Zoos & Gardens

12 Great Places to Explore the Natural World in the Washington DC Area

The museums, monuments, and memorials in Washington, DC grab a lot of attention, and rightly so! This city is filled with culture, art, science, and history. But if you're jonesing for some outside time and the kids need to burn off some energy or if your family wants to get up close with some flora and fauna, the DC area has that in spades, too. 

All easily accessible and kid-friendly, these 12 parks, playgrounds, zoos, and open-air theaters are a must for DC families.

Best Holiday Train Shows in NYC for Kids: Botanical Garden and Beyond

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 the best things to do with kids in New York City during the Christmas season, with electric model trains whizzing by more than 150 NYC landmarks made out of acorns, twigs, bark, berries, leaves, and other botanical bits and pieces. 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 holiday train show in town. Read on for more details on all the Christmas train shows the city has to offer this season (including the Botanical Garden's big spectacle). And for an extra special holiday treat, take the kids on a full-size Christmas train ride with these nearby Polar Express and Santa locomotives.

12 Picture-Perfect Holiday Day Trips Near NYC

New York City is magical during the holiday season. However, if you're looking to experience some holiday happenings not too far from home, we've rounded up great options for family day trips, where kids can see Santa, dazzling Christmas lights, and even a North Pole village.

From right-in-our-backyard picks to rustic Christmas fun in Mystic, Connecticut and the Hudson Valley, here are a dozen holiday outings—listed roughly from nearest to farthest from Midtown—worth a drive or train trek this holiday season.

The NYBG Holiday Train Show: What's New in 2018

The towering skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan are ready for their star turn in this year's Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden, opening November 17, 2018 and running through January 21, 2019. We may still be a few weeks from Halloween, but the annual train show is a NYC Christmas tradition worth looking forward to.

New York old and new takes center stage as replicas of the Woolworth Building, completed in 1913, and the soaring One World Trade Center, opened in 2014, highlight the new additions. Read on for a peek at what else is new, plus everything you need to know about visiting this popular holiday attraction with kids.

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

America's Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College: Up-Close Animal Encounters for LA Kids

This may come as a surprise, but LA has more than one zoo. You probably know the one in Griffith Park. And if you haven’t been to the one in San Diego, it's doubtless on your SoCal wish list. You may even have made the trip up to the see the one in Santa Barbara. All great zoos. But have you ever wondered where the people who work at these zoos learn their trade? And, if so, have you considered that the college offering a degree in zoo skills might be right in our backyard – with a teaching zoo open to the public and much cheaper admission than any other SoCal zoo?

Best Petting Zoos around LA Where Kids Can Get Their Animal Fix

Kids of all ages love animals, from babies barely aware that the cow goes "moo" to older kids who can somehow spit out the full Latin name of a rare South American pig most adults don't know exists. So it's very special when children get the opportunity to go beyond the classic zoo to meet critters in closer quarters, and even get their hands on them (gently, of course). 

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