September Guide to Family-Friendly Reopenings


Health and safety concerns in our communities have caused most typical family-friendly events and activities to be cancelled or significantly changed. The DC area is reopening slowly, giving families more ways to spend time together. This month, we have compiled a list of family-friendly places that have recently reopened in our region. Before venturing out, make sure you carefully review the safety protocols and requirements of each facility. If you want to spend some family time outdoors, please check out our guide to 80+ Places to Explore Nature with Kids Around the DMV. And be sure to look at our community calendar for other events too.


National Museum of African American History and Culture
On Friday, September 18, 2020, the National Museum of African American History and Culture will reopen to the public. As it begins a gradual, phased reopening, they’re putting safety first  with new measures in place to protect everyone’s health. Free,  timed-entry passes will be required for entry.

National Portrait Gallery
On September 18, the National Portrait Gallery will be open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11:30 am to 7 pm. In consultation with public health officials and the broader Smithsonian Institution, the Museum has made a number of changes to maximize safety for visitors and staff. Please make sure to review these new guidelines before your visit and reserve your free, timed-entry passes.

National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
This museum is open! Reserve timed entry passes online prior to your visit. Entry is free, but there is a $10 fee for parking. Before your visit, check out the museum’s website to see what is open. Some parts of the facility will not be available due to COVID-19 restrictions and ongoing construction and repair to parts of the hangar. Also, familiarize yourself with the museum’s safety protocols.

National Gallery of Art
The West Building, Ground Floor galleries are now open. The Gallery requires free, timed passes. Each Monday at 10 am, the museum releases tickets for the following week. The Gallery Shops and the Espresso & Gelato Bar on the Concourse are open and only accepting credit or debit cards. The Sculpture Garden is also open, but passes are not required for entry. Both facilities are open from 11 am – 4 pm.

Smithsonian American Art Museum
When SAAM reopens on September 18, your visit will be different and new procedures have been put in place to keep us all safe. It has a limited capacity and new safety measures have been set in the museum. Timed-entry passes are now required to help with crowd management and to implement safe social distancing. Make sure you familiarize yourself with these new procedures prior to your visit.

Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Gallery is delighted to welcome visitors back into its galleries on September 18.  To keep everyone safe and to support efforts to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, it has a limited capacity new safety measures have been established in the museum. At this time, you do not need to obtain a timed-entry pass to visit. Make sure you review Gallery protocols prior to your visit.

National Museum of Women in the Arts
The museum will reopen on August 1. In order to ensure that the galleries allow space for ample social distancing, visitors should purchase timed tickets in advance. Also, visitors must follow a number of safety protocols, including wearing a mask. The Mezzanine Cafe will remain closed, but the Museum Shop will be open. Free Community Days will resume on Sunday, August 16, and will be held on the first and third Sundays of each month from September through November 2020.

Glenstone Museum
The Museum is open and operating at a limited capacity. Glenstone also offers nearly 300 acres of landscape fully integrated with architecture and art. The landscape includes paths, trails, streams, meadows, forests, and outdoor sculptures throughout the grounds. You must schedule your visit online prior to your visit. Review the facility’s numerous protocols before your visit. Please take note that all visitors must be 12 or older and all minors (ages 12-17) must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

International Spy Museum
New safety measures are in place including capacity limitations, social distancing guidelines, mask requirements, and enhanced cleaning protocols. The museum recommends advance ticket purchase and there are no extra online fees. The museum’s website has more information about specific ways families can plan for their visit and stay safe including wearing a mask, providing a stylus to each visitor for use on all of the Museum’s touch screens, and more.


National Zoo
One of our area’s favorite family-friendly activities is open again! It will limit the number of visitors allowed in the zoo and visitors must reserve entry passes online. You can choose from a timed entry pass or a paid parking pass. Also, the zoo requires all visitors 6 years and older to wear a face mask. Check out the website for more details about the zoo’s COVID-19 protocols as well as information on what buildings remain closed.


Mount Vernon
George and Martha Washington’s Estate and Gardens are open. The facility has adopted a number of new safety protocols that you will want to review before your visit. Your family can tour the grounds and the gardens, the first floor of the mansion, and view museum exhibits. Purchase tickets online.

Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden
The Sculpture Garden is open daily at 10 am – 4:30 pm. The plaza and building remain temporarily closed. Capacity is limited, but passes are not required. The entrance is on the National Mall.

The Heurich House
The Heurich House Museum remains closed, but its gardens are open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 am to 5 pm. The Castle Garden is open by reservation only, and you can reserve your spot online. Also, you can take a virtual tour of the Museum online.

Tudor Place
The historic house is closed for tours, but its 5 1/2 acre garden is open from Thursday through Sunday from noon until 4 pm. Self-guided visits to the gardens are free but you will need to reserve a timed ticket entry. Review the website for more information about guidelines for visiting.

Lincoln’s Cottage
President Lincoln’s Cottage began its reopening on July 1, 2020, consistent with Washington, DC’s guidelines for museums. We are offering new and adapted exterior-only programs for the time being while the Cottage interior remains closed for the safety of the community. Check out its website for more information on current offerings, hours, and safety protocols.

National Arboretum
If you are looking for open park space, look no further. The National Arboretum is now open from 1 pm-5 pm Monday through Friday and from 8 am-5 pm on Saturdays on Sundays. Some entrances, areas, and facilities will remain closed. Familiarize yourself with those closures prior to your visit.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
The grounds of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are now open from 8 am-4 pm. The park is limiting the number of visitors. Some areas, such as all buildings, restrooms, and the boardwalk, remain closed for public safety (note that there are porta-potties available). Read about these and other visitor expectations on the park’s website.

Brookside Gardens
The Gardens are open for your enjoyment, relaxation, and exercise. However, the visitor center building is closed and there are no restroom facilities. Also, they are limiting the numbers allowed in their parking lot. See their website for a list of prohibited activities, map, and list of areas that are accessible in the gardens.


Trapeze School New York
TSNY at the DC Navy Yard is reopening after many months. It has taken steps to help keep the rig a healthy and safe place. All staff, students, and spectators must adhere to their safety protocols while attending classes or visiting their space.

ARTECHOUSE has opened with a limited capacity and it has taken additional safety measures in light of the current pandemic. It continues to monitor and follow recommendations from the CDC, WHO, and local health departments and government agencies. The current exhibit is “Hanami: Beyond the Blooms,” which pushes the limits of the cherry blossom experience and invites visitors to enter an immersive world of spring. This cherry blossom-inspired installation celebrates springtime and women in the arts and tech.

The Kennedy Center
The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has canceled most events for the remainder of 2020. However, you can still visit the building. View the JFK Memorial from the Grand Foyer. Visitors should familiarize themselves with safety protocols prior to their visit. The REACH is the new extension at the Kennedy Center. The art spaces there are currently closed, but a pop-up wine garden and cafe is open. Victura Park at the REACH is a family-friendly outdoor pop-up & wine garden located in the River Pavilion. This winery-inspired landscape is a collaboration between the culinary creative team of The Hilton Brothers & Chef Erik Bruner-Yang. Dotted with picnic and café tables and shade umbrellas, there’s plenty of space to enjoy a snack overlooking the Potomac or spread out a blanket on the grass with a glass of wine.

Park Up DC
This drive-in style experience aims to safely bring the community together for family-friendly and affordably priced movies and other entertainment. The minds behind Broccoli City Festival produces and Events DC hosts the drive-in movie series at historical RFK Campus Lot 5. Park Up DC features a massive 45ft HD LED digital screen, high-quality sound directly through your car’s FM stereo, delivery food from local food trucks, and clean portable restrooms. Current and upcoming films include family favorites Secret Life of Pets 2, Jumanji: The Next Level, Paddington, and Despicable Me 3. Check out the website to purchase tickets and to review its numerous COVID-19 protocols.

National Harbor
Some of the restaurants at the National Harbor have reopened with patio seating and/or to go ordering options. The Capital Wheel and Carousel at National Harbor are open. The facilities have taken steps to create social distancing and improve cleaning/sanitizing practices. Take a look at their website to review what COVID-19 measures they have implemented. Also, Monumental Boat Tours has reopened its Craigcat boat tours. See National Harbor’s website for additional family-friendly activities.

Do you know of other events going on around town? Please comment below or add them to our community calendar here!


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