Long Island

Free Indoor Play Spaces for Long Island Kids

There’s no reason to stay home just because the fall season and the colder weather is upon us.

All across Long Island, there are play spaces and indoor playgrounds to keep your kids happily occupied. In fact, some of them are hiding in plain sight. And better yet, many of these kid-friendly spots are FREE. From malls to bookstores and libraries, there is plenty of FREE fun to be had for Long Island kids.

Enjoy these unique play destinations, but remember at most venues a parent/adult must be present to supervise children.

For more indoor fun, don't forget our guide to rainy-day activities on Long Island.

Are Daycare Kids Better Behaved? This Study Says Yes

Torn between a nanny, daycare, or staying home with your kids? Choosing childcare can be a difficult—and deeply personal—decision for any family, and of course involves a number of factors, from costs to the length of your commute. A new study out of France suggests that daycare might offer some significant advantages in terms of our kids' development.

Researchers at Sorbonne Université in Paris followed nearly 1,500 kids from the womb to age 8 as they either attended a center-based daycare or were cared for by a nanny or family member. The daycare kids, particularly those who attended at least a year before the age of three, were less likely to have problems with peers and other emotional and behavioral issues, according to the researchers.

Best Neighborhoods to Trick-or-Treat for Long Island Kids

There's nothing like trick-or-treating on Long Island, where kids can head to their favorite downtowns to fill up on treats from local businesses. Or to their own neighborhoods, where they know how to traverse every nook and cranny. Plus, kids probably have a good idea what houses to avoid and what ones to knock on twice for those sweet rewards.

Camaraderie among neighbors gives you a sense of community. But sometimes change is good.

So which Long Island neighborhoods are best for trick-or-treating? We prefer those that have houses close together, merchants who participate, are well lit, and have minimal traffic. Read on for our list of favorites.

Check out our Halloween Guide for more Long Island trick-or-treating fun, including these top events for kids and not-too-scary haunted houses and walks. For more seasonal fun, see our October GoList and Fall Fun Guide.

Best Kid-Friendly Hotels for a San Diego Family Vacation

Whether you're driving down from Los Angeles or flying in from afar, a weekend in San Diego is the perfect getaway to find rest and relaxation all year long. The SoCal destination offers a wide array of family activities to keep everyone entertained, in between the requisite visits to Seaworld, Legoland, and the Safari Park. Here, we round up eight of our favorite spots to kick back and unwind in this picturesque beach town.

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 the New York City metro area. A huge hit with kids and parents alike, these trains spark the imagination and holiday spirit with seasonal snacks, stories, even gifts—not to mention a visit from Santa himself.

These old-school cabooses (some harking back to the 1920s) offer a classic holiday ambience. There's a Polar Express just an hour south into New Jersey, as well as the one-day-only Tri-State Santa Train about 50 minutes away. You could also consider a day trip to the Catskills, or a weekend getaway to Pennsylvania Dutch Country for the Santa's Paradise Express. No matter which Santa Train experience you choose, your family can combine the annual Santa Claus photo op with lasting memories of a sweet adventure.

Remember: these train rides sell out quickly, often months in advance, so book now if you want to go.

Free Halloween Parades and Events for Kids on Long Island

Halloween might be the final day of October, but events are happening on Long Island all throughout the month. Here are some fun and free Halloween events in which the family can take part. Kids (and grown-ups) love dressing in costumes, so consider attending more than one event to get the best use of them. 

Don’t forget to check your local library for any FREE Halloween events it might be hosting. And for more seasonal fun, check out our Long Island Halloween Guide, our October GoList, and our compilation of the best fall fairs and festivals on Long Island. 

So whether you scored that pizza slice costume on clearance last year or spent hours with a hot glue gun and duct tape, these events are a great way to showcase those fun or frightening costumes. 

21 Halloween Movies with Kid-Friendly Thrills and Chills

Are the kids excited for Halloween? Build on their anticipation with a family Halloween movie night that brings all those witches, ghosts, and goblins to life!

Pop some popcorn or whip up an on-season batch of scarecrow snack mix and candy corn punch while you settle in for a cozy night on the couch with one of these top Halloween movies. It's the perfect family-friendly nightcap to fall days spent apple and pumpkin picking or puzzling your way out of a corn maze.

With so many spooky films available to rent or stream, it can be hard to choose the right one for your family. From preschool to preteen, our list of the best Halloween movies for kids has something to put everyone in the Halloween spirit.

Weekend Fun: Oyster Festival, Children's Theater, PumpkinFest

Check the scare at the door at these not-so-spooky Halloween walks and events. Parade around the City by the Sea this weekend at Long Beach's Halloween parade and fall festival. View LEGO sculptures on display and then create your own at the Ward Melville Heritage Organization Educational & Cultural Center. Catch Pinkalicious on the stage in Patchogue or A Kooky Spooky Halloween in Port Jefferson. 

Attention leaf peepers: Be sure to check out our nature walk guide for the best spot to spot the changing colors. 

See our Fall Family Fun Guide for the best in seasonal entertainment, including day trip ideas, fall festivals, corn mazes and plenty of FREE events and activities. As always, our Event Calendar and October GoList are loaded with fun, daily happenings for Long Island kids.

Caumsett State Park: A Jewel for Kids on Suffolk's North Shore

Parents with spirited kids know the value of time spent in nature.

Besides just being an awesome experience, nature and the outdoors are known to build immunity, lower stress, and reduce symptoms of ADHD. Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve near Huntington is a spacious waterfront parkland where tots can enjoy year-round fishing, hiking, picnicking, and more on Long Island Sound.

For more great things in and around Long Island's North Shore, check out our guides to Centerport with kids and family fun in Northport. For more outdoor fun, check out our guide to LI parks and playgrounds, including 15 state parks that are absolutely worth a visit.

Painted Rocks Is the Newest Kid-friendly Scavenger Hunt & Hiking Craze Since Geocaching

The popular geocaching phenomenon has proven over the years to be a great way to channel your inner treasure hunting abilities as a family. Chances are someone in your family has also played at least one round of Pokemon Go. One positive impact these types of activities have is that they get kids up and moving, many times in parks or on local trails. Painted rocks is a trend that offers yet another way to get moving as a family and connect with the community, with a little crafting thrown in.

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