Weekday Picks for Philly Kids: Nature, Free Fun, September 26-30

With cooler temperatures and low humidity settling into Philly and the Delaware Valley, many families seek outdoor fun to keep children engaged and occupied. Thankfully, this week's event calendar offers many opportunities to help children learn about the world around them.

Explore the grounds of Bucktoe Creek Preserve by participating in a Nature Playgroup. Visit Tyler Arboretum for its hour-long Toddlers in Nature program in which kids learn about fall leaves. Or, head to Briar Bush Nature Center for its Magic Morning where little ones listen to stories, take walks, and make crafts. Afterwards, check out one of the local museums, gardens, amusement parks, or zoos in the area. Many of them are free for young children, and if you live in the suburbs, you may be able to check out a membership pass from your local library.

Remember to plan out additional fall fun by browsing through our Fall Activity Guide which includes information on apple picking, harvest festivals, autumn train rides, and fall runs/races.

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Weekday Picks: Horses, Puppets, Stars, and Holiday Festivals, Sept. 26-Sept. 30

As September comes to a close, horse jumping comes to Long Beach, and holiday festivals come to Costa Mesa and Ventura.

The Longines Masters makes its one stop in the US as part of the Grand Slam Indoor of Show Jumping in Long Beach beginning Thursday. Organizers say it's the first prominent event in the international equestrian scene to take place in the Los Angeles area since the 1984 Summer Olympics. Beyond the competitions, the event includes a Kids Corner with educational and fun activities, to draw in a new generation to the world of show jumping.

For those wanting to get a jump on their fall and winter holiday shopping, the Sugar Plum Arts & Craft Festival at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa and the Harvest Festival Original Art & Craft Show in Ventura both open their doors at the end of the week. Kids are likely to appreciate the crafting demonstrations, including woodworking and glass blowing. Meanwhile, smaller local events include a Puppet Musical: Jack and the Beanstalk in Marina del Rey and Garvey Nights, a night of astronomy and star-gazing in Monterey Park.

For more ideas, visit the Mommy Poppins Event Calendar, as well as our picks for the month in our September GoList. Our favorite outings this week follow...

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Where to Find Mommy and Baby Music Classes

Babies love music. Music can feel like a secret weapon when you discover a song that soothes or excites your baby. My husband and I found that singing the "skinnamarinky dinky do" song worked wonders in stressful moments and usually led to a happier baby. If you don't know it, the song is from "The Elephant Show," which is an 80s gem - and it's on YouTube! Because my daughter seemed so interested in music, and research shows there are many benefits of early music education, I decided to enroll my 2-month-old daughter in a mommy and baby music class. Her dad attended the class frequently as well, and we found that the class taught us playful ways to interact with her and ways to incorporate music into our lives at home. It was a hit with our family and was a great opportunity to meet other new parents with babies close in age to our daughter. There are lots of options for music classes to choose from in the greater Houston area, and many offer a free demo class. 

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Pick Your Own Apple Farms For Families On Long Island

Believe it or not, it's apple picking time already. The apple picking season typically lasts from mid to late August to late October. Apple picking is a great family outing filled with fresh air, a little exercise, a bit of a treasure hunt, and a bounty at the end. Whether searching for an orchard with all of the bells and whistles or one with trees perfectly sized for wee ones, there are plenty of pick your own apple farms to choose from. Call before going to ensure that each farm is open, and to confirm that there is enough fruit for picking that day. Check out our Pick Your Own Guide for more suggestions on apple picking farms in the tri-state area.

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Best Pick-Your-Own Orchards for Families with Toddlers in Fairfield Area

Apple picking is a favorite fall activity with kids and Connecticut has dozens of wonderful apple picking orchards and farms that make a great day trip. If you’d like to stay in Fairfield County, you have only a small selection to choose from, which may be why all of the orchards get busy on the weekends. My kids and I like to head out first thing in the morning to beat the crowds. For even more orchards, be sure to check out our Apple and Pumpkin Picking Guide. No matter where you go, you'll find that apple picking is a great outing for toddlers especially when you combine it with cool activities like corn mazes, hay rides, petting zoos, and farm markets with fresh pressed cider, donuts and pies.

Keep in mind that crop conditions change from day-to-day, so it’s always a good idea to call a location or check the website before you head out. You'll have to help your little one pick according to the rules of the farm, but you'll always find helpful, friendly farm workers willing to lend a hand and demonstrate the proper picking technique. Be prepared for a port-o-potty, since most locations don't have bathroom facilities out in the orchards. Make sure to dress in warm layers and wear comfortable shoes. And bring your appetites! 

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25 Ways to Play Princess in New York City

If you have daughters, you know it is hard to shield them from the cotton-candy pink frocks, tulle-filled tutus, sparkly wands, and gleaming tiaras of princesses for long. Of course, many kids, not just the girls, are captivated by the swirl of a princess dress or a blinking fairy wand.

With two daughters at home, we have a closet of dress-up flocks, bins of teeny, tiny princess figurines, and shelves chock-a-block full of Disney DVDs. Playing princess is a constant state of being around here. Sometimes my princesses frolic at home; other times we enjoy a night on the town. But no matter where our princess adventures take us, we always have fun.

So, from my princesses to yours, here are 25 ways to experience NYC in royal style.

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Amazing Corn Mazes at New Jersey Farms

Get ready….get set….get lost in an amazing New Jersey corn maze! The Garden State is home to oodles of spectacular corn mazes, ranging from massive 10-acre labyrinths to simpler, child-friendly courses, including hay bale mazes just right for toddlers and preschoolers. Games, clues and even techie bonuses enhance many of the more elaborate maze experiences. Got a tween or teen? Check out those courses open after hours for a nighttime and sometimes spooky adventure.

Many of these 15 corn mazes we've rounded up are day trip worthy on their own, but you'll also likely find apple and pumpkin picking options, hayrides and even fall festivals, plus petting zoos in some instances. So get out your fall to-do list, and navigate your way through one of these great New Jersey corn mazes. Hope you find your way out.

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