Free Summer Outdoor Movies for New Jersey Families

See your favorite stars under the stars this summer, when beaches and parks throughout the state host free outdoor movies on supersized screens. Bring along a blanket or beach chair (and maybe a little bug spray), and enjoy all those big-screen family hits you may have missed during the school year—or check our some of your family's favorite flicks for a second or third time, minus the ticket fee. Some venues offer food vendors, and some provide pre-show fun.

We've also included some free, and nearly-free, indoor options for those days you feel like chilling in the AC.

Check individual venues for movie listings and alternate rain plans.  

Best Beaches Near NYC for a Summer Family Staycation

Summertime means beach time, but while there are lots of beaches near and even in NYC, some are more family friendly than others. After packing up your gear and schlepping the kids by car, train, bus, or ferry, the last thing you want to find out is that your chosen beach has no bathroom or that bathing suits are optional. Skip the guesswork with our roundup of eight easy-to-reach beaches for NYC families, including detailed info on attractions, food, bathrooms, and hidden costs. Most are within two hours of Manhattan by car and are easily accessible via public transportation as well, so you can plot a great staycation for your family.

Find more beach fun in our Beaches, Pools, and Water Playgrounds Guide, or check out these summer day trip ideas.

Visiting the Met Cloisters with Kids: Best of NYC's Medieval Museum

One of my favorite memories from childhood was a visit to The Met Cloisters with my mother. Growing up on Long Island, any trip to the city was a special treat, and I still remember the neighborhood beauty of Washington Heights and Inwood. But it was the ascent into Manhattan's Fort Tryon Park that created a sense of lure and mystery. The Met Cloisters, which appeared to me like a castle in the sky, inspired a love of learning I would eventually share with my own children.

Decades later, I brought my own children to the Cloisters museum to experience the magic of its medieval chapels, sculptures, tapestries, gardens, and paintings—all of us dressed in Renaissance regalia to fully immerse ourselves in the experience! Here's what to know to make the most of your visit to The Met Cloisters, one of NYC's suggested admission museums where children 12 and under are always FREE.

An Urban Oasis: Exploring Mill River Park in Stamford

If you told me ten years ago that I would be walking through a serene landscape along the Mill River in Stamford, I would have laughed. But that’s exactly what my daughter and I found ourselves doing on this absolutely beautiful day. The landscape here has changed dramatically over the past decade - and I’m not just talking about the high-rise condos that have taken over Stamford. With the help of the Army Corps of Engineers and civic collaboration, Stamford now houses a “world-class park in the heart of downtown Stamford.”  

Outdoor Beer Gardens Where Kids Can Play While Parents Enjoy a Cold One

Sitting outside on a hot day with a cold brew screams "summer." But for parents with young kids, relaxing with a beer doesn't always come easy. However, the Philly area's rich beer culture can be enjoyed, even if it isn't a date night out. The following pop-up beer gardens are a lot of fun - yes, even with the kids in tow. More of a wine drinker? Then check out these family-friendly wineries in the Delaware Valley. 

Muppets Take over the Skirball this Summer in the Jim Henson Exhibition

The Skirball Cultural Center is already a fantastic kids' destination, mostly because of the incomparable Noah’s Ark exhibit (add it to your list of great indoor places to take kids during the summer). Combine that awesomeness with this summer’s Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited (you know, Muppets?) and you have a must-go for Angeleno families. 

Best Amusement Parks Near NYC Reachable by Public Transportation

If you're feeling nostalgic for a summer adventure filled with cotton candy and Ferris wheel rides, it might be time for some family-friendly fun at a nearby theme park. There's no shortage of amusement parks and water parks for New York City-based thrill-seekers, but if you don't have a car, some parks can seem out of reach. Fear not, we’ve rounded up the best amusement parks that are easily accessible from NYC via public transportation. Remember the sunscreen—and forget the parking (and rental) headaches.

Find more summer fun in our Theme and Water Parks Guide.

The Long Awaited CTrail Hartford Train Line Opens This Weekend!

After several years of anticipation, the CTrail Hartford train line to Springfield opens Father's Day weekend. Spend a fun day on the train with your train enthusiast. You can hop on the train in New Haven and go all the way to Springfield with stops in Wallingford, Meriden, Berlin, Hartford, Windsor, and Windsor Locks on the way. The Hartford Line will provide you with an opportunity to check out some of the coolest places at each stop including bakeries, museums, mini-golf, and more. In celebration of opening weekend, all rides are free! Check out our suggestions on what to do at each stop. Some locations that we recommend may need an uber to get to them. Many are within walking distance. 

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