Eastern US

Polar Express and Santa Trains Near NYC This Holiday Season

The magic of Chris Van Allsburg’s popular Christmas picture book The Polar Express comes to life again this winter with festive holiday trains within a whistle's blow of the New York City metro area. A huge hit with kids and parents alike, these trains spark the imagination and holiday spirit with seasonal snacks, stories, even gifts—not to mention a visit from Santa himself.

These old-school cabooses (some harking back to the 1920s) offer a classic holiday ambience. There's a Polar Express just an hour south into New Jersey, as well as the one-day-only Tri-State Santa Train about 50 minutes away. You could also consider a day trip to the Catskills, or a weekend getaway to Pennsylvania Dutch Country for the Santa's Paradise Express. No matter which Santa Train experience you choose, your family can combine the annual Santa Claus photo op with lasting memories of a sweet adventure.

Remember: these train rides sell out quickly, often months in advance, so book now if you want to go.

Hersheypark's Brand-New Chocolatetown Looks Mighty Sweet

Just when you thought a visit to Hersheypark couldn't get any more tempting, the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, amusement park announced a sweet surprise for fans of its chocolate emporium. It's adding a Chocolatetown, an all-new section of the theme park that will connect Hersheypark and Hershey's Chocolate World, opening in the summer of 2020. Expect a major new roller coaster, and yes, plenty of chocolate, including new dessert spots.

The expansion will further the vision of Milton S. Hershey, a real-life Willy Wonka, who brought his sweet dream to life in 1907 when he built the 121-acre amusement park as a perk for his chocolate factory workers and their families.

11 Perfect Fall Weekend Getaways Near NYC for Families

Fall in the Northeast is a lovely time of year as the trees explode in a kaleidoscope of red, orange, and gold. The crisp air and outdoor activities are hard to resist for most kids (and grown-ups). New Yorkers can experience that magic right in the city's gorgeous parks, some of which feel almost like a countryside retreat during a foliage walk. But for a weekend away, perhaps over those fall school holidays, consider a weekend trip to fully immerse the family in fall fun.

We’ve rounded up 11 options, from a luxury retreat in Connecticut to glamping in New Hampshire to an Adirondack wilderness retreat where you can really unplug. 

11 Outdoor Water Parks in New England

In two hours or less by car, you can get to any of the following outdoor water parks to cool off and have a blast this summer with your kids. Although there's no shortage of thrill rides and slides at these places, you don't have to be a daredevil (or of a certain height) to enjoy them. There are play areas for young children, wave pools, family raft rides, and lazy rivers for those of us who don't need to plummet a down a very tall slide to have fun. Some of the parks are dedicated to water attractions and others are part of a larger theme park, but they all offer plenty of chances to get completely soaked. 

20 Things to Do in Narragansett, RI with Kids

The Boston Globe just crowned it New England's best beach town, and we'll go further to say that Narragansett is tops for families, too. With loads of wide beaches, nature stops, kid-friendly restaurants, and even a little fun park, this low-key alternative to Newport is a great spot for an Ocean State weekend getaway. (It's also just under two hours from Boston by car.) Consider this a short list of activities to make the most of a visit to Narragansett.

Santa's Village, NH: Rides, Treats, and the Magic of Christmas in Summer and Fall

When the humidity is soaring and the holiday spirit is in hibernation, a winter wonderland sure is a nice idea. While Santa's Village can't make it cooler outside, it does create the feel of Christmas in July (actually, May through December, with daily hours in the summer). With themed rides like the Chimney Drop, activities like "snow" tubing down a giant slide, and encounters with real, live reindeer, Santa's Village is a uniquely sweet theme park experience akin to Story Land, another New Hampshire gem especially suited to young kids. Here's how to get the most of your trip to the near-North.

20 Easy (But Gorgeous) Hiking Trails To Do with Kids and Babies

By Shanti Hodges

Looking for a hiking trail near you? Great walking trails top our picks for fun summer activities and fall outings with kids. A hike is an opportunity for quality family time, exercise for kids, and of course, discoveries small and large, from bugs to waterfalls.

These getaway-worthy, family-friendly hiking trails are just a sampling of my favorite trails, highlighted in my new book, Hike it Baby: 100 Awesome Adventures with Babies and Toddlers. As founder of Hike it Baby, a nonprofit dedicated to helping families get on the trail with kids, I’ve been fortunate enough to sample nature trails across the country, including at our best national parks and campsites, and even those extra-special, smaller local parks that often offer the best hikes for toddlers and families with little kids.

Now I’m sharing 20 of my favorites, from Connecticut to Florida to Washington state, that are perfect for your next day trip or family vacation. Most are easy loop paths, but I’ve included some moderate trails and top destinations, such as Mt. Rainer and the Badlands. Many of these hikes are FREE, too. The list also highlights family-friendly perks like bathrooms, and benches for a rest or a nursing mom.

40 Things To Do with Kids on a Rainy Day at the Jersey Shore

The Jersey Shore is known for its gorgeous beaches, of course, and outdoor entertainment like boardwalk fun. But not every summer day can turn into a sunny beach day. What happens to the family fun when it rains? Beach houses, no matter how grand, start to feel pretty small when you are stuck indoors.

Fortunately, there are plenty of indoor spots to explore along the shore. From Asbury Park to Cape May, we've put together a list of shore activities that will get you off the beach and out of your condo. So whether the rain is spoiling your beach day, you need a day out of the sun, or just a change from the sand and surf, we have you covered.

For more entertaining activities this season, check our list of 70 Best Things To Do at the Shore all summer.

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