I didn't grow up in Los Angeles; and although I have Latin American family, we are not of the Mexican or Guatemalan variety - meaning I arrived in SoCal knowing next to nothing about Day of the Dead. I've gradually pieced together the whole fascinating cultural and historical puzzle, discovering how many Halloween traditions we actually owe to the Native Americans who were in the city of angels before us, before the Spanish, before Christianity. El Día de los Muertos is a rare opportunity to understand several layers of angeleno culture, while celebrating something that looks a heck of a lot like Halloween.
While LA offers many Day of the Dead celebrations, the most authentic may be the novenarios, the nine nights of revelry leading up to November 2. Many Spanish-speaking countries have novenarios leading up to Christmas, but there is a similar build-up to the Day of the Dead, and here in LA it is most celebrated, not surprisingly, on Olvera Street. I've been curious to check out this traditional celebration for years, but between ghost trains and haunted houses our last week of October has always been booked solid. Not to mention that whole parking downtown thing. This year I finally decided to take the sugar skull by the horns and go see what it's all about. Curious?
When we first visited the Culinary Arts Museum in Providence, Rhode Island, we fell madly in love. During the 18 months the museum was closed for inventory, we pined for it to reopen. You may be thinking, “Really? What’s so great about a bunch of old stoves?” OK, there are a few old stoves (which are actually pretty cool), but the museum offers a surprisingly wide variety of exhibits and fun, hands-on activities for families.
When the Culinary Arts Museum reopened this fall, we fell in love all over again. The staff showed us around, pointing out the newest additions to the collections. Thankfully, all of our old favorites are still there too. Read on for highlights, what's new, and tips for getting the most out of your visit to this gem of a museum.
We know, we know (sigh).The arrival of Labor Day means the end of splashing in the Frog Pond Spray Pool, visiting area attractions on Free Fun Fridays, and jamming with favorite local bands during free outdoor concerts. But it is not the end of the summer! Technically, we still have almost a month left of summer, and gosh darn it, we're going to milk it for all it's worth. Although we must wait until next year to enjoy many of summer's pleasures, there are plenty of ways to stretch summertime bliss into autumn:
One of my favorite things to do in Boston in the summer and fall is to browse the SoWa Market, New England's largest outdoor weekly bazaar. May through October, this three-block section along Harrison Avenue (South of Washington Street = SoWa) turns into an open-air crafts and art market featuring amazingly talented local small business owners and their wares. What better way to expose your children to the arts andthe outdoors...for free? I get it: Tightly packed toddler-height tables displaying potential breakables may not seem like the kid-friendly activity you were going for, but it can be done, and it can be fun! Here is a top 20 list of helpful tips to browse these sought-after "mini" shops with your mini people:
Portsmouth, New Hampshire is one of our favorite destinations for a short New England getaway and each time we visit, we discover something new. During our most recent Portsmouth mini-vacation, we found terrific burger joint, explored the many wonders of Prescott Park, and had a blast at Water Country.
As a seacoast city, Portsmouth is a hot spot in the summertime, and with good reason: The Prescott Park Arts Festival brings world-class live entertainment to New England at affordable prices. The lush gardens in Prescott Park and across the street at the Strawbery Banke Museum are gorgeous oases in the summer months. Water fun abounds, whether at a water park or on one of Portsmouth’s islands. However, the town shines in the colder months too, especially during the holidays. The annual Vintage Christmas celebration is on our must-do list. Whenever you decide to go, there is an abundance of fun for families. These are 25 of our top picks for exploring Portsmouth with kids:
Even if your kids haven’t seen Night at the Museum or read The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the appeal of staying overnight in a museum or zoo seems to be universal. These favorite destinations, within an hour’s drive from Boston, make the fantasy a reality. For a night your child will be talking about for a long time, read on and start planning your family or group slumber party among science exhibits, with nocturnal animals, on a battleship, or in a baseball stadium. You might even want to add one of these sleepovers to your list of things to do with the kids before the end of summer.
Summer is a great time to catch up on reading, and not just because the local library gives out prizes (though we are big fans of prizes). Whether your kids are nose-in-book types or the sort that require a little literary nudge, our SUMMER OF PLAY has plenty of room for playing your way through some great kids' books. Check out my time-tested list of vintage classics, modern classics, and recent best sellers that inspire fun activities beyond their pages—and at very little cost. And if you snap any photos along the way, remember to share them as entries in our weekly SUMMER OF PLAY prize drawing!
Something small can make a big difference. Last year, still reeling from the news of April 15, we went to the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center to see the fairy gardens, and there we found solace. We missed the big event the previous Sunday when kids came wearing wings and built fairy houses of their very own, but that was just fine. Sans crowds, we enjoyed exploring the greenhouses and discovering teeny tiny houses, villages, and grottos.
The fairy gardens are on display until April 27, and I highly recommend taking a drive down to Providence to see them. Keep reading to find out our favorite things about the exhibition and tips to get the most out of your visit.
We're glad you're here at Mommy Poppins Boston, your free online resource for everything for families and kids in the greater Boston area. We'd love to hear from you with any questions or suggestions! — Tara