12 Inexpensive Winter Weekend Getaways for NYC Area Families

It’s getting cold outside, but falling temperatures don’t necessarily translate to falling prices when it comes to family vacations. Luckily, we’ve rounded up 10 well-priced family getaways that are all either driving distance or a short nonstop flight from New York City. Whether you’re in the mood for salty New England seaside charm, an urban weekend in New Orleans, Carolina comfort, or tropical heat, we’ve got plenty of budget-friendly suggestions for a quick winter weekend away with the kids.

Where to Donate Gently Used Toys and Baby Gear on LI

If your kids are anything like most, their holiday wish lists are filled with requests for new toys. And once the holiday comes—and they're happily playing with their gifts—what do you do with all of the old toys that are cluttering up the house? Or all of the baby equipment that the kids have outgrown?

For safety reasons, fewer and fewer places seem to be accepting gently used toys. But before you put those toys out on the curb, consider these Long Island organizations that accept preowned toys and baby items provided they are clean, undamaged and in working order.

For safety reasons, charities do not accept cribs or car seats. However, many will accept strollers, bouncers, and even baby care items such as diapers. At this busy time of year, however, contact these charities to make sure they haven't reached their donation limits. One other tip: Ask your preschool child's school director, local library or church. Often, those institutions are willing to accept used toys and books from someone they know and trust. 

Looking for more ways to help your community? There are plenty of holiday volunteer opportunities for kids and families. And for other seasonal activities, check out our Long Island Holiday Fun Guide.

Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Mirrors at The Broad—Is It Worth the Wait for Kids?

When tickets for the Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Mirrors exhibit at the Broad Museum went on sale, they sold out almost immediately. It's no surprise, given how many people have lined up for hours at the popular downtown museum, to spend less than a minute inside its Infinity Mirrored Room (and then share the photos on Facebook). The famous room is part of the museum's permanent collection, but the temporary Infinite Mirrors exhibit by the same artist is only open through the end of 2017. Chances are, if you haven't already booked your tickets, you're probably not going. That said, there are daily stand-by tickets, so if you're wondering whether to succumb to the hype and queue up for a chance to pose your kids in the infinitely Instagrammed exhibit, we've got some insights to help you decide.

Weekend Fun: Mad Science Holiday Show, Kwanzaa Festival, Hooray for Hanukkah

Hanukkah is here, and Christmas and Kwanzaa aren't far behind! This weekend, celebrate the Festival of Lights at Garden State Discovery Museum's Hooray for Hanukkah, watch the Car Menorah Parade in Cherry Hill, and take part in the Kwanzaa Children's Festival and Marketplace at NJPAC. 

This weekend is your last chance to ride the Christmas Express with Santa Claus before he heads back to the North Pole. There are several productions of The Nutcracker happening around the state, including performances by NJ Ballet at Mayo Performing Arts Center and American Repertory Ballet at State Theatre New Jersey; Scrooge gets spooked into a change of heart in A Christmas Carol at bergenPAC; and Garfield gets into the holiday spirit at Union County Performing Arts Center. 

There are tons of opportunities to hang out with the man in red, whether you want to have breakfast with Santa or get the perfect holiday photo. Planning to dine out on the holiday? Find out which NJ restaurants are open on Christmas Day.

Find many more ideas for fun this weekend and throughout the season in our December GoList and Holiday Guide, including where to see the best holiday light displays and must-do holiday activities for NJ kids. And be sure to check our Event Calendar for a full listing of activities this weekend and beyond.

Hex & Co. Is a Board Game Lover's Paradise for NYC Kids

If screen time is getting to be too big of a battle at your place, head out to get back to the old-school gaming model: board games. Hex & Co. recently opened on the upper Upper West Side (Columbia area) and is serving up more than 1,000 board games, from classics to new pop-culture hits, to give your family a chance to sit down, grab a bite to eat, and, you know, talk and make eye contact with one another.

Hex & Co. joins outer borough favorites, Brooklyn Strategist, Brooklyn Game Lab, and The Geekery in Astoria, Queens for classic family fun. (More on this later.) Read our review and get all the details on the fun new spot below.

Free Perks With Your Houston Library Card

Libraries are not just for cramming-for-test college students or baby storytimes; if you aren't taking advantage of the many resources your neighborhood library has to offer, you've got to start now! It's time to dust off that library card (or go get one - it's super easy, and all you need to be is a Texas resident, older than 18, and have a valid ID) and check out the many freebies that come with it. While this list links specifically to the city of Houston Public Library resources, know that if you live closest to county libraries they offer identical services often using similar providers. Just ask your nearest librarian!

Worth It? Family Memberships in NYC to Consider for Winter

After visiting NYC's top play spaces, museums, and other fun zones, we've rounded up the various membership deals at 20 kid-centric destinations. These places will keep your kids entertained, active, and out of the cold. Some even offer short-term memberships, so you only have to pay until spring arrives.

In the dead of winter, it can be daunting to schlep somewhere new every weekend, so a membership to one (or two) of your favorite kid play spots makes sense. We've already done the math so you'll know exactly how many visits it takes until these investments pay off—and whether or not the "deal" works for your family. If the math doesn't work out for you, consider buying one of the play spaces' bulk passes instead, which usually knocks a few bucks off the daily drop-in price.

Need more ideas? Check out our Indoor Play Spaces Guide for more romper rooms by borough, bounce houses, and year-round family entertainment.

The Annenberg PetSpace: LA's New Spot To Play with Puppies and Kitties

Interested in getting a pet—or just spending time with one? The new Wallis Annenberg PetSpace in Playa Vista is all about building bonds between people and pets. While there are dogs, cats, and rabbits available for adoption, no pressure: this is also a family-friendly space to learn about pets and people, and maybe even get a little cuddle time if a pet isn't possible in your home.

5 Places Where Kids Can Learn to Ski or Snowboard Near Boston

Teaching a child to ski is no easy feat. Between the gear, ticketing costs, and the awkwardness of little ones, it can often be a better bet to sign a child up for ski lessons. Luckily, within an 80-minute drive of Boston, there are a handful of simple ski facilities—four downhill mountains, and one cross country course—with gentle, wide-open slopes that are perfect for learning this great winter activity. All offer rentals and lessons, courtesy of experienced instructors who are accustomed to working with new (and sometimes overwhelmed) skiers, and a family-friendly atmosphere where a slopes-confident parent can, alternatively, have plenty of space to teach a child by herself. While a good snowstorm can happen at any time, the mountains are making as much snow as they possibly can. Call or register online ahead as far in advance as possible remember—just like a potty training and two wheeling, they will get the hang of it eventually!

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