11 Festivals and Fairs for Families this May!

food truck zeppolesMay 1-17th: Hudson Valley Fair. One of the biggest and best family fairs in the Hudson Valley returns! Shows, music, petting zoo, rides, food, games and SO MUCH MORE! 5pm. Dutchess Stadium, 1500 Route 9D, Wappingers Falls. 845-838-0094.

May 16th: Gardiner Cupcake Festival. Live music, local food, shopping, art and craft vendors, raffles, kids’ activities, cupcake contests, and, of course, lots of yummy cupcakes. 12-6pm. Wrights Farm, 699 State Route 208, Gardiner. 845-255-5300.

May 16th: Pine Bush UFO Fair. Live music all day, fun games and attractions, a huge assortment of food, a kids section, craft vendors, UFO novelties, live characters, street performances, and the Star Wars 501st Legion Storm Troopers will be in attendance. ‘Alien and UFO Themed Parade’. 10am- 4pm. Main Street, Pine Bush. 845-744-8230.

May 16th: Spring Fling and Plow Day. Learn how the fields are prepared for spring planting. Watch the antique plows disk the fields and otheractivities and equipment on display, demonstrations and tours through the barn collections. 10am- 2pm. Orange County Farmer’s Museum, 850 State Rt. 17K, Montgomery. 845-926-2727.

food truck festivalMay 21st: Hudson Valley Food Truck Festival.
Come on out to the Hudson Valley Food Truck Festival Spring Fling! Bands and performers, great food and lots of fun. Kiwani’s Ice arena, 6 Small World Ave., Saugerties.

Find a summer camp for your child. Click here to visit our extensive list of area summer camps.

May 22nd: Mysteryland Festival. Creative journey, combining music with theatre, movies, interactive installation art, street performers and shows. Times TBA. Bethel Woods Center for the arts, 200 Hurd Rd., Bethel. 866-781-2922.

May 23rd: Spring Festival. Annual Spring celebration featuring art, crafts, food, fun and music. Held rain or shine. 10am-6pm. Sugar Loaf Art and Craft Village, Sugar Loaf, Chester. 845-469-5931.

May 30th: Healthy Smiles Family Fun Day. Join us for a day of family fun! Games, raffles, fun activities, food, refreshments and a petting zoo!  12:00pm – 4:00pm. Valley Pediatric Dentistry, PC, 1557 Route 82, Hopewell Junction. 845-226-8577.

May 30th: Millbrook Literary Festival. Eighty timely, thought-provoking, and thoroughly entertaining authors and illustrators participating in panel discussions, readings, and signings throughout the day. 9:45am. Village of Millbrook, Franklin Ave., Millbrook.

fair face paintingMay 31st: Hudson Valley Family Festival. This fun family expo provides parents with up to date information and services available in a fun environment for the entire family. 11am-3pm. Dutchess Stadium, 1500 Route 9D, Wappingers Falls. 845-838-0094.

May 31st: Family Fun Day Fest. Enjoy Live Music, bounce house village, Art Bus, kids’ activities, raffles and food.  Fee. 12-6pm. Black Rock Fish and Game Club, 5 Pleasant Hill Rd., Mountainville.


Protect your family from tick bites

8 ideas for summer family fun


10 ways to celebrate nature and earth

earth day imageHappy Earth Day! Not sure why Earth Day is so important? Let me give you a little history real quick. Back in 1970, we were in the height of the hippy movement and there were protests all over the country though not because of environmental issues. In fact most people drove gas guzzling sedans, and for most air pollution was a sign of prosperity. Environmental issues was the furthest from everyone’s minds, but what was at the forefront was the war in Vietnam and most students were opposing it. Gaylord Nelson, the U.S. Senetor from Wisconsin at the time thought if he re-channel so much of the energy students were putting into the anti- war movement he could capitalize on the emerging public concern for water and air pollution. Building a large staff, he set out to promote events across the country for what would later be known as the first National Earth Day.

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and more as part of a massive rally across the country. Colleges and universities, environmental groups, rich, poor, doesn’t matter all came together for a common cause. And even more rare was the political alignment that occurred that day!

Since then, Senator Nelson has spearheaded 2 more major rallies for environmental awareness. Today, the Earth Day fight continues and so does the awareness campaigns across the country. Americans will gather this week to ensure we are channeling our energies for a more clean, healthy and diverse earth for each new generation. Here in the Hudson Valley we are no exception, communities, parks and more will open their spaces for family- fun days, educational workshops and park clean- ups this week. What can you do to help?

1. Earth Day Clean ups- A great way to celebrate Earth Day with the whole family and help save our planet, parks and more is to participate in one of the many clean- ups throughout the Hudson Valley this week and weekend. We have two on our calendar for Wednesday. Mount Beacon Park, Beacon, and at the Town of Esopus Library, Port Ewen. April 22.

2. Paper making workshop- Learn how to turn scraps of used construction paper into beautiful new paper as you learn all about the importance of recycling at the Mid- Hudson Children’s Museum’s special earth day program. If the rain holds out, take a stroll over the Hudson River on the walkway or stay and play at Waterfront Park. $2 a child. Mid- Hudson Children’s Museum, Poughkeepsie. April 22.

bowdoin tree

3. Eagles, streams and trees at Bowdoin park- There are quite a few Hudson Valley parks perfect to play outside this earth day. In fact, in addition to Earth Day on Wednesday, Thursday is National Picnic Day and Friday is National Arbor Day! We can use many of our parks to talk to our kids about our earth, the importance of our trees and enjoy a family picnic this week/ weekend! I want to highlight Bowdoin Park though because it is pretty exciting to see the bald eagles currently calling the park home. Look up just past the playground and you should be able to see a nest high in the trees and often the great bald eagles circling around. It’s a pretty cool sight! Then head to the fields just past the playground and let the kids splash in the little stream, I promise you, HOURS of fun. Just up the hill past the stream is the coolest old tree I have ever seen. My kids recently discovered the back is hollowed out too making for some great imaginative play outside.

[The best Hudson Valley spots for family picnics]

4. Celebrate the animals at the Trailside zoo- All day family- fun with an earth day focus on nature and animal enrichment at the zoo. Spring and nature related displays and activities for the whole family including treat making for the bears, and free tree seedlings for each family. Parking fee and suggested donation at the Bear Mountain Trailside Zoo, Bear Mountain. April 25.

5. The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies- This environmental research center has a team of scientists that study topics of our earth including freshwater health, infectious disease, biochemistry, invasive species and climate change. The trails are open for exploring on over 2,000 acres of preserve land. On-going programs as well. Millbrook.

6. Earth Day activities- Kids will receive a free Planet Protector Passport at the Outdoor Discover Center and can then receive stamps at each booth in the “Green Zone” and “Going Local” activity areas. There will be live music, games and storytelling; food will be available for purchase. FREE admission and suggested parking donation. Hudson Highlands Nature Museum, Cornwall. April 25.

7. Earth Day Celebration– The Village of Monroe celebration will feature a science show for children, as well as a bouncy house, Girl Scouts and Interact club activities and seed plantings with local farms. Vendors will have eco-friendly items for sale. FREE. Lake Street, Monroe. April 25.

kids at the stream

8. Hudson River Earth Day Celebration- This family Earth Day celebration centers around the Hudson River, with a river cleanup, kayaking, international picnic buffet, bake sale, rowing demonstrations and more. All paid attendees are entered into a raffle. Proceeds help support the rowing and swimming programs of America Rows and Swims Newburgh. Newburgh Beach. April 25.

[The Importance of Outdoor Play]

9. Earth Day Fair- The 13th annual Earth Day Fair features activities for kids, music, healthy food, displays and suggestions for saving both energy and money. The reformed Church of New Paltz, New Paltz. April 26.

10. Hyde park walking trail- The Hyde Park trail is a 10- mile system of trails and walkways linking Town parks, nature preserves and National Park sites with local neighborhoods and the Town’s central business corridor. The cool part is, you can look for signs throughout the trails and nature sites, call 845-475-3819 from your cell phone, enter your stop number and hear all about the area and Hyde Park’s rich legacy. Also, walk at least 5 of the listed trails in a year, keep track on the free checklist and turn it in for a free reward! I hope more towns follow suite, how fun!

[Top Hudson Valley hiking trails even little legs can enjoy]

What are some of your favorite ways to spend time outside?

Earth Day history Source.

10 Favorite spring-themed events in the Hudson Valley


I have been counting down the weeks to write this blog post! 2 more weeks until “Spring”! . While I really don’t mind the snow at the beginning of the season, by March I am daydreaming of flowers and green grass, heck, I would just be happy with the 10 minutes less time it will take to get out of the house when we can finally pack away these boots and coats! Winter with toddlers is exhausting. But I digress, dreaming of spring today and I am happy to share with you my Top 10 Picks for spring- like events coming up in the Hudson Valley. Think warm thoughts and enjoy 🙂

1. St. Patrick’s day parades– Okay, not spring per se but it is out doors, floats are involved and it means spring is near! We are really excited to dig through the snow to find a spot at the Dutchess County St. Patrick’s Day parade this Saturday but there are many others throughout the Hudson Valley and this month you might want to check out.

2. Maple Syrup Weekend– Again maple weekendit’s at the top of my list because it doesn’t necessarily have to do with spring exactly but I wanted to share anyway. Other than St. Patrick’s Day parades, another sure- fire way to know spring it coming is the start of Maple Sugar Season. I can smell the pancakes now! One of our favorite farms and a new Sugar Bush to our area is the one at Madava Farm. We are really looking forward to their Maple Weekend March 21-22 & 28-29. The grounds are just gorgeous. Other Maple events can be found on this nifty list: hvparent.com/maple-sugar

IMG_76573. Signs of spring walk–  Welcome the start of spring with a stroll through the forest. This family friendly walk with nature expert is a fun way to get outside after a long winter. You are sure to see plenty of wildlife including birds returning home, toads, salamanders and maybe spot a spring bud or 2! The Walk takes place in Saugerties on March 21st.

4. A visit with the Easter Bunny & Hunt- There is no doubt that for many people the highlight event of the spring is Easter. From visits with the Easter bunny to Easter egg hunts throughout our area our calenders fill up fast this month. The Poughkeepsie Galleria is hosting once again the Hannoush Hunt. We did it last year and it was a lot of fun, though I think that parents were into it more than the kids 😉 It is essentially a scavenger hunt throughout the mall. There are also crafts and activities for the kids at center count, and the best part.. I will be be there with Hudson Valley Parent so make sure you say hello!

5. Spring Extravaganza- Kids can participate in a egg hunt inside the mall, create an egg theme craft, color a page for the coloring contest and visit with the town of Poughkeepsie police for a Child ID card. The Easter bunny will be there for a visit and photo and new this year, two by two petting zoo will be visiting too!funny bunny

6. Funny Bunnies– Families can learn all about the native eastern cottontail and go on a hunt in search of finding wild rabbits! You can meet live rabbits at the center followed by bunny crafts for the kids!

7. Spring Festival and egg hunt– The Beekman rec. holds a very night spring festival and egg hunt each year. They separate the kids by age in the tennis court and offer a large variety of free activities including photos with the Easter Bunny! Families can enjoy the bounce house, petting zoo, a game of Frisbee golf and many different craft projects.

8. Easter bonnet parade & Egg Hunt– Join in the Easter bonnet parade for kids of all ages. Raffles, guess the jelly bean jar contest, egg hunt and a special appearance from the Easter Bunny!

fishkill farms egg hunt9. Annual Spring Egg-Stravaganza– Not your average egg hunt, Kids can learn about dying eggs with fruits and plants, participate in a spring planting workshop with seeds they can take home and go on a hayride. Of course the star of the event is hunting for eggs. There are special surprises along the way including a visit from Mr. Easter Bunny himself for photos and fun.

10. Easter Egg hunts- Most towns have their own Easter Egg hunts. Hudson Valley Parent is working on a full list of the events as the towns are still releasing information. There are a number on the calender right now and I will add the list when it is available. Walden Egg HuntEaster Egg Hunt (Wappingers)

If you are up for a little trip, the Capital District Garden and Flower Show is worth checking out too.

Did I miss any of your favorite events? Let me know in the comments!

Mom dating: 10 places and ways to make new mommy friends.

mom friends2

Mom’s night out with 2 of my mom friends!

Making new mom friends can be a lot like dating. The anxiety, approaching other moms and play dates. Then after all the chatting and setting up the date you have to follow through and keep that relationship going. And just like dating, it’s not easy stuff! You have to know where to meet the right moms, how to approach each other and get together for a play date. It’s not uncommon for especially new moms to feel isolated and alone. These are the years it is even more important for us to be connected to each other. Both online and in person, these moms have become my lifeline. My sanity on tough days and my sounding board for days I question my parenting. Don’t worry about your stained clothes, you probably haven’t showered in a day or two and forming a sentence might be tough on a few hours of broken sleep, but trust me most of the moms you will meet are feeling The. Exact. Same. Thing. So get out there and let me know how it goes.

1. Put yourself out there. Literally, put the baby in a stroller and walk around the park, your block or the mall. The places you frequent are usually good spots to start looking for your mom friends. If you meet another mommy at the gym you already have something in common and can bond over a good workout while the kids play. Grocery stores, libraries even the pediatricians office are all great spots to start practicing your mom dating skills 😉

2. Mommy and Me Groups, classes and story times. When my second was born, I was new to the area and had a 2 year old at home. For my own sanity I needed to get out of the house, but leaving for the playgroup or drop in programs wasn’t motivating enough for me. That year we joined mommy and me gym classes and playgroups. I needed the weekly commitment to get us all out of the house and it helps to be around the same group of people you can bond with.

3. National Organizations. There are a number of national organizations whose goal is to foster the mommy connections. Check out our local chapters of La Lache League, MOPS, Stroller Strides or other New mom groups. New Baby New Paltz has a mother’s social group that meets weekly and Waddle and Swaddle offers a breastfeeding support group as well as weekly play dates. And lastly, check out the local hospitals. Northern Dutchess and Vassar Hospital both offer new mom groups too.

4. Go Online. If getting out of the house seems impossible most days look online for local mom groups. On Facebook, Hudson Valley Moms Group, Dutchess County moms group, Orange County NY moms group and Sullivan County mommies are a few great ones. Also check out meetup.com and yahoo groups. Chatting online is a great way to make initial connections, schedule play dates and/ or continue friendships.

5. Playgroups. Hudson Valley Parent’s calendar is filled with a number of local playgroups! Check your library, favorite indoor play spot, churches and community centers for some great groups near you. If you find that one isn’t the right fit (sometimes they can feel a little cliquey) don’t get discouraged, just move on to the next one!

6. Working mom? Be creative. It might be tougher for moms with limited time but not impossible. Be creative! If you work in a big company start a working mothers lunch group. I see a lot of working mom groups online, it might be tougher but remember you aren’t alone! Starting with some “online dating” in a moms group and scheduling play dates with other working moms already gives you a connection… and a lot to talk about!

7. Volunteer. It’s as simple as offering to help with a community event, with your child’s school or at a local charity. Many times other stay at home moms are running the events, you would be doing some good, helping others and making mommy friends along the way. Choose to do something you are passionate about and you will find others who are just as passionate as you.

8. Make the first move. Don’t wait for someone else to make the first move. You have to be willing to approach other moms too. Start with some small talk, how old is her child, etc. If you’re like me and small talk doesn’t come naturally for you, ask a lot of questions. Where was their baby born? How was the birth? How are they sleeping? You are sure to find something in common with each other. If you are able to make that connection, don’t forget to follow through. Ask to exchange phone numbers and set up a play date.

9. Set up a play date. You can meet somewhere easy for both of you but my best tip is to make sure it’s at a time and day that works best for you and your child. My boys tend to be better behaved in the morning so we like to schedule play dates before lunch and nap times. Have a new baby that sleeps most of the day? Don’t let endless naps get in your way of making friends! Use nap time to your advantage. Meet your new friend at a coffee shop, take a walk around the block or mall or meet for lunch while the babies nap. Play dates aren’t just for the kids you know 😉

10. Be consistent. If your true goal is to build a new friendship being consistent is key. The internet is a wonderful way to stay in touch with someone. Schedule your next play date and keep things moving. Who knows, your mom- date could turn into your next BFF.

What are your best tips for making mommy friends? Share your thoughts in the comments!

This video from Elle (What’s Up Moms) & Karen Alpert (Baby Sideburns) made me laugh!

Top 10 free (or cheap) things to do with kids under 5 in the Hudson Valley

Having a good time with the kids can get costly when you are constantly spending money on indoor play places, movies, food, etc. So next time you and your little ones are looking for a new adventure check out this list of fun and cheap (or free!) great places to take the family.

EF LIbrary

1. I cannot stress this enough, if you have a toddler, baby or preschool aged child your local library is the place you want to be! Most of the libraries offer a slew of story times including arts and crafts, free play, structured activities and more! Though many of them require registration in advance there are often a number of drop in programs for the little ones & many libraries don’t limit the activities to local residents so play library hop for a week or 2 and see what you like best. Also check out free story times at Barnes and Noble.

Fridas play room

2. Coffee shops and kid friendly cafes are great places for mommy to unwind with a cup of coffee while the little ones play. Head to Frida’s Bakery & Cafe in Millton, The Bakery  or Moxie Cupcake in New Paltz, and Taste Budd Cafe in Red Hook where for the cost of a cup of delicious coffee the kids can play and mom can enjoy.

3. Many towns have free or cheap play spaces for the younger crew. An open room filled with new toys to explore and room to run, jump and play with other kids is a great way to beat winter cabin fever! The Murphy Midtown center in Kingston offers a free play space during the winter months as does the Rosendale Community Center (The Rosendale Cooperative Play Group). In Fishkill, the little rascals at the Fishkill Rec. has a great inexpensive program ($3) for kids ages 4 and under too!

4. The Millbrook Zoo is one of our personal favorite places! Inexpensive, wide open spaces and lots to learn. They are open all year and at only $5 an adult and $3 a child it makes a great day trip for warmer winter days and all summer long. (Tip: In the summer bring a lunch, there are grassy areas you can have a picnic!)

Community Clay Day @ Art Centro

5. Get crafty! After cleaning up toys, dishes and clothes all week it is nice to have a place where the kids can create and we don’t have to do the majority of the messy craft clean- up. Ranging in cost from Free to $5 places like the Creative Co-Op in Rosendale (2x a month toddler playgroup), The Mid Hudson Children’s Museum ($2+admission) and Art Centro in Poughkeepsie offers weekly or monthly art projects ranging from Free to $6.

6. The Mid Hudson Children’s Museum is lots of fun for the little ones! From a brand new firetruck to climb and play in to lots of hands on fun, kids can easily spend hours here exploring everything the museum has to offer. Admission is only $8 and the third Saturday each month (from 5-8pm) is FREE!

sprout creek

7. Kids love animals so what better way to spend an afternoon than visiting a furry (or scaly?) friend. A quick trip to Petco to visit the reptiles, fish, birds and small creatures could work any time of year, or pack a lunch and head to a local farm. Our favorite is Sprout Creek Farm in Lagrange. Forsyth Nature Center in Kingston is another great option.

8. Visit a state park or historic site. Many of the historic sites are open year round and families can enjoy a walk, picnic or play outside. A few in our area include Washington Headquarters State Historic Park, Olana State Historic Site, FDR home, Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, Vanderbilt Mansion and Bear Mountain State Park. Which are your favorite?

The Catskill Animal Society- photo from Facebook

9. The Catskill Animal Sanctuary is another unique place to visit. Over 100 acres of farm and farm animals that were rescued from the city to explore, pet and love. Many of the animals are free range so don’t be surprised if a goat tries to hitch a ride in your car! The CAS is open to the public April- October but open year round for over night stays, member tours and events! Public tours are $12 for adults, $8 kids under 12 and free for under 2.

10. Connect with nature at the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum. Open year round, the winter calendar is filled with a variety of educational nature programs for only $5 for children and $7 for adults. In the warmer weather Grasshopper Grove, a unique all natural kids playground, is perfect for the under 5 group at only $3/person and free for under 2.

Do you have a favorite free or cheap place to bring the kids? Share in the comments!

Photo credits: Art Centro’s website, The Catskill Animal Society Facebook Page, & East Fishkill Library on Facebook

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 places HV families should visit this winter.

Top 10 places for Hudson Valley families to visit in the winter time

IMG_69891. One of the best ways to tackle the long winter months is to get outside and embrace it. There are a number of fabulous Ski and sledding places right in our backyards that make for some great family fun this winter. Some of my top picks are the Mohonk Mountain House, where you can spend some time on the slopes and enjoy a good meal. If skiing isn’t your thing grab a spa treatment while the kids play outside too.  Thunder Ridge is another favorite. With a cozy lodge to grab a cup of hot cocoa or bowl of soup between runs down the mountain and even babysitting services on site, the whole family can enjoy the day there!

Click here for more favorite ski spots

2. If you are looking for a short drive getaway this winter you might want to check out the Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos. This gigantic indoor water park has fun and play for all ages from thrill- seeking water slides to a little ones play area and more. Outside the water park the little ones can get a mani- pedi at the kids spa or battle a dragon at the arcade.

3. Rocking Horse Ranch is a great mini- vacation spot and so rocking horse ranchclose to home. An indoor water park, skiing, tubing, ice skating, horse drawn carriage rides, children’s programs and so much more all found right here in the Hudson Valley.

4. The many beautiful state parks are sometimes one of the most overlooked gems of our area. Throughout the winter months, families can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities including sledding, snow shoeing and cross country skiing at many locations. Fahnestock has a wonderful winter park, as does Minnewaska State Park.

Click here for more favorite sledding spots

5. Visit one of the many festivals and events throughout the Hudson Valley this winter. Saturday January 10th is the Rail Trail’s Winterfest. A chili cook- off, food and drink, kids activities, wagon rides, bonfire and more. Another Winterfest in Wurstboro on January 31st, Festival of Frost in Beacon on January 24th and the New Paltz Winter Carnival on February 7th are some of my top festival picks for this winter.

legoland map6. Spend an afternoon at Legoland Discovery Center. This place truly looks amazing! Okay, I guess it helps if your kiddo is into Legos but still great for most kids and ages! A great big climb on play area, a 4D movie, race cars, themed building areas, laser training and so much more.

7. Ask most Hudson Valley Parents and they will tell you one of their favorite day trips any time of year is to the Stepping Stones Museum &/or the Norwalk Aquarium in CT. Both places can fill most of your day separately, but they are close enough to each other you could always squeeze both adventures into a family- fun winter day!

8. Experience nature through one of the many programs Hudson Highlands Nature Museum has to offer this winter. Using the museums collection of live animals, the beautiful trails and natural habitats throughout the grounds, families are treated to a true hands- on educational experience. Check the calendar for special programs and events.

bear mountian ice skating9. Strap on a pair of skates and enjoy ice skating among the beauty of the mountains and nature at  Bear Mountain. You can take a stroll along the lake, kids will love the indoor carousel and small zoo. Then warm up with a cup of cocoa or a bite to eat inside the lodge before heading home.

Click here for more top ice skating rinks

10. There are no better places throughout the Hudson Valley to get out of the cold winter than stepping into one of the many local libraries! Take your child to the library day on February 7th is a great opportunity to get the kids involved in some of the great library programs, family activities or simply looking through a book together. Check the events calender on HVparent’s website for special library events near you.

Have a wonderful winter!