Tag Archives: free activities

Fun and Sun in San Antonio, TX

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San Antonio just celebrated their 2013 Fiesta San Antonio, an event that has been taking place since 1891 and started as a simple street parade. Now it is put together with the collaboration of various San Antonio businesses, hosting events for an entire week. The funds from the festival serve to assist communities throughout San Antonio.

This is probably what I loved about San Antonio the most. Its sense of community, its ability and desire to hold on to traditions and culture, while at the same time embracing growth and progress.

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Believe at Macy’s Santaland, NYC

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All week long, all I have wanted to do was wake up Friday morning and surprise my two youngest with a visit to see Santaland in Macy’s Herald Square, an annual holiday tradition for us.

I envisioned my boys jumping up and down for joy, except I didn’t realize that Friday’s Pizza Day in school was such a big deal. So instead, I got this:

Sigh.

Eventually, as the news sunk in, the boys did get more and more excited and by the time we arrived to Macy’s on 34th street they were jumping up and down with anticipation.

I was delighted too, because unlike last year, I got there early enough to beat the crowds. Macy’s Santaland is open from 9am to 9pm on weekdays, and from 8am till 9PM on weekends till December 24th. Crowds are willing to wait outside for this, so it’s really best to get there early. The closer it gets to Christmas (16 days at the time of this post), the larger the crowds and the wait can be an hour or more…and not a lot of fun.

This year however, Macy’s added a bit more details closer to the end of the line featuring animatronics which highlight scenes from the holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street. The kids loved this as did the parents because it helped to keep them entertained.

We made our way through many of our favorites, like the holiday tree, skiing penguins, signing snow people and Santa’s sleigh.

We arrived to Santa pretty quickly, and this year was a pretty big deal because it was the first time ever that my now 6 year old had the courage to actually speak to him and tell him what he wanted and Santa took note. He took him by the hand and they spoke softly to each other. It was such a sweet and adorable moment that my holiday, Santa loving heart nearly burst with joy and my eyes teared up.

My 5 year old was a bit shy and spoke, but without really letting go of my hand. There was no rush, there was no pressure to move it along, and I was so grateful for the attention Santa gave my boys today, I just had to share the experience with you all.

So, if this is your holiday and you are a fan of Santa, I hope you can make your way to Santaland too this year. But keep in mind my tips, they make all the difference, and  make sure to go with plenty of time, patience and happy holiday spirits. Many of the same rules I talked about in my Traveling this Holiday Season post, apply while you navigate the crowds, especially in the magical Santaland.

Enjoy Macy’s Holiday Lane, where you can browse toys and other holiday gifts, as well as rest your feet with some baked goods and beverages.

Make sure to stop by Santa’s Post Office online where you can create a letter on special holiday stationary. Once you have created your letter, stop by any Macy’s letterbox to drop in your special Santa letter. For each letter received Macy’s will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, up to $1,000,000, giving others something to Believe in as well.

Most of all just have fun. Whether young or old, big or small, Macy’s Santaland remains one of our family’s all time holiday favorites and a must-do when visiting NYC.

There is no admission fee to Macy’s Santaland. Photos with Santa can be purchased immediately after your visit with him. Macy’s Herald Square is located at 151 W 34th St New York, NY 10001. Telephone (212) 695-4400.

 

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Return to Governors Island

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It has been two years. Two years since we have been to Governors Island. I don’t know why. Maybe because the last time we went it was so pathetically crowded (it was the opening day for the season after all), that I lost interest in going back, despite the great time we had. It had been so long since I had gone to Governor’s Island, that when I wrote about my experience, I was still writing this blog in the 3rd person. So long ago!

But we returned today. No particular day of importance, other than that it was a Friday before a holiday when most people have off – but not all – and a lot of those who do have off tend to go away.

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Botanical Walk and New Discoveries with NYCWildFlowerWeek.org

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New York City and the people I meet who love and breath it like I do, never, ever cease to amaze me. I love it.

On one perfect Saturday morning, we headed over to Inwood Hill Park, which looked a lot different than it did since our last visit there, and is now showing all the signs of  the lush, green forest that it is (the largest remaining in Manhattan).

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Sing for Hope brings back the Pop-Up Pianos in NYC

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Yay! Sing for Hope has brought back the Pop-Up Pianos to New York City!

We love them. We never know where they will, um, pop-up, but when we see them we can’t help but be attracted to play them.

This latest encounter was at Inwood Hill Park, after a wonderful nature walk and morning of fun. The kids were immediately excited and started playing their makeshift tunes, but it was my 13-year-old boy who left everyone who listened impressed.

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Enjoying The National Tartan Day Parade, NYC

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New York was gorgeous today. Especially so because it followed a few days of April showers. The cool air and sunny skies were delightful.

My crew and I made our way to the Scholastic Store’s Greenhouse for my cooking event with Chef Jehangir Mehta sponsored by Parent and Child Magazine which, if I may say so myself, was a huge success!

We followed up this wonderful event, with one even more fabulous: The National Tartan Day Parade. The parade comes at the heels of the Scottish Week Celebration. The celebrations are capped by the Scotland Run, a 10K race which will take place on Sunday, April 10, 2011 in Central Park at 9:00AM.

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Getting Happy in New York City

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I have been feeling a bit gloomy lately. When I start feeling a little blue I like to grab my camera, put on my comfy sneakers, and walk the city, especially on sunny days like today. Granted it was cold, but man was it pretty.

I took my time and pacing myself throughout my long walk. In doing so I was able to visit the parts of New York City that make me most happy.

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Family Pre-Valentine’s Day at Citi Pond

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Citi Pond at Bryant Park is still celebrating it’s Winter Film Fest, with it’s last feature film showing on the evening of Valentine’s Day. Still a great time to come out and have some fun. But if you were looking to do something a bit earlier with kiddos in tow, they’ve got you covered there as well!

Citi Pond and Celsius restaurant are kicking-off Valentine’s Day weekend by hosting a free family day on Sunday, Feb. 13th. After spending the day outdoors enjoying Citi Pond’s free-admission ice skating, Celsius restaurant is a perfect spot to warm-up with hot chocolate and comfort treats featuring a special kid’s menus.

While the kid’s are creating free Valentine’s for mom, dad, grandparents or friends through stations set-up at the restaurant, parents can enjoy specially-crafted Valentine’s drinks.

Family Day  which will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13th and will include:

· Activities for kids such as: crafts station where children can make valentine’s for parents, grandparents or friends

· Photographer to take complimentary pictures

· $3 off skating if you dine at Celsius

· $12 Special Valentine’s Day Cocktails such as:

HUBU Mojito: Seagram’s Raspberry, muddles berries, fresh mint.

Kiss Me Cosmo: Absolut Acai, white cranberry juice, triple second, fresh lime juice.

First Crush: Beefeater , El Mayor Blanco, Grenadine, fresh lime juice, topped with champagne

Vanilla Play: Kahlua, Absolut Vanilia, Hot Chocolate with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, served in flute.

So come on and out and celebrate the day of love with the entire family at one of our favorite New York City destinations.

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Exploring Inwood Hill Park, a piece of Old New York

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Yes, it’s cold and it’s tempting to stay home and warm. However, when you have kids bouncing off the walls and a desire to stretch those legs yourself, it’s necessary to bundle up and head outside.

We were eager to go for a walk, but didn’t want to venture to far to have do so in a nature filled environment. Luckily we are very close to what is New York City’s oldest and last natural park, Inwood Hill Park. Off the A train on 207 street (the last stop uptown) and you are in the neighborhood of Inwood, neighbor to Washington Heights.

A short walk leads you into the wooded area of the park. Walk even deeper and you find yourself surrounded by oak, hickory, maples trees, now dormant but waiting to come to life at the Spring’s first signs. Acres and acres of raw, natural land for bird watchers, hikers, and natural lovers to enjoy.

We walked a few miles into the park, slowly stopping to check out the fallen trees, and make snowballs, climb rocks. The most wonderful thing about this walk was the silence. For a moment we forgot we were still in Manhattan. Absolute silence, and the sight of nothing but wooded areas was enough to make this a peaceful excursion and fun adventure.

In the Summer this is the place for even longer walks and hikes, picnics and events, even visits to the nearby Cloisters. But for now, if you are looking for an adventure that will help you move and enjoy some of the beauty nature has to offer, you don’t have to look to far. Just head north of Manhattan and into Inwood Hill park. I guarantee you will feel as if you took a few minutes out in the country.

More photos on Flickr:


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Spring, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter Egg Hunts, & Other Reasons to Love NYC with Kids

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Ah, Spring. At least that’s what it’s feeling like today in New York City.

The boys and I set out to enjoy a few hours outside, after what seemed months of hibernation or enduring the cold. As my kids ran and laughed and played with the other kids, and I mingled and chatted with the smiling parents relieved to be out as well, I began to get excited about the many things that are coming up in the next few weeks which make New York City even more fun with kids in tow.

First on the list of things coming up are the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. HUGE here in New York City. Last year we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day while having dinner at the super kid-friendly Cowgirl in the West Village, and then a few days later headed out to Park Slope for their parade.  Tons a fun, albeit a bit chilly.

Some friends have been wondering what’s going on in the city now that the weather is nicer, and St. Patrick’s Day and Easter are right around the corner. So I decided to highlight my favorite kid-friendly things coming up.

Granted, there are probably more than what is listed below but when I think “kid-friendly” events I think friendly for my wallet, as well as for kids who are very much like my boys. In other words, no High Tea events during Easter, or overly-crowded St. Patrick’s Day events for us, thank you!

Spring Highlight:

To start things off for Spring, Macy’s Annual Flower Show show kicks off on March 28 and goes on till April 11th. It’s “Spring Is In The Air” theme promises to “transform Herald Square into a wonderland of spectacular gardens where magic reaches new heights and floral fantasies take flight!

This year’s show features 10 different garden environments, including our new Hot, Palm and Topiary gardens, and over 30,000 different varieties of exotic trees and flowering plants.

Guided tours are offered, but I also recommend going at your own pace with a stroll through their gardens. A must see: a hot air balloon centerpiece, overflowing with lush spring flowers that will make your spirits soar!

The 20-minute guided tour of Macy’s Flower Show is available every half hour between 11am and 4pm at the Macy’s 35th and Broadway door. During the tour, you’ll learn all about this year’s flowers and plants, plus you’ll get an insider’s look at how the show was installed. Tours are complimentary. For more information, call 212-494-4495.

St. Patrick’s Day:

Annual St. Patrick’s Open Day at The Irish Arts Center which has a day full of kid-friendly activities planned not only on this holiday, but ongoing throughout the year.

Enjoy a day of arts and crafts on St. Patrick’s Day Crafts at the Chess and Checkers House (mid-park at 64th St.) on March 11 from 2:00pm to 4:00pm.

Tavern Concert: Irish Stout on March 12 in Staten Island starting at 9:30am.

Easter:

Unfortunately the Gallery Church has informed me that they will not be hosting it’s Annual Eggtravaganzza in Central Park like last year. However, the New York Department of Parks and Recreation has a few Easter events listed in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens.

Unlike the St. Patrick’s Day parade, The Easter Parade which takes place on Easter Sunday (April 4th), is a bit more kid friendly, but still very popular parade and can be crowded (but kids love it!). Put on your most creative and best Easter bonnet and join the crowds along 5th Avenue between 49th St and 57th starting around 10:00am.

Brooklyn Heights Playground is hosting a 2010 Spring Egg Hunt, and they are looking for volunteers to help with set up and other organization.

I’m sure more events will be announced closer to Easter and later during Spring. I would search to see what your favorite venues, like museums or kids’ books stores, are featuring on their events calendar.  We of course will post in our Upcoming Events page and keep you informed on any cool things that may come up!

Whether you have kids or not, New York City in Spring is certainly the place to be, as the list of celebrations as the months get warmer is endless! Stay tuned as I share some of those with you.

New York City Family Travel Tips

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