Beautiful Gardens Free Places To Visit Hiking Trails Historic Landmarks

Our Visit To Willowwood Arboretum

Again, I wrote this a few years ago. Since then we have gone back on many occasions to Willowwood Arboretum. It is a great spot for a quiet walk, and a bit of a meditative time. It never disappoints. The most recent time was the summer of 2019, it is as lush, green and peaceful as ever. We even managed to find a new hidden nook that we’ve never seen before. Here are a few photos:

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Recently, I have been noticing that our day trip, adventure going dynamic has changed around here.  With my older one going on to becoming a full fledged teenager, and my husband’s job not having days off like he used to, our family trips have been very rare.  During the school year it’s not noticeable: we are busy, and go on many day trips and adventures with our friends.  This is not the school year, it is the middle of summer, and many of our friends are away for the time being. 

This month I sharply felt the lack of adventurous trekking spirit in our lives.  Therefore, I have declared that one day during the weekend should be dedicated to exploring different places together.  Usually, that means that during the week we have to brainstorm and come up with a plan.  It has to be a place that won’t be crowded, and three times out of four it has to be free or inexpensive. 

Without a plan, our day often plops with people complaining about the choice options.  I took on the role of a day trip dictator and came up with a list.  From that list I pick off places to go to.  Sometimes it can be as simple as going hiking in our local forest, or a park with a nice walk around the lake.  Other times it’s a bit more complicated, with a trip to a garden or movies, or beach and a picnic.  It’s more about time together then entertainment, and so far we have had really good few trips, where we got to walk together and enjoy each others’ company.

Free Places To Visit Parks and Playgrounds Rivers and Lakes Zoos and Animals

Our Visit To Johnson Park

I can’t believe for all the trips that I have done with the kids in the past 15 yeas, I have never been to this park.  I would drive by it daily on my way to Rutgers for years, and I never noticed it.  It is most definitely worth a notice.

Most recently we visited Johnson Park with my little one and his friend.  We had to wait for the big kid around that area, and decided that the park would be a good place to meander in for a few hours.  It was that.

Beach Fun Free Places To Visit Historic Landmarks Museums National Parks

Our Visit to Sandy Hook Lighthouse

We go to Sandy Hook often, and several times we have done the tour of the light house. In fact, we have been there since our visit in 2017, and it is still as lovely, and educational as ever. 

(2017) At first we had a class with a homeschool group to the Marsh and Ocean Environments Program (it is a full day program, and if you want more information, you can click HERE.)  The program was all day.  First we met in Fort Hancock, by the area next to the Lighthouse. The kids listened to a short lecture before heading to the beach to explore. During the lecture we met this amazing Killdeer mama bird:

Free Places To Visit Hiking Trails Historic Landmarks Rivers and Lakes State Parks

Our Visit To Double Trouble State Park

Lacey and Berkeley Townships

July 2014

This is one place that we went to last summer that I keep meaning to mention, and finally got to it.  I wanted to make sure that I put it here before the hot days of summer because it is a wonderful place to go and cool off in the summer time.

It is quite a distance from where we live, the drive was easy enough: just take Gardens State Parkway, and the park is very close to the exit, but it was a long drive.  My kids and I went there to meet some friends and spend a few hours by the creek, cooling off.

Free Places To Visit Historic Landmarks Museums

Our Visit To Thomas Edison Center At Menlo Park

In 2015 we had a chance to visit The Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park.  Personally, I am more of a Tesla sort of girl, but I never miss an opportunity for a hands on history lesson for my kids.  When a friend organized a group tour of the Center we jumped on board.

Our Visit To Thomas Edison Center At Menlo Park Edison Memorial Tower in Edison NJ
Our Visit To Thomas Edison Center At Menlo Park Edison Memorial Tower in Edison NJ

Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park is located in Edison.  They do have regular museum hours: Thursdays – Saturdays 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM.  You could also schedule a group tour in advance during other times.  Which is what we did.  The general admission to the museum is free, but there is a suggested $5.00 donation per person.  The tour lasts about 1 hour, maybe a just little bit longer.

Free Places To Visit Historic Landmarks Museums Quaint Towns

Our Visit To Princeton University and Art Museum

Princeton, NJ

Frequent Visitors

One of my kids has an activity close to Princeton that lasts half  day.  It is way too far for me to be able to come home, so usually my seven year old and I have a few hours to kill in Princeton.  It is wonderful.  I have wanted to explore Princeton for years now, but never had the chance.   I am very glad I have this opportunity now.

Our Visit To Princeton University and Princeton Art Museum

Free Places To Visit Indoor Activities and Playgrounds

Free Activities For Kids….

 … At Your Local Stores.

Recently I went to a music store, where the person helping me told me about their classes for kids that are free.  I have not even suspected that this store might offer something so great for kids, and it got me thinking: what other places would do that as well.  This is a list of a few of the wonderful activities that you could take advantage of with your kids at your local chain stores.

It is always a good idea to prepare before heading out.  If the classes have registration available, then pre-register.  Most importantly call ahead and ask questions!

Also, before I go on, I would like to encourage everyone to visit your local family owned shops: book stores, comic book stores, craft stores, toy stores, plant nurseries and more.  They often offer wonderful and great programs for kids at no or low cost.  All it takes is a phone call to find out!!!  For example, around Christmas we went to a LOCAL NURSERY that gave children an opportunity to decorate their own Christmas Tree, as long as they promised to plant it come spring.  It was a lovely activity, and the trees and decorations were free.  Of course we bought a tree for grandma, and some toy turtles to hang on our tree, and some local chocolate.  We also have gone to our LOCAL AMUSEMENT PARK, which do an egg hunt every Easter.  It is free, and the kids get prizes (mostly tickets for rides) in their eggs.  Local bookstores, just like THIS ONE, always have something fun going on.

Free Activities For Kids at your local stores

Also, before going anywhere else, check out your local library.  Libraries have so much more to offer then books!  Our libraries are amazing, full of resources and people willing to help.  There are classes and workshops, some free and some not, but remember, by paying for the classes there you are supporting your town library!!!

Also, please know that I am in no way affiliated with any of these locations, all opinions expressed here are my own.  I am simply doing the research on places to take my own family, and choose to share what I find with the world. ***This page does contain an affiliate link for Groupon that you will see on the bottom.  It helps pay for this site. 🙂 ***

Alright, here we go, the list of free activities for kids at your local stores:

1. Home Depot.  This one is probably one of my favorite workshops that I found.  It offers kids workshops for both young and old.  You can pre-register online.  It is free, and there is a weekly workshop making a different craft every time.   There are also some awesome looking workshops for adults, which I would love to do together with my teen.  He should know how to install a toilet and sink!  You can see the workshop list HERE.

2.  Sam Ash Music Store.  Sam Ash Music Stores hold an Open Mic on Wednesday nights.  Anyone can come and play.  Their website says Wednesday nights, plus if you check in your local store they might have other days available.  If you perform during the open mic night in the store (which, by the way has an awesome stage with lighting), you get a $10.00 gift card for performing on stage.  According to their website, the open mic night is from 7:00 to 8:30 pm. More info can be found right HERE.

3.  Lego Store.  Lego stores hold a monthly mini model build.  The kids get to make and take a mini model and it is free.  HERE is where you can find more info. Just scroll over the calendar and see when the next mini build is on.  You can also find a store near you by typing up your zip code in the field on the upper right corner .  HERE is more information on the mini build.  From their website for the April 2015 Mini Model Build:  “Upcoming Mini Model Build:
LEGO® UFO: Tuesday, April 7 beginning at 5:00 pm until supplies last.  Visit your local LEGO Store on the first Tuesday of every month and you can learn how to build a cool mini model, and take it home – for free! Quantities are limited and offer is good while supplies last only. Models are not for sale and cannot be purchased. One free per child. Event is open to children ages 6 to 14 only. Ask a Brick Specialist for details

4. Michaels Kids Club.   Bring your kids in, on Saturdays from 10 am to noon.  While it’s not free, it’s $2.00 for 30 minutes, which is close enough.  There are different craft activities every time.  More info HERE.  AcMoore also has kid events throughout the summer.  While I don’t see anything listed at the moment, check out their WEBSITE closer to summer (look for the local store, and then click on events).  There are many classes listed there that are not free, so you have to look carefully for the free kid event.

5.  Guitar Center.  Guitar Center offers many free music classes and workshops in their stores.  There is ukulele, drums, voice, and of course, guitar, recording workshops, and more.  You can find a store near you and see the calendar and more info HERE.

6.  Apple Store. Apple Store offers some amazing programs for young people, their summer camp is second to none, and their field trips is something I am definitely going to check out with my kids.  They also hold a variety of free workshops. For a full list of workshops and their summer camp registration look HERE.

7.  JoAnn’s Craft Stores.  JoAnn’s offer free demos.  You can check out their schedule HERE.  They also have many classes that have a price.

8.  Barnes and Noble Book Store.  B&N stores across the country have many lovely story time events.  They also have a great summer reading program for kids.  The kids get a summer reading kit and a free book.  Find out more about summer reading programs HERE.

9.  Free Bowling In The Summer.  Go bowling  for free in the summer.  You do need to register, and once you do, your child can play 2 free games every day in the summer.  Go HERE to register your kids.

Other places to check out:

Regal Movie Theaters.  Regal Movie Theaters have $1.00 Movie Summer Express.  $1.00 is not free, but again, very close to it.  The Summer Express is going to start again in the summer of 2015.  Take a look HERE for more info.

Ikea has many activities for kids throughout the year.  You would need to visit their website to locate your local store, right HERE. Once you locate your store, click on ‘Go To Store Page’.  Once there, click on ‘Events’  and you will be able to see what they are offering.

Whole Foods offers classes and store tours for kids. Check them out HERE. The tours are free, call your local store to find out more.

I hope you enjoyed this list.  I will leave the comment section temporarily open.  Please remember that I am not affiliated with any of these stores, and if you have any questions, please contact your local store for more information!!

Free Places To Visit Hiking Trails Historic Landmarks Rivers and Lakes

Our Visit To Big Brook Fossil Site

Marlboro, NJ

Summer 2017

Big Brook is quite an interesting place to visit.  It is not a place that I would ever know about without a few awesome people that told me about it.  I know I took some time to write about it, but better late then never, and hopefully useful for this summer. Here is the story: Big Brook is a stream that runs through Monmouth County, NJ.  The specific location we went to is in Marlboro NJ, but there are other spots.  It is a great spot for a hike, but wait, there is more!

Free Places To Visit

Free Or Inexpensive Places For Family Fun In And Around New Jersey

Every year I love having a bucket list: a list of places I want to visit with the kids before the year ends. Now, I am going to help you with your bucket list. Here is our list of free or inexpensive places for family fun in and around New Jersey. There are some truly amazing places in New Jersey area that the family can go for free, or at a very small cost. I have been to the majority of these with my family, and enjoyed it. The ones I haven’t been to (you can tell by the lack of photos for the listings that we haven’t been to) are on my wish list of places to visit. However, please contact each place before going with any questions you might have! These are but a few. Each place is amazing and fun, definitely worth a visit!

***This page contains affiliate links.***