Tweens & Teens

Butterflies and Birds: Where You Can Interact with Them on LI

You know what they say: Birds of a feather flock together. Well, on Long Island they seem to flock to nature preserves, centers, sanctuaries, and farms. Flutter around our area and you can get up close with some beautiful butterflies, too. But don't just wing it — we have the skinny on hoo to see and where.

Need another animal fix? Visit our zoos and gardens guide. Many outdoor petting zoos operate on a seasonal schedule, opening in spring or summer, and closing in fall before the snow arrives.

Review: Gaming with the Franklin Institute's Newest Exhibit

For the avid gamer in your family or for the nostalgic parent who wants to show off their Asteroids skills, Franklin Institute’s latest exhibit GameMasters, one of the many things new to Philly in 2018, gives gaming savvy families a fun way to spend an hour or two in the city. I recently took my young children to check out the new exhibit and here’s what we found.

Petting Zoos Near NYC Where Kids Can See Farm Animals

We're so fortunate to live in a city that offers an incredible array of fun spring activities for kids, but sometimes I fret over the disconnect from nature. I want my daughter to be as comfortable in the country as she is in the urban jungle, so we're always looking for ways to get out of NYC and explore the expansive farmland that borders the city.

While you can meet some furry friends at the city's wonderful zoos, and even get hands-on at their mini petting zoos, there's something particularly special about enjoying an authentic farm setting. We've rounded up our top petting zoos and animal havens to get some serious face time with furry friends. Get ready to load up the family for a day of donkey petting, goat bottle-feedings, and sheep shearing.

Here are our favorite spots for an up-close animal encounter, all within two hours of NYC.

Outdoor Go-Karts Around Houston: The Ultimate Adrenaline Rush

On your mark, get set, go! Take the wheel and head toward one of these family-friendly go-kart tracks in the greater Houston area. Feel the wind in your hair as you whip around hairpin turns and race down straightaways toward the finish line. Go the extra mile at these fantastic outdoor tracks, many of which also offer fun activities such as laser tagmini golf, and arcade games.

Cirque Du Soleil's Volta Is an Artful Adrenaline Rush

Cirque du Soleil's Volta show, which just landed in the greater NYC area, is a feast for the senses. From a stirring score to exhilarating acrobatics and heart-stopping thrills, the newest Cirque spectacle captivated audience members of all ages at the performance my 10-year-old son and I saw Sunday afternoon under the Big Top at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where it will run through May 6.

Volta also plays at the Nassau Colesium on Long Island, beginning May 17, and at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, starting in July.

Water Feature: 15 Water Playgrounds and Parks with Splash Pads in LA

Remember those great summer afternoons running through a sprinkler with the neighborhood kids? Over in New England and Nebraska that’s probably still happening, but in parched SoCal we really can't be turning on the hose to while away a lazy afternoon. Instead, packs of puddle-loving Angeleno kids splash through the heat at parks with free and fabulous water features, like the ones below. So if a pool or a water park sounds like too much work today, cool those kids down at a splash pad!

Have you Visited Connecticut's only National Park Site?

Tucked in the bucolic countryside of Fairfield County, Weir Farm is the only in the National Park Service dedicated to the arts.  Also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Weir Farm has inspired generations of visitors on 60 acres of painterly pastoral paradise. You'll love the peace and serenity Weir Farm brings, your kids will love the pastels. 

Brooklyn and Queens Beer Gardens Where Kids Are Welcome

New York City is overflowing with family-friendly restaurants, but how about bars? Chasing a toddler through a dimly-lit room that's crowded with tables probably isn't your idea of a successful happy hour. When you're looking to grab a drink with the kids in tow, beer gardens are a better option, with plenty of space for little ones to roam around and menus packed with hearty fare that's sure to please picky palates.

Turns out that Brooklyn could give Bavaria a run for its money when it comes to kid-friendly beer gardens. A few even offer special activities for tots like sing-alongs and playgroups during daytime hours. So whether you're celebrating a birthday, or just making it through the day without a meltdown, here are some of NYC's best beer gardens and halls where families can raise their glasses. We've even thrown in a couple of Queens spots, too.

Remember to call ahead or check the weather if you're looking to sit outside. Some beer gardens are just seasonal, or will close all outdoor seating in cold temperatures.

30 Things To Do in Austin, TX with Kids

As a native Texan, I can quickly rattle off about 100 obscure things that make Austin an amazing place for a family getaway. But on a larger scale, Austin, Texas, is widely known for several major reasons. Hailed as the live music capital of the world, Austin is home to one of the nation's most notorious music festivals, SXSW (South by Southwest), as well as the Austin City Limits Festival, and many smaller permanent live music venues throughout the city. Austin is a college town, home to The University of Texas campus, the second largest university in the second largest state in the country. It's also the state's capital, which means it is rich with historical sites, museums, and iconic landmarks. 

The city's popularity is booming thanks in part to the wide variety of culturally enriching activities available, especially for families. "Keep Austin Weird" is the city's unofficial mantra, and boy do they ever keep it weird...in the best way. This list of must-do family activities in the capital of the Lone Star State includes quirky toy shops, breathtaking outdoor sites, unique museums, and even a collection of old "junk" in one man's backyard. And don't forget, we also have awesome ideas for the best things to do with kids in other parts of Texas, including San Antonio and Houston.

Zip Lines, Ropes Courses, and Outdoor Adventure Parks Near NYC

We all need a little excitement in our lives. For some, any of these 13 carousels around New York City will deliver all the excitement in the world. For others, the idea of zip-lining through the air ranks high on their to-do list. Of course, adventure parks aren't for everyone, but there's proof they help children learn problem-solving and collaboration skills. Plus, it's just plain fun to play together as a family and create unforgettable memories.

New York City may not be the epicenter of adventure parks, but it's making strides, especially with the new Adventures on Governors Island, the Bronx Zoo's Treetop Adventure, and a seriously high-flying outdoor zip line in Queens. Meanwhile, just outside the city limits, there are dozens of rope and zip line courses.

We've rounded up a handful of our favorite outdoor adventure parks either in the city or reachable within a quick day trip. Also make sure to see our brand new guide to 25 outdoor adventures in the city for NYC kids.

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