Fairy tales aren’t just bedtime stories. At least not in D.C., where kids can see their favorite tall tale pop off the page and into real life thanks to the handful of local places that encourage storybook play and creative exploration. From dress-like-royalty ballet classes to old-timey play dates, here’s where little ones go to flex their imaginations and make make-believe believable.


Dress to Impress
With a pretend grocery store, pizza shop, art room and more, Bethesda’s Playseum (a drop-in play and art space for families) is the ultimate place for kiddo to throw themselves into a cool career (besides, well, being a kid)—fireman, artist, chef…you name it! But your wanna-be princess will want to spend most of her time in the Playseum’s Bella Salon. Stocked with Cinderella-esque books, try-on ballet shoes, style and wear Rapunzel wigs, full length mirrors, and tiaras for days, crowning herself queen for the day couldn’t be easier. Bonus: If your mini-majesty falls in love with one of the books in the “salon” you can purchase it; just flip it over to find the price.

Be With Me Playseum
7000 Wisconsin Ave. (Bethesda, Md)
Open: Mon-Thu, 9:30 am-6 pm; Fri-Sat, 9:30 am-7 pm; Sun, 1pm-6 pm
Cost: $7
Online: playseum.com


Cut a Rug
Dancing and princess-dom go hand-in-hand at PB & Jack, a whimsical open play and kiddie class space in Fairfax.Their Storybook Ballet classes are perfect for petit-primas who love curling up with a good book. The magic of classical ballet is experienced with help from storytelling, enticing music, cool props, and awesome practice costumes (think: Ariel from Aladdin).

PB & Jack
9540 Main St. (Fairfax, Va)
Open: Mon-Fri, 9 am-5 pm; Sat-Sun, 10 am-5 pm
Cost: $12
Online: pbandjack.com


Pull Some Strings
With rod and hand puppets, The Puppet Co. at Glen Echo Park presents three classic children’s stories—Sleeping Beauty (now-March 23), Hansel and Gretel (March 27-April 27), and Pinocchio (May 1-June 8). Romance, magic and adventure team up in these stories suited for kindergartners to sixth graders, featuring fairies, frogs, kings, queens, and sorcerers. This is storytelling at its best (and it’s bound to inspire little puppeteers in the making)!

The Puppet Co.
7300 MacArthur Blvd. (Glen Echo, Md)
Cost: $10
Online: thepuppetco.org

Read Like Royalty
Calling Princes and Princesses! Meet in the Children’s Room at Martin Luther King Jr. Library for this free, one-off story time (March 15, 2 pm), featuring royal stories, crown decorating, a crowning ceremony, and a pretend tea party. Come dressed in your finest fairytale costume and the librarians just might decide to repeat this event next month.

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library
901 G ST., NW (Metro Center)
Cost: Free
Online: dclibrary.org/mlk


Crawl Through Time
You can have a play date anywhere. Why not have it in a turn-of-the-century monument. Every Monday, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum in Old Town Alexandria hosts an adorable little event called Tavern Toddlers. Walkers through 36-month-olds and their grown-ups spend a busy hour (10:30 am-11:30 am) exploring the historic ballroom (where George Washington used to hang), listening to stories, dancing, playing with blocks and clothespins (it’s the 18th century way) and crafting. Come back with adults to try the museum’s adjoining restaurant for some period food.

Gadsby’s Tavern Museum
134 N. Royal St.
Cost: $7
Online: gadsbystavernmuseum.us

What’s your kid’s favorite classic story or fairytale? Tell us in the comments section below. 

—Ayren Jackson-Cannady

Photos courtesy of Playseum via Facebook, PB & Jack via Facebook, The Puppet Co., Gadsby’s Tavern Museum via Facebook