4 Products to Save Your Summer Travel

Your summer is flying by and if you’ve got some big travel plans ahead! We’ve got the scoop on three products that will change the way you vacation. Space-saving, airport navigating and car-seat hauling never looked so good! Scroll down for the details.

photo: mifold 

mifold Grab-and-Go Booster

You’re heading to see the Grands or out on a grand vaycay, but hauling that car seat (or that second car seat) through the airport is old news. If you’ve got a kiddo that’s at least 4 years of age and 40 pounds, the mifold the Grab-and-Go Booster is your new best friend. It folds up to roughly the size of a paperback novel (not kidding about this at all—it is 10x smaller than the average booster and just as safe) and can tuck right into your suitcase or purse. It’s tested and meets regulatory approval in the U.S., U.K. and most other countries. The basic idea is that instead of boosting the kid up so that the seat belt fits across the body correctly, the mifold holds the belt down and keeps it in place. This is not a great substitute for a heavier toddler, so heed the 4-year-old note: our editor tried it with her petite 6-year-old and found it okay for short periods like taxi cabs or when other car seats were not available, but because of his size (he couldn’t see out the window, and has not a lot of padding on his rear) it was not the most comfortable ride for more than an hour. If your kid is in the higher size percentile for age 4 and up, you’ll find this sweet thing a life-saver. We like to pack it for those times when the rental car seat fails or you’re just not sure who is picking you up at the airport! Also great for soccer shuttling, birthday party caravaning and never being caught without a proper seat. Dad-invented! Learn more here.

Age: 4 years (40 pounds) and up
Cost: $49.99
Buy it now: buybuybaby.com

photo: Amazon

CozyPhones Kids Character Headband Headphones

You know how kids are always complaining that earbuds are falling out or headphones are sliding? If your answer is yes then you will be thrilled to learn about Cozy Phones! They are a headband and headphone in one, holding those pesky things in place and keeping your kiddos snug and warm to boot, perfect for chilly plane rides or when you have the AC blasting in the car. They come in super cute styles including frogs and unicorns, and for the more sophisticated kid, solid colors including black. They are soft and comfy, washable and have a 100% money-back guarantee if your kiddo doesn’t like them. Pssst…they make adult versions too!

Age: Minimum head circumference of 18”, age at your discretion
Cost: $14.97-$19.99 (most styles)
Buy it now:  cozyphones.com

photo: Amazon

Zinc Flyte

Is it a suitcase or a scooter? It’s both! For any parent who has ever had to lug their own child’s suitcase because he is just “too tired,” and for any parent who has felt that fear of missing the flight because of the snail’s pace of airport walking: the Zinc Flyte is your new favorite thing. It comes in three sizes: the mini, for ages 2-4; the midi for ages 4-8; and the soon-to-be released maxi; for ages 8 and up. The best part? It actually makes travel even more fun for kids! We can actually see this becoming a thing for kids who walk to school each day. Learn more about it here.

Age: 2 and up
Cost: $69.99 and up
Buy it now: amazon.com

JetKids BedBox

Got a long flight planned or maybe you really need to do the red-eye but the thought of traveling with restless toddlers has stopped you? It doesn’t have to anymore! The JetKids BedBox, a is a ride-on suitcase on wheels that converts into a bed in a regular coach seat. Seriously! If you’ve got a baby or toddler, the lay-flat bed feature of the BedBox makes it totally worth the price. For older kids, be advised it’s not quite as comfy and the suitcase doesn’t hold too much. Still, if you’ve got family at long distances or you really, really want to do the nonstop to Iceland, this thing is gonna save you. Kids can use it up to about 77 pounds safely. Read all about our writer’s real-life adventures and review of the JetKids BedBox here.

Ages: up to 7 yrs or 77 pounds
Cost: $199
Buy it now: jet-kids.com

Have you tried any new travel gadgets? Tell us about them in a comment below! 

featured photo via Zinc Flyte Facebook page

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9 Healthier Alternatives to Your Junk Food Favorites

Got a junk food lover or two in your family? Clean up your diet by trying out these healthier alternatives to well-loved indulgences. From swapping Swap out your quarter pounder for a black bean burger to adding a dose of green veggies to your mac and cheese, click through the slideshow below to see all the possibilities.

Baked Eggplant Fries

Instead of greasy fast food fries, try this genius eggplant variety from The Iron You. You’ll love the crunchy coating, and since they’re baked instead of fried, you can feel good about serving these up to your family. And adding more veggies to your diet can never hurt, either. To get the recipe, click here.

photo: The Iron You

What’s your favorite lightened-up take on junk food? Let us know below in the comments!

—Susie Foresman

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Best Ice Cream Shops in America

Summer is in full swing, and the kids are screaming for ice cream. It’s the perfect time to satisfy your sweet tooth at one of America’s best shops. We’ve rounded up a list of the best ice cream parlors in every state (and D.C.) so you can get your fix of frozen goodness. And let us know below if we missed your favorite—there are so many more we could have mentioned!

photo: Matt’s Homemade Alabama Ice Cream via Facebook

1. Alabama: Matt’s Homemade Alabama Ice Cream
With cones, floats, splits and old-fashioned sodas, Matt’s Homemade Alabama Ice Cream has something for everyone. Try a scoop of one of Matt’s specialties, like the Creole praline or red velvet cake—you’ll be glad you did.

1308 Gulf Shores Pkwy
Gulf Shores, Al

701 Gulf Shores Pkwy
Gulf Shores, Al

Online: mattshomemadeicecream.com

2. Alaska: Hot Licks Homemade Ice Cream
During the summer months, Hot Licks is a must visit. Their ice cream is made in-house in 40-quart batches, and with local flavors like cranberry and wild blueberry, it’s some of the best Alaska has to offer.

3543 College Rd.
Fairbanks, Ak

Online: facebook.com/Hot-Licks-152710068079727/

3. Arizona: Sweet Republic
From the local Arizona milk and cream to the slow-roasted bananas, everything here is made with care. And with rotating flavors like Meyer lemon, peaches ‘n’ cream and peaberry espresso, you’ll want to come to Sweet Republic again and again to try them all. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

9160 E. Shea Blvd.
Scottsdale, Az

6054 N. 16th St.
Phoenix, Az

Online: sweetrepublic.com

4. Arkansas: Loblolly Creamery
Loblolly Creamery is a must-stop the next time you’re in Little Rock. Locals love their well-loved salted caramel and Little Rocky Road. Ingredients are sourced locally whenever possible, from fruit to lavender.

1423 South Main Street
Little Rock, Ar

Online: loblollycreamery.com

photo: Fentons Creamery via Facebook

5. California: Fentons Creamery
Founded in 1894 in Oakland, Fentons has been a Bay Area favorite ever since. The ice cream is made in small batches (there’s a production tour for curious kids!), and the menu has decadent sundaes to satisfy any dessert connoisseur.

4226 Piedmont Ave.
Oakland, Ca

1669 E. Monte Vista Ave.
Vacaville, Ca

Online: fentonscreamery.com

6. Colorado: Little Man Ice Cream
With a distinctive shop in the shape of an ice cream can, Little Man serves up nostalgic flavors that your whole crew will love (not to mention some awesome vegan options). And for every scoop of ice cream purchased, Little Man matches that scoop with a donated scoop of rice, beans or other essentials to a community in need.

2620 16th St.
Denver, Co

Online: littlemanicecream.com

7. Connecticut: Arethusa Farm
For the ultimate in ice cream, you really can’t beat Arethusa Farm. Fresh milk is brought from their dairy cows a few miles away to make classic flavors like butter pecan, strawberry and pistachio.

822 Bantam Rd.
Bantam, Ct

Online: arethusafarm.com

8. Delaware: Woodside Farm Creamery
The Woodside Farm was established in 1796, but their ice cream operation didn’t get started until 1998. They’ve been a Delaware favorite ever since, offering up flavors like dirt (that’s gummy worms and Oreo cookies in chocolate ice cream) and cake batter. Say hi to the cows after enjoying your scoop.

1310 Little Baltimore Rd.
Hockessin, De

Online: woodsidefarmcreamery.com

9. Florida: Harborwalk Scoops & Bites
Gaze out at Laishley Park’s marina as you nosh on Harborwalk’s amazing homemade ice cream. Try their bananagraham or cherry vanilla, or step back in time to have a “vintage float” made with an old-fashioned soda.

150 Laishley Ct., #1111
Punta Gorda, Fl

Online: scoopsandbites.com

photo: Leopold’s Ice Cream via Facebook

10. Georgia: Leopold’s Ice Cream
Leopold’s Ice Cream was founded in 1919, and the shop still has old-school charm—the black marble soda fountain, wooden back bar and telephone booth come from the original location. The ice cream is just as delicious as ever, with classic flavors like butter pecan alongside unique seasonal picks like spicy mocha.

212 E. Broughton St.
Savannah, Ga

Online: leopoldsicecream.com

11. Hawaii: Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream and Desserts
In addition to regular scoops and cones, Bubbies’ specialty is mochi ice cream—a scoop of ice cream that’s wrapped in a layer of chewy mochi (a soft, sweet paste made out of rice). It’s a refreshing treat that’s sure to be an instant family favorite.

7192 Kalanianaole Hwy D103
Honolulu, Hi

Online: bubbiesicecream.com

12. Idaho: Goody’s Soda Fountain
You won’t regret a visit to Goody’s Soda Fountain—with their massive banana splits and ice cream sodas, there’s no way you’ll leave hungry. They also offer homemade chocolates if you’re in the mood for something different.

1502 N. 13th St.
Boise, Id

Online: goodyssodafountain.com

13. Illinois: Margie’s Candies
Since 1921, Margie’s Candies has been serving up fantastic sundaes to locals and visitors alike (Al Capone and The Beatles both stopped by). Grab a banana split to enjoy while you soak up the nostalgic vibes.

1960 N. Western Ave.
Chicago, Il

1813 W. Montrose Ave.
Chicago, Il

Online: margiesfinecandies.com

14. Indiana: The Chief Ice Cream
On a hot summer’s day, you can’t beat a visit to The Chief. Grab a scoop of peanut butter or toasted coconut and head out back to the picnic tables to gobble it up—delicious!

502 W. Lincoln Ave.
Goshen, In

Online: facebook.com/The-Chief-Ice-Cream-107814395923385

15. Iowa: Heyn’s Premium Ice Cream
It’ll be love at first bite when you visit Heyn’s—the ice cream is made with 14% buttermilk fat content, giving it an extra oomph of creaminess. And with flavors like monster mash (vanilla ice cream with cookie dough, peanut butter, and M&Ms) and blueberry cheesecake, you’ll keep coming back for more.

811 S. 1st Ave.
Iowa City, Ia

25 Cherry St.
North Liberty, Ia

Online: heynsicecream.com

photo: Sylas and Maddy’s Homemade Ice Cream via Facebook

16. Kansas: Sylas and Maddy’s Homemade Ice Cream
Sylas and Maddy’s takes hand-crafted ice cream to the next level. They use an entire watermelon in every batch of watermelon sherbet, and their pie flavors (think apple pie, key lime pie) contain an entire pie in each bucket of ice cream. Get your scoop in a homemade waffle cone to up the tasty factor.

11925 Strang Line Rd.
Olathe, Ks

1014 Massachusetts St.
Lawrence, Ks

Online: sylasandmaddysicecream.com

17. Kentucky: The Comfy Cow
The Comfy Cow is serious about making awesome ice cream, and you’ll be able to tell when you sample their flavors. Whether you go for brown butter peanut brittle or cookie monster dough, you won’t be disappointed.

13301 Shelbyville Rd., Ste. 106
Louisville, Ky

Additional locations in Louisville, Nashville, and Southern Indiana

Online: thecomfycow.com

18. Louisiana: Creole Creamery
You’ll love the old-school look of New Orleans’ best ice cream parlor, and with rotating flavors like lavender honey and chocolate malt chip, they’ve got something for everyone. If you dare, take the challenge to finish an enormous Tchoupitoulas sundae and earn a spot in their Hall of Fame.

4924 Prytania St.
New Orleans, La

6260 Vicksburg St.
New Orleans, La

Online: creolecreamery.com

19. Maine: The Dairy Corner
With more than 70 ice cream flavors to choose from in addition to frozen yogurt and sorbet, it’s safe to say there’s something for everyone at The Dairy Corner. Bring your treats outside to the picnic tables and chairs to enjoy them in the sunshine.

612 US Rte. 1
Scarborough, Me

Online: dairycornericecream.com

20. Maryland: Scottish Highland Creamery
Founded by an Edinburgh native, the Scottish Highland Creamery is a must visit, loved for their super fresh ice cream made with local ingredients, fresh milk, cream and flavorings imported from Italy. Order the Mexican vanilla or the Italian lemon cookie and prepare to be amazed.

314 Tilghman St.
Oxford, Md

Online: scottishhighlandcreamery.com

photo: Toscanini’s via Facebook

21. Massachusetts: Toscanini’s Ice Cream
Located around the corner from MIT, Toscanini’s has been serving up amazing ice cream to college kids, locals and tourists alike for more than 30 years. Try one of their inventive flavors like B3 (brown sugar, brown butter, and brownies) or sour cherry sorbet.

899 Main St.
Cambridge, Ma

Online: tosci.com

22. Michigan: Moomers Homemade Ice Cream
This family-owned shop is a real winner, with more than 160 flavors made right in-house (20 of which are available each day). The coolest part? The shop overlooks their dairy farm, meaning you can watch the cows while you gobble up your ice cream.

7263 N. Long Lake Rd.
Traverse City, Mi

Online: moomers.com

23. Minnesota: Izzy’s Ice Cream Cafe
Whether you’re into classics like cookies n’ cream or you’re ready to try something new like Norwegian Chai, Izzy’s has got it all. And you’ve got to love their signature Izzy’s scoop—a mini scoop placed on top of your cone so you can try a bite of a different flavor.

2034 Marshall Ave.
Saint Paul, Mn

1100 2nd St. S.
Minneapolis, Mn

Online: izzysicecream.com

24. Mississippi: Area 51 Ice Cream
Area 51 prides itself on using only the freshest seasonal produce—from the local farmers market, no less—for its ice creams. The end product is innovative flavors like blackberry goat cheese, green tea latte, and salted dark chocolate.

117 W. Commerce St.
Hernando, Ms

Online: facebook.com/area51icecream

25. Missouri: Glacé Artisan Ice Cream
Founded by a chocolate maker, Glacé is now serving up small batches of drool-worthy ice cream made from hormone-free milk and cream from Missourian cows. Try one of their signature flavors, like blackberry chocolate flake or pineapple cilantro sorbet.

4960 Main St.
Kansas City, Mo

Online: glaceicecream.com

photo: Big Dipper Ice Cream via Facebook

26. Montana: Big Dipper Ice Cream
On a summer evening, there’s nothing better than a visit to Big Dipper. Relax at their picnic tables while you devour a scoop of their raved-about huckleberry ice cream on a homemade waffle cone.

631 S. Higgins
Missoula, Mt

58 N. Last Chance Gulch
Helena, Mt

100 N. Broadway
Billings, Mt

Online: bigdippericecream.com

27. Nebraska: Ted & Wally’s
An Omaha classic, Ted & Wally’s has been selling their 18% butterfat ice cream since 1984. They’ve got classic flavors like Dutch chocolate alongside more experimental rotating batches like watermelon gazpacho and butter mochi.

1120 Jackson St.
Omaha, Ne

6023 Maple St.
Omaha, Ne

Online: tedandwallys.com

28. Nevada: Dillen’s Family Ice Cream
This mom-and-pop shop is a kid’s ice cream dream. In addition to colorful flavors like circus animal cookie, rainbow sherbet, and birthday cake, they’ve got an area with games and a chalkboard just for the little ones.

5960 Losee Rd.
North Las Vegas, Nv

Online: dillensfamilyicecream.com

29. New Hampshire: Jordan’s Ice Creamery
With a huge selection of homemade ice creams, frozen yogurts, and sugar-free options, there’s something for everyone at Jordan’s. Try their blueberry pie ice cream (made with Maine berries!) or the coffee heath bar.

894 Rt. 106 N.
Belmont, Nh

593 Endicott St. N.
Laconia, Nh

Online: facebook.com/jordansic

30. New Jersey: Cliff’s Homemade Ice Cream
Cool off with a scoop or two of seriously delicious ice cream at Cliff’s. From butterbeer to s’mores to peach melba, the rotating list of flavors will keep you coming back for repeat visits.

1475 US Hwy 46
Ledgewood, Nj

Online: facebook.com/cliffsicecream

31. New Mexico: I Scream Ice Cream
I Scream Ice Cream is heaven for the little ones—after you’ve polished off a scoop of cotton candy or raspberry chocolate chunk, head to the back of the store to check out their collection of vintage memorabilia, toys, and games. Go ahead, play a game on the Ms. Pac-Man machine or play dress-up with their collection of masks.

2000 Carlisle Blvd. NE
Albuquerque, Nm

Online: facebook.com/isicabq

photo: Ample Hills Creamery via Facebook

32. New York: Ample Hills Creamery
New York has enough amazing ice cream parlors to keep your sweet tooth satisfied and then some, but our top pick goes to Ample Hills for their hands-on approach. Their ice cream is pasteurized on site, and almost all their mix-ins are made in house from scratch. Try The Munchies (pretzel-infused ice cream with Ritz crackers, potato chips, pretzels and M&Ms) or Snap Mallow Pop (marshmallow ice cream with Rice Krispie clusters).

623 Vanderbilt Ave.
Brooklyn, Ny

305 Nevins St.
Brooklyn, Ny

Three additional locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan

Online: amplehills.com

33. North Carolina: The Parlour
After operating out of a converted school bus for two years, The Parlour opened their Durham shop in 2013, and they’ve been serving up delicious 18% butterfat ice cream ever since. Try one of their well-loved, inventive flavors like salted butter caramel, blueberry buttermilk (made with local NC berries) or rosemary olive oil.

117 Market St.
Durham, Nc

Online: theparlour.co

34. North Dakota: Pride Dairy
The only small-town creamery remaining in North Dakota, Pride Dairy is a must-visit shop. They still use the same basic recipe from when the creamery started producing ice cream in the 1940s, offering tried-and-true flavors like strawberry cheesecake, chocolate peanut butter, and rhubarb-strawberry.

517 Thompson St.
Bottineau, Nd

Online: pridedairy.com

35. Ohio: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
You can count on Jeni’s for inventive and delicious flavors—think gooey butter cake, brambleberry crisp, wildberry lavender and Bangkok peanut. You’ll love the smooth taste (thanks to the buttercream base); all their ice creams are made without synthetic flavorings, dyes, and off-the-shelf mixes.

714 N. High St.
Columbus, Oh

67 N. Main St.
Chagrin Falls, Oh

Additional locations in Columbus, Nashville, Chicago, Atlanta, Charleston, Los Angeles and St. Louis

Online: jenis.com

36. Oklahoma: Roxy’s Ice Cream Social
Grab a simple scoop or a cookie ice cream sandwich at this Oklahoma City hot spot. Their small-batch ice creams are a local favorite, offering classic flavors like cookies ‘n’ cream alongside a rotating menu of specialties like bananas foster and graham cracker.

1732 NW 16th St.
Oklahoma City, Ok

12220 N. MacArthur Blvd.
Oklahoma City, Ok

Online: roxysicecream.com

photo: Salt & Straw Ice Cream via Facebook

37. Oregon: Salt & Straw
At Salt & Straw, you’ll find crazy unique flavors year round. Whether you’re in the mood for Meyer lemon buttermilk with blueberries, goat cheese marionberry habanero or cinnamon snickerdoodle, you’re going to leave satisfied.

838 NW 23rd Ave.
Portland, Or

3345 SE Division St.
Portland, Or

2035 NE Alberta St.
Portland, Or

Additional locations in Los Angeles and San Francisco

Online: saltandstraw.com

38. Pennsylvania: La Michoacana Homemade Ice Cream
Corn ice cream might sound odd, but after a visit to La Michoacana, you’ll be converted. Ask for it to be topped off with a sprinkling of chili powder to take it to the next level. Or if you’re in the mood for something different, grab a homemade popsicle or water ice.

231 E State St.
Kennett Square, Pa

Online: michoacanagrill.com/indexicecream.html

39. Rhode Island: Brickley’s Ice Cream
With more than 45 flavors to choose from on any given day, Brickley’s has classic flavors that everyone in your family will love. Get your scoop on a homemade waffle cone and sit back and enjoy the huge portions.

921 Boston Neck Rd.
Narragansett, Ri

322 Main St.
Wakefield, Ri

Online: facebook.com/brickleysicecream

40. South Carolina: Sweet Cream Company
With a constantly rotating menu, on any given day at Sweet Cream Company, you’ll find ingenious flavors like white chocolate lavender, blueberry crumble and cranberry thyme sorbet. You can also snag a cookie ice cream sandwich—of course, the cookies are made from scratch in-house too.

1627 Main St.
Columbia, Sc

Online: sweetcreamcompany.com

41. South Dakota: Leones’ Creamery
Leones’ Creamery is a small-town staple with some seriously delicious and unexpected flavors: think blueberry goat cheese, vanilla black pepper, and rhubarb. Since the menu is constantly changing, you’ll want to come back again and again.

722 1/2 Main St.
Spearfish, Sd

Online: leonescreamery.com

photo: Clumpies Ice Cream Co. via Facebook

42. Tennessee: Clumpies Ice Cream Co.
Opened by the son of a third-generation candy maker, Clumpies has been a Chattanooga favorite since 1999. Try one of their signature flavors like coconut almond chunk or raspberry sorbet, or go for a specialty like sweet corn blueberry or vegan peanut butter Oreo.

26 Frazier Ave.
Chattanooga, Tn

3917 St. Elmo Ave.
Chattanooga, Tn

1110 E. Brow Rd.
Lookout Mountain, Tn

Online: clumpies.com

43. Texas: Lick Honest Ice Creams
This Austin hot spot takes honest to heart when making their ice cream—they source milk and cream from a family-owned dairy in central Texas, and their seasonal offerings let the freshest local ingredients shine. Try an old standby like Texas sheet cake or get adventurous with lemon lavender or loquat margarita.

1100 S. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, Tx

6555 Burnet Rd. #200
Austin, Tx

1905 Aldrich St. #150
Austin, Tx

312 Pearl Pkwy #2101
San Antonio, Tx

Online: ilikelick.com

44. Utah: Rowley’s Red Barn
Located right on a farm, Rowley’s is totally worth the trip. They’re famous for their home-grown cherries, so the cherry cheesecake or cherry chocolate chip is a must-try. Or go for an apple cider slush—icy hand-pressed apple cider that can be mixed with vanilla ice cream.

901 S. 300 W.
Santaquin, Ut

25 N. 300 W.
Washington, Ut

Online: rowleysredbarn.com

45. Vermont: Creemee Stand
Of course Ben & Jerry’s is Vermont’s most famous ice cream empire, but Creemee Stand is another local favorite. With rave-worthy soft serve and hard scoop ice creams, they’ve really got something for everyone. Try their signature maple soft serve, made with fresh Vermont maple syrup.

716 Rte. 100
Wilmington, Vt

Online: creemeestand.com

46. Virginia: Island Creamery
Since 1975, Island Creamery has been serving up delicious treats to locals and tourists alike on beautiful Chincoteague Island. Sample the muddy butter (chocolate ice cream with nutter butter cookies and peanut butter swirl) or the cantaloupe—you’ll be an instant fan!

6243 Maddox Blvd.
Chincoteague Island, Va

120 N. Main St.
Berlin, Md

Online: islandcreamery.net

photo: Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream via Facebook

47. Washington: Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream

When it comes to ice cream, we’re all about fresh and local, and Molly Moon’s fits the bill. 90 percent of their ingredients are locally sourced, from milk and cream to honey and fruit. The result is drool-worthy flavors like cherry chunk, honey lavender and cookie chunk that your whole crew will love.

1/2 1622 N. 45th St.
Seattle, Wa

7 additional locations in Seattle and Redmond

Online: mollymoon.com

48. Washington D.C.: Ice Cream Jubilee
Started by a corporate lawyer turned ice cream mogul, Ice Cream Jubilee is a must-visit the next time you’re in the District. You’ll love their outside-the-box flavors like snickers snickerdoodle and Thai iced tea.

301 Water St. SE
Washington D.C.

1407 T St. NW
Washington D.C.

Online: icecreamjubilee.com

49. West Virginia: Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream
For almost 20 years, Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream has been serving up old-fashioned treats that locals and tourists alike love. In addition to the classics like mocha almond and black raspberry, you’ll find a rotating selection of seasonal flavors like lavender honey and lime orange pineapple.

225 Capitol St.
Charleston, Wv

Online: ellensicecream.com

50. Wisconsin: Sassy Cow Creamery
Head to Sassy Cow for some of the creamiest, freshest ice cream around. You can gaze at the grazing cows as you chow down on your ice cream, and you can also pick up delicious milk and cheese there while you’re at it. Hunker down with a yummy scoop of blueberry cheesecake or caramel chunk.

W4192 Bristol Rd.
Columbus, Wi

Online: sassycowcreamery.com

51. Wyoming: Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream
Huckleberry ice cream, anyone? You’ll find it and lots more at Moo’s, a Wyoming favorite serving up rave-worthy treats. With a rotating menu of 24 flavors, there’s definitely something for everyone in your crew.

110 North Center Street
Jackson Hole, Wy

Online: moosjacksonhole.com

Did we miss your absolute favorite ice-cream shop? Give us the scoop in the comments below! 

— Susie Foreman

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Coolest Kid Friendly Water Slides Across the Country

Floating in the pool is fun, but sometimes you have to kick it up a notch and go for a tricked-out water slide. Whether you’re a waterpark daredevil or more of a lazy river type, you can appreciate these off-the-wall water slides. Click through the slideshow below to see our favorite extreme water rides across the country. Who knows—you just might find your next splash-worthy vacation destination.

Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides, Universal Orlando Volcano Bay

Climb up a volcano, then take a ride on a thrilling body slide. Trap doors will open and send you whooshing downhill in intertwining tubes—what a rush! After you’ve conquered this ride, check out the rest of the awesome family-friendly slides at Dolphin Bay. The park just opened in May, making it a perfect choice for your next sunny vacation.

6000 Universal Blvd.
Orlando, Fl
Online: universalorlando.com

photo: Universal Orlando Resort via Facebook


What’s your favorite water slide? Share your picks with us below!

—Sommy Rhee with Christal Yuen and Susie Foresman

photos from whitewaterwest.com unless otherwise stated

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Fun and Easy Paper Bag Crafts for Kids

Need a few crafts in your arsenal in response to the “I’m bored” chant you’re bound to hear this summer? It doesn’t get simpler than a paper bag and these five crafts are inexpensive, clever and just time-consuming enough to stave off the summer doldrums. Scroll down to get started.

photo: Sophies World 

1. Easy-Peasy Kite
Save this craft from Sophie’s World for a windy day! The best part is that the kids can decorate it however they want whether it’s with markers, feathers, streamers, or stickers. They will be thrilled to see their creation floating in the wind for all the world to see.


photo: Easy Preschool Crafts for Kids 

2. Fish on the Fly
While the last craft soars in the sky, this craft from Easy Preschool Crafts for Kids swims in the sea! It smiles, it swims, it’s simple and it’s sparkly! Grab some markets, glitter, glue, and any other fun additions you have lying around your craft box to decorate your fish. What more could a kid ask for?

photo: Creative Jewish Mom

3. Simple Apple Tree
This craft involves a little bit of twist and a little bit of curl. And remember there are many fruits out there that you can jazz the branches up with. Maybe add a bird or a squirrel or two! Check out Creative Jewish Mom for the full low down on how to twist, curl, and create this fun paper bag craft.

photo: Fun Family Crafts

4. Funky Birds 
Your kiddos will love these friendly bird puppets from Fun Family Crafts because they are colorful and exotic. You will love them because they are easy! Plus: who doesn’t like feathers?

5. No-Heat Fireplace
This warm fireplace from Crafts by Amanda is a homey addition to a doll house or a kid’s room to make them feel like real grownups (without the fire hazard, of course!). It will be fun for the little ones to search out sticks in the woods or at your local park for their very own mini fire place! Thanks to Crafts by Amanda for this awesome idea!


Have you tired any of these cute paper bag crafts? Tell us in a comment below. 

—Parham B.

featured photo: Mark J. Sebastian via flickr


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14 Awesome French-Inspired Recipes

When it comes to food, the French have it down! From roast chicken to tarte tatin, there are so many French dishes that look impressive but are surprisingly easy to make. Take a cue from our friends across the pond and make a French-inspired meal to celebrate Bastille Day. Just click through the slideshow to get your next foodie fix.

Apple Tarte Tatin

Give apple pie a pass and make the Hungry Couple’s amazing tarte tatin. You might end up with a few dessert converts on your hands. Find out how it’s made by clicking here.

photo: Hungry Couple

Have you tried any French-inspired cuisine with your family? Share your kids’ reactions in the comments below.

—Susie Foresman

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20 Inside Games to Play When It’s Too Hot Out

Too hot to go out and play today? That doesn’t mean you have to stick to LEGO bricks and iPad games. We’ve got 20 ways you can keep the play going even when the sun is blazing. Scroll down to get going.

photo: Jen Kossowan via Mama Papa Bubba

1. Play store. Set up shop in just in no time at all and play grocery store. Or maybe you’d rather vend faux froyo or play post office? Here are 9 pretend play scenarios you can set up and play all afternoon.

2. Ice-capades! Freeze colored water in ice cube trays and then let the kids paint with their slowly-melting water colors. Check out these other surprising ways you can have fun with ice.

3. Play a round of “Would you rather?” Would you rather have a pet monkey or a pet porcupine? Inquiring minds want to know! Ask your mini-me to answer this and other thought-provoking pairings when you play a few rounds of Would You Rather. All you need are a few good questions. The Family Dinner Project has a great list of kid-friendly ones you can pull up on your device, so you can dole out new questions as fast as your Little can answer them.

4. Teach your teeny Houdinis a trick or two.

photo: thomasland via flickr

5. Read together. Here are our favorite new-releases in the picture book world. We also love these new and forthcoming chapter books.

6. Make a rad animal mask.

7. Go small. Outfit a mouse house, dollhouse or fairy dwelling with some tiny furniture you can make yourself.

photo: CK, Carl, Carlo, Carlito via flickr

8. Laugh out loud. Stage a little comedy show in your living room. Here are 50 of our favorite kid’s jokes to get you going.

9. Write a story.

photo: Myrmi via flickr

10. Pick a card. Learn a simple card game or trick.

11. Make magic. Transform your countertop into a wizard’s apothecary with pretend potions.

12. Connect the dots. Tic Tac Toe is so yesterday. The Dot Game is clearly today. And it’s one that can easily be re-created when you’re in a lurch. All you need is a paper and a pen to make a large scale dot grid. Then, you and your mini-me take turns connecting one dot to the next, trying to complete squares. When you do, don’t forget to claim your property with a big fat initial smack dab in the middle of the box.

13. Create a mailbox and write each other letters.

14. Act like a total pig

photo: totoknitshop.com

15. Pop up! Make a batch of homemade bubbles and see who can blow the biggest one.

16. Bake some blueberry muffins.

17. Spark a thought. Let your little’s wishes come true with a simple shooting star craft.

photo: Evan Long via flickr 

18. The truth is out there. Ever feel like your kid is kinda strange? Embrace it and turn them into a space alien.

19. Handcraft your own instruments and then have a dance party.

20. Get over it! And under it, and through it when you set up an obstacle course around the house for your kiddos to complete. Use what you’ve got (hello, boxes from holiday deliveries!) to set one up. Then have your munchkin stretch a bit before she sets out to test her ninja warrior skills on the course that gives her a totally legit reason to climb around the furniture. That’s a win-win!

What are your favorite indoor boredom busters when it’s too hot to go out? 

—Amber Guetebier

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7 Sun-Science Experiments to Make Your Day

These long summer days call for kiddie pools and ice cream, but they also call out for science! Solar science, to be exact. The following easy experiments will help kids look at the sun in a whole new light. Scroll down to get going.

photo: Suzie’s Farm via flickr

1. S’mores Solar Oven

Harness the power of the sun to make your favorite campfire treat! With just a few common household items you can create an eco-friendly oven just for melting marshmallows and chocolate, plus you can teach kids about the power of the sun. Click here to learn how.

photo: Amber Guetebier

2. Solar Viewing Camera

With the August 21 eclipse coming soon, a DIY pinhole camera is the perfect viewing tool. You can also use it to teach the kiddos about the basics of how a camera lens works. For an easy step-by-step that takes less than 30 minutes to create, click here.

photo: Green Planet Solar 

3. Melting Rates

Different colors have different heat absorbing capacities. Black has the greatest heat absorbing capacity, which results in ice melting quicker than on white, which reflects the most light. Learn how to observe and report on which colors affect ice’s melting rates here, on Green Planet Solar Energy. Get more sidewalk science ideas here.

photo: otherwiseeducationg.com

4. DIY Sundial

Unravel the mysteries of time. Or at least figure out the basics by setting up a sundial outside. Take time each hour to check the sun’s positioning and make note of it so your sidekick can see the bigger picture. Try variations like this one with paper and clay or use rocks and shadow to make a human sundial!

photo: Planet Science

5. Homemade Raisins

Grapes are made up of lots of water. The heat from the sun causes the water to evaporate from the grapes, and it also caramelizes the sugar in a grape, making it sweeter. Get your recipe here on Planet Science.

photo: g.wu. via flickr 

6. Sweet Tea

Believe it or not, making a batch of sun tea is an excellent lesson in the power of sunshine. It’s a lesson in heat—seeing how long it takes the water to heat enough to really diffuse the tea bags or fresh herbs—and it teaches kids about currents as the water heats up, something you can view as the tea begins to diffuse into the clear water. Don’t shake or stir, just let nature take its course.

photo: swirlingthoughts via flickr

7. Shadow Drawing

Set up toys on paper and let the kids draw once the shadows hit. Try drawing at different times of day and experiment with the angle of the sun and the shadows it creates as you track its journey across the sky. You can draw right on the sidewalk with chalk, too. Pick toys with distinctive outlines.

What are your ideas for solar-themed science? Share them with us in a comment below! 

—Amber Guetebier

featured photo: qimono via pixabay

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25 Easy Backyard Games to Rock Your Summer

Summertime for most of us means being outside as much as possible and for kids, that’s a lot of unstructured playtime. The next time you want to send the kids out to play be armed with this amazing arsenal of classic and inventive games that take almost no props or planning. Scroll down to get 25 ideas to keep the fun going.

photo: Valentina Powers via flickr

1. Ice Pool Challenge

Chill out with this easy to play, simple to stage game kids of (almost) any age can play. To set it up, fill your kiddie pool with water and dump in a bag of party ice. Yep, it’s that easy. Then divide the Littles into two teams, each with a bucket. Their goal is to fill the bucket with as many of the submerged ice cubes as they can, using only their feet to move those little rascals from one place to the next. Brrr-ing it!

2. Balloon Relay

Fill up a few water balloons and get ready to giggle. Line up the tot lot Madeline-style (that’s two straight lines), before handing each line leader a balloon and having them place it securely between their knees. Then it’s time to start the game! Players pass the balloon, knees-to-knees, down the row until it reaches the finish. It doesn’t get easier than that!

3. Ninja Attack

In this game, ninjas-in-training test their skills by quietly sneaking up on a ninja master. Intrigued? Start by setting up a ninja course (think: paintball course) using oversized moving boxes, play tunnels, and other objects kids can quickly duck behind (or into). This is where the little ninjas will try to hide as the ninja master scans the yard for tiny foes. Then, have the master stand at one end of the yard, opposite her ninja attackers. When you say go, the ninja master turns her back on her opponents, while they stealthily make their way toward her. When you say stop, little ninjas duck behind whatever’s closest in the hopes the master ninja won’t spy them. If she does, they’re out. But if you’ve got the skill, and can reach her first, you become the master!

photo: niko si via flickr 

4. Play with Hula-Hoops

Who says you have to have moves like Jagger to have fun with a hula hoop? Check out these awesome hula hoop games by Learn Play Imagine for inspiration—you’ll be amazed at the different and new ways you can play with one of the oldest toys imaginable.

5. Water Balloon Piñata

Bye-bye piñata loaded with sugary sweets and playful trinkets; hello suspended deluge! String up an array of colorful water balloons in the yard (over a tree, from the swing set) to serve as the party piñata. Line up the Littles, bursting with excitement to try this creative alternative, and let each one take a swing in turn, with a plastic bat, or even a wrapping paper tube, in the hopes of hitting the delicate target, and letting loose the wild waterfall. Blindfolded or not, this is one guaranteed way to get wet!

6. Monkey Around. 

Building on the “tag, you’re it!” theme, Monkey Tails is a silly variation that gets the whole crew involved in the chase. Simply tuck tails (socks or even dad’s ties make great ones) into the monkeys’ waistbands, then send everyone off, ducking, dodging and running wild, in an effort to keep their tails from being nabbed by another player. The last player with a tail wins. Then it’s off to bed for your little monkey.

photo: Jari Schroderus via flickr 

7. Bandana Tag

Transform the typical game of tag into a free-for-all (this one works best with older kiddos). The twist? They’re all “it.” To play, hand out bandanas to your crew to tuck in along their waistline. Then let the great chase begin! Players tag each other by snagging bandanas, while simultaneously guarding their own until one player is left standing. It’s a wild romp they’ll want to play over and over again.

8. Bucket Toss

You can’t go wrong with carnival games and the bucket toss is an all-time favorite. Line up the prize-filled buckets in a row. Each kid who power-slings a ball into a bucket is the proud owner of the goodie waiting to be plucked up. Opt for three turns each, otherwise, there could be a lot of standing (or wiggling) happening!

9. Squirt Gun Soccer

You should probably start stockpiling super soakers for this one. Little athletes will get a kic…er… have a blast with this no-kick version of soccer that trades feet for squirt guns, and traditional soccer balls for a lighter-than-air beach ball. To start this wannabe match, break the party group into two teams, and arm each player with a fully loaded squirt gun. They’ll use the stream to move the ball around the field as they try to score (or block) a goal. Set up sports cones at either end of the field so they know where to aim, and then it’s time to play. Go team!

photo: rudyanderson via pixabay

10. Heed the Call

Modify a classic pool game with a few tweaks, and you’ve got a backyard romp to tire out your kidlet. Play a few rounds of Marco-Polo outside before slipping on the jammies and starting the bedtime routine. All that ducking, dodging and blind searching is more tiring than you’d expect, which makes it a great way to wear out wee ones pre-bedtime.

11. Have a Sponge Ball War

Better than a water balloon fight (sayonara, plastic balloons all over the yard!), these DIY sponge balls by It’s Overflowing are reusable, versatile (turn an afternoon of tossing them at each other into an evening of washing your car, perhaps?), and a total blast.

12. Green Light, Go!

Resurrect a playground fave to tire out the tots. We love Red Light/Green Light because it’s simple and quick to play. Plus, it gives parents the option to take it easy as the caller or join in the game (hello daily workout!). Stop and go until they’re tuckered out from all that running

photo: I Heart Naptime

13. Make and Play Giant Pick-Up Sticks

Instead of playing pick up sticks with the chopstick-sized sticks of our youth, why not spray paint the sticks in your yard and play with those, instead? Added bonus: Guess who helps you gather the sticks out of your yard?! And they say they’re too young for yard work… Thanks, I Heart Naptime, for the great idea!

14. Look for Pictures in the Clouds

After all of these fun activities, the last, and best one on your bucket list is to lay back in the grass and hunt for pictures floating by in the clouds. See who can be the first to spot an animal, an imaginary being, a building, a car and whatever other fun shapes you can think of.

15. Let’s Race!

On your mark, get set, GO! Whether you’re staging a relay race or a full-tilt foot race, all you need for a memorable obstacle course is whatever you’ve got in your garage (think big wheels, basketballs, and jump ropes) and a little creativity. Want to up the ante? Add a stopwatch, and you’ll have them competing against their own PRs all afternoon long. Nothing gets the giggles going more than an obstacle that involves some improv dancing!

16. Play Blind-Man’s Bluff

This classic game is like thinking-man’s tag or a slow-mo version of it anyway. And it’s the perfect pace for grandparents to get in on the fun. All you need is a blindfold and a few players to start. Put the blindfold on the Seeker; then spin her around a few times while the other players scatter. Now it’s time to seek. Using her keen other senses, the Skeeker tries to tag the scattered players who are rooted in place. Sure, they can duck and dodge her outstretched arms, but they can’t move their feet. It’s a giggle-worthy game everyone can play!

photo: moyegor via pixabay

17. Statue & Tourist

Perfect for a forested glen or even indoors as the light is fading (or in a dark room). One player is the “tourist” who is viewing the amazing statue garden. They get a flashlight.  All the other players must stay as still as a statue: they are allowed to move when the light is off, but as soon as the tourist turns the flashlight on they must stay still. When the flashlight is on the statue, the tourist tries to make the statue giggle or wiggle. If they do, they join the tourist’s team and go tour for the next statue.

18. Run Through the Sprinkler

Turn your pool noodle into the best kiddie pool accessory in town, by converting it into an overhead sprinkler. Ondria at Mommy’s Block Party can walk you through the process. It’s like a trip to the splash pad, without leaving the house. Sounds like the perfect summer pace to us! Check out these other amazing things you can do with a pool noodle (that don’t involve a pool).

19. Rock, Paper, Scissors

Get your game hands on and “shoot!” Want to know how to be a Rock Paper Scissors star? Watch this fun video from Buzzfeed on “How to Win at Rock Paper Scissors.” Or try the Japanese version, called Janken. Start by saying “saisho wa guu.” Then “janken pon” as you pump, before throwing on “pon.” The winning combos are still the same in this timeless, quick game you can play at home or on the go.

20. Simon Says

Simon says to try this game with your kids instead of handing them your phone the next time you’re waiting for anything (i.e. at the doctor’s office, outside the classroom, etc.). If you didn’t grow up on Planet Earth and don’t know how to play, here are the rules.

photo: Denali National Park via flickr

21. iSpy

This one’s another standby that’s great for long car rides. You can play it by “spying” something that is a certain color (“I spy something purple”) or by spying something that starts with a specific letter (“I spy something that starts with the letter B”). You can also up the game with binoculars and try to spot things at a certain distance away. 

22. Food Truck

From the brilliant mind behind Tinker Lab comes another great way to pretend play outdoors. If you’ve got a big cardboard box, then you’ve got a restaurant, a vehicle and a store! Yup, it’s a pretend food truck and it’s rolling right into your living room. They’ll be serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert— all in one afternoon. Roll over to Tinker Lab for more inspiration. Want more easy pretend play ideas you can set up in no time? Click here.

photo: icr3cr via pixabay

23. Superhero Showdown

Organize a meeting of the superheroes and watch the afternoon fly by. You might be ducking to avoid Batman’s (imaginary) gadgets and Spidey’s web all afternoon but the non-stop giggle-fest will be worth the effort.

24 Questions, or “Who Am I?” – One person comes up with a person or thing; the other person has to ask “Yes” or “No” questions to try to figure out what or who it is. For younger kids, nix the Yes or No and just let any question do.

25. Give Up the Charade

Have your little monkey stay in character when you play a quick game of animal charades. No prep necessary for this easy guessing game. Just pick your favorite animal and go for it! With each successful guess, trade places and start again. Ee-i-ee-i-o!

What are your favorite outdoor games? Tell us in a comment below! 

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