New Jersey

Best Family Travel of 2018: Great Cities, Beaches, Hotels, and Memories

Our Mommy Poppins families really traveled this year! We scoped out some amazing cities with our kids in tow, from New Orleans to Santa Barbara, up to Vancouver and over to Chicago.

There were some epic science museums to explore, Christmas towns to make us cheery, gorgeous beaches, fun at amusement parks, and of course, a slew of entertaining family-friendly resorts, from Mexico and the Caribbean to Los Angeles and New England ski resorts.

So if you’re planning your next family vacation, take a look at our favorite destinations from the last year, including these warmer climates for February or spring break. In each profile, we highlight the most kid-friendly activities and events and let you know what to skip with toddlers or what to see with the teens.

Where To Celebrate New Year’s Eve with Kids in New Jersey

New Year’s Eve is one of those holidays that changes drastically once you become a parent. Any kind of grown-up fun usually involves weeks of planning. Who can babysit? How much do we pay on New Year’s Eve? Do we let the tweens stay up until we get home? Unless you truly need an adult night out (in which case, GO for it!), how about a happy compromise? Read on to get the scoop on events in NJ for families who want to ring in the New Year together, including parties at an indoor amusement park, an aquarium, and even a battleship. Just be sure to reserve your spot soon!

Looking for pre–New Year entertainment? We rounded up 25 great things to do this holiday break, plus even more fun events happening this week for the kids. Be sure to check our Event Calendar for more.

Woodland Indoor Playground Is a Treasure for NJ Tots (and Moms)

Woodland Indoor Playground, the brand-new play space in Cedar Grove, looks like my fantasy of a child's play room—the one I envisioned before I had kids, and plastic toys with blinking lights and annoying sounds took over my house. Quite unlike my living room, Woodland is a clean, modern, Scandanavian-inspired space stocked with beautiful wooden toys that promote imaginative, sensory play—including a farmer's market food truck, chicken coop, playhouse with slides, sensory sandbox, train table, building blocks, and lots more.

This charming spot, founded by two Montclair moms and geared toward ages 0–5, opened on December 12—perfect timing for a new play space where cooped-up tots can drop in and burn some energy on a winter day. And Woodland is more than just a pretty space—all of the toys and materials are eco-friendly and non-toxic, and a portion of each entry fee supports the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. (Also, there's coffee, and it's good!)

Christmas Weekend Fun: Holiday at the Park, Airport Santa, Sea of Lights

It's the holly jolly weekend leading up to the big event! Christmas will finally be here on Tuesday, and this weekend is the perfect time to squeeze in all those last-minute Santa visits, light displays, and holiday festivities.

Make the most of the concluding weekend for popular seasonal celebrations. Don't miss the final opportunity to experience a Visit with Santa at Longstreet Farm, Country Christmas with Santa, Red Bank's Holiday Horse & Wagon Rides, and Princeton's Holiday Trolley Tours. Holiday-themed theatrical performances will get everyone in the spirit this weekend. Bring the family to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Magic & Mistletoe, Snow Day, and New Jersey Ballet's Nutcracker, which includes a Monday performance. 

If you've made your list and checked it twice, avoid shopping on Monday and spend the day at fun events like Chatham's Christmas Eve North Pole Express and Santa Flies into Princeton Airport. And once those gifts are all unwrapped on Tuesday, you can take a breather at Hopewell Theater's showing of It's a Wonderful Life. Plus, Adventure Aquarium is open on both Monday and Tuesday.

Find even more weekend and Christmas week options in our Holiday Guide, including 25 Things to Do with New Jersey Kids Over Holiday Break. And look to our December GoList and event calendar for a complete listing of happenings this weekend and beyond.

Mommy Poppins’ New City Sites Washington, DC and Chicago Launch for Holidays

As we approach the 12 year anniversary of Mommy Poppins, it’s amazing to reflect back on the past years, even as we are looking forward and adding new cities to our community.  Just like my children, who have grown in ways I never would have imagined, Mommy Poppins has become so much more than I ever planned for it to be when I started writing those first blog posts as a New Year’s resolution in 2007. 

This week we added Washington, DC and Chicago to our growing list of cities that now includes Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Houston, as well as NYC, Long Island, New Jersey, Westchester, and Connecticut.

Where To Enjoy High Tea in New Jersey with Kids

If your little sweetie loves the finer things in life—and has the patience to make it through a sit-down meal—he or she may be ready to enjoy an afternoon at one of NJ's many local tea rooms. From the fine china and finger sandwiches to the tempting sweets, your little one will be enchanted during this special one-on-one mommy time. Many host sweet birthday parties, and several offer special holiday events.

25 Things To Do with New Jersey Kids Over Holiday Break

The lazy days of December break may be the best time to take part in New Jersey's family-friendly holiday activities—especially if you have visiting relatives to entertain or kids who have already moved on from their presents. From spectacular light displays to cold-weather fun, there's plenty to do during the days off from school. 

Most New Jersey schools are closed from Monday, December 24, 2018 through Tuesday, January 1, 2019, allowing plenty of time to experience some of the holiday highlights you may have missed in the hectic run-up to Christmas. It's also the perfect time to check out an indoor play spacemuseum, or fun zone.

Be sure to check out our December GoList and Holiday Fun Guide for more great ideas. Happy Holidays, NJ!

New Orleans with Kids: Top Things to Do and See as a Family

New Orleans is a big city not because of its size but in personality and culture. From the music to the food, both deeply steeped in historical and emotional significance to New Orleans and its residents, it's unlike any other city in the south. Still standing after one of the country's most destructive hurricanes, everywhere you go in New Orleans, you'll find a compelling story, or, at the very least, some delicious gumbo.

This American city should be on everyone's travel bucket list as the Big Easy makes a great, multigenerational family vacation spot at any time of the year. There are so many fun things to do and see and eat with the kids, from delicious beignets and a French Quarter stroll to an incredible children's museum, an aquarium, and a zoo. We've also included some unexpected family hits like a swamp tour and a butterfly garden.

Read on for the top activities and attractions to check out when traveling to New Orleans with kids. We suspect you'll come for the food and entertainment but leave feeling inspired by its rich history. 

Make a Day of It with These Winter Day Trips for NJ Families

Freezing weather can lead to stir-crazy kids (and parents), so we've pulled together a list of more than 25 great winter day trip ideas for New Jersey families.

Bundle up for a day of snow tubing at Campgaw, or watch the wolves wrestle in their snowy habitat at Lakota Wolf Preserve. If the weather is too frosty for you, try indoor stargazing at the Novins Planetarium, or visit a kid-friendly exhibit at the Newark Museum. Dreaming of summer days? Check out the indoor water park Sahara Sam's, where kids can splash the day away, or visit Adventure Aquarium to see penguins, sharks, and stingrays in action.

Whether your crew loves outdoor adventures or prefers indoor pursuits, read on to find the perfect winter adventure for you.

What's Open on Christmas Day in New Jersey: Fun Things to Do

Christmas Day is certainly a historically-homebound holiday, with parents and children staying home to revel in new presents and enjoy time spent with family and friends. But once all the gifts have been opened and the festive potluck polished off, that holiday spirit is still alive and well, leaving moms, dads, and kids raring to burn off the last of their candy cane and sugar plum high.

Since shopping malls are largely out of the question until Wednesday, and most indoor play spaces are closed for biz on December 25, there’s not too much recreation readily around the corner. But Mommy Poppins searched high and low to find out what’s open on Christmas—and happily, there are quite a few fun finds!

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