Hike to the Hollywood Sign: Kids Can Handle It!

It's one of the most iconic symbols of our city, but have you ever hiked to the Hollywood sign? Sure, you can't get close enough to touch it, but you can hike to the top of Mt. Lee, reaching a vantage point above and behind it, and enjoy one of the most amazing views of the Griffith Observatory, Downtown LA, and Hollywood. The most kid-friendly route follows the wide, graded Hollyridge Trail to a paved road (closed to cars) up Mt. Lee. Roughly 3.5 miles round trip, it is not too much for most kids; there are generally plenty of preschoolers out on the trail. The entire hike follows fire roads and paved road, so even a stroller can make this trip—if you don't mind pushing it up about 800 feet of elevation gain, and controlling it on the way back down.

9 Westchester Restaurants Open for Thanksgiving

 I know two types of families when it comes to eating at a restaurant on Thanksgiving: those who swear by it and those who are confounded by it. I was born into one type and married into another, so I can relate with both. For those of you who want the deliciousness of a Thanksgiving dinner served with a side of ultra-convenience, we’ve gathered a list of Westchester restaurants serving Thanksgiving dinner for families. 

Many of these restaurants require reservations, so don’t delay! If you’re looking for a Turkey Day compromise, check out our list of places with take-out Thanksgiving menus

The Nutcracker Ballet: Performances, Teas & Twists for Families in Philadelphia

The Nutcracker just may be the most classic of all holiday traditions.  The beautiful sets, magnificent costumes, graceful performers and Tchaikovsky's remarkable score all contribute to the magic of this timeless ballet.  

Here in the Delaware Valley, we are fortunate to find many variations on the enduring fairy tale of Clara and her beloved Nutcracker throughout the Christmas season.  We have listed full-length professional productions, tea with the Sugar Plum Fairy and comedy twists on the classic. Whether it is your family's first experience with the Nutcracker or they've seen it a dozen times, you are certain to find an event on our list that they will enjoy.

The Nutcracker for LA and OC Kids at Christmas Time

Most of the year, most of us parents don't attempt to take our children to full-length ballet productions, but Christmas just doesn't feel like Christmas without one good Nutcracker. And if one good Nutcracker begins to make it feel a lot like Christmas, then LA, Orange, and Ventura counties are evidently hitting Uber-Christmas in the coming weeks with more than two dozen professional Nutcracker productions.

Incidentally, we've got answers to the two questions posed most often by LA parents in search of a Nutcracker Ballet for their families: Yes, there is a condensed version staged specifically for kids, offered by the Pacific Ballet down in Costa Mesa, and yes, there are local productions performed with full orchestra - at the Long Beach Terrace Theater, the Broad Stage, and the Anaheim Ballet. There is even the odd Nutcracker Tea—in case you were wondering.

Below we have a list of all the SoCal performances of the Tchaikovsky holiday classic by theater; you can also view the options chronologically. (Hint: The first one has already begun!)

Manhattan's Best Kid Play Spaces and Gyms

Finding a non-membership, drop-in play spot for your toddler or preschooler in your neighborhood is like gold to New York City parents—almost as good as scoring a deal on rent. Because when it gets too cold for the city's many playgrounds and another playdate at home seems dull (or, let's be honest, stressful), taking your kid to a cool indoor kiddie gym or other play space where everything seems new to them and someone else will do the cleaning up, is a relief to the whole family. 

While outer boroughs Queens and Brooklyn dominate the indoor play space market, Manhattan has some of the more creative kid spaces. Some of the 11 awesome spots we rounded up allow families to drop in while others ask that you make reservations, but none require any kind of long-term financial commitment. 

Free Museum Days for Families in Los Angeles and Orange County

Love museums, but do the prices make you think twice? If you have a large family, those tickets add up fast—which is particularly frustrating if you need to beat a hasty retreat to avoid a meltdown. SoCal has some great museums that are free every day of the year, plus active-duty military personnel can take advantage of the Blue Star Program at many Los Angeles museums in summertime. As for the rest of them (once kids are old enough to have to pay), many LA and OC museums have monthly or even weekly free days or evenings, and we have collected a list below for easy reference. These times are a great chance to bring the extended family, meet friends, or check out a place you have never been before—all for just the price of parking or Metro tickets.

Our Favorite Indoor Play Spaces in Fairfield County, CT

Crazy Christmas?  Check.  Germ-infested New Year’s?  Check.  Everyone back to school?  Check (phew). Kids climbing the walls with the January jitters?  Check.  Time to get this family out of the house!  We'll be revisiting some of our favorite Fairfield County indoor playspaces from last year, and adding a few more new ones to the list this year as well.   Hope to see you there! For even more indoor fun check out our Connecticut Indoor Play Guide.

Viewer Guide to the Parade Spectacular in Stamford

You may have heard of that other Thanksgiving Day Parade.  You know, the one that you have to get up at the crack of dawn, wait for hours in the street, and spend your Thanksgiving smooshed against strangers trying to catch a glimpse at floats as they work their way down Broadway.  Lucky for us Nutmeggers, we have the UBS Parade Spectacular that has all of the fun with none of the hassle.  For as long as I have lived in Fairfield County, the Parade Spectacular marks the beginning of the holiday season. Featuring 16 giant balloons, marching bands, fantastic floats, clowns, and a special visit from Santa, the Stamford parade is recognized as one of the best in the country. 

From where to park, to some insider tips, this guide provides you with all the information you need to make the Parade Spectacular a highlight of your family’s holiday season. For more seasonal activities, check out our November Go List

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