Tweens & Teens

Free Splash Pads, Spraygrounds, and Fountains for Kids in Hartford County

Just because Hartford County is centrally located in Connecticut doesn't mean that you have to venture very far to enjoy the water. Waves and beach sand are not in close proximity, there are still plenty of options to enjoy water play in lakes, pools, water parks, and splash pads. If you’re looking to cool down in the hot summer months, check out one of these fun locations. Best of all, like so many of our Mommy Poppins faves, they're free, so there's no need to bring your wallet (just towels and sunscreen)!

Rockaway with Kids: 25 Things to Do at the Beach and Beyond

Why schlep to the Hamptons? Thanks to its weekend-getaway vibe, Rockaway, Queens is a popular family staycation destination in summer, and with the Rockaway ferry making daily round-trips, it's easy to get to.

Rockaway's beautiful beaches have soft sand and formidable Atlantic Ocean waves—it's the only shore in NYC where you're allowed to surf. Although this area was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, the boardwalk and Rockaway Park have been renovated with amazing playgrounds and water play areas. Read on for all you need to know to get to and enjoy this NYC summer favorite. 

Best Free Public Pools in Chicago for Families

Summer takes its sweet time coming to Chicago, but when it finally arrives, you can find Chicagoans swimming, floating, and soaking up the sun at one of Chicago’s fifty (!) free outdoor swimming pools. Many Chicago public pools have separate splash pads, water playgrounds, or kiddie pools with zero entry for the littlest swimmers, and a few even have water slides! Most public pools are also ADA accessible, and offer locker rooms and bathrooms. While most pools do not have concession stands, there is usually an entrepreneurial neighbor with a popsicle cart nearby.  

Each pool has its own schedule with dedicated times for adults, families, classes, camps, all-female swim, all-male swim, and more. Be sure to check the schedule (and the pool rules!) before you go. Here are a few of our favorite FREE outdoor pools in Chicago for no-cost summer fun with kids. 

Free (or Super Cheap) Archery Classes for LA & OC Kids Who Love Bows and Arrows

A fair number of kids who see Brave or The Hunger Games end up curious about archery, and a fair number of their parents end up scratching their heads and saying, "Where do we do that??" Gymnastics, swimming—that's easy. But where to bring a would-be archer to string a bow and shoot some arrows? Less obvious, perhaps, but not as hard as you might think. And the even better news? It's usually free!

9 NYC Batting Cages That Hit It Outta the Park

For my family, no season is as sacred as the spring and summer baseball season, with its hours spent watching the game and playing Little League at our local ball fields. My son, who is serious about baseball, is always itching to get some real reps in, but there's only so much that can be tackled within the four walls of a cramped New York City apartment.

Luckily, the city has a slew of batting-cage options. Some even include private instruction and facilities where players can work on their fielding skills. Batter up!

45 Fun Things to Do with Kids in Long Island City, Queens

About 15 years ago, a friend told me Long Island City and Hunter’s Point were the up and coming places to be. At the time, the area seemed too industrial to be the next hot spot, but the subsequent years have proved my friend right. Who would have thought former warehouses would be renovated to become restaurants and boutiques and LIC would be full of young families, eager to enjoy the amazing waterfront parks and amenities? Apparently, not me.

The change is evident. Glass-enclosed condos have remade the shoreline skyline and new amenities seemingly pop up daily. There's so much to see and do in this family-friendly neighborhood. Here's our list of 45 fun things to do in Long Island City with kids. Now, go forth and explore!

25 Water Games for Kids To Play All Summer Long

Water games are an easy way to keep the kids entertained—and cool—this summer. From a simple water balloon toss to fancier DIY fun like sprinkler Twister, these outdoor games are sure to please all ages.

One year, I found myself home with both kids for a whole summer due to a shift in my career path, so we got pretty creative with the water games. There were 10 weeks to fill after all! Read on for our favorites—and you can also download this free printable with all 25 top water games for kids.

Need more free and cheap activities for the kids this summer break? Our family started a Boredom Busters jar: a painted Mason jar full of ideas to keep them busy (and tired out). Anyone complaining of boredom can open it and pick out an activity. Many of the ideas come from the Mommy Poppins' 100 Summer Play Activities List and Free Summer Fun Ideas. But their absolute favorites are the water games for splish-splashy, low-key summer fun.

Drive-In Movie Theaters near LA for a Classic Family Movie Night

How about a drive-in movie tonight? Remember double features, staying up late watching movies in your jammies under the stars, tubs of popcorn from the snack bar, and, as the night wore on, crawling into the pile of blankets mom brought? Today's kids don't need to miss out on this American institution; though not as popular as they once were, several area drive-ins are still operating, plus LA has a pop-up drive-in, too. Drive-ins are generally cheaper than movie theaters, often show double features, and let you bring your own food. We're fortunate in the Southland to have oodles of free outdoor movies in summer, but there is something uniquely magical about the drive-in. bucket list worthy

Connecticut Drive -In Movie Theaters to Enjoy Kids' and Family Flicks

There are some family activities that seem to define summer: picking berries, spending a day at the beach, roasting marshmallows over a campfire, and, of course, watching a movie under the stars! While you could always catch an outdoor movie from a picnic blanket in a local park, taking in a drive-in movie from the comfort of the family truckster is a special treat. Here are our favorite drive-in movie spots in Connecticut; for more options, check out these outdoor theaters in nearby Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Candy Shops on Long Island Where You Can Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Nothing is quite like a visit to a local candy shop on Long Island. Whether you are preparing to fill Easter baskets with goodies or just looking for a fun place to satisfy your sweet tooth, feasting your eyes on the vibrant colors, smelling the familiar scent of sugar, and anticipating the first bite of a sweet treat brings out the child in everyone.

A visit to one of these 20-plus Long Island destinations gives yours kids a chance to sample treats, take tours, or even a attend candy-making class. These shops offer everything from hand-dipped truffles to old-fashioned penny candies.

For more tasty treats, see our guide to old-fashioned Long Island ice cream parlors, destinations for decadent desserts, and even Long Island restaurants where kids can eat FREE

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