10 NYC National Parks and Monuments for Junior Rangers

In my world, summer generally means a visit to Grammy and Papa's rustic, woodsy Colorado cabin. While I love raising my kids in NYC, with all of the museums, parks and culture it has to offer, I also enjoy escaping from the urban jungle so we can explore the great outdoors.

One fun and educational way to do that is the national Junior Rangers Program, which we discovered last summer in Colorado. My kids received different activity books—geared toward their respective ages—to read and complete with the promise that, once they were done, they could meet with a Park Ranger, discuss what they'd learned and be sworn in as Junior Rangers complete with badges.

Although my children became Junior Rangers far from the Big Apple in Rocky Mountain National Park, NYC kids can do it at 10 sites right here in and around Manhattan.

Play Fair: Where Kids Can Discover Toys of the Future

This post is sponsored by Play Fair.

Imagine a place where all the world's toy makers get together to show off the brand new, not-on-the-shelves-yet toys they've invented to wow children of all ages. Sounds like heaven for kids, doesn't it? That's what Toy Fair is, but until now it's always been a strictly business, adults-only event. Well, all that's about to change with Play Fair, an awesome, two day toy fair especially for kids and families. On February 13 and 14, at the Javits Center, families can check out all the latest games and toys, plus tons of live entertainment and some special appearances. Toy Fair may just be the closest thing to a Willie Wonka world for toy-loving kids.

Weekend Fun for Westchester Kids: Eaglefest, Winterfest, Victorian Valentine Tea, Feb. 6-7

As mentioned in our February GoList, this month is loaded with reasons for festivities for Westchester and Hudson Valley families, and this weekend is no exception. There are ways to celebrate Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day, as well as the return of the annual Black History Month Celebration.

The biggest headliner of the weekend is the annual Hudson River Eaglefest, a multi-site event that celebrates the eagle’s return to Westchester. You also can embrace the season at Winterfest or Old-Fashioned Winter’s Afternoon, or think warm thoughts at the Annual Westchester Camp & Activities Fair.

Read on for our top weekend picks—more than half of which are FREE—then continue on to our Event Calendar for tons of activities every single day! 

Westchester News: New Places for Kids to Play, Paint and Eat

The short, dark days of winter are over but long, sunny days are still ahead of us. February seems like a wedge between winter and spring: stores are already tempting us with swimsuits and garden gear yet the weather still beckons us to either bundle up or head indoors. Luckily, Westchester families have some new options to get them in a warm weather mindset. 

FREE Yoga Classes for Westchester Families

As the popularity of yoga has increased in recent years, so too has the interest in introducing children to its benefits at a young age. Yoga has been associated with stress reduction, concentration and agility, and even public schools have begun offering in-school yoga and relaxation instruction.

We recently provided you with a roundup of family-focused yoga classes offered by centers devoted to the subject. Augmenting that resource, below is a list of yoga classes for kids offered by Westchester libraries, with options for teens, tots and even special needs—all of which are FREE!

Read on for details and contact the libraries directly to register. These classes can fill up quickly, so reserve your spot and get your downward dog on!

Weekday Picks for Westchester Kids: Square Dancing, Valentines, Origami, Feb. 1-5

February is here, and while that means cold and snow, it also means lots of reasons for celebrations, as discussed in our hot-off-the-press February GoList.

In addition to Chinese New Year celebrations, such as Lunar New Year, this week begins the preparations for Valentine’s Day, including Valentine Candy Making. There’s even a way to celebrate Groundhog Day. Unrelated to holidays, here’s a fun way to foster family bonding while getting a good workout: Friendly Squares Dance Club Free Fun Nights. What's more, all of our top picks for this week are FREE!

There are tons more events on our Event Calendar, so be sure to head there next. We don’t want you to miss any of the fun—grab your calendars and see what’s ahead!

Kids' Mystery Party: Games and Ideas for a Kid-Friendly Murder Mystery Party

When my son declared he wanted a mystery party for his 10th birthday, I turned to the Internet to research party games and ideas. Happy surprise, the No. 1 Google result for “kids mystery party” is my friend Liz’s hilarious post comparing the type-A Pinterest-perfect mystery ideas she found online vs her own totally type-B mystery party. 

While anyone who has been to my always-messy apartment will attest I am definitely not a type-A mom, when it comes to birthday parties, I love to go all out with really creative activities that always leave the kids saying, “That was the best party ever.” Let’s face it, kids don’t care if your paper goods are fancy; they just want to have fun. 

So, in response to Mom-101's post, I took up the challenge to create an A-is-for-Awesome kids' mystery party that anyone could throw without a MFP (Masters in Fine Pinterest).

How to Make a Free Photo Booth for a Kids' Party

For the past few years, I have dreamed about having a party with a photo booth. Not only does it seem like a fun party activity, but the guests end up with great favors: The funny photos that show everyone together, having a blast. You can rent a photo booth from a local company, but the prices start in the high hundreds and go up from there, so I looked into different options for DIY photo booths.

After much research, my photo booth solution ended up being incredibly simple and free, and it was a huge hit at my last gathering. We got terrific pictures of all the guests, but the biggest surprise was how great having a photo booth was for the kids. We had children ages 3 to 12 completely occupied, snapping away, leaving the grown-ups to eat, chat and mingle.

While this easy DIY photo booth works for grown-up parties, I think it's a particularly great addition to a kids' party. The only downside is, if you want the kids to do anything else, it might be hard to pull them away. Find even more fun and easy tech ideas like this in our Geek Guide.

Weekend Fun for Westchester Kids: Itzhak Perlman, Live Art, Winter Festival, Jan. 30-31

If your family has cabin fever from the recent blizzard, don’t despair—we’ve assembled our top picks for the coming weekend to help get Westchester families out of the house and back in action.

A few programs take advantage of the winter weather, such as Winter Family Festival. But it’s no problem if you had enough of the white stuff, because this weekend is rife with multicultural entertainment. Options include the chance to view a world-renowned artist without leaving Westchester, as Itzhak Perlman takes the local stage; the annual Chinese New Year Festival offers acrobats and more (see our roundup for more Chinese New Year celebrations); and Rita's African Show both demonstrates and teaches African dance. For additional interactive entertainment, there’s Danceworks for Children.

Check out our Event Calendar for even more great activities, as well as our roundup of the best places to go sledding in Westchester. Our February GoList is now live, allowing you to view our top picks for the entire month. Read on for details about this weekend's top picks!

Where Westchester Kids Can Learn and Have Fun in Chappaqua

We've highlighted our favorite things to do in the quaint village of Chappaqua, and we've let you know about the best places to eat with a family. We're now focusing on the best places to play in the area.

With parks, gymnastics, music academies, a yoga studio and more, families needn’t worry about finding something fun and educational to do all year round. Read on for our top picks on where to play and learn in this great town, and sign up for our FREE newsletters to stay in the loop. 


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