Michelle Vames

Michelle Vames

Latest posts by Michelle Vames

Weekend Fun: Thomas & Friends, Giant Pumpkin Carve, BrickFair 2017

Autumn is officially in full swing, and there's tons of fall fun to be had throughout the Garden State. This weekend, head to one of NJ's top family-friendly farms for events like the Great Pumpkin Festival at Heaven Hill Farm or the Fall Harvest Festival at Johnson's Corner Farm. Experience old-fashioned fun at Historic Longstreet Farm's Harvest Home Festival, or take a Harvest Moon Hayride at Alstede Farms.  

There's plenty of indoor action, too: everyone's favorite tank engine rolls into Liberty Science Center on Saturday in a STEM-focused exhibit called Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails, and it's all about LEGO this weekend at BrickFair 2017 in Edison. Plus, more than 20 NJ museums will offer free admission on Saturday as part of Smithsonian Museum Day Live.

Find many more ideas for weekend fun in our Fall Fun Guide, which is packed with fall fairsamazing corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and the best spots to go apple picking. And look to our Event Calendar for a full listing of happenings this weekend and beyond.

Weekend Fun: Corn Mazes, Alpacas, Teddy Bear Parade

If you're knee-deep in back-to-school prep, never fear—we've got you covered with ways to unwind this weekend. You can meet the sweet residents of Bluebird Farm Alpacas, learn a new outdoor skill at New Jersey WILD Outdoor Expo, and celebrate gram and gramps with a scenic Grandparents Day train ride.

Jump right into autumn with a visit to an apple orchard, get lost in one of NJ's amazing corn mazes, or head to Camden Children's Garden for its Hefty Harvest and Scary Scarecrows weekend. You can find even more fall fun activities in our list of 35 Things We Can't Wait To Do with NJ Kids This Fall.

For more options, take a look at our full Event Calendar and Fall Fun Guide for NJ Kids. And check out our Guide to NJ Classes and Enrichment Programs to find something new to engage your kiddo this school year.

Last but not least, visit our local DEALS page to score discounts on camps, classes, birthday party packages, and more for NJ kids. Check back often because we're constantly adding new ones.

Learn in the Great Outdoors at NJ Nature Preschools and Programs for Kids

As schools across the country cut recess in favor of test prep, and kids spend more time indoors staring at screens, there is a growing movement to reacquaint children with nature, free play, and the joy of exploring the great outdoors. Modeled after the forest kindergartens that have long been popular in Germany and Scandinavia, nature-based preschools, kindergartens, and other outdoor programs for young children are popping up all over the U.S., including New Jersey.

In these programs, children examine flora and fauna, climb trees, make art, splash in streams, play with mud, count sticks, sing, listen to stories, and more. Proponents of outdoor learning point to its many benefits, saying it can improve cognitive function and physical health, boost confidence and empathy, and even counter symptoms of ADHD. 

The Garden State offers a variety of options, from preschool programs that take place entirely outdoors to more traditional schools that place a premium on spending time outside. There are even parent-and-child classes, so grown-ups can get in on the fun, too. All promote child-led, unstructured play as a means to spark curiosity and foster learning and a love of nature. 

To find more opportunities for outdoor learning and exploration, check out NJ's great nature centers, and for a comprehensive selection of classes of all kinds, take a look at our guide to Classes and Enrichment Programs for NJ Kids

Labor Day Weekend Events for New Jersey Kids

The unofficial last weekend of summer is here, New Jersey, and it’s time to enjoy one final family outing before diving into school, schedules, and busy September. Choose from a variety of fairs and festivals, including St. Bart's Italian Festival in Scotch Plains and the Scandinavian Festival in Budd Lake. Learn all about penguins at Adventure Aquarium's Penguin Awareness Weekend, visit the PAW Patrol gang at Toys 'R' Us, and take a leisurely paddle on the Passaic River.

For a last blast of summer fun, squeeze in a trip to the Jersey Shore before the beaches officially close after Labor Day, cool off at one of the state's awesome family water parks, or spend a day at the lake. Just get there early, as parking lots are likely to overflow on the holiday weekend! Of course, the many Jersey theme parks, including those best for our youngest kids remain open this holiday weekend, too. 

If you're after an early taste of fall, head to the apple orchard: NJ's trees are already brimming with apples, and many farms like the popular Alstede kick off fall fun this weekend with corn mazes, hayrides, and other family entertainment. Find more long weekend outings in our Day Trips Guide, including under-the-radar gems like Duke Farms and Greenwood Gardens, plus cool towns, and destination-worthy playgrounds.

For even more options, take a look at our full Event Calendar and Summer Fun Guide. In a back-to-school state of mind? Check out our NJ Classes Guide to find something new to do this fall.

September GoList: The Best Things To Do With NJ Kids This Month

Help the kids ease their back-to-school blues with some excellent events happening throughout NJ in September. From early fall fun to awesome animal encounters, we've hand-picked some of our favorite things to do this month. You can visit  African penguins or hang with friendly alpacas, have a sleepover at the zoo, sing along with Shopkins Live!, and visit Thomas & Friends on the Island of Sodor without leaving New Jersey.

For even more September fun, look to our roundup of September Fairs and Festivals, and find a great selection of after-school activities in our Guide to Classes and Enrichment Programs for NJ Kids. Don't forget to check out our Event Calendar for a complete listing of happenings this month and beyond. 

Weekend Fun: Superheroes, Seafarers, Summer Movies

It's the last weekend of August! Soak up some late-summer fun this weekend with festivals galore, including the Melon Festival at Oasis Family Farm, the Chocolate & Vanilla Celebration at Camden Children's Garden, and the Caribbean Festival in New Brunswick. See historic sights and demonstrations at Industrial Crafts Day at Cooper Gristmill and Seafarers' Weekend at Historic Cold Spring Village. And pack up your beach blankets and snacks for outdoor movie nights in Seaside Heights and Highland Park.

Find more ways to savor the last days of summer vacation in our Summer Fun Guide for NJ Kids, including our list of the Best Jersey Shore Beaches for Families. And be sure to check out our Event Calendar for a complete listing of happenings this weekend and beyond.

Last but not least, visit our brand-new local DEALS page to score discounts on camps, classes, birthday party packages, and more for NJ kids. Check back often because we're constantly adding new ones.

Weekend Fun: Butterfly Festival, Wizard of Oz, County Fairs

No matter what your kids are into, you're bound to find something fun this weekend. You can hear a nautical tale at Cape May's Lighthouse Storytime, head to Liberty State Park to Explore the Hudson River Estuary, or see entertaining experiments at Mad Science Summer Camp in Paramus. Travel back in time at the Living History Encampment in Historic Smithville, or fall under the spell of The Wizard of Oz at the Morris Museum's Bickford Theatre. 

Try one of the many fairs and festivals happening this month, including the Festival of the Sea in Long Beach Township and the Watershed Butterfly Festival in Pennington.

Find ways to beat the heat in our Summer Fun Guide for NJ Kids, which includes our list of the Best Jersey Shore Beaches for Families. And be sure to check out our Event Calendar for a complete listing of happenings this weekend and beyond.

Read on for more of our weekend picks, and don't forget to visit our brand-new local DEALS page to score discounts on camps, classes, birthday party packages, and more for NJ kids. 

August GoList: Best Things To Do with New Jersey Kids

Make the most of the final full month of summer with awesome August activities ranging from fairs and festivals to stargazing and Shark Week. You can camp on the beach at Morristown's Sunrise Lake, picnic on the lawn at the Princeton University Art Museum, or put on some wings and march in a Butterfly and Bug Parade at the annual Watershed Butterfly Festival in Pennington.

Take a break from the heat and chill out at the theater with a stage production of The Wizard of Oz, or catch a double-bill of Hansel & Gretel and Goldilocks & the Three Bears. Give your wallet a break and head to one of NJ's many free summer movies, or take part in tons of other free fun

If you haven't made it down the shore yet or are looking for a new beach to visit, check out the Best Jersey Shore Beaches for Families, and find lots of other ways to stay cool in our Summer Fun Guide. And don't forget to check our Event Calendar, updated daily with summer happenings across NJ.