Kids

50 Awesome Santa Activities in Connecticut

Shopping mall Santas have been de rigueur since store owner James Edgar donned a red suit and snowy beard to entertain children in 1890. Today the tradition is alive and well in malls across Connecticut, including Stamford Town Center, Danbury Fair, and Westfarms.

If you're looking to mix it up with a Santa outing that's a little bit different, we have rounded up our 50 favorite Santa activities across the state. Some events are free and require no preregistration, but many of those that do require advanced tickets are VERY popular and can sell out early, so you'll want to buy tickets as soon as possible. In a separate post we've also rounded up where to have a yummy breakfast with Santa. Don't forget to check our Holiday Fun Guide and events calendar often for more holiday happenings!

21 NYC Holiday Activities Every Kid Should Try Once

From train shows to Santa brunches, New York City serves up so many festive offerings there's no way one family can see and do it all in a single holiday season. Our holiday bucket list grows every year. In fact, we found 12 must-do events this year already, and nine, picture-perfect holiday-themed day trips.

But there are a few holiday activities that are extra special, extra big, and extra over the top that can only be found in NYC, and that every kid ought to experience at least once a childhood. These include ice skating under the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and walking the illuminated streets of Dyker Heights in Brooklyn.

Whether you call NYC home or you're in for a holiday visit, our list of 21 once-in-a-lifetime experiences for families represents the quintessential NYC holiday. The best part? More than half are FREE.

Nutcracker Shows and Other Holiday Performances Kids will Love in Boston

The Nutcracker Ballet: It's among the most enduring of holiday family traditions in these parts. And just as there are many kinds of Boston families, there are different Nutcrackers appealing to different tastes, from the Boston Ballet classic to a high-energy, hip-hop interpretation. But Tchaikovsky's beloved confection is hardly the only holiday-themed stage performance delighting kids across Boston this month and next. Families can carol with the Pops, giggle at Elf, root for a red-nosed reindeer, and more. All the shows are terrific, but tickets will go faster than cookies at Christmas Eve, so we'd advise booking sooner than later. Want to make a special day or evening of it? Reserve a table at one of these family-friendly restaurants nearby, too.

Christmas Tree Lightings in New York City This Holiday Season

You don't have to brave the Rockefeller Center commotion to witness a fabulous Christmas tree lighting in New York City.

We've rounded up some tree lightings that are much less crowded and every bit as hip, from Brooklyn and Queens to the Bronx and everywhere in between. These community holiday celebrations are festive and (mostly) FREE, and there’s no need to stand on your car to glimpse the goings-on. So grab that cup of hot chocolate and cozy up to one of these holiday illuminations in New York City. Find even more seasonal fun in our Holiday Guide.

From Nutcrackers to A Christmas Carol: Shows for Philly Families during the Holidays

Does your family keep the tradition of seeing a show during the holidays? Performances such as The Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol, which share a joyful holiday message, come to mind. In addition to these classic holiday performances, there are other shows on stage in and around Philadelphia that are sure to provide Philly families with a chance for quality time together during this festive season.

We have rounded up professional Nutcracker productions, symphony experiences, holiday favorites, and family friendly musicals from our event calendar. Whether it is your family's first experience seeing a Christmas production this year, or it's a new bucket list item for your crew, there are plenty of funny, heartwarming, and magical events on our list that they will enjoy.

The Newark Museum: Out-of-This-World Fun for NJ Kids and Families

Nestled in the heart of downtown Newark’s Art District, 10 miles from New York City, is New Jersey's largest museum. The Newark Museum, established in 1909, is an art and science center that truly has something for everybody. I recently visited with my 5-year-old daughter to see a show at the planetarium, and I was impressed—not only is the planetarium perfect for young kids, but the museum offers tons of other family-friendly programs as well.

If you're looking for indoor activities for the winter ahead, put the Newark Museum on your to-do list. Read on for more about this Essex County gem.

Santa Claus Brunches, Teas, and Cruises for NYC Kids

A picture with Santa can be thrilling for a little kid. But if your child wants a heartier visit with the big red guy, a tasty breakfast, brunch, or tea might be in order.

We've found eight spots in New York City where families can enjoy a special holiday meal with Old St. Nick. These range from inexpensive pancake brunches hosted by local organizations to lavish spreads at Rockefeller Center and the Plaza Hotel. You can even hop on a cruise with Santa.

All require advance reservations and sell out quickly. Whichever one you choose, bring your camera—and your appetite—and for more seasonal family fun check out our Holiday Guide.

Weekend Fun for Houston Kids: Zoo Lights, Winter Wonderland Kids Festival, Pecan Harvest Festival, Nov. 18-19

If you're anything like us, then your calendar is probably filling up at an alarming rate right now with seasonal favorites like breakfast with Santa, The Nutcracker, and other kid-friendly holiday shows. With so many great events happening, it can be hard to pick which ones to attend! To help ease the stress of sifting through the overwhelming number of events coming up, we put together a handy little list of the top things to do with preschoolers during the holidays.

Or maybe that just made your calendar even fuller. Even so, you'll thank us when you see those great big smiles, promise. 

Suddenly feel like you need to get away? A family camping trip to Bastrop State Park might be just what you need. We're positive you'll come back feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to tackle the holidays.

Don't forget: there's still time to vote for your favorite local businesses during this year's Houston Besties; voting puts you in the running to win some awesome prizes!

Find your calendar looking a little light this month? In need of ways to entertain visiting family and friends? Check out our fall bucket listevent calendar, and November GoList for even more family events and activities. You can also subscribe to our free weekly newsletter to make sure you're always in the loop with everything happening around Houston. 

Have an event worth sharing? Share it with us by submitting your own event to our calendar, and we'll share it with all of our loyal readers.

Now, let's get on to this weekend's events!

Eataly LA: A Taste of Italy without the Airfare

For those who pine for fresh pasta, Neopolitan pizzas, and every Italian delicacy that never pops up at Trader Joe's, there's good news. Eataly L.A., the latest outpost of what has been called the Disneyland for Italian food (and has become a New York institution), opened its first North American location west of Chicago last week in the newly redone Westfield Century City shopping center. Eataly now has 39 locations throughout Italy and around the world, and just five of those can be found in the US. Eataly L.A. has three floors (the third is an as-yet unopened restaurant) and offers a little bit of everything: a grocery store, sit-down restaurants, prepared food counters, cafes, and fresh food for home preparation. There's even a cooking school (La Scuola), and foodies who don't want to cook for themselves can watch fresh food being made as well as sample olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and pestos.

So what should kids try? Even picky eaters who hesitate to try Italy's more adventurous fare will be able to find some satisfying pizza and gelato to excite their palates, whether you want to eat in-house, grab a quick bite, or purchase food to make at home.

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