Destination Playgrounds in Lower Hudson Valley

Playgrounds provide easy fun for kids of all ages. Pack a lunch and grab the sunscreen and you pretty much have a day of fun without a lot of fuss. While it's easy enough to find a playground, sometimes it's worth heading out past your neighborhood park for a playground that packs a little more punch.

Beautiful parks are plentiful throughout Westchester and Lower Hudson Valley and while picnicking, open fields and gorgeous views are great, most kids think first of the playground. We're taking a look at a trio of destination playgrounds in the Lower Hudson Valley. All are worth the drive with imaginative play structures, shade and other amenities that add up to a day of fun for the whole family.

Tween Shopping Roundup in Greenwich

It's not easy being tween, especially when you're looking for something cool to wear. Luckily, Greenwich has a lot of choices that are just right including Splendid, which has their only Connecticut retail location right on Greenwich Avenue in Fairfield County. The Splendid store is in great company with all of the other boutiques and restaurants that make Greenwich a world class shopping destination, even if you're just doing some world class window shopping. It's time for a journey up and down the avenue to check out all of the best tween shopping in town.

Family-Friendly Steakhouses in the Greater Hartford Area

There are a lot of family friendly steakhouses in Greater Hartford, including restaurants where you can bring the whole gang without worrying about breaking a wineglass (or the bank). Below I’ve rounded up steakhouses for the whole family and another list for those special date nights out. You might even want to start a steakhouse tour -- write back and tell us your favorites! (For other dining options check out our list of Greater Hartford restaurants.)

Apple Orchards: Pick-Your-Own Apples in Western Connecticut

Across Litchfield and Fairfield counties, several family-owned farms and orchards offer pick your own fruit opportunities. Most offer many other attractions, as well: other kinds of fruits or vegetables, a neat, little farm store stocked with delicious goodies, farm animals, playgrounds or a variety of farm-themed programs. Some are especially good if you have toddlers in tow. Whichever place you choose to visit, you are guaranteed to find tasty, fresh fruit and memorable experiences appealing to everyone in the family.

This Week: Last-Chance Summer Fun and New NYC Attractions

How are you spending the last few weeks of summer break? My family and I are furiously crossing outings off our seasonal bucket list. We hope to still make it out to the Hamptons, Rye Playland and over to Brooklyn Bridge Park to experience the interactive installation Please Touch the Art before it gets too cold to enjoy those rooms made of water.

Of course, so many new attractions have opened recently, it's hard to keep up! The Battery's SeaGlass Carousel just started spinning, a new indoor play space in Woodside, Queens looks like a great bet for a rainy day and a Thomas the Tank Engine theme park in Massachusetts is weekend-trip-worthy for young train fans. But don't let the kids dictate all your destinations: family-friendly vineyards and wineries in nearby New Jersey offer plenty of activities for children and adults alike.

Here's what else we covered on the NYC site this week:

Sea-Themed Carousel at the Battery Is a Major New Kid Destination

New York City has long been home to a dozen carousels, but the brand-new SeaGlass Carousel in downtown Manhattan stands apart. 

More than a decade and $16 million in the making, this custom-designed ride that opens to the public August 20 is part of the Battery's ongoing overhaul (currently it's a bit of a construction zone), and its sea theme is a nod to the site's history as the original location of the New York Aquarium. No horses going round and round here; instead, riders step into 30 tall (some up to 13 feet!), iridescent fish that seem to swim inside a giant nautilus shell thanks to a quartet of rotating turntables. Glowing lights, soothing classical music and aquatic sound effects complete the virtual underwater experience.

While every news outlet has been raving about this just-opened, one-of-a-kind attraction, only Mommy Poppins has the scoop on everything families need to know before planning a trip to the SeaGlass Carousel, including tips on stroller parking and bathrooms, along with video that gives you a sense of just how special it is.

Dinosaur Lovers! Best Dinosaur-Themed Birthday Parties in New Jersey

The very awesome—and very cool—movie Jurassic World hit theaters this summer and was a blockbuster hit with adults and children alike. Inspired by the 3D film, it may come as no surprise that your child wants a dinosaur-themed birthday party this year. Ok, so you obviously can’t bring a “real” hybrid T-Rex into your backyard, but you can certainly find places in New Jersey to host a fantastic party with a prehistoric theme. Here is a round-up of venues that offer cool dinosaur-themed birthday parties—book soon, and have an adventure out of this time period. P.S. Don’t forget to check out our Mommy Poppins party guide, chock-full of additional party ideas for the special kids in your life.

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