See Bronx Zoo Like a Local: Tips for a Great Visit with Kids

We've written about the Bronx Zoo often, and with good reason. I've been a regular at this zoo since I was a child, and now visit with my three kids. We enjoy every outing. The Bronx Zoo continues to evolve and remains a top destination for local NYC families, tourists, and animal lovers of all kinds.

Located in the heart of the Bronx at the southern end of Bronx Park and near the borough's own Little Italy, the Bronx Zoo is easily accessible via public transit or by car. One visit is sure to leave a lasting impression, though you'll need more than that to experience all this institution has to offer. And since it is the nation's largest urban zoo, it helps to have some pointers before you go—especially if you are visiting with kids. So read on for 10 tips on visiting the Bronx Zoo like a local.

The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze Rises in Hudson Valley Again

There are some experiences every family should try once. Then there are annual events that, after you try them, you vow to do every year forevermore. That's how I feel about the Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze in Croton-on-Hudson, a Hudson Valley Halloween staple with thousands of hand-carved jack-o’-lanterns.

The downside of the Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze is that tickets start selling out way in advance ... like early September. The 2016 shows begin Friday, September 30, and run through Sunday,  November 13. They are not held every day, so start checking the calendar now. Our NYC readers should know that the Blaze is definitely worth splurging on, even if you need to rent a Zipcar. It's also accessible via public transportation.

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RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns: 5,000 Pumpkins Light up the Night

There are many levels of pumpkin carving. There's picking up a pumpkin at the grocery store and stabbing a crooked smile onto it. There's downloading a stencil and spending an afternoon with a $5 carving kit creating Jack Skellington. And then there's taking 5,000 fresh pumpkins per week and turning them into multi-gourd masterpieces never before conceived out of fruit. That last thing? That's Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns.

Halloween enthusiasts on Long Island have long enjoyed this gloriously over the top pumpkin extravaganza, but it is still relatively new to Los Angeles area families, and completely new this season to our readers in New Jersey and Boston. That's a whole lot more families getting to experience the glowing, walk-through exhibit, that brings out the Halloween spirit in visitors of all ages. Read on to find out all about this amazing spectacle and get a Mommy Poppins promo code!

Preschool in the Park? Outdoor and Nature-Themed NYC Classes

Nature provides the perfect classroom for preschool-aged kids. Even New York's little urbanites love to jump in puddles, make mud pies, climb trees, and dig for worms. For parents looking for a classroom that draws its lessons from nature, we've rounded up the city's best preschools, "forest schools," and toddler classes in which kids spend a significant part of each day outdoors or interacting with the natural world. As classes are often held rain or shine, proper outdoor gear is a must, so get some sturdy boots and rain pants and let your kids explore!

For more preschool options, be sure to check out the directory of schools, as well as our New York City Preschool Guide with tips on what to ask during a tour and how to ease the transition for kids (and parents).

Weekend Fun for LI Kids: 10 Festivals and Fairs - September 17-18

Fairs are in full swing this mid-September weekend in Long BeachBellmore, Riverhead, Greenlawn, Uniondale, Sayville and Old Westbury. And head out for an entertaining and enriching afternoon at LIU's Pratt Recreational Center in Brookville for LI Fam Fest on Saturday. Plus don't miss the JCC Fall Family Carnival on Sunday.

Get active this weekend with the great events below. Don't see your event listed here? Add it to our events calendar. And if you didn't receive this post in your inbox, sounds like you need to subscribe to our newsletter.

70+ Baby Classes Around NJ: Music, Gym, Art, Swim

Parent and child classes can be some of the most wonderful bonding activities during those early years (and months)—plus it's a great excuse to get out of the house! These interactive classes help babies, toddlers, and preschoolers forge new relationships with others, sample a host of playthings, and test out new skills.

In New Jersey, as is the case elsewhere, the class choices seem to multiply every year: music, art, yoga, sports, ballet, world languages, nature, swimming. You are sure to find something that will interest both you and your child. And, don’t expect these sessions to be filled with just moms. Dad, the nanny, grandparents, and all types of caregivers can join in the fun. Some classes offer independent play for toddlers, or even options where both siblings can attend.

Read on for a sampling of the best baby classes around New Jersey offerings. Find even more options in our NJ Classes Guide and Directory of Listings.

Weekend Fun for CT Kids: Hawks, Cider, and a Day of Play, September 17-18

The honeycrisp apples arrived at our farmers' market last week, and it feels like an excellent time to celebrate the fall harvest in Connecticut. On tap this weekend, there's Cider Saturday in New Canaan, the Raspberry Festival in Sherman, and of course, the beloved Guilford Fair.  Saturday looks like an auspicious day for apple picking so check out our guide to Apple and Pumpkin Picking to get some ideas before you set out.

These fall weekends are particularly action packed, and many pumpkin patches and haunted houses are still finalizing their schedules. Make sure that you subscribe to our weekly newsletters and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest so that you won't miss any of the fun! As always, our event calendar is updated with the latest activities, and our top suggestions for fun this weekend are broken out below. Enjoy!

Ways to Enjoy the Fall Foliage in Connecticut with the Family

Come October, millions of tourists from all over the United States and abroad flock to New England to catch a glimpse of the glorious colors of our fall foliage, to 'leaf-peep'. Nowhere in the world can you see such breathtakingly colored canopies as in our region. We have our sweet Indian summers and the diversity of our flora to thank for it. Yankee Magazine named Kent, CT one of the Best Foliage Towns in New England for five years running. Check out our day trip post to Kent to get the low down on what to do while visiting and soaking in the beauty of nature. For even more ideas in your inbox, sign up for our weekly newsletter.  Check out our Halloween and Fall Fun Guide for lots of other great info!

What Ages Get in Free at Philly Museums, Zoos, Gardens, Amusement Parks

Let's be honest, having kids can be expensive. Entertaining kids can be even more expensive. Museums, zoos, and amusement parks can be fun and even educational, but not always economical. Sometimes the best time to go is when the littlest ones can still get in with free admission. Maybe you can even check a few things off of your bucket list. To make it easy, we've created this list of which places offer free admission for what ages. So hurry up and plan that outing while the kids are still little.

Pumpkin Patches for LA, Ventura, & Orange County Kids

The time has come to surrender to the Great Pumpkin. Mind you, the big guy is spoiled for choice around the Southland in Halloween season. We won't presume to call one pumpkin patch more sincere than the others, but LA’s pumpkin patches (and pseudo pumpkin patches) run a satisfying gamut from small to large, folksy to commercial. Whether you're hoping for a hit-and-run Halloween photo or a day's outing in autumnal reverie, your destination is below...


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