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A new year is a clean slate to start fresh and come up with goals you want to accomplish. What better way than to list the top things to do in our area? The 10 Northern Virginia Resolutions for 2023 is a bucket list and a fun checklist for the family this new year.
It's easy to forget how much Northern Virginia and the surrounding areas have to offer since we live here, but let's change that in 2023. So I've compiled a list of what I consider can't-miss activities in our region that you should add to your calendar in the new year.
I can't wait to hear which ones you and your family do, and additional resolutions you want to share with us at Mom 'n Dad Co. We're always eager to hear your ideas and favorite activities in the area, so don't forget to send them our way.
Until then, here are my top picks of resolutions you should have in 2023.
Visit the National Aquarium
The National Aquarium in Baltimore is a must-see if you've never been before, especially for the little ones. So I recommend planning your visit before you go to ensure you don't miss anything you know your kids want to see. You can check out our complete Guide to the National Aquarium for helpful tips for your visit.
My kids love aquariums, and the one in Baltimore sets the bar high for all other aquariums. If you plan on going a few times a year, I highly recommend getting a membership because you'll save money in the long-run. You also get a discount in the cafe, gift shop, parking garage, and on tours and experiences.
One of my favorite activities at the National Aquarium is the Living Seashore exhibit, where kids can get up-close and personal with some of their sea creatures, like rays, jellyfish, and horseshoecrabs. Don't worry, nothing in the tank can sting you or your kiddos.
Finally, I recommend getting to the aquarium as closing to opening as possible, so you can fit in as much as possible. Also, it's a great way to beat the crowds that come to the aquarium year after year.
Spend a Day at the National Harbor
In a way, I'm piggy-backing off the National Aquarium resolution, when I recommend spending a day at the National Harbor. However, it's hard to fit in the aquarium and the Harbor in one day, unless you want a cliffnotes version of each.
The National Harbor is known for its waterfront dining, shopping, and nightlife, but is also a fantastic place for families to visit. For example, you can't miss taking a ride on the famous 18-story Capital wheel or you can just stroll the boardwalk if heights aren't your thing.
There is no shortage of restaurants, including one of my favorites - Rosa Mexicano. If you can step away from the chips and salsa, the Harbor also has boat rides, special events, a carousel, paddleboats, a pirate ship, festivals, outdoor movies, outlet shops (you can find me here), and much more.
In addition, you can take a water taxi to Old Town Alexandria, The Wharf, and Mount Vernon. Like I said, you need a whole day to experience the greatness that awaits you at National Harbor, or you can check into a hotel for the night and make a weekend out of it.
Go to a Washington Nationals Baseball Game
There's nothing like a baseball game on a summer day, with a hot dog in one hand and a cold drink in the other. So between April and October, you can make your way to Nat's stadium and cheer on the local team.
In addition, there is a lot to do around the stadium, so you can make a whole day out of it. So, for example, if you aren't a hot dog fan, you can check out one of the surrounding restaurants before the game starts. Also, you can order tickets to a Nats game through the MLB site, where you also have the option to purchase group or season tickets.
If you can't resist the urge to visit the stadium in the off-season, check out Enchant D.C., where the baseball field is turned into a winter wonderland.
Be a Tourist for the Day Downtown
It's easy to forget how fortunate we are to live so close to D.C. People travel from all over the world to see the downtown sites, and it's pretty much in our backyard. So, in 2023, I recommend acting like a tourist for a day and taking in all the sites and sounds our Nation's Capital offers.
While it will be difficult to see it all, especially with little kids, I've compiled a list of places you should check out. First, let's start with the museums.
Since there are so many museums downtown, you can check this box several times over the next year. You'll appreciate the free admission and array of activities for children. So, it's no question museums are some of my favorite activities, especially in those long winter months.
Some of my favorite museums for kids include:
- National Children's Museum
- International Spy Museum
- National Air and Space Museum
- National Museum of Natural History
- National Geographic Museum
You also don't want to leave the monuments off your list.
- The Washington Monument
- The Capitol
- The White House
- Thomas Jefferson Memorial
- Lincoln Memorial
Visit the National Zoo
Another free activity is visiting the National Zoo, which every Northern Virginian should do at least once. While admission is free, you pay for parking, but it's much easier to take the Metro.
My kids love the zoo, but they also love the fun ride to get there. So if you decide to drive, prepare to pay $30 for the day. I also highly recommend getting to the zoo when it opens to avoid crowds, especially for popular exhibits, like the pandas.
Occasionally, specific exhibits are closed, so I suggest checking their site before you leave to ensure your child's favorite animal isn't one of them. I mean, if you can avoid a full-on tantrum, you should.
Attend the National Cherry Blossom Festival
One of Northern Virginia's most beautiful parts is seeing the cherry blossoms in the spring. Typically, the cherry blossoir peak in late March to early April; however, it varies depending on the weather. So, for example, if it's warmer later in winter, the blossoms will likely arrive earlier.
The top spots for seeing the cherry blossoms in D.C. are around the Tidal Basin and near the National Mall, both offering spectacular photos. There also is a Cherry Blossom Ten-Mile Run and 5K Walk, which is an extraordinary way to see the blossoms.
The 2022 Cherry Blossom Festival had an opening ceremony, kite festival, PetalPalooza, parade, and Japanese street festival. As the dates get closer, we'll keep you posted on the details for 2023, so ensure you check for updates!
Attend a Washington Capitals Hockey Game
If baseball isn't your sport, you can still support a local team by attending a Washington Capitals hockey game. The hockey schedule is the opposite of baseball and runs from October to April, so it gives you a great activity through late fall and winter, until the weather gets nicer outside.
The Capitals play in the Capital One Arena, located in Washington, D.C. and your easiest transportation method in the metro. You'll want to get off at the Gallery Place/Chinatown Station, on the Red Line, Yellow Line, and Green Line and you'll only have to walk one block to the arena.
While the arena sells food, there are plenty of restaurants nearby, so you don't have to pay arena prices. You can get tickets to the games through Ticketmaster, and typically you can get tickets game day.
Visit Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek Park is situated from the Washington D.C./Maryland border to the Potomac River and offers more than 32 miles of hiking and 13 miles of horseback riding trails.
In addition, kids will love the Discovery Room in the Nature Center, that boasts games, displays of live turtles and snakes, and also has an observation deck. If your family likes to fish, there are fishing opportunities, and paddleboating on the Potomac River.
What's great about Rock Creek Park is you feel like you've escaped the city life, when you are just a drive away from the hustle and bustle.
You can also fit in a history lesson, because there is no shortage of history about Rock Creek Park, especially since it was authorized in 1890. You can check their website for up-to-date information, including closings due to inclement weather and temporary road closures.
If you love hiking, you also don't want to miss the Bull Run Occoquan Trail that runs along Bull Run, a tributary to the Potomac.
Watch a Show at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts opened in 1971 and is named after the late president. Commonly known as the Kennedy Center, the venue is home to numerous shows throughout the year like Wicked, The Nutcracker, and A Soldier's Play.
While the schedule varies, you'll never be disappointed with the available shows they offer. You might think plays are for the older audience, but you'd be surprised. There are several shows, like The Nutcracker, that appeal to younger audiences and entrance the audience with their beautiful dancing.
The Kennedy Center is situated in Central Washington, D.C. and is easily accessible via the Foggy Bottom/George Washington University/Kennedy Center subway station.
Spend the Day in Annapolis
While Annapolis isn't in Northern Virginia, it's close enough that you don't want to miss out on what it offers. In addition to spending the day in Annapolis, I highly recommend spending the weekend if you have time on the calendar.
Annapolis is home to the Naval Academy and is situated along the Severn River, which makes for beautiful views. You can take a trolley tour through town or get your steps in by walking around the beautiful town.
The waterfront is magical and you are surrounded by a plethora of restaurants and shops. You can also take a cruise through the Chesapeake Bay, which will give you a fantastic look at the city's rich history.
You never know what a day in Annapolis will bring until you get there. Heck, I was in an elevator with Kevin Bacon at a local Annapolis hotel years ago. While I can't guarantee a celebrity sighting, I can promise you will thoroughly enjoy spending the day in Annapolis.
That's a Wrap
After reading the 10 Northern Virginia resolutions for 2023, I hope you've got your calendar marked with your favorite activities. Like I mentioned, we are fortunate to live in such a diverse, exciting place and there is no reason why you shouldn't explore more in the new year.
I can't wait to hear which of these resolutions you check off your list in 2023, and those you created on your own. We always love hearing from readers about what they are doing in Northern Virginia.
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