New Jersey

Weekend Fun: PAW Patrol Live, A Christmas Carol, Santa Express

We are right in the middle of the holiday season, and this weekend is jam-packed with seasonal cheer.

There are tons of opportunities to have breakfast with Santa—including one on the Battleship New Jersey!—and plenty of ways to have some gingerbread fun. Train lovers can take a ride on the Santa Express or check out exhibits like the Holiday Model Train Show

It's also the perfect weekend to see a show: Ryder and the rescue dogs of Adventure Bay come to NJPAC in PAW Patrol Live; Scrooge takes the stage in McCarter Theatre's celebrated production of A Christmas Carol; and The Nutcracker continues to spread sweet holiday magic at venues across the state, including including performances by NJ Ballet at Mayo Performing Arts Center and American Repertory Ballet at South Orange Performing Arts Center. History buffs won't want to miss the dress rehearsal of Washington crossing the Delaware.

Find many more ideas for fun this weekend and throughout the season in our December GoList and Holiday Guide, including where to see the best holiday light displays and must-do holiday activities for NJ kids.

Read on for some of this weekend's highlights—and be sure to check our Event Calendar for a full listing of activities this weekend and beyond!

Free and Cheap Kids' Ski Programs in the Northeast This Winter

Let's face facts: No matter how exhilarating skiing and snowboarding are, they are also among the most expensive activities in which a family can participate—especially if your kids take a single run and spend the rest of the day sipping cocoa.

Thankfully, many nearby state ski associations offer free or mostly free lift tickets to grade-schoolers, even if you're not a resident of that state. Of course, there are hurdles to clear to get those benefits—kids need to be the appropriate age, apply online and, in some cases, be accompanied by a paying adult. There are also "processing fees" attached to several, but it breaks down to a very discounted ticket if you use it more than once. But for avid skiers and riders, or those who merely want to try out the sports, these programs can save you plenty of cash when skiing with the kids.

Read on for more information on how to ski for free in New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. (Note: Connecticut has a residents-only program for free ski passes for kids at Mohawk Mountain.)

Check our Ski and Snow Sports Guide for more fun on local hills and mountains.

30 Free Events for New Jersey Kids in December

In a month where your wallet is bleeding dry, wouldn’t it be nice to fill your December calendar with free activities? You can!

Inaugurate the holidays at events that don’t cost a penny, such as the Hoboken Christmas Tree Lighting, Seaside Heights Christmas Tree Lighting, and Red Bank Menorah Lighting. Visit Santa for free at Bass Pro Shop’s Free Photos with Santa, Santa’s Family Workshop at Cape May Zoo, and Ridgewood’s Santa in the Park. And keep the kids busy over winter break at free activities like New Year’s Party for Families and Winter Wonderland Dance Camp.

Read on for this month's picks, and don't forget to check out our Event Calendar and December GoList for more free and low-cost fun.

12 Hotels Around the World That Will Blow Your Kids' Minds

When planning a family getaway, where you stay can easily be as exciting as the vacation destination. Amazing hotel suites, bungalows, and villas abound, offering one-of-a-kind experiences for kids and families—they may even end up becoming the main attraction!

We've rounded up 11 splurge-worthy options from across the globe—and one more that's coming soon. These rooms are designed to spark imaginations and ignite adventure for kids of all ages, with plenty to offer for mom and dad, too. For more travel ideas, check out our Family Travel 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.

Family-Friendly Car Services with Car Seats in New Jersey

There's no sugarcoating it: traveling with small children is overwhelming. For most parents, the days of packing a small bag and jet-setting across the country are a distant memory. Babies and small children need a lot of stuff, which means traveling families have to lug strollers, pack 'n plays, and big suitcases stuffed with everything from bottles to blankies.

Luckily, if you're using a car service, there's one important—and heavy—item that you can stop stressing about. Many NJ car services now offer car seats for babies, toddlers, and young children, and we've rounded up a dozen of them here. On your next vacation, lighten your load! 

Want to call a Lyft or Uber? Not so fast. Uber only offers car seats for passengers in New York City, Philadelphia or Washington, D.C. Lyft charges an extra $10 per ride for a car seat, but this service is currently only available in NYC. To find more car service with car seat options in NYC, check out NYC Car Services with Car Seats for Babies & Kids.

Minecraft Lovers Get Something New for Hour of Code 2017

The annual Hour of Code is entering its fourth year next month, and Microsoft is adding something for 2017 that your little Minecraft lovers will surely go nuts over. Whether your family is new to this free international mass coding phenomenon or you've explored it before, the 2017 campaign has new and exciting features for everyone—including coding projects about Moana, Star Wars, and Minecraft.

Where To Go Ice Skating Indoors with Kids in NJ

Indoor ice skating is a fun way to take part in a winter activity without exposing yourself to the elements. Happily, there are many indoor rinks throughout the Garden State. We've focused on those that host public skate sessions, but most of them also offer skating lessons, hockey, birthday parties, and more.

Read on for our indoor rink recommendations for NJ families—and for more wintry sports, check out our Ski & Snow Guide.

Weekend Fun: Scuba Santa, Gingerbread Wonderland, Model Railroad Show

It's the first weekend of the last month of 2017! Take in everything early December has to offer, including holiday festivals, children's theater, and plenty of gingerbread fun.

Party with Santa at local holiday celebrations held at Casino Pier and Morristown Green, or watch Scuba Santa swim at Adventure Aquarium. Spend some warm, indoor time at family-friendly productions of AnnieClick Clack Moo, Milk & Cookies: Spook Handy, and many wonderful Nutcracker productions, including performances by NJ Ballet. Sugar-coat your weekend with gingerbread adventures like Gingerbread House Workshop & Contest and Gingerbread Wonderland Craft Show

Find many more ideas for fun this weekend and throughout the season in our December GoList and Holiday Guide, including where to see the best holiday light displays and must-do holiday activities for NJ kids. And be sure to check our Event Calendar for a full listing of activities this weekend and beyond. 

Hot Dog! Disney Junior Takes Its Dance Party on Tour

Do you find yourself doing the "Hot Dog Dance" while making dinner? Do you sometimes sway to the sound of Doc McStuffins singing “Time for Your Check Up?” Then you—and presumably your kids—will be excited to hear that Disney Junior is launching a national dance party tour featuring characters and music from many of their most-loved shows.

Kicking off in March, the Disney Junior Dance Party On Tour will be an interactive concert with singing, dancing, and even games. You’ll hear songs from Mickey and the Roadster Racers, Sofia the First, Elena of Avalor, Doc McStuffins, The Lion Guard, Vampirina, and Puppy Dog Pals. It’s the first time all of these characters will appear together in one live show. 

It will tour several Mommy Poppins regions, including New Jersey, Texas, and Los Angeles.

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