Raven Snook

Raven Snook

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Raven is a writer, editor, performer and mom, who was born and bred in NYC, just like her husband, her mother and now, her daughter. As a writer, she's contributed articles to New York Magazine, Time Out New York, The Village Voice, the New York Post, TV Guide, Better Homes and Gardens, iVillage, AOL TV and Moviefone, Parents.com, and worked as an in-house editor for ParentsConnect.com and TimeOutKids.com. As a performer, she's appeared on many downtown stages (sometimes even for pay!), a couple of obscure films and TV shows, and The Maury Povich Show as a female drag queen. She's also the founder of Hot Mama Burlesque, the world's only all-moms burlesque show. After being the NYC editor from March 2011-March 2015, she is now happy to just be a blogger as she pursues additional writing opportunities.

Latest posts by Raven Snook

Best Winter Shows for NYC Kids: Dinos, Circus Acts, Peter Pan

Winter 2017 in New York City is loaded with cool children's theater. Recently, we spotlighted a pair of high-profile family musicals coming to Broadway this season: long-running London hit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and a screen-to-stage adaptation of the animated movie Anastasia.

But you don't need to shell out big bucks to give your kids a memorable live entertainment experience in NYC—plenty of engaging family productions are playing Off-Broadway for a lot less. This winter there are wonderful options for toddlers to tweens, including interactive shows created specifically for the preschool set (Shadow Play and Ear, Nose, and Tail ), eye-popping spectacles for all ages (Erth's Dinosaur Zoo Live and Cirque-tacular's Snowkus Pocus), and stage adaptations of popular picture books such as Elephant & Piggie and Please Bring Balloons. Best of all, most of these shows cost $25 or under, so you can take the whole family for less than the price of one Broadway ticket.

A Dozen Times Square Restaurants for Kid-Friendly Eats

Finding a family-friendly Times Square restaurant that doesn't belong in a mall might be more difficult than navigating the costumed-character-crammed sidewalks of the area with a stroller. The presence of Applebee's, Chevy's, Olive Garden, and TGI Friday's might leave you feeling as if you're in the 'burbs, not the crossroads of the world.

But just as there are things to do with kids in Times Square beyond the tourist attractions, there are also a variety of off-the-beaten-track, family-friendly eateries that serve tasty cuisine reflecting our melting pot of a city.

Next time you're in the Theater District, whether seeing a Broadway show, entertaining guests or just passing through, skip the chains and try one of these 12 kid-friendly Times Square restaurants.

Must-See Christmas Lights in NYC's Five Boroughs

Manhattan may have the glamorous department store holiday windows, but when it comes to private homes decked out for the season, the outer boroughs have it beat. We're not talking about a few strings of twinkling lights and a blowup Santa. Why, these holiday houses are so well-lit, it's amazing they don't cause power blackouts.

We've written about some of these Christmas houses in the past, but here we have photos, precise addresses, a map, and in some cases the stories behind these destination displays that make the schlepping worthwhile—we know, we've schlepped. Considering most are in the far-flung reaches of Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, you really need to drive. If you want to avoid the crowds and traffic jams, go early in the evening on a weekday. These places tend to get busy on weekends.

You can find even more seasonal fun in our Holiday Guide as well as posts on amazing holiday displays on Long Island, in New Jersey, Hudson Valley, and Connecticut.

Rudolph Live On Stage: A Nostalgia Trip with a Certain Reindeer

After a few seasons of touring North America, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has flown into the Theater at Madison Square Garden for a holiday run just right for NYC and visiting families

Unless you're a screen-free family, chances are you and your kids have seen Rankin/Bass' classic, stop-motion holiday TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer—probably many times. After all, it's been airing annually on CBS since it debuted in 1964! And if not, you certainly have heard a thing or two about the most famous reindeer of all.

With its iconic aesthetic, and kooky but cute characters like Hermey the aspiring dentist elf, gold prospector Yukon Cornelius, an entire island of misfit toys, and the red-nose afflicted hero, the somewhat surreal tale charms children and sparks warm waves of nostalgia in parents. It was inevitable that some enterprising producers would adapt the property for a live stage show. The big questions are: Is the live version any good; is it worth the money; and which ages is it best suited for? We've got the answers, plus links to deeply discounted tickets!

Best Things to Do with NYC Kids: December GoList

Santa isn't the only one making a list and checking it twice. Our carefully curated December GoList is packed with the absolute best things to do with kids in NYC throughout the month. Our top picks include FREE holiday gatherings such as the 20th annual Central Park Holiday Lighting by the Harlem Meer and the quirky Unsilent Night musical procession in Greenwich Village; seasonal concerts by Laurie Berkner and Grammy-winning kindie rocker Dan Zanes; and cool cultural offerings such as the Whitney Museum's Dreamlands Family Day and the exuberant Mother Africa circus at the New Victory Theater.

It's also worth rereading our November GoList since many of those festive picks continue through December, including the Dyker Lights holiday displays, Macy's Santaland, and the New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show—and various Nutcracker performances around the city.

As always, keep checking our Event Calendar and Holiday Guide for the most up-to-date celebrations, including tree lightingsSanta sightings, and totally FREE holiday events for NYC kids.

Dyker Lights: This Brooklyn Nabe Comes Alive with Holiday Spirit

For years I had been hearing about the awesome Christmas displays in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. I'd seen plenty of videos and photos online. But once I saw those jaw-dropping sights in person, I knew visiting "Dyker Lights" would become a family holiday tradition.

Living in upper Manhattan, Dyker Heights is a serious schlep. It's really not doable via public transportation, especially at night with kids in tow. One year I hitched a ride with a neighbor, but the following I decided to play tourist and go on A Slice of Brooklyn's Christmas Lights guided bus tour. Even though my daughter and I saw many of the same houses, our visits were quite different. If you're considering taking the kids to Dyker Heights this holiday season but are wondering about the best way to go, here's how the two experiences compare.

Moana: A New Disney Princess for Our Multicultural World

The heroine of Disney's new animated feature Moana may be the daughter of her Polynesian tribe's chief, but don't go calling her a princess. When her partner in adventure, the demigod Maui, snarkily insists that, "If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess,” Moana challenges his preconceived notion—as she does throughout the movie. Yes, from a marketing point of view, she's the latest in a long line of Disney royalty. Yet her character defies and redefines that role. She's a powerful, self-possessed young woman of color who battles climate change and doesn't need a man to save her. In fact, there's zero romance in this film; it's not even mentioned. Instead, she spends most of the flick bickering and bonding with Maui, who acts as a kind of goofy, surrogate big brother on their mission to save Moana's imperiled island homeland.

But while the film's feminist and multicultural elements make Moana feel decidedly 21st century, story-wise it follows the studio's tried-and-true formula of a princess—make that future chieftain—on a dangerous (but inevitably successful) quest. Just how scary is it? We've got the scoop, plus whether it's worth splurging to see her escapades in 3D.

Best Holiday Shows for NYC Kids: Rudolph, Dickens, Charlie Brown

'Tis the season to get the gang all dressed up to see some holiday shows. While there are plenty of spectacles to splurge on beyond the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and all those Nutcrackers, if you've got young children you may not want to blow all of your bucks on theater tickets. 

That's why our roundup includes a range of productions, from inexpensive, low-key offerings perfect for fidgety preschoolers, to extravaganzas that are worth the investment. Bonus: We've got the scoop on how to save money to a few of the higher-priced offerings.

From live stage adaptations of holiday classics such as A Charlie Brown Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to tot-friendly puppet shows and jaw-dropping circus skills, here are our top 14 holiday shows for NYC families.

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