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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.

Top Birthday Party Places for Preschoolers in New Jersey

While big-kid birthday party places often offer options for little kids, sometimes even those choices can be a bit too grown-up. So, when it comes to planning a party for a younger child, one option is to host the celebration at home. But if you'd rather not have a gaggle of cake-fueled little ones running wild at your house (no judgment), we’ve compiled a list of 10 spots around New Jersey that specialize in hosting parties for the preschool and toddler set. 

Read on for a list of cool play spaces, play cafes, kiddie gyms, and even an animal-centric option. And find even more ideas for fun in our NJ Kids' Birthday Party Guide.

Top Birthday Party Places for Kids in New Jersey

It's time to party, New Jersey! We've rounded up 15 of our favorite places to celebrate in the Garden State. Whether your birthday kid is into cooking, laser taggingbouncing, or crafting, there's a place that's perfect for hosting your next bash. And if you're looking for more specific ideas—for a first birthday, perhaps, or the best spots for preschoolers' parties—be sure to check out our NJ Kids' Birthday Party Ideas Guide

Top Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks in New Jersey

Looking for an outdoor winter activity for the whole family? There are a number of outdoor ice skating rinks in NJ where you can take a skating lesson, play hockey, or just grab a hot chocolate and go for a spin during a public session. Of course, if you feel like staying indoors, you can always check out our list of the Best Indoor Ice Skating Rinks in NJ. And for more wintry sports, try our Ski & Snow Guide.

A Dozen New Party Spots to Celebrate Kids' Birthdays in New Jersey

New year, new birthday party to plan! And luckily for Garden State parents, there are new party places popping up every day. From just-teed-up trampoline parks to Brooklyn-transplant ice cream parlors, these new-to-Jersey hot spots have more than enough hype to meet your little ones’ birthday riders. Check out some of the newbies below—and if you need more inspiration, brush up on our list of the best places for kids to party in NJ. The old standbys never fail to make them smile!

Top 12 Indoor Play Spaces Across New Jersey

Looking for an indoor play space that makes your jaw drop and your kids jump for joy? We've rounded up a dozen of the biggest and best spots for playing, jumping, bouncing, climbing, and thrill-seeking throughout New Jersey. 

The Garden State is home to tons of awesome play spaces, and it was tough choosing just 12. We limited our list to those with major wow factor—places where you can tackle a Ninja Warrior–style obstacle course, play laser tag, climb on and through play mazes, bounce on inflatables and trampolines, play arcade games, scale rock walls, and even go roller skating or bowling. While most of these spots aren't specifically geared toward the smaller set, all have areas and/or times set aside just for them. 

Read on to find out which fun zones made the cut. And for even more options, check out our guide to indoor play spaces, where you'll find drop-in play for $15 or less, the best trampoline parks and bounce houses in NJ, and much more. 

Cheap Thrills: 20 Drop-in Play Spaces for NJ Kids That Cost $15 or Less

When it’s too cold for the playground, and another playdate at home seems dull (or, to be honest, too stressful), taking your kid to a warm indoor play space is a welcome respite for the whole family. 

New Jersey has no shortage of indoor playgrounds from North Jersey to South Jersey, plenty of which offer drop-in hours. Still, many of these hot spots require long-term memberships or pricey entrance fees that often run $20 to $25 per child for a single drop-in.

When you just need someplace clean, fun and warm for your kids to play—that's not your living room—we found 20 indoor gems, all for $15 per child or significantly less, and some that are absolutely free! Your kids still get out of the house to experience a play space where everything seems new to them, and you don't have to clean up after, or empty your wallet! 

And don't forget your nearby shopping mall, where you'll often find low-key indoor playgrounds where kids can work out the wiggles while you shop. 

Find more indoor fun spots in our local NJ guide, or try these at-home boredom busters for days when you just want to stay in. If you find yourself with a full day to fill and you're up for a little more adventure, plan a winter day trip.

Restaurants Open for Thanksgiving Dinner in New Jersey

Not feeling up to hosting Thanksgiving this year? Here's something to be thankful for: There are plenty of restaurants open throughout the state on Thanksgiving Day. Having your holiday out means that you can sit back and enjoy the party—and you won't have to wash a single dish.

We've chosen 20 of New Jersey's best spots to enjoy a holiday feast. Call ahead for a reservation, and then use your extra time to plan some fall fun with the family, or try out one of these Thanksgiving crafts. Happy Thanksgiving!

Harvest Festivals, Hayrides, and Fall Fair Fun in New Jersey

The air is crisp, the apples are ripe, and fall fair and harvest festival season is about to get underway! We've rounded up two dozen great harvest fests in New Jersey, all packed with signature autumn activities like hayrides, corn mazes, pumpkin decorating (and picking), pie contests, scarecrow making, live animals, live music, and more. Some even incorporate a little early Halloween fun.

Read on to find an event near you, including the Great Pumpkin Festival, the Fall Festival at Spruce Street Harbor Park, the Blackwood Pumpkin Festival, and more.

For more seasonal activities around the Garden State, be sure to check out our Fall Fun Guide and our list of 35 Things We Can't Wait To Do with NJ Kids This Fall

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