Awesome Water Theme Parks Near Philadelphia

The theme of summer is always: keep cool. And what better way to stay cool and have fun than visiting a nearby waterpark. Slides, lazy rivers, surf simulators, whirpools, and even swim-up bars for the adults; we've got a list of great waterparks not too far from the Philly area. So grab your bathing suits and towels, and get ready for an adventure.

Fourth of July in New Jersey: Small Town Celebrations

Sure, you can go big'n'splashy for the 4th, but why not try a celebration in a small NJ town? They may not have Macy's fireworks, but the charm, the history, the food and the Americana feel may more than make up for the loss of crowds, noise and, well, crowds. Check out some of these local celebrations in Southern NJ that come complete with parades, fun runs, antique car shows…. so much more than just fireworks! And for more summer awesomeness, check out our New Jersey Kids Summer Activities Guide!

Dinosaurs Return to New Jersey at New Field Station

Calling all pint-size paleontologists! New Jersey’s outdoor dinosaur-themed adventure park, Field Station: Dinosaurs, once homeless, has again found a spot for its T-Rex and 30-plus other animatronic dinos.

The seasonal kiddie attraction skipped over from its old location in Secaucus, New Jersey, to a flat, sunny field not far from the George Washington Bridge for the summer of 2016. The new digs in Overpeck County Park in Leonia, NJ, are temporary and so, the set-up is probably not as impressive as what past visitors will remember, but my two little kids (ages 3.5 and 1.5) had a blast during our recent visit.

Finding Dory: How Does It Measure up to Finding Nemo?

You certainly can't accuse Disney•Pixar of rushing things. The sequel to the 2003 animated classic Finding Nemo was 13 years in the making, so evidently the studio was more interested in getting it right than in making a quick buck. That philosophy shows in every aspect of this movie, from its breathtaking underwater visuals to its cute, quirky characters to its moving story, which flips the Nemo plot and has Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) searching for her long-lost parents. Although the heroine suffers from short-term memory loss, anyone who saw Finding Nemo will find the proceedings very familiar. The result is immensely enjoyable for both children and adults, with heartfelt messages about family, self-reliance, and perseverance.

But before you start pushing your stroller to the nearest cineplex, be warned: the PG-rated Finding Dory is a bit darker than its G-rated predecessor (notwithstanding the latter's Bambi-esque death of the mom sequence). Dory and her pals are frequently lost and stuck in scary situations. Can your preschoolers handle it, and—if you have older kids—is it worth splurging on IMAX 3D? No need to go on a fishing expedition: we've got watertight answers.

5 Ways to Decide Which NYC Pre-K Is Right for Your Child

New York City's universal pre-kindergarten plan is a boon for parents in many ways, offering FREE education a bit earlier to all of the city's 4-year-olds. But it can also make picking a school that much trickier. 

NYC parents must apply for spots at their preferred schools, often going on multiple tours, sitting on wait-lists, and then wading through multiple decision rounds to accept or reject offers. (We hear middle school selection is even more fun, by the way.) Last year wait-lists and assignments were fluid through August, so parents might even still have time to consider the right fit for their 4-year-olds for this fall, or get a jump start on next year. After all, those applying for private preschool for 2017 need to start the touring process in September, so there is no better time than summer to narrow down what you’re looking for.

We wanted to help parents stay sane through this process, and possibly even make your decision a bit clearer. Read on for five key considerations in determining which pre-K is right for you and your child.

Still sorting through options? Check out our NYC Preschool Guide and Listings for pre-K and nursery options.

The Swings: A New Interactive Musical Installation

Swings tend to be a big hit with all ages. But giant swings that play music while you sway back and forth? And deliver up water views? Oh, yeah.

Now that my oldest child is 10, the list of activities he enjoys with his little sister is dwindling. When The Swings, a free, interactive musical swing set, was installed right next to one of our favorite playgrounds in lower Manhattan, they were both pumped to visit.

Open daily through July 7 this year, The Swings: An Exercise in Musical Collaboration features 10 swings that trigger sounds as riders swing back and forth. Each swing represents one of four instruments—piano, harp, guitar or vibraphone—and when multiple swings are in motion they produce rich melodies. Created by Montreal-based interactive design studio Daily tous les jours, The Swings encourages people of all ages to interact and collaborate, fostering a sense of community and whole lot of fun.

Father's Day Weekend for LA Kids: Pasadena Chalk, Bowl Opening, Rodeo Drive

Settle down, padre; we get it. It’s Father's Day. This weekend it’s all about you: Dad’s choice from sunup to sundown, make way for baseball (with and without the home teams), BBQ and buffetsMarx Brothers and Mario Brothers. Or, if you prefer, Irish dancing and movies about forgetful fish. As long as you’re happy, we’re happy. Yep, whatever it takes, no expense spared...

Psst: Moms and kids! Did you know there's a ton of cool stuff going on this weekend that you can take Dad to for free? Luxury cars on Rodeo Driveno-cost concertsclassic westerns by moonlightfestivals and celebrations. You can even make him a variety of from-the-heart gifts. All without dipping into the trust fund. There are also things you can do that cost money, if you're into that. (And we have a feeling some of it Dad will be very into!)

Speaking of being into things, no doubt you have some local faves you can't get enough of. Favorite kids museum, favorite playspace, favorite social media mom (or dad!). If you haven't already, make your picks in our Best of LA contest. Your favorites could end up winning... and so could you!

Keep reading for our votes for the best of this weekend...

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