Favorites for Kids

Over 75 Reasons to Put Down the Remote Control

Over 75 Reasons to Put Down the Remote Control

By Susan Anspach, Abegail Matienzo, Maria Scinto and Vanessa LaFaso Stolarski

Whether you’re parent to the next Julia Childs, or simply have a tot whose appetite rivals your own, our region lays claim to a wide range of kiddie foods and hands-on culinary options.

By Susan Anspach

Generous George's / Photography by Jonathan Timmes

Generous George’s
Alexandria and Herndon; 703-370-4303, 703-793-3338; www.generousgeorge.com
Mountains of doughy fun abound at Northern Virginia’s two Generous George’s locations, where kids make their own 8-inch pie with their choice of two add-on fixings. Chef’s hat comes included in the $4.99 price.

Foxfire Grill
Alexandria; 703-914-9280; www.foxfire-grill.com
Foxfire Grill’s progressive 12-and-under menu includes hummus, steak and fish. For dessert, a $4 Rootie-Tootie Fruitie platter—fresh-fruit skewers accompanied with a honey-yogurt dipping sauce—stands out against more standard fare (cookies, ice cream).

Mexicali Blues
Arlington; 703-812-9352; www.mexicali-blues.com
Introduce your youngster’s palate to a range of ethnic options with Mexicali’s kids’ menu options of flautas, tacos, tamales de elote, pupusas and burritos. Every platter comes with rice, beans and a drink—or add-on fruit smoothie for $2 extra.

Cake Decorating With Donna
Annandale; 703-426-1507; Ages 6-18
Donna Bolton is in her fourth year of whipping up cake decor with kids. For $65, children in groups of eight to 10 receive three hours in torte design, assembly and “a couple of tricks that take it from a homemade cake to store bought.” Participants leave with their own iced creations as tasty souvenirs.

Great Falls; 703-450-6853; hfarb1@aol.com
Dan Himelfarb strives to impart knowledge geared toward a “basic kitchen self-sufficiency” for kids from his home kitchen. For $60, the chef with over 500 hours of L’Academie de Cuisine training hosts a series of three Saturday morning classes that he can gear toward students’ preferences. “The menus … are based on input,” stressed Himelfarb, adding he incorporates locally sourced foods as much as possible.

NoVA Kid Fast Facts
Although the Virginia state legislature voted to phase foods high in trans fats at all public schools, five food items with trans fats above the federally recommended maximum level of 0.5 grams per serving still exist on Fairfax County menus as of the 2007-2008 school year: a croissant, two types of cookie, nachos with cheese sauce and a Chinese salad with noodles.

Adorable. Precious. Darling. These are words that will describe your son or daughter when He or she is decked out in these best-selling fashion items for boys and girls.

By Abegail Matienzo

The Silken Thread
Alexandria (By appointment only); 202-549-1910; www.thesilkenthread.com
Looking for the perfect little dress for your little girl to wear for her professional portrait, or any future photo opportunity? Grandmothers and mothers alike adore the dainty A-Line Pink Gingham Dress by Rosalina in pink ($28), which can also be personalized with a monogram. According to store owner Laura Swanstrom Reece, “We sell a lot of monogrammed clothing for children, and a lot of our shoppers seek gifts for new babies and birthday presents.”

Dharma and Leopold’s
Warrenton; 540-341-3500; www.dharmaandleopolds.com
Girls will look stylish and feel snug when they sport a Pampolina Tweed Skirt ($75) with some comfy tights to ward off the winter cold. The German-brand skirt has two layers and a bow detail that can take girls from play dates to parties.

Cradle & Crayon / Photography by Jonathan Timmes

Cradle and Crayon
Reston; 703-437-0900; www.cradleandcrayon.com
Make your little boy feel like a big kid in the Alpha Industries Flight Jacket for toddlers ($69.99). Vintage patches lend this piece flair and style—a perfect fashion complement for showing off his tough side.

Two Girls and a Boy
Occoquan; 703-490-2765; www.twogirlsandaboy.com
Once you get past the cheese factor, shirts with funny sayings are just as amusing—if not moreso—to see on kids as they are on the grown folk.

People passing by will have to giggle when they see your little boy in the red, long-sleeve shirt that reads: “I Still Live With Mom and Dad,” by Dogwood ($22).

NoVA Kid Fast Facts
The state of Virginia itself has no requirements for uniforms at public schools, instead leaving the choice up to individual schools and districts. Although schools wishing to adopt uniforms have been met with some resistance from their communities, uniform policies have been implemented at certain schools in cities including Richmond, Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Alexandria.

When the temperature spikes, there’s no better remedy than cooling off by getting wet. From fishing and boating, to slipping and sliding, fun for area kids only heats up in the summer sun.

By Abegail Matienzo

Adorable Boy Ready To In Swim Gear With Giant Orange Ball Over WLarry Weeks Community Pools at Vint Hill
Warrenton; 540-347-6935; www.fauquiercounty.gov; All ages
Lots of kids look forward to Memorial Day, and most for the same singular reason: The holiday marks the first day of public-pool season. Larry Weeks Community Pools at Vint Hill are a safe, fun center. The kiddie area features a baby pool, frog slide and mushroom where parents can watch their kids enjoy the water in a shallow area. The main pool also features a large shallow area with a beach-ramp entrance. Daily fees, as well as punch-pass options, are available.

SplashDown Waterpark
Manassas; 703-361-4451; www.splashdownwaterpark.com; Ages 3 and up
For adventure-seekers, SplashDown Waterpark offers thrills and excitement for all ages. The park boasts four-story water slides, towers and an interactive play area, along with a 25-meter lap pool for more serious swimmers. The zero-depth beach area, pavilions and “funbrellas” are great places to rest and engage in more relaxing activities.

The main attraction of the park is the 770-foot lazy river. According to Doug Blount, recreation operations director for Prince William Park Authority, “It’s a great part of the waterpark where families can play together.” In other words, the perfect end to an active day.

NoVA Kid Fast Facts
WaterWorks at Kings Dominion offers six rides for kids under 4 feet tall, but on four of those rides they will be required to wear life vests.

From bassinet to big-kid fixings, Northern Virginia children’s furnishing retailers have got the hard-to-find and custom-made room-fittings market covered.

By Susan Anspach

Round Crib by All Things Creative / Courtesy of All Things Creative

Petite Dekor
Leesburg; 703-777-7030; www.petitedekor.com
A Bratt Decor Venetian three-in-one iron crib comes in finishes of antique white, slate, Venetian gold and pewter at Petite Dekor in Leesburg for $966.

“It’s very elegant, and can go with just about any decor,” according to Kutella, who added, “Just a timeless design.”

Petite Dekor
Leesburg; 703-777-7030; www.petitedekor.com
While a $1,537 Chelsea lifetime crib speaks for itself in antique silver, buttermilk or “beautiful espresso,”  store owner Charlene Kutella said, the accompanying $2,517 armoire with matching inlaid carvings will draw a room together, along with matching dresser and cradle.

Wren and Divine
McLean; 703-356-9736; www.wrenanddivine.com
Available in a variety of hand-painted motifs, an Art For Kids 40-inch, gold-gilded nautical highchair ships through Wren and Divine for $636. At press time, the shop was in the process of switching locations, but all products are available online.

Wren and Divine
McLean; 703-356-9736; www.wrenanddivine.com
No two hand-painted cribs are the same from furnishings manufacturer All Things Creative. The Tennessee-hardwood designs meet and exceed all safety standards and are custom made upon ordering. $880 at Wren and Divine.

A surefire sign of success: regulars. And it’s no secret little girls can be the pickiest of critics—but some leagues and businesses keep ‘em coming back for more.

By Susan Anspach

Happily Ever After
Ashburn; 703-777-1869; www.happily-ever-after-va.com; Adora Doll sessions are open to those 5 and older (and any age of kid needs an accompanying adult)
One Ashburn doll shop is a mom-and-pop shop in the most literal sense of the phrase—and daughter Lori Koutsouftikis makes three. The tribe makes for the co-owners of Happily Ever After, an Ashburn retailer of dollhouses, miniatures and collectibles. Mini moppet mavens gravitate toward their Hold Your Hand workshops, opportunities for anyone to bring projects to the store for guidance. “It teaches a child working towards a goal,” explained Koutsouftikis, who also has an Adora Doll representative in at least once a year to host a doll-construction course. “Not the instant gratification like so many video games these days.”

Girls Golf of Northern Virginia
703-475-4163; www.girlslovegolf.com; Ages 7-17
Girls Golf of Northern Virginia is broken into five tiers of club skill sets—from players who’ve never clutched an iron to those playing 18-hole regulation courses with scores of 110 or better. The program pulls in LPGA and PGA teaching pros to assist members in sharpening their games, regardless of the level of experience they bring to the clinics.

0109family_kids_cupTea, Lace and Roses
Culpeper; 540-829-9700; www.tealaceandroses.com; All ages
Don’t let the china cups deter: Little fingers are well received at Tea, Lace and Roses, where clientele are invited to deck themselves in boas, lace gloves and flowered hats before sitting down to a sup time specifically designed for the younger set: Wee Tea.

Northern Virginia Nereids Synchronized Swimming Team
Annandale; 703-407-6298; www.nvnsynchro.com; Ages 6-18
In fact, boys are more than welcome to join the Northern Virginia Nereids Synchronized Swimming Team. It’s just that most of them don’t. “In the past we’ve had one or two, but it’s primarily a girls’ sport,” said team president Kevin Fitzpatrick, who leads his squad to competitions at the local, regional and national levels. Cost to suit up: $110 to $275 a month.

In a thriving arts region such as ours, kid-music industry pros know their beat. Every place, school and name rang at least a few bells, but below are the referenced favorites.

By Susan Anspach

American Musical Landscapes
Alexandria; 703-307-6250; www.musicallandscapes.com; All ages
This weekly live tour spanning 20-plus American songs against a backdrop of photos and video doesn’t kick into its spring season for a few more months, though producer and performer Danielle Westphal was quick to insert, “We can always do a command performance with groups of 100 or more.” Audiences who can’t scramble up the numbers can get in on the American Musical Landscape Inaugural Ball, with extended performances Jan. 16 through 21.

Don Bridges
703-449-0817; donbridgesongs.com; Ages 1-12
Three-time Wammie Award-winning performer Don Bridges cites “the interactive nature of what I do” as what sets his shows apart. “On every single song the children are doing something, shaking instruments, dancing, marching, singing along.” The effect, it seems, is contagious. On a recent outdoor Springfield concert, Bridges was mid-performance when two young sisters rose and began ballet dancing.

“Then an elderly couple, I’d say in their 70s, got up and started slow dancing. The juxtaposition just blew my mind, just broke and captivated my heart.”

Peter McCory
703-753-1600; www.petermccory.com; Ages 2-12
It was what one-man band Peter McCory considers his midlife crisis that sparked a career changeover to children’s performer. “I guess a lot of men would buy a car or remarry or go skydiving,” he said. “Well, I was broke so I couldn’t afford a Lamborghini, I was satisfied with my wife, and I don’t like jumping out of airplanes.” That was 1996. Now, the walking, talking guitar-banjo-harmonica-whistles-kazoo-siren-drum-player and vocalist can be found at libraries and festivals, though he offers discounts for schools. “If you’ve got 85 to 100 kids in a school, it looks like the Untied Nations. Swahili, Hawaiian, Hebrew, Swedish, Hindi: I can’t speak all those languages, but I can sing them.”

Paul Green School of Rock
Vienna and Ashburn; 703-242-2184; 703-858-0820; www.schoolofrock.com; Ages 7-18
Channel your squirt’s inner punk at one of two School of Rock locations in Northern Virginia where, for $275 a month, students receive weekly 45-minute lessons for guitar, bass, drums, keys or vocals, plus “immediate immersion in our performance-based program,” according to CEO Matt Ross.

Levine School of Music, Virginia campus
Arlington; 703-237-5655; www.levineschool.org; Ages 4 months and up
At Levine, students are introduced to eurhythmic basics—oftentimes before they’re crawling. By age 3, they’re performing melodies and accompaniments and inventing their own symbolic system to represent instrumental rhythms and sounds. “We focus on teaching real concepts,” early childhood music department chair Roselinda Rampp said. At year 7, they’re “really ready then” to graduate to lessons on an instrument of their choosing.

Foxes Music Company
Falls Church; 703-533-7393; www.foxesmusic.com; Ages 5 and up
Hundreds of students breeze through the doors of Foxes Music Company, the highest-volume seller of music and music-related items in the D.C.-Metro region, for their private music lessons. Propelling the flow? Mostly word of mouth, according to co-owner Eric Wagner. Foxes offers half-hour lessons at a starting rate of $28 for most band and string instruments.

Getting growing bodies moving and nutritionally nourished can be a challenge. But pick-your-own farms and kid-friendly fitness classes are good places to start.

By Vanessa LaFaso Stolarski

0109family_kids_fitnessOld Town Scavenger Hunt
Alexandria; 703-519-1749; www.alexcolonialtours.com; Ages 8-11
Make walking fun on this self-guided tour through Old Town Alexandria. Pick up a map at the Christmas Attic shop, and discover historical destinations along the way.

Just Fitness for Kids
Manassas; 703-396-9444; www.justfitnessforkids.com; Ages 5-17
For elementary to high-school ages, the gym designs programs that focus on flexibility, nutrition and strength, while also providing the opportunity to acquire valuable social skills.

Functional Fitness for Kids
Various school locations; www.ff4k.org; Ages 9-13 (fourth through eighth grades)
In a mission to address the growing problem of childhood obesity, this free after-school program is slowly expanding to schools throughout the region and includes workout and strength-training classes as well as guidance in making good nutritional choices.

Crooked Run Orchard
Purcellville; 877-668-7160; www.crookedrunorchard.com; All Ages
Asparagus for dinner? Maybe if they picked their own, this would be one dinner-table battle you can skip. Call ahead to find out whether apples, cherries or pumpkins are ripe for the picking at Crooked Run. In December, take the family to gather pine to make their own holiday wreaths.

Rough-and-tumble boys will appreciate the challenge when you put them up to some of these activities for little sports.

By Abegail Matienzo

Springfield; 703-912-6727; www.woodcraft.com; Ages 6-16
Woodworking classes held at Woodcraft Supply’s Springfield shop teaches kids how to safely put power tools to use. Classes are held every month on evenings and weekends. One project is completed per session, with everything from tool-tote boxes to pens.

Game Camp USA
Held at various hotel meeting rooms in Northern Virginia; 1-888-663-9633; www.convergenesis.com; Ages 10-17
Your tyke will learn how favorite video games like Call of Duty 2, Motocross Madness 2 and Halo are made, then construct his very own. No experience is needed, and campers learn how to use Java programming to help them add sound and graphics to their creations.

The Father and Sons Adventure Club
703-727-7777; www.fathersandsonsadventure.com; Ages 4-18
Some say the best way for males to bond is to explore similar interests, and it’s never too late to strengthen the tie between a dad and son. The Fathers and Sons Adventure Club organizes one-day excursions throughout the region, including activities like surf-fishing, fossil-hunting, camping and paintball. “Men are exhausted from their family and work obligations … When they bring their sons on these adventures, they get called heroes again,” founder Dan Copeland said.

NOVA Youth Flag Football League, Inc.
Various locations; www.novaflag.com; Ages 5-14
Boys can show off speed, power and agility while building self-esteem, confidence and teamwork skills with a season of flag football through the NOVA “NFL” Youth Flag Football League, now in its 12th year in Ashburn.

NoVA Kid Fast Facts
Approximately 51.5 percent of all Virginia kids ages 0 to 19 are boys (the other 48.5 percent being, of course, girls).

When the little one needs to work off energy or the teen tires of staring at a screen … parks, playgrounds and guided tours to the rescue!

By Vanessa LaFaso Stolarski

0109family_kids_nightLake Accotink
Springfield; 703-569-0285; All ages
Like a page from a storybook, the antique carousel that spins at Lake Accotink casts a little magic on the day. Mini golf and an annual cardboard boat race promise big fun for the little ones, and fee-free entrance and parking mean adults will love it, too.

C.M. Crockett Park
Midland; 540-788-4867; All ages
Row, row, row your boat on the lake at C.M. Crockett Park in Fauquier County, and cast a line for a delicious bass. The park’s most unique feature invites families to honor a loved one by planting a tree in the commemorative grove sanctuary. And kids can test their strength at The Forge—a ropes and initiative obstacle course.

Teen Birding Club
Annandale; 703-242-1675; www.audubonva.org; Ages 13-17
The Northern Virginia Audubon Society fosters the teen birder with guided group trips of ornithological exploration and identification.

NoVA Astronomy Club
Various locations; www.novac.com; Ages 3 and up
Up above the world so high, few planetary wonders are too far out of the reach of Northern Virginia Astronomy Club members. Their powerful robotic telescope will delight cosmos-curious kids during their regularly scheduled sky-watching events.

Clemyjontri Park
McLean; 703-388-2807; All Ages
The playground at Clemyjontri leaves nobody out. With high-backed swings, ramps to elevated play features, wide pathways and rubberized surfaces, all play areas are designed to accommodate “children of all abilities.” The Rainbow Room, Schoolhouse and Maze, Movin’ and Groovin’ Transportation Area make up 18 acres of pure, imaginative fun.

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(January 2009)