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How to Have the Best Summer Ever with Kids in D.C.

Summer break will be here before we know it! The last day of school for most kids in the D.C. area is within the next couple of weeks. Are you ready?! This will be my first summer with 2 kids + a baby, so it will be challenging to say the least. I’m pretty sure I will be completely exhausted by the end but I definitely want to make it lots of fun. After all, we only get 18 summers with our kids before they head off to college.

I have found that a mix of structured camp weeks and unscheduled free weeks works best for us. My girls really enjoy camp and I need that time to recharge and get work done, run errands, exercise, etc. But I also like to have a few weeks where we don’t have any classes or camps so that we can go on adventures and take advantage of the many fun outdoor kid-friendly things there are to do in the DC area. Also, just having time to play at home and in our backyard is important too since we are always in go, go, go mode during the school year.

My girls and I like to come up with a list of our “must-do’s” before summer break begins. The summers seem to fly by so having a list and a plan of what we want to do most will help us accomplish our summer bucket list. We are ready for the best summer yet!

1. Go to a farm to pick fresh fruit.

The pick-your-own season starts in May with strawberries and continues throughout the summer with cherries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and peaches. Click here to read our article on Mommy Nearest with a list of our favorite farms to visit in Maryland and Virginia.

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2. Cool off at a splash park.

Sometimes it’s fun to change it up and play at a splash park instead of the pool on a hot summer day. We have so many fun splash pads in the area. Here are a few of our favorites: South Germantown splash park, Chevy Chase sprayground, Palisades splash park, Georgetown Waterfront Park, and The Yards Park.

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3. Take a trip to the beach.

We usually go to a couple different beaches over the summer. Chesapeake Beach, MD is one that we enjoy and only an hours drive from DC so it makes for the perfect day trip. Read more about it in our article with Mommy Nearest here. My girls love it mostly because you can hunt for fossilized shark teeth. The other beach we visit each summer is Rehoboth Beach, DE and a couple of must-do’s for my girls at this beach are Funland and Crab Claw Adventures.

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4. Play in our own yard.

Swimming in the pool, water balloons, slip n’ slide, sprinkler fun, sidewalk chalk, ice block treasure hunts, giant bubbles, outdoor art, picnics, and lemonade stands are some of the fun things we plan to do right in our own yard. Thanks to DC Mosquito Squad we are enjoying our yard free of mosquitoes and gnats!

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We absolutely love to spend time outside and don’t want the bugs to drive us back inside the house, so we’ve already started our annual mosquito & gnat treatments that repel and kill the pesky bugs to help us enjoy our yard to the fullest throughout the summer. About every three weeks a DC Mosquito Squad technician comes out to apply a long lasting barrier spray to our front and back yard that repels and kills mosquitoes and gnats for about 21 days. I didn’t even know there was a treatment for gnats until this year when I was browsing the DC Mosquito Squad website. I was thrilled to find this out as there is nothing more annoying than a swarm of gnats around your face and it’s even worse when they get in your eyes or mouth….noooooo thanks! The nice thing about the gnat treatment is it’s just an add-on to the mosquito package so they can spray for both at the same time. You can read more about it here.

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Are you wondering if the barrier treatments really work? I was skeptical at first too but then I realized it does work extremely well! I’ve been getting our yard sprayed for 7 years now….ever since my oldest was born. I remember taking Clara outside to swing as a baby and having to shoo away mosquitoes on her face. That’s when I decided I needed to do something about the mosquito problem and it has been absolutely worth it!

Mosquito Squad logoI’ve been really happy with our services from DC Mosquito Squad.

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5. Enjoy outdoor children’s concerts and theater performances.

Every Thursday morning in July, Strathmore offers their Backyard Theater for Kids program. The family-friendly performances are lots of fun, plus the kids enjoy the free snow cones! We also love the Children’s-Theatre-In-The-Woods performances at Wolftrap.

6. Ride the carousel at Glen Echo.

The carousel at Glen Echo is our absolute favorite in the DC area. There are several that you can read about in our article here but we think the Dentzel carousel in Glen Echo is extra special! Plus there are so many other things to do while you are at the Glen Echo park: see a puppet show at The Puppet Co., catch a show at Adventure Theatre, visit the aquarium, and play on the playground.

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7. Visit the Zoo.

One of the many great free things in Washington, D.C.! When we visit in the summer, I make sure we get to the zoo early in the morning (by 9am) before the heat + crowds arrive to enjoy it the most!

8. Go to a summer fair, carnival, and theme park.

My girls live for the Montgomery County Fair! They get so excited for the animals, rides, and games. We also like going to the Frying Pan Farm Park 4H Fair and Carnival every summer. It’s a small carnival but easy to manage with small children. We also have plans to visit Dutch Wonderland for the second time this summer. We had such a great experience there last year. Click here to read more about it + get a discount code for tickets!

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Of course along with these things we will be making the rounds at our favorite ice cream shops, parks, and playgrounds too! What do you have planned this summer? Let me know if there’s anything else we can’t miss out on!

Disclosure: This post was written in partnership with D.C. Mosquito Squad who is providing standard barrier treatment for our yard this summer.



A Day at Dutch Wonderland

I had heard from several friends that Dutch Wonderland was the perfect place for little kids, so I wanted to make sure we experienced it this summer. My family spent the day there earlier last week and had the best time! It exceeded my expectations in every way and I’m sure we will make a return visit next summer!

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Dutch Wonderland is located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania about 2-2.5 hours from the DC area. We drove up in the morning and arrived when they opened at 10am and then drove home later that afternoon. Everything was very easy and convenient for an outing with little kids. Dutch Wonderland has general parking for $5 or preferred parking for $15. We opted for the preferred, so we could park right in front just steps away from the entrance. The quaint amusement park is surrounded by farmland where you can see cattle grazing the fields. They have 35 rides, shows, and an awesome splash park called Duke’s Lagoon.

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The rides are geared towards smaller children – my almost 4 year old and 6 year old could go on pretty much all the rides. There are several rides that the whole family can enjoy together too.

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The park is incredibly clean (yes, even the bathrooms) and well-kept. All of the employees were so nice and helpful.  The park offers so much and all within a pretty small area – very walkable with small children in tow.

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The park has charming Amish touches throughout, like the iconic giant pretzel that also makes for a good photo opp.

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My daughter loved playing in this horse and carriage! There is also a life-size cow replica that kids can “milk” and an animatronic display of Amish life.

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In addition to all the fun rides, Dutch Wonderland offers several great shows throughout the day. We loved the “Adventures of the Frog Prince” performed on the aqua stage. “A theatrical high dive show encompassing all the magic, mystery, costuming, set design and special effects of a fairytale, plus world class diving.”

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After we had gone on all the rides, watched a show, and had lunch we headed over to Duke’s Lagoon for some water fun! This area is also very clean and has lots of seating for parents surrounding the splash park. The kid-sized water slides are great for little ones. There are attentive life guards making sure the children wait their turn to go down the slides.

Before leaving for the day, we stopped in the gift shop so Clara and Mae could each pick out a toy. They have a great selection and I found that the items were not over priced. Dutch Wonderland was a great experience for our family! Add it to your summer bucket list for sure!

Use code CapitolMommaSBlog17 to save $4 per ticket or click the link here.

General admission is $41.99, 4-day advance tickets $38.99, 7-day advance tickets $35.99. All tickets include a preview pass – Enjoy the last three hours of the park the night before you visit for a full day – FREE! Preview after 3:00 pm when the Park closes at 6 pm. Preview after 5:30 pm when the Park closes at 8:30 pm.

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