Layering up for the local playground is still an (increasingly chilly) option, but you can avoid those cumbersome mittens by heading indoors for after-school play dates (after completing long division and multiplication practice, of course). Check out one of the venues below for a creative alternative to post-homework fun!
Photo: Jerry King via Flickr
Munch on a healthy (or not-so-healthy—parent’s choice) snack in the Walkabout Café, then unleash your kids and their pals so they can bounce, bounce, bounce their way to incessant giggles and deep school night sleep. There are inflatable slides, giant bounce houses filled with balls, obstacle courses, and more!
1425 N Quincy St. (Arlington, Va)
402 W. Broad St. (Falls Church, Va)
Open: Monday-Thursday, 10 am-7 pm; Friday, 9 am-7 pm
Photo: Ayren Jackson-Cannady
Kettler Capitals Iceplex
Your kids might still have to wear mittens for this one, but it’ll be worth it! Head over to Arlington’s Kettler Iceplex to wrap up homework in the café, then get some exercise during Public Skate. If you make it for Recess at the Rink ($12, for children up to age eight—one adult can accompany each child for free!), get ready to skate with Beanie Babies, foam hockey pucks, small sticks and nets, and the help of on-site assistants!
Ballston Common Mall
627 N. Glebe Rd. (Arlington, Va)
Open: Weekday afternoon Public Skate and Recess at the Rink times vary (see calendar).
Cost: $9/ages 13 and over; $8/ages 12 and under
Photo: National Portrait Gallery
National Portrait Gallery
Though they’re only available on the weekends, the National Portrait Gallery’s Portrait Discovery Kits are the perfect play date activity to burn off some energy after your studious cherub prepares for her weekly Monday spelling quiz. Your child and her friends can get their study on in the Kogod Courtyard, then pick up a Discovery Kit as a post-academics reward. Just don’t remind them that they’re actually getting a history lesson while they’re having fun playing detective.
8th and F Sts., NW
Open: Saturday and Sunday afternoons, exact times vary (see calendar)
Photo: Library of Congress
Young Readers Center at the Library of Congress
Arguably THE best place to study in the country, the Library of Congress will surely put your little scholars in an inquisitive frame of mind. After completing their book reports and putting in some time on that research project (with infinite resources at their fingertips), let your child and his friends explore the books in the Young Readers Center together. They can even pick up an activity sheet (“Hidden Animals in the Thomas Jefferson Building”) to guide their fun!
YRC at the Library of Congress
Thomas Jefferson Building
10 First St., SE
Open: Monday-Friday, 9 am-4:30 pm
Photo: Liz G. via Yelp
Your kids can check off their academic to-do list in the café (and grab a snack while they’re at it). Then comes the fun part: scale Jack’s giant beastalk, Mount Rushmore, the Empire State Building, the bones of a T-Rex or any of 70 themed walls—all made of colorfully painted plywood, not plastic like the fake-rock walls at most climbing gyms. Hydraulic automatic belay systems make getting back down to solid ground a piece of cake.
13200 Mid Atlantic Blvd. (Laurel, Md)
Open: Monday-Thursday, 10 am-8 pm; Friday, 10 am-9 pm
Cost: $12/ages 2-5; $25/ages 6 and up
Where do you go after homework is over? Tell is in the comments section below.