New Jersey

Visit New York City's National Parks, Really!

When you think of National Parks you probably think of places like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and other parklands out west. But did you know . there are actually 10 National Parks in New York City and Northern NJ, and over 30 historic sites, parks, monuments, trails, memorials, and heritage areas right here in New York State?

This week (to April 25) is National Park Week, and all 392 National Parks offer free admission in celebration of "America's Best Idea" so it's a perfect opportunity to check out some of these awesome destinations with your kids. (Tours and other fees may still apply).

Read on for everything you need to know for a family-friendly, historic, and beautiful visit to these local gems.

Minor League Baseball in the New York Metro: Brooklyn Cyclones and 5 Other Teams

Last week we wrote about going to a Mets or Yankees game with a baby . Of course, going to a major league baseball game is a huge expense. Tickets for a family quickly get very expensive and that’s just the beginning with more money for overpriced food, ice cream and souvenirs. And with a child meltdown (if not from fear, then from boredom), all of that money can seem like a waste.

A better alternative is to take your family to a minor league game. The minor league stadiums are smaller so children can see better (and not be as terrified by the height of the stadium); there are also entertaining mascots and lots of promotional giveaways to entertain them. Tickets start as low as $10. And finally, the games are significantly shorter.

NJ Weekend Events April 16-18: Lots of FREE Fun! Earth Day, Stories in the Sky, Tot Sculptures and Colonial Games and Crafts!

It sure isn’t easy being green, is it? So how do you start your kids off on the right carbon foot(print)? The weekend before Earth Day 2010 offers tons of eco-friendly fun to get your family rolling on a commitment to conservation, recycling, and a general “greening” of your lives. But hey, if you’re already doing your part to save the planet, there’s other fun stuff to do this weekend, too! Grounds for Sculpture teaches your tot about an ancient art form; Morris Museum plays Colonial Games and Crafts; and the Tenafly Nature Center offers a “take-home tour” of the night sky. So going it green or not, get out there!

What's Happening! The Week in Review

There's so much going on we thought it might be helpful to provide a quick weekly round-up of all the things we've posted and what's hot to make it easier to follow along. If this is helpful, let us know.

This week's photo: A sign on a dirt road in Vermont that our GPS had led us down. I guess somebody was sick of lost tourists driving up to their house.

NJ Easter Weekend Events April 3-4: Bunnies, Big Bird, Beatrix Potter and Barking Beauties–much FREE!

With the arrival of Easter weekend comes the expected, but always child-entertaining, mix of Easter egg hunts, bunny breakfasts and Easter Bunny crafts–take your pick of preferred location: Imagine That! Children’s Museum (once you’re in, you’re in–activity planning for the day DONE); Liberty Village Premium Outlets (they hunt for eggs, you hunt for bargains); Weis Ecology Center (bonus: learn to dye your eggs naturally); Terhune Orchards (romp through the blooming pastures); the Brownstone Puppet Theater (puppets and a teddy bear parade, too) or the New Jersey Children’s Museum (breakfast included!) Up to your long ears in bunny business? Switch to Big Bird at Liberty Science Center’s One World, One Sky event, or go to the dogs at the Ocean City Humane Society’s pet fashion show. By the end of the day, your own little beasties will be ready for bed!

NJ Weekend Events March 27-28: Lots of FREE Fun: Farm Animals, Fishing, Treasure Island and Telescopes!

Rain? Snow? Sun? Who cares?  Whatever the weather this weekend,  New Jersey’s got somethin’ goin on!  Head outdoors to see newly-born farm animals; break out the fishing poles to kick off fishing season at the Trout Hatchery; or collect glow-in-the-dark rocks from a world-famous mineral deposit.  If the weather goes South, head indoors: kids can learn all about Treasure Island and pirates at the Cotsen Children's Library; enjoy African art and crafts at Montclair Arts Museum's free family day; or hunker down in the Liberty Science Center to learn about oceans, chemistry, and the HUBBLE telescope.  Mother Nature, bring it ON!

Weekend Events for NJ Kids March 13-14: Snakes, Einstein, Shows and Crafts--Most FREE!

Einstein definitely was NOT Irish, but this weekend is a cause to celebrate both Einstein’s birthday, the number pi, and St. Patrick’s Day!  And with weatherpeople forecasting wind and rain, you may just decide to opt for indoor entertainment like the circus, plenty of fun theatrical performances, a crafts festival, or a reptile and turtle demonstration.  And Easter is just around the corner with the Easter Bunny making early visits to some local malls…

Crafty Kid Places in NJ: Beading, Pottery, Glass-Blowing and More!

As Easter and Mother’s Day quickly draw near, you’re facing the age-old “what to give to Grandma/Grandpa/Aunts/Uncles and various other relatives” quandary. But really, how many “#1 Grandma” mugs can a cupboard hold?  You know they truly treasure the handmade gifts from the heart (and little hands) than a trinket from the mall.  But before you pull out the playdough, paints and glitter, consider a trip to one of these Create-Your-Own Studios where kids can make blown glass ornaments, a fused glass dish, a hand painted bowl, silver or beaded jewelry, and more.  Not only will you wow the crowds, but mom doesn’t have to worry about cleaning paint off the furniture or getting glitter out of the rug!

NJ Weekend Events March 6-7: Seuss and a Circus, Dancing and Dangerous Animals--lots FREE

Forget “There’s no place like home.”  The mom mantra now reads, “It’s two weeks ‘til Spring!  It’s two weeks ‘til Spring!” Spend the last of the nasty weather this weekend getting a jump start on the coming seasons by imagining you are at a summer folk festival, or step dancing in Ireland, or hunting wild animals at the circus. The “tamer crowd” can celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday, enjoy a carnival atmosphere at JCC Metrowest, or learn something new at our fabulous museums. Close your eyes, click your heels, and before you know it, those gloves, mittens, hats and snowpants’ll be packed away!

Weekend Events for NJ Feb. 27-28: Free Fun with Widget, World Stories, Purim, Planting, Clowns and Kaleidoscopes!

Feeling a little stir-crazy after all this snow?  Then put on your parka, pack up the crew and head out to a host of cool kids activities!  This weekend, kids can dress up, clown around, and celebrate everything from the Widget the Beaver’s birthday to the Winter weather and maple trees.  At the Newark Museum kids can try tightrope walking and see clowns. At the Morven Museum spend a dinosaur inspired “night at the museum.”    Make a recycled kaleidoscope at the Hoboken Historical Museum and see a LEGO sculpture of the Taj Mahal at the Cotsen Children’s Library.  Celebrate Purim with carnivals at Congregation Shomrei Emunah and the Garden State Discovery Museum.  Finally enjoy maple sugaring and other outdoor winter events at Reeves Reed Arboretum and Van Vleck House and Gardens. So grab that shovel and start digging your way out! (But remember to call first--with this crazy weather, cancellations can happen at a moment's notice!)
 

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