Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Winter Break Fun in Maryland & DC (for Route 1 Toddlers and Preschoolers)!

Winter Break Fun in Maryland & DC (for Route 1 Toddlers & Preschoolers) 

wegmans wonderplace dc
And that's mine and that's mine...at Wegmans Wonderplace

With some daycares and preschools closing during the Winter Break along Route 1 and the DC Metro Area, having a game plan on how to entertain them young'ns will sure come in handy when they start to get restless. So, check it: Route One Fun's got a fresh list of 10 great things to do in Maryland and DC with Route 1 toddlers and pre-schoolers! Read on and high-five me later! πŸ˜„

10 Fun Things to Do with Toddlers & Preschoolers over Winter Break in Maryland & DC 

Before we get to the list, know that these activities are not just for the one to five-year old crew, just that this age group will like them the most (based on personal experience). Hours vary, so call ahead to confirm status. And FREE means that there's no admission fee while "$" denotes an admission fee.


1.  Does your kiddo love grocery stores or stacking (and perhaps hoarding) play vegetables? Then Wegmans Wonderplace (FREE) is the place for you all! Located inside the National Museum of American History, this free spot will keep your kiddo occupied for a good hour or so - then you can all check out the rest of this amazing museum!

2. Explore inside the College Park Aviation Museum ($) and its hands-on activities, costumes to don and interactive exhibits, it's a great place that keeps little hands and minds busy. AND you can also check out the Holiday Trains and Planes exhibit! (Great discount on admission via Groupon here.) 

3. Let your little one putter around inside Storyville (FREE), a free play-and-learn center designed to promote early literacy and school readiness skills (part of Baltimore County Public Library System).

4. Burn up some energy at Hyper Kidz - Indoor Playground ($)! With unlimited play, perfect for kids to climb, slide, carousel, bounce, jump and run around all day! (Mention "Route One Fun" for $2 off admission.) And you can buy yourself some coffee, a la Keurig, inside. :)

Hyper-Kidz Columbia

5. Head early in the day to DC's National Building Museum's Building Zone ($), a hands-on introduction to the building arts full of construction truck toys, LEGOS, a Project Playhouse, pretend-play and more! After your timed hour at the Building Zone, you can then explore the beautiful insides of the NBM or grab a bite to eat + Swings Coffee at cafe tucked inside corner. 

6. Frogs and Chameleons and Rabbit, oh my! Check out some hands-on exhibits, live animals, educational displays, a play area and more for free at the Mt. Rainier Nature Center (FREE)! Read about our fun time here then get to plannin'! 

Mount Rainier Nature Center
Can you spot the snake? (I hope not. 😬)

7. Does your child love to play in the water? Then the Splash Playground at Rollingcrest Chillum ($) is the place for you! We love this spot - so much to do! With slides and spray features, kiddos will be exhausted by the time you leave. Just remember to bring a lock to store your stuff in the locker rooms.

8. Perfect time for some ice-skating! The Herbert Wells Ice Rink ($) in College Park is huge and perfect for newbies to test out their skills. (Check the schedule for the public skating sessions; the super saver and/or family sessions are great value!)

9. While the weather may not be perfect, that's the perfect reason to head to the National Zoo (FREE)! During the winter, the zoo is not as crowded and with enough indoor exhibits for young ones to explore, it will be well worth your time! (And since you're in the general area, Comet Ping Pong about 3-4 minute drive north of the Zoo in Cleveland Park is a great pizza / beer spot.)

10. Do a family scavenger hunt, explore the winding nature exhibits at the Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel (FREE). Read about our fun time at the Patuxent Research Refuge here. Since you're in the area, why not check out the Kids Room at the beautiful Laurel Library and then grab a tasty Ceremony coffee at Sip at C Street? So. Many. Options! :)

Got any more events or ideas to add to this list? Enter them in the comments below and I'll update the list! 

πŸŽ„ Still in the holiday spirit? There are still fun, festive events happening in our area! Check out Route One Fun's 2018 Holiday Events Guide for more great ideas!

πŸ‘€ Stay tuned for tomorrow's guide on things to do over winter break with the 5 years-old and up crew!

Always call or check the event website before heading out;
Event information is subject to change or weather cancellation.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Franciscan Monastery in Brookland, DC (with or without kids)!

A Trip to the Franciscan Monastery in Brookland, DC

Searching for something different to do with (or without) your guests over the holidays? Then consider exploring the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, DC (it's free, though donation welcomed). Open to all, the Franciscan Monastery is full of amazing architecture, incredibly beautiful stained glass windows, breathtaking art, relics of pilgrimages from around the world, shrines that make room for you to spend a moment and grounds that remind you of what it's like to feel peaceful (except if you have a 4-year old child nipping at your proverbial heels. Tips on visiting with kids, below...).

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America

A Visit to the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America

The Main Church of the Franciscan Monastery Shrine

According to the Guided Tour brochure, the monastery was built in 1898 under the vision of Father Godfrey Shilling, OFM, who reproduced the sacred shrines at the Franciscan Monastery OHL "to encourage pilgrimages and allow those who could not make such a journey to see and experience the shrines for themselves." The upper church has reproductions of the shrines relation to Jesus' death and resurrection.

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
Taking in the Calvary Shrine

So much - everything - inside the Main Church is breathtakingly beautiful. Though I joke about my young'n and her antics, watching her stop now and then to just take in everything around her was a pretty powerful experience, and a reminder to keep trying, keep exposing her to new and different things in this world.

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
What a view!
Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
Mary's Chapel

The lower church has reproductions of the shrines with the Grottos of Nazareth and Bethlehem and the Roman Catacombs. On a tour of the Catacombs, you can explore replicas of the ancient, underground tunnels used by Christians martyrs to flee from persecution. I'm eager to explore the lower church on my next visit.

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
Altar of the Holy Spirit

Around the Franciscan Monastery 

Historic Gardens 

The historic gardens of the Franciscan Monastery are beautiful, safe, enclosed spaces for children of all ages to explore, run, skip and jump around while surrounded by the peace and quiet of nature (all things being relative, given your child's temperamentπŸ˜‰). I'm definitely going to return (probably when the weather's a bit better) with my kiddos to enjoy some outdoor fun there. 

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
Walking around the grounds (can only image how beautiful in spring!)

My wee one loved running through the outdoor portico and I have to admit, kind of felt a little Indian-Jones-ish, playfully chasing her through our make-believe alleyways, quickly escaping from dead-ends, etc. 

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
You can't catch me!

While children of all ages are welcome to tour and explore the Main Church of the Franciscan Monastery, I have to admit that I had a bit of a difficult time keeping my wee one from not going entirely bonkers inside. At one point, after turning for a second to read an inscription, I turn back only to find her crawling through one of the pews. πŸ™ˆ Me, oh my.

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
Don't look....

It's cool; all was a-ok, nobody wagged a finger at us, but my point is that if you want to do (and enjoy) a tour of the Main Church and have a child under seven years old, just keep you expectations in check. You won't be able to absorb everything, but you'll still get a taste for the beautiful art, architecture and history that lives in this building. 

Nativities of the World Exhibit at the Franciscan Monastery 

From now until January 6, you can see over 150 different nativity scenes from the Nativities of the World Display by the gift shop at the Franciscan Monastery. The display and a visit through the grounds were the highlight of the trip for my wee one. (Though I was mildly aghast that there's no scene from or representing Ireland?!? I've got to fix that. 😊) 

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
Nativities of the World Exhibit

Is the Franciscan Monastery a Kid-Friendly place to visit?

Yes, though as you may pick up from our experience above, it's a "yes" with some reservation. My wee one enjoyed the Nativities of the World exhibit and the grounds of the Franciscan Monastery are a fantastic, free place to explore with toddlers, preschoolers, elementary school-aged children and beyond! The Main Church and Catacombs, however, are probably best reserved for children ages seven and up.   

Virtual Tour of the Franciscan Monastery in DC 

Still not convinced? Or maybe eager to go but can't for some time? Then check out this virtual tour of the Franciscan Monastery in Brookland, DC.

How to get to the Franciscan Monastery in DC   


Take the Red Line to the Brookland-CUA stop. The Monastery is then about a 15 minute, mostly flat walk through the local neighborhood. Here's the directions on Google Maps.


Take the R4 or the 86 --> H6 from PG Plaza Station will get you there within 35 minutes. Get a sense of these bus route options from Google Maps, here.


Fairly easy and straight drive from Maryland's Route 1 corridor. You'll be on Queens Chapel Road for the most part with a few turns after you enter DC. There's a free visitors parking lot across the street from the Franciscan Monastery. Here's an idea of the drive from Hyattsville to the Franciscan Monastery in Brookland, DC via Google Maps.

Tour Information & Address for the Franciscan Monastery in Brookland, DC 

Tours of the Church & Catacombs are Monday - Saturday, 10 & 11am, 1, 2 & 3pm. Sunday at 1, 2 & 3pm. The address is 1400 Quincy Street NE, Washington DC 20017.

Thoughts, questions or comments? 

Have you been to the Franciscan Monastery? With or without kids? Any tips or words to add? Do so in the comments below! 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Where to Play: Route 1 Family Weekend Fun, December 14th - 16th

Herbert Wells Ice Skating Rink
Two great chances this weekend to ice skate for really great price!  

Get a head start on your weekend plans now! Tons of family-friendly, kid-friendly holiday and non-holiday fun along Route 1 corridor (and beyond) to choose from - and all indoors as rain is in the forecast (see how I take care of you?!?). 😊

Many thanks to this weekend's sponsor! 
Emily Jackson Group

Adults' Weekend Guide: December 13th - 16th

Wild Anacostias
Wild Anacostias at Riverdale Park Festival of Lights this wknd!

Mix up with holiday shopping with some art, music, Cheverly Home Tour, Ugly Sweater contest, UMD Gospel Choir and more this weekend, Route 1!

Many thanks to this weekend's sponsor: 
The Emily Jackson Group

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Scenes from Breakfast with Sint Niklaas at Riversdale House Museum, Riverdale Park

Breakfast with Sint Niklaas at Riverdale House Museum
An adorable visit with Sint Niklaas at Riversdale House Musuem; πŸ“Έ by Ethan Kane.

Scenes from Breakfast with Sint Niklaas at Riversdale House Museum

Enjoyed a lovely, festive time at Breakfast with Sint Niklaas at Riversdale House Museum in Riverdale Park, Maryland this past December weekend. Toddlers, preschoolers and elementary school-aged children (as well as their adoring family members, of course!), filled the room in anticipation of Belgian Waffles, bacon and, of course, a visit from Sint Niklaas!