Holidays

Macy’s Unveils Santaland Details for 2018 Christmas Season

Santa is sprucing up his sleigh and getting ready to fly into New York City’s very own North Pole, Macy’s Santaland, where for the second year in a row, visits with Santa will be by (FREE) reservation only.

Santaland will open for the holiday season Friday, November 23, 2018, the day after the Thanksgiving Day parade, and will welcome visitors through December 24, 2018, Macy’s revealed in a statement.

The 34th Street retailer will reinstate the reservations-only policy it implemented for the first time last year as a way to cut down on the lines. (Around 170,000 people visit the NYC Macy's Santaland each Christmas season.) This year also sees the return of the popular Express Lane option. Read on for everything you need to know about visiting Santa at Macy's this year.

Guide to Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead for NYC Kids

Halloween isn't the only spooky holiday to celebrate this fall. Day of the Dead—or Día de los Muertos as it's known in Spanish—is observed by many Latino cultures and is especially popular in Mexico.

Day of the Dead officially takes place on November 1 and 2 to coincide with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. However, NYC events are spread throughout October and early November and most of them are FREE. Revelers honor friends and family members who have died by building altars, or ofrendas, and adorning them with colorful paper flowers, beautifully decorated skeletons, and candles. It's a joyful way to remember the deceased—without freaking kids out. We've rounded up nine Day of the Dead events where NYC kids and families can celebrate the holiday.

You can find more fall activities in our Fall Fun Guide and check out the Halloween Guide for all the other spooky, kid-friendly happenings in NYC this month.

Best Places for Trick or Treating in Houston

Halloween is only a couple weeks away, which means it's time to start finalizing costumes (just realized you're in a pinch? We've got you covered with easy, last-minute costume ideas!) and determining where you're taking the kiddos trick or treating, especially if you're looking to branch out past your own neighborhood this year. Not sure where to start looking? Check out these Houston neighborhoods and hotspots for fun, safe, and friendly trick or treating this Halloween.

Best Neighborhoods to Trick-or-Treat on Halloween Night with Los Angeles Kids

Trick or treat! Los Angeles consistently makes the top 5 cities on Zillow's Halloween list of the country's best spots for trick-or-treating. The real estate website bases its trick-or-treat ranking on criteria like home value and crime rates. That's good, but what about special effects and Halloween decorations? If one figures in the number of film industry creatives living in a given metropolitan area, LA wins first place by a country mile. Speaking of country miles, if you've walked the distance between houses in the most expensive LA neighborhoods, you know that higher home value does not always translate to better trick-or-treating. What does? Well, keep your Halloween hats on, because we've got a list of some of LA and Orange County's most legendary trick-or-treat neighborhoods. I defy anyone in Philadelphia to beat these!

Polar Express and Santa Trains Near NYC This Holiday Season

The magic of Chris Van Allsburg’s popular Christmas picture book The Polar Express comes to life again this winter with festive holiday trains within a whistle's blow of the New York City metro area. A huge hit with kids and parents alike, these trains spark the imagination and holiday spirit with seasonal snacks, stories, even gifts—not to mention a visit from Santa himself.

These old-school cabooses (some harking back to the 1920s) offer a classic holiday ambience. There's a Polar Express just an hour south into New Jersey, as well as the one-day-only Tri-State Santa Train about 50 minutes away. You could also consider a day trip to the Catskills, or a weekend getaway to Pennsylvania Dutch Country for the Santa's Paradise Express. No matter which Santa Train experience you choose, your family can combine the annual Santa Claus photo op with lasting memories of a sweet adventure.

Remember: these train rides sell out quickly, often months in advance, so book now if you want to go.

Polar Express and Christmas Trains for New Jersey Kids

Every year, New Jersey's railroads get decked out in their holiday best to offer special Christmas-themed rides for the whole family. Wait—Christmas? We know, it's a bit early to start hauling out the holly, but these rides are a popular holiday tradition, and they sell out fast!

Though these trains don't go all the way to the North Pole, most include a visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, along with treats, caroling, and stories. One storybook Santa train invites kids to wear their pajamas and hear a classic Christmas story read aloud on the rails, while another ferries passengers to a Christmas tree farm.

Read on to find out where to take a holiday train ride with Santa Claus, and book your tickets as soon as possible. Then you can put Christmas aside for a while and get back to your fall fun.  

NYC Hotel Rooms with Views of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Chances are you're not even thinking about Thanksgiving yet. After all, we still have Halloween to get through! But as anyone in the NYC hotel industry will tell you, families looking to book a hotel where they can watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Midtown Manhattan do so up to a year ahead of time. For a room with a view of Snoopy, Spidey, Hello Kitty, and their other inflatable pals, you've really got to plan in advance.

It's not just NYC tourists who splurge on hotels for the Thanksgiving parade, either. Over the past few years, we've had many New Yorkers write in asking which hotels looked out on the Macy's Parade route (it sure beats watching from the street). While most of these hotels still have availability at the time of this writing, call right away as they'll most likely sell out soon. And if you do get shut out, it's worth checking closer to Thanksgiving since there are sometimes last-minute cancelations.

For a budget-saving alternative, catch a prime viewing spot the night before the parade as the giant balloons are inflated on the Upper West Side.

What Happened to Columbus Day? What's Indigenous Peoples Day? And Is There School?

If, like many Angelenos, you were once a resident of another state—or even if you can remember to way back before 2009—you may be experiencing your annual attack of Columbus Day confusion. Is there school on Monday? Is it a holiday? Should you be picking something to do from the Mommy Poppins events calendar? And what about Indigenous Peoples Day—is that a thing? Go ahead and check your school district’s calendar if it makes you feel better, but we can end the mystery for you right here: yes, your public school kids have school on Monday.

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