Huge New Spray Park in Union County Is a Water-ful Wonderland

Linden is now home to Union County's largest sprayground, and boy, is it worth a visit! Located in John Russell Wheeler Park, this 11,000-square-foot water playground, which opened in May 2019, boasts 33 kid-pleasing attractions and water features, including slides, sprinklers, sprayers, a dumping bucket, waterfall, pirate ship, and a giant water serpent. Admission is FREE.

One caveat: It gets crowded! So before you pack up the kids and head down the Route 1 corridor, check out this must-have info to help you plan your visit. 

A Special Offer on Summer Family Vacations at Smugglers' Notch Resort in Vermont

You may think of this top Vermont ski resort as a winter vacation spot, but with 8 pools, 4 water slides, and 2 natural reservoirs, Smugglers' Notch Resort makes a terrific summer family vacation destination. And, right now, Mommy Poppins readers can save $350 on a Summer Family Vacation Package. We made a trip to the resort ourselves so we could give you the inside scoop on this family-friendly find and get more details on this great deal.

Best Free Public Pools in Chicago for Families

Summer takes its sweet time coming to Chicago, but when it finally arrives, you can find Chicagoans swimming, floating, and soaking up the sun at one of Chicago’s fifty (!) free outdoor swimming pools. Many Chicago public pools have separate splash pads, water playgrounds, or kiddie pools with zero entry for the littlest swimmers, and a few even have water slides! Most public pools are also ADA accessible, and offer locker rooms and bathrooms. While most pools do not have concession stands, there is usually an entrepreneurial neighbor with a popsicle cart nearby.  

Each pool has its own schedule with dedicated times for adults, families, classes, camps, all-female swim, all-male swim, and more. Be sure to check the schedule (and the pool rules!) before you go. Here are a few of our favorite FREE outdoor pools in Chicago for no-cost summer fun with kids. 

Houston Has a New Animal & Aquarium Adventure Coming to Town

There's a new interactive animal experience, zoo and aquarium coming to Houston, and it's promising to be a wild ride for animal lovers of all ages. Houston Aquarium and Animal Adventure isn't just an animal sanctuary, it's a hands-on animal encounter opening plus inflatable play land plus obstacle course adventure opening in northeast Houston that will have you coming back repeatedly for more.

Weekend Fun for LA Kids: Orange County Fair, Kidspace Birthday, and Mud Mania

Congratulations! You are the winner of one mint-condition, limited edition, superior quality weekend.  Your prize includes a County Fair, manic mud, free outdoor theatre (day and night), children's museums new and celebrating, and big worldly fun. And talk about stellar: the excitement for the Apollo 11 anniversary is starting to ramp up: to infinity and the moon!

If winning is your style, Mommy Poppins is ready to go one further. Not to give anything away, but we are. Giving things away.  ALL. SUMMER. LONG.  This week we are offering up Boredom Busters, which you would only need in the unlikely event that your offspring claim to have nothing to do. You've got to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, Mum? (If so you really should enter.)

Spin the wheel (or keep reading) to luck onto our most winning picks for the weekend...

Weekend Fun: Soccer, Slime, and a FunFest; Jul 13-14

Nothing says summer more than being outdoors, eating awesome food, and just plain having fun. In Boston, we're lucky enough to have these options all summer long, and many are kid-friendly. This weekend, budding chefs can learn the fine art of pasta making or eat as much pizza as they can eat. The annual, WGBH FunFest is back, along with one of our picks for summer art-themed events. Young scientists can get up close with some creepy crawlies or learn how to create slime "ice cream." Sports lovers won't want to miss this all-weekend tournament (with a special event on Sunday just for kids).  

Weekend Fun: Fireflies, Fiddlin', and a Water Carnival; July 13-14

The fireworks may have fizzled, but there is still plenty to do this weekend in Connecticut with kids. For starters, there is the celebration of tall ships known as Sailfest in New London, and the annual North Stonington Fair. A little farther south and west, you can Pig Out in the Park in Stamford, or count fireflies in New Canaan. For history buffs, help commemorate the 240th anniversary of the Battle/Burning or Norwalk, then cool off with a water carnival in Bristol.

Don’t forget to bookmark Summer Fun Guide for even more ways to enjoy the season. We have the scoop on both swimming pools and spraygrounds across Connecticut: Spots to play and cool off are just a drive away.  

Weekend Fun for Houston Kids: Meet the Animals at Nature Discovery Center, Bastille Day, July 13-14

Feel like you're officially tapped out on spending money on activities this summer? We get it. While the start of summer brings that rush of "DO ALL THE THINGS," by mid-summer, spending money to go places can start to wear on a parent. To ease that burden, we accumulated a list of 50 FREE activities you can do this summer that will keep the kids busy and entertained without the extra expense. Plus, did you know that there are a ton of museums around Houston that offer free admission on certain days or at certain times? Sign us up for that!

The midpoint of summer can also bring that pull to stay home a little more - at least it does in our house, on both my end and my kids' end - and when we're all feeling a little burned out from being on the go so much, we pull out this handy little list of indoor activities and exercises. These allow us to stay home, but also to expend some energy, which is a win-win on those days when it's just too hot to be outside running. 

And if that weren't enough, we have our July GoList, which is one of our favorite monthly features to give to you, and our event calendar, which is always primed and ready for you to take advantage of, highlighting as many activities - many that are free! - around Houston and the surrounding areas as possible. If those links aren't bookmarked on your computer yet, they need to be! 

Before we sign off, did you hear that about the Mommy Poppins Great Big Summer Giveaway? Each week we're featuring an awesome prize package that we want YOU to win! 

Now, without further ado, let's get to crackin' on this weekend's events.

Weekend Fun: City of Water, Back to the Beach, Bastille Day

Some weekends it feels like all the summer fun is happening at once—not that we're complaining!

Saturday brings City of Water Day to the Seaport, the It's Your Tern Festival to Governors Island, the Boardwalk Children's Festival to the Rockaways, Woodstock nostalgia to the Children's Museum of Manhattan, and Colonial ice cream flavors to Washington Heights.

On Sunday, cheer the Disability Pride Parade from Madison Square Park to Union Square, or allez-y vites to celebrate Bastille Day in Midtown East. Plus, you can dance to early American music at SummerStage's Family Day in Central Park.

Staten Island's Midland Beach hosts Back to the Beach all weekend, with live music, rides, and fab food—and it's a snap to get there from Manhattan. This weekend you can also rev your engines at the NYC E-Prix in Brooklyn, gorge on Italian treats at the Annual Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, or practice 18th century military drills at the New York Historical Society's Continental Army Weekend celebration.

And that's just the tip of the calendar iceberg: Check out free outdoor movies, the best pools for toddlers and kids, a whopping list of 35 great summer day trips, and our boredom-busting rundown of 100 free things to do with kids this summer.

Where To Rent Paddleboats and Rowboats in New Jersey

Looking for a great summer outing that’ll float the family’s boat? A ride in a paddleboat (sometimes called a pedal boat) or rowboat offers panoramic views of New Jersey's scenic parks and lakes, and an opportunity for family time that may actually be peaceful. 

Paddleboat rentals are available throughout the state. Check the specific paddling locations for any age or weight restrictions, then sit back and enjoy the ride. (And don't forget the sunscreen!)

Feeling more adventurous? Find the best places for tubing and rafting in and around NJ.

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