April 14, 2024
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April 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

For Winter Homebodies, a Staycation Offers Plenty of Fun

Students and teachers are working hard, trying to cram as much as they can into the last couple weeks before Yeshiva break. But thoughts keep drifting toward long-awaited vacation plans. For those who feel left behind during these days, rest assured; many activities await that do not require flying, and the most packing that has to happen does not have any baggage fees, because it rarely involves more than lunch and snacks.

Lauren Cooper, owner of Elle Bee & Co., who specializes in unique and personalized travel plans, offers these words of advice for vacationers and staycationers alike: “While it can be tough for parents with children of a wide range of ages to find activities, it is definitely doable. The key is to find a location that offers a wide range of activities and has something for everyone.”


Just two hours away, Philadelphia boasts a range of interesting sites that can entertain a range of ages, often an issue for families. Minyan and kosher food options exist there too, whether in Philadelphia and its suburbs, or a half hour closer to home in Cherry Hill, NJ. Philadelphia can easily be a simple day trip, but with so many activities there, it can also serve as an overnight vacation.

Geared toward childrens ages seven and younger, the Please Touch Museum is a multi-sensory, hands on, tactile experience that incorporates science and imaginative play into its exhibits. Kids can shop in a supermarket—complete with mini shopping carts and scanners—learn about aqueducts (friendly warning—it’s a wet activity), build rockets to see which shapes are the most aerodynamic, and follow Alice’s journey down the rabbit hole.

For a more cerebral activity with older kids, the Franklin Institute is a science and history museum. With live science shows, a memorial to Philadelphia’s famous citizen Benjamin Franklin, a planetarium and many traveling exhibits as well as permanent hands-on exhibits, learning becomes a fun and interactive activity for everyone. And just in case, the IMAX theater currently plays Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Definitely something for everyone.

Animals lovers can check out the Camden Aquarium, located right outside of Pennsylvania, and with the mild winter on the Northeast, may also be interested in visiting the Philadelphia Zoo.

A more unique Philadelphia activity can also include the Eastern State Penitentiary. The ESP, as it is known, was once the most famous prison in the world, but today stands as a spot for visitors to take in its Gothic architecture, and tribute to some of its most infamous criminals, including the notorious Al Capone.


Closer than Philadelphia, parts of Connecticut offer unique activities as well. For a novelty day trip, families can visit The Pez Factory. Less than an hour and a half away from North Jersey, travelers can leave after rush hour traffic, spend a couple hours there, and come home before the afternoon rush. Though there is a working factory on site, it is more of a museum and a tribute to the vast assortment of items turned into Pez dispensers. Grownups will enjoy the nostalgia as they find Pez dispensers from their youth, and kids will enjoy pop culture turned into candy dispensers. Every paid admission comes with a $2 credit to use in their store, and most dispensers cost $1.99, so everyone comes home with a souvenir. They also have games that involve looking around the museum for hidden dispensers, which allows anyone who plays to win another free Pez dispenser. They are completely accommodating to the kosher visitors. When asked, they will swap out the packaged Pez with candy from the kosher Paskesz run at a one-to-one exchange. What could be bad about candy, and more candy?

Manhattan and the Boroughs

Sometimes, just traveling over the bridge can seem like an exciting trip. Manhattan’s bustling pace can seem light years away from New Jersey to children not used to its frenetic activity level.

Girls will love the American Girl Doll Store. Also sometimes referred to as the American Girl Doll Museum, to prevent the expectation of buying everything. If girls own their own doll, they can bring her to the store and have her hair styled, buy her new accessories or just carry her around on the tour. Even without owning a doll, the store is floor to ceiling imagination and fun.

Any Jimmy Fallon fans out there? For children six years and up, the NBC Studio in Rockefeller Plaza takes guests on a backstage tour of the studio where many favorite shows are filmed. Advance registration is not required, but is strongly suggested.

For suburban kids, just riding on a subway or train can be a vacation thrill. Add to that a visit to the MTA museum, and the subway just became an entire activity. Housed in a historic subway station in downtown Brooklyn, visitors learn about the history and structure of the subway system. It also includes age-appropriate workshops and hands-on experiences for children.

Yankees Stadium Tour is a fun activity, even for family members not as interested in baseball as others may be. During the off season, the tour includes the New York Yankees Museum, Monument Park, Press Box and the Warning Track/Legends Outdoor Seating.

“And,” Cooper adds, “definitely don’t leave home without a camera, snacks, first aid and something to keep the kids busy in the car!”

Enjoy the winter break, whatever the distance from home may be!

By Jenny Gans

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