New Jersey

Disney Princess Subscription Boxes Arrive Just Before Holidays

Disney has just launched a brand-new princess subscription box filled with tiaras, tulle — and fairy tales, of course. With the holidays right around the corner, and many kids (not just ours, right?) already working up their wish lists, we suspect this latest, kid-targeted subscription service will land at the top of a few most-wanted toys' lists.

Promising to deliver this Disney magic straight to your favorite princess-loving kid’s door for either a year, six months, or month-to-month, the first boxes will make it in time for Christmas delivery, we're told.

Where To Have Breakfast with Santa in New Jersey

Ho, ho, ho! It’s that time of year when Santa Claus starts making his list and checking it twice. If your kids are looking to spend a little QT with the Big Guy, then a breakfast with Santa might be for you. At these events, kids can enjoy some delicious food and share their holiday wish lists with St. Nick. And of course, there will be time for photos, too. Read on for our roundup of breakfast events happening this season.

Want more time with Santa? Book your ticket on a Christmas train ride. And for more seasonal activities, check out our Holiday Fun Guide.

12 Family-Friendly Hotels Where Kids Stay Free

Traveling with family can be a serious investment. After shelling out for planes tickets, you still have to book a hotel and cover the cost of meals. Package deals and all-inclusive resorts can be a great way to save, but an even better bargain is when kids stay and/or eat for free at the hotel.

While early fall seems to be the best time to book such family travel deals, it's not too late to get in on the savings. Whether your destination is the Caribbean, Mexico, or a U.S. city, hotels that offer free rooms and meals for kids are a big budget saver. Here are our picks for some of the best family vacations around.

Best Nutcrackers and Holiday Shows for New Jersey Kids

The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year for lots of things, including performances. Over the next several weeks, New Jersey theaters will come alive with dancing sugar plum fairies, singing elves, and more than a few Christmas ghosts. 

This season, you can dance and sing along with the Laurie Berkner Band or check out musical versions of holiday favorites like Elf and A Christmas Story

Charlie Brown and friends learn the true meaning of Christmas in A Charlie Brown Christmas: Live Onstage, with productions taking place at multiple venues throughout NJ. And Ebeneezer Scrooge gets spooked into a change of heart in several productions of A Christmas Carol, including an area favorite at McCarter Theatre, as well as kid-friendly musical versions at Paper Mill and bergenPAC.

If your child is nuts about The Nutcracker, you don't have to go to New York City to see a great production—there are several top-notch companies performing the holiday fave right here in NJ, at multiple venues across the state, including American Repertory Ballet, New Jersey Ballet, and Moscow Ballet. For a sweet twist on the classic, don't miss the Hip Hop Nutcracker at NJPAC. We couldn't list all of them here, so be sure to check out our event calendar for more!

Read on for a list of the best productions happening this holiday season.

Watchung Reservation Sensory Trail Caters To NJ Kids of All Abilities

Sensory play—any activity that stimulates any one or all of a child’s five senses—is a crucial part of development. And for children who have difficulties processing all the different sensations that they receive from their senses, sensory stimulation can be even more valuable.

Enter the Watchung Reservation Sensory Trail in Mountainside. The first of its kind in Union County, the trail, located in Union County's largest park, is designed to provide sensory stimulation and interaction for all kids, with an emphasis on special needs children and their families. According to Union County park officials, it is the most extensive sensory trail in the U.S.

On a recent visit with my 5-year-old, we set out to determine if this sensory-friendly trail would stimulate all five of our senses. Read on to find out what we saw, heard, smelled, touched, and yes, maybe tasted, too.

Check out our Fall Fun Guide to find more easy trails along with other seasonal fun.

Holiday Giving in New Jersey: Volunteering for Families

Looking for new ways to connect as a family this holiday season? Volunteering together can spark the joy of giving in children of all ages. 

Holiday time is full of family traditions like carving turkeys, sharing gifts, and ringing in the New Year. It's also a great time to inspire your kids to give back. Create new family traditions this year by contributing to a favorite charity or reaching out to those in need. From the youngest kids coloring holiday greeting cards to teenagers serving Thanksgiving dinners, we've got the low-down on family-friendly holiday volunteering in New Jersey. 

Weekend Fun: Mermaids, Train Festival, Frosty and Rudolph

The second weekend of November features visits from Frosty, Rudolph, Harry Potter, and mermaids!  Get a jump on the holidays with Thanksgiving activities like NJ Audubon: Turkey Talk and Alstede's Pie Tasting Experience, plus pre-Christmas excitement at a production of Frosty & Rudolph.

Have sky-high fun at Teterboro's Open Cockpit Weekend and RVCC Planetarium's Skies over Hogwarts, and see some underwater action at Adventure Aquarium's Mermaids. Train enthusiasts won't want to miss the Train Festival at Camden Children's Garden, and it's the last weekend to catch Diggerfest. Crafty kids have plenty of opportunity to create at Ancient Technologies: Making an Amulet Necklace, Art for Families, and Montclair Art Museum's Drop-In Studio.

Find even more options in our Fall Fun Guide for NJ Kids, and take in the sights of the season at Paterson Great Falls and Tenafly Nature Center. And look to our November GoList and event calendar for a complete listing of happenings this weekend and beyond.

New Snapology Play Space To Offer STEM Fun for Central NJ Kids

Getting kids interested in math and science used to be a chore, but play-based programs are reinventing the building blocks of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) education.

Snapology of Monmouth County is one business that has been offering mobile STEAM classes to kids in central New Jersey for the past couple years. Now, it is expanding its offerings to include a new Discovery Center, making it the first Snapology location in New Jersey to offer open indoor play. The Center, in Tinton Falls, will also offer classes, camps, birthday parties, and parents' night out events.

The new 2,950-square-foot Discovery Center is scheduled to open Thanksgiving weekend. The fun will kick off on Friday, November 23, with Black Friday drop-and-shop workshops, and a grand opening celebration will take place Saturday and Sunday, November 24-25, from noon to 5pm, with free open play, giveaways, face painting, entertainment, and more.

10 Indoor Party Spots with Mega Playgrounds for NJ Kids' Birthdays

Looking for the perfect party spot for your winter baby? We've rounded up the most action-packed indoor birthday party locations for your cold-weather celebrations. Whether your birthday child wants to jump and bounce, climb, dance, play laser tag, or even take a spin on an amusement ride, New Jersey has a party place for it. Read on for 10 of our favorites.  

For more party planning ideas, check out our Guide to NJ Kids' Parties, where you'll find everything from top party places for preschoolers to bakeries that make amazing birthday cakes.

Top 10 Christmas Towns and Villages That Absolutely Sparkle

When it comes to the best places to visit for Christmas as a family, there are plenty of holiday travel options. You can head to Rome and Vatican City to soak in the religion of it all. Vienna, beautifully drenched in festive lights, boasts first-rate Christmas markets and concerts. Head north to Lapland, Finland, to visit Santa’s official hometown. Or, if you want to lie beneath Christmas-lit palm trees, a Caribbean vacation might do the trick.

Yet, some of the best Christmas towns and bedecked Christmas villages are actually right here in the US, offering those traveling with small kids a way to save on money and time. These local destinations go all out for Christmas with unique holiday light shows, special performances, and plenty of opportunities to meet with Santa Claus.

Read on for some of our favorite Christmas vacation ideas for those looking to get into the holiday spirit in a big way, from New York City to Williamsburg, Virginia, to Newport Beach, California. Find even more ideas in our Family Travel Guide.

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