“Summertime … and the living’s easy,” so the old song goes. Perhaps for some. But with a 15-month-old, it would be just a bit easier if I didn’t have to lather her in sunscreen and bug spray just to step out side for some fresh air.
We have gotten a firm handle on Bug’s lifelong battle with eczema (Cetaphil Restoraderm. Works miracles. I just tossed 12 different types of lotion that pale in comparison.). However, it still seems wise to keep the sun and heat exposure limited.
When it comes to outdoor play, we’ve got two categories. First are the shaded play options. There’s the local Meadow Lane Park – lots of tree cover there. Recently we discovered Burke Lake Park. It’s a slice of nostalgia and good, clean fun. Nestled under heavy tree cover is a sizable locomotive train which, for a few dollars each, you can ride with your little one around the shaded park. Love it! There’s a carousel, too, also about two bucks. We need to find more shaded options, though.
After the shaded play options, there are the water play options (so sunny, but cooler). First, you can shell out hundreds of dollars for a three-month membership to a private pool in Vienna. I won’t dive into that here. I’ve mentioned the Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole in Reston, which I’m finally heading to this month. It’s $13.50 for over 48 inches, $11.25 for under 48 inches (under two years are free), and $8.25 after 5pm on weekdays.
When Bug was very small last summer, we went to a family meet up group at Upton Hill Regional Park in Arlington. It’s really not that far (6060 Wilson Boulevard). It’s a pool and mini waterpark, with a large play pool, two large waterslides, a spray pad with a giant dumping bucket and a baby pool. There’s a concession area and picnic areas, and costs just $8 for over 48 inches and $6.75 for under 48 inches (there’s no price difference if you’re an Arlington resident or not for the day pass). It’s $5 for all after 4pm on weekdays. So a bit cheaper compared to the Water Mine, above.
We just discovered the fountain at Fairfax Corner. It’s the kind of fountain that shoots from the ground, but you can walk all across it. One word: awesome. Bug loved it. Daddy loved it even more, perhaps, as he kept coaching Bug to stick her face into one of the spouts to get blasted with water. It’s free, but very sunny.
But this is a real sprayground: Our Special Harbor. It’s a zero-water-depth sprayground that carries the theme of the Chesapeake Bay throughout the interactive water. It’s fully-accessible for children of all abilities – as my friend, NoVaMommy.com put it, “it’s the Clemyjontri of splash”. You can play in the water maze, watch out for the water-dumping crab basket, or board the custom skipjack and crab boat. And it’s FREE! Open 11am – 7pm through Labor Day (11am – 5pm on Wednesdays). It’s in Lee District Park in Franconia, at the intersection of Rose Hill and Telegraph Roads. If you want more sprayground fun, Arlington County has some spraygrounds, too.
For indoor, drop-in play or events, we’re big fans of MoBu Kids in Falls Church. I’m always recommending Oak Marr Rec Center for their indoor pool (check availability of free swim before you go, though). Patrick Henry Library has reading a reading program on Wednesday mornings followed by time in the Town sprinklers on the Town Green. Jammin Java has its kid rock shows each weekday at 10:30am, with some weekend shows, too. Need more rock music (for free)? Rocknoceros performs at Dulles Town Center at 11:00am most Thursdays. *Note: See Rocknoceros this Wednesday, June 29, on the Vienna Town Green on Maple Avenue at 6:30pm. Bring a picnic early and enjoy the evening.
We also had a truly unique indoor “play” opportunity when we went with the Vienna Moms group to visit the elderly at Sunrise Assisted Living in Oakton. We spent a Friday morning there a few weeks back, and the older folks were very entertained by Bug’s liveliness and curiosity. We are welcome to go back any time. A simple way to have fun and remind ourselves how much people matter in our busy lives.
Also, did you see that Sweet Leaf Cafe is open? We saw balloons out this weekend and went in – the place had just opened three hours earlier! We had a delicious salad and sandwich. The owner seems really excited to be there, too.