First off, yes, it is terrible that I did not remember to tell you about this back in April or May, since the performances for this summer are over, but let's just pretend we are all super organized advanced planners and make a note about this for next summer. Ok? Great.
So, if you live near or are travelling to the Washington D.C. area and are in possession of at least one smallish child, you will want to check out the Children's Theatre-in-the-Woods at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia. Wolf Trap is a national park dedicated to the performing arts and they run grown-up friendly shows all year round, but during the summer they dedicate a small stage located, aptly, back in the woods, to near-daily children's shows. I've taken my kids every year for the past several years and it is always a great experience. Tickets are $10 a pop and the littlest ones are free.
Look, here are my uncooperative children refusing to pose in front of Justin Roberts just last week. (He was awesome.)
The shows tend to run under an hour, which is perfect for the intended audience. You will need sunscreen and bug spray and fair warning that you have to go over a pretty significant hill to get there, so definitely bring a stroller for any children who can't be relied upon to walk a pretty good distance. There are lots of spots for picnicking, and, importantly for my little family, reasonably clean actual bathrooms with running water and everything.
Check it out if you are in the area. You know, next year.
Blurry cell phone picture of surly children credit: yours truly