New Jersey

Best Miniature Golf Courses for New Jersey Kids and Families

Summer is on the horizon, and that means day trips, swimming, water parks, adventures with the small people, and yes, putt-putt. New Jersey apparently has a thing for windmills and teeny-weeny pencils—there are at least 53 miniature golf courses in the Garden State!

We're highlighting nearly half of these courses, with themes ranging from pirate shipwrecks and African safaris to NJ landmarks and a medieval castle—so get out that little pencil and make your way around the state. 

40+ Free Things To Do in May with New Jersey Kids

Hooray for May! Bring on the outdoor fairs, festivals and Memorial Day celebrations. And if you're budgeting for summer vacations and camp, no need to skimp on the May fun. These activities and events are all FREE to attend.

Street fair season is in full swing this month. Check out food vendors, crafts, and demonstrations at neighborhood fairs around the state, including Westfield, Highland Park, Maplewood, and Lake Hopatcong. Head down to the shore for admission-free, beachy extravaganzas like the Ocean City Spring Block Party, the New Jersey Seafood Festival, Ocean Fun Days, and the Wildwoods International Kite Festival.

Top off the month with free Memorial Day parades in Freehold, Westfield, and New Providence, plus the Bradley Beach Memorial Day Festival.

Read on for this month's picks! For more free and low-cost fun, check out our Event Calendar and Guide to New Jersey Parks and Playgrounds.        

25 STEM Activities Easy Enough for Preschoolers

STEM activities are all the rage in education right now, and for good reason. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) – and the Arts for STEAM – are crucial to kids’ learning and our future. But how to get your younger children interested?

They might not be ready for coding, but many preschoolers under age 5, and even toddlers, can enjoy some basic STEM principles through play. Although one of my family’s admitted guilty pleasures is relaxing with a little screen time, I was inspired by the upcoming national Screen-Free Week (April 30-May 6, 2018) to take my daughter on a STEM binge instead.

We built an apple boat, a toothpick-marshmallow castle, attempted a pom-pom drop, and indulged in baking soda science. Read on for a list of 25 tried-and-true screen-free STEM activities to do with your preschooler.

May GoList: Best Things To Do with NJ Kids This Month

May is bursting with springtime fun. It's the perfect month to fly a kite, celebrate moms, and check out the gazillion fairs and festivals happening across the state. You can explore New Jersey's amazing shore at Ocean Fun Days, and travel back in time to the Renaissance and the Wild West.

When the weather's not cooperating, head indoors to see a performance, including The Wizard of Oz and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. It all culminates in Memorial Day weekend, which marks the start of summer fun with the opening of many water parks and amusement parks, including the tot-friendly Land of Make Believe

Read on to see our 20 top picks for the merry month of May. For even more things to do, be sure to check out our Event Calendar, with new activities and events added daily, as well as our Spring Fun Guide for New Jersey Kids. Spring is finally here—soak it up, NJ!

Camden Children's Garden Welcomes Little Explorers

On the New Jersey side of the Delaware River, tucked right next to Adventure Aquarium, is a darling outdoor play space and garden center that makes for a perfect afternoon. Whether you live in New Jersey, across the river in Philadelphia, or are just passing through, the Camden Children's Garden is truly a special place, as my 5- and 1-year old children and I discovered on a recent visit. 

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.

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