It’s hard to believe that August is already here! Make the most of the final days of summer by taking day trips with your family. New Jersey is chock-full of unique and interesting places that are fun for parents and young children.
If your children are very young – under 18 months – the important thing is to get out of the house, get some fresh air, and enjoy your time together as a family. Children who cannot walk yet, may not be ready to appreciate the excitement of a zoo or amusement park, but will still have fun tagging along and seeing their parents smile. Consider planning a day trip to someplace that will be enjoyable to you and where baby can be easily toted along. For example, check out Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton. This 42-acre sculpture park is surprisingly accessible by stroller in most areas. There are many quiet and peaceful places where you can stop and sit to feed your baby and appreciate your surroundings. Another local treasure is the New Jersey Botanical Garden in Ringwood. With 96 acres of specialty gardens surrounded by 1000 acres of woodlands, there is something special to see all throughout the summer. Many of the paths are paved, making for a pleasant stroll with baby in tow.
As children approach age 2 and older, they will start to really enjoy special outings. Keep your child’s interests and age in mind when choosing a destination. Most young children have the stamina for about 2 hours of fun and excitement before they need a meal or a nap. If your child loves animals, consider a trip to the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange. In addition to the many animal exhibits, the zoo houses a carousel, playground, train ride, and pony rides. If your child loves dinosaurs, he or she would literally have a field day at Field Station: Dinosaurs in Secaucus where your child will be awed by 32 life-sized animatronic dinosaurs spread throughout a ¾ mile mountain trail. The entire park is stroller-friendly, and there are a number of shows and exhibits for young kids. If you have a very active child, then Pump It Up in Randolph is where you want to go. Your child can play on gigantic inflatable slides, bounce houses, obstacle courses and more. Note: call in advance because reservations are required, and there may be age/height restrictions.
Use this checklist when planning for an exciting day trip for your family in NJ:
1. Make sure your destination is stroller friendly!
2. Bring plenty of snacks for everyone in the family. A small snack can come in handy to prevent a meltdown…especially while waiting for lunch to be served! All snacks should be finger foods to avoid a mess.
3. Check in advance that the restrooms will have changing stations. If not, be prepared for an unorthodox diapering experience and bring along a changing mat.
4. If your child is good at napping in the car, plan to travel to your destination during naptime. This will help you make the most of the day and allow a little bit of quiet time for you too.
5. Let your toddler bring along a special toy, doll, or book. This will help with the transition to new and unfamiliar places.
6. If you have an infant, bring along a sling or carrier. Even if you plan to use the stroller, sometimes baby just wants to be held!
7. If breastfeeding, take it easy! Plan a trip with a light schedule so you have plenty of time to stop and nurse as needed. Cramming too much into one day defeats the purpose of having an enjoyable time with your family.