Summer Festivals Chicago Families Won't Want to Miss

Here it comes: The most fun-packed, jam-packed, outdoor festival-and-fair-packed season of the year in Chicagoland. Seriously, just compiling this list of all the family-friendly street fairs, festivals, and neighborhood celebrations in Chicago this summer—many of them FREE—called for major backup, and a nap.

Why do Chicago families love summer festival season so much? Let's count the ways: concerts in Millennium Park, movies on Navy Pier, and neighborhood festivals honoring the many communities that call our city home, including Lincoln Park Greek Fest, Lincoln Square's German Maifest, Andersonville's Swedish Midsommarfest, Hermosa's Colombian Fest, and the Chinatown Summer Fair. And then, because it's Chicago, there are the food fests: Ribfest, the Chicago Hot Dog Fest, the Pilsen Tacos y Tamales Festival, Roscoe Village Burger Fest, Taste of Polonia, and the big one: Taste of Chicago. Even the biggest party-scene street festivals in Chicago, like Do Division, make room for families with kids' zones and activities. 

So while your local playground may beckon and your backyard grill may look lonely, there's just too much fun happening out there not to sample a street fair or two this summer. Bookmark this list and get your calendar (and some comfy shoes) ready.

NYC's High Line: The Best Sights and Events for Families

Like many native New Yorkers, I sometimes get caught up in my daily routine and forget all that this amazing city has to offer families, from unexplored treasures to mega popular tourist destinations that are always crowded, but for good reason. The High Line, a formerly-abandoned track of elevated railway on Manhattan's west side that's found new life as a public park, is one prime example.

Owned by the city, but maintained by the nonprofit Friends of the High Line in coordination with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, the High Line has developed a bit of a reputation as a tourist zone. But a visit to the High Line is well worth braving the crowds. It's both an amazing public art site and a community hub, with wonderful year-round programs for locals—and it's FREE. Plus, its proximity to both Chelsea Market and Hudson Yards makes the High Line a perfect city adventure (snacks included).

Here are all the must-see spots for children at this unique outdoor park, plus the kid-friendly events you'll want to add to your family's calendar.

Inclusive Playground Opens in Greenlawn in Suffolk County

Parents with active tots know the value of outdoor play. It helps children gain self-confidence, develop muscle coordination, and burn calories. It also serves as a creative and stimulating outlet for their energy.

This would seem to be especially true for children with special needs. With that in mind, Greenlawn has welcomed a new, inclusive playground to Pickle Park. It makes running, playing, and generally having a good time easy and fun for children of all abilities.

Located in the Town of Huntington, it's a worthy addition to Long Island's top inclusive playgrounds and top playgrounds for toddlers.

Mother's Day Weekend Fun for New Jersey Kids

Spend quality time with Mom and Mother Nature on this celebratory second weekend of May. Get up close with New Jersey's natural beauty at National Public Gardens Day, Azalea Festival, and Mother's Day at Mountain Lakes. Plus, enjoy more outdoor time at spring festivals like the Children's Festival in Smithville and the Lake Hopatcong Block Party. Need an indoor break? Productions of Daniel Tiger and Rapunzel take the stage this weekend. 

On Sunday, start your Mother's Day celebrations on a delicious note with brunch in Northern NJ or the shore. Make the day a memorable one, whether you choose to spend it at a theme park like Morey's Piers, a winery, such as Valenzano or Alba, a wine trail at Terhune, or watching races at Monmouth Park

Check out our full listing of Mother's Day events, and find even more weekend options in our Spring Guide, including 10 Destination Playgrounds in NJ. Look to our May GoList and event calendar for a complete listing of happenings this weekend and beyond.

Destination Playground: J.J. Byrne Playground in Park Slope Is Action-Packed for All Ages

It’s no surprise that one of the city’s most family-friendly neighborhoods is home to a top destination playground. J.J. Byrne Playground, a Park Slope hotspot, underwent a year-long, multi-million dollar renovation in 2012 to bring in challenging climbing structures for older kids and an action-packed play area for younger kids, plus engaging water features that include a stream and spray jets.

Read on for more features that solidify this spot as one of our favorite playgrounds.

Let's Go Camping! Family-Friendly Campgrounds Near Philadelphia

Who's up for camping this summer? It's a wonderful way to make family memories and enjoy the outdoors together, and there is no shortage of great campgrounds within a quick drive from Philadelphia. Regardless of experience level -- first-timers or veterans, bare-bones campers or real-deal glampers -- the suggestions below have you covered. 

All campgrounds on the list are 2.5 hours or less from Center City, and they range from "primitive" (pretty much just a clearing in the woods with a fire pit) to moderate (campsite, fire pit, basic bathroom nearby) to "luxury" (campsite, fire pit, electric and water hook-ups, bathrooms and showers nearby, campground with amenities such as a pool, playground, even wifi). The good news is, you don't need to drive all day or sacrifice the basic comforts of home for a scenic, unforgettable camping adventure with your kids.  

Enjoy Free Family Camping in NYC Parks with Urban Park Rangers

Contrary to what you might think, you don't need to invest in expensive equipment or even leave New York City to pitch a tent and camp this summer. The Urban Park Rangers offer FREE overnight family camping in city parks at select times and locations throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Bonus: They bring almost everything you need for a night spent under the stars, including the tent!

The annual program kicks off a little before Memorial Day and although it's FREE, advance registration is required for all campouts. Read on to find out how to snag a spot at one of these cool camping trips—including some signup periods that open this week!

10 Free Pools in Houston Kids Will Love

I grew up in Northern Michigan in a town that often makes the news for beating the record for the most snowfall and the coldest temperatures, and somehow I was lucky enough to have a pool in my backyard. I loved jumping into that pool after working out or having friends over to swim, and now that I live in a city with weather that could accommodate an almost endless pool season, there is, unfortunately, no pool outside my back door. Instead, we take advantage of Houston's many free community pools.

The city of Houston has 37 FREE community pools open June 1- Aug. 11 (in the 2019 season) from 1-8 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday and from August 17- Sept. 1 on Saturdays and Sundays only, and 29 water spraygrounds that are open year round.

Without further ado, here is a list of some of the best FREE pools with great features and amenities. And be sure to check out our recommendations for Houston splashpads and playgrounds, as well as our Summer Fun Guide, which has water park recommendations, parks with shade, and more!

Perfect Spots for Your LA Baby's First Birthday

Congratulations! You made it through baby’s first year, and now it’s time to celebrate. If you’re like me and totally not into hosting your child’s first birthday party at home (read: cleaning, shopping, cooking, decorating, hosting...cleaning again), don't worry. The weather in LA is so beautiful that outdoor birthdays are possible nearly any time of year. If that's not your speed, the Southland boasts plenty of awesome indoor options as well. Here are 12 great spots of both varieties—from pricey to free with one surprise at the end—to smash a cake and tire out the kiddos so everyone can go home and take a well-deserved nap.

SeaQuest Aquarium Coming to Woodbridge, NJ This Fall

Calling all marine and wildlife enthusiasts: SeaQuest Woodbridge, a 24,000-square-foot, hands-on global sea life education and entertainment experience, is coming to Woodbridge Center this fall.

Visitors will be able to travel through a variety of realistic environments like rainforests, deserts, caves, coastlines, and oceans to meet stingrays, fish, birds, snakes, caimans, iguanas, turtles, and more. SeaQuest will be the latest family-friendly attraction to open at Woodbridge Center, whose recent additions include a Dave & Buster's and an All In Adventures escape room center.   

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