Summer Activities

Rockaway with Kids: 25 Things to Do at the Beach and Beyond

Why schlep to the Hamptons? Thanks to its weekend-getaway vibe, Rockaway, Queens is a popular family staycation destination in summer, and with the Rockaway ferry making daily round-trips, it's easy to get to.

Rockaway's beautiful beaches have soft sand and formidable Atlantic Ocean waves—it's the only shore in NYC where you're allowed to surf. Although this area was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, the boardwalk and Rockaway Park have been renovated with amazing playgrounds and water play areas. Read on for all you need to know to get to and enjoy this NYC summer favorite. 

Huge New Spray Park in Union County Is a Water-ful Wonderland

Linden is now home to Union County's largest sprayground, and boy, is it worth a visit! Located in John Russell Wheeler Park, this 11,000-square-foot water playground, which opened in May 2019, boasts 33 kid-pleasing attractions and water features, including slides, sprinklers, sprayers, a dumping bucket, waterfall, pirate ship, and a giant water serpent. Admission is FREE.

One caveat: It gets crowded! So before you pack up the kids and head down the Route 1 corridor, check out this must-have info to help you plan your visit. 

A Special Offer on Summer Family Vacations at Smugglers' Notch Resort in Vermont

You may think of this top Vermont ski resort as a winter vacation spot, but with 8 pools, 4 water slides, and 2 natural reservoirs, Smugglers' Notch Resort makes a terrific summer family vacation destination. And, right now, Mommy Poppins readers can save $350 on a Summer Family Vacation Package. We made a trip to the resort ourselves so we could give you the inside scoop on this family-friendly find and get more details on this great deal.

Best Free Public Pools in Chicago for Families

Summer takes its sweet time coming to Chicago, but when it finally arrives, you can find Chicagoans swimming, floating, and soaking up the sun at one of Chicago’s fifty (!) free outdoor swimming pools. Many Chicago public pools have separate splash pads, water playgrounds, or kiddie pools with zero entry for the littlest swimmers, and a few even have water slides! Most public pools are also ADA accessible, and offer locker rooms and bathrooms. While most pools do not have concession stands, there is usually an entrepreneurial neighbor with a popsicle cart nearby.  

Each pool has its own schedule with dedicated times for adults, families, classes, camps, all-female swim, all-male swim, and more. Be sure to check the schedule (and the pool rules!) before you go. Here are a few of our favorite FREE outdoor pools in Chicago for no-cost summer fun with kids. 

Where To Rent Paddleboats and Rowboats in New Jersey

Looking for a great summer outing that’ll float the family’s boat? A ride in a paddleboat (sometimes called a pedal boat) or rowboat offers panoramic views of New Jersey's scenic parks and lakes, and an opportunity for family time that may actually be peaceful. 

Paddleboat rentals are available throughout the state. Check the specific paddling locations for any age or weight restrictions, then sit back and enjoy the ride. (And don't forget the sunscreen!)

Feeling more adventurous? Find the best places for tubing and rafting in and around NJ.

14 Great Ice Cream Shops in NYC for a Cool Summer Treat

Playgrounds, sprinklers, and cold, sweet, over-the-top treats are the things summer dreams are made of—and no, I'm not just thinking about the kids. Luckily, the culinary mecca of NYC is packed with ice cream shops, and many are close to our favorite play spots.

But sometimes, you need an ice cream spot to be the destination, not just a pit stop on a busy summer day. For those times, we present our list of the best scoop shops in the five boroughs, skipping the big-time chains in favor of local purveyors. Many source ingredients locally, craft their treats in small batches, and give back to the community and beyond, so you can feel a little less guilty about suggesting ice cream for lunch...or dinner...again. Read on for 14 summer hot spots serving up the best cold treats in town.

Southampton With Kids: Fun Things to Do in This Hamptons Beach Community

Southampton Village sits along a stretch of shoreline on the South Fork of Long Island's East End. Nestled between Hampton Bays and Water Mill, sandy beaches and celebrity sightings are where it's at, especially in the summer. It's an ideal destination for a family day trip, and visiting on weekdays or getting an early-morning weekend start will save you hours in Hamptons traffic.

Read on for our family-friendly guide to what to do and see, which beaches to visit, and where to eat and play. 

25 Water Games for Kids To Play All Summer Long

Water games are an easy way to keep the kids entertained—and cool—this summer. From a simple water balloon toss to fancier DIY fun like sprinkler Twister, these outdoor games are sure to please all ages.

One year, I found myself home with both kids for a whole summer due to a shift in my career path, so we got pretty creative with the water games. There were 10 weeks to fill after all! Read on for our favorites—and you can also download this free printable with all 25 top water games for kids.

Need more free and cheap activities for the kids this summer break? Our family started a Boredom Busters jar: a painted Mason jar full of ideas to keep them busy (and tired out). Anyone complaining of boredom can open it and pick out an activity. Many of the ideas come from the Mommy Poppins' 100 Summer Play Activities List and Free Summer Fun Ideas. But their absolute favorites are the water games for splish-splashy, low-key summer fun.

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