Category Archives: Field Trip

Zoolights at the National Zoo

On Friday night, we went to Zoolights at the National Zoo in Washington D.C.


We got to see a few animals, visit the model train exhibit, ride the carousel, take a train ride, and enjoy many holiday lights around the zoo.


The carousel had lots of different animals that we could ride. Scarlett picked a flamingo. Luke rode the eagle.

Luckily, it wasn’t as cold as it has been in years past, so we got to enjoy being outdoors.


The kids really enjoyed watching these flowers change color. Luke’s favorite was green and Scarlett’s was purple.


We got to see some sleeping gorillas! That was the highlight of the night.


This LEGO city was pretty cool.



This little train was a really fun ride. We traveled around the farm area. The kids really enjoyed this. We might have gone again if the line wasn’t so long.

I always enjoy the zoo, and Zoolights is another fun way to enjoy it. It makes the holiday season a little more special.


Afternoon Tea at American Girl

I knew I wanted to do some kind of tea party for Alice in Wonderland week. When Scarlett and I discovered the restaurant while browsing in the American Girl store on afternoon, we decided it was a great place to return to one day for afternoon tea.

Since I had taken Luke by himself to the campfire the previous week (and since he’s not a big fan of girly things like American Girl), I took Scarlett by herself to have tea. Well, Scarlett and her Bitty Baby.

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Scarlett wore her Sofia the First dress and was very proud and very excited. She loved that the whole room was pink, and that her baby could sit right up at the table.

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The waiter was super friendly. We decided to order hot chocolate instead of tea. He made it fresh for us, complete with whipped cream, and poured it for Scarlett.

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Soon after, he brought out a nice tower of food.

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It was all pretty tasty, and each item was inspired by a different historical American Girl.

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Scarlett enjoyed dipping fruit in yogurt.

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I liked the little sandwiches.

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Bitty Baby was just happy to have her own little tea cup.

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It was a nice little mother/daughter date. Scarlett had a wonderful time and cannot wait to go back. She’s definately an American Girl fan now.


UP Activity: More Wilderness and A Campfire

I was looking around for more Up related activities and came across another adventure fit for a Wilderness Explorer.

While we were at Hidden Oaks Nature Center, we saw a flyer for Who-oo’s at the Campfire?, a program where kids learn about owls around the campfire. Sounded pretty awesome, so the next night, Luke and I headed back to experience the Nature Center at night.


We actually ended up going into a classroom to learn about owls before we went outside. I was worried Luke wouldn’t like sitting there being lectured to, but just as I leaned over to ask if he was bored, he said “This is really fun!” He thought the teacher was great. She was really entertaining and even I learned a lot.


She showed up an owl skull, a wing, a talon and a bunch of different species of owls that were stuffed and displayed around the building.


Then it was time to head out to the campfire. Luke was very excited he got to use a flashlight.


We sat around the fire, where to teacher told us a story adapted from Native American folklore about how the owl was created. It was pretty funny.

After the story, it was time for s’mores! It was pretty fun roasting our own marshmallows.


It was even more fun to eat them!


Luke had a great time and wants to take Dad and Scarlett with us next time.

He is a proud owl expert!

The Wilderness Must Be Explored!

For our first activity for Up week, we did a little wilderness exploration at Hidden Oaks Nature Center.


We normally play outside when we visit this nature center, but we went inside this time to see what we could learn.


There were several live turtles, which we fun to watch.


There were also rocks, seeds, leaves and wood to touch and examine under a magnifying glass or a microscope. Luke thought this was really cool.


Scarlett was really into the dress up area.



There were also lots of puzzles, animal toys, dinosaur figures and places to play.


It was really a lot of fun. Great place to play on a rainy day, or just when we’re feeling scientific!


Luke’s Bouncing Birthday

For Luke’s birthday, he wanted to go to one of our favorite play places – Sport Bounce of Loudoun. It’s a bit of a drive, so we don’t go as often as the kids would like. Going as a birthday treat was just what an energetic 5-year-old wanted.

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We got to open bounce a little late, but an hour ended up being enough time to get in everything they wanted to do.

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Luke got to jump, slide and even experience hurricane force winds!

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My mom is visiting so she got to play a bit, too.


It was a nice time, especially since they have added, Jumpin’ Java, a new coffee shop!

I’d love to have a full-fledged birthday party here someday. Luke wanted a Minecraft themed birthday dinner, though, so we left at the end of Open Bounce to shop for his special meal. See what we came up with in the next post!

Summer Fun List: Hidden Oaks Nature Center

One of the activities on our Summer Fun List was visiting a nature center.


We picked Hidden Oaks Nature Center in Annandale, Virginia because of the “Nature Playce” where the kids could play in sandboxes and “dig for dinosaurs.”


There were lots of dinosaurs provided!


There was dinosaur facts as well.



They dug for a while, then Luke wanted to explore.


There are different levels of wilderness inside the Nature Playce. 

Luke stuck to “Fledgling” – “Outdoorsman” was a bit too wild.


The bugs started to come out, so we called it a day. We will be back, though, especially in the fall when the colors are beautiful. It’s a really interesting place to play.


Disney Planes Activity: Watching Planes Land

One of our favorite places to go for a picnic is Gravelly Point Park. Located right next to Reagan National Airport, it’s a grassy area on the river where planes fly right overhead as they take off or land in Washington DC.

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We went just before dusk and spread out a blanket. The kids played in the grass while we waited to see the airplanes.

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It was a busy night at the airport!  We saw lots of planes.

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They were loud! We took turns covering the kids’ ears.

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It’s a unique experience, with a great view! Highly recommended.


Disney Planes Activity: Air & Space Museum

One of the great things about living right outside of Washington D.C. is the access to so many wonderful museums. One is the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, which fit perfectly without our Disney Planes week.

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They have everything from military aircraft to passenger jets to the early planes built by the Wright Brothers.

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They also have interactive areas where you can learn while you play.

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The kids liked the airplane repair area the best. Tools and gears are fun!

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Suprisingly, we found a good amount of Disney sprinkled throughout the museum!

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Disney World is easily accessible by air – here’s some luggage with souvenirs!

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Mickey Mouse cartoon

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Of course, Planes in the gift shop!

Luke and Scarlett loved this museum. Scarlett has asked to go again every day since we left! It’s a great place to visit in the D.C. area.


Summer Fun List: Friendship Firehouse Festival

One of our favorite annual activities is the Friendship Firehouse Festival in Old Town Alexandria, VA.

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Founded in 1774, the Friendship Firehouse houses antique firefighting equipment in what is now a museum. The festival brings lots of emergency vehicles for children to explore to Old Town Alexandria, as well as vendors, snacks and fun plastic firefighter hats for the kids!

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Luke and Scarlett “drove” a firetruck.

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They got to see some real equipment too.

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They also got to play in a Red Cross Disaster Relief truck.

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They got to pretend to serve food out of the back.

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It was truck heaven for all the little kids in attendance. Luke loved it, even though he made this face.

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We also got some Naked Juice samples and fire safety coloring books. Fun Times. I’m sure we will be back next year.

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Summer Fun List: National Children’s Museum

Once a month, the National Children’s Museum at National Harbor in Maryland has a Free Family Night. This was a great opportunity for us to visit this museum, which we had been interested in visiting since it opened last December.

Luke loved the giant world map near the entrance

It’s a small museum with lots of pretend play and lots of educational items packed into it.

The first area we visited was “My Town.” It had several fun play stations including a pizza parlor, fire truck, market, and campaign headquarters.

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The kids really enjoyed Pizza Place. There were several different pizza playset to “cook” with including Plan Toys and Melissa & Doug items.

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At the market, Luke was the cashier while Scarlett shopped for groceries.

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Then Scarlett brought her basket into the firetruck.

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Luke went to the loading dock to operate the crane while Scarlett did a USA puzzle at Campaign Headquarters.

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There was a tight race for mayor going on!

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The next area we went to was an international section. It had an airport baggage carousel, an exotic market, costumes, and a kitchen for “cooking” cuisine from around the world.

Scarlett shopped for interesting ingredients, then Luke drove her in a taxi.

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Time to cook!

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Next, Luke went to a classroom to do an art project. He and Tom made masks.

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Scarlett and I went to the room for kids aged 3 and under. This room had lots of toys, a food truck and a climbing structure as well as a place just for infants to play. And it was Sesame Street themed!

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Our last stop was Imagination Playground, a room full of pieces and parts to build anything you can think of.

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This was everyone’s favorite part!

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We spent several hours at the museum and the kids enjoyed themselves. I’m not sure I would’ve liked it if we had paid the regular rate of $10 per person, but for free it was a good time!