Real Mom Review: Watchung Stables

Watchung stables in Mountainside houses over 50 horses and offers nearly everything horse related: boarding, lessons, boy scout/girl scout programs, trail rides, summer camp, and horse shows. Most lessons are recommended for ages 9 and up, but there are a number of options for younger kids. There are winter clinics on horse grooming for kids under 9. In April, June, September and October there are also “Just the Two of Us” programs where kids under 9 and their parents can be introduced to horses and how to properly mount a horse and safety around horses. The stables also offers hour long tours (also appropriate for preschoolers) for groups of 10-15 people. Or just go and rent a lead-line horse and let the kids take a ride! This is also an outstanding venue for a birthday party.

Bang for your Buck: Thumbs up. Horse lovers can admire the horses for free! Winter clinics are $10. The Just the Two of Us programs are $26 per family (one child and one adult). Hour long group tours are $40. Line-lead horses are $17-$19 for 30 minutes. For more information download their program here
Best transit route: about 30 minutes from Hoboken by car
Stroller friendly: no
Rainy day recommended: no
Potty situation: on location
Snack friendly: Yes, you can snack outside the stables
Hyper-child friendly: yes
Child-friendly staff: yes
Estimate of time killed: 1 to 1.5 hours
Nap factor: good


Real Mom Review – The Museum of Arts and Design

museum-of-art-designThe Museum of Arts and Design just opened up last year at its new location at Columbus Circle. The museum exhibits craft and design related artwork. We took the kids (ages 3 to 5) to see the Second Lives exhibit which featured artwork made from everyday objects (plastic spoon sculptures, a chair made out of shoes, sculptures made with puzzle pieces) and they really related to the work. On the 6th floor they also have an Open Studio where you can see artists at work and if you are lucky you may even be able to contribute to the artwork. As for workshops, the museum offers Studio Sundays every Sunday from 2pm to 4pm. The hands-on crafty workshop is just $10 per person and is recommended for kids 6 and up. Reservations are not required, but space is limited. Call 212-299-7720 for more information.

Bang for your Buck: Medium. Adult admission is $15 and kids under 12 are free. Thursdays from 6pm to 9pm are pay as you wish. Studio Sundays are $10 per person. Note that the museum is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Best transit route: 126 bus to Port Authority and then the A or C train to Columbus Circle OR Path to 34th street and then the B or D train to Columbus Circle.
Stroller friendly: If you take the Path route in, not too bad with the only stairs at Columbus Circle
Rainy day recommended: thumbs up
Potty situation: They are located on the 6th floor. The shiny retro hand dryers were one of the kids’ favorite parts of the museum.
Snack friendly: No, but Whole Foods is just across the street and they have a sit down snack area and plenty of snacks for sale.
Hyper-child friendly: no! and touching the everyday objects is so very tempting!
Child-friendly staff: yes
Estimate of time killed: 45 minutes
Nap factor: low

Real Mom Review: Florham Park Roller Skating Rink

roller_skate_1_bgFeeling nostalgia for the 70s? Take the kids to a roller skating rink for some retro fun. Florham Park Roller Rink has plenty of those old fashioned heavy non-inline roller skates that you can rent. Then take a whirl around the roller rink to some lively music. If you don’t know how to roller skate, there are drop in lessons on Saturday mornings at 10am.

Bang for your Buck: thumbs up! Saturday morning lessons are $8 per person for 50 minutes and include skate rentals. Open skate schedule is available here and is mostly weekends in two hour blocks. Admission is $6.50 plus $3.50 for skate rentals.
Best transit route: Take the car. It is about 30 minutes from Hoboken.
Stroller friendly: no
Rainy day recommended: thumbs up
Potty situation: bathrooms on location
Snack friendly: cheap greasy food is available and there is seating, no outside food allowed
Hyper-child friendly: thumbs up!
Child-friendly staff: yes
Estimate of time killed: about 1-1.5 hours
Nap factor: excellent

Real Mom Review: Bowl Rite Lanes

If you are looking for a cheap local bowling lane to take the kids to, head on over to Bowl Rite in Union City. It looks very shady from the outside and when you first walk in as it is located above a CVS and the entrance is gated and smells awful, but once inside you are set. There are two floors of lanes with bumper lanes for the kids, lots of lightweight fluorescent bowling balls, and plenty of greasy food. It’s a great way to kill a rainy boring afternoon.

Bang for your Buck: thumbs up! Weekday afternoons shoe rentals are $2 per person plus $2 per person for one game. Weekend rates are $4 per game per person.
Best transit route: Car. Or take the 22 bus to the Palisades and 8th avenue – the lanes are on 8th about 5 blocks west of Palisades avenue.
Stroller friendly: no – lots of stairs getting into the bowling alley
Rainy day recommended: thumbs up
Potty situation: bathrooms on location
Snack friendly: cheap greasy food is available: hot dogs at $1.50, fries $2, pizza $12, hamburgers $3, etc.
Hyper-child friendly: thumbs up!
Child-friendly staff: yes
Estimate of time killed: about 1-1.5 hours
Nap factor: excellent – nothing like carrying and throwing heavy bowling balls to get a child to take a nap!

Thrifty Thursday: Free Broadway Show Tickets for Kids

images3These hard economic times mean more free Broadway shows for kids! Kids Night On Broadway used to be a once a year event where kids ages 6 to 18 could get a free Broadway show ticket when accompanied by a full-paying adult. Now, the event is once a month! In addition to the free Broadway show ticket, kids get to attend pre-theater shows and workshops where they may meet the stars of the show and they also eat free at some Times Square restaurants.

Real Mom Review: Hoboken Golf

mini1Hoboken Golf located at 2nd and Grand in Hoboken has a 9 hole mini golf course in addition to adult golf practice. Located in an old warehouse type building, there is a lot of open inside space for running around. The mini golf course is very simple and bare bones, but for cheap indoor entertainment when the kids are stir crazy, you can’t beat this!

Bang for your Buck: thumbs up! $4 for 9 holes, $7 for 18 holes, $10 for unlimited
Best transit route: at 125 Grand – walk
Stroller friendly: a couple of steps up into the building
Rainy day recommended: thumbs up
Potty situation: on location
Snack friendly: yes, there are picnic tables where you can sit and snack
Hyper-child friendly: thumbs up!
Child-friendly staff: yes, especially afternoons when the place is pretty empty
Estimate of time killed: about 1 hour
Nap factor: excellent

Tipster Tuesday: What to Do When It Rains Every Day During Your Beach Vacation

When you plan a beach vacation with children, you hope and pray that every day will be a perfect beach day.  However, what do you do when mother nature doesn’t cooperate?

Plan Ahead- Bring a List From Home With a Few Places to Explore:
We like to hit the internet before we go away. Once you get to your destination, it may be difficult to get on the internet.

Talk to People at Your Destination:
We discovered some wonderful places to go in Boca Raton when we went to the farmers market.  The people there were very friendly, and were more than happy to help us (er take pity on us) and help us find a way to entertain our brood. 

Go to a Museum and Pick up Pamphlets There:
Sometimes all it takes is finding one place geared for children to find other places geared for children. For instance, when we went to the Boca Raton Children’s Museum, they had a booklet put out by the Palm Beach Cultural Center with a list of activities for kids in March and April. This Calendar had an index in the back which I found to be the best resource. The index tipped me off to some places to investigate further, like: the Schoolhouse Children’s Museum, the Palm Beach Zoo and South Florida Science Museum.

We have included the following review just in case you find yourself in the Boca Raton area.

Imagine That! Boca Raton Children’s Museum is a hands-on museum for children that is housed in one of the oldest homes of Boca Raton (circa 1912).  Make a homemade doll (kids used to make their own) from a handkerchief, styrofoam ball and ribbons, and then decorate your doll with markers.  Move onto the next room and examine a miniature doll house made to look like the house you are in. Although one side is covered with plastic panels and is just for looking, the other side is open and ready to be explored.  After exploring the doll house, you may have an opportunity to do another craft.  In honor of St. Patricks day, we made paper flowers with pieces of green tissue paper and a pipe cleaner.  Next, check out the lovely grocery store.  One child can go shopping, while the other acts as the clerk and rings up all the items and bags them.  When your children bore of this (it will be a while) take them to the bank next door complete with vault and teller booth.  They will enjoy pretending to be tellers and, can learn about money and also open up a safe deposit box in the vault.  There is also an area with dress up materials and an area with some musical instruments. If it isn’t raining, let the kids play on the large wooden boat outside the museum and run around the fort. 
Bang for your Buck: Thumbs up! $3.00 per person.
Location: 498 Crawford Boulevard Boca Raton, Florida 33432. Phone: 561-368-3752. 
Rainy Day Recommendation: yes.