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Best Fall Fairs and Festivals for NJ Families in September

As the carefree days of summer draw to a close, NJ families can look forward to plenty of fun in the Garden State this fall. Explore nature at the NJ Wild Outdoor Expo, chow down on delicious seafood at the Atlantic City Seafood Festival, or listen to some exciting tales at the NJ Storytelling Festival.

Check out the 13 awesome festivals below, and visit our Events Calendar for more fabulous fall ideas! And sign up for our FREE newsletters to get the best local events and reviews delivered right to your inbox.

Stargazing in NJ: Best Views, Observatories, Astronomy Clubs

If you have a little Galileo on your hands, you're in luck: New Jersey is home to a myriad of majestic outdoor stargazing locations, as well as many public observatories and astronomy clubs for the truly dedicated. With the proper equipment, information, and planning, your family can get an up-close look at planets, star clusters, and the moon. 

Continue your celestial exploration at area planetariums, including those at Liberty Science Center and the Newark Museum

Happy stargazing, NJ!

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. 

Medieval Times: Thrilling Dinner Theater for New Jersey Families

Hear ye, hear ye! My family recently had an AMAZING outing to Medieval Times in Lyndhurst, with dinner and an exciting live show featuring knights on horseback, jousting matches, sword fights, games of skill, and more.

Medieval Times has been wowing New Jersey audiences since 1990, and this year this Medieval realm got a modern update: rather than the King ruling the castle, the Queen is now the centerpiece. In the new show, she has taken over the kingdom from her father and presides over the tournament. Love the girl-power vibe!

Whether your little prince or princess is a toddler, teen, or somewhere in between, this is truly an outing the whole family can enjoy together. Read on to find out what you can expect during a visit to the castle, and check out more themed restaurants here

Explore Lush Gardens and Nature with Kids at Reeves-Reed Arboretum

The perfect antidote to the stress of crazy family schedules might well be Mother Nature herself—and Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit is just the place to stop and smell the roses.

The Arboretum is not your average park outing; this serene Union County oasis offers some unique and interesing ways to learn about and experience the outdoors while giving the whole family some much needed R&R.

20+ August Fairs and Festivals for New Jersey Families

When it comes to fairs and festivals, August in New Jersey is like one big party! Flutter over to Pennington for a Butterfly Festival, indulge in sweet summer peaches at Princeton's Just Peachy Festival, or enjoy classic fair fun like carnival rides and games at a county fair. With so many options, the family calendar will be packed all month long.

Read on for our top picks, and find more ways to make the most of August with our Summer Fun Guide.

Land of Make Believe: A Charming Family-Friendly Amusement Park in NJ

For more than 60 years, Land of Make Believe in Hope, NJ, has entertained and amused families and kids of all ages. Designed as an amusement park where kids and adults can have fun together, there’s literally something for everyone. And the best part is that it’s affordable. The Pay-One-Price policy covers both the amusement park rides and water park, giving you the convenience to move from attraction to attraction without the hassle of endlessly having to reach into your pocket. Parking is also free, and you can even bring your own food and drinks to picnic right inside the park.

Perhaps you visited Land of Make Believe when you were a kid. I know I did. That’s why I was eager to talk a walk down memory lane and introduce my 5-year-old daughter to the thrills and adventures of my own youth. While I found that a lot has changed since then, the essence of this charming amusement park remains.

Read on to experience a bit of this magical-sounding amusement park for yourself.

Where To Rent Paddleboats and Rowboats in New Jersey

Looking for a great summer outing that’ll float the family’s boat? A ride in a paddleboat (sometimes called a pedal boat) or rowboat offers panoramic views of New Jersey's scenic parks and lakes, and an opportunity for family time that may actually be peaceful. 

Paddleboat rentals are available throughout the state. Check the specific paddling locations for any age or weight restrictions, then sit back and enjoy the ride. (And don't forget the sunscreen!)

Feeling more adventurous? Find the best places for tubing and rafting in and around NJ.

Brookhollow’s Barnyard: A Sweet NJ Petting Zoo with the Cutest Animals

I’ve lived in New Jersey my entire life—30 years—and I’m devastated that it’s taken me so long to learn about Brookhollow’s Barnyard, a sweet petting farm that is Boonton's best kept secret. The family-run farm not only entertained my own baby animal, but it kept my husband and me smiling for hours (on one of the most humid mornings of the summer, yet!).

If you’re antsy to zip away from your own zany zoo at home, and have a few hours to kill on an upcoming weekend, you have to check this place out. And check out our guide to NJ farms for even more family-friendly fun, from pick-your-own fruit to top "agritainment" centers.

Turtle Back Zoo: New Animals, Exhibits, and Tons of Nearby Fun

On a cuteness scale of one to 10, penguins rank an 11 in my book. So, after driving to the Turtle Back Zoo one recent rainy morning, my 8- and 10-year-old daughters and I made our first stop at the zoo's newest attraction: the Shores of Africa Penguin Exhibit. Shores of Africa is the latest addition to Turtle Back's African Adventure, where you'll also find Masai giraffes, lions, hyenas, ostrich, and the highly endangered Bontebok antelope.

If you haven't been to the zoo in a while or find the Bronx Zoo to be a bit too much for either your wallet or your children's attention span, Turtle Back is definitely worth the drive to Essex County. Part of the South Mountain Recreation Complex, the zoo offers an extensive array of animals, plus plenty of nearby fun—including a treetop adventure course, mini-golf, an awesome playground, swan-shaped paddle boats, indoor ice skating, and much more. 

Read on for the highlights of our visit.

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