25 Things We Can't Wait To Do with Kids This Summer in NJ

Are you ready for summer, New Jersey? If you're like me, you've probably had the season on the brain since January. In a few short weeks, those dreams of beaches, swimming and festivals galore will finally become a reality. The celebrated Jersey Shore, among other warm-weather destinations, make the Garden State the place to be this summer. So get out your calendars, and take note of all the adventures that await your family in NJ this summer.

25 Free (or Nearly Free) Summer Concert Series for Families in Fairfield County

One of my favorite things about summer in Fairfield County is the plethora of outdoor concerts at local beaches, parks, and playgrounds—most of them absolutely free. There is music for all ages and tastes, whether you're hoping to catch an American Idol champion or create your own music. As my family discovered last summer, the rise of the food truck means that many of these venues also offer fantastic eats for purchase on-site.

A few tips: not every concert listed here is specifically intended for children, so be sure to check the lineups to determine whether the acts are appropriate for your family. Also, while many concerts are billed as free admission, some (particularly those at beaches) involve a parking fee. Finally, concerts are frequently canceled, postponed, or relocated due to bad weather. Before heading out, be sure to check the concert's official website to confirm it's still happening as scheduled.

Kids' Craft: Easy No-Wax Batik

I love batik. Or I should say, I love the way batik looks, and I love the idea of making batik, but actual batik is really hard, meticulous and, frankly, kind of tedious to do. I've been looking for a simpler way to make batik and recently shared these batik-style card designs. I think they turned out great, but they are only paper simulations of batik.

But I finally found an easy batik method. Do you know Design Mom? Blogger Gabrielle Blair is one of those people who makes you wonder, "How does she do it?" She is somehow managing to raise six children, run her super website and make everything seem beautiful, graceful and balanced. Luckily for us, she has just wrapped all that beauty and wisdom into her new book, Design Mom: How to Live with Kids: A Room-by-Room Guide.

What I love about this book is that it isn't just about home design. The lovely Gabby shares many of her family's traditions and ways they make living with kids work. These are my favorite parts of the book, and that's right where I found my easy batik technique.

I've adapted Gabrielle's method a bit to make it even simpler so that a little kid can do it. You can literally use this technique on any piece of cotton fabric; we did T-shirts and tote bags.

Free Things to Do This Summer with Kids in the Hartford Area

100 days of summer go by fast and parents spend most of their children's summer vacation looking for ways to keep them active, engaged, and entertained. We know you will likely spend time relaxing at the beach, discovering new playgrounds or best selling books, checking out the latest museum exhibits, or lounging by a pool in a backyard or at an amusement park. For all the other moments when children declare that there is nothing to do, here are a few ways to prove them wrong. And even better -- most of the summer activities and events are FREE! Enjoy the sunshine, time with your children, and the savings. 

NYC Doughnut Crawl: 8 Great Shops to Indulge Your Sweet Tooth with Kids

As a bona fide foodie, I love going on culinary adventures in NYC. My picky 10-year-old? Not so much. There is no way he would ever hoof it through Queens sampling an array of ethnic eats like Anna and her family recently did. A doughnut crawl, however, was a much easier sell! After all, doughnuts are the new cupcakes, with shops ranging from been-there-forever classics to hot new hipster hangouts in far-flung corners of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Armed with a well-researched list of doughnut shops and a MetroCard, my son, his pal and I set out to sample the city's best rings of fried deliciousness. We hoped to visit eight shops, yet our goal was bigger than our stomachs. Still, we had a ball trying and will definitely attempt part two soon!

So embrace your inner Homer Simpson and read on to see where we went and how to plan your own doughnut crawl with your family.

Sprinkler Season at NYC Playgrounds: When it Starts and Other Important Info

When does the city turn on the sprinklers in NYC parks? That's a question we get asked every year as the weather starts to heat up. It's getting to be that time when going to the playground can pretty much guarantee getting wet. All of those sprinklers, fountains, rivers and other cool water features will be spouting soon. In fact, we were surprised to find the water already on one hot day recently at our favorite play spot. I had no towel or change of clothes for my son, but try explaining that to a 1-and-a-half-year-old.

Now it's no big deal for kids to play in their diapers, really. But to spare you having to strap a soaking wet toddler into a stroller as I did, here is some information that can help prepare you for sprinkler season.

Beach Clubs In or Near New York City

We're always writing about great things to do during your NYC staycation and we want to add a new one to our ever-growing list: Join a beach club. All of these clubs offer members similar amenities: massive swimming pools; organized kids' activities like sports and arts and crafts, and sometimes even a day camp; spas, restaurants and lounges; and, of course, access to pristine private beaches, so you have plenty of space to spread out.

Beach clubs sell seasonal memberships from Memorial Day to Labor Day, which give you access to their facilities. Most also offer optional rental accommodations like bath cabins or cabanas. (Yup, just like The Flamingo Kid). Many are on Long Island’s South Shore and are most easily accessible by car, but we found one in Brooklyn you can take the subway to.

One World Observatory: Breathtaking, Panoramic Views & NYC History for Kids & Families

My husband and I trekked to the top of the Empire State Building following our City Hall wedding, and we've hauled our entire family up to the Top of the Rock. So when the Freedom Tower unveiled One World Observatory, I jumped at the chance to be among the first to check out its stunning panoramic views.

Mother Nature seemingly didn't share my excitement, however, for we arrived at 10am to see that the top of One World Trade wasn't visible from the ground. Despite this downer, my toddler and I still headed for the entrance and all the way to the top.

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