Jill Berry

The 'Lego Architecture: Towering Ambition' is open through September 5, 2011

The 'Lego Architecture: Towering Ambition' is open through September 5, 2011

Lego? Blocks? Buildings? Are your kids as obsessed with constructing as mine are? My little guy eats and breaths Lego… From morning til night. He even brings a Lego guy or two to school so he doesn’t miss out on building time during the school day.

The National Building Museum is the spot for builders-in-training. This museum is the site of an awesome Lego exhibit. I don’t use the word “awesome” often, but if you are 10 and under the first words out of your mouth upon seeing the Lego exhibit will be a breathless “Awesome!”

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At Top Golf DC, each ball has a unique microchip that calculates the accuracy and distance of your shot

At Top Golf DC, each ball has a unique microchip that calculates the accuracy and distance of your shot

Days off school mean no homework. No bus pickups. No lunches to pack. In our household we bask in the glow of school holidays. We eat, play, shoot baskets, watch movies, and hang out. What’s not to love about this type of day? But five people in one house all vying for control of the remote or the game controller or a laptop makes for a crazy, noisy day. As a work-at-home-mom, my work day can become challenging with the kids and husband home from school. While it is tempting for us to stay home, every so often planning a trip on a day off school is a must. Some months ago we ventured out to a new type of high-tech driving range just outside Washington, D.C. While the kids finished up any lingering homework or played games with dad, I did my daily work tasks. Once I logged off, we set off for Top Golf.

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Curbside Cupcakes in Washington, D.C.

Curbside Cupcakes in Washington, D.C.

You have to be living under a rock to NOT know what Twitter is. This townhall meeting/news source/search engine serves up bite-size nuggets of information on just about everything — including your next meal. Want to know where to get lunch from your favorite D.C. food truck? Just go to twitter.

A year ago, after attending an event in Georgetown, I caught sight of a pink truck. A pink truck is not what you see everyday on the streets in D.C. It turned out to be Curbside Cupcakes, Washington, D.C.’s first mobile cupcake truck. Four days a week (Tuesday through Friday) two pink trucks cruise through the streets of D.C., and on Saturday, one truck runs the cupcake route. To find out when the Curbside Cupcakes truck will come to where you are in D.C., just follow @CurbsideCupcake! Helpful tweets pinpoint the location of Pinky #1 and Pinky #2 each day. Read More »

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Tomato soup at Filomena's in Georgetown, Washington D.C.

Tomato soup at Filomena's in Georgetown, Washington D.C.

For my husband’s birthday dinner, my parents offered to take our family out to Filomena, a Georgetown institution. We readily agreed. It’s funny how you can live in a city for years and think you know every landmark, museum, restaurant, or tourist spot. I was anxious to see what I had been missing all these years.

Filomena looks tiny from the outside. As we walked in to Filomena, I got that old country feel. I could see Tony Soprano and his crew heading there for a fancy dinner. Definitely the kind of place famous for Mama’s meatballs, I was certain.

As I peered through the window to see what the restaurant was like, I spotted a pair of ladies in white aprons hand rolling and cutting pasta. Wow. I was amazed at the trays and trays of gnocchi and tortellini. How did these ladies hand-make pasta that looked so much like store bought? Each piece was perfectly shaped by hand before being placed on a large tray. Filomena must go through trays and trays of pasta each day.

Once I descended the stairs I saw how large the restaurant really was. As a tuxedoed manager greeted us at the bottom of the stairs, I spotted the dessert counter to my right. Scrumptious! My children squealed when they saw the life-size Santa Claus in the downstairs lobby. It’s an understatement to say that Filomena decorates for the holidays. I spied more than a dozen Santas — vintage Saint Nick  rather than the Santas of today — displayed on shelves in the main dining room. Numerous Christmas trees were dotted about the restaurant. Our kids were largely silent during the early part of the meal as they observed and then mentioned the different Christmas decorations they saw. Read More »

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Georgetown Cupcakes

Georgetown Cupcakes

Is it the size of the cupcakes? The copious amounts of icing? The delectable array of flavors?

A few weeks ago I stopped at Georgetown Cupcakes on my way to a press event at the Newseum.  As I cruised down M St., N.W., I couldn’t resist stopping at Georgetown Cupcakes, even if it meant being late to where I was headed.

Georgetown Cupcakes is a thriving business in the high-traffic D.C. shopping district. The sister-run shop is located in the heart of Georgetown, at the corner of 33rd and M Streets. The bright white exterior is in sharp contrast to the shocking pink interior. The pink walls will make you smile!

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Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C.

Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C.

Ford’s Theatre is much more than the infamous site of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. It’s also a museum, and an operating theater with regular shows. 

The Museum

Once you arrive, head downstairs to the newly restored museum. You might be surprised at its scope: The assassination of Lincoln is covered in one small exhibit, and the majority of the museum focuses on Civil War history, with particular emphasis on the role played by Washington, D.C., and its elected representatives. Life-size models are dotted about the museum representing citizens and dignitaries during Civil War times.

The museum tells the story of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, from his arrival in Washington in 1861 to the legacy he left. It features a remarkable collection of historic artifacts, including the deringer that John Wilkes Booth used, as well as a replica of the coat that President Lincoln wore the night he was shot. Of particular interest will be the timeline for April 14, 1865, the day and evening of Lincoln’s assassination. As I read the text of the day’s events, I couldn’t help but think of a CSI crime scene timeline.

Ford’s Theatre is open daily with tours scheduled from 9 a.m. through 4 p.m. The tours are free, but tickets are required. Since Ford’s is a working theater, there are times when the museum is open, but the theater is closed. Check Ford’s Theatre website for details. Read More »

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Newseum

Newseum

I’m not a weepy person. Yet my steeliness was thrown out the window as I watched the 9/11 film played at the Newseum. The short movie chronicles what happened on that fateful day, as reporters, photographers, firefighters, and bystanders reported on what they were experiencing. The documentary was poignant, heartbreaking, and powerful to watch. I teared up as I remembered how the world changed on 9/11 for my children and the world, and the Newseum is all about capturing and documenting such historic events through the lens of the media.

The Newseum, a modern structure located in the heart of Washington, D.C., is a 250,000-square-foot museum of news, blending together five centuries of news history by using high tech and hands-on exhibits. It’s a stone’s throw from the U.S. Capitol, the National Museum of Natural History, the National Gallery of Art, and the Verizon Center.

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John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

If you only have two days in Washington, D.C., you will probably want to visit the war memorials and monuments on the National Mall and pop into one or two of the Smithsonian museums. But if your trip to D.C. is three days or more, you should definitely consider seeing a show at the Kennedy Center.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is home to several performance spaces. Overlooking the Potomac River, the Kennedy Center is located off Rock Creek Parkway at F Street. It presents more than 2,000 performance of theater, musicals, dance, orchestral, jazz, and cutting-edge multimedia programs each year.

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International Spy Museum

About six years ago, my teen was all about spies: she was a spy for Halloween, her favorite movies were Spy Kids 2 and Spy Kids 3-D, and she asked for spy goggles and a motion detector for Christmas. But even as playing spies began to wane, I found that her interest in the International Spy Museum in D.C. held strong.

The Spy Museum is a great spot for families, especially those with older kids. Although the child admission rate applies to kids ages 5 to 11, the exhibits are more appropriate for kids ages 10 and up. My teen and I spent quite some time reading tags, labels, and maps. A younger child might not have the reading skills or attention span to fully comprehend the exhibits, and some of the exhibits focus on spies who murdered others or were executed (subject matter that would be inappropriate for younger children).

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Union Station is a dazzling entry point to Washington, D.C.

Union Station is a dazzling entry point to Washington, D.C.

A few weekends ago, I rediscovered the wonder that is Union Station in Washington, D.C. when I took my family to visit for National Train Day, a fun annual event featuring a scavenger hunt and educational exhibits.

The beautiful Beaux Arts-style building, completed in 1908, is a magnificent site to behold: The towering vaulted ceiling is adorned with over 70 pounds of gold leaf, and when light streams in through the arched windows, it’s momentarily blinding. The building, located on Massachusetts Avenue at Columbus Circle, was designed to be a gateway to the capital city, and it’s certainly an impressive entry point. Today, a whopping 25 million people visit Union Station each year — more than any other tourist spot in D.C.

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