25 Things To Do in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa with Kids

Newport Beach may be synonymous with surf, sun, and sand, but there's plenty more to do in this scenic community beyond lying on the (admittedly inviting) beach. From sports fishing to skate parks and petting zoos, there are countless kid-friendly activities to engage a family in the heart of Newport Beach—plus a wide variety of enriching options in adjoining Costa Mesa as well. And when SoCal's version of winter rolls around, some of the season's most memorable events take place in these two communities, including one of the oldest holiday traditions in the country.

Things to Do with Train-Loving Kids in New Jersey

If Thomas, Percy, and James are a part of your daily conversations, take advantage of the many train and railroad attractions throughout New Jersey. Each one offers a different experience that will surely put a smile on any train lover's face. From model trains to railroad museums, zoo and amusement park rides to North Pole excursions, the Garden State has it all—even the world's largest model railroad!

Read on for a list of places where you can ride the rails with your little one, check out amazing displays, and more. 

Weekend Fun for CT Kids: Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides, Ice Carving, and Jedi Lightsaber-Making, December 16 & 17

Oh, the weather outside is ... just perfect for outdoor winter activities, which abound around Connecticut this weekend. With sunny skies and daytime highs expected to be in the upper 30s, Jack Frost may nip a bit at your nose but everything else should be just fine.

This weekend it's a celebration of all things Christmas (mostly). Snuggle up under a blanket and take a ride back to the Victorian era with a horse drawn carriage ride in downtown New Haven. Then take a short walk down Chapel Street to take in some ice carving demonstrations or warm up with milk and cookies while listening to Christmas and Chanukah stories. In the mood to laugh? Check out a family-friendly improv performance of A Christmas Carol, where the story is limited only by your imagination.

Best Hot Chocolate Spots Around Manhattan

A cup of molten chocolaty goodness is one of the best ways to thaw out and warm up—in fact, it's one of the best things about winter and the holiday season.

We took on the heinous job of running around Manhattan taste-testing hot chocolate (don't say we've never done anything for you) and narrowed it down to nearly two dozen of our favorites. These spots are definitely worth the brief trip out into the cold, so read on for our recommendations for cafes and restaurants that have turned drinking hot cocoa into an experience not to be missed.

By the way, we've also rounded up our favorite Brooklyn hot cocoa cafes and those in Queens. Find more great eats in our NYC Restaurant Guide for Families.

12 Inexpensive Winter Weekend Getaways for NYC Area Families

It’s getting cold outside, but falling temperatures don’t necessarily translate to falling prices when it comes to family vacations. Luckily, we’ve rounded up 10 well-priced family getaways that are all either driving distance or a short nonstop flight from New York City. Whether you’re in the mood for salty New England seaside charm, an urban weekend in New Orleans, Carolina comfort, or tropical heat, we’ve got plenty of budget-friendly suggestions for a quick winter weekend away with the kids.

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, 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.

Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Mirrors at The Broad—Is It Worth the Wait for Kids?

When tickets for the Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Mirrors exhibit at the Broad Museum went on sale, they sold out almost immediately. It's no surprise, given how many people have lined up for hours at the popular downtown museum, to spend less than a minute inside its Infinity Mirrored Room (and then share the photos on Facebook). The famous room is part of the museum's permanent collection, but the temporary Infinite Mirrors exhibit by the same artist is only open through the end of 2017. Chances are, if you haven't already booked your tickets, you're probably not going. That said, there are daily stand-by tickets, so if you're wondering whether to succumb to the hype and queue up for a chance to pose your kids in the infinitely Instagrammed exhibit, we've got some insights to help you decide.

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