Top Kid-Friendly Resorts in and Near New Jersey

The very best family vacations are the ones where there's something fun for every family member to do, and kid-friendly resorts offer just that. If you can locate a destination that's within an easy driving distance, even better!

Fortunately, the Garden State and surrounding areas offer plenty of spots where you can rest, recharge, and enjoy a little recreation without the hassle of long-distance travel. Whether you want a beachy getaway down the Shore, or indoor/outdoor adventures in the Hudson Valley or the Poconos (including lots of water park fun), we've rounded up a dozen close-to-home holiday havens that all but guarantee a great time for the whole crew.

Weekend Fun: UFO Fair, Story Pirates, Cupcake Festival

Be forewarned: there are so many fun, family-friendly events happening this weekend that the task of picking and choosing may be difficult! Dominating the lineup are spring festivals in Westchester and the Hudson Valley, with celebrations of various sorts—even the extraterrestrial.

Returning this year is Celebrate Pinkster, a festival honoring a historic African-American spring celebration, featuring drumming, dancing, cuisine, and more. Carnival season kicks off with the St. Patrick’s Annual Carnival's rides, games, and cotton candy. For out-of-this-world fun, resistance is futile at the annual UFO Fair (and, for that matter, at the tantalizing Gardiner Cupcake Festival). And, for a robust agenda of hands-on art fun using assorted media, don’t miss the annual Family Arts Bash.

Read on for our top weekend picks, and visit each listing for complete details. Consult our May GoList and our Event Calendar to plan ahead, and stay in the know by signing up for our newsletters!

Weekend Fun for Chicago Kids: Festivals, Legos, Turtles, Free Museums

Spring is on a roll in Chicago (finally), with family-friendly festivals and events that include the grand finale of the Lilac Time festival in Lombard, with parades of both pups and people, as well as the weekend-long snack fest at Taste of Glen Ellyn. Also this weekend, kids can bounce, walk, or roll in support of a cure at the Cure SMA Walk-N-Roll on Saturday in Westmont or Cure Jump-a-Thon at Altitude Chicago on Sunday.

Nature-loving kids can celebrate and help protect wildlife in the city at a special bird-watching walk at McKinley Park, or honor World Turtle Day (yes, that's a thing) at Tea With the Turtles at Peggy Notebaert—don't forget to play at the super-cool TreeHouses exhibit while you're there.

Lucky for us, Chicago is home to a treasure trove of incredible museums—the Wired to Wear exhibit at the MSI is a must-see—but did you know that some of Chicago's niftiest museums are way off Museum Campus? Check out Elmhurst's trio of museums at Sunday's Museum Day, when the Elmhurst Art Museum, the Elmhurst History Museum, and the wonderfully funky Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art all open their doors for FREE. (Anyone who remembers the old Santa's Village will dig the Elmhurst History Museum's exhibit devoted to Chicago's local amusement parks.) 

Meanwhile, Lego fans won't want to miss the Brookfield Zoo's new Brick Safari, and kids can keep building toward the future at the Chicago Architecture Center's Lego Build Workshop dedicated to Aqua Tower on Sunday.

For more spring and summer fun for Chicago families, see our bustling event calendar.

Weekend Fun for Philly Kids: Festivals, International Museum Day, Nature May 18-19

Decision, decisions! What should Philly parents plan for family fun during this May weekend?  From checking out festivals to exploring museums to getting outdoors, kids and grown ups alike are bound to have a smile on their faces with the activities found in our event calendar.

Begin by attending a local festival. Some celebrate Italian cuisine and culture while others feature red-ripe berries and tasty rhubarb. Still others showcase comic book fun. As if that weren't enough, there is a country fair, carnival, and even a circus happening this weekend! After indulging in delicious eats and festival excitement, retreat inside to explore one of the many museums taking part in International Museum Day throughout the city. Round out the weekend by flying a kite at Fonthill Castle, racing duckies in the Rubber Ducky Regatta, or showing a park some love at Cedar Grove.

So pack up the diaper bag, message some friends, and check out the fun happening in the Delaware Valley.

The Wonder Opens in Tribeca: New Members-Only Family Hub

Play spaces are big business in NYC, with new kid-friendly play spots popping up annually. Some offer drop-in play while others are members-only, and all are seemingly kid-centered, with padded walls and brightly colored playthings. Now there's a new kid on the block attempting to reinvent family fun, with the arrival of The Wonder in the stroller-packed Tribeca neighborhood.

This new members-only space offers an ultra-cool hangout spot that aims to cater to both adults and children. Co-owned by two NYC moms who wanted somewhere other than their apartments to connect with each other—and their kids—over a glass of wine and playtime, The Wonder isn't cheap, but it just might be a new model for play spaces in NYC. Read on for a peek inside.

Weekend Fun for Houston Kids: General Sam Houston Folk Festival, Houston Greek Fest, May 18-19

Get ready to dive into the weekend, because there are no shortage of underwater-focused adventures happening around Houston this Saturday and Sunday! Here's a taste of what to expect:

  • The Downtown Aquarium is hosting Endangered Species Day to highlight how YOU can help save our endangered friends through a variety of interactive events.
  • Jesse H. Jones Park and Nature Center is putting on Fish of Spring Creek, where kids can get up close and personal with local freshwater friends and learn all about them.
  • It's Bay Day at the Boardwalk! Head to Kemah for one day of arts and crafts, wildlife presentations, touch tanks, a scavenger hunt, and more.
  • Feel like a drive down to the Island? The 11th Annual Galveston Island Beach Revue offers a weekend full of live music, a vintage car and trailer show, the famous "Bathing Beauties Contest," craft beer booths for the adults, and plenty of family fun.
  • Plus you can always rent kayaks & RC boats to take out on Kinder Lake. 

And just in case the weather takes a turn, we have 35 rainy day activities for the kids so that you aren't stuck inside your house all weekend with nothing to do. You might even stumble upon a hidden gem in Houston you didn't know about when you start tackling the places and things to do on this list!

Don't forget to also take advantage of everything highlighted on our May GoList and Free Things to Do with Houston Kids in May list, and check out our Spring Fun Guide and event calendar.

No matter what you choose to do, one thing is for sure: this weekend is going to be a great one!

Weekend Fun for DC Kids: Festivals, Fun Runs, Theater May 18-19, 2019

This weekend, our events calendar is blooming with fun ideas and events for families. Enjoy the warm spring days with  a number of family-friendly festivals, from books in Maryland to a celebration of Asian culture in DC. Or perhaps a fun run is more your family's speed? There are 5k and shorter options this weekend to get you and yours working up a sweat for a good cause.

Head indoors to take in a theater show perfect for the littles or for your inner big green ogre. Need more ideas for the weekend? Check out our events calendar for more happenings. 

Don't miss out! Sign up for our free newsletter and stay up-to-date on the best things to do in Washington DC with kids.

10 Underrated NYC Parks You (Probably) Haven't Visited Yet

Central Park, Prospect Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park—even if you only just arrived in NYC, we probably don't need to tell you that these are all must-see green spaces. But did you know that according to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, 14 percent of the city is parkland? That's more than 30,000 acres!

So if you're looking for a new-to-you outdoor destination to explore, we've got 10 off-the-beaten-path parks worth putting on your NYC family bucket list. Some are massive and boast a wide array of attractions for all seasons; others are small but picturesque and host popular annual events for families. With months of outdoor play weather ahead of us, check out this list and visit some of the city's best hidden gems.

Weekend Fun: NJ Renaissance Faire, Mayfest, Ocean Fun Days

A busy May weekend is a "shore" thing, with oceans of fun taking place Saturday and Sunday. Head to the Jersey Shore for delicious eats at the 33rd Annual New Jersey Seafood Festival, family-friendly nature activities during Ocean Fun Days, and a lively Mayfest in Historic Smithville. 

Whether your brood is into vehicles or fairies and pirates, this something for everyone to enjoy this weekend. Climb aboard all kinds of vehicles at touch-a-truck festivities in Scotch Plains and Westville, and explore aircraft at Open Cockpit Weekends. Have fantasy-filled fun at the 10th Annual Princess and Pirate Festival and The New Jersey Renaissance Faire. And take time to take in performances, including The Illusionists, Laurie Berkner, Roxey Ballet's Cinderella, and a live version of Double Dare

Find even more weekend options in our Spring Guide, including 13 NJ Restaurants with Kid-Friendly Backyards and Outdoor Dining. And look to our May GoList and event calendar for a complete listing of happenings this weekend and beyond.

Splash Parks, Sprinklers, and Water Playgrounds in Orange County Parks

When summer finally hits, Southland families are looking for water, water everywhere. There's hanging at the beach or playing in a pool, but fun places with splash pads and water features rank pretty high on a summer bucket list. Little kids, bigger kids, and even the occasional parent (yes, you!) can cool off on a hot day without tons of planning or tons of waste. Let's face it: playing in the water is just plain fun—and if you keep an extra towel in the car, you're always ready.

Check out some of these free water play parks and sprinklers around Orange County. Most are open Memorial Day to Labor Day, though we recommend calling to confirm before heading out, as water conservation efforts may sometimes be in effect.

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