September is almost here and the carefree days of summer are drawing to a close. Fortunately there’s still plenty of fun to be had in the Garden State, with many great fairs and festivals on the calendar this month. Explore nature at the NJ Wild Outdoor Expo, chow down on delicious seafood at the Atlantic City Seafood Festival or listen to some exciting tales at the NJ Storytelling Festival. Check out these ten awesome festivals and visit our Events Calendar for more fabulous ideas.
The very awesome—and very cool—movie Jurassic World hit theaters this summer and was a blockbuster hit with adults and children alike. Inspired by the 3D film, it may come as no surprise that your child wants a dinosaur-themed birthday party this year. Ok, so you obviously can’t bring a “real” hybrid T-Rex into your backyard, but you can certainly find places in New Jersey to host a fantastic party with a prehistoric theme. Here is a round-up of venues that offer cool dinosaur-themed birthday parties—book soon, and have an adventure out of this time period. P.S. Don’t forget to check out our Mommy Poppins party guide, chock-full of additional party ideas for the special kids in your life.
When planning a family day trip, vineyards and wineries may not be the first destinations that come to mind. Believe it or not, New Jersey is home to relaxing and scenic vineyards that are family-friendly, and even pet-friendly! These vineyards offer outdoorsy fun that includes food truck events, music, farm activities, spacious fields, and of course, the Garden State’s homegrown wines. Not all local vineyards and wineries permit children on the premises, but raise your glass to these five that do. And be sure to check the policies on children in the tasting areas.
From zoos and aquariums to farms and parks with live animals, New Jersey is home to plenty of attractions for animal-loving families. While all of these great destinations are educational, one special zoo in Forked River takes things a step further by teaching visitors about compassion. Popcorn Park Zoo is made up entirely of animals that have been rescued. The zoo was established in 1977 for the sole purpose of providing a refuge for wildlife that were sick, elderly, abandoned, abused or injured, and could no longer survive in their natural habitat. As time went on, the zoo expanded to include domestic and exotic animals. My kids and I recently visited Popcorn Park. From lions, tigers and bears to parakeets, monkeys and peacocks, this little zoo's inhabitants were definitely worth the trip.
The Jersey Shore is made up of many distinct towns, each with its own vibe. Everyone has their favorite. Some folks love the eclectic Asbury Park while others prefer the family-friendly Victorian beauty of Cape May. I thought I'd seen every stretch of sand the state had to offer, but recently, I discovered the charming, seaside town of Bay Head. This quaint destination features tree-lined streets, uncrowded beaches, gorgeous homes and independently owned shops and restaurants. Just one mile south of Point Pleasant, Bay Head is the perfect spot for a relaxing shore getaway. And for more great little NJ towns, check out our Guide to Great Small Towns in New Jersey.
Shaun the Sheep Movie, the latest feature from Britain's Oscar-winning Aardman Animation team behind Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run, and The Pirates!, opens nationwide this week. The film is mostly charming, frequently hilarious, and likely to be a great choice for many families to see together. We got an early peek, so we can help you decide if it's right for your flock.
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.
My kids are water park fanatics, so when we were invited to check out the new and improved Splashplex in East Hanover, they had their goggles on faster than you can say "cascading waterfall pool". And the Splashplex upgrade did not disappoint--read on for Mommy Poppins New Jersey's review of the newly-expanded summer companion to one of our favorite indoor amusement parks, the Funplex.
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.
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?