Weekend Events: Trains, Lights, Flying Santa, Hanukkah

Holiday train shows are chugging into town this weekend in Levittown, Farmingdale, and Babylon.

Hanukkah celebrations continue in East Rockaway, Rockville Centre and East Hampton, while seasonal festivities headline in Bellmore, Long Beach, and Wading River

See our Holiday Family Fun Guide for the best in seasonal entertainment, including our Christmas tree cutting guide, breakfast with Santa events, Hanukkah fun roundupice skating rinks and plenty of FREE events and activities. As always, our Event Calendar and December GoList are loaded with fun, daily happenings for Long Island kids.

Weekend Fun for Philly Kids: SantaFest, Winter Wonderland, Parade of Lights December 8-9

Looking for some ways to make magical holiday moments with Philly kids this weekend? Our event calendar glistens with lights, Santa encounters, and theatrical performances to get everyone in the spirit of the season.

First, get your wish list ready to share with the jolly ol' elf from the North Pole as he can be found landing at the American Helicopter Museum, along the waterfront at the Independence Seaport Museum, driving a tractor on the farm, and aboard trains located throughout the Delaware Valley. Yeah, that guy gets around...Then, settle into a seat at Delaware Children's Theatre, Upper Darby Performing Arts Center, or Act II Playhouse to see a festive show. Conclude the fun by viewing holiday lights with the animals, near the canal, or at the snack factory.

More more ideas, continue reading our top picks.

Weekend Fun for CT Kids: Aquatic Santas, Get Crafty, and Spin Like a Dreidel

Is your holiday to-do list spinning out of control? Holiday cards, decorating your tree, cookie swaps, and . . this time of year can be so stressful. Thankfully, this weekend offers Connecticut families plenty of opportunities to create a hand-made gift, snag an awesome “card-worthy” photo, and enjoy some holiday magic. This weekend, we are going to enjoy some quality family time driving around to look at Christmas Light Displays, and perhaps even enjoying a Breakfast with Santa.

Queen Mary Christmas: A New Holiday Tradition To Chill with this Year

Christmas at the Queen Mary is a great place for a family to chill. That said, if you're looking for Chill with a capital C, the ship's hitherto popular holiday extravaganza, well, that is just so last year. This year, the vintage ocean liner debuts an all-new Christmas event, based entirely on board The Queen Mary. While in previous years the entertainment was spread out on the adjacent tarmac, featured against the backdrop of the photogenic floating monument at the heart of Long Beach, this year all the festive action is located right on the art deco decks of the beloved ship.

Nutella Cafe Brings New Level of Chocolatey Goodness to NYC

Hang out with my 5-year-old long enough, and she'll inevitably ask for a Nutella sandwich. The creamy, chocolatey spread is practically its own food group in her eyes, so the arrival of a Nutella Cafe in the Union Square neighborhood was cause for a sugar-high induced happy dance.

It took us two trips—thanks to the down-the-block line on our first visit—to get inside the sweet new eatery. Read on to find out if it deserves a spot on our list of must-try sweet spots for New York City kids.

Weekend Fun: Santa Train, Paw Patrol Live, Christmas Underwater

This mid-December weekend is jam-packed with holiday spirit, from seasonal shows to Santa visits to theme park fun. Santa's on track this weekend, climbing aboard Allaire's Christmas Express and Heaven Hill Farm's free train rides, while stopping for Cookies & Cocoa at Reeves Reed Arboretum, and wild fun at Cape May Zoo's Santa's Family Workshop.

Theme parks are decked out for the holidays. Rides, shows, and Santa are all part of the thrills at Six Flags Holidays in the Park and Christmas Fantasy with Lights at Storybook Land

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of holiday preps, and take in a kid-friendly show, like Paw Patrol Live: Race to the Rescue, The Laurie Berkner Band Holiday Celebration Concert, or Dragons Love Tacos.

Find even more weekend options in our Holiday Guide, including 30 Christmas and Holiday Events for NJ Babies and Toddlers and the Best Places to Take Pictures with Santa in New Jersey. And look to our December GoList and event calendar for a complete listing of happenings this weekend and beyond.

Where to Donate Gently Used Toys and Baby Gear on LI

If your kids are anything like most, their holiday wish lists are filled with requests for new toys. And once the holiday comes—and they're happily playing with their gifts—what do you do with all of the old toys that are cluttering up the house? Or all of the baby equipment that the kids have outgrown?

For safety reasons, fewer and fewer places seem to be accepting gently used toys. But before you put those toys out on the curb, consider these Long Island organizations that accept preowned toys and baby items provided they are clean, undamaged, and in working order.

For safety reasons, most charities do not accept cribs or car seats. However, many will accept strollers, bouncers, and even baby care items such as diapers. At this busy time of year, however, contact these charities to make sure they haven't reached their donation limits. One other tip: Ask your preschool child's school director, local library, or church. Often, those institutions are willing to accept used toys and books from someone they know and trust. 

Looking for more ways to help your community? There are plenty of holiday volunteer opportunities for kids and families. And for other seasonal activities, check out our Long Island holiday fun guide or these 30 things to do over holiday break with Long Island kids.

Cherry Street Pier Just Opened: Here's Why Families Need to Go

As the temperature drops and the days grow shorter, it becomes all too easy to simply hunker down and stay inside.  But Philadelphia offers a number of alluring public spaces to help you shake off those winter doldrums, helping to get you and the kids off the couch and out into the fresh air.  The recently opened Cherry Street Pier is one of the more intriguing options and makes a great destination for a quick and easy excursion for the whole family.

Cherry Street Pier is the latest product of Philadelphia’s ongoing efforts to revitalize the Delaware River Waterfront.  The nearby Spruce Street Harbor Park is already a popular summer destination, offering food, games, and a floating beach—and even sand and deck chairs.  In the winter, visitors flock by the thousands to WinterFest, coming to skate at the BlueCross River Rink or simply grab a hot chocolate and soak up some holiday charm.  The Cherry Street pier is a more modest, though perhaps a bit bolder, initiative, and it's definitely worth a wintertime visit. Read on to learn more about this latest outdoor Philly space that I recently visited with my own family.

Outrageous Holiday Light Displays in the Lower Hudson Valley

‘Tis the season for checking out all the awesome holiday light displays in the area. And we’ve got some great ones for you: Along with a some decked-out houses in Westchester, the Lower Hudson Valley has its own share of festive light shows—including a house with more than half a million (!) lights, a drive-through Christmas Wonderland, and even some brightly lit bugs.   

For more holiday fun, be sure to check our Holiday Fun Guide and Event Calendar, and follow us on Facebook.

Know of any other light displays we should check out? Drop us an email, and be sure to sign up for our newsletters to stay in the loop. 

Restaurants Open on Christmas Day in Connecticut

Generally speaking, the streets of Connecticut empty out for the Christmas holiday, with most restaurants and shops staying closed for the day, but in case you're looking for a home cooked meal alternative or just an excuse to get out of the house for a few hours (did I say that?), we've rounded up some of our favorite Christmas Day meals in Fairfield County. And we've listed restaurants open in the Hartford area as well as Litchfield County.

You'll want to make reservations soon, particularly if you have a large group, and take note that not all prix fixe menus offer a lower-priced children's alternative. And maybe after dinner, plan to check out the Christmas lights in one of these areas.

Bon appetit!

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