May Guide to Family-Friendly Reopenings and Events


Spring is in full swing and there are an increasing number of DMV events and attractions to enjoy this May. After a year of closures and cancellations due to the pandemic, things are starting to slowly and carefully reopen. For May, we have compiled a list of family-friendly reopenings in our region as well as a few events. We are very excited that the Smithsonian has released phased-in reopening dates for eight of its facilities, including the zoo! There are also drive-in movies, an immersive Van Gogh exhibit, art walks, an environmental clean-up opportunity, and youth arts performances to enjoy.

Before venturing out, make sure you carefully review the safety protocols and requirements of each facility and event. If you want to spend some family time outdoors, please check out our guide to 80+ Places to Explore Nature with Kids Around the DMV. And be sure to look at our community calendar for other May events too.


Atlas’ Youth Summit

On May 7th at 5 pm, the Atlas Theater will present Atlas’ Youth Summit. Area youth arts organizations will present original performances, and a summit conversation and panel discussion will be held regarding events of the past year and the impact it has had on young people’s lives and the creation of their art. This virtual event is free, but participants must reserve their spot online.

AdMo Art Walk

Through May 14th, your family can enjoy a self-guided walking tour of an impressive selection of artworks displayed in various storefronts in Adams Morgan. The participating local artists convey the cultural and diverse art scene of this community. Visitors looking for additional ways to enjoy DC while outdoors may also want to check out this self-guided Adams Morgan Mural Walk and Adams Morgan Heritage Trail.

Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum Presents “Men of Change: Taking It To The Streets”

This exhibition presents a nation’s story through the profiles of revolutionary African American men and the cultural stories they illuminate. In heralding the contributions of notable African American men, from W.E.B DuBois to Ryan Coogler, “Men of Change” highlights deep parallels between the past and present. Originally intended as an indoors exhibit, it has been reimagined for outdoors installation in Ward 7. The exhibition can be viewed 24 hours a day now through May 31st. It features multiple stand-alone and fence displays on six streets, including the campus of Ron Brown High School. See the website for more information about the men who are profiled, as well as a map of the installation.

Georgetown GLOW DC

This free outdoor light art experience runs through June 27th. It includes five commissioned artworks viewable by day, and brighter by night. Spring GLOW programming includes in-person and virtual options. Check out the event website for more information about these options, as well as a map of the installations. Please note that masks are required.

Anacostia Green Boats

On Earth Day, DC announced this new program aimed at cleaning up the Anacostia River. A free canoe or kayak rental will be provided for a 2 hour session wherein participants have an orientation, pick up debris (usually plastic bottles) in the river, and sort and weigh trash. This program will run every Saturday through August 28th. Reserve your space online. All sessions released thus far have been filled, but more sessions will be made available in May. Check out the event website to sign up to be notified as soon as new sessions are available.


ARTECHOUSE has opened with a limited capacity and it has taken additional safety measures in light of the current pandemic. You can now purchase tickets for a new installation running from March 15th – September 6th. “Renewal 2121” seeks to inspire hope amid a global pandemic and concerns of climate change. Transporting visitors 100 years into the future, it immerses them in an industrial city where nature fights to survive amid an overdeveloped metropolis. There is a hopeful message to be discovered as blossoms are seen peeking through the plastic, concrete, and neon lights, ready to renew the season with the help of those willing to take action.

Alexandria Drive-In

The Alexandria Drive-In opened last year when indoor movie theaters had to shut their doors. The proceeds it raises benefit ATHENA Rapid Response Innovation Lab and other charities. The Drive-In has reopened for the summer and its May schedule is now available. Tickets must be purchased online. Concessions will be available from food trucks on site.

Capitol Riverfront Spring Drive-In Movie Series

Join the Capitol Riverfront BID for a six-week drive-in movie series at The Stacks in Buzzard Point. Each movie will be a fun, contact-free experience for all ages and will have space for 100 vehicles set at an appropriate social distance. Movie-goers can secure their spot at a cost of $20 per car, per movie, and all funds will be donated to local charities.

Movies in the Park

Begin outdoor movie season at Virginia Highlands Park in National Landing (formerly known as Crystal City). A family-friendly movie is scheduled every Friday in May. Social distance circles will be created to accommodate up to four people. You must pre-register online for this free event.

Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience

This installation is a 20,000 square foot light and sound spectacular featuring two-story projections of the artist’s most compelling works in 360 degrees. It aims to be appropriate for all ages. The experience is all digital, hands-free, and instituted a number of COVID safety measures. Tickets are available online, however they are sold out through October. There is still limited availability in November and December.


Smithsonian’s National Zoo

The Zoo is reopening on May 21st! There are capacity restrictions, so all visitors must reserve timed-entry passes online, or by phone. You can begin to reserve passes on May 14th. There will also be limits on how many people can visit the pandas, so separate timed-entry passes are required for the Asia Trail/Panda House. Please see the Zoo website for additional information about reservations, parking, closed attractions, and more.

Glen Echo Park Aquarium

The aquarium is open by appointment only. Dates and times are limited, but they will work with you to arrange a visit between 10 am and 5 pm. See the website for contact info and COVID policies.


Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center

Visit Alexandria’s very own Nature Center where you can see live animals up close and learn about the cultural and natural history of the neighboring Dora Kelley Nature Park. Currently, interactive exhibits and play spaces are closed. The Nature Center is also limiting the total visitor capacity, conducting temperature checks at the door, and requiring face masks and maintaining at least 6 feet of physical distance while inside the Center. Check out their website for a list of Spring 2021 Virtual and In-Person nature classes and activities.


Heurich House Museum

The Heurich House Museum remains closed, but its gardens are open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 am to 5 pm. See website for details. Also, you can take a virtual tour of the Museum online.

Hillwood Estates and Gardens

The museum and gardens are now open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am – 5pm. Timed-entry reservations must be made in advance and are available online.

Mount Vernon

George and Martha Washington’s Estate and Gardens are open. The facility has adopted a number of new safety protocols that you will want to review before your visit. Your family can tour the grounds and the gardens, the first floor of the mansion, and view museum exhibits. Purchase tickets online. On May 1st and 2nd, visit Mount Vernon for its Revolutionary War Weekend event, one of the largest Revolutionary War re-enactments in the country.

National Arboretum

If you are looking for open park space this spring, look no further. The National Arboretum is now open daily from 8 am-5 pm. However, please note the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum and Administration building will continue to be closed to the public. Visitors are still required to follow all posted guidelines designed to maximize the safety and health of all visitors and employees, including requiring all visitors and employees to wear a mask and maintain social distance.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

The grounds of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are now open from 8 am-4 pm. The park is limiting the number of visitors. Some areas, such as all buildings, restrooms, and the boardwalk, remain closed for public safety (note that there are porta-potties available). Read about these and other visitor expectations on the park’s website.

Brookside Gardens

The Gardens are open from sunrise to sunset (7 am – 5 pm) for your enjoyment, relaxation, and exercise. They are limiting the numbers allowed in their parking lot. See their website for a list of prohibited activities, a map, and a list of areas that are accessible in the gardens.


The Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has canceled all previously scheduled full-capacity programs. Additionally, much of the late spring and early summer touring programs have been canceled. However, the 2021-2022 Theater Schedule has been released and subscriptions are available online. In the meantime, you can enjoy special digital performances and activities. The REACH remains open Friday through Sunday. Check the website for access information and COVID policies.

National Harbor

Some of the restaurants at the National Harbor have reopened with patio seating and/or to-go ordering options. The Capital Wheel is open. The facilities have taken steps to create social distancing and improve cleaning/sanitizing practices. Take a look at their website to review what COVID-19 measures they have implemented. See National Harbor’s website for additional family-friendly activities.

Trapeze School New York

TSNY at the DC Navy Yard is reopening after many months. It has taken steps to help keep the rig a healthy and safe place. All staff, students, and spectators must adhere to their safety protocols while attending classes or visiting their space.


Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

The Udvar-Hazy Center displays thousands of aviation and space artifacts, including the Space Shuttle Discovery and a Concorde, in two large hangars. It will reopen May 5th with capacity restrictions and other COVID protocols. Visitors must reserve a timed-entry pass online or by phone. As always, museum entry is free, but parking costs $15 before 4 pm (it is free after 4 pm).

National Museum of African American History and Culture

This museum will reopen on May 14th. Reserved timed-entry passes will be available online or by phone beginning on May 7th.

National Portrait Gallery

This museum will reopen on May 14th. Reserved timed-entry passes will be available online or by phone beginning on May 7th.

Smithsonian American Art Museum

This museum will reopen on May 14th. Reserved timed-entry passes will be available online or by phone beginning on May 7th.

Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

This museum will reopen on May 14th. Reserved timed-entry passes will be available online or by phone beginning on May 7th.

National Museum of American History

This museum will reopen on May 21st. Reserved timed-entry passes will be available online or by phone beginning on May 14th.

National Museum of the American Indian

This museum will reopen on May 21st. Reserved timed-entry passes will be available online or by phone beginning on May 14th.

National Building Museum

The National Building Museum has officially reopened Friday through Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm. Tickets to exhibits can be purchased online or at its new visitor center. Visits to the Great Hall, the Museum Shop, and the Gun Violence Memorial Project are free. Parents please note that the ever-popular PLAY WORK BUILD remains temporarily closed.

Planet Word

This new museum aims to inspire and renew a love of words, language, and reading in people of all ages through unique, immersive learning experiences. It is now open Thursday through Saturday. Admission is free, but it is suggested that visitors make a $15 donation. Reserve passes to visit online.

Glenstone Museum

The grounds are open Thursday through Saturday and outdoor dining at the Patio is available in a limited capacity. The Arrival Hall will be open in a limited capacity for access to restrooms and a water bottle refill station, as well as the Bookstore. You must schedule your visit ahead of time, and admission is free.

Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden

The Museum’s building may be closed for the moment, but its sculpture garden is open daily from 10 am – 4:30 pm. Visit on your personal device during your visit for a self-guided experience. Also, #HirshhornInsideOut is a way for us to remain connected through artist- and curator-led insights, innovative digital artworks, online events, and hands-on art activities for adults and kids of all ages, all from your phone, tablet, or computer.

International Spy Museum 

New safety measures are in place including capacity limitations, social distancing guidelines, mask requirements, and enhanced cleaning protocols. The museum is now open 7 days a week and advance ticket purchases are recommended. The museum’s website has more information about specific ways families can plan for their visit and stay safe. Safety measures include wearing a mask, providing a stylus to each visitor for use on all of the Museum’s touch screens, and more.

Lincoln’s Cottage  

The interiors are now open Wednesday through Monday for timed, self-guided tours. Space is limited to allow space for social distancing and reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure. Purchase tickets online.

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden 

Your family can the enjoy outdoor art installations daily from 11 am to 4 pm with capacity and mask requirements. The Pavilion Café is also open. See website for detailed information about the artwork and plants that inhabit the garden.

National Museum of Women in the Arts 

This museum is now open seven days a week. It is recommended that you reserve timed-entry tickets ahead of your visit. Visitors can explore current exhibitions and the collection for free on the first Sunday of every month during its Free Community Day.

Phillips Collection  

The museum opened its doors 100 years ago as a memorial to founder Duncan Phillips’s father, Duncan Clinch Phillips, and brother, James, who died in the 1918 flu epidemic. To celebrate its centennial, the museum has created an exhibit called, Seeing Differently: The Phillips Collects for a New Century. The exhibit highlights over 200 works by artists from the 19th century to the present that explore the complexities of our ever-changing world. Check out resources to enhance a family-friendly visit, including a scavenger hunt. This museum has limited capacity and advanced timed-entry tickets are required for all visitors.

Do you know of other family-friendly May events and re-openings going on around town for May? Please comment below or add them to our community calendar here!