Harborfest & More: Celebrating July 4th in Boston with Kids (Without Fireworks)

Sure, taking the kids to a fireworks show for July 4th seems like a good idea—until you’re there. The little one (who refuses to wear earplugs) has his hands over his ears and a terrified look on his face, everyone is getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, and you know you'll be getting home well past the kids’ (and your) bedtimes.

Luckily, the city of Boston and the surrounding towns also mark Independence Day with parades, fairs, festivals, carnival rides, live music and food—no fireworks needed. There’s no better place to show the great ol’ U.S. of A. some love than right here in Boston, the cradle of the American Revolution. Do it in style at these kid-centric Independence Day celebrations, from the city's annual Harborfest to small-town festivities all around the Boston area.

Ice Cream Parlors in Farmington Valley, Connecticut

Ice cream. Two words that instantly trigger giggles and screeches from most kids. This treat is delicious year-round, but definitely even better in summer. In my household, we take ice cream very seriously—in fact, we celebrate National Ice Cream Day (yes, there is such a thing on July 19!) by driving around in search of frozen delights to fill our bellies.

We find that Farmington Valley near Hartford, Connecticut boasts top-notch ice cream. Whether you get it in a cup or a chocolate-dipped cone, with rainbow sprinkles or gummy bears, atop a fluffy waffle or in a banana split, the ice cream in Farmington is sure to tickle your taste buds and cool you down. Below are some of our favorite local parlors. Want more? Check out our roundups of top scoop spots in New Haven County and Fairfield County.

The Inn at East Hill Farm: A Blissful Family Farm Vacation in New Hampshire

The Inn at East Hill Farm is a special place. It combines hands-on learning at a working farm with all the fun of sleepaway camp and the blissful convenience of an all-inclusive resort.

Nestled in the Mount Monadnock Region of New Hampshire, the resort has views that go on forever and a relaxed, when-you're-here-you're-family vibe. There are activities galore and all meals are included, so you won’t need to go anywhere else during your stay—and I’m guessing you’ll be happy to leave the car parked, let someone else do the cooking, and focus your energy on having a ball with your kids.

Free Outdoor Summer Movies for NJ Families

This post is currently being updated for the 2016 season. Not only is watching movies under the stars a wonderful way for the family to bond, but how cool is it to watch your favorite flicks outside at no cost? Below is a list of parks in New Jersey that show outdoor movies all summer long. So bring your own chairs, munchies and blankets, and savor the magic of FREE alfresco films. For more summer awesomeness, check out our Summer Fun Guide.

4th of July Fireworks on Long Island

Break out your red, white and blue garb, and get ready to wave that grand old flag. Fourth of July weekend is a time when families across Long Island gather for picnics, barbecues and, of course, fireworks. We've rounded up Independence Day fireworks on Long Island taking place on the holiday weekend, as well as the weekends before and after. And for more kid-friendly activities, be sure to check out our Summer Fun Guide and our Event Calendar.

Inside Out at El Capitan: Parent Review of Pixar Movie & Live Light Show

Pixar's brand-new adventure, Inside Out, hits theaters this weekend, and once again audiences in Los Angeles have the edge on the rest of the country, because we have the option of seeing the film with El Capitan's live stage show. Neither the movie nor the show disappoints; Inside Out harks back to the studio's best work, reminiscent of Toy Story's perfectly balanced blend of wistfulness and whimsy; and the 3D LED light dance spectacle that precedes it is, frankly, out of this world. Ready to laugh, cry, and bathe yourself in a psychedelic glow? More to the point, are your kids ready? The film is rated PG for a reason, so here's what you need to know before taking young children to experience the Disney/Pixar summer blockbuster.

After-school Programs and Classes for Tweens and Teenagers in Fairfield County

We have collected some of the most attractive and interesting after school opportunities for children of middle and high school age from various communities across Fairfield County. Below you will find our round up of great YMCA's, art, performing arts and interesting sports options. Selections change throughout the year according to season so please check with each venue.

Drama Classes for your Kids in Fairfield County, CT

Multiple Choice.  Your child: A) confuses all sources of light with limelight, B) is woefully shy, but shocked everyone (not least of all, you) with his breakout performance at last year's Christmas pageant, or C) doesn't enjoy physical/mental activity of the sporting sort.  If you chose A, B or C, drama lessons might be the plot twist your child's after-school routine needs!  Actually, an expert in Parents magazine this month explains any kid can benefit from a little drama, saying "one landmark study found children involved in the arts for nine hours a week are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement."  That's the sort of return on results you want before investing in another extracurricular activity.

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