For family travel, New York City can be a little overwhelming — and the expense can skyrocket without a lot of caution — but its nearby cousin, Newark, New Jersey, is a surprisingly fun city with lots of kid-friendly adventures that won’t make you cringe when pulling out your wallet. Take a look at some of these affordable destinations and family-friendly restaurants worth checking out.
Let’s Do Dessert First
Newark is known for its amazing restaurants in the Ironbound District, but when you’ve got little ones in tow, sometimes you have to get creative. Why not start with dessert first? Nasto’s Ice Cream Co. offers special yummies, including fresh fruit sorbet — basically a health food, right? Then work backwards, maybe with Tex-Mex egg rolls from Tops Diner or a grilled cheese at Urban Griddle, which specializes in comfort foods. If you want to keep it a little healthy, compromise with Vonda’s Kitchen for a healthier take on soul food. Everyone loves the classic egg panini there!
Feel the Music with the GRAMMYs
Sing along with the most popular musicians your kids love — and show them the musicians you loved at their age — at the Recording Academy’s GRAMMY Museum Experience. These interactive exhibits are perfect for the budding musician interested in learning a little of the behind-the-scenes magic that makes their favorite singers stand out.
Imagine All the Fun
The smallest of small fries can find fun in Newark as well. There are two big-fun children’s museums here, starting with Imagine That!!! This play space was named one of the best things to do in New Jersey, and cool things like puppet theater and pirate ships are almost guaranteed to make your child agree. The Jersey Explorers Museum is another fun way for kids to learn and play at the same time. They can search through the tombs of ancient kings or travel in time back to the days of the Underground Railroad. Go, Harriet!
Reach for the Stars
For a quiet afternoon, head over to the Newark Museum, where the planetarium is waiting to make your kids’ eyes pop and their mouths hang open. Admission tickets are reasonably priced for both adults and children, so it’s not too expensive to give in to the cool of the state’s first planetarium and dream about what life is like in another galaxy.
Get Outdoors in New Jersey’s Nature
Of course, the biggest difference between Newark and its more famous neighbor — besides all those heftier price tags — is the beautiful nature to be found in New Jersey. Spend a day outdoors without spending a dime at one of the city’s many parks. The Essex County Riverfront Park is the only one located right along the water, and there are two playgrounds. Military Park is also worth checking out, partially due to the many activities scheduled every day. Check online before you go to join in the fun.
There’s so much to do in Newark for the family! If you only have a weekend in the city, read this guide to 48 hours in Newark.