Union

Echo Lake Park Offers Year-Round Fun for NJ Families

In the midst of New Jersey's Union County's busy highways lies a grassy, spacious retreat known as Echo Lake Park. The sprawling park offers an escape from the bustling surrounding towns and truly provides something for everyone, even the family pet.

At the heart of the park is the scenic Echo Lake, home to activities such as boating, fishing, and ice skating, as well as several peaceful walking paths. Surrounding the lake are green hills, ball fields, playgrounds, a dog park, and a snack bar. Echo Lake hosts a variety of seasonal activities, from sledding to Halloween fun to summer concerts. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or a day of activity, you can get the best of both worlds here.

NJ Cat Cafes: Purr-fect for Feline-Loving Kids and Families

If you're a cat-lover who craves a new place to sip a cappuccino while enjoying some downtime with your kids, then you're in luck: the cat cafe trend has officially arrived in New Jersey. Three kitty cafes have opened in the Garden State since July 2016—in Asbury Park, Rahway, and Palmyra—and the best part is, they're all kid-friendly. Guests big and small are encouraged to pick up a toy and get down on the floor to interact with the cafe's feline friends. For kids who go gaga for kitties, it's a cool alternative to a traditional indoor play space—and, since all of the four-legged residents are up for adoption, you just might leave with a new best friend.

Read on for more about NJ's three cat cafes and get ready to plan an a-meow-zing visit. 

Great NJ Gardens and Lush Arboretums To Explore with Kids

New Jersey is teeming with amazing outdoor places to take active kids—everything from nature centers to Jersey Shore lighthouses offer a multitude of fun events for little ones. But our beautiful state arboretums and gardens are often overlooked. These fabulous green spaces offer a great opportunity for children to see nature up close. Many locations also host educational and engaging programs, featuring activities such as gardening, hiking, and scavenger hunts.

As spring shifts into high gear, gather the kids and head to these beautiful local gardens. We're not known as the Garden State for nothing!

New Sky Zone in Springfield Lets NJ Kids Grab Some Air

Trampoline parks are all the rage these days, and Union County families are jumping at the chance to try a brand-new option on the Route 22 corridor. Sky Zone Springfield is the newest location in the Sky Zone family, where kids of all ages (and adults) can burn off some serious energy all year round with a variety of fun, indoor attractions. Just don some non-slip grippy Sky Socks, and prepare to defy gravity.

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.

Special Needs Summer Camps in New Jersey

Summer camp is a pastime that every child should have the opportunity to experience, and for parents with little ones with special needs, it can be incredibly frustrating and tedious to pinpoint programs that are good fits for their sons and daughters. Because there are so many more sensory and developmental factors a special needs parent needs to consider, it can be overwhelming at times. So, here is a small list of camps that not only accommodate, but cater to, children on the autism spectrum as well as children with developmental disabilities. 

You can find more New Jersey summer camps in 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.

Quaint and Quirky Holiday Celebrations for New Jersey Families

We all have our favorite family holiday traditions, whether it’s viewing an annual light display, cutting down a fresh Christmas tree, or having breakfast with Santa. All good stuff, to be sure. But if you’re looking to shake things up this year, try an experience you won't find at your local mega-mall.

One option is to go small: New Jersey’s charming small towns play host to a variety of quaint holiday happenings, from Dickens carolers to Christmas Candlelight House Tours.

If you're after something truly unique, NJ has plenty of that, too. You can celebrate Christmas Underwater at Adventure Aquarium, get festive with the furry residents of Bluebird Farm Alpacas, or explore an animated wonderland at the Christmas Ice Caverns.

Who knows? One of these activities might become your family’s new holiday favorite. Check out our roundup below for some great small-town and off-the-beaten-path fun. For more ways to celebrate the festive holiday season, visit our Holiday Fun Guide.

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