Real Mom Review: Watchung Stables

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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

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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!

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

Real Mom Review: the Skyscraper Museum

skyscrapermuseumThe Skyscraper Museum is a small museum that most children will enjoy visiting and learning about skyscrapers. There are various models of buildings in NYC and around the world. On Saturdays before the museum opens to the public, it offers hands on workshops for kids with storytime, discussion, and crafts. On a recent visit, the kids learned about the Empire State Building and then built a model of the building using toothpicks and gumdrops. You must reserve in advance for the workshops by calling 212-945-6324.

Bang for your Buck: thumbs up! $5 suggested per child for workshops, otherwise admission is $5 per adult, $2.50 per child
Best transit route: The museum is at 58 Warren Street. Weekends driving in and finding a spot (plenty of parking) is the easiest since the ferry does not run and path is not direct to WFC. Weekdays ferry is easiest, path is a good option.
Stroller friendly: yes
Rainy day recommended: thumbs up
Potty situation: plenty and easily accessible
Snack friendly: you can snack just outside the building in the park
Hyper-child friendly: no
Child-friendly staff: outstanding professional staff
Estimate of time killed: about 1 hour
Nap factor: limited physical activity, risk for meltdown

Real Mom Review – Museum of Modern Art

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The Museum of Modern Art is one of those museums that makes you happy you have kids. Once your child hits age 4, the entire family gets into the museum for free! On weekends the museum has two kinds of kids tours: Tours for Fours, especially for 4 year olds, and A Closer Look for Kids for kids ages 5-10, both at 10:30am. Instead of going in the museum at the main entrance, go to the entrance at 54th right off of 5th avenue. Tickets are free and first come first serve. It is best to get there before 10am so that you get a spot. The tour involves visiting several pieces of artwork in the museum with a guided discussion by a teacher. Afterwards, the kids get to do some drawing. If you miss the tour, there is still plenty to do. The museum has fun family tour guides. Also, the museum just opened up a Line Lab for kids (last year it was a Color Lab) which is an area with toys, games and books for kids that focus on the selected concept. MOMA also has outstanding family workshops for kids that are more in depth and involve elaborate arts and crafts. These workshops fill up on the day they open up for registration. The best way to get in is to subscribe to MOMA’s family newsletter and register as soon as you get the museum’s email that registration is open.

Bang for your Buck: thumbs up! free!
Best transit route: 126 bus to Port Authority and then the E train to 53rd street or path to 34th and then the V train to 53rd street (or B, D, F to 50th and then walk)
Stroller friendly: yes
Rainy day recommended: thumbs up
Potty situation: plenty and easily accessible
Snack friendly: there is a nice cafeteria and you can also snack outside in the garden
Hyper-child friendly: no, but museum staff go over the rules with the kids
Child-friendly staff: outstanding professional staff
Estimate of time killed: about 1.5 hours (add an extra hour if you visit the Line Lab)
Nap factor: limited physical activity, risk for meltdown