Parks & Playgrounds

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The Ultimate Guide to Philly Area Tot Lots

Everyone knows that going to a playground with a toddler can be treacherous. Everything is a little too big and you find yourself helicoptering your kids' every move. That's why tot lots are perfect for the smallest kiddos. With fun interactive areas, smaller steps and slides, and baby swings, kids can have a little more independence (and so can you). If you’re looking for fun, safe playgrounds ideal for younger kids, we've got a list of some great tot lots in the Philadelphia area. 

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!

Jonathon's Dream Reimagined: Accessible Playground Open Again

Originally built in 1996, 'Jonathon's Dream', was a playground created as a place where children of differing abilities could come and play together.  But, it was also built as a way that the family of little Jonathon Peter Barzach, who passed away prior to his first birthday, could grieve his sad loss. Barzach had a degenerative muscular disease and his family lost him at just 9 months. "When Jonathon's diagnosis became terminal, a counselor suggested the family dedicate a project in his memory," said Ronit Shoham, a co-founder of the Miracle League of Connecticut.  Shoham and many, many others (mostly volunteers) have been working hard to make a new Jonathon's Dream playground a reality. Be sure to check out some of the other boundless playgrounds in Fairfield and Hartford.

Play the Day Away at Clear Lake Park

With lakefront views, six sets of playground equipment, a splash pad, open-air pavilion, and a large fishing pier, Clear Lake Park has so much to offer. Of all of the amazing parks in the greater Houston area, this delightful spot just happens to be located near several major family-friendly attractions. On a clear day, you can look out over Clear Lake from the park and see the Kemah Boardwalk. It's also a less than five-minute drive from Space Center Houston. Whether you go for a few hours or stay for an entire day, Clear Lake Park gives the whole family so much to see and do.

Get Ready for a Brand-New Chelsea Waterside Playground

Organizers broke ground last week on a big overhaul to one of the west side's favorite playgrounds, the Chelsea Waterside Play Area. The park, nestled between the West Side Highway and 11th Avenue on 23rd Street, is beloved for its expansive and colorful water park features in the summer, and multiple sections of year-round jungle gym equipment, swings, and sandbox.

We reviewed it not long after it opened 17 years ago, but since then it's seen "enthusiastic wear and tear," and some sections had even been closed for repair, according to the local organizations that manage the park, the Hudson River Trust and Friends of Hudson River Park. After raising $3.4 million dollars for a "complete renovation and expansion," the groups, in partnership with NYC city officials, broke ground for the revamp on Wednesday, October 3. Scroll down to read all about the impressive new features.

Register for Free Swimming Lessons for NYC Kids

The New York City Parks Department offers FREE aquatic programs for children under 18 all year round, as well as adults, but you have to apply through an online lottery for each session. Fall swimming lessons are on the horizon; the lottery for the first two-week session opened on Monday, October 2 at noon and runs through Monday, October 9 at 11:59pm.

Fall swim lessons will take place Monday, October 16, 2017 through Saturday, December 30, 2017. The mandatory water test for older kids will take place Saturday, October 14.

Read on for the details on where to swim for free, or check our directory of paid kid swim classesmommy-and-me swim lessons for babies and toddlers, including those specifically in Brooklyn and in Queens.

Brooklyn Leaf-Peeping with Kids: Top Streets for Fall Foliage

When fall arrives in the tristate area, serious leaf-peepers tend to head upstate. But when you have little kids, the idea of packing them into the car, with all the snacks, for a long drive through traffic, to try to point out clusters of colors in the distance, is often less than appealing. What if we told you that you don't even have to leave Brooklyn to see some genuinely beautiful fall foliage? The reds, oranges, yellows, and purples of maple trees, oak trees, and more are right here. You just have to know where to look.

A safe bet to find those stunning fall colors will always be your local park or garden, such as the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (the Japanese garden is typically gorgeous at this time of year). But for a FREE neighborhood walk, consider these blocks in Brooklyn for family walk. We've even pointed out top spots to stop for a break along the way.

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