Archive for the ‘Family-Friendly Destinations’ category

26th Annual Virginia Children’s Festival

September 28th, 2014

The 26th Annual Virginia Children's Festival logoIt’s that time of year again! The 26th Annual Virginia Children’s Festival kicks off on Saturday, October 4, in Norfolk, Virginia, about 20 minutes from Virginia Beach. The festival begins at 10 a.m. and activities are scheduled until 3 p.m. With 10 areas and stages, activities include everything from arts and crafts to science experiments and dinosaur digs. Here’s what you can do with kids at this year’s festival.

Animal Alley
Stop by the Animal Alley area for a petting zoo, complete with bunnies, chickens, a mini cow, a mini pig, a pony and more.

Curtain Call! Stage
Listen to stories told through music and watch a puppet show with the Rainbow Puppets.

Education Station
Play dress up with the Ballet Virginia International, make crafts and meet curious George, dig for dinosaur fossils with staff from the Mariner’s Museum and check out robots with Engineering for Kids. Plus so much more!

Fitness Fun Zone
Try your best at bowling, jump rope, Frisbee and the Children’s Boot Camp obstacle course with the YMCA.

Friendship Path
Sing like a pop star, have fun with Play-Doh, take a ride on the Town Point Express train, make a super hero mask, blow bubbles with the Virginia Children’s Museum, make a friendship bracelet and get your face painted. Plus so much more!

Pirate’s Den
Learn about the life of a pirate and become one yourself with help from the Pirates from the Moody Crew at their School for Pirates.

Ready, Set, Go! Stage
Watch dancers and cheerleaders perform and then take part in a live science experiment.

Toddler Town
Little ones can play with toys in a gated area. This year, the area has a new Festival Baby Ball Pit!

TowneBank Fountain Park
Kids can get up close and personal with trucks and can test their speed and agility as a pizza delivery person!

WHRO Lights! Camera! Action! Stage
Enjoy a comedy performance by The Hurrah Players, watch participants compete for the Ynot Pizza Games title and see your favorite characters from PBS Live! on the stage!

The 26th Annual Virginia Children’s Festival will be held at Town Point Park. Admission is $3 per person and children under 2 are free. A portion of the proceeds benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

4 Historical Sites in the Hamptons

September 26th, 2014

When describing the Hamptons, people often use adjectives like luxurious, lavish, glamorous and extravagant. Kid-friendly most likely does not come to mind. But on a recent trip to the area, I found the Hamptons to be filled with history and fun for families. Besides the beaches and the shopping in Southampton, Bridgehampton, East Hampton and Montauk, there are historical sites that date back to the 17th and 18th centuries that are fun and educational for kids. Here are four, spread throughout the various towns, for your family to visit.

Southampton Historical Museum
Wooden stocks at the Southampton Historical MuseumLocated just around the corner from the downtown shopping area of Southampton, the Southampton Historical Museum offers families a look back in time through three different properties, plus multiple smaller buildings within. The Rogers Mansion Museum Complex, which dates back to 1648, has 12 buildings in total. Take a tour of the main home and then walk the grounds where you’ll see the boys and girls’ out houses – your kids will be so thankful for indoor plumbing – the blacksmith’s shop, a one-room school house, a colonial barn and more. There is plenty of room for them to run around, too. But if they get unruly, feel free to lock them up in the stocks for a bit!

South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center
Kids play in the touch tank at the South Fork Natural History and Nature CenterThe Hamptons are filled with native plants and animals that many people are not aware of. Learn about them all at the South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center in Bridgehampton. Kids will love listening to the sounds of birds, peaking inside the natural habitats of fish and frogs, and will get to smell a fox’s musk. Be sure to visit the downstairs area for the touch tank! Kids can feel starfish, pick up snails, play with crabs and more. Outside, there are multiple trails for families to hike, as well as a carnivorous plant exhibit and a butterfly garden.

East Hampton Historical Society
Exterior view of the Osborn-Jackson House in East HamptonThe East Hampton Historical Society offers six museums and historical sites for families to see. Four are located on Main Street in East Hampton, just down the street from the library, stores and shops, including a Dylan’s Candy Bar. Clinton Academy, Hook Schoolhouse and Town House are open from Memorial Day through Columbus Day, on weekends only. But the Osborn-Jackson House is open year-round. This tour is free (donations encouraged) and takes visitors through three rooms in the house. You’ll see the dining area, with the original fireplace from 1720, a living area with antique piano and books, and a kitchen with colonial cooking essentials. The tour takes just minutes and is an easy and educational stop for your family.

Montauk Point Lighthouse and Museum
Grounds around the Montauk Point LighthouseMake your way to the very eastern tip of the Hamptons for the Montauk Point Lighthouse and Museum, which is also a National Historic Landmark. The grounds surrounding the attraction are beautiful with water views all around and will take up half your visit alone. Once you make your way to the Lighthouse, check out the various rooms, which offer insight into the history of the building — George Washington approved its development in 1792 — and the light, which can be seen up to 19 miles away. Finally, climb up the 137 iron steps to the top for unbelievable views of the Atlantic.

A full destination guide of the Hamptons will be available on Family Vacation Critic soon. Please check back for more information on the area.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

Touring a Football Stadium With Kids

September 25th, 2014

Football stadium tours are great activities for when on vacation or for an afternoon of fun. Family Vacation Critic highlighted eight stadiums to tour with kids in a recent article and my family has actually visited one first-hand.

Arial shot of Sports Authority Field at Mile High in DenverFor my son’s 8th birthday we took him and his friends on the tour of Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver. We’d done pizza parties and bowling and picnics before, so we wanted to do something different. We invited six 7- to 8-year-old boys. With my younger son and the birthday boy, we had eight kids and four adults in total.

Before the tour, I called and made a reservation and was not required to pay ahead of time. I also made each boy a custom shirt with a Broncos’ logo on the front and their name on the back. I half did this for the kids to have a souvenir, but also so I’d know which child to yell at if he got away from us! I knew this was the first time any of them had been to the stadium and I wanted it to be special.

Before the tour there’s a room with sports uniforms and equipment for the kids to play with. They took turns putting on the helmets and pads. When our tour started, they separated us from the regular tour and gave us our own guide. They mention this when making reservations for a group. As we started I wondered if the boys would stay interested for the 90-plus-minute tour — I had nothing to worry about. The boys were engaged from the start. We saw the press level and the suites and the different areas assigned to each level of ticket holder all the while being given bits of trivia about the Denver Broncos. The guide was patient with the kids while answering the barrage of questions they showered on him.

Anticipation was building for when we’d get to the player areas. First we got to the visiting team locker room. The boys were very excited and ran around the big, mostly empty, room and each of them sat in a locker for a fun group photo. After that we hit the tunnel to the field. The boys were high fiving each other and trying to get to the field first. It was an amazing moment to step out into the sun and see those 86,000 seats. The boys were in awe. They don’t let you go onto the actual field of play but you can walk along the paved area and reach down to feel the grass. We took tons of pictures and each boy did their own touchdown dance.

As a bonus, when we were walking back through the team areas, the Broncos cheerleaders were showing up for practice and the boys got hugs and high fives from all the girls. They had smiles from ear to ear. Our sons and their friends said it was the coolest birthday party they’d ever been to and they went home asking their parents when they could go back. For us it was a perfect family outing to celebrate our son’s birthday.

– Cecilia Freeman

A Day in Annapolis With Kids

September 24th, 2014

Just 40 minutes east of Washington, D.C., and home to the U.S. Naval Academy, is Annapolis — a small, quaint and family-friendly community situated right along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. The streets are filled with parents walking their little ones in strollers or their beloved beasts on leashes, and there is always a plethora of fun things to do. From farmers markets filled with the freshest breads and jams to live music playing on every corner, Annapolis is the perfect place for you and your family to explore for a day or even a long weekend. Here are three things to do and see with kids while in Annapolis.

Picture of man making balloon animals in AnnapolisBalloon Man of Annapolis
Wandering around Annapolis is the Balloon Man, otherwise known as ABCtheClown. He’s been making kids laugh for more than 25 years, and he can’t wait to make yours laugh, too. In addition, he’s ready and willing to make them a balloon dog, cat or whatever they want — you just have to find him! And if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll catch him on a day when he’s strumming away on his Ukulele.

Chick and Ruth’s Delly
Exterior view of Chick and Ruth's Delly in AnnapolisStop by this Annapolis staple in the midst of your day’s journeys if you’re craving a delicious and hearty meal at a fair price. From omelets to deli sandwiches to pizzas, Chick and Ruth’s Delly is sure to have something to satisfy every belly (and will serve you whatever you want regardless of the hour — I got a chicken salad sandwich at 8:30 a.m.). While you can’t bring a stroller inside, there’s plenty of space to park them on the street; high chairs are offered upon request; and gluten-free options are available. We recommend getting there as early as possible as the line almost always ends up out the door (especially on weekends).

Exterior view of water taxi in AnnapolisWater Taxi
Getting from point A to point B by foot or car is so yesterday, so spice it up and hop on the water taxi! It will take you anywhere throughout Annapolis Harbor, otherwise known as Spa Creek, and is located right across the street from the Harbormaster’s office in Ego Alley. Tickets start from $3 per person. Call 410-263-0033 for more information.

– Morgan Agesen

6 Fall Festivities for Families in Pennsylvania

September 22nd, 2014

Parents and kids ride in a horse-drawn wagon at the Apple Butter Frolic event in Harleysville, PennsylvaniaMontgomery County, Pennsylvania, located just 18 miles west of Philadelphia, offers beautiful fall foliage during the autumn season. Families won’t want to miss the breathtaking scenery and can enjoy fall activities along the way. Here are seven fun festivities for families to enjoy in Valley Forge and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, this fall.

National Public Lands Day
Get the kids outside while the weather is still fair for National Public Lands Day on Saturday, September 27, at Valley Forge National Historical Park. Families can help clean up the park and can take part in projects to help maintain the popular area. When the work is done, enjoy a guided nature hike before the barbecue starts. Events run from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Families should sign up in advance if looking to volunteer.

Upper Perkiomen Bird & Wildlife Festival
Educate the kids on birds and wildlife at this annual outdoor event on Saturday, September 27, at Green Lane Park. Live demonstrations will take place and hands-on activities and games for kids, like nature crafts and hayrides, will be offered. Food and drinks will be for sale, as well. Admission is free, and the event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Asher’s Chocolates 17th Annual Fall Fest
Enjoy live music, moon bounce houses, games, face painting and more at the 17th Annual Fall Fest, hosted by Asher’s Chocolates of Souderton, Pennsylvania. Hot dogs and drinks will be free, too! The fun starts at 11 a.m. and runs through 3 p.m. on Saturday, September 27, at the retail store on Wambold Road. Admission is free.

Annual Apple Butter Frolic
Enjoy all things apple at the 41st Annual Apple Butter Frolic hosted by the Mennonite Heritage Center in Harleysville, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, October 4, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Kids activities, an apple baking contest, horse and wagon rides and more will take place and excite guests of all ages. Admission is $8 for teens and adults 13 and older, $2 for kids between 6 and 12, and free for kids 5 and under.

Scarecrow Making
Do you want to make a scarecrow? Learn how at Norristown Farm Park in East Norriton, on Sunday, October 5, at 1 p.m. Families and kids can have fun making and dressing their very own scarecrow (be sure to bring clothes from home!), which may even be featured in the Park in the Dark night hike event on October 17. Admission is free, but costs $5 per scarecrow. Pre-registration is required.

Skippack Days
Head to Skippack Village on Saturday, October 4, and Sunday, October 5, for the 41st annual Skippack Days event. Enjoy food and craft vendors, as well as kids’ activities and live music during this annual town wide celebration. Activities start at 10 a.m. and end at 6 p.m. on both days.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

7 Banned Books Week Events for Families

September 21st, 2014

Three young boys read books outside in the grassToday kicks off the 32nd Annual Banned Books Week and events for the young and old will be held throughout the country, with readings and storytime for babies to celebrations in honor of Lord of the Rings with costumed characters for teens. Here’s a list of family-friendly events taking place in large cities around the U.S. this week in honor of all those banned books!

Chicago
Banned Books Week

Sept. 21-27, 2014
Glen Ellyn Public Library

All week long kids in grades four through eight can stop by the Glen Ellyn Public Library in Chicago and have their picture taken with their favorite banned book, which will also be featured in the library’s special Facebook album. Readings will also take place daily.

Providence, R.I.
Free Tattoo with Checkout of Banned Book

Sept. 21-27, 2014
Providence Community Library

Families who check out a banned book this week in Providence will get a free temporary tattoo!

Nashville
Hobbit Day Celebration

Sept. 22, 2014 at 6:30 p.m.
Coffee County Lannom Library

Located about an hour from Nashville, the Coffee County Lannom Library in Tullahoma, Tennessee, is hosting a celebration in honor of Lord of the Rings and Middle Earth’s very own Bilbo and Frodo! Families can enjoy costume contests, scavenger hunts, riddles, trivia and hobbit snacks.

Portland, OR
Celebrate Banned Books at Wild Lilac

Sept. 24, 2014 at 11 a.m.
Wild Lilac Child Development Community

Listen to parents and teachers as they read from their favorite banned children’s books in Portland this Wednesday.

Charleston, S.C.
Banned Books Week DIY Festival

Sept. 25, 2014
College of Charleston – Addlestone Library

Families can make their own buttons, magazines and more at this DIY Festival in Charleston this week. A photobooth will be available all week long for photos with your banned book, too.

San Francisco
Baby’s First Banned Book Club Meeting

Sept. 25, 2014 at 3 p.m.
Books Inc. in the Marina

Sing songs, clap your hands and read books that have actually been banned for the little ones in San Francisco this week! Who knew storytime for baby would or could be banned?

Book Bites Banned Books Storytime
Sept. 25, 2014 at 3:30 p.m.
Books Inc. Laurel Village

Bring kids ages 6 and up to this event, which offers little ones who are just learning to read a storytime of banned books.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz