April Guide to Family-Friendly Reopenings and Events

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Spring has sprung! And with it comes renewed hope as people across the DMV are lining up to receive their COVID-19 vaccination. After a year of closures and cancellations due to the pandemic, things are starting to slowly and carefully reopen. For April, we have compiled a list of family-friendly reopenings in our region as well as a few events, including a drive-thru dinosaur adventure, a canoe trip on the Anacostia River, and an immersive Van Gogh exhibit. Also this month, cherry blossoms will burst open and be celebrated. Check out our Guide to DC’s Cherry Blossom Season.

Before venturing out, make sure you carefully review the safety protocols and requirements of each facility and event. 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 Ice Skating Rink Guide. And be sure to look at our community calendar for other April events too.

ANIMALS

Glen Echo Park Aquarium

The aquarium is open by appointment only. Dates and times are limited, but they will work with you to arrange a visit between 10 am and 5 pm. See the website for contact info and COVID policies.

Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center

Visit Alexandria’s very own Nature Center where you can see live animals up close and learn about the cultural and natural history of the neighboring Dora Kelley Nature Park. Currently, interactive exhibits and play spaces are closed. The Nature Center is also limiting the total visitor capacity, conducting temperature checks at the door, and requiring face masks and maintaining at least 6 feet of physical distance while inside the Center. Check out their website for a list of Spring 2021 Virtual and In-Person nature classes and activities.

HISTORIC HOMES AND GARDENS

Heurich House Museum

The Heurich House Museum remains closed, but its gardens are open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 am to 5 pm. See website for details. Also, you can take a virtual tour of the Museum online.

Hillwood Estates and Gardens

The museum and gardens are now open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am – 5pm. Timed-entry reservations must be made in advance and are available online.

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. On April 24th, visit Mount Vernon for its Animal Family Day event where you will learn about Mount Vernon’s animals and the jobs they performed in George Washington’s time.

National Arboretum

If you are looking for open park space this April, look no further. The National Arboretum is now open daily from 8 am-5 pm. However, please note the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum and Administration building will continue to be closed to the public. Visitors are still required to follow all posted guidelines designed to maximize the safety and health of all visitors and employees, including requiring all visitors and employees to wear a mask and maintain social distance.

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 from sunrise to sunset (7 am – 5 pm) for your enjoyment, relaxation, and exercise. They are limiting the numbers allowed in their parking lot. See their website for a list of prohibited activities, a map, and a list of areas that are accessible in the gardens.

ENTERTAINMENT

Dino Safari

Now through April 11th, your family can go on a drive-thru adventure at National Harbor where the whole family can get up-close-and-personal with over 40 moving dinosaurs. You will learn how dinosaurs evolved over time, where on earth they lived, and the discoveries paleontologists have made about how they ate, moved, and behaved. Beware: along the journey, earthquakes might erupt, dinosaurs could battle, and your family might just have to help save a baby dinosaur’s life!

ARTECHOUSE

ARTECHOUSE has opened with a limited capacity and it has taken additional safety measures in light of the current pandemic. You can now purchase tickets for a new installation running from March 15th – September 6th. “Renewal 2121” seeks to inspire hope amid a global pandemic and concerns of climate change. Transporting visitors 100 years into the future, it immerses them in an industrial city where nature fights to survive amid an overdeveloped metropolis. There is a hopeful message to be discovered as blossoms are seen peeking through the plastic, concrete, and neon lights, ready to renew the season with the help of those willing to take action.

Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience

This installation is a 20,000 square foot light and sound spectacular featuring two-story projections of the artist’s most compelling works in 360 degrees. It aims to be appropriate for all ages. The experience is all digital, hands-free, and instituted a number of COVID safety measures. Tickets are available online and will be released for sale at noon on March 5th.

The Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has canceled all previously scheduled full-capacity programs through April 25, 2021. Additionally, much of the late spring and early summer touring programs have been canceled. However, you can still visit the REACH Friday through Sunday. Check the website for access information and COVID policies.

National Harbor

Some of the restaurants at the National Harbor have reopened with patio seating and/or to-go ordering options. The Capital Wheel is 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. See National Harbor’s website for additional family-friendly activities.

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.

MUSEUMS

National Building Museum

The National Building Museum has officially reopened Friday through Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm. Tickets to exhibits can be purchased online or at its new visitor center. Visits to the Great Hall, the Museum Shop, and the Gun Violence Memorial Project are free. Parents please note that the ever-popular PLAY WORK BUILD remains temporarily closed.

Planet Word

This new museum aims to inspire and renew a love of words, language, and reading in people of all ages through unique, immersive learning experiences. It is now open Thursday through Saturday. Admission is free, but it is suggested that visitors make a $15 donation. Reserve passes to visit online.

Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum Presents “Men of Change: Taking It To The Streets”

This exhibition presents a nation’s story through the profiles of revolutionary African American men and the cultural stories they illuminate. In heralding the contributions of notable African American men, from W.E.B DuBois to Ryan Coogler, “Men of Change” highlights deep parallels between the past and present. Originally intended as an indoors exhibit, it has been reimagined for outdoors installation in Ward 7. The exhibition can be viewed 24 hours a day now through May 31st. It features multiple stand-alone and fence displays on six streets, including the campus of Ron Brown High School. See the website for more information about the men who are profiled, as well as a map of the installation.

Glenstone Museum

The grounds are open Thursday through Saturday and outdoor dining at the Patio is available in a limited capacity. The Arrival Hall will be open in a limited capacity for access to restrooms and a water bottle refill station, as well as the Bookstore. You must schedule your visit ahead of time, and admission is free.

Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden

The Museum’s building may be closed for the moment, but its sculpture garden is open daily from 10 am – 4:30 pm. Visit hi.si.edu on your personal device during your visit for a self-guided experience. Also, #HirshhornInsideOut is a way for us to remain connected through artist- and curator-led insights, innovative digital artworks, online events, and hands-on art activities for adults and kids of all ages, all from your phone, tablet, or computer.

International Spy Museum 

New safety measures are in place including capacity limitations, social distancing guidelines, mask requirements, and enhanced cleaning protocols. The museum is now open 7 days a week and advance ticket purchases are recommended. The museum’s website has more information about specific ways families can plan for their visit and stay safe. Safety measures include wearing a mask, providing a stylus to each visitor for use on all of the Museum’s touch screens, and more.

Lincoln’s Cottage  

The interiors are now open Wednesday through Monday for timed, self-guided tours. Space is limited to allow space for social distancing and reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure. Purchase tickets online.

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden 

Your family can the enjoy outdoor art installations daily from 11 am to 4 pm with capacity and mask requirements. The Pavilion Café is also open. See website for detailed information about the artwork and plants that inhabit the garden.

National Museum of Women in the Arts 

This museum is now open seven days a week. It is recommended that you reserve timed-entry tickets ahead of your visit. Visitors can explore current exhibitions and the collection for free on the first Sunday of every month during its Free Community Day.

Phillips Collection  

The museum opened its doors 100 years ago as a memorial to founder Duncan Phillips’s father, Duncan Clinch Phillips, and brother, James, who died in the 1918 flu epidemic. To celebrate its centennial, the museum has created an exhibit called, Seeing Differently: The Phillips Collects for a New Century. The exhibit highlights over 200 works by artists from the 19th century to the present that explore the complexities of our ever-changing world. Check out resources to enhance a family-friendly visit, including a scavenger hunt. This museum has limited capacity and advanced timed-entry tickets are required for all visitors.

SEASONAL FAMILY-FRIENDLY EVENTS AND REOPENINGS

Anacostia River Festival Canoe Trip

Join the Anacostia Watershed Society on April 10th for a FREE canoe tour on the Anacostia River. You will explore the ecological and historical changes that have occurred in the river and in the communities around the it. You will have the opportunity to witness some of the restoration of river habitats and rebound of the wildlife in the Anacostia River. Online preregistration is required.

Pentagon Row Ice Skating

The rink is open 7 days a week, but you must make reservations in advance. Reservations open 2 weeks in advance. Check out the website for reservations and other policies.

Silver Spring Ice Skating 

The rink is open 7 days a week, but you must make reservations in advance. Reservations open 2 weeks in advance. Check out the website for reservations and other policies.

Do you know of other family-friendly events and re-openings going on around town for April? Please comment below or add them to our community calendar here!

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Julie is a proud born and bred Texan, but has called DC home since 2001. She studied at the University of Texas and then moved to DC to get her MPA at the George Washington University. Julie worked for ten years for a Member of Congress, where she loved working to impact public policy. In 2013, her world turned inside out when she gave birth to twins and decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Currently Julie lives in the H Street Corridor with her husband, two kids, and their increasingly grouchy senior dog, Presley. Yes, please: movie dates with her husband, trying new restaurants, exploring DC with her kids, last minute road trips, being outdoors, festivals (of any kind), girls’ night out, and a rainy day with “Pride and Prejudice.” No, thank you: hot and humid summers, mistreating animals, Legos (ouch!), public speaking, laundry, raw fish

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