15 Reasons Why Prospect Park Beats Your Facebook Friends' Country Houses

Summertime means suffering through reveling in endless streams of your friends' vacation photos on Facebook. There's nothing better than seeing where your best friend from elementary school's toes are this week. Or that that guy you dated in high school is now vacationing in the Berkshires. Sunset photos? Bring 'em!

Because we know the real deal; those photos are a lie. Your friends with summer homes are just posting pretty pics to try to convince themselves they didn't make the biggest, most expensive mistake in the world while wishing they were back in the city having awesome Thai food delivered to their doors. 

Want a backyard? Prospect Park alone is 585 acres of awesomeness. We've got 15 reasons to skip the Facebook envy and revel in the fact that you are summering in the greatest city in the world. So head out into the city this weekend, take some photos and show us what real summer living looks like.  #NYCismysummerhome

A Family's Day Visit to Mystic CT

The salty sea air, the sweet smell of pizza, and the giggles of children.  This is what awaited us in Mystic, Connecticut last week.
Mystic is a charming New England village nestled on Long Island sound, 1 hour southeast of Hartford, 3 hours east of New York City, and 2 hours south of Boston.

Where to Host an Outdoor Party in the Hartford Area

If your child’s birthday falls during the summer months you have hit the jackpot in terms of party options. Let’s face it, keeping 20 little munchkins, or your entire extended family, happy outside is a much more appealing option than in your living room, right? If your own backyard isn’t suitable there are a plethora of choices for hosting an outdoor event such as a birthday party or family reunion in the Hartford area.

Shaun the Sheep Movie Parent Review: Ewe'll Love It!

Shaun the Sheep Movie, the latest feature from Britain's Oscar-winning Aardman Animation team behind Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run, and The Pirates!, opens nationwide this week. The film is mostly charming, frequently hilarious, and likely to be a great choice for many families to see together. We got an early peek, so we can help you decide if it's right for your flock.

Places to Play Mini-Golf in Fairfield County

I love to mini-golf. It can make you feel like you're on vacation without actually being on vacation.  My oldest one makes it memorable by kneeling down and kissing the turf after he sinks his last putt -- like he just won the Masters or something. It's timeless family fun, and pretty inexpensive at that. 

In Fairfield County, courses are somewhat few and far between, but distributed evenly. You've got your 'regular' courses, and then a couple quirky ones, including glow-in-the-dark and BBQ (but not at the same time).

This Week: Best Summer Getaways, NYC's Free Pools and Renn Faire

Every year around this time of summer, I start to wonder if my family and I are the only New Yorkers left in town. Judging from my social media feeds, everyone I know is away! If you too are suffering from vacation envy, there's an easy cure: take a family day trip. Hit a nearby beach, explore a quaint upstate town, go peach picking, get doused at a recently expanded New Jersey water park or see how many rides you can stomach at a Pennsylvania amusement park. Don't worry if you're car-challenged, many of these destinations are accessible via public transportation.

Can't get it together to get out of the city? Go on a virtual vacation to Kiawah Island, South Carolina courtesy of our Travel site. Once you click through our slide show of the Kiawah Island Golf Resort Sanctuary Hotel, you may be inspired to put in for some real time off, not just a weekend.

Here's what else we covered on the NYC site this week:

The Top Kid-Friendly Wineries on the North Fork

You've heard that the North Fork of Long Island has some world-class vineyards producing delicious wines of all different varietals, and you'd like to sample some with the little ones in tow. Well, you are in luck. The North Fork wine country is predominantly family-owned and -operated, kid- and pet-friendly, and bustling with activity on a weekend afternoon. Almost all of the North Fork vineyards welcome families, but a few can boast wide-open space for picnics and play, live music, and even farm animals to keep the kids entertained while you enjoy a taste or two.

And for more family-friendly things to do in the area, check our our Hamptons and North Fork Guide.

News: BAM Expands, Prospect Park Renovates and Playground Upgrades in Queens

The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) is set to embark on a $25 million expansion that will add another building with gallery spaces and a cafe, as well as upgrades like new balcony seating in the Harvey Theater. The former president of the Fort Greene cultural institution and performing arts center told The New York Times the plan is "the last piece of the BAM campus." Construction could begin as soon as this summer, with financing coming from a combination of public and private sources, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In other Brooklyn news, renovations at Prospect Park continue in anticipation of its 150th anniversary in 2016. Six projects are underway by the Prospect Park Alliance, which manages the park, including a restoration of the rose garden and several footpaths such as the one that leads from the zoo to the Zucker Natural Exploration Area (aka, kid play zone), according to DNAinfo.  

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