At the beginning of the summer, I set myself a bucket list. Consisting of only six activities, it was not ambitious; it was merely designed to get us out of the house and do something we either had never done before or do rarely, at least once a week for each week that Teddy did not have a camp. Make no mistake: these activities were planned for my sake, not my kids’. They would be perfectly happy playing at home all day every day. I’m the one who needs to get out once a day. Despite this plan being primarily for my own happiness, I did my best to find things I thought the kids would enjoy. This was really in my own best interest; it’s hard to coax Teddy out of the house…for any reason. It requires actual bribery for him to voluntarily go somewhere solely for my sake. So, I mined the archives of kidfriendlydc.com, searched my own memory for ideas I’d filed away, and actually asked Teddy. (He kind of missed the point of the assignment, offering ideas for activities…at home. But we did some of those the other days of the week.) I put together my list, posted it on the wall, and checked things off as we did them. And yesterday, I crossed off our final activity!
Summer Bucket List 2017
DC Trails Tour Bus
Every time we walk to Union Station and Teddy sees the hop-on-hop-off tour buses waiting for passengers, he asks if we can join. So when friends invited us to join them, I jumped at the chance. I love this touristy activity. Mike and I toured the city on one of these buses when we first visited DC, and I’ve ridden a trolley with my parents. I enjoy the trivia and seeing the sights without all the walking (since we walk ev-er-y-where), and I figured Teddy would appreciate that part, too. So one beautiful Tuesday morning (we planned carefully around all the projected rainstorms for that week), we boarded an empty bus and found seats at the front, right behind the tour guide. I LOVE being close to the tour guide, whether on walking tours or bus tours (or bike tours! We biked the sights at night when we first moved here). I always ask questions and get to know the guide a bit. (I’ve decided when I retire, I want to be a tour guide.) We opted to stay on the bus the entire tour rather than get off anywhere, and it lasted about two hours. The kids hit their wall for sitting in one place at about the 90 minute mark (and that’s also about when the lovely morning turned unpleasantly hot), but we powered through until we’d reached the stop where we’d started.
Anacostia Pirate Ship Playground
This playground in Anacostia Park has, as you might imagine from the name, a play structure designed to resemble a pirate ship. We’d gone once before a couple years ago for a friend’s birthday party, and every since I’d been determined to go back. Anacostia always feels so far away, since it’s across the river, but getting there turned out to be quite doable. We met the same family whose birthday party we’d attended and another friend, and stayed for nearly four hours. Of course, the kids spent approximately five minutes on the play structure itself and the rest of the time playing in a nearby mud puddle and throwing sticks on the massive green space surrounding the play structure. But everyone had a great time, and it was nice to get outside our Stanton–>Sherwood–>Lincoln–> routine. (The only downside: I hadn’t planned for the mud puddle so two very muddy children rode the bus home…)
National History Museum Butterfly Exhibit
My original plan was to visit the Meadowlark Gardens Butterfly Exhibit, which is something we’ve never done, but we ended up just going to the butterfly exhibit at the National History Museum (on Tuesday, because it’s free), which we rarely do, instead, because we had friends in town and that was an easier adventure. (There’s a joke that if you want to see all the tourists in London on any given day, go see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace at 11 am; now I can say, if you want to see all the tourists AND locals in DC, go to the Natural History Museum on a Tuesday in summer! The place was packed, and we actually ran into another friend in line.) Teddy studied the lifestyle of the monarch butterfly at the end of Kindergarten, and he loves the book gotta go gotta go, which traces the annual migration of monarch butterflies to Mexico, so I thought he’d enjoy the exhibit. When we’ve gone before, he hasn’t lasted more than a couple minutes; all those wings fluttering by can be a bit disconcerting. But this time, he liked it; he even stood still for a couple minutes while a butterfly hung out on his back. Lydia enjoyed the exhibit, too…from my arms. After one butterfly fluttered quite close, she refused to walk on her own.
East Potomac Park Miniature Golf
I love mini golf. I’m terrible at it, but I love it. I think because of how mini golf courses usually incorporate miniature versions of local landmarks as features for each hole. We made a family trip to East Potomac Park a couple weekends ago, and I learned from a plaque at the sixth hole that this course used to do that as well, but they all got renovated out. Teddy also loves miniature golf. And because he has a natural ability for any activity involving a ball, he’s pretty good at it, for a 5-year-old. He doesn’t care about tiny Capitol buildings. Didn’t miss the tiny Thomas Jefferson Memorial that wasn’t there anymore. While I was lamenting its absence, he was checking out the lay of the green. He beat me on more holes than I care to admit. I got a score card, thinking I’d keep track, just for fun. I didn’t even mark scores for the first hole–that’s how depressing mine was. But I still love mini golf. And Lydia had a great time getting a hole in one every time by carrying the ball to the hold and dropping it in.
The same friend who gave us complimentary tickets for the bus tour has been urging us to come with her to Port Discovery, an amazing indoor playland in Baltimore. We finally put a date on the calendar and made it happen last month. It was amazing. If we lived in Baltimore, we’d definitely have a membership. In the center towers a three-story playground, and around the perimeter are themed rooms, such as a diner, a water room, and an Egyptian room. The kids loved it. I feel like we barely spent any time in any one room because we wanted to see everything.
Kids in Canal
This is a weekly summer program run by Capitol Riverfront. Every week features a different form of entertainment. We went to was Mad Science. The scientist demonstrated the power of air in various ways, including shooting confetti out of an air gun. Unfortunately, he was competing with a shallow water feature under his stage, which Teddy splashed around in for about half the program. But the confetti got my little mad scientist’s attention, and from there, he was enthralled. Next week is Carousel Puppets; Teddy will be back in school, but I may take Lydia.