Look, we don’t care how many first day of school pics you’ve seen in your social media feeds, here in New Jersey, it’s still summer. But it’s going fast, so grab your calendar and make plans now for these ten things to do before summer ends!
Take to the Skies. Book a trip with Fantasy Balloon Flights, Inc. and take in views of the Hudson Valley region or the lower Catskills all while drifting along in a hot air balloon guided by a seasoned pilot (their pilots have more than 34 years of experience). Fantasy Balloon Flights is open seven days a week, but morning is the best time to fly, so no sleeping in! Fantasy Balloon Flights, Inc. launches from Middletown, NY. For reservations, call 845-856-7103.
Say Aaargh. When you can’t take even one more second at the splash park, the playground or story time, pack up your little swashbucklers and head to Philipsburg Manor for the last of the Pirate Quest days. Hunt through the grounds for precious cargo that your little ones can load into their digital treasure chests in their new mobile game. You get the kids outside and moving, and they get to use your phone—it’s a win-win! Pirate attire is encouraged. August 26-27. Philipsburg Manor, Sleepy Hollow, NY, 914-631-8200.
Make Time for Wine. While we wouldn’t say enjoying wine in New Jersey is like a visit to Napa, the Garden State still has its share of vineyards that produce some perfectly drinkable wines coupled with grape vine views. Head to Unionville Vineyards, Alba Vineyard or Laurita Winery for a tasting and a picnic. Or drive north to Warwick Valley Winery in the Hudson Valley where there’s live music every weekend from 2 to 5 p.m. on the patio and bigger weekend-long music festivals five times a year. Feeling lazy? Then head to the Hamptons instead where you don't even need to leave your car for rosé!
Have a Chihuly Night. Glass sculptor extraordinaire Dale Chihuly has his first exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden in over 10 years. These sculptures are breathtaking in the day, but imagine them illuminated against the backdrop of the NYBG in the evenings. Book your Chihuly Night Thursdays through August and then Thursdays through Sundays through October. Plus, there will be live musical performances, food and cocktails. Sounds like we know what you’ll be doing next Thursday! Reservations suggested. For information, call 718-817-8700.
Taste Summer. Like Lots and lots of ice cream. Before you know it, you’ll trade in that icy cold treat for hot chocolate, so while the season is still here, check out these yummy ice cream shops and sweet treats. Or for over-the-top fun, dig into some Insta-worthy frozen treats. And if you haven’t tried the rolled ice cream trend, pay a visit to the Rolling Cow in Garden State Plaza and make sure to get a spot at the glass where you can watch them make your ice cream right before your eyes. And seriously nothing tastes more like summer than lobster. Except maybe ice cream (see above) or salt water taffy. But anyway, lobster. Something about it transports you to the beach even when you’re sitting in the middle of Bergen County. So check out How to Eat Lobster Like A Boss for the best way to have summer for dinner.
Catch a Fish. Or two. Or three. Hop on an Island Current charter or party fishing boat and spend the day on the waters of the Long Island Sound or in the New York Harbor fishing for flounder, fluke, striped bass or bluefish, among others. Or take a night sailing cruise and fish for blues and stripers. Island Current will provide custom tackle, rods, reels, bait and the insider knowledge that only fishing in these waters for 24 years can bring. Reservations required. 551 City Island Avenue, Bronx, NY. For information, call 917-417-7557.
Scream. And no, we don’t mean because you are so so tired of being the entertainment director of your house. We mean because you are crossing roller coasters off your amusement park ride summer bucket list. Throw your hands in the air, let the wind whip through your hair and yell as loud as you want for as long as you want (though we’d recommend stopping once the ride is over).
See the Animals. They might not win any beauty contests, but the hairless, ground-dwelling, cold-blooded naked mole rats are fascinating not least of all because they can apparently live for surprisingly long periods of time without oxygen. And now you can see what they look like as babies. A litter of 10 naked mole rat “pups” has recently been born at Liberty Science Center and are on view in the “Eat and Be Eaten” gallery. Or if you like your mammals a bit larger and wetter, head to Cape May for the Whale Watch and Research Center for a two or three-hour boat tour where you will see dolphins, whales and birds with a focus on conservation and preservation. Reservations recommended. Call 609-898-0055 for information. Need more? Here are the best zoos and animal experiences near Bergen County.
Take Me Out to the Ballgame. Sure, the Mets and the Yankees are great. But for a fun, low-key family outing, why not take in a minor league game instead? You’ve got plenty to choose from just a short car ride away including the New Jersey Jackals , the Rockland Boulders, the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Staten Island Yankees and the Somerset Patriots. Play ball!
Take Off Like a Rocket. No really. At Superfly NJ, you will learn how to flyboard. This involves strapping on a wakeboard with a fire hose coming out of the bottom and then shooting up into the air where you can ride and dip and turn just as if you were on a snowboard or a skateboard. Superfly NJ operates out of Barnegat Bay in Long Beach Island. For reservations, call 732-523-5965 and unleash your inner daredevil.