New Jersey

Visiting Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya in Mexico with Kids

Mexico's Caribbean coast is known for its first-class resorts, especially along the Riviera Maya, including towns such as Playa del Carmen and Tulum. So much so that sometimes the sparkling waters, stunning beaches, and swank surroundings of this northern Yucatan peninsula's all-inclusive deals make it hard to want to leave the lovely confines of your hotel.

But there’s so much more to this gorgeous Mexican coastal region just south of Cancun than beachside getaways. To introduce the kids to a taste of authentic culture, including Mayan ruins, natural wonders, and unlimited adventure, you don’t have to go far. Some excursions may take only an hour and others a whole day, but these 25 ideas are surely worthy of drawing the family out of the resort for even just a few hours.

NJ Cat Cafes: Purr-fect for Feline-Loving Kids and Families

If you're a cat-lover who craves a new place to sip a cappuccino while enjoying some downtime with your kids, then you're in luck: the cat cafe trend has officially arrived in New Jersey. Three kitty cafes have opened in the Garden State since July 2016—in Asbury Park, Rahway, and Palmyra—and the best part is, they're all kid-friendly. Guests big and small are encouraged to pick up a toy and get down on the floor to interact with the cafe's feline friends. For kids who go gaga for kitties, it's a cool alternative to a traditional indoor play space—and, since all of the four-legged residents are up for adoption, you just might leave with a new best friend.

Read on for more about NJ's three cat cafes and get ready to plan an a-meow-zing visit. 

Weekend Fun: Renaissance Faire, Rutgers Day, Paw Patrol

Hope you're hungry for fun and good fare, because this last weekend of April is loaded with food-centric festivals, including the Laurita Bacon Festival, Oasis Farm's Salty, Sweet & Some HeatSkylands Food Truck & Craft Beer Festival, and the Allaire BBQ & Brew Fest.

Make room on your schedule for even more great spring festivals, including Rutgers Day, which takes place on three campuses; Wild Earth Fest at the Trailside Nature & Science Center; the Renaissance Faire at Historic Smithville; and Cape May's Spring Celebration, a month-long event that kicks off this weekend. And if your kids love big vehicles, drive on over to Touch-A-Truck events in Scotch Plains and Mountainside

It's a big weekend for beloved kids' characters, too: Sesame Place opens for the season on Saturday, and the pups of Adventure Bay will be onstage in Atlantic City in Paw Patrol Live: The Great Pirate Adventure

Check out our Spring Guide for New Jersey Kids for more options for family fun, including 25 Spring Day Trip Ideas for New Jersey Families. And look to our event calendar and April GoList for a complete listing of happenings this weekend and beyond.

Cirque Du Soleil's Volta Is an Artful Adrenaline Rush

Cirque du Soleil's Volta show, which just landed in the greater NYC area, is a feast for the senses. From a stirring score to exhilarating acrobatics and heart-stopping thrills, the newest Cirque spectacle captivated audience members of all ages at the performance my 10-year-old son and I saw Sunday afternoon under the Big Top at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where it will run through May 6.

Volta also plays at the Nassau Colesium on Long Island, beginning May 17, and at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, starting in July.

40 Things to Do with New Jersey Preschoolers Before They Turn 5

We have just five precious years or so to spend with our little ones before they head off to kindergarten. At this age, kids are growing and developing faster than they will at any other time in their lives, so many of us want to fill their days with as many opportunities to learn, laugh, and love life as possible! That means play spacesmommy-and-me classes, storytimesplaygrounds, and other treasures that the Garden State holds for toddlers.

Take advantage of these great opportunities throughout New Jersey while your preschoolers are young enough to appreciate them—and sometimes even young enough to score FREE admission.

For more can't-miss Garden State destinations, check out 100 Things to Do in New Jersey with Kids Before They Grow Up.

Target's Car Seat Trade-in Returns: Get the Details

Is it time to toss or upgrade your child's car seat? Beginning on April 22, Target will recycle your goldfish-crusted and stained old one and help you to save on a new model through its popular car seat trade-in event. As if we needed another excuse to go to Target, right? 

Whether you're expecting a new baby, or simply sizing up, read on for all the details on this year's trade-in program.

Family-Friendly Mother's Day Brunch Spots in Northern New Jersey

Celebrate Mother's Day in style this year with an indulgent family brunch prepared by someone other than mom. Restaurants throughout Northern New Jersey are cooking up some fabulous luncheons full of breakfast delights, salads, carving stations, and desserts. Some of these eateries offer discounts for children, and others are FREE for young kids. Holiday brunches book up quickly though, and many require reservations.

If you're down the shore, explore these wonderful Mother's Day options.

30 Things To Do in Austin, TX with Kids

As a native Texan, I can quickly rattle off about 100 obscure things that make Austin an amazing place for a family getaway. But on a larger scale, Austin, Texas, is widely known for several major reasons. Hailed as the live music capital of the world, Austin is home to one of the nation's most notorious music festivals, SXSW (South by Southwest), as well as the Austin City Limits Festival, and many smaller permanent live music venues throughout the city. Austin is a college town, home to The University of Texas campus, the second largest university in the second largest state in the country. It's also the state's capital, which means it is rich with historical sites, museums, and iconic landmarks. 

The city's popularity is booming thanks in part to the wide variety of culturally enriching activities available, especially for families. "Keep Austin Weird" is the city's unofficial mantra, and boy do they ever keep it weird...in the best way. This list of must-do family activities in the capital of the Lone Star State includes quirky toy shops, breathtaking outdoor sites, unique museums, and even a collection of old "junk" in one man's backyard. And don't forget, we also have awesome ideas for the best things to do with kids in other parts of Texas, including San Antonio and Houston.

Great NJ Gardens and Lush Arboretums To Explore with Kids

New Jersey is teeming with amazing outdoor places to take active kids—everything from nature centers to Jersey Shore lighthouses offer a multitude of fun events for little ones. But our beautiful state arboretums and gardens are often overlooked. These fabulous green spaces offer a great opportunity for children to see nature up close. Many locations also host educational and engaging programs, featuring activities such as gardening, hiking, and scavenger hunts.

As spring shifts into high gear, gather the kids and head to these beautiful local gardens. We're not known as the Garden State for nothing!

New NJ Spray Park Will Provide Fun for Kids of All Abilities

Construction of a new spray park in Toms River was recently announced, and kids of all ages and abilities have something to celebrate. The park is slated to be all-inclusive, meaning accessible for children with disabilities. “We are focused on all abilities being able to interact with each other at this splash pad,” says Erica Cirillo, co-president of Fountains of Hope, the organization fueling the project.

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