What's New at SoCal Theme Parks This Summer

How is a theme park like your kids? Because just when you think you know everything about them, they up and change on you. And just like with your kid, those changes are (mostly) good. Sure, we may have to say good-bye to a couple of old favorites, but look at all we get in their place. Sit back, buckle up, keep your arms inside the ride at all times, and see what our local theme parks have in store for you this summer.  

31 Summer Day Trips to Take with NYC Kids

It’s summer road trip season! With school out, we’re itching to get outdoors to explore beyond NYC’s limits. Lucky for you, our Mommy Poppins reviewers know all the best spots in the tristate area, from beaches and water parks to cool nature spots and pick-your-own fruit farms.

We’ve rounded up more than two dozen of our favorites for summertime, including a few indoor options for (shudder) rainy days, or if you really just need to freeze in the a/c for a bit. All of these spots are under two hours away, because, well, who wants to day trip for longer than that with kids in the backseat?

Find more ideas in our full Day Trips and Getaways Guide, or try checking off something from our 100 Things to Do with Kids in New York State list.

Cheap Swim Lessons in and around Philadelphia

There's no doubt about it, swimming is an important life skill. That's why it's essential to teach kids how to swim at an early age. Plus, it means you can worry a little less during those long summer days at the pool or beach. We've rounded up some great nearby swimming lessons that are also affordable. Get the kiddos in their swimsuits and goggles and head on out to one of these great swim classes.

Best Tubing and Rafting for New Jersey Families

Paddling a raft or floating on a tube down a rushing river is a summer thrill your kids won't get at a local water park. If you're looking for an exciting alternative to the beach, head west toward the Delaware River for a ride with the current, splashing and gliding past the wildlife and cliff-side rock formations. Most tubing adventures are suitable for children age 4 and up, and life jackets are required. Check websites for pricing and reservation information. And be sure to bring river shoes to protect everyone's feet from the slippery, rocky riverbed!

For more family fun, including water parks and campgrounds, check out our Summer Fun Guide

Pick Your Own Fun: Houston Farms for Fruit and Berry Picking

The intoxicating smell of freshly picked berries can only mean one thing: sweet spring (and summertime) is upon us! And what better way to take advantage of the season's freshest fruit than by picking it yourself? Instead of purchasing pre-packaged strawberries, blueberries and blackberries at the grocery store, take a trip out to one of these "you-pick-it" farms and gather them yourself by the bucketful. Not only will you be getting berries straight from the source, you'll also be supporting small farmers and creating memories with your kids that will last a lifetime.

Where to Pick Your Own Blueberries, Blackberries, and More on Long Island

Summer is a great time to pick berries on Long Island. Bushes are low to the ground, and berries are small enough for little fingers to grasp. It's a great activity for kids of all ages, and, really, who can resist a bowl of fresh berries and cream?

Late July is peak season for blueberries and raspberries. Blackberries ripen in August. Be sure to call the farms before heading out to confirm picking hours and berry availability. Don't forget to check out our Pick Your Own Guide for more fruit-picking options in the tristate area.

Some tips: Some farms charge an entry fee while others charge by the ounce, so take note, bring cash, and be prepared. Don't forget sunscreen as the sun can shine brightly on these open fields. Dress appropriately; kids can get a bit dirty. And for health and safety reasons, pets are not permitted on farms.

The East End is the prime destination for summer berry picking on Long Island. While there, why not consult our guide to the Hamptons and North Fork and make a day of it? Or for more farm fun, check out our list of LI's top animal farms and petting zoos.

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