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Give the gift of Adventure!
Kids of all ages will be delighted by these alternative gifts!
There is nothing that motivates you more to get out and go somewhere than a membership card burning a hole in your pocket! Memberships allow your family to explore some of the most interesting places in a more intimate way. When you are not trying to see (or do) it all in one day, it allows for a more relaxed and enjoyable experience. Memberships to museums, local pools, athletic facilities and gyms are great options! Here are some of our favorite DC area memberships:
The National Aquarium lets you get up close and personal with aquatic life unlike any other place in the DC area! Purchasing a National Aquarium memberships supports aquatic education and conservation. Membership benefits include: Free unlimited admission, Express entry,Special reduced pricing for guest tickets, Discounted parking, Free member-only events, Discounts on special programs and events, Reduced prices on merchandise and food, and Subscription to Watermarks, the National Aquarium magazine. Family Memberships start at $195/year.
Friends of the National Zoo
The Friends of the National Zoo put together some of the most fun family events in the DC area. A FONZ membership gets you discounts and perks at these amazing events. That’s not all! Membership benefits also include: Discounts on popular Zoo event tickets, Discounts on Zoo camps, classes, and overnights, Free or discounted admission to over 100 other zoos and aquariums nationwide, Invitations to member-only previews and exhibit openings, Invitations to special events, Access to birthday parties at the Zoo, Quarterly subscription to Smithsonian Zoogoer magazine, Zoo Friends e-newsletter, Access to the FONZ Photo Club, Access to the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Club ($30), Access to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Club ($30). Family Memberships start at $80/year.
Maryland Science Center
Exhibits, Science Encounters, IMAX, Planetarium, Programs, Special Events, the list of fun ways to explore science at the Maryland Science Center goes on! This hands-on facility is great for kids of all ages. Maryland Science Center Membership benefits include: Free admission for a full year to permanent exhibits, Free admission to the star-studded Davis Planetarium, Free admission to the Crosby Ramsey Memorial Observatory, Discounted admission to the IMAX Theater, Discounted admission to family friendly events and our annual fundraiser–Solstice, Discounts at the Science Store and Elements Café, Discounts with Zipcar, A yearlong subscription to Popular Science magazine (a $9.00 value), Entry through Members’ Only ticket lines via our Harborside Entrance, Invitations to Members Only Events, private mornings and evenings when the Science Center opens just for you, and offers free admission to the IMAX Theater’s all-time favorite classic films, Free or discounted admission to ASTC Passport participating science centers worldwide with reciprocal member’s benefits, and Seasonal discounts for members, including discounted rates at the Inner Harbor Pandora Ice Rink by showing your active member card. Family Memberships start at $150/year. (Check Groupon for 50% off!)
KID Museum offers unique, interactive experiences for elementary and middle school-aged children that integrate hands-on science, technology, engineering, art and math learning with an exploration of world cultures and global citizenship. You will be blown away by the actives going on here for such an affordable price! Winter Camps, Mini-Makers workshops and Summer Camps are popular activities at KID Museum. KID Museum Membership benefits include: Free museum admission, 10% discount on workshops, 10% discount on camps, 10% discount on birthday party packages, and 10% discount on museum store purchases. Family Memberships start at $160/year. Gift Cards and Museum
Admission Passes are available for purchase at the Museum. Head to the KID Shop at the Museum for books, gear, gadgets, maker kits, gift baskets and more 7 days a week from 9am – 5pm.
International Spy Museum
See the largest collection of international espionage artifacts ever placed on public display while you explore the craft, practice, history, and contemporary role of espionage. This experience is open to all ages, but best suited for children 7 years old and up. International Spy Museum Membership benefits include: Unlimited and express access to the Museum’s main exhibit, Subscription to monthly member e-newsletter, 20% discount on purchases in the Spy Museum Store, Advance notice and member discounts to select Museum programs and priority seating, Exclusive Previews of New Exhibits, and Personalized membership card and top secret welcome packet. Family Memberships start at $175/year.
Anywhere that offers classes for art, cooking, crafting, music, theatre, science athletics and sports is a great place to buy an adventure gift! Classes are a great way for kids to try something new, make new friends or pursue a hobby. Here are some of our favorite classes for little adventurers:
Sign your wee ones up for theatre classes with Keegan Theatre’s PLAY-RAH-KA. PLAY-RAH-KA offers educational programming for families and young people of all ages and experience levels to discover their authentic voices by both watching and doing. Keegan Theatre is a gem tucked among the row houses in Dupont that produces plays and musicals with authenticity at affordable prices. By staying true to the Irish tradition of storytelling Keegan Theatre is the perfect place for theatrical training. Registration and more information on their website.
Indoor Rock Climbing
If you are looking for a new family activity that will get you working together and being active, try rock climbing. There are several indoor rock climbing facilities in the DC area offering introductory rock climbing classes that will have your family trusting each other, supporting each other, communicating clearly and having fun!
Swimming lessons are a great way to stay active during the cold grey winters!Whether you want your kids to learn to swim or keep them in shape for swim team next summer, swim lessons are a good excuse to get to the pool. Indoor pools and swimming schools offer lessons for kids and adults year round.
Learning to dance is a life skill that’s fun! Kids in the DC area have access to ballet, tap, hip hop, Irish, and hula dance classes to name a few. Find a dance school near you and you will be sitting front row in a recital come spring!
Bach to Rock
Let your little one rock out at Bach to Rock! B2R’s unique curriculum couples rigorous individual instruction with band “jam sessions,” making students motivated by playing in a group. Like sports, a band builds teamwork, develops social skills, fosters self-esteem, promotes peer recognition and leads to lasting friendships. Find a B2R near you for more information on classes and lessons.
Some of the best gifts are experiences.
Tickets to upcoming concerts, festivals, theatre, performances and sporting events are a great family gift!
Planning a day trip or afternoon in a historic, scenic, or unique location is a great way to take adventure gifting to the next level. Try Whitewater rafting in West Virginia, enjoy a day at Harper’s Ferry, visiting historic Williamsburg, taking a scenic plane ride or enjoying one of the many cruises.
Coupons valid for Tourist Attractions around DC can be a great way to check off those fun things you’ve been meaning to do as a family like visiting Mount Vernon, checking out the National Arboretum or National Botanic Garden or visiting an exhibit at a Museum Downtown.
Passes for parks and natural areas are great way to get out in nature more. These passes can allow more time outside to get connected to an area exploring off the beaten path. Consider a State Parks Pass or National Parks Pass this year!
There are so many fun things to do in the DC Area so check our reviews for ideas and don’t forget to check our calendar for upcoming events!
Because we don’t always have time to sit down and plan things to do with our little ones, subscriptions can help us parents quickly and easily have new and exciting ways to spend time with our little ones. Let’s face it, parents get bored with the same thing on a loop too!
Be transported to a world of make believe with the Pinna app. Pinna offers immersive audio adventures, irresistible science shows, and more. The Pinna app allows your children to be entertained screen free and ad free with audio stories and podcasts. Pinna is perfect for kids ages 4-7. Audio adventures are yours through the AppStore for only $7.99/month or $79.99/year.
has something for everyone with Kiwi Crates, Tinker Crates and Doodle Crates! These monthly boxes are filled with age-appropriate projects that make learning about STEAM fun! Kiwi Crates are designed for kids 5-9 years old. Tinker and Doodle Crates are designed for kids 9 years and older. Kiwi Co inspires kids to see themselves as scientists, artists, creators, and makers. Crates start at $19.95 for 1 month.
National Geographic Kids
National Geographic Kids magazine is perfect for kids ages 6 and up and each issue is packed with stories about wildlife, science, technology, popular culture, and more articles designed to keep kids reading, thinking, learning and having fun! Explore with your child such features such as Amazing Animals, Weird But True, Cool Inventions, and free stuff such as pull-out posters and collectible animal cards. One-year (10 issues) subscription for $15. Print Plus includes Print + iPad editions.
Discovery Kits by First Edventures are monthly kits with expert curated, eco-friendly toys, books, activities & parent resources promoting healthy brain development in infants & toddlers. Kits are $44.95/month and proceeds from each kit go to support their mission to ensure babies & toddlers have a strong start in life by providing parents with the support and resources needed to raise smart, healthy and curious life-long learners. Through their online resources, in person playgroups, events, workshops as well as helpful tools and educational kits they strive to help parents take the guesswork out of early childhood education.
Let’s be honest, we love watching kids unwrap presents and toys don’t count if they are educational! We compiled a list of the top educational toys this year:
For the wee ones (recommended by First Edventures):
Wee Gallery Alphabet Cards – Not only are these cards beautifully made and durable but they are also a wonderful learning resource for kids of many ages. Because of the high-contrast design these are a great way to promote visual exploration and scanning in babies. As your child grows older the cards are a fun way learn the alphabet and can be used in many activities.
Fraction Blocks by Plan Toys – these simple eco friendly blocks are a great way to introduce early math concepts to children while encouraging them to use their imaginations when building and stacking. This set is part of the Plan Toys Essential series and can be combined with the Cube and Ordering sets for even more exploration and learning.
Eco Dough by Eco Kids – this play dough is made by a family owned business using all natural ingredients. It contains zero chemicals and is completely toxic free. This cute Christmas themed set smells better than any play dough we’ve ever encountered. It can be combined with some of their other natural art supplies, like finger paint, crayons, chalk, drawing pads etc., to make a great art kit.
U-Build Construction Blocks by Begin Again– these unique u-shaped blocks are easy for little hands to maneuver and can quickly stack into towers, buildings, and patterns. They are designed for open-ended play and encourage early math exploration. Also, the wooden box in which they are contained makes clean up and storage easy.
Safari Bowl by Begin Again– this is hands down the cutest and most fun bowling set we have seen for children. It can be used in a variety of ways and is extremely engaging. Because it’s designed as a target game Safari Bowl is a great way to encourage problem solving and team work.
All of these toys and more can be found in First Edventure’s expert curated Discovery Kits designed to promote healthy brain development in infants and toddlers. In addition to the toys, each kit also contains books, activities and parent resources. They make a really nice and thoughtful presents or can be subscribed to monthly as part of our educational program.
For the Littles:
Get Qurious with the latest augmented reality app for kids, Qurious Island. The Tropical Island environment features a “building menu” with digital objects typically found in a tropical environment. Kids combine these objects with five DIY craft projects to make their own augmented tropical island. Additional features such as taking pictures, recording notes in a field journal & shooting videos with their own narration help kids express their individuality in a unique augmented reality diorama. Qurious Island uses open-ended play which intrinsically motivate kids to explore, learn and spark their imagination about topics that could in the future become their passion. Qurious Island is $0.99 in the AppStore.
Magformers are colorful magnetic building tiles perfect for beginner builders and novice engineers. With Magformers you can take magnetic construction to the next level to create 3D structures, buildings, and even an R/C vehicle!
LEGOS are a classic building toy for kids that are educational and fun! With LEGO sets your children can create the worlds for their favorite characters or use classic bricks to let their imagination lead the way.
Bike or Scooter – Buy a bike and teach your little one the importance of an active lifestyle! Going for a family bike or scooter ride is a great way to explore our area, spend time as a family and get exercise.
Camping Gear – Get ready for camping this spring and outfit your family with sleeping bags and a tent! Camping accessories also make great stocking stuffers or additions to holiday countdowns. Camping with kids can be a challenge so make your life easier by getting some quality gear!
For the Big Kids:
Raspberry Pi has been called the LEGOS of computers. Raspberry Pi is a computer, to be specific it is a credit card sized circuit board that you can plug things like a monitor, a mouse and a keyboard into. Raspberry Pi relies on programming languages. Kids (& Adults) can use a Raspberry Pi to learn programming, build projects such as a weather station, build a Raspberry Pi case and many, many more! The recommended ages to introduce the Raspberry pi is from 11-13. Confused? You are not alone! The Raspberry Pi community has resources for parents!
Gardening Supplies – Get your child started on a summer garden with seed starters and a small greenhouse. You can plan your garden together and get your child excited about healthy eating and cooking when they can grow their own herbs and vegetables.
Craft Supplies – Get stocked up on supplies from your local craft store. Whether your child has a passion for crafting or is just getting started, introducing your child to hobbies like sewing, knitting, crocheting, wood burning, jewelry making, pottery, models or painting are a fun way to try new things and spend time together!
Outdoor Recreation – Splurge and get your child that surfboard, stand up paddle board, kayak, mountain bike, dirt bike, ATV or outdoor gear they can’t wait to have and can use for years to come! While you’re at it, get one for yourself!