As summer draws to a close, there’s still plenty of time to do a few fun activities before the start of the school year. Plan a day trip, get to that museum you’ve been meaning to see, find a new playground, and take in the best of our northern New Jersey communities. Luckily, there’s a treasure trove of activities dotted throughout our towns and countless ways to get out of the house with children in tow.  

Whether you are new to the area or have lived here for generations, enjoy the last few weeks of summer and try these 5 cool things to do with kids in northern NJ:

1. Fairy houses in the woods on the South Mountain Fairy Trail

Where: 197 Glen Avenue, Millburn (Find the Locust Grove entrance across from the Millburn Library and look for the Rahway Trail.)

 Head outdoors and experience a whimsical adventure looking for fairy houses along the South Mountain Fairy Trail. The tiny houses located along the trail use materials like twigs, shells, and sea glass. Kids love the look-and-find game where they can discover hidden features such as doors that really open, intricately crafted tables and chairs, and windows that reveal cozy scenes inside. Make sure to pack snacks and plenty of water, especially if you plan to walk the full 1-mile loop.

2. Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-based play at Genius Gems

Where: 215 Millburn Ave, Millburn

 Great for a rainy day, Genius Gems is a STEM-based play and learning facility. It boasts over 30,000 magnetic tiles–the world’s largest collection–and a plethora of kid-friendly activities. Visitors can enjoy classes, summer camps and teen nights. Genius Gems believes in learning through play. Kids can challenge each other to build the better castle, take part in a unicorn-themed week at summer camp or join a robotics-based class in the fall. Regardless of what activities they choose, kids will be entertained for hours. This Millburn favorite is a colorful, cool, and all-around fun way to spend the day immersed in one’s own imagination. 

3. Animals and activities galore at the South Mountain Recreation Complex

Where: 560 Northfield Ave, West Orange

 Spend the afternoon admiring Masai giraffes, grazing wood bison or energetic wallabys. These animals are just a few of the exhibits that make up the Turtle Back Zoo which is part of the South Mountain Recreation Complex. The Complex has an abundance of delightful summer diversions, all conveniently located in one place. For example, the Turtleback Zoo was voted the #1 Zoo in New Jersey. Besides the 200 species of animals in the zoo, the South Mountain Recreation Facility has a miniature golf course, Treetop Adventure Course, South Mountain Arena for ice skating, and McLoone’s Boathouse–a lovely restaurant with a view over the reservoir. For younger visitors, there are pony rides, a prehistoric playground, and a zoo train. 

4. Imaginations go wild at Imagine That!

Where: 4 Vreeland Rd, Florham Park

Imagine That! Is a unique discovery museum where kids can spend the day learning, discovering, and playing with 35 hands-on interactive exhibits. Each activity is designed to stimulate the imagination as well as the mind. From train tables, paint stations, and food stores to a real aircraft, there’s something for everyone. Children will enjoy endless hours pretending to be post office workers, doctors, dentists, and princesses. Imagine That! is the perfect place for creative expression and the curious mind. The museum offers field trips and organized playgroups as well.

5. Showtime at the Paper Mill Playhouse

Where: 22 Brookside Dr, Millburn

Whether you took your children to see Belle and Lumière perform in Beauty and the Beast or caught the world premiere of Newsies!, people have been flocking to Millburn’s Paper Mill Playhouse for a variety of family-friendly shows since it opened its doors in 1938. Audiences take in the colorful costumes and delightful musicals year-round, and before the show, you can dine in the excellent Carriage House Restaurant. In addition to the regular season lineup, the Playhouse offers autism-friendly shows, musical theater classes, summer camps, and a show choir. As the summer draws to a close, Paper Mill runs an August Intensive for young adults. 

These 5 cool things to do barely skim the surface of all the fun activities in northern New Jersey. If you are interested in learning more about our NJ communities or thinking of buying a home along the NJ Midtown Direct line, please contact Victoria Carter on (973) 953-0719 or email  

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