Temperatures may be nearing 100 degrees, but you and the kids can pretend it’s the dead of winter at the National Building Museum’s ICEBERGS exhibit. Part of the NBM’s Summer Block Party series, the installation in the Museum’s Great Hall is open until September 2. It’s not cheap ($16 for non-member adults, $13 for youth ages 3 and older), so we’ve compiled some tips for maximizing your family’s air conditioned experience.

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Read Up
Before you go, consider preparing your children by reading a book or two about architecture, triangles, or the Arctic and Antarctic regions. The D.C. Public Library has compiled relevant reading lists for early elementary (preschool-3rd grade), upper elementary (4th-8th grade), teens, and adults.

Score the Best Rate
If you’re a D.C. resident, check out the exhibit website for “Ward Days,” when residents of D.C. get complimentary admission. Remember that kids younger than 3 are already free, and check out the NBM’s website for special student, military, senior, and member rates. Tickets include admission to all current exhibits, including the permanent, kid-friendly Building Zone–and you can always pay a small fee to add on a “Family Tool Kit.” Get even more bang for your buck by attending one of the ICEBERGS Late Night celebrations, which include free performances, programs, and food for purchase from guest chefs.

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Metro In
Although street parking is available, the NBM is mere steps from the Judiciary Square Metro stop (Red Line). You may want to forgo lugging along the stroller for older toddlers for a Metro trip this easy.

Prep for Growling Tummies
Consider packing lunch for a cool, casual picnic on the Great Hall floor (where the little ones can also run in circles and burn off that pre-nap energy). Alternatively, bring a few bucks for a quick meal at the Museum Cafe or prepare yourself to be hounded by your tiny minions for some mocha or a taste of Kakigori once inside the ICEBERGS exhibit. Made by Daikaya, the delicious mixture of shaved ice, ice cream, and homemade sauces is best enjoyed while snuggling on one of the iceberg-shaped giant bean bags (and don’t underestimate the length of time your cherubs will enjoy jumping on and dragging about this brilliantly simple feature of the exhibit).

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Leave No Iceberg Unturned
And, of course, get ready to explore the architectural beauty of the exhibit itself, featuring “a fantastical glacial sea”. Enclosed within giant walls of blue mesh, the space is studded with towering iceberg structures built from reusable materials like scaffolding and polycarbonate paneling. Kids will love hiking to the top of the tallest iceberg to see the 20-foot view from above and traversing an “undersea bridge”–and good luck getting them from making repeat trips down the “ice chute” slide. (Be sure to monitor climbs up to the slide, as the metal scaffolding can be rough on tender knees.) Get out there and cool off!

Open: 10 am-5 pm Monday-Saturday, 11 am-5 pm Sunday
National Building Museum
401 F St., NW (Judiciary Square)
Online: nbm.org

Have you visited this icy exhibit? Tell us about it in the comments below. 

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–Katie Brown