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.

Weekend Fun: Mad Science Holiday Show, Kwanzaa Festival, Hooray for Hanukkah

Hanukkah is here, and Christmas and Kwanzaa aren't far behind! This weekend, celebrate the Festival of Lights at Garden State Discovery Museum's Hooray for Hanukkah, watch the Car Menorah Parade in Cherry Hill, and take part in the Kwanzaa Children's Festival and Marketplace at NJPAC. 

This weekend is your last chance to ride the Christmas Express with Santa Claus before he heads back to the North Pole. There are several productions of The Nutcracker happening around the state, including performances by NJ Ballet at Mayo Performing Arts Center and American Repertory Ballet at State Theatre New Jersey; Scrooge gets spooked into a change of heart in A Christmas Carol at bergenPAC; and Garfield gets into the holiday spirit at Union County Performing Arts Center. 

There are tons of opportunities to hang out with the man in red, whether you want to have breakfast with Santa or get the perfect holiday photo. Planning to dine out on the holiday? Find out which NJ restaurants are open on Christmas Day.

Find many more ideas for fun this weekend and throughout the season in our December GoList and Holiday Guide, including where to see the best holiday light displays and must-do holiday activities for NJ kids. And be sure to check our Event Calendar for a full listing of activities this weekend and beyond.

Hex & Co. Is a Board Game Lover's Paradise for NYC Kids

If screen time is getting to be too big of a battle at your place, head out to get back to the old-school gaming model: board games. Hex & Co. recently opened on the upper Upper West Side (Columbia area) and is serving up more than 1,000 board games, from classics to new pop-culture hits, to give your family a chance to sit down, grab a bite to eat, and, you know, talk and make eye contact with one another.

Hex & Co. joins outer borough favorites, Brooklyn Strategist, Brooklyn Game Lab, and The Geekery in Astoria, Queens for classic family fun. (More on this later.) Read our review and get all the details on the fun new spot below.

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