Parks & Playgrounds

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12 Great Places to Explore the Natural World in the Washington DC Area

The museums, monuments, and memorials in Washington, DC grab a lot of attention, and rightly so! This city is filled with culture, art, science, and history. But if you're jonesing for some outside time and the kids need to burn off some energy or if your family wants to get up close with some flora and fauna, the DC area has that in spades, too. 

All easily accessible and kid-friendly, these 12 parks, playgrounds, zoos, and open-air theaters are a must for DC families.

Billy Johnson Playground Reopens in Central Park After Renovation

The Billy Johnson Playground in Central Park has reopened after a months-long rehabilitation and reconstruction project, bringing with it not only the re-opening of the iconic, long, curving granite slide, but also a second granite slide that's accessible for smaller kids.

While the original slide helped land the playground on our list of 100 things to do with city kids before they grow up, the renovation adds a few new noteworthy features to one of our favorite playgrounds in Central Park.

Free Play Area Opens at Cross County Shopping Center

Last week, Cross County Shopping Center in Yonkers opened a brand-new, free play area, the centerpiece of which is the area's first Luckey Climber.

The outdoor climbing structure—part jungle gym, part work of art—was designed by Hartford, CT–based "kid architect" Spencer Luckey, whose distinctive climbers can be found in public spaces and private institutions around the world, including Liberty Science Center in Newark, NJ; The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia; and the Long Island Children's Museum in Garden City, NY.

Watchung Reservation Sensory Trail Caters To NJ Kids of All Abilities

Sensory play—any activity that stimulates any one or all of a child’s five senses—is a crucial part of development. And for children who have difficulties processing all the different sensations that they receive from their senses, sensory stimulation can be even more valuable.

Enter the Watchung Reservation Sensory Trail in Mountainside. The first of its kind in Union County, the trail, located in Union County's largest park, is designed to provide sensory stimulation and interaction for all kids, with an emphasis on special needs children and their families. According to Union County park officials, it is the most extensive sensory trail in the U.S.

On a recent visit with my 5-year-old, we set out to determine if this sensory-friendly trail would stimulate all five of our senses. Read on to find out what we saw, heard, smelled, touched, and yes, maybe tasted, too.

Check out our Fall Fun Guide to find more easy trails along with other seasonal fun.

Tribeca with Kids: Top 30 Things to Do for NYC Families

One of New York City's original residential neighborhoods, Tribeca was initially settled back in the 1700s. The area has undergone several transformations since then. In the 19th century, it became an industrial and commercial hub, By post-World War II, it was a ghost town with only a few hundred residents, and block after block of empty warehouses. Thanks to all of that affordable loft space, artists and bohemians flocked to Tribeca in the 1980s and by the 2000s it had been reinvented once again as one of Manhattan's most affluent and amenity-filled areas.

Today, this unique neighborhood is in high demand with families thanks to its great public schools, the beautiful waterfront Hudson River Park, thriving locally owned businesses, kid-friendly restaurants, and a funky downtown vibe that is quickly disappearing from NYC. Here's a look at everything Tribeca has to offer families, including our favorites spots to eat, play, and shop, and our top things to do with kids in the neighborhood.

Patriots, Pirates, Castles: Theme Playgrounds Spark Imaginative Play around Boston

Do you have a child who dreams about being a pro sports star, a pirate, or a princess? A handful of forward-thinking playgrounds in Massachusetts really take imaginative play to the next level. From a pair of Patriots-themed parks sure to thrill G.O.A.T. and Gronk fans to a castle-shaped playground fit for wannabe royals, these outdoor play areas—all within an hour of Boston and free and open to the public year-round—are perfect for kids who love to play pretend. For more parks that justify a trip beyond your own 'hood, check out our recent roundups of our favorite destination playgrounds and brain-boosting playgrounds.

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.

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