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Au Pair in America is the nation's first legal au pair program. Since 1986, we have provided the best child care opportunities to host families across the US and au pairs from around the world.

July 4th Celebration in Washington, DC

Washington, DC is a spectacular place to celebrate July 4th! The National Mall is the center of all of the Independence Day Celebrations in DC. There are events all day, beginning with a parade along Constitution Avenue and ending with a fireworks display over the Washington Monument.

Sara, a host mom in our cluster has shared some links with information to help au pairs plan for the upcoming holiday.

Great list of local activities:

Getting to the National Mall & security info:

The Capitol Fourth concert has a dress rehearsal on July 3, that while secure and crowded, is easier to attend than the concert on the 4th, as with July 4th, the gates open at 3:00:

A blog post that may be of interest:


Visiting Baltimore By Train

10411339_10153114939569057_3095843383184004578_nWe recently had a cluster meeting in Baltimore. It was the first time I have taken the MARC train to Baltimore on the weekend and it was very convenient. Here is some information on how you can enjoy visiting Baltimore via public transportation. Prices and info are accurate as of June 13, 2014. Please check links to verify prices and schedules before you go.

Getting from DC to Baltimore
The MARC Train Penn Line runs from Union Station (DC) to Baltimore Penn Station. Cost for a one way ticket ($5-7.) Considering cost of gas and parking in the city, if you drive, makes the train a pretty good deal.

View the schedules here –> Weekend Penn Line & Weekday Penn Line

On Saturdays, there are currently running 9 trains from about 9 am (1st train northbound from DC) to about 9:00 pm (last train southbound from Baltimore.)  On Sundays, there are currently running 9 trains from about 10 am (1st train northbound from DC) to about 5:00 pm (last train southbound from Baltimore.) It is very important to be sure of the time of the final train back from Baltimore to DC.

On Weekdays, the MARC Penn Line runs from about 6 am (1st train northbound from DC) to about 9:15 pm (last train southbound from Baltimore.)

In our cluster area, here are your options:

  1. Take the Metro Red Line to Union Station and get on the MARC Penn Line there.
  2. Take the Metro Orange Line to New Carrollton and get on the MARC Penn Line there.
  3. Drive or take a bus to Bowie State Station (off Rt 197) and get on the MARC Penn Line there.

Free Way to Get Around Baltimore

Baltimore offers a FREE Charm City Circulator service that features 4 shuttle bus lines and 1 water taxi line. The shuttle buses run about every 10 minutes. Visit the website here to view the maps: Charm City Circulator

To visit the Inner Harbor take the Purple Line from Baltimore Penn Station to stop #302 – S. Calvert St. & W. Pratt St.

Sandwich Making Service Project

In the spirit of Thanksgiving and sharing, our au pairs came together to make over 300 sandwiches for DC Central Kitchen. I would also like to thank the Seekers Church in Takoma Park for allowing us to use their space for a very reasonable cost.

July 4th Celebrations in Washington, DC

fireworksWashington DC is a spectacular place to celebrate July 4th! The National Mall is the center of all of the Independence Day Celebrations in DC. There are events all day, beginning with a parade along Constitution Avenue and ending with a fireworks display over the Washington Monument.

Washington, DC’s Independence Day Parade
Parade Start Time: 11:45 a.m.
Parade Route: Constitution Avenue and 7th to 17th Sts.
See a map of the parade route

Washington, DC’s 4th of July Parade features marching bands, military and specialty units, floats, and VIP’s. The parade draws a large crowd, so plan to arrive early to stake out a good viewing spot. Read more about the National Independence Day Parade

4th of July Fireworks on the National Mall
Fireworks Time: At dark, usually around 9:15 p.m. Rain Date: July 5th
Launch Location: The fireworks are launched from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and light up the sky over the Washington Monument.

Getting to the National Mall
The best way to get to the National Mall is to take the Metro. Stations nearby include Metro Center, Gallery Place-Chinatown, Judiciary Square, Federal Triangle and L’Enfant Plaza. It typically takes 1 ½ to 2 hours to clear the Mall after the fireworks.

Public access to the National Mall begins at 10:00 a.m., with all visitors required to enter via a security checkpoint.

Information above is from About.com. Visit their website HERE for much more information about the DC July 4th celebrations, including the best places to view the fireworks.

Free Admission to Newseum

From the Newseum website:

11605-1Kids Get in Free July 1 Through Labor Day

The Newseum offers everything from the Berlin Wall and Pulitzer Prize-winning photos to interactive games and presidential pets. And this summer, there’s one more great reason to visit — kids get in free! July 1 through Labor Day, the Newseum waives admission for youth visitors age 18 and younger. Up to four kids visit for free with each paid adult or senior admission, or Press Pass membership.

Whether you have just a few hours or want to spend all day, you’ll find something for everyone in the Newseum’s 15 theaters and 15 galleries. See “JFK,” an exploration of the life and legacy of president John F. Kennedy, watch “I-Witness” and take a 4-D adventure through time and journalism history, or test your reporting skills in the NBC News Interactive Newsroom.

Time running short? Remember to save your admission ticket and come back the next day for free!

Summer Fun Deal Ticket Prices

Adults (19 to 64)
$21.95 plus tax

Seniors (65+)
$17.95 plus tax

Youth (7 to 18)

Children (6 and younger)

  • Summer Fun Deal tickets are not good in conjunction with other discounts.
  • Up to four discounts per transaction.
  • All ticket sales are final.
  • Summer Fun Deal tickets purchased online must be used between July 1 and Sept 2, 2013.
  • There are no refunds for no-shows or unused tickets.

June is Zoo & Aquarium Month

Visit your local zoo or aquarium or set up a pretend zoo with play animals and blocks. Invite the host parents to visit your pretend zoo. Read One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish or If I Ran the Zoo, both by Dr. Seuss. Encourage the children to make up their own animals and draw them. Think of all the animal sounds you can and play a game guessing what animal you are. You may find that the same animal says one thing in America and something quite different in your own country!

5318026398_f0232e1347Here are links to our local zoo & aquariums.

National Zoo – Washington, DC

National Aquarium - Washington, DC

Maryland Zoo – Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore Aquarium – Maryland

Photo: Joseph Bylund

Paddle Boats on the Tidal Basin

Last weekend we had a cluster meeting enjoying the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade and going paddle boating on the Tidal Basin. As a lifetime resident of the DC area, this was my first time doing either of those things! We had a beautiful day.

paddle boat

National Cherry Blossom Festival

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual event that celebrates springtime in Washington, DC as well as the 1912 gift of the cherry blossom trees and the enduring friendship between the people of the United States and Japan. This year’s festival will be MARCH 20-APRIL 14!

The predicted peak blooming period of the cherry blossoms for this year is  – MARCH 26–30.

cherry blossom

They have Free Apps for iPhone & Droid to help you keep track of the festival events and share your festival experiences via social media.

Here are some of the highlights:

Family Day - Saturday & Sunday, March 23-24, 2013
National Building Museum
401 F Street, NW
Metro Judiciary Square, Red Line
Sat – 10 am-4 pm & Sun- 11 am-4 pm

Smithsonian Kite Festival – Saturday, March 30, 2013
Washington Monument Grounds
10 am-4:30 pm

Fireworks Festival - Saturday, April 6, 2013
Waterfront Park – 600-900 Water Street, SW
1-9 pm
Fireworks at 8-9 pm

Cherry Blossom Parade – Saturday, April 13, 2013
Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th Streets, NW
10 am- 12 pm

There are many more great events, visit the festival website for more information.

Helpful links:

Cherry Blossom Festival Website
National Park Service Bloom Watch
Metro Website (use the trip planner feature on this website to find the metro options, taking metro is much better than driving for the festival events)

Holiday Lights Displays in the Maryland/DC Area


Here is a list from About.com of local places with beautiful Christmas light displays:

ZooLights at the National Zoo
Rock Creek Park. Washington, DC. November 23-December 9, Friday, Saturday and Sunday only. Open nightly December 14–January 1 (except Dec. 24, 25 and 31). The National Zoo presents a seasonal display of thousands of sparkling animated lights, winter-themed crafts, ice sculpting demonstrations, choral groups, and storytellers. See Photos of ZooLights

Festival of Lights at the Mormon Temple
9900 Stoneybrook Dr., Kensington, Maryland. (301) 587-0144. November 30, 2012 – January 1, 2013. Dusk to 10 p.m. nightly. Nativity scene is open each evening from 6 to 9 p.m. Live musical performances begin at 7 and 8 p.m. See Photos of the Mormon Temple Festival of Lights

Winter Festival of Lights at Watkins Regional Park
301 Watkins Park Drive, Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Friday, November 23, 2012 through Tuesday, January 1, 2013. HOURS: 5-9:30 p.m. daily. $5 per car;  $10 for multi-visit passes for cars and vans (good for three visits). The festival is FREE on December 25. You may bring canned food items to donate to local food banks for the holidays. Winter Festival of Lights is Prince George’s County, Maryland’s spectacular drive-through Christmas light display featuring more than a million twinkling lights. See Photos of Winter Festival of Lights at Watkins Regional Park

Symphony of Lights in Columbia
Symphony Woods, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland. (410) 740-7840. November 19, 2012 – January 6, 2013. Hours: Open 7 days a week from 6-10 p.m., including holidays except CLOSED December 31st for the Midnight at 7 event. $20 per car. Symphony of Lights is a spectacular drive-through display of more than 75 animated and stationary holiday lights. All proceeds from the Symphony of Lights benefit the services of Howard County General Hospital. See Photos of the Columbia Symphony of Lights

Lights on the Bay at Sandy Point State Park
Route 50, Annapolis, Maryland. (410) 481-3161. November 19, 2012 through January 1, 2013, 5-10 p.m., 5-10 p.m. An annual scenic drive through holiday lights show sponsored by the Anne Arundel Medical Center. Drive along the shore of the Chesapeake Bay and see more than 60 animated and stationary displays illuminating the roadway. $14 per car. See Photos of Lights on the Bay

Washington Monument Photo Contest

Please vote for your favorite Washington Monument photo. You may vote every day between now and November 25. The winner will be announced on November 26. The winner will receive an I Love DC Prize Pack.

Click HERE or on your favorite picture, to vote.


1 - Chiara


2 - Sofi


3 - Alex


4 - Adriane


5 - Cecilia


6 - Ana


7 - Nan


8 - Sherry


9 - Fatima


10 - Eweline

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