White Mountains of New Hampshire

Searching for an all-season vacation you can enjoy with the family? Look no further than the always-stunning White Mountains of New Hampshire. With endless outdoor fun at your fingertips, and unspoiled, natural beauty wherever you go, the hardest part of your vacation will be choosing what activities you have time for on this trip—and planning your return visit.

Waterville Valley Resort

Everyone needs a comfortable spot to put their head at night, and choosing your “home away from home” can be stressful. No matter what the reviews say, it’s always a crapshoot—you never really know what you’re going to get. But Waterville Valley Resort is exactly as advertised. The location itself is truly stunning. Nestled deep within the White Mountain National Forest, the Resort hosts a wide selection of on-the-property activities, where you can enjoy the fall foliage, winter wonderland, spring blooms, and summer splendor all from the mountain valley with jaw-dropping 360-degree views. Of course, you can always venture off property as well, but if you want to stay in one general spot and still have plenty to see and do, you won’t find a better base. In addition to the natural surroundings, the facility is comfortable (and clean), with plenty of amenities and multiple restaurants and stores within a stone’s throw from your room. Forgot or lost something? Always, right? No problem, as there’s someplace on the property that has exactly what you need. And there’s no price gouging, either, which is both refreshing and oh-so-rare. Bonus? The staff is amazing. Nice, friendly, accommodating, and really helpful. Apparently, they’re trained that way. Imagine that—putting guests’ experiences first. What a throwback, and a most welcome one.

waterville valley trailsWaterville Valley is a hiker’s paradise, with hundreds of miles of trails, ranging from a leisurely ramble along Corcoran Pond at the center of Town Square, an easy walk through the woods and wildflowers on the valley floor, or a more challenging hike up the 4,315-ft. summit of Mount Osceola, where you’ll find yourself surrounded by stunning views of 700,000 acres of national forest.

There’s also mountain biking and trail riding, including a very cool option that lets you take the chair lift to the top of Snow’s Mountain and ride your bike down. Don’t own a bike? You can rent one from the Adventure Center in Town Square. Other options include golf, tennis, swimming, the cultural center, tours, seasonal skiing, skating, and more.

waterville valley gymOh, and let’s not forget about the high-quality, well-appointed, on-site gym, which has everything you need, including an indoor swimming pool, whirlpools, saunas, weight rooms and cardiovascular room. Find out more at https://www.waterville.com


The Margret and H.A. Rey Center

curious george cottageThe creators of the Curious George books, H.A. and Margret Rey, lived in the area part time in the 1950s, and left their legacy, and many personal items and sketches, at the Margret and H.A Rey Center within the property. The Center hosts nature walks, writers’ workshops, discussion clubs, a monthly lecture series, art shows, and activities for children. We attended both a nature walk, where we looked in vain for owls, and heard a discussion about moon cycles given by a NASA volunteer. They also had an arts and crafts portion for children.

In addition to the Resort itself, the White Mountains area is well worth exploring. For more information, call 800-GO VALLEY or visit www.visitwatervillevalley.com or e-mail wvrecreation@watervillevalley.org.

Get Out!

Well, we’re already a month into Spring, and isn’t it about time you started taking advantage of all that extra daylight? Not sure what to do? We’ve got you covered. Just grab one of these great toys and you’re good to go.

Helix Power Swing (Yulu)

helix power swingIf you’ve ever dreamed of throwing a football (or anything else) up to 350 feet (which is a long, long way), now’s your chance. Just pull out the Helix’s retractable cord, swing it around, gradually building momentum, and let ‘er rip. And in the unlikely event that no one noticed, Helix makes a howling sound as it floats through the air in a perfect spiral. Ages 6+. About $20. http://playhelix.com

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Hoppin’ Toward Easter

It’s already April, and of course that means that for many, the Easter Bunny will soon be hopping his or her way into their houses with a basket of treats. Here are a few ideas to consider for your kids—or kids at heart.

BuddyPhones (BuddyPhones)

Are you tired of hearing your kid’s video games or other noisy electronics? Do we really need to hear every time their character gets a coin? And don’t we deserve some peace and quiet once and a while? Giving them a set of headphones may sound like a good solution, but research shows that 12.5% of 6-18-year-olds have hearing loss due to overly loud headphones. The solution? Volume-limiting BuddyPhones, which let kids keep their noises to themselves and protect those young eardrums. These fun looking, high-quality headphones come in a variety of popular colors and designs (including a unicorn model). They’re also water resistant and have a battery life of up to 24 hours. Got more than one kid? BuddyPhones offers their patented shared BuddyCable, lets two kids listen at the same time (though getting them agree to what to listen to is up to you). $70-$80. www.buddyphones.com
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Now for Something Non-Traditional

While there’s definitely nothing wrong with traditional games (especially newer ones that reimagine old favorites), we’re big fans of complete new games and those that completely transform the classics. Here are some of our current faves.

Mafia (Laurence King)

mafiaIn this beautifully designed game (and we’d expect nothing less from the folks at Laurence King), all you have to do is kill your friends. One player is the judge, and the others take on the role of civilians or ruthless gangsters. Then, it’s a fight to the death, as players try to figure out who’s an enemy and who’s a friend. There’s plenty of bluffing, intrigue, wild accusations, strategy, subterfuge, and, of course, murder. For 7-24 players. https://www.laurenceking.com/

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Not Bored Games

What is going on with the weather? It’s still cold is some places, hot in others, and wet everywhere else. But whatever the climate, having fun with your family is one of the best things you can do. Here are some of our current not-boring board games.

Banana Kick (Tactic)

banana kickImagine playing soccer with a football—suffice it to say that the ball won’t always end up where you intend it to. Now, imagine playing soccer with a large, soft, kickable banana—which is even harder than a football to reliably aim. That’s about it. You provide a nice field, Tactic Games provides the banana and four wooden stakes to use as goals. For two or more players, ages 6+. https://www.facebook.com/TacticGamesNorthAmerica/

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Soft and Snuggly

Soft and snuggly is what bedtime (and even just cuddle time) is all about. Here are some new cute critters that will make wonderful additions to your den, living room, and/or your child’s bedroom. Of course, they’re perfect for Easter and Passover, but they’re also great fun for the rest of the year.

Petsies (Petsies)

petsiesIf you have pets, your family will love Petsies, which let you and your kids custom design a stuffed animal to look just like your real-life furry family member. Just send in a photo of your pet and choose from a wide selection of colors, ear types, tails, and even tongues, and a plush version of your pet will arrive at your door in about six weeks. In the meantime, the Petsies Design Team will send you regular updates, with photos of the entire design and sewing process of plushifying your pet. The likenesses are amazing. Get yours at https://www.mypetsies.com

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Go Figure

Whether your child likes dolls, trolls, dinosaurs, or more traditional pets like birds and dogs, we’ve got a figure for you.

Rescue Runts (KD Kids)

rescue runtWhen you first unbox them, Rescue Runts aren’t much to look at. They’re scruffy, unkempt, have bandages, fleas, and tears in their eyes. But each pet comes with a brush to smooth out that unruly fur and tweezers to de-flea. By the time you’ve removed the bandage, wiped away the tears, and finished the makeover, your new pet will be ready to love—and to love you right back. Available in various breeds (Shepherd, Husky, Spotty, and Spaniel, with more to be released soon), and sizes. Ages 3+. Prices vary. https://rescuerunts.com/us

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Ha, Ha, Made You Think…

With little kids, it’s easy to combine education and fun. But once they hit the advanced age of five or so, a lot of kids see the educational component a mile away and rebel. Fortunately, game designers have figured out many clever ways to slip in some (and in many cases, a lot of) serious business learning, without sacrificing the all-important fun factor. Here are some recent games that caught our attention.

Thrill Rides Clock Work (K’NEX)

knex thrill rides clock workIn addition to being fun to ride on, roller coasters are gigantic examples of physics and engineering in action. There’s gravity, centrifugal force, various types of energy, friction, drag, acceleration, and more. This 300+ piece kit lets you teach (and learn) all those lessons right in your own home. It comes with a battery-powered motor (but batteries aren’t included) and an easy-to follow instruction manual that will lead you through building a coaster of your very own that’s more than two feet tall. Thrill Rides kits are also compatible with each other, so you can build even bigger models. K’NEX pieces are made in the USA in a landfill-free, zero-waste manufacturing facility. For ages 7+. $$34.95. https://www.knex.com

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Taking Care of Yourself

Spring is (hopefully) just around the corner, but in a lot of places, the gray and the cold are making it really, really hard for a lot of us to find ways around the winter blues, let alone hold onto those ambitious, healthy New Year’s Resolutions we made not that long ago. So rather than grabbing a bag of chips and popping on Netflix, try something new. Sometimes that’s all you need to get you up and moving.

Purple Carrot

purple carrotWhen it comes to home meal delivery, there are a lot of options out there. But Purple Carrot is the only one that’s 100% plant-based. And, as you’re not doubt aware, eating plant-based meals, even if it’s only once or twice a week, has a positive impact on your health and the environment. Like its competitors, Purple Carrot kits include pre-portioned ingredients and step-by-step instructions for cooking healthy meals at home. The food is very good, but be prepared to spend some time in the kitchen. While not difficult, some of the items took quite a bit of time (like making your own veggie burgers), but if you’re interested in cooking, you’ll learn a few things. The recipes are unique and interesting. Prices vary. https://www.purplecarrot.com/plans

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A Sneak Peak at 2019 Toy Trends

Well, it’s February, so you know what that means. Parents@Play headed out to the New York Toy Fair to check out all the newest toys and games. Some of this year’s trends are continuations of last year’s, albeit somewhat updated. For example, dinosaurs, “mermaid” sequins (the kind that flip from one color to another), llamas, unicorns, glitter everything, narwhals, and coding games and toys are everywhere. As are blind bags, DIY and make it yourself kits, toys that require or interact extensively with apps, and poop. Yes, all sorts of poop in all sorts of ways. And the winner for combining trends goes to…. Glitter poop that uses an app. Wow.


hornsYes, they’re still as popular as ever. However, in the spirit of inclusiveness, now anything can have a magical horn. Cat? Yes. Llama? Of course. Marshmallow? Even you, little sugar spun bit of sweetness. If you like it, you’d better put a horn on it. Now. Otherwise, someone else will.

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