlog post on nearby Lake Frank here
MagicGround
Bowlmor Bethesda
Wonder exhibit at the Renwick Gallery
Sky Zone Gaithersburg
Rockin’ Jump Gaithersburg

Events we attended:

Snow White at Encore Stage & StudioBlog post here
A Year with Frog and Toad at Imagination Stage – no longer showing but “Jack and Phil, Slayers of Giants-INC” is playing Feb 3- Mar 13

Classes and camps we attended:

Georgetown Prep Tennis Club
Ballet Petite
My Gym Potomac
Funfit Tots

I hope you found some new and fun ideas for your family in this month’s roundup! I am looking forward to all the hearts this month! Kids make the holidays so much more fun and special. And lets hope the groundhog is right and we really will have an early spring!

Also, I use instagram as my everyday blog and share a lot of photos from our adventures in my gallery. I’d love to have you follow along!

Instagram: capitol.momma

And I share more information and photos from our field trips and outings on facebook.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/capitolmommablog

 



December 2015 – Monthly Roundup

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Happy New Year! December was a fun filled month and a great one to end the year. There are so many fun holiday events throughout the month in the DC area and we tried to do as many as possible. I love experiencing the magic of Christmas through my children. These years when they are little and truly believe in Santa is precious and I want to make the most of this time. So, we went to few different Santa events, a couple of light displays, a gingerbread house workshop, and a few different holiday shows in the theaters for a thoroughly festive Christmas season.

Below is a recap of where our adventures took us this month. Dumbarton Oaks was one of my favorite new (to us) places we explored and my girls really loved it too. The best part is that it is free during the winter months, so take advantage and check it out on a warmer winter day. You can also take your kids to the playground at Montrose Park right next door while you are there. The National Postal Museum was also surprisingly nice! No crowds and lots of different interactive exhibits for kids. And it’s right across the street from Union Station where you can grab lunch.

Places we visited:

Dumbarton Oaks
Smithsonian National Postal Museum
Union Station – (Christmas tree & train display)
South Mountain Creamery
Glen Echo Park Aquarium
Potomac Library

Events we attended:

Winter Lights Festival – Seneca Creek State Park
Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas – BlackRock Center for the Arts
Santa and Mrs. Claus’ visit at BusyBees
Garden of Lights – Brookside Gardens
Garden Railway Exhibit – Brookside Gardens
Walkersville Santa Train
Gingerbread House Workshop at Tudor Place
The Nutcracker – Metropolitan Ballet Theatre & Academy
The Nutcracker – The Puppet Co

Classes and camps we attended:

My Gym Potomac
Kids First Swim SchoolBlog post here
Tennis – Pauline Betz Addie Tennis Center

Parks we played at:

Montrose Park – Georgetown
Glen Echo Playground
Hadley’s Playground – Potomac, MD - #41 –  top 50 playgrounds in the US
Cabin John Park – Bethesda, MD
Avenel Park – Potomac, MD

I hope you found some good ideas for your family in this month’s list. Thank you for following along on our adventures and for all your support over the past year! Wishing everyone a wonderful 2016!

Also, I use instagram as my everyday blog and share a lot of photos from our adventures in my gallery. I’d love to have you follow along!

Instagram: capitol.momma

And I share more information and photos from our field trips and outings on facebook.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/capitolmommablog



November 2015 – Monthly Roundup

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Well, November went by in a flash. I really can’t believe I’m already recapping another month! I didn’t have much planned for November because I thought we would slow down a bit before all the holiday activities and events. But we ended up going on a bunch of spontaneous outdoor outings to make the most of the warm fall days.

Here is a recap of where our adventures took us this month. The Wizard of Oz playground at Watkins Regional Park was definitely a highlight for my girls. There is so much to do there it is worth the drive. We also went to a new (to us) children’s museum – The Original Playhouse Museum, which is the cutest place for children to use their imaginations. I’m sure we will visit again this winter when it’s too cold to play outside. We also went to one of my favorite holiday exhibits at the end of the month – Seasons Greetings at the U.S. Botanic Garden.

Places we visited:

United States Botanic Gardenblog post from last year here
Ticonderoga Farms
Lake Frankblog post here
The Original Playhouse Museum
Bowl America Gaithersburg
Croydon Creek Nature Center
Locust Grove Nature Center
Tysons Corner Ice Rinkblog post here
Rockin’ Jump Gaithersburg
Brookside Gardens
Mobu Kids - blog post here

Events we attended:

Sugar Plum Fairy Tea Party at Metropolitan Ballet Theatre and Acadamy
Hansel and Gretel at Encore Stage & Studioblog post here
“Meet the Animals” at Brookside Nature Center

Classes and camps we attended:

My Gym Potomac
FS Soccer
USTA Tennis – Pauline Betz Addie Tennis Center

Parks we played at:

Watkins Regional Park – A must-see Wizard of Oz themed playground
Rockville Civic Center Park
Hadley’s Playground – Potomac, MD - #41 in a list of the top 50 playgrounds in the US
Cabin John Park – Bethesda, MD
Avenel Park – Potomac, MD

I hope you found some good ideas for your family in this month’s list. So much to look forward to this month. I’ve posted a lot of holiday events and activities on the calendar.   Happy December!

Also, I use instagram as my everyday blog and share a lot of photos from our adventures in my gallery. I’d love to have you follow along!

Instagram: capitol.momma

And I share more information and photos from our field trips and outings on facebook.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/capitolmommablog



Summer Bucket List – 2015

We are ready for summer! There are so many fun things to do in the DC area and every summer seems to go by faster and faster. This year I decided to make a list of our top activities that we want to do. This is also Clara’s last summer before starting a full day pre-kindergarten program in the fall. So, we want to make this one count! In between trips to Nebraska and Rehoboth Beach, camps, pool time, bbqs, and tennis and swim lessons, we hope to fit these other fun things into our days. Some of these activities are our tried-and-true favorites and some are new things that we will be doing for the first time. I hope this gives you some good ideas of fun things to do with your family. Hooray for summer, it’s going to be a good one!

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1. Go berry picking – Wegmeyer Farms, Homestead Farms, and Butler’s Orchard are a few of our favorite places to pick strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries

2. Play at splash parks – Chevy Chase Playground, Palisades Recreation Center, South Germantown Splash Park are some of our favorites

3. Go hiking – Croydon Creek Nature Center, Black Hills Regional Park, Lake Frank, Lake Needwood, Sugarloaf Mountain are some on our list

4. Attend the Hometown Holidays street festival at Rockville Town Square

5. Visit the United States National Arboretum (again)

5. Go see Encore Stage & Studio’s production of Alice in Wonderland

6. Attend at least one of the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods programs at Wolf Trap

7. Visit a new park – Temple Hall Farm Park, Meridian Hill Park, Yards Park, Burke Lake Park, and Fort Washington Park are on our list

8. Check out a few farmer’s markets – Potomac Farm Market, Rockville Farmer’s Market, Potomac Village Farmer’s Market, Garrett Park Farmer’s Market, and Dupont Circle are on our list

9. Attend one of the Backyard Theater for Children shows at Strathmore

10. Play at BusyBees, a new indoor playground opening in Falls Church

11. Go to a Nationals baseball game

12. Ride the Cabin John train

13. Play in the Fountain at Rockville Town Square

14. Attend the Summer Market Fair at Claude Moore Colonial Farm

15. Take a Boomerang Pirate Ship Cruise on the Potomac

16. Tour the National Cathedral and Bishop’s Garden and play at nearby Beauvoir Playground

17. Explore a new farm during the Montgomery County Farm Tour

18. Visit South Mountain Creamery

19. Ride the carousel at Glen Echo Park

20. Go on rides and visit the animals at the Montgomery County Fair



National Capital Trolley Museum

National Capital Trolley Museum
1313 Bonifant Road
Colesville, MD 20905
www.dctrolley.org
 

Who knew trolleys could be so much fun? This place is a hidden gem! I had never heard of the National Capital Trolley Museum until a couple months ago when I saw their Holly Trolleyfest advertised. I wanted to take my girls during this event in December but the month was busy and we didn’t make it there. So, I decided to take the girls this past weekend to check it out. It was too cold to do anything outside and they were going stir crazy in the house, so it was the perfect time for a visit to the museum!

After entering the Main Hall, Clara spotted the Rock Creek Railway Co. model trolley exhibit and ran straight over. It has a control that visitors can move to operate the street car from Rock Creek Loop to Chevy Chase Lake. There is also a wheel to crank and other buttons to push on the side of the exhibit to turn on lights in the homes and businesses.

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Also in the Main Hall, is the Street Cars Go to the Movies exhibit that includes a small theater.

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Large panels in the Main Hall illustrate various communities in the region where street cars were in operation.

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Of course, the best part of the museum for my girls was riding the street car.

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The 2 mile ride lasts about 20 minutes and takes visitors through the Northwest Branch Park. We saw several deer on our ride and the girls had fun pointing them out. The driver stops halfway through to punch tickets, give a bit of a history lesson about the street car, and answer questions.

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After the trolley ride, we took a tour of Street Car Hall that includes trolleys from all different eras, localities, designs, and purposes.

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TMhallWe spent about an hour at the museum and my girls definitely had a good time. I think any child who likes trains would enjoy this museum. It’s small and wasn’t busy the day we were there so that made it a very low key and manageable activity with two little ones.

Good to Know:

•Admission is $7 (ages 18-64), $5 (ages 2-17 & 65+) and includes unlimited rides on the trolley. Admission for the museum only (no rides) is $4 (all ages).
•Open Saturday and Sunday 12-5pm. At select times throughout the year, the museum is also open on Thursdays and Fridays. Check the operating schedule here.
•Trolley rides are offered every 40 minutes. When you arrive, check the schedule located just inside the entrance to find the next departing time.
•The museum offers birthday parties and school field trips.
•There is a gift shop that sells a variety of items for kids and adults including books, toys, t-shirts, and posters.
•Stroller friendly, although the museum is small enough you don’t need one for toddlers.
•The museum offers special events including the Holly Trolleyfest in December, where children can ride the trolley with Santa.



Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum

Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum
21668 Heritage Farm Lane
Sterling, Virginia 20164
www.loudounmuseum.com
 
 

I came across this museum when searching online for a kid-friendly place to meet a friend in the area. I had never heard about it before but after reading some information it sounded like our little tots would enjoy it so we decided to check it out. I am so glad we did as we were pleasantly surprised. This museum is truly a hidden gem!

It is located on the grounds of the Claude Moore Park in Sterling. The museum is a non-profit organization which works to promote and preserve Loudoun County’s agricultural heritage through exhibits and activities.

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When we first arrived, my girls were excited to see the big tractors out front.

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Inside the museum are several great interactive learning exhibits for small children, probably best enjoyed by those under age 7. My girls were first drawn to the red barn in the Claude Moore Children’s Farm exhibit. In this area children can help perform chores on the farm such as milking a life-like cow, collecting eggs from the play chickens, carrying supplies in the wheelbarrows, and riding Equi-ponies and pedal tractors. There are even dress up clothes including coveralls and straw hats.

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In this area, kids can also use their imaginations to perform puppet shows.

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In the Waxpool General Store, children can play shopkeeper, shopper, or postmaster. There are shelves and baskets full of play food and an charming old cash register. This definitely beats the typical pretend grocery store found in children’s museums.

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In the back of the museum is the Grandma’s Kitchen exhibit, a replica of a century-old farm kitchen. My daughter loved using the old fashioned kitchen tools and wood burning stove to pretend to prepare and serve us meals.

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Outside the museum there are some trails to walk that will take you by the Workhorse Museum and an old cabin. There is also a small pond with a few docks where you can feed ducks and geese.

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I am so glad we found this museum. My girls were entertained for a couple of hours but could have played longer. It was not busy when we were there on a weekday afternoon but I imagine the weekends are a bit more crowded. If your child likes to role-play they will definitely enjoy the museum. We had such a great time that we will definitely be visiting again soon. It is also a nice option for an indoor activity on a rainy day or during the winter months. The Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum is one you don’t want to miss while your children are young.

Good to Know:

•Admission is $5/adults, $4/seniors and military, $3/children 2-12.
•Hours Tuesday-Sunday 9:30-4:30, Sunday 11:30-4:30, Monday by appointment only.
•Ample parking available in front of the museum.
•The museum gift shop sells snacks, locally made Virginia products, and a variety of toys including Lucy’s Closet dolls, educational toys from Melissa and Doug, and stuffed animals from Douglass.
•The museum also offers a variety of children’s programs including Kids’ Holiday at the Museum, Kids’ Night at the Museum, and Tractorpalooza to name a few. They also offer kids birthday parities.