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.


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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.

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!

Top 10 things to do in the Hudson Valley this November

Halloween has come and gone and as we turn the page of our calendars I cannot believe it is November already. Before we know it we will be full force into the Holiday season with Thanksgiving feasts, Christmas events and trying to fit as much holiday spirit into two months as we can. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, the weather getting colder and the thoughts of being thankful for those close to us on our minds it is a great time of the year to spend time with family and friends exploring all the the Hudson Valley has to offer this November. Plan your month around some of these wonderful November activities with your kids.turkey2

1. Gear up for Thanksgiving. Instill a virtue of gratitude while raising thankful kids and begin to talk about the origin and true
meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday. Taste and experience a traditional 19th century Thanksgiving at Museum Village in Monroe where your family can experience the smells, tastes and displays of an old fashioned Thanksgiving cooked over an open hearth. Begin to work on Thanksgiving feast plans, trim your turkey day if you are on a budget this year and start decorating with holiday crafts you and the kids can do together. Two of my favorites; Gratitude Turkey and Thanksgiving pot holders There are a number of other Thanksgiving craft ideas that are sure to keep you busy this month.

2. November is Native American Heritage month. Join the community for a traditional Native American dream catcherThanksgiving including basket weaving, Native American Drumming and more at the Native American Thanksgiving festival in Pine Hill this month. Get a real feel for Native American culture with storytelling, kids crafts, vendors and drumming. Bring a dish to share for the feast! Celebrate Native American Heritage with books from the library, or making your own dream catchers, or rain sticks.

3. Hudson Valley restaurant week runs this year from November 3rd to the 16th and there are plenty of kid- friendly favorites on the list! Take a bite out of the Hudson Valley with over 200 participating restaurants offering 3- course dinners for $29.95 and lunches for $20.95. Skip on the cooking and cleaning and cross reference our featured guide on the Top Kid Friendly Restaurants in the Hudson Valley. You can enjoy a family- friendly meal that’s affordable too!

A few of the kid- friendly restaurants participating are; Babycakes Café in Poughkeepsie, Billy Joe’s Ribworks in Newburgh (most popular) and Cosimo’s Brick Oven in Middletown.

Full guide: Top Kid Friendly Restaurants in the Hudson Valley, your quick price guide for children’s meals

4. Enjoy a day with family or friends at Bear Mountain State Park this month. Bring or rent a pair of ice skates, the outdoor ice rink is open on November 1st for public skating. The Trailside Zoo is open weekends this month as is the carousel house which operates 10-5pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Pack a picnic lunch, take a hike around the lake and enjoy lunch by the water. If it’s too cold to eat outside, there are 3 indoor dining options serving brunch, lunch, dinner and more. www.bearmountainicerink.com

5. Shop local! One of the best things about living in the Hudson Valley is the ability to shop local and support local families. Get a jump start on your holiday shopping at the various holiday craft shows, bazaars and vendor fairs in your area. Check our calendar for local events and ask around, I can bet your friends know of a few in your area!

Here are a few to start: Holiday BazaarSemi-Annual Craft FairMerrie Olde Crafte Faire and British FestivalHudson Valley HullabalooHoliday Craft and Book Fair44th Annual Arts & Crafts FestivalHoliday Crafts Fair. See More.

6. November is National Model Railroad Month and the Mid- Hudson Civic center is holding an Annual Railroad Exhibition railroadwith more than 20,000 feet of models and exhibits. If your kids aren’t quite old enough or you aren’t brave enough for the crowds and large displays at the civic center you might want to take the short drive over to the Danbury Railway Museum to see the model train displays (http://www.danbury.org/drm). They have a Thomas train table for the kids and you can take a short train ride in the yard for a small fee. Up in Ulster County, and not quite a model train but still great fun for the kids The Catskill Mountain Railroad begins their Polar Express Train on November 21st (http://www.catskillmtrailroad.com). If getting out and about to see the model trains this month isn’t going to work for you, set up a train display in your living room with wooden tracks and trains, or get creative with cardboard boxes and some paint!

7. While December is really Santa’s month, he begins to arrive everywhere this November on helicopters and fire trucks, with music, crafts, festivals and more! Santa arrives at many local malls the first two weekends in November and is available for photos at many locations throughout the Hudson Valley. Our Calendar has a dates for Santa arrival events in the area.

Top 10 places to get your photo taken with Santa in the Hudson Valley 

8. And don’t forget about the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade at the end of the month! If you aren’t brave enough the make the trip into NYC with your family on Thanksgiving day, gather with family to see the magic and one of the most favorite parades in the country, a true November tradition.

festival of the trees

9. You won’t want to miss The Festival of the Trees November 15th and 16th in Leeds, NY. This wonderful event for the whole family displays beautifully decorated trees and wreaths, live entertainment, food, a vendor area for shopping, Santa and more!

10. Set an example and teach your kids the power of good deeds and giving this month. Clean out your pantry of things you may no longer need or want to make room for your Holiday meal prepping and donate to your local food pantry. This is a great way to de- clutter while helping your community. Let the kids join in on the fun and good deeds buy going through their toys to donate. You teach them a valuable lesson on giving and the toy room gets a good clean out before Christmas, win- win for everyone!

10 places to donate toys in the Hudson Valley

What are some of the things on your November bucket list this year?