Nutella Cafe Brings New Level of Chocolatey Goodness to NYC

Hang out with my 5-year-old long enough, and she'll inevitably ask for a Nutella sandwich. The creamy, chocolatey spread is practically its own food group in her eyes, so the arrival of a Nutella Cafe in the Union Square neighborhood was cause for a sugar-high induced happy dance.

It took us two trips—thanks to the down-the-block line on our first visit—to get inside the sweet new eatery. Read on to find out if it deserves a spot on our list of must-try sweet spots for New York City 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, most 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 or these 30 things to do over holiday break with Long Island kids.

Cherry Street Pier Just Opened: Here's Why Families Need to Go

As the temperature drops and the days grow shorter, it becomes all too easy to simply hunker down and stay inside.  But Philadelphia offers a number of alluring public spaces to help you shake off those winter doldrums, helping to get you and the kids off the couch and out into the fresh air.  The recently opened Cherry Street Pier is one of the more intriguing options and makes a great destination for a quick and easy excursion for the whole family.

Cherry Street Pier is the latest product of Philadelphia’s ongoing efforts to revitalize the Delaware River Waterfront.  The nearby Spruce Street Harbor Park is already a popular summer destination, offering food, games, and a floating beach—and even sand and deck chairs.  In the winter, visitors flock by the thousands to WinterFest, coming to skate at the BlueCross River Rink or simply grab a hot chocolate and soak up some holiday charm.  The Cherry Street pier is a more modest, though perhaps a bit bolder, initiative, and it's definitely worth a wintertime visit. Read on to learn more about this latest outdoor Philly space that I recently visited with my own family.

Outrageous Holiday Light Displays in the Lower Hudson Valley

‘Tis the season for checking out all the awesome holiday light displays in the area. And we’ve got some great ones for you: Along with a some decked-out houses in Westchester, the Lower Hudson Valley has its own share of festive light shows—including a house with more than half a million (!) lights, a drive-through Christmas Wonderland, and even some brightly lit bugs.   

For more holiday fun, be sure to check our Holiday Fun Guide and Event Calendar, and follow us on Facebook.

Know of any other light displays we should check out? Drop us an email, and be sure to sign up for our newsletters to stay in the loop. 

Restaurants Open on Christmas Day in Connecticut

Generally speaking, the streets of Connecticut empty out for the Christmas holiday, with most restaurants and shops staying closed for the day, but in case you're looking for a home cooked meal alternative or just an excuse to get out of the house for a few hours (did I say that?), we've rounded up some of our favorite Christmas Day meals in Fairfield County. And we've listed restaurants open in the Hartford area as well as Litchfield County.

You'll want to make reservations soon, particularly if you have a large group, and take note that not all prix fixe menus offer a lower-priced children's alternative. And maybe after dinner, plan to check out the Christmas lights in one of these areas.

Bon appetit!

Times Square with Kids: What to Do Beyond the Usual Tourist Spots

New Yorkers often dismiss Times Square as too crowded, touristy, and overpriced, but if you look a little closer, there is plenty of kid fun to be found around this NYC hub—even for the most jaded urban dwellers.

We're not talking about the typical tourist attractions such as Madame Tussauds, the Hard Rock Cafe, and Ripley's Believe It Or Not, which do have plenty for kids to do. Instead, we've got the scoop on 16 cool, under-the-radar things to do with kids near Times Square whether you're killing time before a Broadway show, entertaining out-of-towners, or just find yourself in this NYC neighborhood.

Visiting NYC with kids? Check out more top attractions in our Visitor's Guide for Families.

Lincoln Center with Kids: 15 Fun & Mostly Free Things to Do

Lincoln Center, the grand performing arts mecca on Manhattan's Upper West Side, may seem out of reach to many. Prices for the fancy, high-culture shows are beyond most family budgets, but that shouldn't keep you away. From watching the iconic fountain dance to rooting out hidden gem performances that cost little-to-nothing, Lincoln Center is a rich cultural destination you don't need to be rich to enjoy. Here are our top 15 FREE or low-cost things to do with kids at Lincoln Center.

Polar Express 4-D: A Movie with Train Ride Thrills at the MOS

Each of the past five years, I've planned to bring my Polar Express-obsessed boys to a Christmas-themed train ride down the Cape or Rhode Island. But packed sports schedules and school calendars have caused me to lose steam on the idea of even a slightly far-flung locomotive journey. Luckily, I found out about a new, Polar Express-themed adventure that's right in Boston, lasts all of 20 minutes, costs just $6, and packs real charm and excitement into almost all of that time. New this year, the Museum of Science is running the Polar Express 4-D Experience in its specialty theater space through January 6, 2019. As a bonus: All Aboard! Trains at Science Park, featuring model trains and interactive train tables, is on exhibit, too. Do your kids have trains on the brain? Here's what to expect with a train-themed visit to MOS.

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