Polar Express and Santa Trains Near NYC This Holiday Season

The magic of Chris Van Allsburg’s popular Christmas picture book, The Polar Express, comes to life again this winter with festive holiday trains within a whistle's blow of New York City. A huge hit with kids and parents alike, these trains spark the imagination and holiday spirit with seasonal snacks, stories, even token gifts—not to mention a visit from Santa himself.

These old-school cabooses (some harking back to the 1920s) offer a classic holiday ambience. Best of all, families can combine the annual Santa Claus photo op with a sweet adventure that is sure to create lasting memories. Remember: these train rides sell out quickly, often months in advance, so book now if you want to go (a popular train in New Jersey had already sold out by early October).

For more seasonal fun close to NYC, check out our Fall Fun Guide and 30 Fall Day Trip Ideas.

9 Indoor Places Near Philly for Fall and Winter Birthday Parties

Fall and winter birthdays mean celebrating the milestone indoors. The city has a plethora of options for those who want to celebrate outdoors, but it can be tricky to find fun places to celebrate in colder months. Many of the museums in Philly offer birthday packages, but museums aren't for everyone. Read on for some more unique options for celebrating a kid's birthday party indoors.

Giveaway: Our Generation Dolls Opens World of Imagination

Confession: I might be a bit of a Target addict. I've spent my fair share of rainy days wandering the aisles looking for nothing in particular and the Our Generation Dolls section has caught my eye on more than one occasion. All those pink and orange boxes, displaying a tempting array of dolls and tons of accessories to make a child’s imagination go wild, have had me itching for when my kid would be old enough dive into this world.

So I was intrigued to partner with Our Generation Dolls at the recent in-store event at Target in Mt Laurel, NJ. It was a great opportunity to spend some time in that oh-so-tempting doll area and explore the universe of OG Dolls a little more closely. Plus, Mommy Poppins gave away a $100 Target gift certificate. If you missed the event, don’t worry, because I have lots to report back and we’re giving away another $100 Target gift card here!

Weekday Picks: ArtNight Pasadena, Great Shake Out, & Pixar Oct. 17-21

Fall festivals and Halloween-related events are in full swing, and yet there are also plenty of other options for families looking to mix in some culture and education this week.

ArtNight Pasadena is a free event that features exhibitions, music and dance performances, and interactive activities at 18 participating cultural institutions. Kids can check out the works of Picasso at the Norton Simon Museum or the effects of light on color, shape, and the world at Kidspace Children's Museum. Also, ArtWORKS Teen Center offers an interactive evening of printmaking and screen-printing as part of the event.

Discovery Cube Los Angeles and Discovery Cube Orange County both take part in Thursday's Great Shake Out, an annual event focusing on earthquake preparedness and the importance of family planning and readiness. This is a great opportunity to talk to kids about what they should do at home or school or in the community if a large quake strikes.

And the Science Center's new Pixar exhibit demonstrates how science and art converge to create great movies.

Free Weekday Picks for Boston Kids: Apples, Pumpkins, IMAX; Oct 17-21

Got apples? Perhaps more than you know what to do with? That's okay, we have some tasty ideas for using all those apples your family gathered when you went apple picking.

Schedules are busy with school and classes these days, but if you can get away for a day or two, we have have recommendations for 15 New England fall trips to enjoy the peak foliage. Our free event picks for this week also make great escapes from the daily grind: hearing Yo-Yo Ma play in a free concert, splashing in a tide pool, going back to Shakespeare's time with puppetry, seeing jack-o-lanterns aglow along a river, and taking a free, one-hour family vacation. Oh, and while we're on the subject of free concerts and family vacations: you can win fabulous prizes from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Great Wolf Lodge, and Puerto Vallarta just for helping us pick our Besties. How do ya like them apples?

Have a fruitful week, and remember to check out our Event Calendar for other fun things to do with the little ones.

Weekday Picks for Westchester Kids: Ghost Stories, Haunted Huguenot Street

Such a fun week lies ahead, with a mix of both seasonal and anytime activities to delight Westchester families!

As the Halloween countdown continues, the options for mood-setting increase. The return of Haunted Huguenot Street allows visitors to learn of creepy tales in historic houses, while Ghost Stories invites kids to be not the listener but the author. In addition to Halloween, Dia de lost Muertos is being celebrated at the Day of the Dead Workshop

Read on for our top weekday picks and be sure to also check our Event Calendar and our October GoList for more family fun throughout the month! 

Where to Trick-or-Treat on Halloween with New York City Kids

One of my favorite childhood memories from growing up in NYC was Halloween in Greenwich Village. Back then, the Village Halloween Parade was just a couple of hundred artists and others who marched through the neighborhood. Afterward, we would trick-or-treat up and down the brownstone blocks. Everyone was friendly, and we would come home with our shopping bags completely filled. It was magical.

Although the parade and Greenwich Village have changed a lot since then, your kids still can enjoy that kind of thrilling trick-or-treat experience in many New York City neighborhoods. And which neighborhood is now the best one for Halloween trick-or-treating in NYC? That depends on who you ask. New Yorkers love to bicker over the best coffee shops, the best (and worst) train lines, and yes, the best places to take their kids on Halloween. We also love to find that secret gem.

So we asked our astute readers and collected recommendations from our parent-driven NYC staff over many, many years to bring you a list of our favorite trick-or-treating spots so you'll know where to bring your kids this October 31. 

Join one of the local Halloween parades and then go trick-or-treating throughout the community with local families. Or hit one of the neighborhoods or streets listed below: We have a slew of spots to try in all five boroughs. For more seasonal fun, check out our jam-packed Halloween Guide.


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