National Children's Museum Launch Zone112 Waterfront Street
National Harbor, MD 20745
Bottom Line: A really fun interactive space that facilities learning through play for all ages. The Launch Zone is free, but there is no free parking in National Harbor.
Note: the Launch Zone will closed on September 3, 2012, but the National Children's Museum opens December 14, 2012!
The new Children's Museum is slated to open this winter (2012) in a different location in the National Harbor.
Open daily, the Hours and Directions are posted online.
Yesterday, I was looking for a cool afternoon activity on the east side of town and the NCM Launch Zone proved to be just the thing. It’s lucky we stopped by when we did because the Launch Zone will be closing in a few short days in preparation for the opening of the actual museum, slated for this winter, 2012.
Why hadn’t I checked this out before now? I guess because it sounded like a poor substitute for the real museum and I pictured it being small, with only a few features — not worth a drive across the bridge and certainly not worth paying for parking.
I was wrong.
The Launch Zone is a large open space, brightly colored and inviting.
There was a wall display about ways to be green.
Some kind of “Family Literacy Involvement” program (we didn’t check this out).
And several different table top activities ranging from coloring, to crafts, to doll house play to tactile learning.
Additionally there were some books for reading, stuffed animals and dress-up clothes and maybe a few other items I missed.
Then there is a larger open space in the back where the staff sets out different play experiences each day. The day we went they had their “Imagination Playground” out — giant blocks and tubes that can be connected ala Tinker Toys. What a treat these were!
My four year old boy LOVED these and had fun building and destroying his creations. While we were there, a few other families came through and I marveled at how much fun these blocks were for all ages.
Several older elementary girls had a great time building up a oversized marble run, trying to get the plastic balls to roll down a track they created. A crawling baby loved chasing the balls across the floor and playing with the soft noodles. The preschool boys had fun building and destroying their fort and even the moms and dads couldn’t resist making their own creations — a dad made a “car” for his toddler and I made a pretty mean igloo. 🙂
It was a lovely low-key experience, just what I was looking for. It was great that it was air-conditioned and has bathrooms and a water fountain right in the room.
The only negative — to me — is having to pay to park (I hate this about the National Harbor). After we had our fill of indoor play, we wandered down to Ben & Jerry’s for a scoop and then hung out in the sand where the Awakening statute is. It made for a lovely relaxed August day.
It’s also worth noting that the Launch Zone is designed for families and they do not allow organized groups larger than 5.
As I mentioned before, the Launch Zone will only be open until September 3rd, so I encourage you to check it out before it closes.
You can check out their Events Calendar to see what activities are scheduled for each day.
It got me very excited about the opening of the new children’s museum — I can’t wait to see what it entails!
Looking for more places to play? Check out my reviews of other Playgrounds, Parks, and Play Areas in Arlington and the greater Metro DC area.
Find more parks by visiting my main Arlington Parks & Playgrounds page.