Birthday Freebies in Connecticut

Birthdays are so great when you're a kid. There's the endless countdown to the big day, and finally waking up the morning of anticipating all the awaiting surprises. When you're young, there's still excitement (rather than dread) at the thought of turning another year older. So what could possibly make all this even more exciting? How about a whole bunch of free stuff?! If you know where to look, there are some pretty sweet freebies to be had on your kid's birthday (or on yours, for that matter). A lot of these places are big companies that require sign up to a club or mailing list, and many of them require a minimum age for membership (usually 13 in compliance with a federal online privacy act) so parents may want to be the primary member and just hand off the goodies to the littles when the time comes. Others, though, are smaller even local Connecticut businesses that genuinely want to offer something lovely to the people who support them. Whether your kid might like a free birthday ice cream cone or a trip back in time on their special day, here are some fun free finds for your little's next birthday.

15 Super Sprinkler Parks on Long Island

When the temperature rises, there’s nothing like jumping through the sprinkler to cool off. Long Island sprinkler parks are great places to take kids because unlike pools and beaches, sprinkler parks have low water depth and often a rubber surface. Just add sunscreen and let the adventures begin.

We’ve put together a list of super sprinkler parks that are open to everyone. We've even included a few parks open to residents only. Proof of residency and/or a membership pass can be required at those facilities. Fees vary, so check the websites or call the parks before going.

For more aquatic fun, take a look at our guide to Long Island amusement parks and water parks. For other kid-friendly activities, check out our Summer Fun Guide, and our recommendations for the best beach playgrounds as well as other top playgrounds on LI.

Best Jersey Shore Beaches for Families: Sandy Hook to Cape May

Make your New Jersey kid a beach baby and go "down the shore." New Jersey boasts 130 miles of shoreline and some of the prettiest beaches anywhere. Whether your family is looking for a busy boardwalk with children's rides, a beachside water park or sprinkler playground, towering lighthouses, toddler attractions, or something a bit quieter, the Jersey Shore has it. 

We've rounded up 10 of our favorite Jersey beaches, from a national park on the northern shore down to the busier southern beaches of Cape May and Atlantic City. So pack the car (and the kids) for a beach day trip or a long weekend—the summer possibilities are endless. And for more beach fun, check out our Jersey Shore Family Guide, including a roundup of our favorite boardwalks.

Animal Farms and Petting Zoos for Boston Kids

Living in or near the city means most kids today don’t have a lot of access to farm animals. But many children absolutely love cows, chickens, pigs, goats, and sheep. If your little one warms to barnyard creatures, they'll have a blast at one of these local farms or zoos, where they can interact with some favorite furry creatures. 

How to Deal with the Trickiest, Stickiest, Messiest New Parent Problems

Protecting your little one is probably at the top of every parent's to do list, but between the sleep deprivation and the fact that you seem to be missing the instruction manual to your new bundle of joy, a little guidance goes a really long way. After all, parenthood hurls a lot of tough stuff at you in the first year—sometimes literally—and you don't have the time to desperately search for solutions. You barely even have time to shower.

Splash Pads Around Houston

There's no denying that when the first heat wave of summer hits Houston, it hits hard. And as every Houstonian knows, once it comes it's here for the long haul - sometimes well into "fall." This means it becomes crucial to find fun ways to keep the kids cool without locking them indoors. Luckily, there is no shortage of splash pads here, and we rounded up splash pads and spray parks that span all of Houston and its surrounding communities.

Best Water Theme Parks Near NYC for Families

While there are no full-fledged outdoor water theme parks in NYC (yet), you don't have to go too far to find some awesome ones. We've rounded up 13 of our favorites for families in the tristate area, mostly in New Jersey, including beachside spots, and Pennsylvania, and all are less than a two-hour drive from Midtown Manhattan. No two are alike: Each one offers different experiences and thrills.

Find more rides in our Theme and Water Parks Guide, including indoor water parks for those rainy or cold days.

Family Friendly Waterfront Dining in Fairfield County

It took me a long to admit this to myself, but since we're among friends I'll just come out and say it: I do not enjoy eating in restaurants with my children. Or, at least I didn't. Now my kids are older and reasonable and do not have temper tantrums if their grilled cheeses are cut into quarters instead of halves--or at any rate they don't do it often. Even though, for a long time, my idea of "family friendly waterfront dining" was grabbing a blanket, some drinks, and those precisely cut grilled cheese sandwiches and heading to my town beach, I have recently branched out to actual restaurants where I leave the picnic basket at home. In the warmer months, there's nothing quite like a meal with a waterfront view, and the options in Fairfield County do not disappoint. Here are some of our favorites.

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