Explore Staten Island: NYCgo's Culture Spot of the Month

Staten Island has long been known as the "forgotten borough"—it's always last whenever the five are mentioned. Yes, you have to take a boat (or an express bus) to get here. Yes, once you arrive, the public transportation is spotty (although that's the case in "the city," too. Ever ride the M34?) And yes, we've tried to secede from time to time. But as a born and bred Staten Island girl (pronounced "Sta'nylan," thank you very much), I'm here to tell you that there's so much more to do than just ride the iconic ferry.

Mommy Poppins has written many posts about Staten Island over the years, encouraging families to explore the "greenest borough," and now's the perfect time to visit: In honor of its 350th anniversary, NYC & Company, the Big Apple's official marketing organization, has chosen Staten Island as its Culture Spot of the month. That means you can enjoy two-for-one admission to five famous SI institutions, including the Staten Island Museum and Historic Richmond Town, until the end of June.

But why stop there? I've rounded up 13 fun, family-friendly things to do on Staten Island, along with links to what we've written about each attraction.

Fun Summer Vacation Literary Itinerary for Kids: Hartford to Boston

Wouldn't your little writer love visiting Louise May Alcott's Orchard House or Walden Pond this summer? What a great road trip for your tweens and teens! This itinerary given to me by Corrine Upton over at the Mark Twain House has covered it all starting in Hartford and finishing up in Boston. Over the course of five days (or less, for those who are ambitious), visit the birthplace of Mark Twain’s most famous characters, get inspired by Edith Wharton’s landscape design, and visit the grave sites of Thoreau, Hawthorne, Emerson and Alcott at Author’s Ridge at Sleepy Hollow.  
Below, you'll find the full itinerary of a New England literary pilgrimage-- offering a unique, inspiring and educational summer vacation. And if you'd like even more fun literary locales check out more destinations like Dr. Seuss' Sculpture Garden, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and Emily Dickinson's house all in Western Mass.

Curious George: Let's Get Curious! Kids Can Explore Math, Science and Engineering at the Children's Museum of Manhattan

Unlike the Curious George exhibit at the Jewish Museum last year, which focused on the creators Margret and H.A. Rey and was really aimed at adults, the Children's Museum of Manhattan's Curious George: Let’s Get Curious! is totally for little monkeys.

The brand-new interactive installation was designed by the Minnesota Children’s Museum, and uses the iconic kid-lit character as the catalyst for hands-on explorations of math, science and engineering.

It's a really fun exhibit (my kindergartner is already begging to go back) that invites kids to learn through adventure-—ust like their favorite inquisitive little primate.

Here's how my son and I spent our time at Curious George: Let’s Get Curious! at CMOM.

Father's Day NYC 2011: Free and Fun Things to Do with Dad

Dads are all different. So for Father's Day, we've rounded up eclectic ways to celebrate the particular patriarch of your family.

Whether he's sporty, artsy or an overgrown kid, we've got plenty of ideas to choose from so you can make Sunday, June 19 extra memorable.

Read on for suggestions (all free or inexpensive) to suit every kind of dad. Happy Father’s Day!

Five Fantastic Frozen Treats That Aren't Ice Cream

I'm not going to knock the Mister Softee truck. It's certainly kept my kids (and at times, me) cool and happy on many sticky days.

But soft-serve isn't the only sweet summer treat in town. New York City is full of delicious ways to cool down. Take your kids on an international tour of our melting pot's tastiest icy treats—that aren’t ice cream.

Rainbow City at the High Line: Interactive Art for Kids and Parents

How many times have you waited on a long line with your kids for a bouncy house and thought, I wish there were something in this for me. Well, make your way to the northern end of the recently opened Section 2 of the High Line, and you shall be rewarded.

Although it looks like a mash up of a carnival, Candy Land and Kid Robot, the brand-new installation Rainbow City isn't specifically aimed at children—the nearby beer garden and high-end food trucks kind of give that away. Still, visitors of all ages are welcome to explore this colorful, pop-art environment, which features 40 inflatable structures to push, pull, jump on and roam within. Yes, parents are allowed to bop around the bouncy houses, too, and the entire experience is totally free.

Located in a lot on 30th Street and Tenth Avenue, Rainbow City isn't actually on the High Line, so you can access it from the street. But it's worth approaching the place from the elevated park. The view of all of the whimsical inflatables swaying about is spectacular.

Not since Ernesto Neto's anthropodino at the Park Avenue Armory has an adult art installation so captured my kid's imagination and attention, and I felt the same way. One look at the photos of her running around, and you'll see why.

Figment NYC Festival on Governors Island: Creative Fun for the Whole Family

Sometimes rain is the best thing that can happen to your weekend plans. There's nothing like a storm to keep the teeming masses away from an excellent event. The Figment Festival on Governors Island is one of the most fun things to do in the city every June, but it's usually jam-packed. This year, we braved a few drizzles (and one downpour) and almost had Figment completely to ourselves.

This free festival continues through Sunday, June 12, so there's still time to enjoy all of the wacky, artsy fun. What's the fest like? Check out our slide show and our list of highlights of the 2011 Figment Festival, then head to Governors Island tomorrow to see for yourself.

Big Apple Circus Ticket Give Away in CT!

This year the Big Apple Circus's  new artistic director makes his mark with the theme Dance On! which leads to a fun, fast paced show. Jugglers, contortionists, lasso tricks, you name it, this show keeps moving with one surprise after another.

We're teaming up with the Big Apple Circus to offer one lucky family a set of four tickets to have a grand ol' time with Grandma Clown and the crew. We'll also send out a discount code to our CT newsletter subscribers providing them with a $15 discount per ticket.

The Prize: A family four-pack of tickets to "The Big Apple Circus" at Mill River Park, Stamford, CT on Thursday, June 16th for the 7pm show.

How to Enter: To enter the contest you must email me below telling us that you either joined our CT Mommy Poppins Facebook page, twitter'd this contest into cyber-space and/or subscribed to our newsletter. Comments must be entered by 7pm on Monday, June 13th. Winner will be drawn at random and notified on Tuesday June 14th. Please leave your contact information when you email. If you do not respond to our email notification within 24 hours, another winner will be drawn. Email addresses of entrants will not be collected, sold or otherwise abused.

The  performance lasts 2 hours, including intermission. Children under 3 are free when they sit on the lap of a paid adult. One child per lap.

Circus! Science Under the Big Top at the New York Hall of Science

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls: Step right up! The circus is in town, and you're invited to join them!

If you've ever wanted to walk a tightrope, somersault in midair or play lion tamer, your fantasies will be fulfilled at the interactive exhibit Circus! Science Under the Big Top, which opens this weekend at the New York Hall of Science.

Families can also learn all about the science behind the spectacle, including how carnie folk swallow swords and contort their bodies, and why cotton candy smells so good (at least to kids). In addition, Circus! features tons of vintage photos, big top legends and lore, and cool artifacts from the heyday of the traveling troupes.

Here are some of the derring-dos you can try (or learn about) when you step into the ring.

NJ Weekend Events June 11-12: Rubber Duckies, Crafting for Dad, Stone Soup and Lots o' Music

New Jersey’s hills (and towns) are alive with the sound of music this weekend!  Take in Celtic sounds in Cape May, rock’n’roll in Hoboken, Girlchoir in Lawrenceville and local teen bands in Berkeley Heights. Rather race? Take your pick: rubber duckies down the Passaic River or cockroaches at the Bugseum–both for charity.  You can also try your hand at museum gallery sketching in Montclair or get a jump on Father’s Day with a knot-tying fest or wallet-making workshop.  Or see “Stone Soup” as never before in a Papermill Playhouse show created specifically for children with autism spectrum or other developmental disabilities. Whatever your pick, you’ll be whistling dixie at day’s end!


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