New Jersey

Ultimate Halloween Guide for NJ Kids: Parades, Pumpkins, Parties

It's that special time of year when all thoughts turn to candy, costumes, parties, and pumpkins. The weeks leading up to Halloween are filled with costume parades, harvest festivals, pumpkin displays, and plenty of FREE Halloween happenings.

Whether your kids want to visit a haunted house, take a Halloween train ride, pick some pumpkins, trick-or-treat at the zoo, or parade through downtown streets dressed as their favorite superheroes, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best ways to celebrate—plus a list of drive-worthy day trips that offer up even more frightening fun.

So get your ghosts and goblins ready, fuel up on candy corn, and don’t forget to brush! Look to our Halloween Guide for even more frightening fun, and check out our Fall Fun Guide for seasonal activities beyond October 31.

The Village Play Cafe: Fun for Littles and Fuel for Moms and Dads

It takes a village, right? It’s something I believe so strongly ever since my son was born last year—so I feel like I stumbled upon my soulmates when I found out about The Village Play Cafe in Chatham. Just opened in July, this indoor play space is truly the hautest hive for mamas and their baby bees (ages 1–5) to come for the day to work, play, and leave feeling energized and excited to take on the rest of the week. At least that’s how I felt when I walked out of their doors earlier this week.

21 Halloween Movies with Kid-Friendly Thrills and Chills

Are the kids excited for Halloween? Build on their anticipation with a family Halloween movie night that brings all those witches, ghosts, and goblins to life!

Pop some popcorn or whip up an on-season batch of scarecrow snack mix and candy corn punch while you settle in for a cozy night on the couch with one of these top Halloween movies. It's the perfect family-friendly nightcap to fall days spent apple and pumpkin picking or puzzling your way out of a corn maze.

With so many spooky films available to rent or stream, it can be hard to choose the right one for your family. From preschool to preteen, our list of the best Halloween movies for kids has something to put everyone in the Halloween spirit.

Find Outdoor Family Fun Year-Round at Lewis Morris County Park

I begin my review of Lewis Morris County Park with a word of caution: the park does not have a playground, much to the disappointment of my 5-year-old daughter. While plans are in the works for a new play space (the previous one was removed several years ago), you won’t find any brightly-colored jungle gyms, slides, swings, or climbing walls here. 

That said, Morris County’s second-largest park still offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun. You can swim, hike, bike, and even ski during a day trip to this four-season park. So with all that Lewis Morris has to offer, chances are your kids won't even miss the slides and swings.

Read on for more about this historic park. Find even more great day trips in our NJ Day Trip Guide, or check out our Parks & Playgrounds Guide to discover a new-to-you playground.

Weekend Fun: Fall Fest, Rainbow Fish, South Jersey Pumpkin Show

All aboard trains, planes, and automobiles on this super-busy mid-October weekend! Hop on a Pumpkin Train in Flemington, or take a nighttime Haunted Express through Allaire State Park if you're up for something a little spookier. Little ones will love riding through Storybook Land on a fright-free Happy Hayride. Opportunities for all kinds of vehicle exploration this weekend include fire trucks, planes, and police cars.

Crisp fall weather is on its way (we hear), so advantage of the cooler temps at outdoor celebrations, including Ringwood's Harvest Fest, South Jersey Pumpkin Show Festival, Sussex County Harvest, Honey and Garlic Festival, and Thompson Park Day. Hang out at theme parks in all their fall glory at events like Diggerland's Diggerfest and Six Flags Great Adventure's Fright Fest

Check out our Fall Fun Guide for NJ Kids for more options for family fun, including 60+ Free Things to Do in New Jersey in October, and find all kinds of seasonal events, from parades to pumpkin displays, in our Halloween Guide.

Look to our event calendar for a complete listing of happenings this weekend and beyond, and sign up for our FREE newsletters to stay in the know!

Painted Rocks Is the Newest Kid-friendly Scavenger Hunt & Hiking Craze Since Geocaching

The popular geocaching phenomenon has proven over the years to be a great way to channel your inner treasure hunting abilities as a family. Chances are someone in your family has also played at least one round of Pokemon Go. One positive impact these types of activities have is that they get kids up and moving, many times in parks or on local trails. Painted rocks is a trend that offers yet another way to get moving as a family and connect with the community, with a little crafting thrown in.

35 Free Halloween Events and Parades for NJ Kids

No tricks here—just a list of 35 FREE Halloween events happening all around New Jersey. The weeks leading up to your kids' favorite holiday are full of festivals, parades, and plenty of opportunities for them to dress up and score some scary-good treats.

Read on for our top picks, and be sure to check out our Fall Fun Guide for even more seasonal fun. From pumpkin picking and corn mazes to harvest festivals and Halloween train rides, we've got you covered.

Happy Halloween, New Jersey!

Hersheypark's Brand-New Chocolatetown Looks Mighty Sweet

Just when you thought a visit to Hersheypark couldn't get any more tempting, the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, amusement park announced a sweet surprise for fans of its chocolate emporium. It's adding a Chocolatetown, an all-new section of the theme park that will connect Hersheypark and Hershey's Chocolate World, opening in the summer of 2020. Expect a major new roller coaster, and yes, plenty of chocolate, including new dessert spots.

The expansion will further the vision of Milton S. Hershey, a real-life Willy Wonka, who brought his sweet dream to life in 1907 when he built the 121-acre amusement park as a perk for his chocolate factory workers and their families.

Polar Express and Christmas Trains for New Jersey Kids

Every year, New Jersey's railroads get decked out in their holiday best to offer special Christmas-themed rides for the whole family. Wait—Christmas? We know, it's a bit early to start hauling out the holly, but these rides are a popular holiday tradition, and they sell out fast!

Though these trains don't go all the way to the North Pole, most include a visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, along with treats, caroling, and stories. One storybook Santa train invites kids to wear their pajamas and hear a classic Christmas story read aloud on the rails, while another ferries passengers to a Christmas tree farm.

Read on to find out where to take a holiday train ride with Santa Claus, and book your tickets as soon as possible. Then you can put Christmas aside for a while and get back to your fall fun.  

NYC Hotel Rooms with Views of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Chances are you're not even thinking about Thanksgiving yet. After all, we still have Halloween to get through! But as anyone in the NYC hotel industry will tell you, families looking to book a hotel where they can watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Midtown Manhattan do so up to a year ahead of time. For a room with a view of Snoopy, Spidey, Hello Kitty, and their other inflatable pals, you've really got to plan in advance.

It's not just NYC tourists who splurge on hotels for the Thanksgiving parade, either. Over the past few years, we've had many New Yorkers write in asking which hotels looked out on the Macy's Parade route (it sure beats watching from the street). While most of these hotels still have availability at the time of this writing, call right away as they'll most likely sell out soon. And if you do get shut out, it's worth checking closer to Thanksgiving since there are sometimes last-minute cancelations.

For a budget-saving alternative, catch a prime viewing spot the night before the parade as the giant balloons are inflated on the Upper West Side.

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