Take the Kids to the EcoTarium for Indoor and Outdoor Fun

The EcoTarium is a museum about an hour west of Boston that tends to get overshadowed by the Museum of Science. That's a shame, because the EcoTarium is a fun destination for kids, with plenty of indoor and outdoor activities. Located on one of the hills of Worcester, the EcoTarium combines elements of a traditional science museum with flavors of an animal habitat and woodland trail. Anyone with kids heading for the main entrance will likely be delayed by the interactive musical and building-block activities just outside the front door, including a xylophone of sorts made of large plastic pipes (pictured).

Once families do get inside, the first thing they might hear are the screams.

What Ages Get in Free to NYC Museums, Zoos, Amusement Parks

How's the old adage go? The best things in life are free. But for families in NYC, that may sound like crazy talk. From housing to classes to entertainment, everything here seems to cost so much money...or does it?

The fact is, there's plenty of FREE fun for kids in New York City. And even top family attractions that charge entry fees like museums, zoos, amusement parks, and water parks offer no-cost admission for children under certain ages, and those savings can really add up, especially when you have preschoolers or toddlers

So, we decided to make a list of when the freebies end for kids at New York City's best family destinations, from tourist hot spots like the Statue of Liberty to all of the children's museums and zoos. Yet another reason to wish your children could stay young forever! We've even included a few of our favorite picks in nearby locales, too.

Note: The cut-off ages imply that once kids reach that age, they no longer qualify for free admission, and some places may ask for proof of age. Looking for a 100% FREE outing? Check out our roundup of no-cost admission hours at NYC museums.

South Mountain Reservation for Kids: Swings, Zoo, Fairy Trail

For an easy day hike with the kids, New Jersey’s local “reservations,” essentially mini state forests and parks, are my family’s go-to. The 2,110-acre South Mountain Reservation in Essex County is one of our favorites. The recreation complex includes hiking trails, but also a zoo, mini golf, and a fantastic playground.

Read on for our best family bets for this Jersey green space, or check out some of our other favorite NJ reservations like nearby Watchung, or day trip ideas.

End of Summer Bucket List: 25 Things To Do in CT Before School Starts

Before pool noodles and beach towels get stored away for another season, and late summer nights are replaced by bedtime curfews and homework, (at least) 25 must-do activities await. So before you pack up the flip flops and school buses begin to line up at the curb, give summer a proper send-off and make a few memories that will keep hearts warm in the cold days to come.

A Review of Longwood Gardens' Nightscape

On August 3rd, Longwood Gardens’ latest evening spectacular Nightscape opened to the public. The trippy, amazingly choreographed sound and light extravaganza is definitely not your run of the mill evening out with the family- especially not for my family, as my husband and I have a three-year old son. Starting off with the fact that we were out way past bedtime (the light show in August doesn’t start until 9 PM when it is well past dark), this experience was easily going to go one of two ways: amazement and giggles or...well, you’re parents, you know the rest.

Nature Preschools in and around Westchester

Most preschools incorporate some aspect of nature exploration in its curriculum, but the schools in this list bring it right to the forefront. Hoping to encourage the natural scientists in its students, these schools teach how to be good eco-citizens by learning and caring for our environments. They also encourage plenty of hands-on outdoor fun and different types of STEAM-based activities.
 
Looking for other preschools in our area? Check out the Preschool Directory and our Preschool Guide, both of which are chock full of information. Those in our border towns may also be interested in our list of nature-based preschools in Connecticut.

Experience NYC in True Princess Style at the Lotte New York Palace

With a 3-year-old and 7-year-old daughter, princesses long ago took over my home. We've got dress-up clothes, dolls, movies, sing-along-microphones, and multiple tiaras, but never have my girls felt quite as regal as they did on a recent stay at the Lotte New York Palace where we were treated to a truly magical experience as royal guests with the luxury hotel's Palace Princess Package.

Located in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, the Lotte New York Palace offers a perfect destination for a staycation (as we enjoyed) to celebrate a birthday perhaps or as a treat for out-of-towners looking to make their visit to NYC extra special for a certain princess. 

Need a Last-Minute Babysitter? Hello Sitter App Will Find One

NYC parents have gained a new option for scoring that elusive date-night and last-minute backup sitter. Hello Sitter, an app founded by a local mom, launched this summer with more than 200 sitters serving Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, including the neighborhoods from Park Slope to Williamsburg.

Finding child care always presents a challenge to parents.  Finding it on short notice? As they say, fuggedaboutit. But that’s exactly the challenge that Lauren Mansell, founder and CEO of Hello Sitter, wanted to address when she set about creating the new service. Not only that, as a mom to a preschooler she knows it can be stressful to trust your kids with a stranger, so every sitter on the app is fully vetted.

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