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!

Top 10 creative ways to play with snow & bonus 5 favorite places to go when it snows!

snowman1. Get creative with your snowman! You don’t have to stick to a traditional snowman. Try connecting the balls horizontally to create a caterpillar, bring out the Mr. Potato Head pieces or make your snowman do tricks like this one!

2. My boys and I LOVE making snow ice cream snow ice cream(just mix sugar, milk and vanilla with your clean snow), but are really looking forward to trying these other sweet snow treats! Make Snow Candy, and snow cookies!

3. I am not a fan of the snow so if hubby isn’t home the kids don’t get to go out. They love the snow so we compromise! Fill a bowl, tray or even Tupperware bin with snow and let the kids play inside. We usual add bowls, measuring cups, spoons and even trains or trucks.

frozen bubbles4. Blow frozen bubbles. These look super cool! I haven’t tried them yet, let me know how they turn out if you do.

5. Going on a scavenger hunt in the winter is fun with a little pre- planning.Use a few drops of food coloring in ice cube trays to create some brightly colored ice. Hide them around outside for the kids to hunt in the snow.

ice sun catchers6. These below freezing temperatures this week are good for something! If possible, go on a nature hunt and collect things such as berries, pine needles and leaves, (if not possible, use slices of fruit, herbs or fake flowers). Turn your treasures into beautiful works of art with these amazing Ice sun catchers

7. Make a bird feeder. Don’t forget our feathered friends in the winter. Roll some bird seed in some peanut butter on a toilet paper roll or apple and hang from a tree branch.

8. A friend of mine ice forestposted a photo of her daughter playing in the snow the other day and I thought the idea was so great I asked her if it would be okay to share with you. So, with permission, here is the best Hudson Valley Ice Forest I have ever seen, dinosaurs and all!

9. We have a lot of wildlife in our back yards. Take the kids on a snowy walk (or hike) and see how many animal tracks you can spot! Can’t spot any tracks? Cut some animal feet shapes out of cardboard, tie up with some string and let the kids stomp around and create their own!

snow paint play10. Make snow art. You can simply bring your paints outside and paint the snow, use food coloring and water in spray bottles or eye droppers or bring a little snow inside, drop a few drops of food coloring in, mix and paint on paper: Snow Paint!

And top 5 favorite places to go in the snow in the Hudson Valley.

1. Thomas Bull Memorial Park. The Hudson Valley is filled with plenty of great sledding & tubing spots! At Thomas Bull Memorial Park you can go tubing, sledding, cross country skiing or ice skating! Other great spots listed here.

2. Holiday Mountain in Sullivan County has everything from beginner trails to advanced slopes. Many families enjoy a variety of ski slopes scattered through our area. A great list found here.

3. Trevor Zoo in Millbrook is open all year round. Visit the zoo in the snow this winter to see which animals are active. It is inexpensive to get in and as long as it isn’t bitterly cold out, a great afternoon outdoor outing.

4. Visit the baby goats, sample the delicious cheeses and see what the farm is all about at Edgwick Farm in Cornwall for the very popular winter farm tour! You must make reservations, dates sell out fast.

5. Mohonk Mountain House. As day guests you can enjoy a snowy hike, ice skating, snowshoeing or cross- country skiing. After a fresh snow, Mohonk Mountain is a great place to bring a sled, enjoy a warm meal or stop at the Mohonk Preserve (separate location) for  one of the great programs and events.

Top Ten Date Nights in the Hudson Valley

The date night selfie

The date night selfie

It’s rare- you have a babysitter for the night, your husband is home from work on time and you get a much needed night out together. Sometimes it is hard for us to remember that before children it was just the two of us. Our little family of husband and wife. We had all the time in the world for each other to date each other to truly be with each other. Years later we add the demands of children, of money stretched thin and the every day stress we forget how to truly have fun and date still. These days our “date nights” tend to be filled with grocery shopping and other quick errands. Things that don’t matter. It’s time to get back together with your significant other and I have rounded up 10 awesome date night ideas for you to enjoy right here in the Hudson Valley!

Top 5 reasons to date your spouse

1. Delicious Food. Gotta start with the obvious one here. There is nothing quite like eating warm food off your own plate that makes eating out without kids simply delightful! Even if it’s a quick bite somewhere near home I relish the moment of quiet meals without kids in tow. I did a little research and asked around and found 5 favorite date night restaurants in the Hudson Valley:

brassarie 292

Brassarie 292 in Poughkeepsie

2. Sip and Paint. This new fad is popping up all over the Hudson Valley and a great way to spend some creative time with hubby! Many places offer diptych paintings (1 painting over 2 canvases) for special couples events. A few local sip and paint venues are Paintbrushes and Party in Poughkeepsie (Special Valentines Day couples painting), Wine and Design in Warwick (Offering a choice of 3 special Valentine’s Day paintings) and Vine Van Gogh a local sip and paint that partners with many Hudson Valley restaurants to offer a unique night out.

3. A trip back in time. Dating as parents doesn’t have to be 5pm dinner reservations and home before the sun sets. Remember as a teenager, dating involved a group of friends meeting at the bowling alley and catching a movie. Bowling isn’t just for your kids you know! Many bowling alleys offer cosmic bowling, music and more. One of our top picks is Lucky Strike in West Nyack where after 8pm you must be 21+ to enter. And it isn’t just for bowling enthusiasts, Lucky Strike has a catered lounge, plasma TVs, pool tables, air hockey and a few lanes of roller ball. Other favorite bowling alleys are Pat Tarsio Lanes, Newburgh, Colonial Lanes, Chester, and Hoe Bowl Family Fun with locations in Poughkeepsie, Wappingers & Catskill.

4. A Movie. Your ‘back to our teen years’ date doesn’t have to end at the bowling alley. If you find yourself at Lucky Strike in West Nyack, head over to the IMAX theater after a few games (They are showing 50 Shades of Gray on V-Day)! Not in the Palisades area? Head to any local theater and snuggle up with a bowl of popcorn and a dark theater 😉

5. Take a Walk. No matter the season, the Hudson Valley is filled with beautiful landscapes and romantic architecture. olanaTake a stroll through Olana State Historic Site a now historic landmark was once a home a studio to Hudson River School Painter Frederic Edwin Church. The Persian style mansion is filled with magnificent art from around the world and decedent views of the Hudson Valley. Another option, maybe on a less windy or warmer day would be to take in the breathtaking views of the Hudson river with a stroll over the largest pedestrian bridge in the world that spans the Hudson River. if you are looking for a bite to eat in the area, we love Riverstation in Poughkeepsie right on the waterfront.

6. For the more adventurous. Take a trip to Poets Walk in Red Hook where you and your sweetie can snowshoe, walk or hike the romantic meadows and paths. The park winds you through romantic woods filled with footbridges, benches and rustic pavilions- So romantic, It wasn’t dubbed Poet’s Walk for nothing. After your adventure at Poets Walk, I suggest you stop in for a bite to eat at the famous Beekman Arms in Rhinebeck. The stone fireplaces, dimmed lighting and cozy corners set the tone for a warm, romantic meal. I have been here; the food is delicious too!

7. Pamper yourselves. This is an easy one for me. Since I deal with poop and snot on emerson spaa daily basis it is a real treat to be pampered at one of the many glorious spas the Hudson Valley has to offer. A great date night (though more of a special occasion I suppose..) would be a trip to the Spa at the Emerson Resort & Spa in Mt. Tremper. A wonderful night or romantic weekend away, the Emerson has dining, gorgeous rooms, a spa to die for and America’s Largest Kaleidoscope! Another favorite weekend/ date night spot would be a couples spa package at the Buttermilk Spa then Dinner at Henry’s at the Farm. Buttermilk Falls.

8. Fire and Ice. Visiting Bear Mountain is a year round adventure. While in the summer you can hike, boat and picnic, The grounds don’t die away with the winter chill. Bear Mountain hosts hundreds of people each year to its beautiful outdoor ice rink. Set among the mountains and snow, spend a romantic night skating hand in hand under twinkling lights. Then head up to the rustic Bear Mountain in for some warmth by the fire and a delicious dinner. If you are further north in the Valley, I suggest spending an evening at the Mohonk Mountain House. Day guests can ice skate, ski, hike, or snowshoe the property. Enjoy time at the spa, and/ or get dressed up (that means no spit-up covered clothes or sweats!) and enjoy a romantic dinner alone together.

Schlesingers Steak House, New Windsor

Schlesingers Steak House, New Windsor

9. Dance the night away. You can learn to swing for free at the Newburgh Brewing Company once a month, line dance at the Castle Fun Center or get more serious with weekly classes in everything from salsa to the waltz at various locations throughout the region with justdance5678. Or you can always just show off your skills and have some fun at the Elephant Bar at Schlesingers Steak House in New Windsor

10. Music to my ears. You don’t have the kids, but quiet still isn’t really your thing, head to one of the Hudson Valley’s great spots to enjoy some live music. You can take in a show at the Bardavon in Poughkeepsie, or grab a drink and enjoy the music at favorite places like Shadows on the Hudson in Poughkeepsie, La Puerta Azul in Millbrook, Brothers BBQ in Cornwall, Aroma Thyme Bistro in Ellenville, Elsie’s Place in Wallkill or Pamela’s on the Hudson in Newburgh.

Did you favorite places make the list? Where are your favorite date night spots?

Top 10 ways to celebrate Hanukkah: Hudson Valley

menorahDecember is my favorite time of year and the month of sparkling lights. From Christmas decorations to the Hanukkah menorah candles the spirit of the season is evident no matter what you celebrate. The lights of the season become a symbol of hope. Many families are gathering the next 8 days with songs, prayer, good food, games and candle lighting. Here is a round up of some of the best ways to celebrate Hanukkah with family and friends throughout the Hudson Valley.

Tell us in the comments: How are you celebrating?

1. Many communities are gathering this week with songs, latkes, games, lighting the menorah and more. Join neighbors and friends for the fun festivities, most events are open to everyone.There are many Hanukkah celebrations on the calendar. If you don’t see one near your check your town or library websites too:

12/16- Goshen, Greenwood Lake & Millbrook

12/17- Wappingers Falls

12/18- New Windsor, Wappingers, Hyde Park

12/19- Poughkeepsie

12/20- Kingston

12/21- Poughkeepsie & Walkway over the Hudsonice menorah

2. Visit the 6′ ice menorah sculpture at the Galleria at Crystal Run on Sunday when the County Legislator and Mayor join the community to light the ice sculpture in a unique fire and ice celebration. The Fire & Ice Chanukkah Orange Celebration is open to everyone and fun for the entire family! Play games, make crafts, partake in activities for the kids. Satisfy your hunger at a potato latke bar with all the fixings, an ice slush stand and more!

GLOW CHANUKKAH GLOW3. Experience the tallest menorah in the Hudson Valley! Each night the candles are lit at the civic center plaza in Poughkeepsie. All are welcome to enjoy the celebration and enjoy songs, hot latkes, doughnuts, hot cider and chocolate gelt!

4. A unique Hanukkah festival for the entire family! Visit the Poughkeepsie Galleria on Sunday 12/21 for Glow Chanukkah Glow. Experience the menorah lights glowing in the dark with crafts, activities for the kids and performances. Enjoy an electric light up comedy and juggling show, live music and dancing, hot latkes, dreidel games andpaper plate menorah more!

5. Create with the kids! From homemade menorahs to dreidel spin art, the internet is filled with ideas the kids can make to celebrate. I love this easy paper plate menorah idea from pleasantestthing.com

6. Hanukkah is a time to celebrate the symbolic meaning of the victory of light over darkness. Yes, we light candles on the Menorah for 8 days to celebrate this enormous victory but you can get a little creative here too. Pack the family into the car and take a look at the beautiful light displays throughout the Hudson Valley. While decorating homes and trees with lights is more of a Christmas tradition here in America it dates all the way back to Thomas Edison’s and one of his many publicity stunts and is used throughout many parts of the world for different types of festivals. However, not only does the twinkle of the Christmas light date back to Thomas Edison’s era but before him miniature candles were used to light up Christmas trees and even before that in the dark cold winters of the 12th century people were recorded as the first to light a burning yule log as a symbol of the sun’s promise to return (Source).

Top 5 Light Displays in the Hudson Valley

7. Give and support. Hanukkah is a celebration of religious freedom. The 8 days of Hanukkah remember a time when people stood up to “bullies” and fought for that they wanted and believed in, they fought for themselves. A great way to celebrate is to give back. You can support Israel and Israelis through The Good People Fund, an organization that provides resources on charities in Israel. You don’t have to give money to support Israel, have your kids send cards and pictures to soldiers, or start a pen pal with another child there. I know this is stretching it a bit here, but you can take the idea of fighting for freedoms closer to home and more relevent to today’s culture by showing your support to organizations like Stomp Out Bullying which raise awareness of bullying prevention.

8. Celebrate your own history and culture. Hanukkah is a holiday that Accordion-Bookshows the importance of history. You don’t need to celebrate Hanukkah or be Jewish. Talk to relatives, do a little digging and create a family tree, family history album or just talk to your kids about your heritage and culture. I love these interview questions for Grandparents found on The House of Hendrix Blog or these Family Timeline Accordian Books from Imagination Soup the kids can make. The holiday time no matter what you celebrate is a wonderful time for taking a little look back into history with our kids.

9. One of my favorite things about the Hanukkah celebrations is the food! For me a wonderful potato latke this time of the year truly hits the spot. Whip up a batch for dinner tonight! If cooking isn’t quite your thing you might have to do a little searching for a true Kosher Deli or good potato Latke in the area but it isn’t impossible. New City Kosher Deli & Restaurant  looks to be one of the few remaining in our area but with high ratings and great reviews it just might be worth the drive to Rockland County this week. If you are up for a cooking treat, here is a delicious Potato Latke recipe from FoodandWine.com.latkes

  1. 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  2. Sea salt
  3. 2 pounds baking potatoes
  4. 1 large onion, finely diced
  5. 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  6. 1 cup matzo meal
  7. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  8. Vegetable oil, for frying
  9. Applesauce, crème fraîche, smoked salmon, salmon roe and dill sprigs, for serving
  1. In a medium saucepan, cover the Yukon Gold potatoes with cool water, season generously with salt and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well and immediately pass the potatoes through a ricer into a large bowl.
  2. Working quickly, peel and grate the baking potatoes on the large holes of a box grater into a medium bowl. Press with a clean kitchen towel to remove excess moisture. Add half of the grated potatoes to the riced potatoes.
  3. Transfer the remaining grated potatoes to the bowl of a food processor. Add the onion and pulse until the potatoes and onions are very finely chopped. Transfer to a fine-mesh sieve and press with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Add the potato-onion mixture to the large bowl. Stir in the eggs, matzo meal, white pepper and 2 teaspoons of salt.
  4. In a large, heavy skillet, heat 1/4 inch of oil until shimmering. Working in 3 batches, spoon 1/4 cup of the potato mixture into the oil for each latke; press slightly to flatten. Fry over moderate heat, turning once, until the latkes are golden and crisp on both sides, about 7 minutes. Drain the latkes on a paper towel-lined baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt. Serve with applesauce, crème fraîche, smoked salmon, salmon roe and dill.

10. Spend time together. Whether you go out and celebrate, give gifts or cook, the true spirit of the season is about celebrating with your loved ones and making memories together. Don’t let the commercialization of the season let you loose sight of the the most important thing we can give our children this month, our time and love.

A very Happy Hanukkah to those celebrating tonight. May the festival of lights bring you much joy, compassion, hope and love.