WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- Tucked inside the city's most expansive natural reserve, is a place where young explorers can blast off into space.
"It's a fabulous place to take a voyage to the stars with your kids. It's a great first planetarium," says Candyce Stapen, travel writer and creator of the DC with Kids app.
Rock Creek Nature Center and Planetarium is free and open Wednesday through Sunday. Stapen says it's a little known gem in the city.
"It's the kind of place where the kids go, 'oh, wowww!'" says Stapen.
The voyage starts with a replica of a forest that looks like Rock Creek Park. Then, day gives way to night, complete with a star studded sky of images so brilliant our camera's could not capture them. From there, we went on a different kind of mission.
A spy mission.
Stapen and I get our first bulletin.
"We've got a high priority case that needs your attention, ASAP!"
This bulletin comes on a GPS device from the International Spy Museum. For $14.95, it lets YOU become a Spy In The City. Along the way, we got clues to uncover spy dust, foil the bad guys and save the day.
We decoded a message at the memorial to President Roosevelt near the steps of the National Archives.
All this code cracking can help you work up an appetite.
And, if you've got a sweet tooth, Stapen says The Sweet Lobby with it's madeleines, shortbread and custom "MacTop" cupcakes (cupcakes with macaroons on top) can be your best advocate.
"They use their island heritage and their MIT degrees to mix ingredients you wouldn't normally find, " says Stapen.
The brother and sister team from Trinidad (Winnette McIntosh Ambrose and Timothy McIntosh) use their chemical engineering background to churn out flavors like Fire Breathing Cupcake Dragon and Green Tea Jade Lantern. Those flavor combos earned them the top spot in the Food Network's Cupcake Wars.
We just had to give them a try.
"Here you go," says Winnette, handing Lesli the spicy treat.
"It is spicy. Wow!" says Lesli.
But a few passes at the Georgetown Waterfront Park can certainly cool you down.
"It's the best place in the city to cool off," says Stapen. "It's got a wonderful spray fountain, kids just love running through it. You can get sloppy wet or just slightly wet."
Panoramic views of the Potomac, with ever present activity and wonder provides the perfect backdrop. All of it, in a day's travel around the city. Not bad!
Georgetown Waterfront Park and the Planetarium are free. To become a "Spy In The City" you pay $14.95 per device. As for the cupcakes, with a little lead time, you can even create your own flavor at "The Sweet Lobby."
Written by Lesli Foster
9 News Now & wusa9.com