Camps by the Day: Book One Day at a Time for the Beach and Beyond

My family doesn’t do a lot of camp. I have two children who loath having their time scheduled, and I am mostly home with them, so in the summer I let them loaf. We all enjoy not having a schedule, and, let’s face it, camp can be pricey. We peruse Mommy Poppins’ Event Calendar, where I always find something fun and usually free. Inevitably, though, the point arrives when somebody, maybe even everybody, is a bit bored—or, in the case of the camp director (me), tired. Also, I do work part time, so I can’t always be in charge of the entertainment. This is a recipe for that most dreaded of all childhood diseases: too much screen time. That's when camp starts to seem like a really good idea, and I regret not having signed up. Even the kids sometimes yearn for something scheduled, because most of their friends aren’t around; they're at camp.

So what to do with a couple of bored couch potatoes? It’s summer. Send them to the beach, the beach, the beach! This is a no brainer. People travel from far away to spend their summers by our shores. We are already here. It would be crazy not to take advantage of this most glorious natural resource. Slather on the sunscreen, get some UV sunglasses, maybe even invest in a wet suit, but make sure those kids get some time in the surf and sand! Of course, if the beach is not your cup of tea, we also know a few other places that don’t require advance planning and will welcome your children for the day. As the summer progresses you may even find more, because sometimes a camp that books by the week becomes more flexible if it doesn’t fill all its places.

Here are 10 you can count on:

Family-Friendly Movie Theaters and Showings in Philadelphia

When was the last time you went to see a movie? I don’t mean on Netflix. I mean an actual movie theater experience? If you are a new mom, or the parent of a child who has sensitivities to light and sound, it’s probably been a while. And while indoor activities are all fun and good, sometimes you need to get out and see a movie with friends, your spouse or just you and the kid(s). Wait, see a movie with the kids? As crazy as it sounds, with a few local resources, you can get out with the little one in tow and enjoy a movie. No need to worry about how loud your child is, these movie venues are ready and excited to have you and your brood join them!

If you're looking for other fun activities for you and the kids, check out our Events Calendar to see all the latest happenings.

Pick Your Own Berries in the New Haven Area

Most children can’t get enough of juicy blueberries. Used in muffins, pancakes, ice cream toppings, or served straight from the package, they always go quickly in my house. My children shovel them into their blue-stained mouths faster than I can wash and scatter them on a plate. I’m not sure if it’s their tart flavor or bite size, but blueberries are a huge hit. Many family summer memories involve PYO fruit straight from the blueberry bush, and there are many great farms in the New Haven area that offer pick your own blueberries. For other berry-liciuos destinations, check out our list of other berry farms from across the state.

One-of-a-Kind Birthday Parties for Philly Kids: Race Cars to Mad Scientists

Philadelphia is full of exciting places to host birthday parties, including indoor play spaces, museums, parks and gardens. Make no bones about it, these are awesome places to host a birthday party! But if you are looking for something extra special that really fits your birthday kid’s personality, there are some extraordinarily unique spaces in Philly to host a one-of-a-kind birthday experience.

Celebrating Earth Day in the New Haven Area

On April 22, people across the world celebrate Earth Day by exploring their local environments, learning how to protect the natural world, and finding new ways to become "more green." Plenty of eco-friendly events in the New Haven area will focus on educating children about how their actions can affect the earth - for better, or for worse. ​Check out fun events happening in Fairfield County and Hartford County too.

11 Best US Aquariums for Your Next Family Vacation

A visit to a top-notch aquarium is a great way for kids to explore the secrets of the sea. New York tristate families are blessed with an array of regional aquariums. The New York Aquarium in Coney Island that's undergoing a renovation, the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead and the Adventure Aquarium with its new Shark Bridge in Camden are fine day trips.

If you’re looking for really fabulous odes to underwater environments and sea life that are simultaneously entertaining and educational, we’ve found them, from a 28-foot-tall kelp forest to a jellyfish invasion. The following 11 aquariums up the aquatic ante and are so worth the trip.

Weekend Fun for LA Kids: Earth Day, Poppies, and Dinosaurs Unextinct, April 16 - 17

So you either did or did not finish your taxes yet.  Either way you're okay (mostly), because this year taxes are due on the 18th, and April 15 is just another Friday. But now you are presented with a dilemma: do you milk every last second, completing your taxes at the stroke of midnight on Monday, milliseconds before your return turns into a pumpkin? Or do you finish your taxes comfortably before the due date, thereby freeing your schedule to spend time with your kiddos on this jam-packed weekend. And packed with jam it is! 

The federal government would seem to be encouraging the latter course of action, in that it is letting us into all national parks for free (free, I tell you) for not just the weekend, but the entire week.  Communing with nature not your thing? How about dinosaurs? Feel like communing with them? The LA Zoo launches its newest exhibit, which features life-sized, life-like beasties. Funny, I could have sworn they were extinct. I guess the Zoo will set me straight on that one. Lancaster is awash in poppies (orange is the new green) and the cherries are blossoming in Monterey Park.

Are you sensing a theme here?  Plants, animals and open spaces...let's cut to the chase and give a big ol' shout out to our favorite home planet: Earth!  We're going to celebrate the Earth this weekend,  (and probably next weekend, too). Celebrate it on the beach, celebrate it in Burbank, celebrate it in Culver City.   (Just remember, when all that celebrating is done,  go pay your taxes!)

Keep reading for our tax-free picks for this weekend...

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