Parks & Playgrounds

4 Awesome Places to Explore in Tree Houses Near Philly

With screen time, lessons, daycare, and school it doesn’t seem like there’s much time to explore nature and discover new places, but tell kids that there’s a special house built in a tree for them to discover, and watch their curiosity take over. Tyler Arboretum, Longwood Gardens, Morris Arboretum, and Treehouse World are perfect for kids of all ages because there's plenty of places to explore. Parents who have dreamed of building a tree house in the backyard will find plenty of inspiration, too.

25 Mostly Free Outdoor Movies, Concerts, and Festivals in Fairfield County

Many Nutmeggers plan their family vacations for August, but it's actually a fabulous time for a staycation with so many outdoor movies, concerts, and festivals that you can have a brand new adventure almost every day--from evening movies in Mill River Park to lunchtime concerts on Sherman Green.

We've collected some of our favorite events in Fairfield County this August. All events are family friendly, but some movies and concerts may be more appealing to kids than others. Most of these events are free, but some--especially those on the beach--charge for parking if you do not have a resident sticker. In the event of rain, check individual websites for information regarding rescheduling or changes in venue. We have listed many more great events happening this August across our state in our August GoList.

Have fun!

7 Great Tide Pools to Take Kids to in Connecticut

One of my favorite things as a child was searching the seashore for shells. To be honest, I never cared much to go into the deep, dark water. Perhaps this is why I loved tide pools so much- I could spend hours mining through rocks and sand and collecting all the little creatures and shells that the tides left behind. Fortunate for us, we can enjoy the unique ecosystem of the Long Island Sound on many of our Connecticut Beaches  

Now that I am a parent, I love sharing this great New England tradition with my daughter. I love the sense of exploration that tide pools enable without the need for floatation devices. They also provide the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer day.  Each one of the beaches in this list offers the perfect setting for your budding marine life expert.  Make sure you check out the tide charts before you hit the road. 

Slide Hill Opens on Governors Island with New Playground Fun

The Hills are alive on Governors Island. July 19 marked opening day for the long-awaited addition of new green spaces and playground fun on this seasonal city play space. Judging by the throngs of people dashing up the granite scramble as soon as the ribbon was cut, we weren't the only ones excited to check out this new section of the island.

Made up of four distinct hills, the 10 acres of parkland include 70-foot-high Outlook Hill, 25-foot-high Grassy Hill, twin 40-foot peaks together dubbed Discovery Hill, and Slide Hill, which is undoubtedly the most family-friendly of them all, packed with four slides.

Governors Island for Kids: Playgrounds, Water Play, Mini Golf

Governors Island opens to the public for its summer season each Memorial Day weekend. It's an event we anticipate every year. The island seemingly reinvents itself with new attractions annually in addition to returning family-friendly favorites. The most noteworthy addition in 2016 is the opening of The Hills, though there have been plenty of other fun additions, too.

This 172-acre oasis was once home to the U.S. Army and Coast Guard, and is full of quaint 19th-century houses, grassy hills and traffic-free bike paths. It's just a seven-minute ferry ride from lower Manhattan, but if you stand in a spot where the city skyline is out of view, you feel as if you've been transported to 1800s New England. In addition to being a fantastic place for families to relax and explore, the isle hosts lots of cool FREE festivals like the Figment arts fest, and features awesome activities such as the Children's Museum of the Arts Free Art Island Outpost, no-cost mini golf, the city's first adventure playground, and so much more.

Read on for the scoop on the very best things to do on Governors Island with kids, plus important visitor tips.

Letchworth State Park in Upstate New York Is a Must-See

Letchworth State Park in western New York is called the "Grand Canyon of the East" thanks to the 600-foot deep-river gorge that runs the length of the park, which is dotted with some of the state's most magnificent waterfalls.

An hour outside of Buffalo, a trip to Letchworth is a commitment but well worth the effort. The 17-mile-long park runs along the Genesee River gorge, offering spectacular sights at every bend and turn. Letchworth is a New York state park but has the feel of a national park with amenities that include lodging, fine and casual dining, ranger-led programs, a slate of seasonal outdoor activities, a new, state-of the-art nature center and a major WOW factor. With so much to see and do, it's a fantastic outdoor destination with something for everyone to enjoy, no matter how passive or rugged you like to spend your downtime.  

This popular park was on my family's camping bucket list for many years. We're already fans of local camping and familiar with Hudson Valley hikes a bit closer to home. After it was voted the best state park in the country by USA Today in 2015, we decided to make the six-hour drive from our home in New York City to see what the hype was about. 

Peruse our Family Weekend and Getaway Guide for more travel ideas.

Ice Cream Shops Near Manhattan and Brooklyn Parks

Playground season has arrived and already I'm preparing myself to hear the Mister Softee theme playing on a loop until September.

While there's nothing wrong with grabbing a cone from a generic truck, I admit that I prefer play spots that have really fantastic ice cream vendors nearby. Cold and sweet, a few scoops of mint chocolate chip or strawberry (my flavors of choice) make sticking out the sticky New York City weather that much more manageable. And my kids don't mind eating it either.

Here are some of my favorite spots to grab a scoop, plus fun places to play before or after.

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