Book-Lover Crawl: 10 Ways Westchester Families can Celebrate Reading

New York City might get all the credit for the best and biggest bookstores, libraries, literary events, and authors, but Westchester is also full of great places to visit and things to do for those who love all things literary. So put your book down for just a minute and check out these 10 family-friendly ideas for book lovers.

Have a budding writer in the family? Check out our list of creative writing classes for Westchester kids.Or sign up for our newsletters to receive more suggestions right in your inbox.

Vegan and Gluten-Free Bakeries in Philadelphia

Let's face it, lots of kids (and parents) have allergies and special diets, and sometimes satisfying that sweet tooth can be a challenge. Whether someone is the family has Celiacs and you've gone gluten-free or you're family is vegan (or lactose intolerant), there are still plenty of places in the area serving up delicious treats. From donuts to cookies, cupcakes and birthday cakes, you can find just about anything to fit your needs.

Death Valley in Spring: What's up with the Superbloom?

For the second spring in a row, the word Superbloom is being bandied about with a hashtag. Years of drought followed by the winter we'd all been waiting for have combined to create the biggest wildflower phenomenon in recent memory. SoCal families do not need to venture far to find fabulous wildflower hikes this month. Some pretty impressive waterfall hikes are in easy range as well. But what if you want to venture far? What if you've always been curious about that not-so-hospitable chunk of desert along the California Nevada state line that is Death Valley?

This national park is actually one of my favorites, and I have extolled the joys of visiting Death Valley with kids before. It is an exceptional, dramatic place; other deserts seem lackluster dust bowls by comparison. The vistas and variety would be hard to exaggerate. By all means, go to Death Valley. But if you're going for the Suberbloom, there are a few things you ought to know.

Pine Street Concessions to Open Soon in New Canaan

Think food courts are only filled with greasy slices of pizza, French fries and General Tso’s chicken? Think again. Swap out those dirty tables and bland grouping of substandard eateries for something better. Something focused on artisanal and authentic cooking, superstar chefs and, gasp, al fresco dining.

Enter: the food hall.

Expected to hit the Fairfield County scene in just a few short months, Pine Street Concessions, a new gourmet food court currently under construction in downtown New Canaan will offer organic, locally-sourced cuisine in a family-friendly atmosphere.

Weekend Fun for New Jersey Kids: Diggerland, Cinderella, Circus

It’s not too late to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! Sussex and Bayonne host their annual parades this weekend, so grab your green gear and hit the streets. Attend the season re-opening of construction-themed amusement park Diggerland, or watch drones take to the skies above Liberty Science Center. Family-friendly shows include New Jersey Ballet's production of Cinderella at Mayo Performing Arts Center and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey at Sun National Bank Center. Take your little hockey fan to NJ Devils Kids Day at the Prudential Center, where giveaways, entertainment, and a kid-friendly fan zone complement the main event on the ice. For more, be sure to check out our March Go List and Events Calendar, with fun new activities added daily.

Cotton Candy Spa: Brooklyn's New Party Place for City Princesses

It's been said that necessity is the mother of invention, and that's certainly the case for one new, mom-owned business in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

When Anna Bychowska went searching for an affordable birthday party spot for her then 6-year-old daughter last fall, she came up empty in her neighborhood and nearby Williamsburg. Party spots she found were either too expensive or booked months in advance. Discouraged with the offerings, she saw an opportunity and founded a party spot of her own. In late 2016, Cotton Candy Spa was born.

Storybook Experiences: A Magical Easter Bunny Meet & Greet

The Easter Bunny is just a fabled symbol of the holiday, right? At Storybook Experiences family and children's photography in West Islip, this folkloric character comes to life in a magical meet-and-greet that enchants and engages. Walk through the cottage doors and you are transported to a charming bunny village, delicately decorated in spring decor. Customers can wait in the bright playroom, equipped with a big-screen TV playing your favorite cartoon films on demand. 

5 Family-Friendly Irish Pubs for St. Patrick's Day Weekend

There are plenty of family-friendly ways to get in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, from a free dose of Irish step dancing in Dorchester to the annual parade in South Boston. But perhaps the most authentic and enjoyable way to immerse the whole family in the Irish experience is right around the corner—at your neighborhood pub.

Kids at the pub? Absolutely. In Ireland, you see children in pubs all the time, especially in rural areas. Traditionally, the pub is the cultural focal point of the town. “Gathering as families is very important in Ireland. And for a whole variety of reasons—some as banal as the weather—the most ready place is the pub,” says Brian O’Donovan, native of West Cork and host of A Celtic Sojourn on WGBH 89.7 FM. “They’re open to all without invitation and provide warm, congenial spaces to chat with neighbors, find out what’s happening, share or listen to a song or tune, or even join in a dance. I think that tradition and welcoming atmosphere has passed over here to their American equivalents."

Now, be sensible: I’m not recommending that you drag your kids to the jam-packed downtown pubs after work on Friday, where the drunken revelry of St. Patrick’s Day can rival that of New Year’s Eve. But if there’s a true Irish pub in your neighborhood, it’s likely fine to bring the kids for lunch or an early dinner—and some places even go out of their way to welcome the whole family.

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