Eastern US

12 Family Camping Spots Near NYC in State Parks and More

Camping trips are great for kids, especially NYC kids. They get to spend time outside in green spaces that may seem, to city kids, to go on forever. Plus they can learn esteem-building skills, including how to canoe, fish, chop wood, cook over a fire, pitch a tent, and more. Although there are a number of campgrounds offering fancy perks these days, from wi-fi to heated swimming pools, many camping trips are low-tech, so they allow families time to unplug and reconnect with one another. Plus, pitching a tent is generally an affordable alternative to a hotel.

Camping can be dirty and difficult, though, and require plenty of equipment, including a car. That alone can make an overnight trip to the great outdoors a challenge for many NYC families. But it doesn't have to be that way. There are several campgrounds in the tristate area that are perfect for first-timers and families. For example, we recently tried Tentrr, an online site that rents campsites in the New York area, such as the popular Hudson Valley, that are fully equipped with tents, cots, and other equipment. Just reserve your favorite site and show up!

Read on for more top campgrounds within a few hours of the city that are packed with things to keep kids busy, and two of which are within city limits. A number of these prime destinations are accessible via mass transit, and one campground even provides nearly everything you need. Remember, some of these favorites book up early!

There's no excuse not to hit the woods for a family vacation this year.  

Crystal Springs Resort: Two NJ Hotels Host Mountains of Family Fun

Sometimes, it's all about the location when you travel. Exploring new areas of your state or country are exciting. But other times, it's all about the amenities. When you pack two sister resorts full of skiing, snow adventures, water play, and spa options, there's really no need to go past the grounds—which is the case with Crystal Springs Resort in northern New Jersey.

Read on to discover everything you need to know about Grand Cascades Lodge and Minerals Hotel, and if they're right for your family.

Find more vacation destinations in our Family Resort Guide, which is packed with reviews.

Dutch Wonderland: A Fairy Tale Amusement Park in Amish Country

If you have a little thrill-seeker like I do, Dutch Wonderland might be just the right place to go this summer. The quaint, fairy tale-themed amusement park in Pennsylvania's Dutch Country caters toward the small but fearless like my ride-loving toddler.

In spite of the name and location, there isn't much Amish about Dutch Wonderland, aside from a photo opportunity with a horse and buggy statue. If you're in the area for more traditional Amish Country fun, Dutch Wonderland is nearby all of it, so the amusement park makes a great addition for a trip to Dutch Country. With over 35 rides, attractions, and shows, as well as a 15-acre campground right on site, you can easily fill a whole day here with the kids, or even a long weekend. Read on for our review of this theme park. If you're heading to Pennsylvania for a weekend or day trip, also check out our review of Hershey Park. For even more family fun with pint-sized rides, don't miss our round-up of NJ amusement parks that are perfect for preschoolers

Why Sugarloaf Is My Family's Favorite Ski Resort

Nobody can deny that there are plenty of wonderful ski resorts in southern and central New England. That said, sometimes families want to branch out for something a little different (without going so far as to board a plane to do it). When my family goes skiing, we go to Sugarloaf. Now, look—I know what you’re thinking. Why in the name of all that is holy would we voluntarily drive all the way up to the heart of Maine with children just to go skiing? Let me explain.

Find more family ski destinations in our Skiing and Snow Sports Guide.

25 Things To Do with Kids in Harrisburg, Other than Hershey

When many of us think about Harrisburg, PA, our minds immediately take us to the state capitol, politics, or maybe just a turnpike exit—not necessarily the stuff long weekend family trips are made of. However, given the time to map out an itinerary, the Hershey-Harrisburg area is a fabulous destination for families to enjoy, beyond HersheyPark and Pennsylvania’s political hub.

Here are our top 25 picks for must-see spots in Harrisburg and the surrounding area. We recommend planning out your visit, rather than just winging it when you arrive. You’ll be able to park and walk to some of these places, but as in any city, parking and navigating an unfamiliar area can be a challenge. If you’re making a long weekend out of it, consider staying in a hotel outside the city so you can easily access everything within the city limits, as well as the suburban spots.

Looking for more fun in the area? Visit nearby Lancaster!

9 New England Ski Resorts That Cater to Families

Despite the expense, the cold, and the gauntlet of gearing up kids, family ski trips are tough to beat. Skiing is one of the few sports where kids can quickly learn to meet—or in our family, surpass—parents' ability, and conquering a tough slope or cruising together down an easy one are the stuff of great and lasting memories. That said, not all ski resorts make it easy for families to deal with real parenting needs while on the slopes, but we found some gems that do. A few weeks ago, we covered great nearby spots for first-time skiers within an hour of Boston, and this week we venture northward to find resorts in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine that cater to families with plenty of green slopes, daycare, lots of food options, condo-style lodging, and more. Here are our picks.

Hersheypark: The Sweetest Place on Earth at Christmastime

Winter festivities practically require us to guzzle hot chocolate and overindulge in sugary goodies. One destination in Central Pennsylvania is dedicated to helping us fulfill that seasonal demand. Not every amusement park is open during the Christmas season, but Hersheypark offers holiday delights in the form of decorated trees, twinkling lights, family memories, and, of course, sweet treats. Amusement park rides might not be on some families' holiday activities list, but Hersheypark’s Christmas Candy Lane can change that faster than you can say "cocoa bean."

Free and Cheap Kids' Ski Programs in the Northeast This Winter

Let's face facts: No matter how exhilarating skiing and snowboarding are, they are also among the most expensive activities in which a family can participate—especially if your kids take a single run and spend the rest of the day sipping cocoa.

Thankfully, many nearby state ski associations offer free or mostly free lift tickets to grade-schoolers, even if you're not a resident of that state. Of course, there are hurdles to clear to get those benefits—kids need to be the appropriate age, apply online and, in some cases, be accompanied by a paying adult. There are also "processing fees" attached to several, but it breaks down to a very discounted ticket if you use it more than once. But for avid skiers and riders, or those who merely want to try out the sports, these programs can save you plenty of cash when skiing with the kids.

Read on for more information on how to ski for free in New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. (Note: Connecticut has a residents-only program for free ski passes for kids at Mohawk Mountain.)

Check our Ski and Snow Sports Guide for more fun on local hills and mountains.

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