Michelle Vames's blog

The Day I Moved Into Target

As a mom, I live at Target.

No, really—I moved in a few weeks ago. A lot of moms are doing it. It just makes so much more sense than living in our houses, which we were constantly having to leave in order to go to Target.

"Gotta make another Target run!" I'd say, and my husband would tell me to "enjoy my mommy vacation." It was so funny—every time.

Columbus Day Weekend Fun for New Jersey Kids

Looking for some ideas to help keep the kids entertained during the long weekend? We've got you covered. Go all-in on fall fun with a ride on a pumpkin train or a visit to a family-friendly farm for pumpkin picking, amazing corn mazes, harvest festivals, and more. Get into the Halloween spirit at Dinosaurs After Dark and the Asbury Park Zombie Walk, or have some scare-free fun at Pumpkin PAWlooza and Delicious Orchards' Pumpkin Fest.  

It's also a great weekend to see a show—Peppa Pig takes the stage at BergenPAC in a brand-new live show on Monday (tickets are going fast!), and the popular kids' book Freckleface Strawberry comes to life in a new musical in Edison. Stop by Adventure Aquarium for the third annual Sea Turtle Awareness Weekend, or take a Columbus Day Hayride at Abma's Farm. And for even more ways to spend the holiday, check out our list of 20 Things To Do with NJ Kids on Columbus Day

Find even more ideas in our Fall Fun Guide for NJ Kids, and be sure to check our Event Calendar to find new happenings added daily.

October GoList: The Best Things To Do with NJ Kids This Month

Halloween may be the star of the show this month, but there's plenty of other fun to be had in the days and weeks leading up to the big event. This month is jam-packed with awesome activities, from traditional fall fun like hayrides and harvest festivals to stage shows starring such kid faves as Peppa PigDaniel Tiger, and The Cat in the Hat.

Less famous (but no less endearing) are the sea turtles at Adventure Aquarium—you can meet them this month at the aquarium's third annual Sea Turtle Awareness Weekend. Little princes and princesses can dance the night away at Garden State Discovery Museum's Fairy Ball, and dance lovers can watch their favorite performers from "So You Think You Can Dance" tear up the stage at Mayo Performing Arts Center.

And of course, there are Halloween happenings aplenty, geared toward everyone from older kids to the littlest trick-or-treaters. Head down the shore for Boo at the Boardwalk, enjoy not-too-spooky fun at Goblins in the Garden in Camden, and don your black hat for Witches' Day Out in Smithville. Throughout the month, you can take the family for a ride on a Halloween train, check out a cool pumpkin display, and attend one of NJ's many free Halloween events and parades

Read on for more than 20 of the best events this October for NJ kids. For even more ideas, check out our list of 35 Things We Can't Wait To Do with NJ Kids This Fall, and find fun that's just right for little ones in our roundup of the Best Fall Events for NJ Preschoolers. And of course, check our Event Calendar often for new happenings added daily. Happy October!

Weekend Fun: Pumpkin Trains, Halloween at iPlay, Autumn Arts Afternoon

October is almost here, and pumpkins are popping up all over NJ. This weekend you can celebrate the season at a pumpkin festival, go for a ride on a pumpkin train, and of course, take a trip to the pumpkin patch.

Amusement parks including Diggerland and Storybook Land kick off their fall-fun weekends on Saturday, and iPlay America starts its month-long celebration of Halloween. Field Station: Dinosaurs gets in the spirit of the season with Dinosaurs After Dark, and the Historic Village at Allaire hosts a 19th century–style harvest celebration with its Fall Festival and Allaire Community Heritage Day.

Read on for more of this weekend's most fall-tastic events, and find many more ideas for weekend fun in our Fall Fun Guide, packed with harvest festivals and fall fairsamazing corn mazes, top spots for apple picking, and more. And be sure to check our Event Calendar for a full listing of happenings this weekend and beyond.

Weekend Fun: Thomas & Friends, Giant Pumpkin Carve, BrickFair 2017

Autumn is officially in full swing, and there's tons of fall fun to be had throughout the Garden State. This weekend, head to one of NJ's top family-friendly farms for events like the Great Pumpkin Festival at Heaven Hill Farm or the Fall Harvest Festival at Johnson's Corner Farm. Experience old-fashioned fun at Historic Longstreet Farm's Harvest Home Festival, or take a Harvest Moon Hayride at Alstede Farms.  

There's plenty of indoor action, too: everyone's favorite tank engine rolls into Liberty Science Center on Saturday in a STEM-focused exhibit called Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails, and it's all about LEGO this weekend at BrickFair 2017 in Edison. Plus, more than 20 NJ museums will offer free admission on Saturday as part of Smithsonian Museum Day Live.

Find many more ideas for weekend fun in our Fall Fun Guide, which is packed with fall fairsamazing corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and the best spots to go apple picking. And look to our Event Calendar for a full listing of happenings this weekend and beyond.

Weekend Fun: Corn Mazes, Alpacas, Teddy Bear Parade

If you're knee-deep in back-to-school prep, never fear—we've got you covered with ways to unwind this weekend. You can meet the sweet residents of Bluebird Farm Alpacas, learn a new outdoor skill at New Jersey WILD Outdoor Expo, and celebrate gram and gramps with a scenic Grandparents Day train ride.

Jump right into autumn with a visit to an apple orchard, get lost in one of NJ's amazing corn mazes, or head to Camden Children's Garden for its Hefty Harvest and Scary Scarecrows weekend. You can find even more fall fun activities in our list of 35 Things We Can't Wait To Do with NJ Kids This Fall.

For more options, take a look at our full Event Calendar and Fall Fun Guide for NJ Kids. And check out our Guide to NJ Classes and Enrichment Programs to find something new to engage your kiddo this school year.

Last but not least, visit our local DEALS page to score discounts on camps, classes, birthday party packages, and more for NJ kids. Check back often because we're constantly adding new ones.

Learn in the Great Outdoors at NJ Nature Preschools and Programs for Kids

As schools across the country cut recess in favor of test prep, and kids spend more time indoors staring at screens, there is a growing movement to reacquaint children with nature, free play, and the joy of exploring the great outdoors. Modeled after the forest kindergartens that have long been popular in Germany and Scandinavia, nature-based preschools, kindergartens, and other outdoor programs for young children are popping up all over the U.S., including New Jersey.

In these programs, children examine flora and fauna, climb trees, make art, splash in streams, play with mud, count sticks, sing, listen to stories, and more. Proponents of outdoor learning point to its many benefits, saying it can improve cognitive function and physical health, boost confidence and empathy, and even counter symptoms of ADHD. 

The Garden State offers a variety of options, from preschool programs that take place entirely outdoors to more traditional schools that place a premium on spending time outside. There are even parent-and-child classes, so grown-ups can get in on the fun, too. All promote child-led, unstructured play as a means to spark curiosity and foster learning and a love of nature. 

To find more opportunities for outdoor learning and exploration, check out NJ's great nature centers, and for a comprehensive selection of classes of all kinds, take a look at our guide to Classes and Enrichment Programs for NJ Kids

Labor Day Weekend Events for New Jersey Kids

The unofficial last weekend of summer is here, New Jersey, and it’s time to enjoy one final family outing before diving into school, schedules, and busy September. Choose from a variety of fairs and festivals, including St. Bart's Italian Festival in Scotch Plains and the Scandinavian Festival in Budd Lake. Learn all about penguins at Adventure Aquarium's Penguin Awareness Weekend, visit the PAW Patrol gang at Toys 'R' Us, and take a leisurely paddle on the Passaic River.

For a last blast of summer fun, squeeze in a trip to the Jersey Shore before the beaches officially close after Labor Day, cool off at one of the state's awesome family water parks, or spend a day at the lake. Just get there early, as parking lots are likely to overflow on the holiday weekend! Of course, the many Jersey theme parks, including those best for our youngest kids remain open this holiday weekend, too. 

If you're after an early taste of fall, head to the apple orchard: NJ's trees are already brimming with apples, and many farms like the popular Alstede kick off fall fun this weekend with corn mazes, hayrides, and other family entertainment. Find more long weekend outings in our Day Trips Guide, including under-the-radar gems like Duke Farms and Greenwood Gardens, plus cool towns, and destination-worthy playgrounds.

For even more options, take a look at our full Event Calendar and Summer Fun Guide. In a back-to-school state of mind? Check out our NJ Classes Guide to find something new to do this fall.

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