FAMILY TRAVEL – VIAGGI
The best New Jersey day trips are the ones spent with loved ones. They are inclusive, so even young children can participate. And they offer something different from the norm. While the state often gets a bad reputation, it provides endless opportunities for both studying and enjoying life. As a Jersey girl, born and raised, I have had the chance to visit all these places. Nowadays, I bring my son, niece, and nephew. What makes these little adventures the best for me is their ability to spark the imagination. They are educational and fun all at once. And they make for the perfect time out during the summer, when everyone is a little freer.
Discover the best New Jersey day trips:
Here, you can pick your own fruits and vegetables in season. Also, special events to honor holidays and celebrations are draws for the whole family. During many of the events, kids can go on a hay ride, ride a little wagon train, jump in the moon bounce, and climb stacks of hay. They can also ride a pony and visit with the farm animals. In addition, there are always holiday appropriate activities like picking pumpkins at Halloween and searching for eggs at Easter. Sometimes, you can tour the apple cider mill and see how it’s made. The samples are delicious. In July, there is a strawberry festival and a blueberry festival . In August, you can participate in the Peach Harvest Festival and Jersey Fresh Harvest Festival. You might consider the pancake breakfasts. On Farm Fun days, the little ones can do pretty much all those special event activities. When you tire of the farm, the quaint and charming Chester neighborhood awaits.
Turtle Back Zoo offers another opportunity to get close to nature. At this small zoo, kids can take a train ride, spin on the carousel, and see some impressive animals up close. The tortoises, penguins, and giraffes are favorites with most. Now, lions have joined the mix. The sea turtle rescue area is educational. You see the recovering wild sea turtles and get educated on how zookeepers help them. Another good time is the aviary, where you can feed parakeets. They land on your feet and hand. Careful not to roll over them if you have a stroller. Of course, TBZ also offers the chance to ride a pony.
AC is not the first place in Jersey to come to mind when you’re planning to hang out with kids. After all, the casinos are what make the place famous. But you’d be surprised to know that there are actually some fun things to do with kids, even on the Boardwalk. For starters, there’s a beach. The adults can take turns watching the kids and playing the slots. Also, there’s shopping galore. Outlets are within walking distance, and a mall is right on the Boardwalk. Ripley’s Believe It or Not is a fun museum with outrageous, unbelievable exhibits. Of course, the most popular place for kids is the Steel Pier. This amusement park is historical and offers a ferris wheel, other rides, and delicious treats. Nearby White House Sub Shop, with its V.I.P. following, offers a menu of sandwiches made with homemade fresh bread. Don’t forget to pick up some salt water taffy for the ride home.
Truly, all the shore points offer a good time. But Jenkinson’s Boardwalk in Point Pleasant offers something special. Besides the usual carnival rides and games and snacks, such as fried Oreos, visitors can visit the aquarium right on the beach. It’s small but the kids will be wowed by the wildlife, including penguins. Then, of course, you can always splash in the ocean and build castles in the sand. A couple of the Boardwalk restaurants serve the kids’ meals in a pail replete with shovel. Few can leave without indulging in soft-serve ice cream to boot.
Singing the praises of LSC is hardly difficult. This interactive museum makes science and technology come to life. One exhibit teaches about the Hudson River and some of the creatures that call it home. Another gives you the chance to see a working honey bee hive up close. The Skyscraper exhibit helps kids understand what it takes to build tall buildings. There, you’ll also see some 9/11 artifacts. The Infinity Climber gives kids a chance to jump and climb in a suspended, multistory play center. Warning, moms and dads, you might be terrified when looking up at your kids roughhousing in the sky. During the summer, the little ones will love digging in the sand to search for dinosaur fossils. There are always interesting traveling exhibits making an appearance. Pick up some astronaut ice cream and an LSC pencil that changes colors in your hand at the gift shop. Or you can just snap a photo of your crew wearing astronaut helmets before leaving.
Many people don’t realize that Liberty State Park is in New Jersey. From here, you can take a boat to the statue and Ellis Island. The New York skyline is in the background and the park makes for a beautiful backdrop for photos. Of course, visiting the statue, climbing inside it, and learning about the country’s immigrant roots is momentous. Finding artifacts people brought from distant lands and tracking down your own ancestors who passed through are among the highlights.
Di Meglio is the author of Fun with the Family New Jersey (Globe Pequot Press, 2012). She also has written the Our Paesani column for ItaliansRus.com since 2003. You can follow the Italian Mamma on Facebook or Twitter @ItalianMamma10.