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.

Newport Green Park: An Urban Oasis and Playground in Jersey City

Nestled between two urban downtowns is a gem of a play area known as Newport Green Park. Created in 2012 as part of Jersey City’s revitalization, this peaceful oasis boasts an imaginative playground, the Hudson River’s only man-made beach, and a walkway to Hoboken, all with the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop. This day trip–worthy park is also home to a carousel and splash pad.

Best Broadway Shows for Kids and Families

Whether you're visiting NYC or live here year-round, seeing a Broadway show is a special family experience. Kids are sure to remember it vividly, and chances are parents won't soon forget the credit card bill. That's why it's so important to pick a production wisely, especially when bringing young children to their first Broadway performance.

While Disney juggernauts The Lion King and Aladdin are popular options, there are other kid-friendly choices that aren't as obvious. We've rounded up our 10 best Broadway musicals for families and organized them by age appropriateness. As a bonus, we've also got the scoop on how to save big bucks on tickets thanks to various deals.

Find more upcoming NYC shows in our event calendar, or read reviews of current family productions to find the one that best suits your children.

Travel Town in Griffith Park: Train Rides for Little Tank Engines

Have a train-obsessed kiddo? If riding back and forth on the Metro line isn't enough for your little engine, it's time to explore the train options in Griffith Park—the crown jewel of which is the park’s train-filled Travel Town Museum. The museum itself is free, and rides on the miniature trains costs less than $3 per person, making it a perfect place to visit with toddlers, or host a birthday party full of tank engine fans.

Stunning Long Island Lighthouses Worth Visiting with Kids

Long Island lighthouses are a beacon into the past. To explore them is to immerse yourself in the history of the region, from the Revolutionary War to the whaling age, and the great steamship era of the 19th century.

The are about 20 lighthouses on Long Island, from New York Harbor to Montauk and the North Fork. Four—Bug Light, Fire Island, Horton Point and Montauk Point—are open for public exploration. A fifth, in Huntington Harbor, is closed indefinitely, but will reopen to visitors when renovations are complete.

So see the light at these four destinations. But a word of advice before you go: Limber up, as some of these lighthouses boast steep climbs. Don't fret because the panoramic views are worth the sweat. Here is our guide to four incredible lighthouses that are worth the trip. Have fun exploring.

Got the travel itch? Check out our Family Day Trips Guide

Socrates Sculpture Park: A Hidden (and Free) Gem in Queens

It’s a total cliché to say something is a hidden gem, but in the case of Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, Queens, it’s hard to find a description that’s more apt. For four years, I constantly drove past the park, which is somewhat concealed behind a tall fence on Vernon Boulevard and Broadway, on the way to my daughter's school. Finally, my family decided to investigate.

We weren’t expecting to find a five-acre, open-air art park with amazing views of the East River and Manhattan. It was built on a landfill and unofficial dumping ground 30 years ago and has a free-wheeling bohemian vibe reminiscent of the '60s or '70s. Artwork changes regularly, but the people who visit are invariably engaged in the same activities: wandering among the sculptures, sunbathing, reading, taking in the city views or gardens, or just having old-fashioned conversation. (In all seriousness, it's one of the few places I can think of where I rarely see someone absorbed in a cell phone.)

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