Pumpkin Festivals and Jack-O-Lantern Displays for New England Families

New England is filled with plenty of fall festivals, but kids are particularly enamored with events celebrating the humble pumpkin: the symbol of Halloween. Whether you stick close to home or make a day or weekend trip out of it, going to a pumpkin festival or visiting a glowing Jack-O-Lantern display is a fun, family-friendly way to get into the spirit of the season. Here's a sampling of pumpkin fun in Massachusetts and beyond over the next month; get inspired for a trip to the pumpkin patch for your own family Jack-O-Lantern display!

Upper West Side with Kids: 30 Things to Do for NYC Families

The Upper West Side of Manhattan is one of the most famously family-friendly areas in NYC. I've lived on the UWS since I was just a tot and raised two children in the same apartment where I grew up, so we're all very passionate about the neighborhood. (That's part of why we've covered it so extensively in the past.)

Within the massive neighborhood bordered by Lincoln Center to the south, 106th Street to the north, and from Riverside Park to Central Park west to east, there are a slew of kid-centric hot spots and activities. It wasn't easy, but we've whittled down our list to 30 top picks for things to do with kids on Manhattan's Upper West Side. While you're sure to find the obvious ones (hello, American Museum of Natural History and Children's Museum of Manhattan), we also included some off-the-beaten-path ideas and activities for families in the Upper West.

Ten of Connecticut's Best Corn Mazes Await

They are unique, creative, and challenging, and they will leave you both stomping with frustration and giggling with delight. Corn mazes! A beautiful symbol of autumn, mazes are a tradition for many determined to navigate clues and avoid getting lost among towering golden stalks. No matter what part of the state you live in, you likely have the opportunity for a corn-mazing adventure. Too corn-y? Perhaps, but this kind of fun only lasts a few weeks each year. Have a wonderful time and be sure to check out more suggestions for Things to Do This Fall in Connecticut, including Pick-Your-Own Orchards, Fall Fairs, and pumpkin patches

Along Came a Spider Pavilion: Big Spiders Are Back at the Natural History Museum

While some may ring in the Halloween season by smearing shrubs with 99-cent store fuzzy webbing and plastic spiders, the arachnid purists over at the Natural History Museum have a more organic approach. This weekend the screened pavilion on the museum’s South Lawn becomes seasonal home to more free-range, eight-legged tenants than anyone in his right mind could want – in short, an arachnophobe’s worst nightmare and an eight-year-old boy’s version of heaven.

Best Brooklyn Storytimes for Kids and Babies

Neighborhood story hours for preschoolers and babies abound in Brooklyn, providing a fun, no-fuss outing, especially on cold or rainy days. Most storytimes are free (or cheap), and many venues offer additional kid activities before or after the reading, including plenty of book-browsing, so the fun can continue even when storytime ends.

Read on for our top picks for read-along sessions in Brooklyn at libraries, bookstores, and other tot spots, and find more story hours at these Manhattan spots.

Corn Mazes and Haunted Mazes for LA and Orange County Kids

As kids are mostly settled into the new school year, and local orchards are open for apple picking, the next sign of autumn is the corn maze.

Corn mazes are created by a tractor in a growing field of corn—usually following a fairly intricate design. For large mazes, GPS is often used to create a picture that can be seen from the air. A mature corn maze is a true adventure, with walls of corn that are taller than most adults; children (and adults) can for sure lose their way! Most operators recommend kids be at least 5-8 years old before going in alone; use your judgment, of course. Closed-toe shoes are recommended for comfort (sneakers are best), as corn mazes involve walking on uneven ground and broken cornstalks. And if you head into the maze at dusk, be sure to bring a flashlight!

A Dozen Amazing Birthday Cake Bakeries for LI Kids

When it comes to your kids' birthdays, we here at Mommy Poppins have you covered.

Whether it's your child's first birthday or 10th, the steps are always the same: Find a theme, a venue, guest list, and of course, a cake. No party is complete without the perfect dessert ending, and extravagant themed cakes are becoming more popular than ever. We've scoured the Island to find the best custom cake bakeries.

Bon apetit. 

Inquiry-Based Learning is Front and Center at Blue School

What does it take to be named one of the most innovative schools in the entire world? Just ask the founders of New York City's Blue School, who actually co-created the performance art phenomenon Blue Man Group more than a decade before deciding to build an educational program that embodies that same boundless energy and rule-breaking creativity. Since it first entered the scene back in 2006, the independent school for two-year-olds through eighth grade has been named one of the thirteen most innovative global schools by Business Insider and one of just six selected by Wired magazine.

Located in lower Manhattan, the oh-so-modern Blue School campus is filled with unexpected spaces including a "Wonder Room," an Upcycling Center, and a double-height Materials Library. Meanwhile, thoughtfully designed classrooms; designated lab spaces for studio art, STEAM, science, music, and drama; a gymnasium and performing arts space; and the outdoor roof and terrace are all equally reflective of the school's mission to provide students with endless opportunities for collaboration, exploration, and self-expression. (You can see for yourself at an upcoming open house or admissions tour.) Across the campus, you'll find two-year-olds exploring materials by digging their toes into mounds of clay; third graders writing non-fiction pieces about Westward Expansion through the eyes of animals who bared witness; and fifth graders studying social justice through independent research into the unknown stories of known activists.

Halloween and Fall Foliage Train Rides for New Jersey Kids

Halloween and hayrides go hand in hand, but if you really want to up your game this year, take a trip on a Halloween train! If you have a junior conductor in your family, don't miss out on one of these four seasonal NJ railway adventures—plus one across the Delaware in Pennsylvania.

From spooky to scenic, these rides offer a unique bit of fall fun for the whole family: passengers can take a seat in a vintage caboose, travel through gorgeous fall foliage, visit a pumpkin patch, and even trick-or-treat onboard. After the ride, round out the day with autumn activities like corn mazes, crafts, and a costume party.

Check out our NJ Fall Fun Guide for even more seasonal family fun around the state.

Weekend Fun for Houston Kids: Fall Nature Walk, Fiestas Patrias, Sept. 15-16

Y'all, it's officially midway through September, and despite temperatures that are still steadily climbing into the 90+ range every day, that means fall (well, Houston's version of fall) is here. It's time to start planning weekends around our fall bucket list, hitting up all the family-friendly fall festivals and snapping photos at the different pumpkin patches around the city, even if it means we're sweating through our flannel while we're doing it. 

This weekend also marks the annual celebration of Mexico's fight for independence, and in true Houston style, we're celebrating it big with events like the 50th Annual Fiestas Patrias Parade, a day of Fiestas Patrias activities at the Children's Museum of Houston, and a Fiestas Patrias celebration at Trader's Village

In case you haven't quite filled up your daily calendar yet, our event calendar and our September GoList are stocked with awesome events and activities happening in every corner of the Houston area, so you're always equipped to keep boredom at bay. We are also ready to deliver everything happening on Mommy Poppins straight to you when you sign up for our weekly newsletter, keeping you in the know with the best tips, tricks, and activities we have to offer. 

If you have an event you're planning, we would love to feature it on our calendar! All you have to do is submit your event to us for our review so we can make sure it's a good fit, and we'll get it published from there.

Now, without further ado, let's take a look at the upcoming weekend!

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