During the summer, New Jersey parents are constantly on the lookout for day trips that are both entertaining and educational. The Garden State's great zoos and aquariums are always lots of fun, but if you're looking for a unique experience for your wildlife-loving kids, consider a trip to the Raptor Trust. Located in Millington, the Raptor Trust is primarily a medical facility for injured birds; however, it's also a permanent home for birds that cannot be safely returned to the wild. Visitors are given the opportunity observe these gorgeous creatures up close. I recently took my two children, ages 11 and 7, on a tour. Read on to see what this special destination has to offer.
Even if your mini paleontologists have memorized every nook and cranny of the American Natural History Museum, you've never experienced dinosaurs quite the way you do at Field Stations: Dinosaurs, the open-air dino spot in Secaucus, New Jersey that opened in 2012. Home to more than 30 animatronic dinosaurs, this educational attraction really lived up to my family's expectations—our two kids were particularly impressed.
Located just nine minutes by train from NYC, the prehistoric-themed park is a great day trip. The park also offers lovely views of the NYC skyline (the T.rex and the Empire State Building make for quite a contrast). We visited on opening day and I’m thrilled to be able to tell you all about this completely unique family adventure.
Those in the know, know Camelback Mountain Resort is the premium ski destination in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains. But even if you're a total beginner, or don't ski at all, it offers active families a variety of winter adventures: a large snowtubing park, mountain coaster, 34 ski and snowboard trails and the soon-to-open indoor water park. With so much to do, Camelback is a great winter weekend getaway destination for skiiers and non-skiiers alike.
My family, as all novices to snow sports, recently enjoyed a fun-filled weekend sampling many of Camelback's winter activities. About a two hour drive from both New York City and Philadelphia, Camelback makes for an easy getaway sure to please all levels of winter sports enthusiasts.
Living in SoCal without ever visiting Big Bear would be like living in SoCal without ever going to Disneyland; and until this past weekend, I was guilty of that very sin. It was time for my family to take a ski trip that was more than a day trip and enjoy the beauty of the mountains around Big Bear Lake - a spot so peaceful and alpine that it's hard to imagine it's less than three hours from the Los Angeles area. But a place as popular as Disneyland needs a plan worthy of Disneyland; if you want to spend more time skiing than waiting, I urge you to read on.
When my 6-year-old son started skiing, I was advised by a former ski instructor friend to I enroll him in skiing school and under no circumstances attempt to teach him myself. She claimed that even if you are an Olympic-level skier, which I am not, it is best that they learn how to turn and stop from the pros. Plus there is the added benefit of hitting the slopes solo while your kid is in school. Heeding her advice, we enrolled him in ski school for a day during the Christmas holidays, and he loved it!
Back home in NYC I started looking for local ski resorts providing schools for weekend day trips and was surprised to find they weren’t as common as I thought they would be. Of course most ski resorts offer private and group lessons, but I was hoping for more of a half-day or full-day option for my son. After a ton of research, we've rounded up the area resorts with ski or snowboarding schools for kids, plus everything else you need to know to get them started. So grab your skis and get going!
While we've written plenty of posts about downhill skiing with NYC kids, we've never covered cross-country skiing. Also known as Nordic skiing, cross-country skiing is a great winter sport for families. Children as young as five can ski alone, and parents can tow tots in a sled or carry them in a backpack while on the trails. You can't do that while swooshing down a mountain!
Cross-country skiing is a fun way for active kids to burn off energy in the colder months and spend time outside. While you use most of the same equipment that you'd need for a day on the slopes—skis, boots, bindings, poles, goggles, helmets and warm clothing—cross-country skiing is nowhere near as dangerous or as expensive as downhill skiing. You won't be at risk for slamming into a tree at full speed, and trail passes usually cost about $20 per person.
After a good snowfall in New York City, you can cross-country ski just about anywhere. I've seen people doing it in parks and even right down the middle of Fifth Avenue before the snow plows cleared the street. But if you're looking to go cross-country skiing in a more scenic (and less bumpy) environment, there are tri-state area destinations that offer many miles of well-groomed trails, as well as amenities like warm lodges where you can sit back, relax, sip on hot cocoa and enjoy a family meal.
Unlike traditional ski resorts, most cross-country trails aren't in the business of making their own snow. So you're going to have to wait for the white stuff before you can get out there. Once that happens, here are six spots where families can enjoy cross-country skiing, most less than a two-hour drive from New York City.
There is nothing quite like bundling up the family in winter gear and spending some quality time in the snow. Whether it's the wind rushing past as you speed down a snowy slope or the peaceful crunching of cross-country skiing and snow shoeing, there is some kind of magic in that mixture of fresh cold air and hot chocolate. It can be a weekend getaway to the mountains or an afternoon of throwing ourselves against a nearby hill; skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and pretty much any other winter sport are some of the best re-boots around.
Local mom and “Outdoors with Kids Boston” guidebook author, Kim Foley MacKinnon, shares her best family outing tips and picks with you as part of our guest blog series with the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Kids Outdoors Bostonfree online community.
There are many ways for young speed demons to get a rush outdoors in winter, from racing down mountains on skis to sledding down the highest hills around on snow tubes. But for kids looking for both speed and height, winter coasters and zip lines at several New England resorts offer some fast, chilly thrills. Make sure to call in advance as rides often depend upon weather conditions.
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