It's weekend time again! There's a chill in the air that says fall is finally here (and the calendar says it too - Friday marks the first day of autumn). We've got a bunch of fun family-friendly events this weekend, most of which emphasize the season!
There's numerous outdoor festivals going on this weekend - the two big ones being in Bound Brook (where the annual RiverFest kicks off Saturday) and Westfield (where your little ones will have the chance to play in the FunBus, which visits the FestiFall Saturday afternoon).
There's also the annual Harvest Festival up at Trailside Nature and Science Center, where all kinds of fun fall activities meet with educational demonstrations and crafts to create a great day at the Watchung Reservation.
It wouldn't be fall without apple picking and corn maze navigating, and we've got that covered for you as well up at Stony Hill Gardens in Chester - and if mazes are your thing, definitely give them a shot. Not only do they have a giant, Let Freedom Ring-themed corn maze, but they have a smaller corn maze and other mazes as well.
And finally there's Night Moves at Turtleback Zoo, where you'll get to grab your flashlight and check out what those zoo animals are up to when the sun goes down. If you've ever gone to the zoo and been frustrated by a nocturnal creature's slumbering when you wanted to see them - this sounds like the event for you.
As always, be sure to tell us if you think we forgot something. And if you know of an event that deserves a mention in this planner in the future, be sure to add it to the calendar.
FunBus at Festifall at Downtown Westfield (Next to Bovella's Bakery); East Broad Street and Prospect Street, Westfield; 732-452-9000; Price: $3 for 5 minutes of play; Saturday, 10 AM-5 PM
The annual FestiFall is this weekend in Westfield, and one of the big attractions for kids (ages 2-7) is the FunBus. Every child gets some stickers and a handstamp, as well as five minutes of play inside the bus - which features monkey bars, soft mats and tunnels, and even one of those giant rainbow gym parachutes (remember them?)! At the back of the bus, there's a yellow banana-shaped slide to use in order to exit. Fun! (And of course, the festival's pretty neat too).
Corn Maze and Fun Park at Stony Hill Gardens, 15 North Road, Chester; 908-879-2908; Price: $12.99 ages 10 and up, $10.98 ages 3-9, FREE ages 2 and under; Friday-Sunday, 10 AM-6 PM
We kept it local last week, so now's the time to hop in the car and check out some other fun family events New Jersey has to offer. Now that we're (as of Friday) officially into autumn, why not head out to one of many local farms who host cornmazes and other fun fall outdoors events? Stony Hill in Chester may top the list this year - a 10 acre corn maze, a mini corn maze, a rope maze, a tile maze, and a miner max maze (a-maze-ing!). If navigating all of those mazes makes you dizzy, there's also gemstone mining and a giant Noah's Ark-themed play area.
30th Annual Harvest Festival at Trailside Nature and Science Center; 452 New Providence Road, Mountainside; 908-789-3670; Price: $4, Children 7 and under FREE; Sunday, 11 AM-5 PM
Trailside's annual Harvest Festival celebrates 30 years this Sunday. Demonstrations of how early Americans lived and perform daily tasks combine with activities such as storytelling, a petting zoo, Colonial & Native American crafts, scarecrow building, and more for a fun, historically educational day out in the beautiful Watchung Reservation. As always, be sure to check out the visitor's center and museum while you're up at Trailside, there's plenty of fun things to do in there as well!
Night Moves at Turtleback Zoo; 560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange; 973-731-5700 ext. 223; Price: $7; Friday, 8 PM
Take a guided tour through Turtleback Zoo after dark! You'll have the opportunity to learn about what the various zoo animals do after the sun goes down. Tours leave every ten minutes starting at 8 PM (admission window is from 7:30-8 PM) and the tour lasts an hour. Two big notes: 1) be sure to pre-register, as registration will not be accepted the day of the tour, and 2) bring a flashlight!
RiverFest at downtown Bound Brook; Main Street, Bound Brook; 908-889-6639; Price: FREE; Saturday, 10 AM-5 PM
Another fall weekend, another fall festival! This one, the annual RiverFest in Bound Brook, brings festival food, fun, games, and rides to a downtown area in need of a little fun following the heavy rains and Hurricane Irene this summer. Head out to RiverFest and enjoy the historic downtown area of Bound Brook, along with all the fair usuals - food, a petting zoo, arts & crafts, all types of vendors (handmade jewelry, sports apparel, candles, and more just to get started), and live entertainment. And of course, we can't forget the rides and inflatables!