Tweens & Teens

How Can I Find Free Summer Meal Programs for Kids?

Many parents rely on the free breakfast and lunch available through the local school system to keep their kids' engines running—but what happens in the summer? Thankfully, there are still free meal programs available when school lets out.

Parents will find free breakfast, lunch, and sometimes afternoon snacks and more meals served up at certain parks, schools, community centers, hospitals, and elsewhere this summer. Many of the summer meal programs are federally funded through the USDA's Summer Food Service Program, but administered by local organizations, cities, or states. Read on for tips on how to find a free kids meal near you.

Public Pools and Day Passes to Private Pools in Fairfield County

There's no shortage of shoreline in Fairfield County, but that doesn't mean you won't pine for an outdoor swimming pool from time to time.  Finding one you're allowed to use, however, may be more challenging than finding an affordable beach.  Many towns have never had them.  Others have shut them down for safety/insurance reasons.  That leaves a handful of town pools, and those at private clubs (and ok, yes, countless backyard pools, but we're assuming you gave up your fence-hopping days when Junior came along).  Mommy Poppins has done some digging, and found a handful you can pay to take a dip in for the day. 

Free Outdoor Movies in NYC This Summer

New York City screens hundreds of FREE outdoor movies each summer, many of them just for kids and families. 

A few outdoor movie series, such as RiverFlicks for Kids in the West Village, are aimed specifically at children. But even grown-up series, such as those in Bryant Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park, include some family-friendly screenings in their lineup. The amazing Movies Under the Stars series offers screenings in parks and at playgrounds in all five boroughs every summer, and you can find them as they're scheduled with this super-secret link to our calendar search (OK, not so secret now). We've even filtered it for you by borough: ManhattanBrooklynQueensThe Bronx, and Staten Island.

Movies usually begin when evening falls, between 8 and 8:30pm, but plan to arrive early...the well-known series fill up fast, and many parks offer pre-movie entertainment. Even if your local park is screening a flick you've watched a dozen or so times at home, it's a totally different experience viewing it in the open air alongside several hundred other fans. It's a thrilling, communal event, and a summer rite of passage for New Yorkers of all ages.

So grab your calendars, roll up your picnic blankets, and start plotting your FREE summer of entertainment now. And be sure to check out the other amazing seasonal activities in our Summer Fun Guide.

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Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Parlors Long Island Kids Will Love

Is there ever a bad time to enjoy ice cream? The answer is, of course, no. Ice cream is a comforting, delicious snack the whole family can enjoy. Get your bellies full of some scoops, a sundae, or a shake, and it all tastes better when made with homemade ice cream. 

From Nassau to the East End, we’ve rounded up some of Long Island’s best ice cream parlors that everyone in your family is sure to love. These destinations create yummy flavors from scratch and have a nostalgic feel that makes the experience extra special.

If ice cream is not your thing (we won't ask why), check out our roundup of other decadent dessert locations, or our guide to pick-your-own berry farms on Long Island. And for more dining inspiration, see our roundup of LI restaurants where kids can eat FREE.

Best Places for Family Playtime in NYC

Playing together with your kids is one of the best parts of being a parent. Not only does it get everyone off the couch and moving, but you're also creating memorable family experiences.

Most city families don't have a backyard to play catch in, but there are still plenty of ways to play in NYC that are as engaging for grown-ups as for children, from mini-golf to bumper cars, bowlingbilliards, and beyond. Read on for a few of the best ways you and your kids can disconnect from technology and enjoy a few hours of awesome bonding time.

LA's Best Swimming Pools with Play Areas Worth a Drive this Summer

Sure, there are miles of great beaches in SoCal, but sometimes you need a break from the sand, and you want water that's a little less, well, wavy. It can be worth going a little farther to find a swimming pool that’s open to the public for recreational swimming and offers something special: Think slides, water play features, extended shallow areas for the little ones to splash in, or a beautiful, peaceful setting. Here’s our list of cool destination swimming pools worth a drive in LA and OC. Most range in price from $1 to $12 per person, and several of these pools offer discounted season passes (check websites for details).

Best NYC Experiences to Give Your Kids Instead of Birthday Presents

How many Legos do you need to step on before you realize your kid probably doesn’t need another toy for their birthday? It’s not an existential question as much as it is a practical one. If your little one has already accumulated as many material goods as they could ever need or want (thanks, Grandma), try a different tack for birthday gift-giving this year. Why not pick a cool experience instead of a toy this birthday? 

Raising kids in the best city on the planet has its advantages, and there's no shortage of meaningful "experience gifts" to choose from for your city kid. Check out these birthday-worthy NYC experiences that range from totally free to a bit of splurge—and surprise your child with a fabulous birthday experience that is sure to be fun for them, and you too!

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