Kids Planner: Ballooning Festival Returns This Weekend

Five great family-friendly events for the last weekend of July!

The weekend is upon us again, and we've got some far-flung ideas for you this last weekend of July (can you believe it's the midpoint of summer already?)!

Friday morning, check out Little Scoops in Cranford for a fun-filled morning in an ice cream shop (what could be cooler?), and head on up to the Environmental Education Center in Basking Ridge Saturday morning to learn all about dinosaurs.

Saturday night, there's a classic 80s flick under the stars in Montclair that will make Marty McFly fans very happy.  Or you could load up the family and make the drive down to Adventure Aquarium in Camden, where they'll be celebrating the kick-off of Shark Week with discounted entry and really neat shark exhibits.

And finally, we've got the Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning, which comes to the grounds at Solberg Airport all weekend long - live music from Meat Loaf, Mitchell Musso of Disney Channel fame, Barenaked Ladies, and more, plus hot air balloons in the shape of a Pepsi can, Spyder-Pig, a shark, and the American flag.  It'll be a great weekend in Whitehouse Station for sure.

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.


Shark Week at Adventure Aquarium; 1 Riverside Dr., Camden; 856-365-3300; Price: $22.50 adults, $17.95 children; Friday-Sunday, 9:30 AM-5 PM

The mid-summer tradition known as Shark Week kicks off this weekend.  And what better way to celebrate than by heading to the aquarium?  Adventure Aquarium in Camden is a bit of a drive, but absolutely worth it.  You'll get to check out all different kinds of sharks, walk through a suspended 40 foot shark tunnel to get an up-close view, and check out the Shark Realm exhibit!  (Don't forget to wear a shark fin on your head - a little arts and crafts before heading down will save you $2 per ticket at the door).


Little Scoops Summer Friday at Little Scoops; 9 North Union Ave., Cranford; 908-497-7090; Price: $15 per child; Friday, 10:30 AM-Noon

Could there be a better way to spend a warm summer day than in an ice cream shop?  I don't think so.  Check out Little Scoops in Cranford Friday morning, where an inflatable bounce house will be set up.  There will also be opportunities to make a "royal" craft, play, and - of course - enjoy some delicious ice cream and drinks.  Make sure you pre-register!


Dinosaur Daze at the Environmental Education Center; 190 Lord Stirling Rd., Basking Ridge; 908-766-2489; Price: $9); Saturday, 10:30-Noon

Have a dinosaur-obsessed little one?  Head for the Environmental Education Center in Basking Ridge for this class to learn all about T Rex, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, and more.  Kids will play dino-games and partake in Jurassic-related activities.  The class is for children ages 4-6.


Cinema Montclairismo at Church Street; Church St. between South Park and South Fullerton, Montclair; 973-783-MIFF (6433); Price: FREE; Friday, 9 PM

It may be a little late in the evening for the youngest ones, but Cinema Montclairisimo - Montclair's outdoor summer film series - will be showing Back to the Future this Friday night at 9 PM.  Enjoy a classic 80s movies under the stars with the whole family - make sure to bring a lawn chair!  The street will be closed to traffic beforehand, so why not get there early and check out some of the shops and restaurants on Church Street while you're there?


QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning at the Solberg Airport; 39 Thor Solberg Rd., Whitehouse Station; 1-800-HOT-AIR-9 (1-800-468-2479); Price: $10 advance/$15 at the door for children, $20 in advance, $30 at the door for adults (children 3 and under are free); Friday 1-10 PM, Saturday 6 AM-10 PM, Sunday 6 AM-7 PM

The annual Festival of Ballooning is finally back, and it almost seems bigger than ever this year.  There's, well, balloons of course - traditional hot air balloons, plus ones shaped like the American Flag, a QuickChek barn, a Pepsi can, and Spyder-Pig, to name a few - as well as food, crafts, yoga, Zumba, vendors, all kinds of stuff to keep you occupied all day long.  And of course, there's also live music - Mitchell Musso from the Disney Channel performs Saturday afternoon, Canadian pop-rockers Barenaked Ladies make their debut Festival of Ballooning performance Saturday night, and rocker Meat Loaf brings his Hang Cool Teddy Bear Tour on Sunday afternoon.


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