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  • Nov29

    One of my favorite places to take guests during the holidays is the U.S. Botanic Garden. Located next to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, the garden is great any time of year, but is extra special during the holidays.

    Photo Credit: Architect of the U.S. Capitol

    Each year the East Wing of the building is transformed into an amazing model train display. Both you and your child will be entertained as you watch the trains chug along more than 800 feet of track in an Enchanted Forest.

    Photo Credit: Architect of the U.S. Capitol

    This year the enchanted forest has outgrown the East Wing and you’ll find other treasures hidden throughout the gardens. See if you and your children can find the wizard’s house, the Fairy-Go-Round or the sneaky snake.

    You can’t miss all of the beautiful poinsettias throughout the gardens and you’ll want to take lots of pictures of the amazing replicas of DC landmarks made out of over 70 natural materials. You’ll see the U.S. Capitol, the Washington Monument, the Supreme Court and my favorite, the Lincoln Memorial, just to name a few.

    Photo Credit: Architect of the U.S. Capitol

    While you’re there be sure to stop in the West Wing to visit the permanent interactive exhibit focused on the senses. Your children can sniff plants and herbs from different cultures and learn about how plants are used in everyday life.

    The U.S. Botanic Garden can be a busy place during the holidays. We advise visiting during the weekday rather than the weekend or even better plan a visit on Tuesday or Thursday evening. The gardens are magical at night, the crowds are gone and the museum stays open late with live musical performances from 6pm – 8pm. Visit the U.S. Botanic Garden website for a schedule of performances. Also before or after your visit you can stroll over to the grounds of the U.S. Capitol to look at the National Christmas Tree which is beautiful when it is lit up at night.

    • U.S. Botanic Garden:     100 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington D.C.
    • Metro: As always the best way to get to the U.S. Botanic Garden is by metro. The closest stop is the Federal Center SW station on the Orange and Blue Line. Exit the station, walk north (left) along Third Street SW for two blocks, cross Independence Avenue and continue one more block to Maryland Avenue. Look toward the Capitol and you will see the glass dome of the Conservatory. The Conservatory entrance is on Maryland Avenue.
    • Hours: The museum is open daily from 10am – 5pm. On Tuesday and Thursdays during the holidays the museum has extended hours until 8pm. The museum is open on Christmas Day and there is never a crowd. This would be a great activity once the presents have been unwrapped.
    • Restaurants: Visit our Capitol Hill Restaurants webpage for restaurant suggestions in the area.
    • Strollers: There is no stroller parking available at the U.S Botanic Garden. Strollers are allowed, but passage ways are narrow and if at all possible it is recommended you not bring a stroller.

    Do you know about other holiday train displays in the Washington area? Tell us where you love to visit…


  • Nov20

    This year, and every year, I am very thankful for my family and I am looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with at least some of them in DC this week.

    If, like me, you have guests visiting for the holidays – or you are a guest visiting DC for the holidays – you will need something to do once the Thanksgiving feast is over and the kids are getting restless.

    A great resource any time of year is the Washington Post’s Going Out Guide. It is full of up to date information about area museums and special performances. Definitely a resource to check out if you are planning a trip to DC or just looking for a weekend activity. Last Friday I was very excited to find the Going Out Guide included the Holiday Guide 2012. In the guide you will find an interactive calendar and museum suggestions for the whole family, from the hipster to the traditionalist and of course the kids.

    A good place to go for a little bit of everything is Chinatown/Penn Quarter. Leave the car at home and hop on the metro to the Chinatown/Penn Quarter metro stop. This area is home to the International Spy Museum, is a short walk to the National Sculpture Garden Ice Skating Rink, the National Mall (home to the Smithsonian Museums) and lots of kid friendly restaurants. You will also find a small selection of shops, including a special holiday market next to the American Art Museum on F Street. There is also a movie theater and a bowling alley in this area.

    If you want to avoid the city, head the opposite direction and check out the Air and Space Museum at Dulles.

    This is where you will find the Space Shuttle Discovery, and other aircraft from World War II all the way to today’s spy planes. Don’t miss the IMAX movies and the flight stimulators, always a big hit. There is no metro stop so you will need a car to reach this spot.

    And we of course all know that as soon as Thanksgiving is over, Christmas is right around the corner. Stay tuned for our upcoming post all about Christmas activities in the DC area: model trains through a woodland wonderland, afternoon tea and a nightly indoor snowfall.

    But until then, Happy Thanksgiving from the Kids Will Travel Family to yours and safe travels to DC or wherever the road takes you this week.


  • Nov15

    There is a chill in the air and that means the area ice skating rinks are opening for the season. Two of our favorite rinks are conveniently located in one of the city’s hottest shopping districts and right downtown among the Smithsonian Museums. Strap on your rented skates and let the kids burn off some energy or people watch with a cup of hot chocolate.

    Washington Harbor

    New this year is the ice skating rink at Washington Harbor in Georgetown. This beautiful rink is located on the banks of the Potomac River and steps away from some of the city’s best shopping and restaurants. What a perfect way to spend an afternoon and finish the day with a yummy dinner. The rink opens this Monday, November 19th and will be open daily and on Thanksgiving Day.

    Hours and Tickets: The rink is open Monday – Thursday: 12:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Friday: 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm, Saturday: 10:00 am to 10:00 pm and Sunday: 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. Tickets for adults are $9.00 and children are $7.00

    Getting there: The rink is located at 3050 K Street, NW in Georgetown. There is no metro stop in Georgetown, but you won’t have any trouble finding a taxi that will take you there or try the Circulator Bus which makes regular stops in Georgetown.

    Dining: There are lots of kid friendly restaurants in Georgetown to choose from. Click here for a list of our favorites, but for a quick delicious snack stop by Paul for a French treat and a delicious cup of coffee or hot chocolate. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

    National Gallery Sculpture Garden

    This is my go to spot when friends come to visit in the winter. It is a beautiful location in the middle of the National Gallery’s Sculpture Garden and right on the National Mall, home to the Smithsonian Museums. This year the rink will open Sunday, November 18th.

    It is a popular spot so if it’s a nice day you may have to wait for your turn to skate, but look at the great art you can exposure your children to while you wait.

    Hours and Tickets:  The rink is open Monday – Thursday 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, Friday and Saturday 10:00 am to 11:00 pm and Sunday 11:00 am to 9:00 pm. Tickets for adults are $8.00 and children are $7.00.

    Getting There: The rink is located on Constitution Avenue, NW between 3rd and 9th Streets, NW. The closest metro station is the Archives/Navy Memorial Metro Stop on the yellow and green line. Click here for metro tips.

    Dining: Lucky for you there is also a Paul located within walking distance of this ice skating rink as well. Additionally there is a small cafe at the rink and plenty of other dining options close by. Click here to find our recommendations in the area.

    So whether you’re just learning…

    …or an old pro, enjoy the winter season in Washington and take your kids out for a spin on the ice.

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