We’re lucky to live so close to dozens of historical sights and monuments. So this year, make Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 15) more than just a day off of school or work. From ceremonies and parades to service opportunities perfect for the whole family, here’s how to celebrate the man and commemorate the day.

6314757763_ee34a931a3_zPhoto: Mark Haller via Flickr

“Let Freedom Ring” Concert
Does your tiny human love to dance and sing? The Kennedy Center is hosting their classic “Let Freedom Ring!” Concert with the Grammy and Tony nominated– Vanessa Williams this year. The event is free but get there early because the first come, first served tickets (two per person) will go fast!
When Jan. 15, 4:30 p.m. for ticket pick-up/6 p.m. for show
Anacostia MLK Jr. Parade

Part parade, part peace walk, the nearly 40-year-old event in Anacostia usually includes a marching band and representatives from a number of local communities.

When: Jan. 15, parade begins at 12 p.m.
Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE and Milwaukee Place SE, Washington DC (Anacostia)
Online: mlkholidaydc.org

Photo: Anna via flickr

National Parks Free Days
If you are an adventure loving family and you love FREE then head to the national parks. MLK day marks the first day of entrance fee-free days to National Parks. Bonus: There are a slew of them in the DMV. \

When: Jan. 15, all day
Online: nps.gov

Dance Place MLK Tribute
Want to make a full day of activities for the fam? Head over to Dance Place and enjoy their tribute to Dr. King with the Kankouran West African Dance Company. Their newest piece “Bolo” is sure to be one to remember.
When: Jan. 13, 8 p.m.; Jan. 14, 4 p.m.
Online: culturecapital.com
Library MLK Movie Screenings
The Woodbridge Library is hosting a movie event along with a small gift of a seedling starting kit. Arrive early as space and kits are limited. There are two movies, “Our Friend, Martin,” showing at 10:30 a.m. and “Separate is Never Equal” showing at 2:30 p.m. that line up perfectly with nap time. Tip: Arrive a little early as parking is limited. Also, the Chuck Brown Park is right behind the library for extra wiggly little ones.
When: Jan. 15, 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Online: dclibrary.org

Photo: Frank Tellez via flickr

Baltimore Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade
Whether Baltimore is a closer drive or you’re looking for something slightly out of town, check out Baltimore’s parade. More than 50 different bands, dance squads, civic organizations and more gather to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. along the streets of Baltimore.

When: Jan. 15, parade begins at 12 p.m.
Online: promotionandarts.org

A Tribute to Dr. King
Songs and stories come together in this celebration of King’s legacy which ends with everyone assembled making a mutual commitment to reconciliation. While not necessarily a great choice for little-little ones, the stories, songs, and theme of reconciliation offer important perspective for older kids, and for yourself.

When: Jan. 14 at 4 p.m.
National Cathedral
3101 Wisconsin Ave., NW
Online: cathedral.org

Fairfax Give Together
In 1994, MLK Day was designated as a day of service. Volunteering for your local community is a fantastic way to honor Dr. King’s life and work. Head to Fairfax for a number of volunteer activities designed for elementary age school children and families Opportunities include fleece blanket tying for veterans, Valentines cards for foster kids, and braided doggie chew toys.

When: Jan. 15, all day 
Fairfax, Va
Online: volunteerfairfax.org

How will you commemorate MLK Day this year? Tell us in the comments below. 

–Miller Jackson and Tricia Mirchandani