Jen A. Miller’s Family-Friendly Guide to the Jersey Shore

We’re excited at Jersey Kids to feature a Q&A with author Jen A. Miller, whose second edition of Explorer’s Guides –  The Jersey Shore:Atlantic City to Cape May, a Great Destination, just came out. Jen also keeps up with the daily shore happenings at her blog, Down the Shore with Jen. We asked her about some family-friendly Shore topics.

Q: What are the best family-friendly shore towns?

A: Ocean City is built for families. It’s a completely dry town (not even BYOB!) and its boardwalk is built for people who want to stroll with a stroller or two. The ride piers cater to families, too. Sure, your teenagers will find some thrills and spills, but there’s tons of stuff for the littler ones, too.

Q: What are the top 3 fun/unique places on the shore to visit with kids?

A: Take them for a ride on the Carousel at Gillian’s Wonderland Pier in Ocean City. This is one of the few places where you can reach out and grab the golden ring from a carousel. It’s a gorgeous piece of art, too, that you can ride!

Silverball Pinball Museum in Asbury Park.  This place is amazing. For a flat fee, you can play the machines inside this pinball museum, which is located right on the boardwalk. VERY popular with parents, too!

-If they’re up for it, I’d take them to the top of the Cape May Lighthouse. You can’t get better views. And it’s an easy way to have them expend some energy 🙂 Continue reading “Jen A. Miller’s Family-Friendly Guide to the Jersey Shore”

New Jersey – What to do with the kids this Summer?

As school draws to an end, I’ve been collecting lists of places to go and things to do this summer. Here are a few links to get you started:

Summer Family-Fun Guide – fairs and festivals in the Garden State this summer (Star Ledger)

Summer Camp Guide – in case you are still making plans (Star Ledger)

New Jersey Summer Beach Guide (New Jersey Monthly)

Jersey Shore – Guide for Summer Fun Activities (New Jersey Monthly)

–Shore happenings – Jen Miller’s Down the Shore with Jen blog. The second edition of her book Explorer’s Guide – The Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May is being released now.

–I recently heard Kevin Woyce speak about Jersey Shore history – totally interesting stuff. He has a book out, Jersey Shore History and Facts – check it out.

–Head to a New Jersey State Park

–Go to a small amusement park (Mommy Poppins)

–Read Jersey Kids’ review of Land of Make Believe

Any helpful links you love? Add them in the comments!

Boston – What the Kids Like to Do

We had a plan for what we’d do and see in Boston. It was educational. It was cultural. It was physical ( lots and lots of walking).  The highlights for the kids, however, were not the ones we planned for them. They did not love the Freedom Trail. They did not love seeing Daddy’s alma mater and hearing fascinating stories of the building donors and founders. Here’s what they’ll remember from Boston:

#1. These are doors leading into and out of the Boston T stops. They open in a funny way – going in, then up. The kids found this endlessly amusing.

#2. The vending machines. Our hotel (the Midtown Hotel) had an endless supply of interesting vending machines, like this one that Continue reading “Boston – What the Kids Like to Do”

Review: Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour in Vermont

When we told people we were going to Vermont, they all asked “are you going to Ben & Jerry’s?” And given how much I love factory tours, we went.

The tour was really short. After watching a sanitized (but cute) several minute video, we went into a viewing area above the production floor. Though they’re supposed to be producing ice cream on the weekdays (we were there on a Friday at 2 p.m.), unfortunately they had already finished the batch for that day, so we got to see them cleaning the equipment. Sigh.

The kids didn’t understand much about the ice cream making process, and didn’t really like the actual viewing part. But then again, that part took only about 10 minutes.

“I liked the eating part the best,” said Zachary.

Continue reading “Review: Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour in Vermont”

Review: Six Flags Great Adventure – Plus Discount Codes

“He said he was in Paris. He said it was urgent I come.”

“To Paris?” I asked.

“No, to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey…”

Long Lost by Harlan Coben

Six Flags Great Adventure

This Jackson, NJ location is the is the largest Six Flags in the country. Woo hoo! Having been to several in California, I was pleasantly surprised with this one. It was clean, the employees were helpful (except one) and the other visitors weren’t quite as skanky as at other Six Flags parks. Continue reading “Review: Six Flags Great Adventure – Plus Discount Codes”

Review: Six Flags Wild Safari in New Jersey

Jersey Kids review of Six Flags new Wild Safari Park is here – 2013 review)

This New Jersey park claims to be the largest drive-through safari outside Africa. It’s 350 acres, and it does take awhile to drive through. You’ll see something different each time you go through, but at least early in the day, it’s cooler for the animals and you may see more of the 1,100 that live there.

(Of note: on August 30, 2012 Six Flags announced that Wild Safari would close to individual cars starting in the 2013 season. Instead, the park will become a regular Six Flags theme park attraction – Camp Aventura – where guests will ride in open air vehicles driven by park employees. Guests may be able to hand-feed or pet some of the animals. For an extra fee, guests can zip line over the camp. Read the review of the newly opened attraction here.)

You won’t find these rides in the background in Africa!

Admittedly it was a bit odd in the beginning and end, because you can see Great Adventure rides in the background. It’s hard to picture these animals in the wild, with the Kingda Ka coaster doing its thing. But once you journey a little further inside, you forget about the amusement park (you can’t see it anymore) and just focus on the animals.

It’s a nice park – with signs in each area telling you what animals you’re seeing. They apparently have a CD/DVD you can buy (CD to listen to in the car, DVD to watch at home) – but I didn’t see anything about this on the website. Continue reading “Review: Six Flags Wild Safari in New Jersey”

Land of Make Believe – Review

If you’re looking for some clean, family fun, and your kids are on the younger side, head to the Land of Make Believe in Hope, New Jersey. They have lots of kiddie rides and a fun water park good for both younger older kids.

The park is quite manageable for families with young kids. It’s not too big (but not so small that you’ll get bored). The rides are geared toward kids age 6 and younger (preschoolers will be quite happy). My 8 year old was bored with most rides, and I was surprised that my 6 year old was happy to ride them.

The Rides: Expect everything from a carousel to a small tilt-a-whirl. The mini roller coaster was fun for us – it goes in a loop and is good for the younger set. There probably 15 rides.

Attractions: We didn’t check out the arcade, Haunted Halloween House, jump houses or Dog Pound (games). There’s also a train circling the park and a hay ride.

The Show (Middle Earth Theater): The park put on a very cute interactive show featuring any kid and adult who wants in. Dori and I were part of it, and we could choose our part. The skit was funny and the kids had a great time dressing up and acting in it. Zack had fun watching. They said they want to do it again next time we go.

Continue reading “Land of Make Believe – Review”

12 Things To Do with Kids this Summer in NYC

If you’ve been to New York City with kids many times, and you’re looking for something new and different, read on.

-Want a family-friendly Broadway show? If Mary Poppins is too young (or you’ve seen it), dry the darker Addams Family, or the classic Miracle Worker.

-For off-Broadway shows, get tickets to the Awesome 80’s Prom.

-Get your hands (or at least your eyes) on some gold, at the Federal Reserve’s gold vault.

Read the entire story of 12 things to do in New York City with Kids – for details on new candy shops, museum teen nights, scavenger hunts, and new luxury hotels.

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The New Jersey State Fair – with Kids

It seems like there are two state fairs in New Jersey. There’s the State Fair at the Meadowlands, and the New Jersey State Fair Sussex County Farm & Horse Show. The latter is August 6-15, 2010. It has the stuff you might expect from a state fair, like a demolition derby, home arts, baking competitions, artistry using a chain-saw and wood, animal shows, lots of 4-H activities, lawnmower racing, a farm tractor pull, taxidermy, model trains, robotics, cyclocross bike racing, quilts and more. Oddly, there’s nothing on the website about rides and games.
We went to the  State Fair at the Meadowlands. It’s open until July 5, 2010. It has rides, entertainment and games. We did a daytime excursion, as part of a company summer event. It was so hot we spent a fortune on drinks. This was our first State Fair in New Jersey, and to be honest – it was really small! I’ve been to county fairs that were much bigger. And I really missed the 4-H kids and their animals, the hobbyists and the vendors inside their own building, hawking all kinds of dishwares and housewares. Apparently, though, it’s the largest fair in the New Jersey, New York metro area. (Note: the reader who commented so politely below points out that this is actually not the REAL state fair – this one is actually a for-profit carnival).

Okay, then. Here’s my review of the State Fair Meadowlands – with kids.

Here piggy, piggy!

LIVE SHOWS – the shows are all free with admission. We saw the Sea Lion Splash – very cute. They have three sea lions who jump, dance and do other tricks for you. The show is about 15 minutes long and kids can stand up front to watch. We missed the BMX Stunt Show, which looks like fun. It goes through the end of the fair. Hypnotist, Steve Bayner is funny. The Batcopter aerial show runs daily, and you can get a 2 minute ride for $30. The racing pigs were a lot of fun, also about a 15 mintue show. Check the schedule before going – the shows change daily. Continue reading “The New Jersey State Fair – with Kids”

Ellis Island with Kids

A visit to Ellis Island with kids is emotional no matter where you come from. The facility, which processed 12 million immigrants from 1892-1954, was the first stop for many coming to the U.S. The Statue of Liberty was the symbol of freedom – Ellis Island was the gateway to obtain it. They estimate that more than 100 million Americans have a connection to Ellis Island.

To take advantage of what Ellis Island offers, make sure you have plenty of time to peruse the galleries. The exhibits downstairs are not nearly as interesting as those upstairs. There’s plenty to interest even the younger kids.

When you enter Ellis Island, you might even feel like you’re an immigrant yourself. After all, those around you speak a multitude of languages and might be wearing outfits traditional to other lands And you come from a crowded boat that you waited in lines to board. Granted, your passage from New Jersey’s Liberty Park or New York’s Battery Park took only 15-30 minutes (two boat rides from New York, one from New Jersey) and you weren’t packed on like sardines, stuck in a dimly lit hold or subjected to motion sickness-inducing waves.

You’ll be shuffled inside the building with your fellow boat-mates, unsure where to go and what you’ll see. After entering the glass doors, straight-ahead look for the collection of luggage and photos from those early arrivals. It’s a perfect teaching moment for the kids – showing how little luggage newcomers brought, and the lines they had to wait in (in heat and cold). Now’s a good time to remember your ancestors. Continue reading “Ellis Island with Kids”