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.

Related:

Protect your family from tick bites

8 ideas for summer family fun

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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.

10 Places the whole family can enjoy

Happy National Siblings Day to these crazy kids!

Happy National Siblings Day to these crazy kids!

Did you know that this Friday, April 10th is National Siblings Day? When I saw this I got to thinking about how wonderful my boys have each other to play with.. even though they don’t quite see it like that yet. I know despite the constant fighting they would be lost without each other. Being fairly close in age, usually no matter where we go both boys can enjoy the same or similar activities. Of course there are still some things, like roller coasters and batting cages that my youngest isn’t quite old enough for so we tend to stick to places our whole family can enjoy. Myself being the oldest of four children, I feel for those parents who have kids of very different ages and finding ways to entertain the whole family all summer can be a challenge.

So in honor of National Siblings Day and big families all around, here are my top 10 places the whole family can enjoy!

1. The Castle Fun Center: If you are looking for a great place the whole family can really play the Castle is your one- stop-
shop! Some of the attractions include go karts, laser tag, roller skating, mini golf, an arcade, bowling, batting cages and the list goes on! Chester. thecastlefuncenter.com

See More: Hudson Valley Top Indoor Play Spots

Enjoying a trip to the Museum of Firefighting

Enjoying a trip to the Museum of Firefighting

2. FASNY Museum of Firefighting: What is great about this museum is that each member of the family can appreciate firefighting history, culture and service on their own levels. Whether it be through the collections of gear, equipment and photographs or through the interactive kid- friendly opportunities throughout the museum. Children can complete the Jr. Firefighter Challenge Course, learn all about safety and prevention, pretend play on the trucks and so much more. They hold special programs and events throughout the year and are constantly changing so check the site for updated info before you go! Hudson. www.fasnyfiremuseum.com

3. The Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries: This evolving educational organization’s mission is stated “To expand understanding of waterways for the benefit of human health, ecosystem restoration, economic development and quality of life”. The programs and trails will interest most everyone and are spread throughout a few locations within the city. The visitors center at Dennings Point offers a variety of educational programs, beautiful trails along the river and connects to the train station. The exhibits and things to do here are ever changing so check out the website before planning your trip to see just what is going on. Beacon. www.beaconinstitute.org

See More: Hudson Valley Best Places to Teach your Little Ones About Science

4. Zipline Adventure Tours: For the adventurous family, the zipline adventure tour is the longest and highest zipline course in North America and is located right here at Hunter Mountain. The most daring can soar 60 feet above the valley on 4.6 miles on lines and reaching speeds up to 50 MPH. If the thought of those heights and speeds has your heart racing, you might want to try the mid mountain tour, the most family friendly experience including short zip lines, rope bridges, and wooden platforms to climb on. Afterwards, kids of every age can climb on the adventure tower at the base of the mountain filled with obstacles and climbs. Hunterwww.ziplinenewyork.com

Spending the afternoon with the animals at the Trevor Zoo

Spending the afternoon with the animals at the Trevor Zoo

5. Trevor Zoo: Host to more than 180 exotic animals, over 80 different species and a variety of endangered species this zoo, uniquely situated as part of a high school is a great place for kids of all ages to explore. Older kids can take their time to learn about each species and gain a better understanding of wildlife conservation and environmental protection. Younger kids have a blast getting up close and personal with so much wildlife. You can pack a picnic and eat right in the zoo or head to the nearby tribute gardens for some playtime at the park. Millbrook. www.millbrook.org

Read more: 7 FREE things to do this April with the family

6. Splash Down: A local family hot spot for those warm summer days. Exciting water slides, brand new this year, one of the biggest family raft rides in the northeast, a lazy river, pools and so much more for the entire family. 2 ‘kids only’ areas and a spinning water teacup ride make it a great day for families of all ages to enjoy this summer. Fishkill. www.splashdownbeach.com

7. Legoland Discovery Center: If you have a Lego fan in your family you might want to plan a day trip for this one! Even if the kids aren’t head over heels for Legos there still might be something they would enjoy. From a 4D theater to rides, a large play structure and a master builder area there is something for most ages to enjoy. If you need a break pull up a chair to the kid- friendly cafe too! Check the calender before you go, they have special days for toddlers, homeschoolers and even adults! Yonkers. www.legolanddiscoverycenter.com

See More: Top Family Date Night Spots

8. Catskill Mountain Railroad: Take a quick trip through the Catskill Mountains with a stop at the Empire State Railway Museum. Or tube down the Espous and take the train back up the river. The Catskill Mountain Railroad also holds many special events throughout the year including holiday and foliage rides. Kingston. www.catskillmtrailroad.com

Painting in the studio at Poughkidsie

Painting in the studio at Poughkidsie

9. Poughkidsie: An all-in-one creative destination for play for the whole family. Babies have a place to explore of their own, preschool aged children will love the imaginative play village and even pre-teens and teens have a chance to be creative in the studio with access to dozens of projects and hundreds of supplies open to them. They currently offer a free playgroup for babies on Friday mornings and a variety of programs weekly for ages 4-14. Poughkeepsie. www.poughkidsie.com

10. Bowdoin Park: The Hudson Valley is sprinkled with some wonderful parks so I am just going to pull out one of our favorites that stand out as great family parks. What we love about Bowdoin? In the summer the wonderful splash pad cools kids of all ages off under the hot sun. We can pack a picnic, take a walk through the trails, play in the mud, watch the trains, take in the beautiful views of the river and play on the swings or two wonderful playgrounds. Again, there are so many great family playgrounds and state parks, I could go on forever naming them.. (an idea for another post maybe 🙂 ).

See more: 2015 top playgrounds in the Hudson Valley

I can also go on forever on the great places for families to play in the Hudson Valley as we really are truly lucky to have so much culture, science, nature, places to explore and more right in our own backyards. So tell me? What would you add to your top 10 list of family places to play?

Here are a few more favorites that could have been on my list:

Catskill Animal SanctuaryFor the animal lovers of any age the animal sanctuary is a farm unlike the others (though there are many awesome family farm in our area!). The rescued animals here roam freely through the grounds so you really get a first hand, unique experience with each animal. Hear rescue stories, learn about care and what you can do to help the animals. Saugerties.

Hudson Highlands Nature MuseumEvery time I make a list of the great places to go in the Hudson Valley the HHNM comes up and I can’t help but list how wonderful and diverse the museum and center are. From a variety of nature programs to trails and the wonderful grasshopper grove, children’s nature playground there is truly something for the whole family to explore. Cornwall.

Bear MountainIt’s always so hard to choose just one park or playground to list so I try to choose ones that have the most things to do. At bear mountain, kids can take a ride on the carousel, families can walk the lake, paddle boat in the summer, enjoy the small playground, community pool or explore the trailside zoo.

Having a jumping good time at Bounce!

Having a jumping good time at Bounce!

Bounce Trampoline Sports: Toddlers through adults can release their energies and play at Bounce! There is a special section just for toddlers including trampolines and foam pit (and special toddler only hours during the week too!), a large area for bouncing, basketball and dodge ball courts and foam pits for the big kids and kids at heart. They also offer special events and programs for different age groups. Valley Cottage & Poughkeepsie.

Fun E FarmGeared towards kids ages 12 and younger, siblings of most ages can have fun playing together at the Fun E Farm, an indoor bounce house fun center complete with inflatables, obstacle courses, bubbles and more. If you are worried about your youngest being trampled by the older kids, they have a little piggy play area special designed for the under 5 kids. Kingston.

Storm King Art CenterVisitors of all ages are wowed by the enormous sculptures in Storm Kings permanent collection as well as travelling exhibits. With 500 acres of beautiful landscapes and more than 100 sculptures you wont be disappointed. The center also hosts numerous events, concerts and family friendly workshops throughout the season.

The Palisades CenterThere are so many great places for the family here you can easily spend a whole day. A few of my picks would be the IMAX theater, Billy Beez, Lucky Strike Lanes, a carousel, Ferris wheel and even an ice rink! Yonkers.

Read more: 5 inexpensive places to take the kids

10 Favorite spring-themed events in the Hudson Valley

IMG_0895

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!

10 Valentine’s Day Traditions for Hudson Valley families.

Flowers and chocolate were so last year! With the craze of Pinterest for endless inspiration at our fingertips it is easy to get lost in find many things you and the kids can do together. If you aren’t up for it, you don’t need to be the next Pinterest Queen or Betty Crocker. Valentine’s Day is all about love, family and showing each other how much you care. With the 10 ideas below, you can keep it as simple or get as elaborate as you want. And in the comments, tell us what special Valentine’s Day traditions you have with your family.

Getting out for some adult time this weekend? Check out my last list: 10 Date Night ideas in the Hudson Valley

1. Homemade gifts. Coupon books, love letters or heart shaped gifts loveare usually pretty popular with most parents I know. But great handmade gifts don’t have to be just for mom and dad. With a little creativity you can come up with some great gifts the kids will love. A “certificate” for a mommy and me date night, or a coupon book filled with “get out of chores for a night” or “ice cream for dinner”, etc. coupons or a thoughtful handwritten letter could go a long way too. And don’t forget about the adults. In most cases, a thoughtful handmade gift goes a lot way over a store bought one. HVParent’s Pinterest Page has lots of great ideas too!

2. Decorate. I have a box of saved holiday art work from the kids, mostly Christmas pictures and crafts that I like to hang back up around the holiday. My mom did the same with our art and I love to see how my kids’ art changes over the years. So dig out love notes, those handmade cards from past years and construction paper hearts from the pre-k days and use them to decorate your home for Valentine’s Day.Bacon-Hearts

3. Start the day off with love. Luckily, Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year- so no need to get up extra early for this one. We make birthday pancakes for birthdays, snowman pancakes for Christmas and our little Leprechaun friend turns our pancakes green on St. Patrick’s Day so it’s only natural our valentine’s day starts off with pink and red heart shaped pancakes and bacon. You can twist bacon into the shapes of hearts, use (metal) cookie cutters to make eggs or pancakes into fun shapes and even cut your fruit into little bite size hearts! (20 breakfast ideas found here on popsugar.com)

4. Share the love. Chances are you are making or filling out your share of school Valentines anyway, so make a few extra to spread a little love this Valentine’s Day! Have the kids decorate paper hearts to make and take to the local nursing home, or fill out boxed cards to deliver to the local fire house or hospital. The kids will get a kick out of carrying a few for unsuspecting strangers during the day, like a waitress, cashier or neighbor. This sweet gesture will go a long way to spread a little love.

babw5. Family time. A mom- friend posted recently looking for suggestions on ways to spend V-Day with the family. I was surprised how many moms had the same plans this year. Seems like many are heading to Build-a-Bear Workshop to let the kids create their special Valentine’s Day gift. A great idea! If Build-a-Bear isn’t in the budget (they start with stuffed animals at $10) find something you can all enjoy doing together. A fun family outing is a great way to spend the “holiday” together.

Here are a few more ideas:

Family Date Night Spots

Ice Skating

Sledding

Indoor Play Spots

And check HVParent.com for a calendar filled with local fun! 

6. Dinner with your loves. You can stay in and cook, but since we moms like to be spoiled too on Valentine’s Day it might be a good night to hit the town. Nights like these I like to choose an early dinner reservation, get the kids fed, bathed and in bed early enough for some adult alone time 😉

Find a family- friendly restaurant here or here.

7. Dance Party. Any excuse is a good one for a family dance party! After dinner clear the furniture, kick up the music and put on some of your favorite love jams. Don’t forget to save some slow dancing for your significant other!cookie

8. Baking cookies. My kids love to visit the Mid- Hudson Children’s Museum to get their energy out in the winter. They love the new fire truck, and pretending to bake the tallest cakes they can. For the last two years, they have loved to come to the museum near Valentine’s Day to decorate their own heart shaped sugar cookies (event info here). I love that the mess stays outside of my house and we can pack a lunch and make a day of it. But you don’t need to head out to make pink- frosting covered memories with the kids. Whip up a batch of your favorite cookie recipe (this is mine from iheartnaptime.com) and get to work.

notes9. Exchange valentines. I saw this adorable felt envelop last year and was dying to make them for my kids (…of course I never did) but I still love the idea. The blogger who created the one shown here filled out little notes to leave each night for her kids leading up to Valentine’s Day. If you are like me and pin a bunch of things you never do on Pinterest you can always use a decorated shoe box, manila envelope or store bought little mailbox (Michaels sells cute ones!) for each member of the family. Then every night before bed, everyone can write a sentence or 2 for each person to be opened at breakfast! (Image and idea from Blonde Designs Blog).

10. Surround yourself with love. Whether you choose to stay home, go out, craft or just relax, remember to surround yourself with love this Valentine’s Day. We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves to get the best gifts, make the best crafts or turn our breakfast into the best heart shaped bacon our kids have ever seen. While it’s sometimes fun to go over the top, it isn’t necessary. A simple “I love you” from the heart can mean more than heart shaped pancakes and fancy gifts. Keep it in perspective, don’t stress over details and above all else surround yourself with love, after all that’s what it’s really about.

Does your family have any special Valentine’s Day traditions? Share in the comments!

Top 10 things to do this holiday season in the Hudson Valley

hurds

1. Cut down your Christmas tree. It’s easy to make a day or afternoon out of finding the perfect tree, cutting it down and enjoying a cup of hot cocoa at one of the many great local tree farms. Many of the tree farms in addition to a selection of pine trees, offer an array of family fun activities from sleigh rides to campfires!

Check out our list of Christmas tree farms in the Hudson Valley

We are looking forward to our trip to Hurd’s Family Farm this weekend to cut down our tree, take a ride on the cow train and roast a s’more around the campfire! Along with Able’s Trees (Verbank) and Manza’s Family Farm (Montgomery), Hurd’s Family Farm (Modena) is one of Hudson Valley Parents top three tree farm picks! 

santa

2. Take a picture with Santa! There is something about a child climbing up onto the lap of Santa to talk about Christmas wishes that brings me right into teh nostalgic feeling of a classic Christmas movie. Visiting Santa is always right at the top of our December bucket list. This year some local displays have even transformed with to include virtual experience filled with interactive displays, body scanner naughty or nice lists and DIY sleigh designs! Malls, stores, restaurants and even tree farms in the Hudson Valley are all offering photos and visits with Santa.

Top 10 places to get your photos taken with Santa

Share your photos with us! Santa photo gallery.

3. Go on a Christmas Lights drive. Make it a special family date night. After dinner, bundle the kids in their pajamas, pack up some hot cocoa and cookies and pile into the car for a drive. There are probably many beautifully decorated erdajthomes right in your town but if you are up for a bit of an adventure you might want to add some of the local hot spots to your route. My favorite is ERDAJT’s holiday light display located at 8 Patrick  Drive in Lagrangeville. They hold 2 Guinness Book of  World Records for most Christmas lights on a home and collect donations throughout the season for awesome local charities! Last year they raised $33,809! www.erdajt.com

 

For more great Christmas light displays check out: Top 5 Light Displays in the Hudson Valley.

4. Don’t miss A Frosty Fest. Take a stroll down Candy Cane Lane and enjoy the lights, gift shop a frosty festbite to eat and a cup of hot cocoa. Visitors can take a ride on Frosty’s hayride or drive their own car through the wonderful animated light displays complete with live actors and computer animations. Park and take a walk through Glistening Gardens and the Magical Mansion and finally complete your trip with a visit to the North Pole for a photo with Santa! Frosty Fest is located in Ulster Park. www.afrostyfest.com. If you are closer to Dutchess County, you should also visit Kevin McCurdy’s Spirit Festival for a similar experience.

This week Enter to WIN tickets to A Frosty Fest! (12/1- 12/7)

5. Community tree/ menorah lighting celebrations are a must do for sure! A great way to get together with friends and neighbors and enjoy the magic of the season in your own neighborhoods. Some towns have more elaborate celebrations with light parades, music and even fireworks (Poughkeepsie)! Other towns have a nice gathering of Christmas lights and hot chocolate. If your town isn’t listed below check local websites and Facebook pages to see if your town is hosting anything similar.

Tree and Menorah Lighting Ceremonies in the Hudson Valley

operation cheer6. Start a new holiday tradition. Last year we baked dozens of cookies, packed them up and brought them to our local firehouse. It was fun to bake together and even more fun to give cookies away making someone else’s day a little brighter. We make cards for Operation Christmas Cheer and pack up the kids for a Christmas Light date night. Starting family traditions are wonderful ways to create memories and re-live special moments each year.

40 ways to start your own family holiday traditions.

7. Celebrate children, art and the light of the winter season at Sinterklaas! The village of Rhinebeck transforms into a magical place of art, theater, music and dance during Sinterklaas on December 6th. Musicians, jugglers, fire walkers, tight rope walkers and a variety of colorful characters wander the streets of the village engaging children with stories and treats. Children are the focus as they become kings and queens for the day! Crafts, shopping, performances and a children’s starlight parade featuring two- story animated puppets carried by over a hundred volunteers is just an idea of what Sinterklaas is all about! www.sinterklaashudsonvalley.comsinterklaas2

8. Enjoy the Outdoors! Just because the weather is getting colder doesn’t mean families need to beIMG_6505 confined to the indoors. From ice skating to sledding to hiking, the Hudson Valley offers so much for families year round. One of our favorite spots in the winter is Bear Mountain State Park where we can enjoy ice skating, a warm up and ride on the carousel and lunch (or Sunday brunch, yumm!) inside the Inn.

Hudson Valley Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks

The best cold- weather hiking spots in the Hudson Valley

9. Take a ride on the Polar Express! Children and families can take a round trip ride to the North Pole aboard the Polar Express Train this month. It’s as if you are stepping right into a scene from the hit Warner Bros. film with music from the motion picture soundtrack, pajama clad passengers and favorite characters from the film coming to life right in front of your eyes! The conductor punches tickets, the chefs serve hot chocolate and families participate in a sing a long and reading of the book along the way. When you arrive at the North Pole Santa himself will board the train and gift each child a special bell to all those who believe. Catskill Mountain Railroad

polar express bell

10. Give back, donate time or gifts. I am finding this year as my boys get older and more into “things” I am scouting out ways to re-direct the idea that Christmas is all about what Santa will bring me onto something a bit more meaningful. Yes, I want my kids to be excited Christmas morning, I want them to experience the magic as I did of opening gifts they “really, really wanted” but I also want them to appreciate those gifts. I feel there should be a better balance in our home of wanting to get but wanting to give too. Last month we chose toys we no longer play with to pass on to the local children’s home.

10 places in the Hudson Valley to donate toys.

We plan to spend an afternoon baking cookies to bring to our local fire department and we have starting making and sending cards, positive notes and artwork for local children battling cancer through fellow blogger The Whatever Mom and her Operation Christmas Cheer initiative. There are so many other ways that your family can give back, from adopting a child/family to purchase gifts for, packing up shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child as Discount Diva shared with us recently in her post Operation Grateful Child or working in a soup kitchen.

Other ways to make an impact this holiday.

 

So, what are you doing to make this month special for your family?