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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.

Best Shaded Playgrounds To Keep NJ Kids Cool

During cold winter days, I fantasize about picnics and lazy afternoons at the pool. But once summer temperatures soar into the 90s, a teeny part of me is starting to look forward to that first crisp fall breeze. Sigh. Instead of schlepping to the air-conditioned mall again, how about a shaded playground outing where the kids can burn some energy (and not their skin!), and the adults can relax on a bench without breaking a sweat?

Read on to get the scoop on where NJ kids and parents can go to beat the heat. And find more awesome places to play in our Guide to Playgrounds and Parks in NJ

18 Top Pick-Your-Own Peach Farms in New Jersey

There’s nothing that screams summer more than a warm-off-the-tree peach, with the sweet juices dripping down your chin. With farms a-plenty and peaches ripe for the picking, choose your spot from the list below, grab your baskets and babes, and head to one of these u-pick farms

The peach-picking season in the Garden State really gets going in mid-July and carries on through August and early September at some farms. Before you go, call ahead or check the farm’s Facebook page to make sure crops are still plentiful and what, specifically, is available on any given day. (You might also be able to pick blueberries, which are available at many farms through July.)

Read on to find out where the juiciest fruit can be found.

Arthur’s World: Have a “Wonderful Kind of Day” at the New Liberty Science Center Exhibit

It had probably been more than 20 years since I’d visited Liberty Science Center (oof, Mommy’s getting old...), but when I found out that my favorite former field trip destination was getting a visit from some of my most fondly-remembered PBS pals this summer, I knew I had to bring my baby boy over. I packed up my husband — an LSC-lover in his own right — and our one-year-old, and we journeyed to Jersey City to check out the new Arthur’s™ World exhibit at Liberty Science Center. We had a beyond “wonderful kind of day.”

30 Best Things To Do with Tweens in New Jersey

Your tweens may be too big for bouncy houses and tea parties, yet too young for solo outings with friends. But they still love family fun (even if they won't always admit it). To keep those in-betweeners happy and engaged, find an activity that sparks their curiosity or stretches their growing limbs. When a trip to your local playground is met with eye-rolling instead of cheering, it's time to check out these amazing activities for older kids in New Jersey. The good news? You may genuinely enjoy competing with your tween in bowling and mini golf, tackling the fast slides at a water park, or seeing a play or concert together. Read on for 30 ideas that are cool enough for big kids. 

13 Exciting Boat Rides for Families in New Jersey

Adventures abound on the high and low seas of New Jersey throughout the summer. Young pirates can dress up for a real pirate adventure; sailors can man the rigging aboard the historic A.J. Meerwald; and young naturalists will feel at home in the Meadowland marshes aboard specially rigged pontoon boats. Whalers will enjoy riding ships on the high seas in search of whales and dolphins, and adventurers can always ride the wild white waters of the Delaware River either on rafts or tubes. Who knows when you may regain your land legs?

For more warm-weather fun, check out our New Jersey Kids Summer Activities Guide.

Pick-Your-Own Blueberries and More NJ Berry Farms for Families

Blueberry picking is a perfect summer activity for the whole family: the bushes are low, the berries pop off the plants easily, and your family can literally pick hundreds without breaking the bank—or your back hauling them home. Lucky for us, blueberries are the official state fruit of New Jersey, and they are plentiful throughout the Garden State. We’ve assembled a list of some of the best pick-your-own farms NJ has to offer for kids, along with a few blueberry festivals. Happy picking!

Best July Fairs and Festivals for New Jersey Families

Fairs and festivals and feasts, what fun! It’s nonstop action in NJ this month—read on for our recommendations and choose your favorites. With everything from state and county fairs to music and food festivals—and of course, awesome July 4th celebrations—there’s something happening almost every day in July. Mark your calendar now, and have a blast all month long.

And for more warm-weather action, visit our Summer Fun Guide.

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