Weekend Picks and Family Events at Partners in Preservation Sites


A Parent in Silver Spring is an official blog ambassador for Partners in Preservation, a community-based initiative by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. I have been compensated to assist in raising awareness of the importance of preserving Washington, DC’s historic sites. 

As we vote to preserve our favorite local historic sites in the Partners in Preservation competition, I thought I would highlight the landmarks in the running which make for great family field trips. Several are hosting open houses and special family events this weekend, May 4 and 5 (Happy Cinco de Mayo, by the way), in honor of the Partners in Preservation effort. 


National Museum of Women in the Arts – This museum opened in 1987 in the stunning former Masonic Temple and has become a major cultural institution, featuring works by many of the world’s most significant
women artists and educational programming.

     Family Events This Weekend at National Museum of Women in the Arts

Heyden Observatory  – The Observatory at Georgetown University housed Georgetown’s world-renowned astronomy department until 1972, but is now unable to conduct astronomy research due to light pollution but it continues to support science and the community. It was designated a national historic landmark in 1973 for contributing “significantly to the cultural heritage and visual beauty of the District of Columbia,” according to the National Register of Historic Places.

     Family Events at Georgetown’s Heyden Observatory This Weekend

  • Georgetown will host an open house at the Heyden Observatory on Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5, from noon to 3 p.m. The open house will include tours of the observatory and possible appearance by Jack Jr., the university mascot.
  • The Georgetown University Astronomical Society will also host a stargazing event at the observatory on Saturday, May 4, from 8 to 10 p.m.

Washington National Cathedral – This English Gothic Cathedral is stunning, and serves as our country’s symbol of interfaith spirituality. Visit the Flower Mart on Saturday for family fun and an accessible way for children to enjoy it amidst the grandeur.

     Family Events at Washington National Cathedral This Weekend

Sixth & I Historic Synagogue – The synagogue at 6th and I Streets was occupied by a Jewish congregation and then an AME Church before being saved from becoming a nightclub by three Jewish real estate developers. Reopened in 2004, Sixth & I redefines the 21st-century synagogue through the intersection of cutting-edge arts, culture and Jewish life.

     Family Event at Sixth & I This Weekend

  • Tours, Food and Friendship at the Preservation Open House: On Sunday at noon, some to Sixth & I for an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the 105-year-old building, including highlights of the historic stained glass windows. Also sample free food, and meet Sixth & I personalities.

Tivoli Square/GALA Hispanic Theatre – “The Tivoli was built in 1924 as the largest movie palace in the region, boasting an ornate gold-gilt dome dubbed “the Temple of the Arts”. During the 1968 riots, the neighborhood was burned and continued to deteriorate, but Tivoli was left intact and was boarded up in 1976. After raising millions, GALA has reopened Tivoli, allowing it to serve as a landmark for Washingtonian cultural history.” — Partners in Preservation website

Family Event This Weekend at Tivoli/GALA

  • Free Open House Saturday: GALA is having an open house this Saturday, May 4, from 1 pm to 4 pm. There will be a showing of a documentary film about the legendary Roberto Clemente, a post-screening Q&A with lead actor Modesto Lacen, and a tour of the theater.  The Theatre is also offering half-price tickets will be available to the DC-7: The Roberto Clemente Story.

Metropolitan AME Church – The first independent Black religious body in the US, this site is working to restore its stained glass windows which were built by both enslaved and freedmen from 1816 to 1896. The land-site is the oldest continuously Black-owned parcel of land in the District of Columbia.

     Family Events at Metropolitan AME This Weekend

  • Worship on Sundays at 7:45 and 11:00 a.m.  Sunday School is held on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. Located at 1518 M Street, NW in Washington, DC. Call (202) 331-1426 for more information.

Dumbarton Oaks Park – We love this expansive Geogetown park, with its gardens, trails, quaint bridges, and views of Rock Creek. Children are welcome to bring their bicycles. Teens and adults will find the museum and research library fascinating.

George Mason Memorial – The next time you’re on the National Mall near the Thomas Jefferson Memorial or the FDR Memorial, pop by this “forgotten” memorial honoring the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights and delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention. It is quiet with a lovely garden and pond.

     Family Events at the George Mason Memorial This Weekend

  • Saturday Fun With George Mason: Capitally Frugal’s Sarah has the scoop! She writes that from 11am-2pm on Saturday, “National Mall Park Rangers will provide visitors with a history of the man, the memorial, and its place on the National Mall. Enjoy light refreshments, a photo-posing contest with George, and prizes.”

Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region’s Chesapeake Bay buyboatsThe shipboard programs are held on historical waterboats which used to take watermen’s purchased oysters to market. Now they provide underserved and at-risk youth in the DC/MD/VA area with environmental educational opportunities through the Living Classrooms Foundation. Schools, homeschool groups, scouts and more can also reserve special trips with the Living Classrooms shipboard learning programs.

Meridian Hill Park – A beautiful park to visit with your children, full of opportunities for climbing on the concrete Neoclassist structures throughout, running on twisty garden paths, admiring the waterfall fountain and taking beautiful photographs.


Greenbelt Theatre – Catch a classic film at this classic old theatre on the first Saturday of the month at noon for just $5 a ticket. What a relaxing way to enjoy history, right? This New Deal era landmark is single screen theater in the center of heart of Greenbelt, Maryland.

     Family Movie at Greenbelt Theatre This Weekend

  • W.C. Fields and Charlie McCarthy in You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man at noon. Suitable for all ages. $5 a ticket.
  • Stay to enjoy the Robert Goddard Jazz Band and Electric Strings outside in Roosevelt Center from 4-6pm.
  • Sunday for a group vote and join the Children’s Choir from St. Mary’s Church in Laurel in a movie-themed sing-a-long.


Colvin Run Mill – On the Virginia side of the Great Falls, this Fairfax County Parks treasure is a partially restored, operational gristmill. My family and I love picnicking here when we visit the Falls and purchasing treats in the circa 19th century general store. It is the sole surviving operational 19th-century water-powered mill in the DC area and sees hundreds of thousands of visitors per year.

     Family Event at Colvin Run Mill This Weekend

  • Grinding demonstrations at the mill this Sunday, as they are offered the 1st and 3rd Sundays, April through October, noon-3pm. Call ahead 703-759-2771 to confirm that conditions permit grinding.
  • This Sunday there will also be demonstrations of blacksmithing,  “moonshine”-making, live Dulcimer music, woodcarving. Families can enjoy samples made from the mill’s products and children can engage in mill chores and hands-on activities, and pet animals from Frying Pan Park.

Mount Vernon – Visiting George Washington’s home is one of my all-time favorite ways to spend a day. Period. There is so much history and learning and beauty to be found in a visit to this spectacular, yet very accessible, estate.

     Family Events at Mount Vernon This Weekend

  • Preservation Weekend Saturday May 4 and Sunday May 5: Enjoy preservation-themed activities for children in the Hands-On-History room inside the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center.  Exclusive behind-the-scenes tours led by our archaeology, preservation, and collections staff.  Inside the Mansion, you’ll see conservation in action as experts tackle Mount Vernon’s most extensive preservation project to date, the restoration of Washington’s Large Dining Room, or “New Room.”  With the exception of the Mount Vernon in the Civil War tour, all Preservation Weekend activities are included in your admission ticket. More details on the fun.
  • Hoecakes and Hospitality Exhibit: How did Martha manage to feed hundreds of visitors in a world without refrigerators, microwaves or running water? Experience a behind-the-scenes look at the Washingtons’ kitchen through the new exhibition.

The Athenaeum – Built as a bank in 1852, The Athenaeum survived occupation by Union forces during the Civil War, the Banking Panic of 1907, almost two decades as a pharmaceutical warehouse, and 41 years as a Methodist church. It became an art center in 1964, and is now home to the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association (NVFAA). 

     Family Events This Weekend at The Athenaeum

  • Saturday and Sunday Free Art Gallery: The gallery is always free and is open Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 12–4 pm and Saturdays from 1–4 pm.
  • Eat, meet, and win! Enjoy tastings by caterers Tasteful Affairs and A Thyme and Place, meet author and historian Michael Lee Pope, poet Shelly Bell, and members of the award-winning band, Dead Men’s Hollow. Stay to win prizes from MetroStage, Hard Times Café, Pizzario Paradiso, Virtue Feed and Grain, The Fontaine. Vote on-site and enter a drawing for a free hour-long rental of the Athenaeum and make sure to pose for a photo with General Robert E. Lee, General Ulysses S. Grant, or both (if you are feeling conflicted about your loyalties).

Marine Corps War Memorial – The breathtaking Iwo Jima flagraising memorial is always awe inspiring and full of teachable moments. Its view of Washington is also a must-see and must-photograph.

24 historic places in the DC Metro area — locales in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland — are engaged in a little friendly competition. The historic site that gains the most votes, Tweets, Foursquare check-ins and Instagrams will receive a grant for up to $100,000 from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  Another $900,000 will be distributed amongst the other sites, resulting in one million dollars of historic preservation in our area. Vote for your favorites daily through May 10! 

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