The Zoo Is Reopening! And the Carousel Is Free!!

I am very excited that the National  Zoo is reopening on Friday, October 18th – the fall is one of our very favorite times to visit the zoo.  It’s generally less crowded and we can have a lot of fun running wild and checking out the animals.

My children will be very excited to get back to the zoo and ride the carousel!

And the cherry on the news sundae?  If you visit the National Zoo between October 18-20 and get a 10% discount on food and merchandise.  Also, children 18 and younger can ride the carousel for FREE.  YES!  FREE CAROUSEL RIDES!  (Sorry for the shouting, it’s just so exciting.)  See you there!

Turn that Skuut Upside Down!

My daughter is 2.5 and is very interested in learning to ride a bike like her big brother does.  In the summer we tried getting her on his hand-me-down Skuut balance bike, but she wasn’t quite tall enough to comfortable sit on the frame and start riding with it.  My husband took the bike apart and flipped the frame of the bike upside down and re attached it (basically the “Skuut” lettering is now facing upside down.)

Violet is ready to face the world on two wheels!

This lowers the seat a good couple of inches and made it so my daughter could start riding.  Now, several months later, we finally flipped the frame right side up and she is well on her way to riding a big kid bike – hopefully this spring!  So if you have a little rider who is anxious to get going but might not seem to fit the Skuut, try a simple hack and turn it upside down.  If you can’t see what I’m talking about from my picture, check out this picture.

The Montgomery County Recycling Center – Fun, Mezmorizing, and Free!

If you’re looking for someplace cool and interesting to go in these last few days of summer, then consider checking out the Montgomery Country Recycling Center (located at 16105 Frederick Rd Derwood, MD 20855.)  A friend of mine recommended that we go check it out, so we headed over the other morning with high expectations of awesomeness.  We (especially my 4 year old Cameron) were not disappointed!

When you fist enter there is a small room on the first floor that talks about what materials are recyclable and how the sorting room works.  This was interesting to my kids because it really connected the recycling we do at home to what was happening at the center – but this was nothing compared to what awaited us in the sorting room of the center.   Grab some ear plugs (provided by the center and head up the stairs and through the door.  You’ll find a room full of conveyer belts, machines, magnets, employees sorting, and trucks and forklifts moving recyclables around.  There is a catwalk type area which gives a great birds eye view of all the sorting that is going on.  It’s basically like the willy wonka factory for recycling.

Guided tours are available to groups of 10 or more, Monday through Thursday, between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Call the recycling center at 301-417-1433 to schedule a time.  Individuals are welcome to visit at any time without an appointment (this is what we did) weekdays between 7:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. The Recycling Center typically does not operate on Fridays. If you are planning a Friday visit, please call the Center at 301-417-1433

Check Out the New Macomb Rec Center Playground and Spray Park

Today we went to check out the new Macomb Rec Center Playground and spray park (located at 3409 Macomb Street, NW) which was just renovated by DC DPR.  In a word, it’s great.

The new playground exists on the footprint of the old playground – leaving the basketball court and the baseball field still intact.  Also, the mature and very shady trees remain, which is quite nice.  The new renovation features a small sprinkler park, a completely gated off toddler play area with swings, a “big kid” play area (both Cameron, almost 5 and Violet, 2.5 preferred this area), many picnic tables, the existing rec center (which looks like it got a fresh coat of paint,) and several benches .  I’m including a lot of pictures of the playground and spray park so you can see what it looks like.

My only critiques are that in the spray park there isn’t really any where to sit (or even stand) to the side and watch your kids without being somewhat sprayed.   Within the gated toddler area there are also no benches for sitting.  That’s about it – very small quibbles over all!  Maybe in the future more benches could be added – there is certainly room for them (except in the spray park.)  Overall – well done DPR!  It’s a lovely playground and it’s so nice to have an additional spray park to go to in the summer months.

The New Playground and SprayPark in the Palisades is Great!

This morning Violet and I went with some friends to check out the newly redone playground and spray park in the Palisades area of DC (5200 Sherier Place, NW Washington, DC 20016).  All in all, the new playground is really beautiful.  It has features to appeal to a wide variety of ages in both the wet and dry areas of the park.  There are only 4 swings, which is fine with me – 2 “big kid swings,” one bucket swing, and one handicapped swing.  There are large and small rock formations to climb, a few slides – including one really big one (watch out, it gets hot!) and lots of fun things to climb up and across.  There are some musical things to play too.  In the wet area there is a water slide, some fish that dump water when filled (similar to the buckets at the Wilson Aquatic Center) and sprinkler fountains of varying sizes.  Violet was more into the little fountains, and the older kids were really enjoying the big ones. There was something for everyone!

Overall, it was a huge hit!  There is limited shade, not too much seating as far as benches go, and the only trash can I saw was just outside the gate – those would be my only critiques.  Otherwise, a great renovation by DPR! We can’t wait to go back!!

Update: We went back this afternoon with my son who is 4.5 – He totally loved it, and I wanted to note that DPR did a great job at picking equipment that is really good for all ages – so both my kids could really enjoy the space in different ways.  Also, the playground had much better shade in the afternoon than in the morning.  And finally, the only way I could get my kids to leave was to promise we could go back tomorrow afternoon – that is saying something!

The Pizza Playground at the Zoo is Back….

Violet and I went to the National Zoo yesterday morning to check out the new Pizza Playground which just re opened.  I wasn’t sure what to expect – but I didn’t expect to see basically the same playground!  The pizza has been replaced – and is now square instead of round.  The toppings are still there, but some of them are fastened down to the pizza.  There is still plenty of shade over the pizza.  And that’s about it – honestly, I was a little underwhelmed.  Here are some pictures so you can see what it looks like:

New Pizza Playground at the National Zoo – Coming Soon!

My kids were big fans of the Pizza Playground at the National Zoo – and last year by way of my FONZ membership I heard that they were going to be renovating it.  Well, it seems that renovation is currently under way – and the playground is now closed, but it is set to re open on June 29th!

I can’t wait to check it out!  There is going to be a party on opening day.  Here are the details from the Zoo website:

Celebrate the public re-opening of the Pizza Playground on June 29 from noon to 1:00 p.m.! Enjoy access to the new square Pizza Playground as well as free pizza and a commemorative gift courtesy of Ledo Pizza® while supplies last. You can also Meet-a-Farm Animal – Alpacas, donkeys, and goats! Keepers will introduce you to one of the many furry or feathered residents of the Farm (weather permitting.)

PS: I heard about the closing of the Pizza Playground via a tip from a reader and friend…. keep them coming!

Gymboree Is Set To Open In Woodley Park!

I first heard that Gymboree was coming to Woodley Park via Kidfriendly DC.  I’ve never taken any Gymboree classes, but I was excited to have the option available close to where I live.  This morning I got an email from the owner saying a date has been set for the grand opening – Thursday, June 27th – and the great news is you can sign up for a FREE class and check it out!  Here’s the details:

TO REGISTER FOR A FREE CLASS: Just follow this link to see the schedule of classes at the new Woodley Park Gymboree.  On the left hand side in an orange box with the header “filter calender” check the box that says “Available for free class sign up.”  Be sure to add your other criteria (like age of your child) and then click on “see results.”  I signed Violet up for a class so we could check it out!  I will be sure to post pictures after the class (we will be going in mid-July.)
SPECIALS: The new Woodley Park Gymboree will be waiving the $50 enrollment fee, and offering the first month at $59 (play & learn classes & music) and $79 (art) – after which time normal monthly rates of $82 and $92 will apply.
The new Gymboree is located at 2639 Connecticut Avenue NW Suite 113 Washington, DC 20008 – right by the Woodley Park metro station.  You can email them at: or call them at: 202-627-2450
See you there!

Free Valentine Making at Whole Foods Friendship Heights!

For those of you with kids who just can’t get enough Valentine making (like mine) tomorrow, February 13th the Whole Foods Half Pint Kids Club is hosting a FREE event.

Here’s the info:

Bring the kiddies from 4-5pm to make homemade Valentine’s Day cards to give to their friends and family! Class is free. Prior registration is required, please sign- up at Customer Service or by calling 301-657-1520.

For more information on upcoming Half Pint Kids Club events, check out this page.  You can also like Whole Foods Friendship Heights on Facebook and follow them on twitter.

The American Trail at the Zoo is Open!

The American Trail at the National Zoo opens tomorrow (9/1) to the general public, but we were lucky to be able to see it today on the FONZ preview day. It was a little crowded, but a ton of fun. I wanted to post a few pictures for you all to check out – they don’t even begin to cover how cool the exhibit is!

Overall the exhibit is very stroller and kid friendly. There are a lot of stairs, but everything is also accessible via ramps. If you like, there is stroller parking at the entrance.  The kids can get great views of all the animals and particularly seemed to love the underwater viewing areas. While there is no bathroom there, they are located nearby at the Elephant Outpost, or at Amazonia (either of which you need to pass on the way to get to the American Trail. There is a Cafe with a small selection in case you need some food. The biggest draw for the kids seemed to be the tide pool which I think (although it was hard to tell since it’s new!) was having some trouble. The water only came on once in the 30 minutes we were hanging out near it. There were still puddles on the ground which my kids loved, but when the water actually came on, boy were they excited. Watch out for the littlest ones, though. The initial rush of water can be a bit intense. Violet also took a jet of water to the face. She was in shock but recovered quickly! All in all, a lot of fun. I can’t wait to go back once the crowds die down. See you there!

To learn more about the American Trail at the National Zoo and even check out a virtual tour, visit the Zoo website.