Outdoors

Sand Sledding: Winter Fun on the Sand Berms at Venice Beach

November is time to hit the berms!

Rumor has it that in some parts of the country sledding involves getting cold and wet. How very... un-Californian. Oh, sure, there are places near LA to go sledding on snow if that's your thing, but we're raising California kids—and that means beach sledding. Every winter a few Los Angeles area beaches get their annual sand berms—intended as protection against winter storms and violent surf. Or so they say. The real purpose is clearly to lay the groundwork for the ultimate SoCal winter sport.

Best Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks in LA, from Downtown to the Valleys to the Beach

One thing Angelenos love doing during the winter months is pretending that it’s winter, and the most fun way we do it is by turning parking lots and other open spaces into outdoor skating rinks for the holidays. Whether your family is trying skating for the first time, or you've got budding athletes looking for a change of scenery from indoor skating lessons, nothing says Southern California quite like the sight of kids and families in tank tops and mittens gliding merrily in the sunshine.

Tenafly Nature Center: Family-Friendly Hikes and Outdoor Fun for NJ Kids

For suburbanites, the Tenafly Nature Center offers a special treat: the chance for a real walk in the woods, without straying too far from civilization. On a recent visit with an 11-year-old and two 8-year-olds, the intervals when we could neither see nor hear other visitors were just short enough for my comfort level and long enough to make the experience feel like an adventure for the kids.

Read on for more about this Bergen County nature preserve, and check out other New Jersey Nature Centers here.

Say Boo at the Zoo: 5 LA and OC Zoos with Cool Halloween Week Events

Let the record show that there is more than one way to smash a pumpkin, and handing it to a hippo is definitely one of them. A gorilla does the job pretty well, too, as does a tiger, or—well, just about any other animal at the zoo. This discovery by our nation's zookeepers has led to a peculiar Halloween tradition—that we highly recommend!

Each year Southern California's zoos (and Griffith Park is only one of the options, as you'll see below) plan Halloween events, usually treating resident critters to their favorite delicacies stuffed inside pumpkins. For some, the delicacy may actually be the pumpkin itself (chomp chomp), while the more carnivorously inclined seem to view the pumpkins more as wrapping paper (smash smash). Either way, zoo animals smashing pumpkins ups the ante on traditional pumpkin patches. Check out all the beastly fun at Southland zoos this season.

Paterson Great Falls: History and Natural Beauty for NJ Families

Waterfalls are one of those treasures in life that we don’t often come across—but when we do, we’re mesmerized.

While New Jersey has a handful of picturesque cascades, most are tucked away on hiking trails or in wooded areas, such as Hemlock Falls in the South Mountain Reservation in West Orange or Boonton Falls in Grace Lord Park in Boonton.

If you’re not much of a backpacker, however, or are just looking for a quick jaunt, check out Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park in Paterson. It’s an easy day trip with a view to remember—and one you can drive right up to.

A Dozen Easy Fall Hikes in NJ for Families with Small Children

Hiking with small children can be fun for the whole family, if you choose the right trails, pack enough snacks, and build in some break time for little legs. Autumn in New Jersey may be the ideal time to get the family outdoors for a nature walk or easy hike, when trees are ablaze with fall colors and temperatures are just right.

Read on for our list of short, family-friendly hikes with scenic vistas and shady picnic spots. As for the snacks, try letting kids make their own trail mix before a nature walk: set out some bowls of nuts, pretzel sticks, dried fruits, and chocolate chips or M&Ms, and let the kids fill a plastic baggie with their favorite fuel. Before setting out, make sure everyone dresses in layers and wears comfortable shoes, and don't forget to pack sunscreen, bug spray, and plenty of water.

For more outdoor adventures, check out one of the state's many nature centers, which offer a host of family-friendly activities as well as hiking trails. Happy hiking!

9 Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks to Visit with Kids in NYC

Now that the beaches are closed for the season, it's time to bundle up and sharpen those ice skates. Many of New York City's outdoor rinks are open for family fall, er, winter fun.

Whether you prefer an iconic New York City destination like the ice rink at Rockefeller Center or something off the beaten path like Lasker Rink, the city offers plenty of options for beginner and experienced skaters alike — there’s even a FREE skate spot. And if it ever gets too cold to glide outside, you can always hit one of NYC's indoor ice skating rinks.

NJ's Living History Farms: Old-Fashioned Farm Fun for Families

The Garden State's many wonderful farms are perfect spots for a family-friendly outing any time of year. But a few special farmsteads offer visitors the unique opportunity to experience farm life just as it existed many years ago. These living history farms give visitors the chance to try their hand at chores like bottle-feeding lambs, gathering honey, and harvesting ice. If you're looking for a fun, educational experience for the entire family, hands-on historical farms are a great choice.

For even more outdoor family fun, check out these New Jersey farms and historic villages

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