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It’s always cool in New Jersey!

In the burning heat of the sun, the refreshing taste of ice cream is the perfect contrast. One thing most people agree on is that a cone of ice cream is a wonderful summer time treat especially in the Garden State! Luckily, there are tons of options! It is not just about the quality or diverse flavors that exist in  NJ but also the cool locations that inspire us to travel across the counties to find exciting experiences. We invite you to visit one (or all) of these North Jersey locations that some of our readers have recommended and others we enjoy as well!

Amazing Ice Cream Places in North Jersey Absolute Zero, Montclair

Have you tried ice cream inspired from Thailand? While you might be thinking about flavors like Thai Iced Tea, Ube (purple sweet potato) and Vietnamese Coffee, Absolute Zero offers those fun and sweet flavors as well as an exciting method to making ice cream. Just like Street Carts in Thailand, at Absolute Zero the ingredients are mixed on a sub zero pan and then rolled. It is not only extremely pretty, but it tastes delicious too!

Alstede Farms, Chester

Alstede Farms made our list because this is a family friendly farm that offers children learning experiences throughout the year. In addition to sunflowers, corn mazes and pick your own activities, they also possess delicious home made ice cream.

Applegate Farms, Montclair

Applegate Farms has been a staple in Montclair for decades and they even offer birthday parties! They make their own unique flavors as well as apple cider donuts and other treats. It is a favorite place because they also sponsor FREE movie nights where you can grab your favorite ice cream before watching a family film.

Cliff’s, Ledgewood

Cliff’s has served ice cream for over forty years! After tasting their Peanut Butter Pretzel Madness, I understand the appeal. With additional parking in the back and picnic places, this is a great place to stop and enjoy a cone.

Curly’s Ice Cream, Riverdale

Not many ice cream spots can boast about decades of amazing ice cream; however, Curly’s has been impressing families for over 60 years! The values established by their founder are the guiding principles used in offering delicious ice cream, great customer service and reasonable prices. Brighten up your day with a soft served Tarty Twist (green apple and pomegranate raspberry sorbet), Coconut Cream or Cannoli Cream.

Das Creamery, Mount Olive

Das’ Creamery takes ice cream to a whole new sensory level by offering unique flavors created by the father-daughter team. The Das family serves scoops of ice cream that will dazzle the taste buds. From For the Sage of Maple to Downton Abbey to The Dark Knight Rises, Das’ uses fresh ingredients to create sensational treats. If you are an ice cream connoisseur, you definitely need to visit this space that has been regarded the best in Morris County and competed for that title in New Jersey.

Falls Creamery, Little Falls

The Falls Creamery is a locally owned shop with the classic look of an ice cream parlor from decades before. Little Falls is known for some amazing mom and pop shops and Falls Creamery is one of them. When we visited, we tried a coffee drink with ice cream that was divine.

Gelotti, Totowa, Caldwell and Montclair

If you catch a Jackals game this summer, you will notice Gelotti’s presence, but this ice cream parlor born in Patterson has a big following in a few towns. They always give back to their community like donating ice cream to the July 4th Ice Cream Social at Grover Cleveland’s House or Night Out celebrations. They are known for their creativity like the Cabernet Chocolate Chip Sorbetto or Avocado! In fact, they have won awards not only in the United States but also in Europe.

Jefferson Dairy, Lake Hopatcong

For close to fifty years, the Jefferson Dairy has been offering the community of Lake Hopatcong delicious ice cream including some unique flavors that are their own creation. My family stops here each year to have a cone in the brightly colored Adirondack chairs. It is cash only but if you forget they have an ATM inside.

Mark & Julie’s, West Orange

What began as a love story has grown into a popular ice cream destination named after its owner Mark and Julie. Boasting over 50 flavors and sold in local restaurants, this parlor is a hopping spot that hosts birthday parties and special events.

Windy Brow Farms, Newton

One of the most iconic flavors of New Jersey, is Taylor Ham which is why Windy Brow made a maple based ice cream that includes caramelized ham to treat your taste buds. This Sussex County farm scoops up unique flavors throughout the season and they all sound delicious. There is always the Meyer Lemon & Shortbread or the Honey & Rubarb as well as a bakery that has fresh baked bread.

Other Ice Cream Places of Interest

Baumgarts, Ridgewood

Bischoff’s, Teaneck

Brownstone Pancake Factory, Edgewater

Charlie’s, Rutherford

Denville Dairy, Denville

Ernie’s, Mahwah

Holstens, Bloomfield

Pink Ice Cream, Clifton

Polar Cub, Whitehouse Station

Van Dyk’s, Ridgewood

The Whistle Stop, Waldwick

We will be adding more ice cream shops as we explore them this summer! Know of a great one in North Jersey we left off the list? Put it in the comments below and we will check it out!

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My family absolutely LOVES Medieval Times! I have been attending tournaments since I was a little girl, and now, as a mom, I love sharing this experience with my children. Although the meal and the premise of the show remains the same (well almost), every trip to Medieval Times offers a new and exciting learning experience!

We were recently invited to be royal VIP guests at the Lyndhurst Castle. This included a tour, Q & A with a few Knights and a special Junior Knights Training class. It was an incredible way to learn all about Medieval Times and the hard work that goes into creating such a spectacular show!

The Junior Knights Training took place on the arena floor that is filled with 40,000 pounds of sand! The Medieval Times Knights taught us a few important moves then treated us to a fight sequence. My boys then had some time to play on their own and take pictures with the knights. It was an amazing experience!

Junior Knights Training at Medieval Times in Lyndhurst, NJ - YouTube

For those that don’t know, when you enter the castle, you receive a crown that represents the Knight you are to cheer for. That will also be the section you sit in for your meal. There are 6 sections: red, yellow, red & yellow, blue, green and white & black. For this show, we cheered for the red knight. Each Knight is incredibly talented and clearly loves what they do. In fact, one Knight we spoke to has been performing for over 15 years at Medieval Times! Now that’s dedication!

I have always admired the Knights at Medieval Times. Their skill, artistry and bravery are inspiring. Although the Queen rules the land, in my opinion, the Knights are the real stars of the show. Well, their horses too of course! Until now, however, I had no idea what went into being a knight. Although anyone can be a Knight, it is a lengthy training process that requires dedication, determination and hard work.

Before becoming one of the Knights we see valiantly performing each night at Medieval Times, the performers must train as a Squire for 6 months to 2 years. A Squire is the person that aids the Knight by handing him weapons during battle. He also gets the Knight’s horse ready and trains alongside his Knight. The Squire must then pass the Knighting Test to become a Knight’s Apprentice. During their apprenticeship, they will learn more advanced techniques. Once fully trained in more intricate and precise moves, they will become a Knight!

Being a Knight isn’t just about competing in medieval games and tournaments though. It also means knowing a lot about medieval history. In order to play the part, performers have to know what it was like to live during that era. They also need to know a great deal about medieval weaponry. For instance, Knights at Medieval Times use 2 different kinds of swords during the show. The espada is a short sword used on horseback while the mandoble is a longer sword used when fighting by foot. When not using a sword, Knights use a lance to knock their opponent off their horse. Also used during battle are the alabarda and the mace.

So much is involved in creating a spectacular Medieval Times show, and we should really tip our crowns to everyone involved especially the Knights. Our Knight won during our most recent visit to Medieval Times, and after learning what he went through to achieve the honor of being called a Knight, we were even more impressed!

Medieval Times in Lyndhurst is open Tuesday-Sunday with 1-3 shows per day. Each ticket includes the show along with a delicious 3-course meal. You can also upgrade your experience by purchasing the Royalty Package, Queen’s Royalty Package or Celebration Package. To purchase tickets, please visit their website. To learn more about the new show, check out our review and YouTube video!

The New Show at Medieval Times - YouTube

Additional locations:

  • Altanta, GA
  • Buena Park, CA
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Dallas, TX
  • Chicago, IL
  • Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Orlando, FL
  • Scottsdale, AZ
  • Toronto, ON

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One location we visit no matter the season is the Liberty Science Center. Consisting of four floors of massive exhibits, this space embodies learning through play. Children can run, jump, touch, feel, smell and see immersive experiences that promote academic enrichment. If it’s raining or sunny, Liberty Science Center is the perfect place to bring the family.

Although LSC is open year round with endless adventures, in the summer there are specific experiences that are not available throughout the year like Jack Horner’s Dino Dig! We want to highlight our recommendations of MUST DO experiences this summer at Liberty Science Center. We would also like to know what your suggestions are for LSC activities!

5 Must Do Experiences at LSC This Summer Sean Kenney’s Art Made with Lego Bricks

Sean Kenney’s Art with LEGO Bricks at Liberty Science Center - YouTube

Have you seen a ladybug the size of a German Shephard? How about a red eyed green frog the size of a tractor? At Liberty Science Center, you now have the opportunity to look at massive sculptures of nature. However, what makes Sean Kenney’s artwork even more stunning is that each piece is created using only Lego bricks. His artwork highlights how nature is being impacted by environmental issues that threaten the existence of wildlife across the world. Your children will be inspired to think about engineering, nature and art as they explore this space. This exhibit remains open until September 2, 2o19, and requires a combination or premium pass to enter.

The Lion Guard: The Exhibit

We are huge fans of Disney Junior’s The Lion Guard and were so excited that Liberty Science Center currently has an exhibit for young children. Your family can visit the Pride Lands to hang out with Kion and the Lion Guard. While they are playing, they are also learning about the African savannah and the animals that call it home. As well, they will learn about teamwork, science and physics. It is open until September 8, 2019 and is included with admission.

Jack Horner’s Dino Dig

Liberty Science Center has done it again! The popular Jack Horner’s Dino Dig has been brought back again where your children can sift through 35 tons of sand. This sensory activity captivates their attention as they are locating and identifying 60 different fossils. Don’t worry, they like to change things up by including new ones like a dragonfly fossil! Learn ore about these amazing experience here.

Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium

Liberty Science Center is also the home to the largest planetarium in the Western hemisphere that boasts an 8K resolution. This makes it the perfect place to watch a planetarium show imagining what is beyond our planet. It is also my favorite location to watch documentaries. The stunning imagery combined with academic information helps children understand and learn new things. This summer you can watch Great Bear Rainforest, The Beatles Laser Show, Black Holes, Wonders of the Night Sky and One, World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure (to name a few).

Infinity Climber

There are so many places for children to run, climb, and jump, but hands down my children always vote for the Infinity Climber each and every visit. Suspended from the third floor, this permanent exhibit is a must do no matter the weather outside and no matter the season!

Bonus:

Touch Tunnel

No trip to LSC is complete without trying the Touch Tunnel! If this will be your first visit, then you have to give this classic space a try. Put your fears to the test as you make your way through the 80-foot, pitch black tunnel! It is included with admission.

Liberty Science Center is located in Jersey City, NJ with a gorgeous backdrop of the NYC skyline and the Statue of Liberty. It is open seven days a week this summer with varying hours. Please visit their website to learn more.

What experience are you excited about the most? Answer in the comments section below!

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While you can get a passport to travel the world, there is one destination that is impossible to purchase a ticket to. Pangea was a supercontinent that existed during the Paleozic and Mesozoic eras that was home to dinosaurs. This summer, the Academy of Natural Sciences invites visitors to pick up a passport and travel back millions years ago to observe creatures that roamed the different terrains.

Dominating the exterior of the Academy of Natural Sciences are two prehistoric ambassadors to greet you before you begin your journey to learn about dinosaurs, geography and science! Here are some reasons that you will want to bring the budding paleontologist in your family to visit this expansive and engaging exhibit this summer!

Dinosaurs Around the World at The Academy of Natural Sciences - YouTube

Get Your Passport Stamped in Pangea With Dinosaurs Around the World Observe Dinosaurs

The Academy is currently hosting 8 enormous animatronic dinosaurs that mimic different movements set against stunning backdrops. The robotic creatures add to the surreal feeling that you just walked into a time travel movie. In this special exhibit, your family can safely interact with a Velociraptor! While we had fun pretending the dinosaurs were real, it was also fascinating to learn how dinosaurs influenced the creation of mythology.

Imagine a Different World

One of the exhibit spaces is filled with different books making it the ideal space to take a break and read. There is also a table filled with dinosaur models that children can color! Currently, science doesn’t answer the question what color were the dinosaurs; however, in this space ,children can use their imagination to color them with different designs and colors.

Travel the World

While the graphics evoke posters that scream of visiting the National Parks, this exhibit transports you in time to the geographic areas that eventually become the continents we know today. Located in your passport, your children are challenged to locate and identify several different dinosaurs. Spoiler Alert: one of the dinosaurs is hiding in Dinosaur Hall!

Touch Fossils!

The Academy incorporates a multi-sensory approach which is apparent when you walk into Pangea as the sounds and lights provide a feeling that you are not in Philadelphia anymore. Don’t be surprised if there is a Cart of Curiosity on display or a staff member offering you the opportunity to touch a fossil. During our trip, we were able to touch different fossils. In fact, we were able to compare the skull of a real velociraptor to one that was being displayed.

This new exhibit at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University runs until January 20, 2020 offering a whole new experience for families to enjoy together. This is the perfect place to explore this summer as families can travel the world during prehistoric times.

The Academy of Natural Sciences is located at 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA. It is open Monday-Friday from 10am-4:30pm and on weekends and holidays from 10am-5pm. Admission varies based on age and time of visit. Kids under 2 are FREE! For more information, please visit the Academy’s website.

Want to win tickets to travel back in time and explore Pangea! Of course you do! We are so excited to partner with the Academy of Natural Sciences to giveaway 4 passes to the museum.

Here are the rules and conditions for this amazing giveaway:

Participants MUST live in the United States.
The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter.
The contest will run from July 10 through 12am on July 24.
The winner will be contacted on July 24.
The winner will receive the tickets directly from the Academy.
The winners must respond within 1 day or another winner will be chosen.
To enter, participants can earn entries by: visiting the Mommy University Facebook page (likes are appreciated but not required), following Mommy University on Twitter, sharing the contest with friends, subscribing to the MU newsletter, sharing our Dinosaurs YouTube video, following MU on Instagram, subscribing to our YouTube channel, providing your email address and commenting on this blog post by answering the required question.
No purchase is necessary to win.
Your chances of winning are dependent on the number of entries received.

Enter here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

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No trip to Hershey is complete without visiting Hershey’s Chocolate World! It is located directly next to Hersheypark and offers endless opportunities for sweet family fun. One of the best experiences at Hershey’s Chocolate World is Hershey’s Unwrapped! This new interactive learning experience takes guests on a chocolate tasting journey that engages all the senses! Here’s how it works:

Guests can purchase tickets to Hershey’s Unwrapped at Chocolate World for $15.95/adult (13+) and $12.95/child (3-12). Children ages 2 and under are FREE. The experience is about 30 minutes long and you will choose the time you want to attend the show (based on availability). When you check-in to your show, you will receive a tin filled with chocolate samples that will be used during the show. At the end of the show, you get to keep the tin!

Guests are then invited into the Hershey Chocolate Academy to learn about the art of tasting chocolate. While waiting for the show to begin, trivia questions are displayed on the screen to test your knowledge of chocolate and Mr. Hershey.

Photo Credit: Steve Ruark/AP Images for Hershey’s

At the start of the show, guests are greeted by a bubbly and engaging “professor” who just earned her degree from the Chocolate Academy. She is nervous but eager to share her newfound knowledge with her guests.

During the show, guests will learn about the 5 senses and how they can all be used to understand more about chocolate. Guests then practice using their senses with the chocolate samples in their tins. Before ever actually tasting the chocolate we learned to smell it, hear what it sounds like when we broke it, look at the colors and feel the textures.

Then, of course, we tasted it. Once we tasted the chocolate, we learned how to determine which of the 6 flavor families the chocolate tasted like. These includes: fruity, floral, earthy, nutty & spicy, sweet and dairy. Since there were a variety of samples, we were able to find several of the flavor families during our tasting. It was a really fun hands-on learning experience for my entire family!

After this fun and entertaining tasting experience, we were introduced to Doc Chocolate who is an eccentric chocolate maker who likes to experiment with flavors to make new kinds of candy. We were invited into his lab to help him develop a new chocolate bar. Since we were the only ones at our show (it was a late showing), we received personal attention, and each one of us was able to participate in the show. For a larger show, Doc will interact with the audience and select a few people to come up and be a part of the experiment.

At the end of the show, we learned a few very important lessons! It is okay to experiment and try new things. It is even okay to fail because failure just takes us one step closer to success. Mr. Hershey was not successful in all his ventures but he enjoyed trying new ideas, and in the end, he changed the lives of millions of people!

To purchase tickets to Hershey’s Unwrapped, please visit their website!

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Since I was a little girl, my family has enjoyed summer days and nights at the State Fair Meadowlands. My father loved taking my sister and I to play games, see the shows, enjoy the rides and so much more. He especially loved sitting in the audience during the hypnotist show that was nothing short of AMAZING! As a parent, I have continued this tradition with my children as well. Since my son was just about able to walk, he has enjoyed the State Fair Meadowlands. In fact, he played his very first carnival game there several years ago. I am now adding to my bank of fair memories, and I cannot wait to create more memories this season!

Photo Provided by State Fair

Since 1986, State Fair Meadowlands has offered a variety of low-cost options making a fun time at the fair possible for EVERYONE! This year, families can enjoy 18 days of fun and excitement at an affordable price. Every day children under 34 inches tall are admitted FREE, and parking is FREE Monday-Wednesday. There are also a number of Bargain Days available throughout the season!

Bargain Days

  • Opening Night Preview: On June 20 (6pm-midnight), State Fair Meadowlands will celebrate over 30 years of affordable family fun by offering an admission price of $8 for all ages (children 34 inches tall and under being FREE). Each paid guest will also receive a FREE “Come Back” ticket valid June 24, 25 or July 2.
  • Dollar Night: On June 21 from 6pm to 1am, admission will only be $10/person with parking, select food items, rides and games only $2!
  • Kids Go Free Night: On June 26 from 5pm-midnight, kids 12 and under are FREE and unlimited ride stamps are only $20!
  • Cheap, Cheap Night: All ages pay only $5 for admission on July 1 from 5pm-midnight! Plus parking is FREE!
  • Early Bird Special: On July 5, guests who arrive between 4:30pm-6:30pm will only pay $8 for admission. After 6:30pm, the price returns to $12.

State Fair Meadowlands also offers a wide variety of FREE events and programs that are included with admission. Here are some free experiences you won’t want to miss:

  • Pig Races
  • Educational Petting Zoo
  • Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show
  • Jurassic Kingdom
  • Magician Jay Mattioli
  • Hypnotist Show with Steve Bayner
  • Death Defying High Dive Show
  • Fireworks (July 3rd and 4th)
  • Cycle Circus Live
  • Daily Concerts

Photo Provided by State Fair

There is so much fun to be had at the State Fair Meadowlands but there are a few things you just can’t miss. Here are some experiences you have to try this year at the fair!

Must Do Experiences at the State Fair Meadowlands Watch a Pig Race

A day at the fair is not complete until you watch a pig race. Pick your favorite pig and see if they win. If you’re lucky, you may even be called up to be a part of the show! Pig Shows take place every day and are FREE with admission.

Check Out a Show

The State Fair offers a number of FREE shows that will blow your mind. We absolutely LOVED the High Dive Show and were on the edge of our seats during the Cycle Circus. You will also love the magic, illusion and hypnotist shows. New this year, is Jurassic Kingdom that offers an interactive journey back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Families will also love the new Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show where world-class lumberjacks show off their strength and skill.

Photo Credit: Jean-Philippe Photography

Try a New Ride

Each trip to the fair can create new memories and new experiences, and that can start with riding a new ride. Every time we go to the fair my boys try a new ride. When they were little, it was bumper boats but as they got older it became rides that were higher and faster!

Eat Some Fair Food

What’s a trip to the fair without trying some fair food? You can pretty much try anything fried or you can go for the traditional funnel cake and ice cream. This year, there will also be unique options like alligator bites and shark kabobs as well as healthy options too like salads and Italian ice. The State Fair Meadowlands offers a wide variety of eating options so everyone in your family will be happy!

Play a Game

My kids LOVE playing games. In fact, this is their favorite part of the fair. If you visit on Dollar Night, select games are only $2 so playing all night won’t break the bank!

State Fair Meadowlands is open June 20 – July 7 and is located in East Rutherford, NJ (in the parking lot of MetLife Stadium). Check the website for times as they vary each day.

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No Talkie Before Coffee

When I was stranded home in my house with my infant child and we couldn’t leave the house for some illness or another, I desperately called a friend asking begging her to go to Starbucks and get me a Venti Caramel Machiatto. Admittedly, I drove with my second child several towns over when the kids were babies. They had fallen asleep in the car and I dreaded waking an infant and toddler to go inside for a cup of coffee. With drive thru Starbucks, moms of little ones can pick up that jolt of coffee, latte or frapuccino while driving around.

Seven years later the machiatto is still my go to drink, but now there are drive thru Starbucks throughout the state which would have enabled me to enjoy that little bit of peace. This is a cheat sheet for those of us that need a quick kick of caffeine to make it through the next day, hour or minute. You can use our guide to find a store near you, and make sure to check out the helpful tips at the end!

Atlantic County

6801 East Black Horse Pike, Egg Harbor Township

68 West Jimmir Leeds Rd., B1, Galloway

Bergen County

10 State Rt. 17, East Rutherford

2215 State Rt. 4 East, Fort Lee

1616 Bergen Blvd., Fort Lee

300 Rt. 46 West, Little Ferry

380 Route 17 South, Mahwah

271B Livingston St., Northvale

411 Ramapo Valley Rd., Oakland

177 Rt. 17 S., Paramus

121 Franklin Ave, Ridgewood

96 Meadow Rd., Rutherford

Burlington County

282 Dunns Mill Rd., Bordentown

2601 County Rd. 541, Burlington

1251 Route 130 South, Cinnaminson, NJ 08077

1340 Fairview Blvd, Delran

597 RT 38, Maple Shade, NJ 08052

930 W Rt 70 100 Marlton, NJ 08053

513 Route 541, Medford

550 Fellowship Road, Mount Laurel

Camden County

1192 East Route 70, #12, Cherry Hill

600 Route 38, Cherry Hill

1490 Blackwood-Clementon Road, Clementon

611 Berlin Cross Keys Road, Sicklerville

148 Route 73, Voorhees

Essex County

288 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston

Gloucester County

1215 Hurfville Rd, Deptford, NJ 08096

304 Greentree Rd., Sewell

5340 Route 42, Turnersville

Hudson County

7301 River Road, North Bergen

Hunterdon County

240 Route 202, Flemington

Mercer County

2673 Main Street, Lawrenceville

2325 Route 33, Robbinsville

Middlesex County

300 Rt. 18 North, East Brunswick

50 Racetrack Road, East Brunswick

939 Route 1, Edison

49 Route 27, Edison, NJ 08817

23 Route 1, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

522 Shoppes Blvd., North Brunswick

3804 Rt. 1 North, South Brunswick, NJ 08852

1400 Centennial Avenue, Piscataway, NJ 08854

957 Rt. 9 N., South Amboy

Monmouth County

1109 Route 34, Matawan, NJ 07747

178 Rt. 35, Eatontown

621 US 9, Freehold

310 Rt. 9 North, Manalapan

1109 Route 34, Matawan

2301 Route 66, Ocean Township

1919 Route 35 101, Wall, NJ 07719

Morris County

640 Shunpike Rd., Chatham

1730 Route 10 East, Parsippany

1429 Route 46, Parsippany

Ocean County

1865 Rt. 70, Lakewood

2360 Lakewood Road, Toms River

Passaic County

45 Wanaque Ave., Pompton Lakes

183 Hamburg Tpke., Wayne

1118 Hamburg Turnpike, Wayne

57 State Route 23, Wayne

Somerset County

287 Rt. 22, Green Brook

649 Route 206, Hillsborough Township

Sussex County

111 Rt. 23 South, Franklin

Union County

345 North Ave. East, Cranford

Warren County

1885 Rt. 57, Hackettstown

1198 US Highway 22, Phillipsburg

Helpful Tips

  • As a tired mom, don’t forget to ask for water to help hydrate yourself or for the toddler in the backseat.
  • They do have a child size hot chocolate which is also made at a lower temperature but I don’t suggest trying this for the first time in the drive thru.
  • Starbucks has snacks (besides the cake pops your kids will request) including healthier ones like egg bites, squeezable fruit sauces, fruit cups, and yogurts.
  • You can download the app and build points to earn free drinks and receive a free one on your birthday.
  • Don’t feel guilty about grabbing a drink, we all need a treat once in a while.

Did we miss a drive thru Starbucks in NJ? Mention it in the comments below and we will add it to the list!

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Although it was probably my least favorite book in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix was one of my favorite movies! That’s why when I found out that it was the next show in the Harry Potter Concert Series at NJPAC I knew we had to go! This was our second concert experience, and it was just as incredible as the first!

Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix in Concert at NJPAC was performed by the incredible New Jersey Symphony Orchestra which was led by conductor Joshua Gersen, Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic and Music Director of the New York Youth Symphony. The show was around 3 hours long consisting of 2 Acts and a short intermission. Before the show, Harry Potter fans of all ages enjoyed a fun FREE photo booth along with delicious themed food selections (for an additional fee). It was wonderful seeing so many fans come together to celebrate this iconic, and for many, life changing series.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix is the 5th book/movie in the series. The score, just like the movie, takes you on an emotional journey filled with suspense, excitement, tragedy and love. This movie truly delves into the emotional side of the relationship between Harry and his Godfather, Sirius Black. It also focuses on Harry’s transformation from a boy wizard to a soon to be hero. Each note of the score helps the audience understand Harry’s struggle to understand himself and the world around him.

Order of the Pheonix falls in line with the series as it becomes more intense and dark; however, there is also whimsy and fun in this movie as well. We also see everyone come together to fight against the Ministry that is trying to take over Hogwarts and take down Dumbledore. It is a wonderful example of what happens when friends and family stand together!

The music for Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix was written by Nicholas Hooper, a long time Harry Potter fan. In fact, it was Nicholas’ dream to one day compose the score for one of the films. He worked tirelessly in collaboration with the Director David Yates to create this masterpiece, and during the process, wrote around 14 hours of music. Each piece of music and every note serves an important purpose and is integral in creating a magical journey for Harry Potter fans. If you love music and want to learn more about the creative process, I highly recommend getting the program as it goes into great detail about the making of this breathtaking score.

Harry Potter in Concert is one of the most amazing Harry Potter events you will ever experience! I have seen the movies dozens of times but there is nothing like having the score played live giving a new appreciation for each scene. We cannot wait for the next show, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, on October 26, 2019. To learn more and to purchase tickets, visit the NJPAC website.

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When I heard about the new character dining experience opening at Artist Point at Wilderness Lodge in Walt Disney World, I was so excited to try it out. At our 180 day mark, I immediately booked a family dinner knowing this would be an experience we would never forget! Story Book Dining at Artist Point was everything I thought it would be and more!

From beginning to end, Storybook Dining offered an immersive experience as we truly felt as if we stepped into the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The room looks as if you stepped into an enchanted forest with trees and lights scattered about the room and ceiling. The menu is unique and fits the theme perfectly. The appetizers are shared amongst the table while each guest chooses their own entree. The desserts are shared as well.

The appetizers include shrimp cocktail, mushroom bisque and Hunter’s Terrain. They are presented on a tree-like centerpiece with the soup presented in small caldrons. The flavors were unique but delicious. It is not your typical shared appetizer selection which adds to the charm of this dining experience.

The kids also receive their own appetizer of veggies, string cheese and bread. What’s special about this appetizer, however, is that when the kids shake the small jar, they make their own honey butter! How cool is that?!

For our entrees, I ordered roasted chicken while my husband chose the prime rib. My boys ordered pasta and steak with potatoes. Everything was incredible and cooked to perfection. The portions were large so no one left hungry! For dessert, we enjoyed amazing themed treats! My favorite was the Gooseberry Pie while my kids loved the Miner’s Treasure which is a chocolate treat you will not soon forget! We also really enjoyed the poison apples.

At the very end of our meal, we were offered chocolate ganache hearts and maple popcorn. The best part was that they were served to us from a smoking glass box. It was the perfect end to a enchanting meal!

Now let’s talk about why we really went, the characters! There aren’t enough words to describe how excited I was to see two dwarfs, Grumpy and Dopey. I am pretty sure I smiled the entire time I was in the restaurant! While dining, the dwarfs and Snow White walk around and greet guests. They also give autographs and pose for fun pictures. There are also songs to get up and dance to including the birthday song during which birthday guests are recognized and celebrated by the characters.

Guests are also invited to the center of the restaurant to meet the Evil Queen which is an unforgettable experience. She stayed in character the entire time offering witty and snarky comments paired with matching facial expressions.

Story Book Dining at Artist Point was one of the most unique character dining experiences my family has enjoyed at Walt Disney World so far! It was so amazing to meet characters that aren’t available at the parks on a regular basis. We had early dinner reservations so the restaurant wasn’t overly crowded which allowed for some great pictures and quality time with the characters. The cost of the meal is high; however, I found it completely worth it! Make sure to book your experience early because reservations fill up fast! To learn more, visit the Walt Disney World website.

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Everybody has a dream! Whether it’s to be a movie star, baseball player, astronaut or circus performer, everyone dreams of being someone amazing one day. Big Top Dreams, the new musical production at Hersheypark, is all about following your dreams and finding your place in this world. It is a heartwarming theatrical experience you will want to see again and again!

From the moment the show began to the last note, Big Top Dreams took my breath away! I was dancing, singing and smiling the entire time! From the set to the costumes to the choreography to the most incredible cast of talented performers, this musical production was spectacular! It really was THE GREATEST SHOW!

Big Top Dreams, which can be seen at the Music Box Theatre all summer long, offers a behind the scenes look at life in the circus. Through music and dance, we get to know various entertainers such as clowns, acrobats, muscle men and a lion tamer. We also witness a battle for stardom and one woman’s struggle to find her place in the show.

A true Cinderella-story, Big Top Dreams takes audience members on an exciting yet emotional journey filled with happiness, struggle and friendship. Rebecca has always dreamed of putting down her broom and being a part of the act. One problem though, Rebecca has not yet found her talent. With a little help from the circus fortune teller, Rebecca begins to explore her abilities making for some humorous and light-hearted moments along the way. 

With songs from classic bands like Queen, ABBA, The Who and the Pointer Sisters, you can’t help but dance along with Rebecca and the rest of the cast as she searches for her true talent. But before she finds her place, she must prove herself to the Ringmaster as well as the star of the show who DOES NOT like to share the spotlight. Do you think Rebecca will find her talent and win over the rest of the circus members? You will have to see the show to find out!

The choreography in Big Top Dreams was outstanding and really helped tell the story in an upbeat and entertaining way. As a choreographer myself, I was incredibly impressed with the intricacy of each number which showcased each talented performer through a variety of dance styles. With each perfectly timed step, the performers truly depicted their roles as members of the circus. I was also in awe of their vocal talent as they never missed a note and really brought new life to classic songs. The set and costumes also helped tell the story as the audience felt like they were truly at the circus. 

Big Top Dreams is included with park admission and shows can be seen May 25-August 24 at 2pm, 3:15pm, 4:30pm and 5:45pm. This one-of-a-kind musical production is a MUST DO experience for the entire family!

Want to win tickets to Hersheypark? Enter our 4-ticket giveaway here!

As a member of the Sweetest Families program, I am provided passes to incredible Hershey events, programs and activities in order to share their sweet learning adventures!

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