So who said the Garden State has nothing fun to offer? Just step into iPlay America and you’ll see a new side of New Jersey. iPlay America is the perfect blend of amusement park and indoor gaming. The 90,000 square foot facility offers a high tech two-story laser tag arena, bumper cars, go carts, rides, casino, mini bowling, 200 arcade games, carnival games, and an indoor playscape for young children. iPlay is pure magic, a guaranteed fun treat for your whole family. Price for admission at iPlay is $20 per person ages 3 and up. This includes a$5 admission fee and a $15 play card that can be used for games, rides, and/or food. While iPlay is a little pricey, it is a great place to visit. The management is still working on its business model, so I expect that in the near future it will initiate better eat and play deals similar to those offered at Dave & Busters. Call to inquire about group rates and party spaces at iPlay and its sister party rental space Encore, which is housed next door. The facility will officially open to the public on November 11th.
A trip to the Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum Complex is guaranteed to be a fun day for the entire family. It also gives us a glimpse into the lives of our servicemen, who helped lay the foundation for our freedoms. The Intrepid Museum, which is housed aboard the USS Intrepid, has interactive programs, movies, and aircraft structures that you can actually enter. The Kamikaze interactive movie was particularly moving. From Nov 7th to Nov 21st, there will be another program of interest: a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. D.C. The exhibit will be called The Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall. Regular admission to the Intrepid Museum is $24 for adults, $19 for children ages 7-17, and $12 for children ages 3-6. This price includes admission to the Intrepid, the Growler Submarine, and the film “Story of the Intrepid.”
Note: Active and Retired U.S. Military personnel and children under 3 are free.
If you’re looking for a fun, inexpensive amusement park to take your family to, look no further than Quassy Amusement Park located in Middlebury, CT. There are tons of fun activities to entertain children of all ages. You can start your day off at the lakefront beach. The water is warm, and the surroundings are serene. Then hop on over to the Saturation Station. Both you and your kids will enjoy the slides and the dunking stations. Feel free to grab a bite at one of the amusement parks’ concession stands. The food is simple: burgers, fries, chicken fingers, etc. Of course, there are also lots of opportunities to indulge a sweet tooth. Try the fried dough. You won’t be disappointed! Of course, the park’s main attractions are the rides. We rode the Wooden Warrior, a wooden roller coaster that surprised us with its speed. Checkout Quassy’s website for special After Labor Day rates. Admission in the summer is$23.50 for adults and $19 for kids. Reduced rates are available on select dates and after 5:00 p.m. There is an after hours Saturday special, for which you pay $30 with a car load of up to 5 people. Be sure to visit this Middlebury treasure for the whole family if you’re in the area. It’s quite a steal!
In the city that never sleeps, there is always something to do. If you love diversity, amusement parks, and sideshows and don’t mind a crowd, then Coney Island in Brooklyn, NY is a must-go. It is a lot cleaner than it was in the 90′s, but it hasn’t changed much otherwise. My sister and I took our families there recently, and we had an awesome time. The kids enjoyed the kiddie park rides and could not get enough of the classic Coney Island treats– cotton candy, Nathan’s hot dogs, and pizza. Sue, our hubbies, and I didn’t get a chance to go on the disco bumper cars, which we used to enjoy in our younger days. It was all about the kids this time. We’ll have to go back one day by ourselves and recapture our youth. The boardwalk is always buzzing with activities. There are all kinds of sideshows, including a circus and a burlesque show. Check out the link below for information on these shows and other activities. Visit this Brooklyn treasure before the summer ends!
My first trip to Magic Kingdom was many years ago, but after going back this year, I must say, the MAGIC is still there. I almost lost my breath as I stepped onto the path to Cinderella’s Castle. From the view of the Castle, to seeing my daughter on the teacup ride, to Mickey’s Philharmagic show, all I can say is –AMAZING. It is a trip that is definitely worth taking your family on.
Tips: If you are staying for a week, purchase the 5 day Hoppers pass, so that you can enjoy yourself at a leisurely pace. Visit the park early in the morning, and then return for the late evening fireworks show. Also, learn from my mistake– travel in the fall or early spring, as the temperature can hit 95 degrees in the late spring and summer months.
If you want a fun place for the kids to experience nature, head on over to the Nature Center of Cape May. The facility houses, a “please touch” museum, a kiddie laboratory, a garden, a craft activity center, a nature trail, and an observatory deck with telescopes. Throughout the year the center hosts different free and inexpensive activities for families. Currently, the Nature Center is working on a children’s A-Z book about Cape May. Children can participate in coloring squares using oil pastels, which will be used to create illustrations for each letter of the alphabet. My kids enjoyed participating in this activity, while my sister’s two and four year olds enjoyed staging a puppet show. The Nature Center offers enough activities to engage every member of a family. Yes, even moms and dads will enjoy watching dolphins porpoise in the ocean. Definitely don’t forget to stop by the Nature Center if you’re visiting this tranquil seaside community! Note: moms and dads should be prepared to spend a little money in the center’s gift shop, which has a few nifty buys. My sons and my niece got Snake Egg Pets, which hatch when submerged in water, for $2.50 each and my daughter got a mood ring for $4.00. Not bad! Also be sure to visit the Cape May County Park & Zoo and the Cape May Lighthouse, which are also featured in our Must-Go column.
Do you have an interest in animals and like to play? If so, you really should visit the Cape May County Park & Zoo! The Cape May County Park & Zoo is a great place to go as a family. The park has playgrounds, wide open spaces to play soccer or just about anything else, a carousel, and a train. This zoo is gigantic and is filled with hundreds of amazing animals! There is so much to see and learn. The staff members at the zoo are very friendly and talkative. The zoo is open every day except for major holidays. The hours of operation are 9:00 a.m.-3:45 p.m. during the winter and 10:00 a.m.- 4:45 p.m. during the summer. I highly recommend visiting the Cape May County Park and Zoo. You won’t be disappointed! It is a fun place for families. Psss, moms and dads will also like that admission is free all year round.
On our getaway adventure this past weekend, we visited the Cape May Lighthouse, which is the third lighthouse to mark Cape May Point. Constructed in 1859, the tower stands 157 feet and 6 inches. There is a spiral staircase that has 199 steps. We all made it the top. This was quite a feat for me because I did most of it with my two-year old son attached to my hip! My daughter, luckily, walked on her own alongside her cousins. Though I made it to the top, I have to admit that I was too chicken to stand outside and take in the panoramic view like the rest of the group. No worries though, I did get some great shots from the portholes.
Why pay those ridiculously priced Manhattan hotels when you can stay at this quaint family-oriented hideaway in the Garden State? The Hyatt Place in Paramus, New Jersey was my family’s solution for a fun-filled family Spring Break retreat? And guess what? We live in the Garden State. The Hyatt Place is conveniently located 15 minutes from New York City attractions and near one of New Jersey’s best shopping centers, the Westfield Mall. What else can a gal ask for? The rooms are spacious, clean, and modern. A family of five can easily stay in a double bed room. There is even a pull out sofa for extra sleeping space, lounging, reading a book, or playing board games. You can’t go wrong at an affordable $135- $165 a night. You or your little ones can go for a swim and play Marco Polo in the hotel’s sizable pool. A stay at the Hyatt Place includes a continental breakfast that offers plenty of choices, even for picky eaters. Next time you and your family are planning a short getaway, consider the Hyatt Place in Paramus. You won’t be dissappointed! Psst, the hotel staff are very pleasant.