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Best Nature Centers in New Jersey to Visit with Kids

If you’re feeling burned out on indoor play spaces and museums, and longing for spring, try a visit to of New Jersey's awesome nature centers. No need to worry if the weather's still a little iffy—there are plenty throughout the state with programs happening year-round.

We've rounded up 10 nature centers that combine both indoor and outdoor fun for kids of all ages. Spend some time exploring nature and checking out hands-on exhibits and activities that explain our local flora and fauna. Most places on our list are open year-round, except for major holidays.

Birthday Party Spots for NJ Kids with Both Indoor and Outdoor Play

Every fall, I face the same dilemma planning my girls’ birthday party. Do I take advantage of the crisp autumn weather with an outdoor venue? Or do I play it safe with something indoors? Planning a party is stressful enough in any season, without the added anxiety over weather. If an outdoor party is what you have in mind, don’t let Mother Nature put a damper on your child’s special day. From nature centers to water parks, the following party venues offer outdoor party options with indoor alternatives.

For even more ideas for fun in our NJ Kids' Birthday Party Guide.

Horse and Riding Summer Camps for New Jersey Kids

if the sound of neighing is music to your child's ears, then these are the camps for you! Lots of New Jersey barns teach riding skills, along with horse grooming, tacking up, and equipment care. Many of the horse camps also offer traditional summer camp activities, such as swimming and arts and crafts, along with mini July sessions (for children who are just getting in the saddle for the first time, and not quite ready for a full week of equestrian adventuring) and both half and full-day itineraries. To find more New Jersey summer camps, be sure to check out our Camp Guide and Full Directory of Listings

15 Great Summer Tennis Camps in New Jersey

It may be winter, but it’s never too early to start thinking about summer camp. From day camps to art camps to riding and horse camps, the options in New Jersey are endless. If you’re looking to get your little Serena Williams some fundamental instruction or give your beginner basic lessons, try a week long tennis camp for fitness, team play and overall summer fun! And to find out all the day camp options in NJ, check out our New Jersey Summer Day Camp Guide.

A Dozen Fun Things to Do with Kids at Duke Farms in Hillsborough, NJ

If biking, hiking, and learning about nature sounds like great fun for your family, plan a trip to Duke Farms. Open to the public since 2012, this 2,740-acre ecological treasure located in Hillsborough offers diverse wildlife, hiking trails, and interesting educational programs. This park is perfect for exploring the outdoors in all seasons. Here are a dozen ways to take it all in at Duke Farms.

KidStreet Playground: Playdate Perfection in Bridgewater, NJ

Slides? Check. Swings? Check. Two-story pirate ship, zip lines, and enormous climbing structures? Check, check, and check. KidStreet isn't your average playground

Located minutes from Bridgewater Commons Mall at the Bridgewater Municipal Complex, this unique spot is one that your family will want to visit again and again. KidStreet is a favorite hangout for my kids, ages 6, 3, and 9 months. It has a fantastic layout with special playground equipment you won’t come across just anywhere, and it's perfect for playdates, with plenty of parent seating areas and fun things to do for kids of all ages—even the big kids. Read on for an inside look at this hidden gem.

New Jersey Playgrounds Cool Enough for Big Kids

Playgrounds are the perfect destination for a warm, sunny day in New Jersey. Your kids get fresh air and exercise...for FREE! But what happens when your school-aged children decide they’re too cool for their once-favorite neighborhood parks? My 8-year-old former playground-enthusiasts have recently begun to turn their noses up at the local swings and slides. And if I do talk them into a playground visit, we last about five minutes.

Playground moms—don’t give up yet. I haven’t! There are some destination playgrounds in New Jersey with features and contraptions novel enough to satisfy even the pickiest playground cynics. These play areas include zip lines, crazy slides, Spiderman-type climbers, and other structures that will challenge the ages 7-and-up crowd. We've rounded up some of our top picks across the state, and please note: these playgrounds all feature plenty to entertain the younger siblings as well.

Find more romping spots in our Parks & Playgrounds Guide for Jersey Kids.

Kids' Classes and Fun Family Activities at NJ Community Colleges

Your child might not be old enough to head off to college, but there are plenty of offerings for kids at New Jersey's many community colleges. There are about 20 community colleges throughout the state, and they offer everything from music programs to STEM classes. We've put together a list of some of the best classes and enrichment activities for tots to teens. Some summer camps are noted, but for a longer list of options, be sure to check out our Summer Camp Guide.

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