Don't even think about Jersey Shore. This is not about that in any way, shape or form other than what I have just written here.
I hear a lot of jokes about how people desperately try to escape New Jersey, but it can't be all that bad! A lot of people live there for a reason and it's not as dreadful as what television and movies make it out to be.
So, I have compiled a list of 10 free family things you can do in New Jersey. As always, this list is in no specific order and diverse. Enjoy!
10) Egyptian Festival in Medford. Perfect for budding Egyptologists! Every year at the end of September and beginning of October, St. Anthony's Coptic Orthodox Church in Medford puts on the three-day Egyptian Festival. Your children can learn how to paint their names in hieroglyphs, get henna tattoos and play some games. You can try the Egyptian cuisine, such as stuffed grape leaves and gyros.
9) Scarecrow Alley at the Physick Estate in Cape May. Halloween is right around the corner and Cape May is a town that really gets into it. The town is dubbed one of America's most haunted towns and the Physick Estate in the "ghost town" has documented spiritual activity. During most of October, you can get free admission to the estate for a tour of the impressive Halloween decorations. Then, vote on your favorite scarecrow. On the day of Halloween, remember to take the kids there for trick or treating and some scares.
8) Tot Tours in Morristown. Here is something to do with your kids if they are between the ages of 2-5. Take them to the Morris Museum for the Tot Tour, which is held the third Friday of every month. It starts at 10 a.m. and you will get a gallery tour. Then, your kiddos can put together an art project.
7) Longmeadow Farm near Hope. Sometimes the simple things in life are the best. Going out and picking your own fruits and vegetables can be a fun-filled activity. Primarily, the farm provides apples, pumpkins and flowers. The farm is open Saturdays and Sundays from the beginning of September to the end of October. If weather permits, it is open longer.
6) Kidz Night Out in Hoboken-Union City. Every night at the Bricks 4 Kidz, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., your kids can play with Legos, build models and make some friends while enjoying pizza and drinks. You have to register a spot and it's first come, first serve. Parents -- you can take some time for yourself. So, it's not exactly a family thing, but I had to share it.
5) Green Summerfest in Mount Olive Township. Held in August, this event features some of New Jersey's best bands and performers. It's held in Vasa Park and showcases eco-friendly companies and products. There are arts and crafts for the kids, interactive exhibits and special features and presentations.
4) Telescope Night in Montclair. When you really want to learn, sometimes one-on-one teachings and hands-on experience is best. The North Jersey Astronomical Group has a Telescope Night every Thursday at 8 p.m. on the Montclair State University campus. The members bring their telescopes and you can discover the stars!
3) Holiday Light Show in Smithville. From the end of November to the beginning of January, at 5:30 p.m., Thursday through Sunday, you can watch more than 100 Christmas trees light up in synchronization with Christmas music. This holiday feast for the eyes and ears is held on Lake Meone.
2) Tuckerton Irish Festival in Tuckerton. The luck o' the Irish is in spades during this May festival. As you dine on some Irish food, watch the step dancers, learn some crafts and see the vendors. This is wonderful if you have some Irish blood in your veins or if you have an aspiring clogger in your family.
1) Mount Holly's Fire and Ice Festival in Mount Holly. Ice sculptures, fire engines and rescue dogs = Fire and Ice! Held each year in January in the Fountain Square, children can see other animals, too, brought in from the Discovery Museum and the Philadelphia Zoo.