Hang with Animals at These Cozy Indoor Spots

Kids are innate animal lovers—we bet all parents go through that phase when they're convinced their child is going to grow up to be a veterinarian. But in wintertime when all living things in New York City seem to be hibernating, it's tough to indulge kids' craving for creatures beyond the ever-present subway rats. And who wants to pet one of those?! That's why we rounded up the best places to get up close and personal with animals in cozy, indoor environments. Here's where you can hang with cool cats, beautiful birds and butterflies, and even "adopt" a critter without ever having to take it home.

Halloween Goes to the Dogs: NYC Dog Costume Parades & Contests

There's nothing cuter than seeing little kids decked out in cool costumes...except, perhaps, dogs done up in fancy duds. Before I became a mom, I always looked forward to dressing up my pup, Hamlet, during the Halloween season. Now my son and I both enjoy this annual tradition. Over the years, our dog has been a skunk, Dracula and a grape, but frankly, these get-ups are pretty tame compared to some of the wild and creative outfits we've seen at NYC's many Halloween pet parades and costume contests.

Of course, you don't need to have a dog to enjoy these costumed canine extravaganzas, everyone is invited to gawk and "awwww." We found a handful of Halloween happenings for hounds in all five boroughs, so hit these parades to see who's really top dog.

You can find lots more season fun in our jam-packed Halloween Guide.

Indoor Extreme Sports Paintball and Laser Tag Opens on Staten Island

My 11-year-old son and his friend were thrilled when I told them that the popular Indoor Extreme Sports Paintball & Laser Tag center in Queens recently opened a location on Staten Island. They couldn't wait to visit. Our trip ended up falling on a hot and muggy day, which was perfectly timed because we got to escape the humidity. That said, after a few exciting games of laser tag, we all ended up rather sweaty and exhausted anyway. But it was so worth it!

Dutchess County Fair & Other Fun New York State Fairs Including Three in NYC

Summer is quickly coming to a close, but you still have time for a few last flings. How about hitting a fun-filled county fair or country festival? There are lots of fantastic annual fests at this time of year, like the Dutchess County Fair, the Columbia County Fair and the New York State Fair, many a short drive (or train or bus ride) from New York City and Westchester. There are even three county fairs right in NYC!

These fairs let kids get face time with farm animals like chickens, goats, pigs and cows; hop on cool carnival rides; groove to live music; and enjoy other entertainment and activities. They're good old-fashioned fun for the whole family, and the perfect way to say goodbye to the season. Here are 10 county fairs and festivals near or in New York City.

Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festivals in New York City: Moon Cakes and Flying Lanterns

Recently we rounded up a slew of outdoor fairs and fests in September. Below we're spotlighting the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, a Chinese tradition that's celebrated all over the city.

Basically a Chinese harvest festival, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival marks the fall equinox. Traditionally, families go out to admire the big autumn moon, eat elaborate moon cakes and light pretty paper lanterns. There are a number of organized celebrations around the city.

Free Sledding and Hot Chocolate in NYC Parks Saturday, January 4, 2014

It's official... an official snow day that is. On Saturday, January 4, the Parks Department is inviting New Yorkers to come out to a neighborhood park for some winter fun. White-capped hills around the city are open for sledding, snowman-making and more. And at five designated locations, the Parks Department will be handing out sleds and free hot chocolate while supplies last from 11am to 3pm.

Staten Island Kids Party Places: 10 More Great Birthday Ideas

In the past we've touted Staten Island as a great place to find a birthday party bargain. But there are so many fun Staten Island party spots, we thought it was time to do a new roundup.

Not only do Staten Island parties tend to be some of the least expensive options in NYC, they often offer the kind of fun you usually only find in the 'burbs, like bumper cars, go-karts and massive video game arcades. So in addition to our original list of Staten Island party places, here are 10 more spots where you can throw a memorable birthday bash. You can find even more options in our Party Guide.

Animal Tales Extravaganza and Things to Do at NYC Zoos in Spring 2011

Don't wait for summer to head to the city's zoos. Spring is the perfect time to visit. The animals are friskier in the cooler weather, and the crowds haven't yet hit.

Plus the zoos are bursting with special spring programming. Visit with new baby animals, like the goats at the Central Park Zoo and two new wallabies at the Prospect Park Zoo's recently reopened Australian Walkabout exhibit. The Bronx Zoo is throwing its fantastic Animal Tales Extravaganza festival, featuring costumed characters and other activities. The New York Aquarium just cut the kelp on its Conservation Hall exhibit, where you can marvel at amazing marine life. The Queens Zoo is hosting its first-ever sleepover and has a new Lynx on view.

And that's just a handful of the things that will make you go wild at the zoo this season.

Another New York Beach: The Beaches of Staten Island, That Is

With all the tall buildings, noise and traffic, it is easy to forget that New York is really just made up of a bunch of islands, with swimable beaches all around. When you think bout Staten Island, your first thought may not be "beach", but Staten Island is home to many beaches, which are close-by, reachable by public transportation, and free ways to escape the buildings, fast-walkers and chaos of everyday life, without heading to the Garden State. Find out some of the best Staten Island Beaches below.

Historic Richmond Town

This village and museum complex occupies 100 acres of living American history, as Richmond was the first town in Staten Island. There are 15 restored buildings, including the oldest Church on Staten Island, the first Court house on the island (which now serves as a museum), an old school house and an old print shop (remodeled, from 1860) that has an original printing press. There’s the Rezeau-Van Pelt Family Cemetery, which has graves dating back from the 1780s to the 1860s, a jailhouse, farm and a (seasonal) restaurant where you can eat foods from the time period. Oh, and the entire staff is always in period-appropriate attire, too.


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