Stephanie Ogozalek

Stephanie Ogozalek

Stephanie Ogozalek's picture

Stephanie was only eight-years-old when she watched Rhoda Morgenstern attempt to toss her hat into the air in the middle of a busy, '70s NYC street. She knew right away that she had to live there. Nearly 40 years later, Stephanie does live here, is married with a son, and can’t imagine residing anywhere else. In addition to being mom and all the “jobs” that come with that title, she is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the magazines Saveur, Chile Pepper and Family Fun, and on Disney’s website Go.com. She makes sure the Mommy Poppins NYC Events Calendar is chock-full of the best the Big Apple has to offer, and shares her family's adventures in her many posts. If you're planning a cool kids' event, let her know at stephanie@mommypoppins.com. You can follow her on Google+.

Latest posts by Stephanie Ogozalek

Kids Discover Cuba with Natural History Museum's New Exhibit

Curious about Cuba, but not ready to splurge on flights? You're in luck. ¡Cuba!, a vibrant celebration of the island nation, recently opened for a nine-month run at the American Museum of Natural History on Manhattan's Upper West Side. 

Although the exhibit's debut seems perfectly timed to coincide with the passing of Fidel Castro, and the recent softening of relations between the United States and Cuba, museum officials said it has been in the works for a century, with AMNH researchers delving in to the country's rich biodiversity for decades, working hand-in-hand with local scientists even while the countries' leadership feuded. It's the largest island (actually an archipelago of 4,000 islands and keys) in the Caribbean, and while it is well known for its cigars, vintage automobiles, politics, and vibrant music, it also boasts a unique natural history, hundreds of plant and animals species you can't find anywhere else, and is one of the most biologically diverse islands on the planet.

The new exhibit honors Cuba's rich history, changing culture, famous Salsa music, cuisine, and incredible biodiversity in an immersive, unexpected way and is presented in both English and Spanish. Kids will enjoy the many hands-on interactives, recreated habitats, and live reptiles and amphibians on display.

It joins several ongoing exhibits at the Natural History museum that are expected to close in January 2017, including Dinosaurs Among Us and Crocs: Ancient Predators in a Modern World. Don't worry, though, that titanosaur is still hanging out on the fourth floor with the rest of the dinos! And don't forget that the seasonal butterfly atrium opens soon, too.

Holiday Windows at NYC Department Stores Light Up the Season

Few things signal the holidays in New York City more than the unveiling of the decked out department store window displays throughout Midtown, from Macy's in Herald Square on up to Bloomingdale's. My family ushers in the season with an annual trek to see the various whimsical winter and Christmas scenes, peeking into the glammed up windows, every Thanksgiving weekend, and I have to say, taking a "windows walk" is one of those magical holiday experiences every kid should try at least once. Also, it's totally FREE.

The 2016 window display edition includes a number of gems that you won't want to miss, including Saks Fifth Avenue's Land of 1000 Delights—a sugary retelling of the Nutcracker Suite—and a fantastic light show, Macy's Believe—a celebration of Santa (with a real pinball game!), and Lord & Taylor's wintry, nature-filled wonderland.

Read on for details about this year's holiday displays and a sneak peek of what you'll see. Be sure to visit our Holiday Fun Guide before you go to find other activities and things to do along the route and throughout the season, including more FREE fun, tree lightings, and train shows.

Cut Your Own Christmas Tree Farms Near NYC

Is there anything that smells better than a fresh Christmas tree? Spark a new family holiday tradition this year and head to one of these cut-your-own tree farms within an hour's drive of Midtown Manhattan, so kids (and parents!) can fulfill that lumberjack fantasy and still have time to deck the halls.

You can find a 12-foot tree for just $55 at one of the nearby New Jersey Christmas tree farms, gulp down a free cup of hot cider at another in Westchester, or do a little birding at a Connecticut tree farm situated in an Audubon nature sanctuary. Nearby Long Island is packed with pretty family tree farms, too. Read on for our top 10 picks for New York families.

Looking for more holiday day trips? We have a few to recommend for local families.

The Battle of Brooklyn: History Comes Alive Close to Home

The New-York Historical Society's new exhibit, The Battle of Brooklyn, focuses on one of the earliest, largest, and closest-to-home battles of the Revolutionary War. Though not specifically designed with kids in mind, this exhibit offers a behind-the-scenes look at the American Revolution, with remnants of history still seen in today's Brooklyn. Older school-aged kids will enjoy exploring this immersive installation of the not-so-legendary skirmish that took place shortly after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Koreatown with Kids: Best Places to Shop, Eat, and Play

One of the best reasons to endure the cost of living and the crowded streets of New York City is just how easy it is to explore other cultures with your kids. There are vibrant ethnic enclaves around every corner, but few quite as vibrant as Midtown Manhattan's Koreatown.

Developed in the 1980s, this small enclave can be found between West 31st and West 33rd Streets and Fifth Avenue and Broadway. The main drag is Korea Way, aka West 32nd Street between Broadway and Fifth Avenue. Although the district is small, really just two city blocks, it is packed with more than 100 shops and restaurants. If you can't see them, look up. Much like Seoul, the businesses in K-Town are stacked on top of each other to maximize space.  

We've rounded up 13 of the best places to explore in Manhattan's Koreatown as a family, so read on before your next outing. Peruse our Neighborhood Guides for more NYC nabes to explore, including those in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.

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