Zoos & Gardens

Zoo Lights Holiday Display: Animals Light up the Night at the LA Zoo

We Angelenos love our holiday lights, and we are blessed with an abundance of viewing opportunities. But sometimes logistics can be an obstacle, particularly for families with small children. Where do we park? How far do we have to walk or drive? Can we find all the displays…? One simple and family-friendly solution is the Zoo Lights display at the Los Angeles Zoo. This large scale sparkle, which replaces the old Griffith Park Lights drive-through event, puts everything you want to see within the grounds of the LA Zoo, and parking is free (merry Christmas to me!).

Holiday Train Shows in NYC for Kids: Botanical Garden and More

Trains are a way of life for most New Yorkers, but there's something particularly special about the little engines and cabooses that take center stage during the holiday season. The New York Botanical Garden's Holiday Train show is one of New York City's top seasonal attractions for families, with electric model trains whizzing by more than 150 NYC landmarks made out of acorns, twigs, bark, berries, and leaves. My family and I make it a point to go every year—it's truly a quintessential New York holiday experience. There's a reason it's on our list of the top 100 things to do with kids in NYC.

But the big NYBG display isn't the only train-centric show in town. Read on for more details on this annual spectacle, as well as a roundup of the other train shows the city has to offer this holiday season. And for an extra special holiday treat, take the kids on a full-size train ride with these nearby Polar Express and Santa locomotives.

National Geographic's Interactive Ocean Odyssey Makes Waves in Times Square

A new experience is making a major splash in Times Square. National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey takes visitors on a virtual underwater journey beneath the Pacific Ocean, unlike anything we've ever seen before. Using breathtaking state-of-the-art technology, lighting, and audio effects, the self-guided walk-through journey explores different areas of a wondrous undersea world including coral reefs, kelp forests, and open ocean expanses.

Ocean Odyssey opened in mid-October, and my family and I couldn't wait to go. The visit left us awestruck and eager to return. It's a fantastic destination for all ages, filled with stunning visuals and interesting facts about ocean wildlife and habitats, human impact, and what each of us can do to help keep our oceans beautiful and clean—all without getting wet! Read on for more about this amazing new experience, plus what you need to know before visiting with kids.

16 Philly Area Memberships Worth the Money

From museums to amusement parks, playspaces and more, memberships to Philadelphia-area attractions are practically a dime a dozen. As a parent it is sometimes difficult to navigate the many options available. Is a membership worth the cost? Will you really visit more than once? To try to take some of the math out of this equation, we put together a list of our 16 favorite spots that offer memberships that are truly worth the money.

Say Boo at the Zoo: 5 LA and OC Zoos with Cool Halloween Events

Let the record show that there is more than one way to smash a pumpkin, and handing it to a hippo is definitely one of them. A gorilla does the job pretty well, too, as does a tiger, or—well, just about any other animal at the zoo. This discovery by our nation's zookeepers has led to a peculiar Halloween tradition—that we highly recommend!

Each year Southern California's zoos (and Griffith Park is only one of the options, as you'll see below) plan Halloween events, usually treating resident critters to their favorite delicacies stuffed inside pumpkins. For some, the delicacy may actually be the pumpkin itself (chomp chomp), while the more carnivorously inclined seem to view the pumpkins more as wrapping paper (smash smash). Either way, zoo animals smashing pumpkins ups the ante on traditional pumpkin patches. Check out all the beastly fun at Southland zoos this season.

Free Admission for Kids at Southern California's Biggest Family Attractions

We can all agree that childhood goes too fast, and there are so many things that if we blink we miss: the first walk around the block, a goodbye kiss at school, getting in free at Disneyland. Those first two you can't put a price on, but that last one? That's worth about $80-$100. In other words, it's really worth keeping track of when the freebies go away. If you're working your way down our LA Kids' Bucket List, you should probably coordinate with the cut-off ages below; some of the museums you can catch on their free admission days, but several other attractions below really drive home the bittersweet point that you're only young once.

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