Preschoolers

Cooking Out: Barbecue Grills and Pits in Parks around Los Angeles

Nothing says “summer” like barbecue. Many of our local parks are standing by with grills and pits to satisfy that craving for charred food. And the beauty of life in Southern California is that "summer" can be practically any time of year; the 15 parks below have year-round, mostly free barbecue facilities, ready for birthday parties, holiday celebrations, spontaneous picnics, or family dinners al fresco.

iPlay America is New Jersey's Largest Indoor Boardwalk

The rollercoaster whizzes down the track, the sweet smell of funnel cake fills the air, and an orchestra of buzzers and whistles plays from a nearby arcade. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think you were enjoying an evening on the Jersey Shore boardwalk, but this is iPlay America, a nearly four-acre indoor amusement park and fun center in Freehold, New Jersey that's open all year round.

NYC Playgrounds with Shade: Shady Park Benches and Equipment

While kids can always cool off in NYC's many sprinklers, we parents are stuck baking in the sun all day during the heat of the city's summer as we supervise outdoor play. It's a problem our readers know too well—each summer we get requests for recommendations of shady spots to play.

Although we know of a couple playgrounds that offer exceptional amounts of shade—Hippo Playground in Riverside Park and Discovery Playground in Fort Washington Park come to mind—we decided to ask our readers if they knew of any super-shady playgrounds in New York City. After clarifying that we were talking about shelter from the sun's rays, not sketchy parks, they came through with a number of great suggestions.

Please keep in mind that the name of the game here is comfort on a hot summer day; though we have visited plenty of destination playgrounds, with a few exceptions, these shady suggestions tend to be neighborhood standbys and small playgrounds that have plenty of shade, but perhaps not too many bells and whistles.

Soak Up Some Sun (& Family Fun) at Surfside Beach

When you mention beaches near Houston, everyone's first thought typically trends toward Galveston. However, Galveston's many beaches are not the only ones close enough for a day trip, and while we've trekked down there plenty of times, it's definitely not the end-all-be-all. In fact, one of our favorite spots is the quiet town of Surfside where the beach is clean and full of sand (not seaweed).

Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Parlors Long Island Kids Will Love

Is there ever a bad time to enjoy ice cream? Of course, with summer upon us, it’s the perfect time to take the family out for a scoop, a sundae, or a shake—and all of these definitely will taste better when made with homemade ice cream.

So we’ve rounded up some of Long Island’s best ice cream parlors that everyone is sure to love. These destinations create their yummy flavors from scratch and have a nostalgic feel that make the experience extra special.

For more dining inspiration, check out our roundup of LI restaurants where kids can eat free. And for more family fun, see our Event Calendar, our guide to summer fun and even our list of 100 must-do things with LI kids

Wondrous, Wild Waterfalls Waiting for You in Connecticut

Waterfalls are amazing creations of nature that astound even the hardiest hiker and outdoor lover. The water pounding on the rocks, the splash of the spray, and the shallow wading pools leave the kids with lasting memories. Connecticut is lucky to be home to hundreds of waterfalls; many of them are accessible with just short walks and a little effort for all ages. Of course, please exercise caution at all of these sites as rocks are slippery when wet! If you are looking for more outdoor adventures, go hiking at one of these Hartford area spots and check out our list of ropes courses in Connecticut!

Weekend Fun for Houston Kids: Harry Potter Concert, Lion King, July 22-23

Houston summer nights are hot and humid, the days are long and full of fun, so plan this coming weekend with free moviesfairs and festivals, concerts, and more all over town. If you are wanting to cool off, check out our list of splash pads or free pools in Houston. 

Also on Mommy Poppins this week:

Summer is in full swing! Check out our July GoList or the complete event calendar to find the best things to do this month. Did you know can also submit your own events? Have this post delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

Now let's check out what's going on this weekend: 

Clementon Park in South Jersey: Amusement Rides and Water Fun for Kids

What's your favorite type of theme park attraction: water rides, dry rides, or wave pools? If your family loves all three, there's no need to choose at Clementon Park and Splashworld. This South Jersey combo theme/water park next to Clementon Lake has a 110-year history of entertaining New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware families with a variety of attractions.

Weekend Fun: Sunflowers, Outdoor Movies, and Fairy Tale Theater, July 22-23

The temperatures this week made everyone in my house short-tempered and cranky--especially me--so I'm looking forward to a weekend with plenty of opportunities to cool off and chill out. Saturday's opening of Sunflowers for Wishes at Buttonwood Farm looks like just the thing to cheer us all up (in addition to the gorgeous sunflowers, did I mention there's homemade ice cream?). Some theatrical magic might also lift our spirits, with performances at the Summer Theatre of New Canaan or the last weekend of the Richter's Fairy Tale Theater (note the new performance location in Bethel). 

If all else fails, there are plenty of outdoor movies on the calendar this weekend, from Secret Life of Pets at Shady Beach in Norwalk to Zootopia at Mill River Park in Stamford to Sing at Riverwalk in Shelton to The BFG at The Shoppes at Farmington Valley in Canton. For more ideas, check the Mommy Poppins events calendar and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Stay cool out there!

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