July Fairs and Festivals for New Jersey Families

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.

Summer Streets 2015: Car-Free Fun for NYC Kids

Editor's Note: We're awaiting word on all the activities offered for Summer Streets in 2016 and will update this post once that information is available. For the eighth year in a row, New York City is hosting Summer Streets on three consecutive Saturdays. On August 1, 8 and 15 from 7am to 1pm, the Department of Transportation closes Lafayette Street and Park Avenue to motor vehicles from the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge to 72nd Street so people can enjoy cycling, scootering, skateboarding or strolling. Plus, there's lots of entertainment and attractions along the way including the addition of a brand new attraction in 2015: Slide the City.

My family and I look forward to Summer Streets every year, and we always make sure to attend at least one of the Saturdays. We're big urban bike riders, so we really make the most of the long, safe, car-less route.

Every edition of Summer Streets is a little different. We've got the scoop on what's new this year, as well as tips for enjoying Summer Streets with kids in tow.

Film Classes for NYC Kids

These days, kids can make movies using their cell phones. One look at YouTube is proof enough, but my older son's really into cinema and has sent me searching for film classes.

I'm well aware he may not turn out to be the next Scorsese, but he can learn lots of interesting skills in these programs. Many of them go way beyond the camera; he'll also get to try his hand at auditioning, storyboarding, editing and maybe even animation depending on which class he takes.

If nothing else, once he finishes, he can help me go through that hard drive of family footage I've amassed. Here are seven places that offer kids' film classes. Ready ... Set ... Action!

EverWonder Children's Museum in Newtown: Hands-on Science Fun for CT Kids

If you've been to Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk or the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport, you know the hands-on science for kids niche is filled in Fairfield County. Unless, that is, you live in a town north of Bridgeport. Up here, these museums—great as they are—are a schlep. That's why the addition of Newtown's EverWonder Children's Museum is so welcome. Launched in 2011 in mobile form, the museum hoped to fill the STEM void between Bridgeport and Hartford's stellar Science Center. Now that it has a brick-and-mortar location, the EverWonder Children's Museum is well on its way to achieving its goal.

FREE and Cheap After School Programs in Hartford County, CT

Back to school is creeping up on us. Before we know it the yellow buses and kids lugging their backpacks will be filling the streets. Unfortunately for the working parents with the 9-5 schedule the 3 o’clock school day ending will just not cut it. Luckily there are many free after school programs available in the Hartford area. For more after school programs check out our After School Classes Guide.

Family Fun at the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington

It is never too early to introduce your child to art. In the Hartford area, one tends to think of the grandiose Wadsworth, or perhaps the sleek New Britain Museum of American Art, but don’t overlook the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington. There, in the 1901 Colonial Revival house turned museum, both art and history come alive. The Hill-stead, however, is not just for grown-ups and art buffs: family-friendly events like First Sundays and seasonal community events on the estate’s magnificent grounds invite families and children to enjoy and learn from this cultural landmark right up the road. (Check out our Museum Guide for ideas of other CT museums to try with kids by county.)

Highland Orchards in Chester County: 5 Reasons to Make a Family Day Trip

Undoubtedly, the simplest of activities can often make the best memories for our young children. Visiting an area orchard or farm is an easy, low-cost outing and a great way to bring the little ones closer to nature. Highland Orchards, a Chester County farm market and pick-your-own field, provides fresh air, fresh food, and fun times for families all year round. During the warmer weather, families can take advantage of its outdoor activities, including pick-your-own strawberries, a playground, and a spot to feed animals. Fall is the height of apple picking and hayride season, and in the cold months, Highland Orchards continues its open hours in the farm market, where kids and grownups can enjoy the freshly baked pies and other baked goods (and other tasty free samples!)

This summer, don’t miss an opportunity to go to Highland Orchards for eating, playing, or even taking a structured tour of the grounds. Check out the top 5 reasons why it’s worth a drive to the Chester County countryside for a visit.

4th of July Fireworks and Festivities in Lower Hudson Valley

The 4th of July is almost here! We've already filled you in on the best places to catch stunning Independence Day fireworks in Westchester. Now we are heading across the county line to round up the top spots for holiday sparklers throughout Lower Hudson Valley. Since many celebrations also include live music, ballgames, parades, magic shows and even a carnival, these festivities are definitely worth the drive if you're coming from Westchester.

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