New Jersey

New Birthday Party Spots for New Jersey Kids

Your little one's birthday is coming up, and the pressure is on. There are seemingly countless places to hold your birthday bash, but which ones will keep your guests happy and engaged (without breaking the bank)? From toddlers to teens, we've compiled a list of some of the newest party options throughout the great Garden State, including indoor play spaces, a trampoline park, art studio, and more. For even more ideas, check out our birthday party guide.

Tidying Up Kids' Stuff: 2 Easy Takeaways from Marie Kondo

While the world binge-watched Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and my social media feeds filled up with photos of freshly organized sock drawers, I didn't bother tuning in. After all, I'm already a Very Organized Person—the kind of mom who sorts her kids' toys according to category, and who may have an addiction to The Container Store. What could I possibly have to learn?

Then an image sprang to mind of me, huffily sorting papers on the kitchen counter while a hundred other urgent matters vie for my attention. When things get hectic, the piles of mail, magazines, kids' artwork, school forms, and other random papers crowding our countertops suddenly seem like a five-alarm fire. My husband calls it "angry organizing."

Weekend Fun: Lunar New Year, Chocolate Expo, Maple Sugaring

Chocolate, hot cocoa, and maple sugar make for a sweet ending to the month of January. Indulge in chocolate treats at Garden State Plaza's Chocolate Expo, and sip hot chocolate at Liberty Hall's Frozen Ball. Maple sugaring season kicks off at Reeves-Reed Arboretum and Great Swamp.

Keep everyone warm and entertained this weekend at performances of The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Other Eric Carle Stories, The Sleeping Beauty, Pete the Cat, and The Magic of Adam Trent. Monster truck and comic book enthusiasts have a lot to look forward to this weekend as well!

Find even more weekend options in our Winter Fun Guide, including 35+ Indoor Play Spaces for Kids in Northern NJ. And look to our event calendar and January GoList for a complete listing of happenings this weekend and beyond.

Three New Swim Class Options for Kids in North Jersey

Looking for an indoor activity to keep your kids fit this winter? Head to the newest pools in town.

Not only is swimming a fun, year-round sport; it’s a life skill that can keep kids safe. So whether your child is an infant dipping his or her foot into the water for the first time or a high-schooler wanting to work on competitive strokes for swim team, these three new options in North Jersey are welcome additions. In may be cold outside, but inside these swim centers kids will no doubt feel the fun of summer.

Looking for more lessons? Check out our Guide to Classes and Enrichment Programs for NJ Kids, including a roundup of swim classes throughout the state.

35 Best Winter Activities for Kids (and Their Grown-ups)

It's finally winter, and you know what that means as a parent, right? Get ready for soggy snow pants, slurping cocoa, building snowmen, taking the kids sledding, and all things cozy for the family.

But if the thought of another long winter spent hibernating indoors with the kids swinging from rafters, leaves you shivering in fear, we want to help. Whether you're planning fun indoor activities for a school snow day at home, or just looking to entertain the kids on another winter weekend, we've rounded up nearly three dozen fun things to do.

These super simple ideas (many of them FREE) will come in handy when cabin fever strikes and make it easy to avoid the indoor entertainment pitfalls of more screen time and complaints about boredom of which we're all so familiar. Get ready to turn the long, dark days of winter into a season the whole family can enjoy.

Cheap Thrills: 30+ Drop-in Play Spaces for NJ Kids That Cost $15 or Less

When it’s too cold for the playground, and another playdate at home seems dull (or, to be honest, too stressful), taking your kid to a warm indoor play space is a welcome respite for the whole family. 

New Jersey has no shortage of indoor playgrounds from North Jersey to South Jersey, plenty of which offer drop-in hours. Still, many of these hot spots require long-term memberships or pricey entrance fees that often run $20 to $25 per child for a single drop-in.

When you just need someplace clean, fun and warm for your kids to play—that's not your living room—we found more than 30 indoor gems, all for $15 per child or significantly less, and some that are absolutely free! Your kids still get out of the house to experience a play space where everything seems new to them, and you don't have to clean up after, or empty your wallet! 

And don't forget your nearby shopping mall, where you'll often find low-key indoor playgrounds where kids can work out the wiggles while you shop. 

Find more indoor fun spots in our local NJ guide, or try these at-home boredom busters for days when you just want to stay in. If you find yourself with a full day to fill and you're up for a little more adventure, plan a winter day trip.

100 Things To Do in Chicago with Kids Before They Grow Up

Chicago is home to so many incredible parks, playgrounds, museums, and things to do with kids that one childhood doesn't seem like enough time to fit them all in—though who could blame you for trying? That's why we rounded up this list of great things to do with kids in Chi-town. Whether it's racing with your toddler through the sprinklers at Mary Bartelme Park, wowing your preschooler at the Field Museum, gliding with your grade-schooler on the skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park, or taking in engineering marvels with your tween at the Chicago Architecture Center, take advantage of everything this beautiful city has to offer kids of all ages. We're also big fans of FREE fun, so we included as much of that as possible.

Whether you're a local or a visitor to the Windy City, we hope you can use this list to make some great new memories with your kids. Now I'm off to scarf some Chicago-style hot dogs at Portillo's.

12 NJ Play Cafes with Fun for Kids and Perks for Parents

Once you become a parent, it’s all about the kids. That’s what "they" always say, right? Well, for the most part, that’s absolutely true—but, every once in a while, parents get a pass for fun (or at the very least, some time to fuel up for the rest of the day), too. The founders of some of our most-loved New Jersey indoor play spaces certainly seem to think so, and we couldn’t be more appreciative of the parental perks they’ve been brewing up!

From free Wi-Fi to seating that’s both comfortable and functional; and coffee that rivals cups from your favorite java joint to snacks and sips that go way beyond basic vending machine munchies; these premiere places put in the work to earn their stripes in the play cafe category—and have even become day trip–worthy in their own right.

Read on for 11 of the best spots catering to kids and their caretakers. At the end of the day, if the little ones love it, it’s well worth the cost of admission; if mom and dad get something out of it, too, then that’s grounds for repeat returns.

New Jersey Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free

Who says there’s no such thing as a free meal? Restaurants throughout New Jersey offer free kid meal promotions nearly every night of the week. (Basically, you never have to cook again.) Visit your favorite family-friendly restaurant on a kids-eat-free night, and you won’t have to worry about overspending on kids’ entrees, especially the ones that are barely touched. Check out some of these New Jersey dining spots that feature free kid meals on certain nights of the week. 

The Best and Worst States for Raising a Family

Everyone wants to raise their family in a healthy, safe, and yes, fun community. But, how do you go about finding the right corner of this country for your family? Trial and error perhaps, but WalletHub is also throwing a little data our way on just this subject. The credit report and personal finance site just released its ranking of the best and worst 50 states in which to raise kids.

It weighed a number of factors to determine the top family-friendly states, looking at schools, housing, crime, childcare costs and quality, parental leave options, salaries, and of course, the amount of family fun per capita, including access to parks and playgrounds.

Read on to find out how your state stacks up—and where you might want to consider relocating to with the kids!

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