If you have children, you know the hours between 4pm and 6pm are particularly difficult. Referred to as "the witching hours" by many parents, this stretch of time (after naptime, but before dinner and bath time) can be hard to fill, leading to bored, whiny kids and grouchy moms and dads. If you're tired of wracking your brain for late afternoon activities, it might be time to take advantage of your local eateries Happy Hour specials. Enjoy a cocktail and some kid-friendly appetizers with a few friends. The kids will love the change of scenery and parents will enjoy the discounted treats and time to socialize. We've put together a great list of family-friendly restaurants where you can turn the "witching hour" into a happy hour for the entire family.
New Jersey has fairs and festivals galore this August. Flutter over to Pennington for a Butterfly Festival, hang out with the firefighters in Manasquan or indulge in carnival rides and games at a classic county fair. With so many options, the family calendar will be super packed all month long. Read on for our top picks, and squeeze in as many as possible—Labor Day is just around the corner! For more summer fun, visit our Summer Activities Guide.
Summer vacation just isn't complete without water adventures to keep you cool. Beaches and lakes are always a sure bet, but water parks top many a kid's bucket list. We've written about Great Wolf Lodge and other indoor water parks close to home, but now we're happy to review the opening of another nearby water park and hotel option: the Poconos' Kalahari Resorts.
Just down the road from Great Wolf Lodge, Kalahari offers an immersive, African-safari-themed experience with both indoor and outdoor water parks, a massive family entertainment area and so much more. The creators of Kalahari were inspired by the African philosophy of Ubunto, a belief that everyone's humanity is connected and that each person's actions affect the entire world. The notion of preservation is pervasive and, despite its grand scale, Kalahari offered an intimate, friendly and low-pressure vibe, which makes for a relaxing family experience.
Maybe we all hope that our kids will spend the summer mostly outdoors, but let's be honest: they're going to find their way to the computer or phone from time to time. So why not make the most of screen time by signing them up with an online summer camp from the likes of Google? Or how about a Maker Camp run by a former Pixar staffer?
There are a number of reputable online camps available to get kids excited about STEM topics or to dive into other offline, DIY experiments that can help to bridge that gap between June and September.
My 9-year-old son put several online camps to the test and excitedly waited to sign on each day to see what challenge awaited. Check out these seven virtual camps—some of them free!—and let your kids get a little extra summer learning in at their own pace.
Folks across the Nation fell in love with the majestic sport of horse racing when American Pharoah clinched the Triple Crown earlier this spring. Home to three race tracks, the Garden State draws racing fans from around the world and one arena has come up with a great way to teach horse-loving kids about life at the track. Monmouth Park's Dawn Patrol is an early morning, behind-the-scenes tour of one of the states most beautiful racing venues. Offered on weekends in July and August, this FREE event provides a great opportunity for families to learn all about the world of thoroughbred horse racing. I recently enjoyed the tour with my daughter's girl scout troop. Read on to learn why this special event is worth getting up early for.
New Jersey earns its "Garden State" nickname with an abundance of pick your own fruit and veggies available throughout the summer months. Whether berries, peaches or even flowers strike your fancy, there are plenty of wonderful places to take the kids for a fun hands-on activity. Picking their own produce is the perfect opportunity for children to see where food comes from, eat locally and have a great time too. The NJ picking season starts at the end of May and runs through the fall months. Read on for the skinny on seven pick-your-own locations. And remember to always call ahead before visiting to check availability. Happy picking!
Fairs and festivals and feasts, oh my! It’s non-stop action in NJ this month—read on for our recommendations and choose your favorite (or two). With everything from county fairs to music and food festivals, there’s something to entertain every member of the family. Mark the calendar now and have a blast all month long. For more summer fun, visit our Summer Activities Guide.
During the summer, New Jersey parents are constantly on the lookout for day trips that are both entertaining and educational. The Garden State's great zoos and aquariums are always lots of fun, but if you're looking for a unique experience for your wildlife-loving kids, consider a trip to the Raptor Trust. Located in Millington, the Raptor Trust is primarily a medical facility for injured birds; however, it's also a permanent home for birds that cannot be safely returned to the wild. Visitors are given the opportunity observe these gorgeous creatures up close. I recently took my two children, ages 11 and 7, on a tour. Read on to see what this special destination has to offer.
Let's face it: "free fun" and "New Jersey" are rarely uttered in the same sentence. But, truth be told, the Garden State has many offerings that families can enjoy without breaking the bank. No-cost movies, concerts and festivals abound, and a couple of zoos, nature centers and museums offer regular free admission hours—all you have to do is pay for the gas to drive to these destinations. So have a fabulous and inexpensive season, New Jersey! And don't forget to check out our Summer Fun Guide for more cool (and cheap!) ideas.
The bad news: Macy’s is keeping its July 4th fireworks on the East River, which means no views for New Jersey. The good news: NJ is hosting several of its own amazing pyrotechnic spectaculars, including a beloved one right over the Hudson River: Jersey City's Freedom and Fireworks Festival. In honor of Independence Day, we've rounded up the biggest and best 4th of July fireworks throughout the Garden State. And for more ideas to keep little ones entertained over the long 4th of July holiday weekend, check out our Summer Fun Guide.
Welcome to Mommy Poppins New Jersey! The free online resource for parents and kids where you’ll get the scoop on what’s fun, unique, outdoorsy, indoorsy, artsy, bouncy, sassy and splashy in the Garden State. Come play with us, won’t you?