Ice Cream Shops Near Manhattan and Brooklyn Parks

Playground season has arrived and already I'm preparing myself to hear the Mister Softee theme playing on a loop until September.

While there's nothing wrong with grabbing a cone from a generic truck, I admit that I prefer play spots that have really fantastic ice cream vendors nearby. Cold and sweet, a few scoops of mint chocolate chip or strawberry (my flavors of choice) make sticking out the sticky New York City weather that much more manageable. And my kids don't mind eating it either.

Here are some of my favorite spots to grab a scoop, plus fun places to play before or after.

Niagara Falls: Family Bucket List Vacation Spot

If you breathe oxygen, it's on your bucket list. Heck, there are probably even some alien life forms out there that want to take their kids to Niagara Falls. It would be hard to overstate the breathtaking power and natural beauty of this international landmark, the first of our national parks, but I'll do my best.

I was lucky enough to stumble, with a little good advice, onto an itinerary as easy as a vacation should be, allowing our family to see Niagara Falls from above and below, from in front and behind, by day and by night, from the US and from Canada without waiting more than a few minutes in any line or spending a lot of money. To be fair, we pulled off this feat in June; repeating our movements in July or August might be more crowded, but I still think it will be the path of least resistance. Or you could go to the other extreme and see the Falls in winter, which by all accounts is a whole other kind of magical.

If you have time to explore a few fun things beyond the waterfalls—of which there are overwhelmingly many—there are some great free options. You'll run out of time before you run out of things to do in Niagara.

25 Free Summer Activities for Kids in Westchester

There are endless opportunities for summer fun in Westchester this summer, but that doesn’t mean you have set your wallet on fire in the process. We’ve rounded up 25 different events, activities and ideas for July and August, all of which are kid-friendly and all of which are FREE. 

These ideas are happening seven days a week and you can get even more inspiration from our Event Calendar, which is continuously updated with all of the latest and greatest Westchester and Hudson Valley happenings. Make it even easier on yourself by signing up for our newsletter and following us on Facebook

8 Outdoor Water Parks Near Boston

One of the best things about New England is how close everything is, especially when you're in a sweet spot like Boston. In two hours or less by car, you can get to any of the following outdoor water parks to cool off and have a blast this summer with your kids. Although there's no shortage of thrill rides and slides at these places, you don't have to be a daredevil (or of a certain height) to enjoy them. There are play areas for young children, wave pools, family raft rides, and lazy rivers for those of us who don't need to plummet a down a very tall slide to have fun. Some of the parks are dedicated to water attractions and others are part of a larger theme park, but they all offer plenty of chances to get completely soaked. 

Geek Out at the Intrepid's New Star Trek Installation

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is getting ready to boldly go where no American has gone before! Imported from the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and opening Saturday, July 9, Star Trek: The Starfleet Academy Experience is a 12,000-square-foot, interactive installation where fans of all ages can immerse themselves in the sci-fi franchise's universe by "training" for various on-ship jobs. By completing fun tasks and taking brief quizzes at themed stations, find out whether you're best suited for a career in Communications, Medical, Science, Engineering, Navigation, Tactical, or Command, all while tracking your progress on a high-tech wristband that sends your results to your email.

For Trekkies, missing this exhibit would be "illogical" as Spock loves to say. But will casual viewers and little kids think it's out of this world, too? Find out whether your little space cadets are ready to join up, and tips for making the most of your voyage!

And don't forget to check out the NYC Museum Guide for all the latest kid-friendly exhibits.

New Jersey Pools with Day Passes

With temperatures beginning to soar, there’s nothing more refreshing than jumping into a pool. If your summer roster includes camp and vacation, you may not be willing to jump in on the price and commitment of a pool membership. Luckily, pool clubs throughout New Jersey offer guests the opportunity to spend the day at the pool without membership or residency. Take a swim at the following pool clubs, which offer day passes without restrictions.

Cheap Swim Lessons in and around Philadelphia

There's no doubt about it, swimming is an important life skill. That's why it's essential to teach kids how to swim at an early age. Plus, it means you can worry a little less during those long summer days at the pool or beach. We've rounded up some great nearby swimming lessons that are also affordable. Get the kiddos in their swimsuits and goggles and head on out to one of these great swim classes.

A Visit to the Connecticut Historical Society

Whether you’re looking to give your child a head start on local history studies, or refresh lessons already learned, a visit to the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford is an informative and enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours immersed in our state's legacy. Because the museum is located only 1 mile from the gorgeous Elizabeth Park (where you can dine at Pond House Cafe), and less than 4 miles from Westmoor Park, an outing to CHS can easily turn into a great day spent in the West Hartford area. 

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