It’s May, which means there’s tons of outdoor fun to be had. Start the weekend with a trip to the Camden Children’s Garden to marvel at Monarchs, then challenge your kids to the obstacle course at the Lake Hopatcong Block Party. Be sure to make the trip to Hamilton for the Azalea Festival (for the perfect springtime shots of your kids) and grab tickets to the Daniel Tiger show in Englewood before spending the rest of the weekend celebrating Mother’s Day. Don’t worry, we’ve already found the spots to celebrate, including brunches and last minute gift ideas.
Got a bunch of five-and-unders to entertain? We’ve got perfect activities that cater just to them, and free events if you’re on a budget. If you’re looking for great events in your neighborhood, check our calendar for tons more. This weekend’s weather forecast doesn’t look too sunny, so make sure to have a Plan B with these 50 things to do indoors.
ALL WEEKEND LONG
The best way to start summer—and any weekend really, in our opinion—is with a fair. Our Lady of Peace is bringing all the food, rides and games your kids would want to one spot, plus there’ll be a beer garden, raffles and crafters’ booths for parents.
She finally has an excuse to strap on those fairy wings outside the house—at the Butterfly House, all wings are welcome. The kids can get an up close and personal look at caterpillars and butterflies, then participate in an educational activity and work on two themed crafts. Trust us, you’ll want to check out the Monarchs, which flap their wings 300-720 times per minute!
Free/members, $9/non-members, free/ages 1 and under
SATURDAY (MAY 11)
Hop on your Nimbus 2000 and soar to NJPAC for an afternoon of scores from beloved shows like The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet and of course, Harry Potter. Come before the show for arts and crafts, an instrument petting zoo and more.
Run along the Hudson River and check out Lady Liberty and that gorg NYC skyline—all for a great cause. It’s a win-win: The kids get off the couch and you get to teach them about giving back. This 5K benefits The American Cancer Fund, and if your family doesn’t feel like jogging, there’s also a mile walk for survivors and those who wish to support them.
$25-30/adults, $20/ages 15 and under
In addition to Historic Smithville’s permanent attractions like the carousel, train, paddle boats and arcade, this kid-centric fest will have popcorn, face painting, balloon animals, games and a special show from the Cape May Zoo to your day. Some activities are free, while others cost a nominal fee.
Grab a passport at the Passport Adventure tent and grab stamps as your family travels around the block party’s booths, then at the end of your day, turn it in to be entered for prizes. In addition to the party’s 200 vendors, crafters and food stops (think gourmet grilled cheese, lobster rolls and shaved ice), take the kids to the children’s scavenger hunt, which gives them an excuse to explore the state park, try hands-on activities, enter giveaways and learn (plus, a completed scavenger hunt card earns them a prize). They’ll love watching live demos from a falconer, Rizzo’s reptiles, the canine costume parade and more. Your family can even hop on a free cruise on the Miss Lotta, then hit the trackless train for rides around the Hopatcong State Park ($4/person, $15/family). Don’t forget to enter the 50/50 before you leave!
Have your kids ever tried Maypole dancing? In addition to live music, vendors and crafts, there’ll be plenty of food to dig into and of course, traditional Maypole dancing. The kids can get rambunctious at the obstacle course, peek at the fairy tear house and take a moment to cool off at the puppet show.
Take the kids on a trek around the historical garden, get artsy, take part in garden-themed activities and explore the gorgeous grounds (charge your phone because you’ll want to snag a million candids of your kids marveling at flowers). If you’ve got fans of creepy-crawlers, they’ll love the visit from Insectropolis. Registration recommended.
SUNDAY (MAY 12)
Check out the Sayen Botanical Gardens, where the Azalea Festival is in full bloom. The kids can see Mother Nature at work—and you can snap some cute photos —since there’ll be more than 250,000 flowering bulbs, dogwoods, azaleas and more along paths, fountains, bridges, lakes and gazebos. There’ll also be craft and food vendors, along with kids’ activities. If you’re looking for more reasons to keep the kids outside, hit these NJ nature centers, gardens and arboretums.
Moms get free admission at Monmouth Park Racetrack’s celebration, plus the first 1,000 moms to enter get a free flower. Hit brunch at the dining terrace, drop by the champagne bar and enter giveaways (hello, Ariana Grande tickets). Kids can visit clowns, get their faces painted, a pony ride or go wild in the bounce house.
Free admission for mothers
What better way to spend Mother’s Day with your little ones than getting outside and stoking their creative side? All ages are invited to build a fairy house out of natural materials. After, the kids can listen to a story on fairy etiquette and tour their new block of fairy homes. Registration required.
$8/ages 3 and up
You grew up watching Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, but your kiddos are hooked on a different PBS program. The popular show is hitting the stage for this sweet musical show this month. In the live version, Daniel Tiger and his friends want your little ones to climb aboard the trolley and join them for a tiger-ific musical. As Daniel learns what it takes to be a king, he’ll teach your kids about compassion, charity and friendship through songs and surprise guests.
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