Preschoolers

Free Splash Pads, Spraygrounds, and Fountains for Kids in Hartford County

Just because Hartford County is centrally located in Connecticut doesn't mean that you have to venture very far to enjoy the water. Waves and beach sand are not in close proximity, there are still plenty of options to enjoy water play in lakes, pools, water parks, and splash pads. If you’re looking to cool down in the hot summer months, check out one of these fun locations. Best of all, like so many of our Mommy Poppins faves, they're free, so there's no need to bring your wallet (just towels and sunscreen)!

Rockaway with Kids: 25 Things to Do at the Beach and Beyond

Why schlep to the Hamptons? Thanks to its weekend-getaway vibe, Rockaway, Queens is a popular family staycation destination in summer, and with the Rockaway ferry making daily round-trips, it's easy to get to.

Rockaway's beautiful beaches have soft sand and formidable Atlantic Ocean waves—it's the only shore in NYC where you're allowed to surf. Although this area was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, the boardwalk and Rockaway Park have been renovated with amazing playgrounds and water play areas. Read on for all you need to know to get to and enjoy this NYC summer favorite. 

Huge New Spray Park in Union County Is a Water-ful Wonderland

Linden is now home to Union County's largest sprayground, and boy, is it worth a visit! Located in John Russell Wheeler Park, this 11,000-square-foot water playground, which opened in May 2019, boasts 33 kid-pleasing attractions and water features, including slides, sprinklers, sprayers, a dumping bucket, waterfall, pirate ship, and a giant water serpent. Admission is FREE.

One caveat: It gets crowded! So before you pack up the kids and head down the Route 1 corridor, check out this must-have info to help you plan your visit. 

Best Free Public Pools in Chicago for Families

Summer takes its sweet time coming to Chicago, but when it finally arrives, you can find Chicagoans swimming, floating, and soaking up the sun at one of Chicago’s fifty (!) free outdoor swimming pools. Many Chicago public pools have separate splash pads, water playgrounds, or kiddie pools with zero entry for the littlest swimmers, and a few even have water slides! Most public pools are also ADA accessible, and offer locker rooms and bathrooms. While most pools do not have concession stands, there is usually an entrepreneurial neighbor with a popsicle cart nearby.  

Each pool has its own schedule with dedicated times for adults, families, classes, camps, all-female swim, all-male swim, and more. Be sure to check the schedule (and the pool rules!) before you go. Here are a few of our favorite FREE outdoor pools in Chicago for no-cost summer fun with kids. 

Baby and Me Music Classes Around NYC

Music classes are often the first "mommy and me" experience parents try, so it's no coincidence such classes are offered all over the city. When you're ready to get out and spend some time jamming with other adults and their wee ones, check out one of these music classes in Manhattan and beyond.

We also have roundups of parent and child classes in Queens and music classes in Brooklyn. As always, you can find even more NYC classes in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings.

Gymnastics Classes for NYC Kids: 17 Spots for Little Olympians

Whether your kids were inspired by the stunning flips, turns, and acrobatics of the Final Five or you just need a safe place for them to get the wiggles out without disturbing your downstairs neighbor, gymnastics provides a great introduction to sports. Often called the "mother of all sports" for its conditioning qualities and focus on strength, balance, and flexibility, gymnastics gives kids an early fitness foundation.

My daughter doesn't care about any of that, of course. She just wants to tumble, jump, and dance, which is how the sport came into our lives. From the traditional artistic disciplines made famous by NBC's prime-time Olympic coverage to the lesser-known rhythmic gymnastics, in which gymnasts use props like ribbons, balls, and hoops while performing acrobatic moves to music, we've got the lowdown on where to find gymnastics classes in NYC. Bear in mind, many of these classes run on a school-year calendar, meaning fall is the peak time to register.

You may also want to check out our NYC Classes Guide or peruse our Directory Listings for more classes.

Game On: 10 Soccer Classes for NYC Kids

We've rounded up a variety of NYC soccer programs for budding kid athletes, from preschoolers just learning to kick that checkered orb, to middle-schoolers ready to master the roll and step over dribble.

Kids soccer is a year-round sport in NYC: You can get your kids into the game through a day camp over the summer, at drop-in classes throughout the year, or by participating in a season-long program with one of the youth soccer organizations listed below. Bonus: Many of these places also offer soccer-themed birthday parties, too. 

Read on for 10 spots offering soccer sessions to NYC kids. You can find even more options in our NYC Directory and our NYC Classes and Enrichment Programs Guide.

21 Things to Do With Preschoolers in Houston Before They Turn 5

A child's first few years before kindergarten are some of the most precious. They are rapidly growing and developing in front of our eyes, and while the days may be long, that means there is lots of time to visit Houston's many amazing kid-friendly attractions. There is so much to do with your preschooler before they turn 5 and heads to school, but here are some of our favorites.

For more family-friendly fun, check out our list of 100 Things to Do With Houston Kids Before They Grow Up.

45 Fun Things to Do with Kids in Long Island City, Queens

About 15 years ago, a friend told me Long Island City and Hunter’s Point were the up and coming places to be. At the time, the area seemed too industrial to be the next hot spot, but the subsequent years have proved my friend right. Who would have thought former warehouses would be renovated to become restaurants and boutiques and LIC would be full of young families, eager to enjoy the amazing waterfront parks and amenities? Apparently, not me.

The change is evident. Glass-enclosed condos have remade the shoreline skyline and new amenities seemingly pop up daily. There's so much to see and do in this family-friendly neighborhood. Here's our list of 45 fun things to do in Long Island City with kids. Now, go forth and explore!

Consignment Shops for Kids & Teens in Montgomery County

Children's consignment shops are a great resource for parents looking to save money on kids' clothes and baby gear. Many of the resale boutiques in Montgomery County specialize in brand-name apparel, offering deep discounts on gently-used designer clothes. Consignment stores also give parents an easy, year-round option for selling outgrown items.

Read on for our roundup of kids' consignment shopping in Montco. Also be sure to check out our post about children's consignment shops in neighboring Bucks County and our two comprehensive lists of spring and fall consignment sale events.

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