Margaret Hargrove

Margaret Hargrove

Latest posts by Margaret Hargrove

Cheap Thrills: 20 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 20 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.

Quaint and Quirky Holiday Celebrations for New Jersey Families

We all have our favorite family holiday traditions, whether it’s viewing an annual light display, cutting down a fresh Christmas tree, or having breakfast with Santa. All good stuff, to be sure. But if you’re looking to shake things up this year, try an experience you won't find at your local mega-mall.

One option is to go small: New Jersey’s charming small towns play host to a variety of quaint holiday happenings, from Dickens carolers to Christmas Candlelight House Tours.

If you're after something truly unique, NJ has plenty of that, too. You can celebrate Christmas Underwater at Adventure Aquarium, get festive with the furry residents of Bluebird Farm Alpacas, or explore an animated wonderland at the Christmas Ice Caverns.

Who knows? One of these activities might become your family’s new holiday favorite. Check out our roundup below for some great small-town and off-the-beaten-path fun. For more ways to celebrate the festive holiday season, visit our Holiday Fun Guide.

2017 Long Island Bestie Guide

Long Island families, you have spoken! We asked you to weigh in on the Long Island's Besties—the best family businesses across 24 categories ranging from restaurants to party places, swim schools, and more. With all the great family fun experiences and resources on Long Island, it was hard to narrow down to just one winner per category, but you were up to the task. In the pages that follow, you will get to know our Besties, the most highly regarded Long Island businesses that live to serve, entertain, teach, and enrich the lives of your family.

We can't thank each of our 236 finalists and their fans enough for participating in our contest. We'd also like to extend a special thank you to our Besties Sponsors, and our congratulations to the four lucky voters who were picked at random to enjoy some amazing prizes. You made our contest awesome, and we love you.

And now, without further ado, Mommy Poppins proudly presents your guide to the best of family friendly Long Island, the 2017 Long Island Besties! Because 24 is a lot of winners, we've divided them into three groups: Family Fun, Parenting Resources, and Enrichment Programs. Enjoy!

Best Family Fun WinnersBest Parenting Resources Winners | Best Enrichment Programs Winners

NJ Doughnut Crawl: These 10 Shops Are Tops for a Family Treat

After a long week, there’s no better treat for a lazy, never get-out-of-your-pajamas weekend morning than a box of fresh, hot doughnuts. Luckily, New Jersey is chock-full of out-of-this-world doughy wonders. We (gladly) did the tireless research of combing the state's doughnut shops and bakeries for the best doughnuts for kids of all ages.

These 10 spots have taken fried dough to a whole new level. From shops selling candy-covered delights to brunch food–inspired delicacies—plus doughnuts featuring local ingredients and flavors—here’s where you can score delectable doughnuts that will delight everyone in the family. 

If you're looking for more sweet treats, check out our roundups of fun ice cream joints, sweet shops, and spots where kids can make their own candy and sweets

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.

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.

2017 Long Island Bestie Guide: Enrichment Program Winners

Long Island families, you have spoken! We asked you to weigh in on the Long Island's Besties—the best family businesses across 24 categories ranging from restaurants, party places, swim schools and more. With all the great family fun experiences and resources on Long Island, it was hard to narrow it down to just one winner per category, but you were up to the task! In the pages that follow you will get to know our Besties, the most highly regarded Long Island businesses that live to serve, entertain, teach and enrich the lives of your family.

We can't thank each of our 236 finalists and their fans enough for participating in our contest. We'd also like to extend a special thank you to our Bestie Sponsors and our congratulations to the four lucky voters who were picked at random to enjoy some amazing prizes! You made our contest awesome and we love you.

And now, without further ado, Mommy Poppins proudly presents your guide to the best of family-friendly Long Island, the 2017 Long Island Besties! Because 24 is a lot of winners, we've divided them into three groups: Family FunParenting Resources, and Enrichment Programs. Enjoy!

Best Family Fun Winners | Best Parenting Resources Winners | Best Enrichment Programs Winners

2017 Long Island Bestie Guide: Parenting Resources Winners

Long Island families, you have spoken! We asked you to weigh in on the Long Island's Besties—the best family businesses across 24 categories ranging from restaurants to party places, swim schools, and more. With all the great family fun experiences and resources on Long Island, it was hard to narrow down to just one winner per category, but you were up to the task. In the pages that follow, you will get to know our Besties, the most highly regarded Long Island businesses that live to serve, entertain, teach, and enrich the lives of your family.

We can't thank each of our 236 finalists and their fans enough for participating in our contest. We'd also like to extend a special thank you to our Besties Sponsors, and our congratulations to the four lucky voters who were picked at random to enjoy some amazing prizes. You made our contest awesome, and we love you.

And now, without further ado, Mommy Poppins proudly presents your guide to the best of family friendly Long Island, the 2017 Long Island Besties! Because 24 is a lot of winners, we've divided them into three groups: Family Fun, Parenting Resources, and Enrichment Programs. Enjoy!

Best Family Fun WinnersBest Parenting Resources Winners | Best Enrichment Programs Winners

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