Eastern US

Bring on the Christmas Cheer with 5 Free Holiday Activities in Washington, DC

The great thing about Washington, DC is so many of the things to do in the city are free. From more than 20 museums to the zoo to great holiday happenings, activities abound in the capitol city that don't break the bank. 

Looking for some of the best ways to enjoy the season without blowing your holiday budget? Get the scoop here on the best holiday activities for kids and families in Washington, DC. (Keep in mind that when it comes to the holiday events on our list, free might mean you don’t need to reserve tickets ahead of time, but it also means you should expect crowds during peak times, such as weekends).

And don't forget to keep the good times going after the holidays with our list of must-do winter activities in the area.

Where to Eat With Kids in DC Near the National Mall and Capitol Hill

Say "DC," and "National Mall" and "Capitol" will probably be some of the first things to come to mind. These are great Washington spots since most of the museums and attractions are centralized around the National Mall and U.S. Capitol Building. But finding good, kid-friendly, and inexpensive food when you're hungry and tired from lots of walking can be a challenge.

Mommy Poppins DC is here to help with the best family-friendly restaurants we discovered near the Mall and around Capitol Hill. 

Top 10 Christmas Towns and Villages That Absolutely Sparkle

When it comes to the best places to visit for Christmas as a family, there are plenty of holiday travel options. You can head to Rome and Vatican City to soak in the religion of it all. Vienna, beautifully drenched in festive lights, boasts first-rate Christmas markets and concerts. Head north to Lapland, Finland, to visit Santa’s official hometown. Or, if you want to lie beneath Christmas-lit palm trees, a Caribbean vacation might do the trick.

Yet, some of the best Christmas towns and bedecked Christmas villages are actually right here in the US, offering those traveling with small kids a way to save on money and time. These local destinations go all out for Christmas with unique holiday light shows, special performances, and plenty of opportunities to meet with Santa Claus.

Read on for some of our favorite Christmas vacation ideas for those looking to get into the holiday spirit in a big way, from New York City to Williamsburg, Virginia, to Newport Beach, California. Find even more ideas in our Family Travel Guide.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2018: Where to Watch, What's New

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade celebrates its 92nd anniversary this November, taking over the streets of Manhattan on Thursday, November 22, 2018, and decorating the city with its boisterous marching bands, extravagant floats, and giant balloon characters. Every year brings a mix of old and new characters to the parade, and 2018 is no exception, with a mix of new balloons, floats, and balloonicles set to make their NYC debuts.

If you're planning to attend the parade with the kids (and millions of others!), read on for the most up-to-date information on the route, best viewing locations, and other highlights. Check out our in-depth inflation post for an overview of the Wednesday-night festivities. You'll find more holiday inspiration in our Thanksgiving Fun Guide.

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. 

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