Trains, Dinos & Heroes

Polar Express and Santa Trains Near NYC This Holiday Season

The magic of Chris Van Allsburg’s popular Christmas picture book, The Polar Express, comes to life again this winter with festive holiday trains within a whistle's blow of the New York City metro area. A huge hit with kids and parents alike, these trains spark the imagination and holiday spirit with seasonal snacks, stories, even token gifts—not to mention a visit from Santa himself.

These old-school cabooses (some harking back to the 1920s) offer a classic holiday ambience. There's a Polar Express just an hour south into New Jersey, or the one-day-only Tri-State Santa Train about 50 minutes away, or consider a day trip to the Catskills or weekend getaway to Pennsylvania Dutch Country for this Santa's Paradise Express. Best of all, families can combine the annual Santa Claus photo op with a sweet adventure sure to create lasting memories.

Remember: these train rides sell out quickly, often months in advance, so book now if you want to go.

Disney on Ice Brings Moana and Elsa Show to NYC Metro Area

A Disney on Ice show skates into the greater New York City area this November with some of the entertainment company's most popular female characters. This Dare to Dream production features Moana for the first time, but also Belle of Beauty and the Beast, Elsa and Anna of Frozen fame, and plenty more princesses.

The family show kicks off in the metro region at the Prudential Center in Newark, November 1-5. It then plays Barclays Center in Brooklyn, November 9-12, and finally at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island, November 15-November 26.

Polar Express and Christmas Trains for New Jersey Kids

Every year, New Jersey's railroads get decked out in their holiday best to offer special Christmas-themed rides for the whole family. Wait—Christmas? We know, it's a bit early to start hauling out the holly, but these rides are a popular holiday tradition, and they sell out fast!

Though these trains don't go all the way to the North Pole, most include a visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, along with treats, caroling, and stories. One storybook Santa train invites kids to wear their pajamas and hear a classic Christmas story read aloud on the rails, while another ferries passengers to a Christmas tree farm.

Read on to find out where to take a holiday train ride with Santa Claus, and book your tickets as soon as possible. Then you can put Christmas aside for a while and get back to your fall fun.  

The NYBG Holiday Train Show Returns with Tons of Updates in 2017

We may still be a few weeks away from Halloween, but the trappings of the holiday season have started to creep onto store shelves, and we're already anticipating one of our favorite seasonal traditions: the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden.

In 2017, the iconic skyscrapers of Midtown Manhattan take center stage. The show, which opens to the public on Wednesday, November 22, debuts all-new replicas of the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, General Electric Building, and St. Bartholomew's Church.

Halloween Ghost Trains and other Spooky Rides for LA Kids

So you've already been to the pumpkin patches, and you're ready to take Halloween to the next level; you're ready, in fact, to put it in motion. Well, we know several deadly ways to take this haunt on the road before it's time to trick-or-treat, with everything from an old-fashioned train ride through fields of pumpkins, to a spooky tour through the bowels of a haunted ship, or even a scream-filled hay ride through fields of zombies. Whatever Halloween means to your family, you can make it a ride at one (or more) of these vehicular annual haunts. After all, the family that hunts down armies of zombies together stays together.

Halloween and Fall Foliage Train Rides for New Jersey Kids

Halloween and hayrides go hand in hand, but if you really want to up your game this year, take a trip on a Halloween train! If you have a junior conductor in your family, don't miss out on one of these four seasonal NJ railway adventures. From spooky to scenic, these rides offer a unique bit of fall fun for the whole family: passengers can take a seat in a vintage caboose, travel through gorgeous fall foliage, visit a pumpkin patch, and even trick-or-treat onboard. After the ride, round out the day with autumn activities like corn mazes, crafts, and a costume party.

Check out our NJ Fall Fun Guide for even more seasonal family fun around the state.

Best Family Theater in NYC this Fall: Paw Patrol to Shakespeare

Autumn marks the start of a new theater season, but you don't need to shell out big bucks on Broadway shows to give your kids a memorable live entertainment experience in NYC. In fact, this fall boasts more high-quality productions for young audiences than in recent years—so many in fact, we have a whopping 22 picks, and that's after whittling down the contenders!

Preschoolers will go gaga for return engagements of popular stage incarnations of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Pete the Cat, and Paw Patrol. Older kids can get schooled in the classics with creative, kid-centric adaptations of Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde. There's funky fare for tweens at Lincoln Center and BAM, plus everyone in your family can cheer the highly anticipated return of the Big Apple Circus. Best of all, most of our picks are $25 or less per ticket.

Rad Women and Civil Rights Heroes: Children's Books for Right Now

By Gwen Glazer, recommendations librarian in the Readers Services unit of the New York Public Library.

Fred Rogers’ famous advice to "always look for the helpers" has never seemed more important. In the wake of recent events in Charlottesville and beyond, parents may be looking for ways to engage their children with the social justice efforts—and also to talk about positive examples of activism and leadership.

We put together a list of 13 books for a wide range of children, from picture books for toddlers to nonfiction series for middle schoolers. These books address some of the most familiar human- and civil-rights leaders, like Malala and Gandhi, as well as some lesser-known activists who deserve more attention. All of them inspired others to create change in the world around them.

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