A Parents’ Guide to a Winter Break Staycation in Washington, DC

5 years ago


Where to Bounce, Climb, Swim, and Play When It’s 27 Degrees! by Robin Gellman and Jess Rosenbaum, current parents, Lowell School As we all hurtle toward winter break, you may be planning a "staycation" on the basis that there's no shortage of cultural and historical activities for your family in our nation's capital. After all, folks come from all over the world to avail themselves of DC's history, arts, and culture. But hold on! What if your kid is just not wired for an all-day outing to see the original Declaration of Independence, the Van Goghs and Picassos at the National Gallery of Art, or Duke Ellington’s hangouts in DC? If your kid is the one who, after 60 seconds in an art museum, says, “I’m done,” then we've got some great ideas for you. For those of you whose kids do better climbing, bouncing, and playing than touring museums or standing in line to visit The White House, we present the DC Staycation Winter Break List—a range of high action activities in and around DC. Compiled by Lowell parents with active kids, these places are tried and tested! And, of course, culture and action are NOT mutually exclusive. Try mixing it up—a morning of climbing and an afternoon of museums, or an afternoon of swimming followed by an evening of theater. Consider your time, budget, and the “family-sanity quotient” and choose things that make the outing successful for everyone. Whatever you do, have a marvelous break. And now...the list:


“Zoolights” at The National Zoo

The Show “ICE!”

US Botanical Garden Train Exhibit & Season’s Greetings Exhibit

Brookside Gardens Holiday Train Exhibit

Winter Lights at Seneca Creek State Park


Earth Treks Climbing Centers

  • Location: Columbia and Rockville, MD
  • Activity: Indoor rock climbing
  • Ages: 5 and up
  • Cost: Entrance fees vary, depending on how often you're climbing
  • http://www.earthtreksclimbing.com/md/


 DC Trapeze School

Bounce U


  • Location:  Sterling, VA (near Dulles)
  • Activity: Indoor trampoline park, open jump
  • Ages: All
  • Cost: $12 per half hour; $17 per hour
  • http://rebounderzsterling.com


Rollingcrest-Chillum Indoor Splash Park

Woodrow Wilson Aquatic Center


 Monster Mini-Golf

Shadowlands Laser Tag

Lucky Strike Bowling


White Oak Duck Pin Bowling

  • Location: Silver Spring, MD
  • Activity: Duck pin (small pins) bowling
  • Ages: All
  • Cost: $4.50 weekdays and $5.00 weekends (per game), plus $4 shoe rental
  • http://www.whiteoaklanes.com/


Silver Spring Ice Skating

Cabin John Ice Rink

Wheaton Ice Arena


Make Meaning

All Fired Up

  • Location: Washington, DC; Bethesda, MD
  • Activity: Pottery making, mosaics, fused glass (DC location only)
  • Ages: All
  • Cost: Pottery ranges from $2-$60, depending on piece; no additional costs
  • http://allfiredupdc.com/fused-glass-2.html

Art Jamz

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Activity: Painting
  • Ages: 3 and up
  • Cost: Depends on program
  • http://artjamzdc.com

 Color Me Mine


Port Discovery

  • Location: Baltimore, MD (Inner Harbor)
  • Activity: Hands-on learning through play; huge indoor climbing frame
  • Ages: 0-10
  • Cost: 2 and up: $14.40
  • http://www.portdiscovery.org/

National Aquarium (Baltimore)

  • Location: Baltimore, MD (Inner Harbor)
  • Activity: World-class aquarium
  • Ages: All
  • Cost: Under 3: free; ages 3-11: $21.95; ages 12-64: $34.95; 65+: $29.95
  • http://www.aqua.org/

Maryland Science Center

  • Location: Baltimore, MD (inner harbor)
  • Activity: A wide-variety of hands-on science exhibitions, from space to dinosaurs to the human body; cool bed of nails; terrific playroom for kids
  • Ages: All
  • Cost: Ages 3-12: $15.95-$19.95; adult: $18.95-$22.95
  • http://www.mdsci.org/


Arena Stage Theatre
  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Activity: Theater
  • Ages: Varies
  • Cost: Kids only pay their age! Adult tickets prices vary
  • http://www.arenastage.org
Imagination Stage Theatre
  • Location: Bethesda, MD
  • Activity: Performances, workshops, break camps
  • Ages: Programming for children beginning at 1 year-year-old
  • Cost: Depends on performance or workshop
  • http://www.imaginationstage.org/


Smithsonian Air & Space Museum

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Activity: History of flight and space travel w/ kids activity room and IMAX films
  • Ages: All
  • Cost: Free
  • http://airandspace.si.edu/

Smithsonian Udvar–Hazy Center

College Park Aviation Museum

International Spy Museum

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Activity:  largest collection of espionage-related artifacts plus interactive experiences and rotating exhibits (on now: “50 Years of Bond Villains”)
  • Ages: All
  • Cost: 6 and under: free; 7-11: $14.95; 12 and up: $21.95
  • http://www.spymuseum.org/tickets/

 National Building Museum

National Geographic Museum


Written by DC School HUB

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