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A Dozen Must-Do Holiday and Christmas Experiences for NJ Kids

This year, 2018, has the earliest possible date for Thanksgiving: November 22. What we lost in turkey prep time, we'll make up for in a lovely, elongated holiday season on the road to Christmas and New Year's. In between your Christmas shopping and holiday to-dos, we've assembled our annual list of activities kids will love—and won't cost an arm and a leg. From holiday light shows to breakfast with Santa to Christmas trains, we’ve compiled 12 great memory-making activities for this month.

Check out our full calendar of events and our holiday guide for even more options.

New Indigo Bookstore Brings Kid-Friendly Fun to Short Hills Mall

I have fond memories of finding a quiet spot to read Curious George in Waldenbooks and B. Dalton as a child. Then in college, I flocked to Barnes & Noble and Borders, which offered cool cafes and products beyond just books.

But other than Barnes & Noble, it seems most of the big bookstore chains wrote the last page in their stories years ago. You don’t hear about too many bookstore openings these days—until now.

Indigo, Canada’s largest bookseller, opened its first U.S. location in the Short Hills Mall last month, and it’s just what we needed. Billed as a "cultural department store," Indigo is a cross between an upscale bookstore and Crate & Barrel, with neutral colors, clean style, and an elegant use of space. But most importantly, there is a huge children’s section, complete with plenty of space to play and explore, as well as a calendar packed with storytimes and special events, like the recent visit from Goosebumps author R.L. Stine. 

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 21 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!

Best Trick-or-Treating Neighborhoods for New Jersey Kids

Halloween is nearly here, and in several New Jersey neighborhoods the locals are thinking, “Bring it on!” These Halloween-obsessed towns deck out their homes every year with fabulous decorations that delight trick-or-treaters big and small. Others turn their streets into festive Halloween block parties.

Where can you join in the fun near your home? We’ve compiled a list of more than 30 towns and neighborhoods that are worth a visit. Those who make the trip can expect lots of treats—not to mention some prime photo ops.

Find more fun in our New Jersey Halloween Guide, including pumpkin patches and the best FREE Halloween events for local kids.

Paterson Great Falls: History and Natural Beauty for NJ Families

Waterfalls are one of those treasures in life that we don’t often come across—but when we do, we’re mesmerized.

While New Jersey has a handful of picturesque cascades, most are tucked away on hiking trails or in wooded areas, such as Hemlock Falls in the South Mountain Reservation in West Orange or Boonton Falls in Grace Lord Park in Boonton.

If you’re not much of a backpacker, however, or are just looking for a quick jaunt, check out Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park in Paterson. It’s an easy day trip with a view to remember—and one you can drive right up to.

The Village Play Cafe: Fun for Littles and Fuel for Moms and Dads

It takes a village, right? It’s something I believe so strongly ever since my son was born last year—so I feel like I stumbled upon my soulmates when I found out about The Village Play Cafe in Chatham. Just opened in July, this indoor play space is truly the hautest hive for mamas and their baby bees (ages 1–5) to come for the day to work, play, and leave feeling energized and excited to take on the rest of the week. At least that’s how I felt when I walked out of their doors earlier this week.

Polar Express and Christmas Trains for New Jersey Kids

Every year, New Jersey's railroads get decked out in their holiday best to offer special Christmas-themed rides for the whole family. Wait—Christmas? We know, it's a bit early to start hauling out the holly, but these rides are a popular holiday tradition, and they sell out fast!

Though these trains don't go all the way to the North Pole, most include a visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, along with treats, caroling, and stories. One storybook Santa train invites kids to wear their pajamas and hear a classic Christmas story read aloud on the rails, while another ferries passengers to a Christmas tree farm.

Read on to find out where to take a holiday train ride with Santa Claus, and book your tickets as soon as possible. Then you can put Christmas aside for a while and get back to your fall fun.  

20 Family-Friendly Things To Do with NJ Kids in Westfield

Warning: It may take just one visit to fall seriously in love with Westfield. This Union County town off the Route 22 corridor is known for its beautiful tree-lined residential streets and smart downtown with great restaurants and shopping. Though Westfield is just 6.29 square miles, families have a host of options for enjoying this great town with a sophisticated but homey feel.

Best Halloween Events for New Jersey Preschoolers

"Trick-or-treat!" Kids of all ages love reciting those magic words in exchange for bags filled with goodies. Walking through the streets and knocking on strangers’ doors late in the evening, however, may not be the best option for toddlers and preschoolers. Luckily, New Jersey offers plenty of opportunities for safe trick-or-treating in controlled environments. From pumpkin farms to amusement parks to community events, you can experience the fun of trick-or-treating without worry at these structured, family-friendly outings.

Read on for 20 fun ways to celebrate the holiday with little ones, and find even more Halloween happenings in our Event Calendar and Halloween Guide.

25+ Fun Things To Do with NJ Kids on Columbus Day

If you're scratching your head to come up with some fun ways to spend Columbus Day with kids who are home from school, look no further. We've pulled together a list of more than two dozen fun family outings that NJ kids are bound to love, from picking pumpkins to visiting sea turtles. You can find many more options in our Fall Fun Guide—and if the weather's looking iffy, check out our Indoor Playspace Guide for a backup plan!

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