Places to Go - Four Hours at the National Building Museum (and we wanted to stay longer) (Washington DC)

We've been huge fans of the National Building Museum for years now. In my experience no other institution has opened itself so freely to parents and children. I remember our first visit, back when the girls were toddlers,arriving and finding dozens of other families camped out on the floor of the great hall as kids played with legos and blocks. Toddlers ran and cried and explored and nobody told them to stop. Parental paradise. Of course, the downside has always been that after about two or so hours, you've pretty much maxed out the Building Museum's kid-friendly offerings. But this summer, that's all changing.

Two Sundays ago, we met up with good friends for an entire afternoon at the Building Museum. We would have stayed longer if it weren't for closing time. So block off some time this summer, because the Building Museum has plenty of activities to keep families entertained.


1:30 - We arrive. Due to the popularity of mini-golf and Hill Country Barbeque, the museum is FULL of HIPSTERS (who would have thunk it)? As my kids cannot enter this space without playing tag, the hipsters make me nervous. Luckily, the kids enjoy running throughout a free corner of the museum (the place is huge). Nobody asks them to stop. Nor does anyone glare at me for my children's wild ways. I love this place.


2:00 - On certain Sundays throughout July and August the Building Museum hosts FREE CONCERTS. Hopefully they'll keep this up next summer (click here for the schedule). The West African Dance Company takes the stage and does an amazing job. Unfortunately, the kids have a hard time seeing everything from the back row and fuss takes over, so we head upstairs.


2:30 - The kids immediately dive into "creation" mode with all the blue Imagination Playground pieces in the Museum's WORK, PLAY, BUILD exhibit. T spends 30 minutes designing a waterworks, the lack of actual water doesn't seem to to be a problem. The girls build a house in the corner, then attempt to lock themselves inside.


3:00 - Our ticketed time for the Museum's Building Zone playarea opens up, so we head back downstairs. THE BUILDING ZONE is designed for children 2-6, so both of our boys are in peak range (they LOVE it). But the girls are a little old for everything now, so they find some pillows in the corner and relax.


4:00 - While Julia and I supervised the kids in the Building Zone, Tracie stood in line for INDOOR MINI-GOLF (yes, an HOUR LONG LINE). It's finally our turn (YAY!!). With FIVE children, we decide that the adults can forego their own golf-cubs and simply "coach." Luckily the holes are so bizarre (and fun) that no real "skill" is needed. All three girls manage to score holes in one on different holes. Like magic.


4:45 - Everyone is hungry, so we head to the museum's front lawn for some HILL COUNTRY BACKYARD BARBEQUE (click here for info). On the downside, it's raining. On the upside, we have the whole place to ourselves. The kids love the beef brisket and I love the large alcohol selection. After debating all options I end up sipping white sangria while watching my kids jump from hay bale to hay bale now that the storm has passed.


5:30 - Goodbyes. Though, if the museum was still open, we'd play a little longer. We love this place.

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