Amusement Parks Indoor Activities and Playgrounds Water Parks

Our Visit To Great Wolf Lodge

Scotrun, PA

May 2017

I have been looking at Great Wolf Lodge for years while the kids were growing up. It is quite pricey, and since we generally prefer to swim under an open sky, I have never taken that leap to purchase the stay and tickets there.  This year, an opportunity came up where several friends and I were able to share a room with a significant discount. We decided that it was too good to pass up, and went.  Here is more about our visit to Great Wolf Lodge in Poconos, PA. Our Visit To Great Wolf Lodge

The water park itself was actually quite fun. We have attended other indoor water amusement parks, and this one blew them all out of the water.  There were ample water slides with increasing adrenaline factor. Some were easier than others. My youngest usually needs a slow introduction to the rides, something easy and fun for him to work up his bravery for the ‘big boy’ slides. There is a lovely wave pool, the lazy river, and a nice area for the smallest visitors.  That was definitely there. The teens enjoyed themselves in the water.  You can read more about their rides, other information and make reservations through their website.

The water park was clean, and well maintained. The employees were attentive to everyone’s needs. It generally felt like a very safe environment.  The water did not smell overwhelmingly with chlorine (something that I don’t like about indoor pools). Technically it is not a ‘day trip’ as you do have to stay over night in order to get tickets for the water park.

Our Visit To Great Wolf Lodge

Another note is we brought our own food: snacks, fruit and sandwiches.  There is a microwave and a coffee maker (bring coffee and filters) in the room. There is also a mini fridge. Food on the premises is very expensive, so we brought a cooler filled with snacks with us and a few large bottles of water.  The rooms were clean, and there was a balcony.

Due to the time of the year that we came in (late spring), the outdoor pool and rope climbing course were closed, but they looked like a lot of fun!

Our Visit To Great Wolf Lodge

We spent one night there, and for the water park alone that was plenty of time. I was on a budget, so we did not play any additional game or arcade while on our visit to Great Wolf Lodge. One full day was plenty of time to get enough swimming in.

However, if you are staying in the area for a prolonged period of time there is a lot to explore there. In the winter there is Shawnee Mountain, in the spring, summer and fall, there is Quiet Valley Historical Farm. There is also the Lakota Wolf Preservewhich we have visited recently. You can read about our visit to Lakota Wolf Preserve.  There are also many excellent hikes, including the Buttermilk Falls.  Canoeing, tubing and rafting up and down Delaware River is also a lot of fun.  After exploring all day, you could come back and do a bit more splashing and swimming.

Delaware Water Gap Indoor Activities and Playgrounds Nature and Science Centers Zoos and Animals

Our Visit To Adventure Aquarium

Several summers ago, we made a trip down to Camden to visit the Adventure Aquarium. It was quite a long drive to get there for us. However, in July and August, the aquarium was showing some teacher love, and gave free tickets for a weekday in those two months to educators and a guest to show their appreciation. I went with a friend, and a bunch of kids. The kids all ranged in age from 15 to 9. We really have not gone back since. Aquariums are not generally our jam, so it is a rare occasion for me to make a long drive there.

Arcades Indoor Activities and Playgrounds Roller Rinks

Roller Rinks in NJ

I have to be honest here, I know next to nothing about the rollerskating rinks in NJ.  In fact, I learned to roller skate only recently, due to peer pressure.  I rely on my more experienced friends to point me in the right direction for some roller skating fun.  My kids love it, and we have tried three different places for their open skate times already and aiming for the more in very near future. Join us as we explore the different roller rinks in NJ.

Indoor Activities and Playgrounds Museums Nature and Science Centers

Our Visit To Liberty Science Center

Since I first wrote about our visit to Liberty Science Center a few years ago, I have now gone back with my second, now older kid in 2019, and the experience has not changed. It was still great.

Liberty Science Center

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Arcades Indoor Activities and Playgrounds

Our Visit To Bridgewater Sports Arena

We went to the Bridgewater Sports Arena for a friend’s birthday back in 2015.  Since then, we really have not had a chance to re-visit Bridgewater Sports Arena. It wasn’t an official party there, but we just got together and played in the arcade and a few games of laser tag together.

The place is big and clean.  The arcade is a large open space with arcade games everywhere.  Unlike many other arcades that we have been to, this one was really well lit.  The kids had a great time playing some arcade games.  The staff were helpful and nice.  One thing I usually hate about arcades is the prizes.  I have to say that this one wasn’t as ‘prize-centric’ as many other ones we have been to.  They had just a few bins for several ticket amounts.  It was simple, and easy, and I liked it.  The focus was definitely more on the spending time playing, and fun together.

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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!!

Hiking Trails Historic Landmarks Indoor Activities and Playgrounds Nature and Science Centers Rivers and Lakes

Our Visit To Watchung Reservation

Mountainside, NJ

At least every month for the last 15 years!

Trailside Nature Center and Watchung Reservation is a wonderful place to visit with your family! However it has seen some changes in the past few years. The old dam has been rebuild into a brand new dam. Lake Surprise does go up and down in water levels through the season. Sometimes it resembles a muddy pond, sometimes a beautiful full lake.  The trails are still wonderful, and the forest is still magical. The playground is always fun, and the museum is still fantastic. 

Indoor Activities and Playgrounds

Our Visit To Pump It Up

Roselle Park, NJ

Summer 2013

PUMP IT UP was really exciting news for me when it opened up. There is one not far from us and it is a great rainy day activity. Just make sure to call ahead and reserve a spot for the open bounce.

Arcades Historic Landmarks Indoor Activities and Playgrounds Quaint Towns

Our Visit To Giggleberry Fair

Peddler’s Village, PA

May 2013

The kids and I were headed to Bucks County, PA, to run some errands. To make this routine trip more fun for them I like to pick a cool place to visit in that neighborhood. Some place that we haven’t been to before. This time I chose Giggleberry Fair on friend’s recommendation.

Amusement Parks Arcades Indoor Activities and Playgrounds

Our Visit To Bowcraft

This was fun while it lasted, but Bowcraft now is nothing but a lovely memory. It shut down in 2019, sold, and redeveloped for condos. Thank you for the memories. 

Bowcraft is a fun little amusement park in Union County, NJ. It is right on Rt. 22 in Scotch Plains.