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Cranford ROCKS!

Cranford ROCKS! A New and Fun Tradition!

My Assistant Angela is in LOVE with this rock... she tells her kids "Don't forget to be awesome!" before every soccer game!

My Assistant Angela is in LOVE with this rock… she tells her kids “Don’t forget to be awesome!” before every soccer game!

A Cranford mom (and one of my favorite clients EVER!) has brought an adorable new tradition to town that is making people smile left and right! It’s called Cranford Rocks, and it has nothing to do with music.

Kristen Mider moved with her husband and children from Brooklyn to Cranford 3 1/2 years ago. Back when she lived in Brooklyn, her family participated in something that is unofficially known as Kindness Rocks, where people of all ages paint rocks and hide them in the neighborhood for people to find. Kristen said, “The idea is that someone will stumble upon one of the rocks, and it will brighten their day.”

 

 

One of Kristen’s friends lost her son to suicide and asked that people create Kindness Rocks in his memory, and that further inspired Kristen to continue this activity.

 

Around 6 months ago Kristen launched the Cranford Rocks Facebook  group to introduce the Kindness Rocks theme to our town. “We were the first to create the rocks in Cranford, hide them, and post about it on Facebook, and as soon as we did, it just took off. The page went from having just a few followers to several hundred.”

Kristen stresses that everyone is welcome to participate–even adults who don’t have children have painted and left rocks. The rocks are often painted in very bright colors, sometimes with messages on them such as  “Let the Sun Shine” or “Be Kind.” 

Kristen’s kids have found rocks at Lincoln Park, Unami Park, Nomahegan Park, and even Eastman Plaza in Downtown Cranford. And they’ve made sure to hide just as many rocks as they’ve found. Kristen said, “It empowers the kids–I want them to know they have the power to make the world a nicer place and lift someone’s spirits. They get so excited when people post photos of their found rocks online.” 

So go out in your backyard, find a rock, paint it, and leave the rock where someone will find it and then hopefully pay it forward! 

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Say Bye-Bye to Mosquitoes and Ticks!

We’re well into spring, the flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and it SHOULD be a wonderful time to get some fresh air! But two things can majorly get in the way of enjoying the great outdoors: TICKS and MOSQUITOES. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to enjoy my patio without having to worry incessantly about either of those pests!

 

With the large population of deer combined with the rivers and ponds in our area, it’s an unfortunate truth that we have to deal with ticks and mosquitoes. The threat of Lyme disease makes ticks particularly worrisome, and their tiny size means that many bites go unnoticed. As for mosquitoes: not only do their bites itch like crazy (and they just loooove biting some people more than others–you know who you are!), they also carry dangerous diseases and can cause secondary infections.

Last Bite MosquitoIn recent years I’d heard glowing reviews of businesses that will treat your yard periodically to ward off ticks and mosquitoes. One friend said it was “life changing,” now that her family was able to enjoy pest-free backyard living after suffering endless mosquito bites in years past. It almost sounded too good to be true. I caught up with the co-owner of Last Bite Mosquito Control to discuss these services and see what all the fuss is about. 

Last Bite is based out of Monmouth County but services all of Union County. They are members of the Westfield Chamber of Commerce and will soon be opening an office in town. Twin brothers and physical education teachers Jason and Jeremy Julio launched the company in 2013, after Jeremy’s son had contracted a staph infection from an infected mosquito bite (scary!). They thoroughly researched mosquito and tick prevention, got licensed, and their family company has grown exponentially ever since. 

When it comes to preventing mosquitoes in your own backyard, home remedies just don’t cut it. Jason said, “Mosquitoes can breed in something as small as a bottlecap.” So even if you get rid of a couple of mosquitoes here and there, it takes an expert to locate and treat the breeding areas of mosquitoes. 

The treatment process is described as follows on Last Bite’s website: 

Last Bite Mosquito Control has highly trained and licensed technicians that will survey your yard and identify any high risk areas that could be used as mosquito breeding grounds.  A fine mist of our Barrier Spray (derived from the chrysanthemum plant) will be applied to the perimeter of your home. cThe treatment will include trees, shrubs, evergreens, flowers, foliage plants and all landscaping within the treatment area. Larvicide will then be placed to all mosquito breeding grounds at no additional charge. Our Barrier Spray treatment kills mosquitoes and ticks on contact and continues to provide protection for up to 21 days. All products we use are EPA approved.

You and your pets can use your yard as soon as 30 minutes after it’s been treated by Last Bite! They offer a package where they will come spray every 21 days from spring through fall; a pay-as-you go plan; or or you can purchase a one-time spray, which could be a life-saver for a backyard party you might be hosting. Jason said, “We encourage our customers to have open communication with us to let us know if there’s ever a problem, and we will always come back to your property. Our treatments are 100 percent guaranteed.” 

I’m looking forward to getting my yard treated by Last Bite this month so I can put my feet up on the patio and relax without having to swat myself every five minutes! 

For more information about Last Bite call 866-742-4887 or visit http://www.lastbitemosquito.com

Stop by Last Bite’s booth at Westfield’s Spring Fling on May 7th and tell them Sharon says hello! 

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6th Annual Miles With Moms 5K and Fun Run 4/23/17

Miles With Moms 5 K and Fun RunThe 6th Annual Miles with Moms 5K and Fun Run is fast approaching, and I’m thrilled to be a sponsor of this wonderful family-friendly race that raises money for the Mothers’ Center of Central NJ. The event will take place on Sunday, April 23rd at Oak Ridge Park in Clark, with the first race starting at 9 am, and it’s sure to be a memorable day for adults and kids alike. 

I caught up with Miles with Moms volunteer Jenn Gillman to chat about this year’s event. Jenn said, “This is an event that has something for EVERYONE in the family–a 5k race, 1 mile race, free fun run for kids, great music, delicious refreshments, wonderful raffle items, and ways to keep the kids busy. Runners, walkers, moms and dads with strollers, kids, friends and neighbors are all welcome.”

If you’ve been hesitant to do a 5K with your children, this is the perfect “ice breaker” 5K since it’s specifically geared toward families. Jenn said, “We have special crafts, activities, and races just for young kids. Our DJ will be playing fun music appropriate for young listeners; we have a face painter who will be offering free face painting for kids; and Creative Kids from Scotch Plains and Tinkergarten will be back with plenty of hands-on activities for kids to partake in. We also have a free Fun Run for children age six and under where everyone gets to show their speed.”

Besides all the races and activities, there will be refreshments and lots of raffles with chances to win some great prizes. And let’s face it, any event is better when you leave with a prize in hand! There will also be awards given out for the top finishers in several categories of the races.

Based out of Garwood, the Mothers’ Center of Central NJ is a nonprofit that creates and supports a community for all mothers. According to Jenn, “The fundraising done through the Miles with Moms 5K helps pay for our rented space, keeps costs at a minimum so all of our programming is accessible to everyone, and pays for exciting events for our members.” 

The Mothers’ Center has been around for almost 40 years, offering daytime and evening activities for moms and their children, fostering lifelong friendships among Union County mothers. For more information about the Mothers’ Center of Central NJ, visit http://cnj.mom-mentum.org/

To register for the Miles with Moms 5K visit www.njmileswithmoms.org2017 flyerScreen Shot 2017-04-07 at 11.37.52 AM

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Kick Glass Art Studio in Cranford NJ

Our theme of women-owned businesses continues with the latest artsy addition to Cranford: KICK GLASS ART STUDIO. (Seriously, how great is that name?!)

Kick Glass Art StudioDonna Slevin and Sheila Hughes are co-owners of Kick Glass and have been lifelong friends, having grown up together in Westfield. Donna has an impressive 30 years of experience as a stained glass artist and 10 years working with fused glass. Sheila has trained with Donna in creating both stained glass and fused glass, and with Sheila’s 20 years’ experience in business, these two combine the best of both artistic and business minds.

Located at 536 South Ave East, Kick Glass offers classes in stained glass from beginner to expert, for ages 18 and up. “We have classes in fused (warm) glass from beginner to the tapestry technique. We have had private parties for Girls’ Night Out and Westfield Single Moms. And we offer business bonding opportunities! The studio is very large so people can bring their own food and drinks.”

You’d be amazed at the different types of works you can create with glass at Kick Glass. Donna said, “We offer a variety of ways for you to explore your artist talent using the glass medium. You can create bowls or paint using ground up glass. Our classes are educational. We want you to learn how to master the techniques used in both fused (warm) glass and stained glass.” Besides group classes, Kick Glass offers open studio time for more seasoned glass artists, as well as private one-on-one lessons. 

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I’m passionate about the restoration of historic homes, and Donna shares that passion when it comes to stained glass, which was featured prominently in many older homes. She said, “Stained glass is a centuries-old art form, and I want to make sure it lives on. When walking around the streets, we see many houses with older stained glass windows that could use a little TLC to help restore them to their former glory. We also want to encourage people to add a unique stained glass piece to their own homes.”

Follow Kick Glass on Facebook or visit their website to keep up to date on their upcoming classes and events: http://kickglassart.com. And don’t miss their official ribbon cutting with the mayor of Cranford on March 21st! 

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Strong As A Mother Fitness in Cranford NJ

We mothers have all been there–trying to get our post-baby bodies to look like they did pre-baby! But STRONG AS A MOTHER FITNESS classes are helping local moms gain strength and fitness (and quite possibly fit into those old jeans), all while bonding with their babies! 

Jenna Rosa and Dana Ryszetnyk launched Strong as a Mother Fitness in September of 2016, offering mommy-and-me exercise classes to the local community. “Each of us was drawn to postpartum fitness after the birth of our first child. We recognized that this type of fitness class was missing from our community.” Both Jenna and Dana are certified group exercise instructors, and Dana has been teaching pre- and post-natal exercise for 10 years, so she is an expert in this field. 

Jenna and Dana host classes indoors at the Strength and Fitness Club located at 570 South Ave E. in Cranford, and they also conduct outdoor classes at Unami Park during warm weather months. All fitness levels are welcome in Strong As a Mother Fitness classes. According to Dana, “It doesn’t matter if you worked out until the day you gave birth or if you have never stepped foot in a gym. We offer modifications to meet everyone’s needs and our classes are a judgment free space. We like to say strong mamas aren’t born, they’re made.” 

Mothers may attend the classes as soon as they’re cleared by their doctors or midwives to return to exercise (generally at least 6 weeks postpartum). Each mother brings her baby, and the ages range from 6 weeks old to 2+. Dana said, “Our moms like the balance between getting a good workout and tending to their child’s needs. We have eliminated the need for childcare, which they love. Beyond the physical health benefits of our classes, our moms appreciate the comaraderie of the group. We organize monthly events for our students outside of the gym. This further promotes our sense of community.”

Classes cost $18 each for drop-in, and there are significant savings if you buy bulk class packages (5 classes for $80, 10 classes for $150, unlimited monthly classes for $120). The fact that you don’t have to pay for childcare while getting a workout makes these classes such an excellent value. 

The Strong As a Mother class schedule can be found on their Facebook page @Strongasamotherfitness as well as on their website: www.strongasamotherfitness.com. You must register to attend each class by 8:30 am the morning of the class: https://strongasamotherfitness.com/classes/

Best of luck to all the mommies out there who take the leap and try a workout with Strong As a Mother Fitness . . . I’m sure both you and your bundle of joy will enjoy it immensely! 

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Check Out Kidoolo….A GREAT New Kid’s Party Place in Springfield!

A Party Place Like No Other!

kidoolo

There’s a new PARTY PLACE in Springfield, and it’s just what the doctor–okay, the kids–ordered! I had my assistant Christine check out the space with her two children ages 7 and 6, since mine are a wee bit too old for this spot, and her kids are already begging to go back!

Kidoolo (pronounced KID-uh-loo) opened on Route 22 in Springfield this past fall. Owned by husband-and-wife team Trish Stephens and Marc Turner of Westfield, Kidoolo doesn’t look like any other party place in our area. You won’t be accosted by crazy, swirly, brightly colored patterns on the walls and carpets when you enter. The interior design of Kidoolo is sleek and modern, clean as a whistle, and actually pleasant for parents to look at. Christine said, “I found myself asking where they got the cool leather benches for parents to sit on!”

There is a main sitting area for parents, with an adjacent “bar” where you can order light snacks and beverages. When Christine and her family were visiting, they were offered free ice water, which was a nice touch. Off the main lobby are our different play areas:

  • A climbing structure and toys.
  • An interactive dance floor area (not a separate room) featuring games projected onto the floor and a twinkling disco ball above.
  • A state-of-the-art laser tag arena, styled to look like New York City.
  • A video game room with 8 flat-screen TVs, various game consoles with tons of games, and bench seating, similar to the interior of a Game Truck.

Kidoolo was Trish’s vision, after receiving her MBA and working for 20 years in business and marketing for such companies as Nickelodeon. Trish said, “I  saw a void in the market when I was s earching for great kids’ play venues that provided awesome parties that weren’t overly crowded and were a little swanky . Also based on families hectic schedules, I wanted to offer exceptional services that made party planning stress free and extremely easy.”

 

Christine’s kids were able to play in all but the video game room, which wasn’t operating at that time. Christine said, “My kids actually did play on the climbing structure for a few minutes, but I would definitely say it’s best suited for children under age six. It’s a great spot for younger siblings to play while older siblings enjoy the other play areas.” 

She went on, “The dance floor was a lot of fun for my kids–they’ve seen this at other indoor play areas, but this one was actually working correctly, whereas similar floors at other locales seem not to work as well. They even played a successful faux soccer game!”

Kidoolo According to Christine, laser tag was the biggest hit with her family. “We were ALL dripping sweat and cracking up by the end of it; we had the best time doing it together as a family. The room is very dark, lighted by black lights, with lots of New York landmarks and buildings to hid behind, and it looks really snazzy. Music and sound effects blast through while you’re playing. All of our laser guns worked perfectly, which I imagine could be a concern. My daughter was a little scared at first because of the darkness and the loudness, and the manager was kind enough to turn the sound down for us! Each laser tag game lasts 8 minutes. You can purchase just one game, or an hour of games, which is what we did.” 

With a private party room on site and various all-inclusive theme party packages, Kidoolo seems like a terrific choice for any kid’s birthday celebration. A great way to check out the facilities before you book a party is to bring your kids for open play or open laser tag. Open Play (which only includes the climbing structure and dance floor) is held Tuesday through Thursday from 10am-4pm, Fridays from 10am-8-m, and Saturdays during select hours as listed the Kidoolo Facebook page (@Kidoolo). Laser Tag is available Friday evenings and select Saturday hours as listed on Facebook. 

Look out for a GRAND OPENING event on Saturday, January 28 from 12:30-3pm! 

For more information about Kidoolo, visit their website at http://www.kidooloplay.com.

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Santa Claus Is Coming to Town!! (Cranford and Westfield)

santa-kidsYou better watch out, you better not cry … oh who am I kidding, any sane child will cry in the face of a stranger dressed up as Santa Claus! But we love subjecting our children to it nonetheless! Here’s a list of places in the Cranford-Westfield Area where Jolly Old Saint Nick will make an appearance to delight (i.e., scare the bejeezus out of) your little ones. 

NOVEMBER 25, 6:00pm

Gazebo at corner of North Union and Springfield Ave, Cranford

Santa lights the tree; photos with Santa immediately after, $3 per child.

NOVEMBER 25-­27

Lord & Taylor, 609 North Ave. W., Westfield

Friday & Saturday 1-7pm, Sunday 1-4pm

Free 5″ x 7″ photo with donation of 2 cans of non­-perishable food for the Holy Trinity Westfield Food Pantry. Nominal shipping fee will apply. Additional photos can be purchased.

NOVEMBER 26, 12-4pm

Tiffany Pharmacy, 1115 South Ave W., Westfield

Visit with Santa, enjoy free hot chocolate and cookies, and receive 25% off gift department purchases while you’re there! Visiting with Santa is free, but you can purchase photo packages if you’d like. 

NOVEMBER 27, 3:30pm

Fire Me Up Studio, 117 N. Union Ave, Cranford

Make plates and decorate cookies with Santa! $45 per child (accompanying non-painting adult free). Purchase tickets at: https://placefull.com/santa-s-coming-to-fire-me-up–studio

NOVEMBER 27, 5:30pm

North Ave. W. Train Station, Westfield

Annual Tree Lighting with Santa & Mrs. Claus. Free.

NOVEMBER 29, 4:30pm

Fire Me Up Studio, 117 N. Union Ave, Cranford

This is the second event where kids will make plates and decorate cookies with Santa! $45 per child (accompanying non-painting adult free). Purchase tickets at: https://placefull.com/santa-s-coming-to-fire-me-up–studio

DECEMBER 3, 8:30am

Trinity Episcopal Church, 119 Forest Ave, Cranford

Pancakes, bagels, cereal, muffins, munchkins, juice, coffee & tea will be available. Jewelry, Christmas wreaths & grave covers, photo with Santa, fabulous raffle baskets 50/50 for sale. Breakfast tickets $6.00.

DECEMBER 8, 5:30pm

Giggles, 103 Miln Street, Cranford

$40 first child, $35 each sibling, includes indoor play. Email [email protected] for tickets.

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A Scarecrow With A Cause at The Scarecrow Stroll in Downtown Cranford!

Scarecrow

Cranford’s Hillside Avenue School is once again making a difference in the community, this time with an impressive food drive that coincides with the Scarecrow Stroll in Downtown Cranford!

Third grade teacher Lori Talbot informed us that the third grade students made a terrific scarecrow for the stroll, aptly named “Hangry.” Big-eyed Hangry is set up right in front of Augusta Mae Consignment Boutique on Alden Street, and the kids have left instructions and a collection box for nonperishable food donations, all of which which will go to the Community Food Bank. Among the items most needed at the Food Bank:

**Canned meat and fish

**Peanut butter

**Boxed meals

**Cannned/packed fruits and vegetables

**Shelf-stable milk

**Note: No glass, cellphone, baby food, soda, or water 

According to Lori: “The students are so excited! They’ve already collected 144 pounds of food! They will be collecting at Augusta Mae for the rest of the month, as well as collecting in school.”

Hillside Ave School is competing against other schools in the Students Change Hunger food drive that is taking place from now until December, so Hangry could help Hillside be the big winner! 

There are more than 90 adorable scarecrows set up throughout Downtown Cranford, so take a stroll to check them out, and bring a donation for Hangry while you’re at!

If you can’t donate food, here’s a link where you can donate money to the food bank in the name of Hillside Ave School, and every dollar counts as a pound of food!

http://support.cfbnj.org/goto/HAE

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INDIGO ART STUDIO IS ONE OF THE HOTTEST PARTY PLACES IN OUR AREA!

I’ve been asked this question by several friends and blog readers: Where are the BEST PLACES TO HOST A PARTY in the Cranford-Westfield Area? Well, there are quite a few, and I’m happy to report that there’s a beautiful new spot in Westfield where kids’ and adult events alike are becoming the talk of the town! It’s called Indigo Art Studio, and I know you will love it.

IndigoLocated on the second floor of the stunning Arcanum Hall building on the corner of East Broad and Elm Street, Indigo is family-owned and operated by siblings Sam Korkmaz and Bee McGee. According to Sam, “Our family has been living in Westfield for 18 years. We also own Roman Boutique and Roma Tailor in the same building. We love Westfield and it was the perfect location for us to open Indigo.”

Naturally I was curious about the name of the business–Indigo. Sam said, “The name Indigo was inspired from a restaurant and lounge in Hawaii. The place was whimsical, magical, and we felt the euphoria as soon as my sister and I walked in. Our studio space is so eclectic and beautiful that the name Indigo was the perfect choice.”

Sam went on to talk about the treasured past of Arcanum Hall. “Our building is a historical building. It was built in 1893 and has so much history. President Teddy Roosevelt gave his Whistle Stop speech on the third floor balcony in 1912. We had to share the history and this beauty with the community. And Indigo has the most enchanting view of downtown Westfield. Its whimsical and exquisite decor coupled with its history and the view make Indigo one of the most unique locations for special events.”

So what types of parties are being hosted at Indigo? Sam said, “We wanted to create a concept where EVERY age can enjoy. We decorated the place and made it very whimsical and different. We now host kids’ theme art birthday parties, sweet sixteens, bridal showers, corporate events, fundraisers, cocktail parties, and any special events. We’ve hosted pop-up art classes for kids and adults. We also rent out space to art vendors, cake decorators, and anyone who wants to showcase their talents and events. Our motto is, we don’t simply host events, we create amazing memories.”

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As you can see from the photos, Indigo has already hosted a bevy of beautiful parties and events. Sam told me that the most rewarding one so far was a fundraiser for the Lederman Strong foundation. “We helped a family in need and had a swabbing station for bone marrow donors. It was wonderful to see our community coming together for a great cause.”

Make sure you follow Indigo on Facebook (@indigoartstudiowestfield) and Instagram (@indigowestfield) to find out about upcoming events. To learn more about booking an event at Indigo, call (908) 917-9867. 

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The Cranford-Westfield Area Makes the Perfect Family Staycation!

 

If you didn’t get to travel anywhere for a vacation this summer, or if you already went somewhere but still have vacation days to take this month, why not enjoy a CHEAP and SUPER FUN STAYCATION before school starts up again? The Cranford-Westfield Area has so many great options for family fun (much of it FREE) … you truly don’t have to go far to have an amazing summer with your family!

Here is a list of just some of the fantastic outings you can take without even leaving Union County. If you know of other interesting places or events nearby, feel free to comment and share!

CARNIVALS & FESTIVALS

It ain’t summer without zeppoles, am I right?? Check out these festivals in our area.

Cranford Street Fair & Craft Show

August 21st, 11am – 5pm

Downtown Cranford

Over 200 food and craft vendors, plus kids’ attractions.

Kenilworth Fire Department Carnival 

August 15th-20th 

St. Theresa’s School

540 Washington Ave., Kenilworth

Hours: 

Old-fashioned fun including rides, food vendors, games, beer garden, money wheel, and pay-one-price wristband nights Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday!

https://m.facebook.com/KenilworthFireRescue/

St. Bartholomew Italian Festival 

2032 Westfield Ave., Scotch Plains

September 2nd-5th

Hours:

This beloved annual festival features exceptional live music nightly, games, Italian food, raffles, and more!

http://www.sbuitalianfestival.com/#2778

Cranford Canoe Club

 A Cranford family launches from the Cranford Canoe Club:


A Cranford family launches from the Cranford Canoe Club:CRANFORD CANOE CLUB

250 Springfield Ave., Cranford

Hours: 

Not just canoes but also kayaks are available for rent at the Canoe Club. Paddle your way through a scenic and very calm stretch of the Rahway River, and you’ll be reminded of why Cranford was once called “The Venice of New Jersey.” Life jackets are included with your rentals. The snack bar serves some seriously yummy ice cream and snacks as well. This should be on everyone’s summer bucket list!

http://www.cranfordcanoeclub.com/

 

A successful fishing day for these girls at Echo Lake Park:

A successful fishing day for these girls at Echo Lake Park:

ECHO LAKE PARK

Enter from Sprinfield Ave. in Westfield or Mountain Ave near Route 22 in Mountainside

You can spend a whole day at this gorgeous park by bringing fishing rods (the pond is well-stocked), renting paddle boats (only $10 for an hour!), visiting the shady playground, and enjoying a picnic (they have BBQ grills available, plus a full snack bar at the boathouse). And if you have a four-legged friend, bring Fido along to the great dog park at Echo Lake! 

Mesmerized by the placid Rahway River:

Mesmerized by the placid Rahway River:

LIBERTY HALL MUSEUM

1003 Morris Ave., Union

Hours: Monday – Sunday 10am to 4pm; closed Sundays 

This is such a fantastic option for a rainy or too-hot day! Liberty Hall is very kid-friendly and always has exhibits that appeal to the younger set. Check out the TOYS THROUGH TIME exhibit, where kids can actually play with toys from decades past! Plus there are frequent family-friendly events going on at the museum grounds. Call the museum to reserve a tour. Admission is $12 per adult, $8 per child age 3-17, FREE for children under 3. Call 908-527-0400.

http://kean.edu/libertyhall

The impressive beech tree that rises up through Trailside Nature Center:

The impressive beech tree that rises up through Trailside Nature Center:

OUTDOOR MOVIES

There’s just something about watching a flick under the stars! Some of these movie showings will feature food trucks and even free popcorn!

FanwoodTuesday August 16th, 8:30pm at LaGrande Park, showing “The Good Dinosaur.”

Scotch Plains: Fridays August 19th (“Up”) and 26th (“Zootopia”) at dusk on the Village Green.

SummitMonday August 22nd at dusk, 356 Broad Street, showing “Alvin and the Chipmunks.”

OUTDOOR MUSIC

I’m continually blown away by the talent of local musicians. BYO lawn chairs and blankets and listen to great music!

Clark: Summer Arts Festival, featuring yoga and live bands at Oak Ridge Park, Wednesdays August 17th and 24th, 6:30 pm. Rain cancels.

Rahway: Summer Concert series, Thursdays August 18th and 25th, 7:30 pm in front of Union County Performing Arts Center. Beer garden on site! If raining, concert is moved inside to the main stage.

Westfield: Sweet Sounds Downtown Jazz Festival, Tuesday nights through August 30th, 7 pm. Rain cancels.

REEVES-REED ARBORETUM

165 Hobart Ave., Summit

Hours: open from dawn till dusk 7 days a week

Admission is free, but donations are encouraged.

This is a hidden gem of Union County–13+ acres of lush gardens and woods, perfect for leisurely hikes and bird-watching. Once inhabited by the Lenni Lenape Native Americans, the arboretum is now listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places. Join a FREE TOUR of the grounds on Saturdays at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm from now until October. Kids will enjoy the DISCOVERY SATURDAYS on August 20thand 27th in the Stackhouse Education Center: drop in anytime from 9 am to 1 pmfor stories, games, crafts, and a mini exploration! Discovery Saturday events are free for members, $5 per non member child; children must be accompanied by an adult. 

Here are THREE different spraygrounds to choose from in our area, and all of them are FREE to visit. Heck, you could probably visit all three in a day! Generally, the sprayers turn on when temps reach 82 degrees.

Mesmerized by the placid Rahway River:

Mesmerized by the placid Rahway River:

Ponderosa Park

Cooper Road, Scotch Plains

Huge spray area and sprawling playground structures for all ages, restrooms, shaded picnic benches, and bike path. The ice-cream truck visits almost daily. Note: there is no shade in the playground area so bring hats and ample sunscreen and beware of hot playground equipment! Water shoes might be a good idea for the kids.

Snyder Ave Park

240 Snyder Ave., Berkeley Heights

Adorable fenced-in spray area adjacent to a cute playground, plus restrooms. Note: there is zero shade!

Warinanco Park

Entrance at St. George’s Ave in Roselle

Such a great park featuring a large, newer sprayground, plus two playgrounds and a pond with paddleboats (which you can rent for $10 per hour). 

The impressive beech tree that rises up through Trailside Nature Center:

The impressive beech tree that rises up through Trailside Nature Center:

TRAILSIDE NATURE CENTER

452 New Providence Road, Mountainside

Hours: Open 12-5pm, 7 days a week

With over 4,000 square feet of nature, history, and animal exhibits, Trailside is a great place to spend a rainy day with the kiddos! And in nice weather you can make a day of it by visiting the ginormous Watchung loop playground or taking a hike into Watchung Reservation.

http://www.ucnj.org/trailside/

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