The temperatures are chilling, the days are short and dreary, and the winter doldrums have set in. All the closets have been thoroughly cleaned. Too many cookies — for that waistline — have been baked. Even the children are frustrated with being home from school and activities for too many days.
Sick of wet boots, dirty floors and pulling on and stripping off snowsuits? Even the holiday computer games and toys have become tiresome. How to make it through these next few dreary months until spring brings sunshine and singing birds?
Here are some alternatives for turning winter days into special memories. These include ideas to get the couch potatoes off the sofa, options for sharing the beauty of a winter day with the family, and some fun activities that might not have been considered. So go for it. Bundle up with hats and mittens, head out of the house, and take advantage of these cold days with some new adventures.
EXPERIENCE the feeling of springtime when visiting the Natural History Museum’s Butterfly Pavilion. Stroll among live butterflies and exotic plants in a warm, cozy greenhouse environment. Butterflies explode around you, landing on your heads, arms and shoulders. Just be certain not to take one with you when you leave. This tropical oasis offers visitors a rare opportunity to get close to a variety of living butterflies from all over the world. Open 10:15 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tickets may be purchased online before you visit: $6 for adults, $5 for children This Smithsonian Museum is located at 1000 Constitution Avenue, Washington D.C.
VISIT the U.S. Botanic Garden to hike through a jungle, learn about the cacti of the desert or to see beautiful orchids in bloom.
Located just steps for the U.S. Capitol, the gardens offer a chance to learn more about plants and nature. Be sure to request the Family Field Journal to make your visit an educational and fun experience. If you have a child 9 or older, ask for a Junior Botanist kid's backpack of exploration. For more information see http://www.usbg.gov/visit#sthash.PWjGAR1B.dpuf. The gardens are located at 100 Maryland Ave SW, Washington D.C. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.
TAKE A HIKE while learning more about nature at the Locust Grove Nature Center.
Locust Grove offers quality programs featuring the natural and cultural history of Montgomery County and the surrounding region. Sign up for one of the hikes or educational programs for both children and adults. Some of their February programs include: Tot Time and Preschool “Hide and Seek” outdoor adventure programs, a Full Moon Family Hike, winter story time (includes a hike) and much more. For information, call 301-299-1990 or www.montgomeryparks.org/nature_centers/locust. Locust Grove Nature Center is located at 7777 Democracy Blvd, Bethesda.
LEARN how to create a fun art project at the Art Explorers Family Art Studio at Glen Echo Park on Saturday morning from 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Have fun participating in art activities with your child or children 10 and under. No preregistration is required. The workshop is held each week in the historic Candy Corner and costs $10 per child. Learn more about this creative Glen Echo program at: http://www.pgip.org.
GIVE your child the opportunity to experience a live stage production.
This area is rich in children’s theater. Get tickets for the productions at Imagination Stage, the Kensington Arts Theater (BRAVO @ KAT), Adventure Theater, The Puppet Company, the Kennedy Center or the National Theatre for wonderful shows for children of all ages. Some of the delightful shows that you can attend now are: “Beauty and the Beast, Jr.” by BRAVO@KAT, “Rumpelstiltskin” at Imagination Stage, “Miss Nelson is Missing” at Adventure Theatre, “Tales of Beatrix Potter” at The Puppet Company, “Orphie and the Book of Heroes” as well as “Peter and the Wolf” at the Kennedy Center and Saturday morning programs for children at the National Theatre in D.C.
DON your mittens and hats and go ice skating — indoors or out.
There are lots of places to skate (or to learn to skate) in our area as well as in D.C. The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden is a particularly scenic D.C. winter experience. View magnificent works of sculpture while skating in the open air and enjoying music from the state-of-the-art sound system.
Cabin John Ice Arena in Cabin John Park offers indoor ice skating and lessons while the Rockville Town Center is outdoors and also provides lessons. And this winter for the first time in many years, the C&O Canal is frozen over — lace up your skates and enjoy the joys of skating on a natural pond (only with Park Ranger approval).
TAKE your tots to the Cabin John Kids Shows on the first and third Friday of every month.
Cabin John Mall hosts educational and interesting shows for the pre-school set every other Friday from 10:30 – 11:30. Bring your child to see Lucky Stars Puppets, Kidsinger Jim, Rocknoceros, Shake your Sillies with Tracey Eldridge and more fun shows. After the show, have lunch in one of the many restaurants or treat your child to yummy yogurt at Orange Leaf Yogurt. For information, go to www. www.shopcabinjohn.com.
HEAD to the C&O Canal Towpath for a peaceful walk.
Even if the weather is chilly, bundle up the family and take an enjoyable walk down the C&O Canal towpath. This is a wonderful way to enjoy the beauty of a winter day while getting some healthy exercise and observing the wildlife and skaters, too.