New Jersey

New Hot Spots for New Jersey Kids and Families

These recently opened destinations for kids and families in New Jersey deserve a place on your family’s bucket list.

Two Essex County playgrounds have recently undergone major transformations, with brand-spankin’-new play equipment just waiting for your kids to try out before the weather turns cold. If you're looking for a birthday gift, skip the big-box store on the highway and shop local at a cool toy store in Maplewood. Read the day away in a cozy children’s indie bookstore, like the one you’ll find in Bayonne, and when your family is ready for some action, head to Woodbridge for the grand opening of NJ's first Dave & Buster’s. Or get the kiddos out of the house on a rainy day and burn off some serious energy at a new indoor trampoline park in Milltown.

And here's one that's worth a trip into the city: American Girl's flagship Midtown store is relocating to a new location on November 11, just in time for the holidays.

Read on to learn more about these new NJ hot spots, and find even more things to do in our Fall Fun Guide.

Restaurants Open for Thanksgiving Dinner in New Jersey

Not feeling up to hosting Thanksgiving this year? Here's something to be thankful for: There are plenty of restaurants open throughout the state on Thanksgiving Day. Having your holiday out means that you can sit back and enjoy the party—and you won't have to wash a single dish.

We've chosen 20 of New Jersey's best spots to enjoy a holiday feast. Call ahead for a reservation, and then use your extra time to plan some fall fun with the family, or try out one of these Thanksgiving crafts. Happy Thanksgiving!

Best Trick-or-Treating Neighborhoods in New Jersey

Halloween is nearly here, and in several New Jersey neighborhoods the locals are thinking, “Bring it on!” These Halloween-obsessed towns deck out their homes every year with fabulous decorations that delight trick-or-treaters big and small. Others turn their streets into festive Halloween block parties.

Where can you join in the fun near your home? We’ve compiled a list of more than 30 towns and neighborhoods that are worth a visit. Those who make the trip can expect lots of treats—not to mention some prime photo ops.

Find more fun in our New Jersey Halloween Guide, including pumpkin patches and the best FREE Halloween events for local kids.

Disney on Ice Brings Moana and Elsa Show to NYC Metro Area

A Disney on Ice show skates into the greater New York City area this November with some of the entertainment company's most popular female characters. This Dare to Dream production features Moana for the first time, but also Belle of Beauty and the Beast, Elsa and Anna of Frozen fame, and plenty more princesses.

The family show kicks off in the metro region at the Prudential Center in Newark, November 1-5. It then plays Barclays Center in Brooklyn, November 9-12, and finally at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island, November 15-November 26.

A Dozen Easy Fall Hikes in NJ for Families with Small Children

Hiking with small children can be fun for the whole family, if you choose the right trails, pack enough snacks, and build in some break time for little legs. Autumn in New Jersey may be the ideal time to get the family outdoors for a nature walk or easy hike, when trees are ablaze with fall colors and temperatures are just right.

Read on for our list of short, family-friendly hikes with scenic vistas and shady picnic spots. As for the snacks, try letting kids make their own trail mix before a nature walk: set out some bowls of nuts, pretzel sticks, dried fruits, and chocolate chips or M&Ms, and let the kids fill a plastic baggie with their favorite fuel. Before setting out, make sure everyone dresses in layers and wears comfortable shoes, and don't forget to pack sunscreen, bug spray, and plenty of water.

For more outdoor adventures, check out one of the state's many nature centers, which offer a host of family-friendly activities as well as hiking trails. Happy hiking!

Build an Indoor Obstacle Course for Kids in 7 Easy Steps

When beautiful fall days turn into gray, wintry ones that get dark at 4pm, you need ideas of things to do indoors, including sneaky exercise games for the kids. Or, why not build an obstacle course for your kids? They'll love the challenge of having to complete each task, and you'll love the energy it can burn off and time it will keep them occupied. The best part? You can build this one with things you already have around the house. So read on for our guide to building your own in seven easy steps.

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.  

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.

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