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.

Family-Friendly Walkable Towns in New Jersey

Do you ever crave a city scene while living in the suburbs? Like many New Jersey residents, I moved here from Manhattan years ago but still feel that itch for metropolitan perks, like walkability, diversity of restaurants and shops, and an energetic community hub. The good news is, there's no need to leave the state for city amenities. Explore great walkable downtowns right here in New Jersey, where you'll find both chain and independent shops, art museums, unique bookstores, delicious cafes serving up local eats, and more. If you choose to leave the car at home, most of these downtowns are in close proximity to New Jersey Transit trains or buses.

Whether a day trip destination or a quick stop for lunch and shopping, these great walkable downtowns are worth a visit. 

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.

Mini Dickens Village Opens in Maplewood for Holidays

There’s something about miniature things that draws the eye of both kids and grown-ups. Perhaps that’s why parents, toddlers and preteens alike are found peering into the windows of the 10 mini houses that make up the annual Dickens Village hosted in downtown Maplewood, New Jersey each holiday season for more than 50 years.

Each of the 10 houses, measuring over 6-feet tall, are decorated with holiday scenes from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and are lit with pretty candles and bedecked in wreaths and other seasonal décor.

You’ll find faux fireplaces, a nutcracker, Santa, of course, and an entire house filled with vintage children’s toys. The windows are low enough for even my 1-year-old to look into. I was surprised by how enthralled he and his preschool sister were with the whole thing. Several preteens zipped through the village with us, oohing and ahhing over the scene: “My favorite is the candy cane one! You can fit a bed in here!”

Top Indie Bookstores for New Jersey Families

New Jersey has many wonderful independent bookstores run by dedicated bibliophiles that offer children's programs, storytimes, indoor activities, and books galore for mom, dad, the tween, the toddler and the middle school age kid. Stop in during the holiday season to shop local, or year-round for children's birthdays. We know we don't need to tell you, dear reader, but there is nothing quite like a good book. 

The Best Playgrounds in South Orange and Maplewood

When my husband and I finally settled into our new neighborhood in Maplewood, one of the first questions we asked the locals was: “Are there any playgrounds nearby?” Luckily for us – and for our toddler – there are a myriad of playground options all within a 15-minute-or-less drive from most points in South Orange or Maplewood (known among locals as SOMA). There really is something for everyone. We’ve even got some tips on which playgrounds to hit at different times of the week – and which to try depending on the weather forecast. Read on!

South Mountain Reservation for Kids: Swings, Zoo, Fairy Trail

For an easy day hike with the kids, New Jersey’s local “reservations,” essentially mini state forests and parks, are my family’s go-to. The 2,110-acre South Mountain Reservation in Essex County is one of our favorites. The recreation complex includes hiking trails, but also a zoo, fairy trail, paddle boats, mini golf, and a fantastic playground.

Read on for our best family bets for this Jersey green space, or check out some of our other favorite NJ reservations like nearby Watchung, or day trip ideas.

Gardening Classes and Clubs for NJ Kids

Spring is in full bloom, and it’s the perfect time of year to dig into gardening. Planting flowers or vegetables is a hobby the whole family can enjoy together. Through gardening, young growers can learn about nature, the environment and nurturing living things. And, of course, they’ll love playing in the dirt. Check out these opportunities throughout our Garden State for children learn gardening basics and develop a green thumb.

Gobble Gobble! Fun Places For NJ Kids to Make Thanksgiving Crafts

After the Halloween hoopla filled with candy & costumes and before the December cookie baking & gift frenzy, Thanksgiving brings a slower pace to the seasonal festivities in my house, allowing us to recharge with family and a delicious meal. In my kids eyes, Thanksgiving can seem a tad…well, boring compared to the spooky decorations we put out for Halloween and the gingerbread houses we construct come Christmas. I love Thanksgiving and want it to be a meaningful time for my family - and that means getting them involved. Check out these fun Thanksgiving Day craft events happening all throughout the month of November, where kids can roll up their sleeves and get into the Turkey Day groove - and maybe bring home a little something to decorate your holiday table too!

Open Houses and Free Trial Classes: After-School Enrichment Options for NJ Kids

So we're back in school. We're packing lunches, going to PTA meetings. and overseeing homework. And we're probably starting to wrap our minds around figuring out some enrichment classes to fill in the gaps and/or add some sparkle to the process. Open houses and free trial classes make the hunt for great classes a little more do-able, which is why we offer this list of 10 great places that offer chances to try it out for free, either in the coming weeks or - in many cases - all year long. And for more enrichment options, check out our Enrichment Programs, Classes and Activities Guide.


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