Zoos & Gardens

Prospect Park Zoo: Best Things to Do at the Brooklyn Zoo

Peppered with playgrounds, woods, and large open spaces for kids to roam free, Prospect Park is a pastoral escape smack dab in the middle of Brooklyn. The park is more than just green space: The Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Lefferts Historic House, and the Prospect Park Carousel are great places to visit for families. Need one more reason to love Prospect Park? How about a perfectly kid-friendly zoo, just the right size and pace for younger children?

The Prospect Park Zoo is much smaller than its northern counterpart, the Bronx Zoo, which means it's just right for pint-sized animal lovers. The whole interior is comfortably walkable in a few hours, so you can see everything before nap time. We've got tips for visiting with kids, including the best entry points, what to see, and the best times to visit.

Sensory Garden in Shoreham: An Immersive, Kid-Friendly Experience

If you have kids who love investigating their surroundings, the AHRC Suffolk's sensory garden is a great spot to spend an afternoon. The garden, which opened in May 2017, is a therapeutic environment for residents of Shoreham Homes as well as children and adults of all abilities.

A visit to this unique space is unlike a trip to any park or playground in the area. The garden offers different ways for visitors to interact with the installations and natural settings while inviting them to touch, smell, taste, and play. Admission is FREE. 

For more sensory experiences with kids, see our guide to special-needs facilities and programs on Long Island, including our list of inclusive playgrounds that offer more choices for great outdoor fun.

NYC Carousels: 13 City Merry-Go-Rounds To Spin You Around

There's something wonderfully nostalgic about kids getting a thrill from a ride on a carousel. It's the simplest of amusement park attractions, and there are more than a dozen merry-go-rounds in New York City alone. It's easy to stumble upon them on your next park outing.

Each city carousel offers a unique spin on this traditional kiddie ride, from harbor views to a ride in a iridescent fish. With spring in full swing, it's a great time to take your first ride of the season, so we've rounded up the merry-go-rounds in all five boroughs.

Botanical Gardens on Long Island for a Family Day Trip

The weather has turned warmer and flowers are blooming. It’s time to head outdoors and take in all Long Island has to offer…but we’re not talking just beaches, parks, and playgrounds.

On your next family excursion, why not head to one of the many beautiful botanical gardens and arboretums located throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties? These gorgeous spots are perfect places to enjoy a picnic, admire the surroundings, and learn a thing or two about the flowers and trees around us. The best part, unless noted, is that admission to most of these sites is FREE. 

For more warm-weather fun, check out our Spring Fun Guide and Events Calendar.

Get Merry and Go Round on Unique Carousels with NJ Kids

With all the crazy thrill rides found in theme parks these days, there’s something simply magical about taking a spin on an old-fashioned carousel. Often one of the first rides a child gets to experience, carousels have a special way of making even the most timid tiny ones crack a smile, and they’re a treat for all ages. New Jersey is home to both traditional and turned-up-a-notch carousels, and you don’t have to trek far to find one. Hop on a carousel at one of the area malls for a year-round shopping distraction, go for a spin in a park or zoo, or catch views of the Atlantic from a Jersey shore carousel on the Boardwalk.

We’ve rounded up 15 of the best and most unique carousels in and around NJ, so pack up your little ponies and give them a whirl.

6 Boston-Area Zoos That Aren't in Boston (and Totally Worth the Drive)

Zoos are a popular destination for families with kids of all ages—who doesn’t love to gawk at giraffes and roar like a lion? While Franklin Park Zoo is a popular (and wonderful) option, there are six others within a 90-minute drive of Boston that each offer something unique for animal aficionados. Whether it’s Franklin Park’s sister zoo in Stoneham or York’s Wild Kingdom in Maine, there is an option for you within day-trip distance, offering entrance to another world of miraculous and mysterious creatures not normally seen around Boston.

Camden Children's Garden Welcomes Little Explorers

On the New Jersey side of the Delaware River, tucked right next to Adventure Aquarium, is a darling outdoor play space and garden center that makes for a perfect afternoon. Whether you live in New Jersey, across the river in Philadelphia, or are just passing through, the Camden Children's Garden is truly a special place, as my 5- and 1-year old children and I discovered on a recent visit. 

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