May 17, 2024
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May 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I’m a simple, low-key person, and while I enjoy going to amusement parks and arcades, some of my favorite leisure activities are the natural and homemade kind. Consider some of these ideas when planning your Chol Hamoed Pesach this year.

 

Outdoors

I love picnicking. Picnics can take place almost anywhere that there’s a nice breeze and either shade or sun depending on the temperature outside. Pack a lunch and snacks, a picnic blanket and a good book if you’re going solo. Find a quiet spot in a local park, such as Votee or Overpeck, and take in the scenery while enjoying your lunch.

Trips to public parks with extended family are a personal favorite. Make sure to wear sneakers, sunscreen if necessary, and bug spray. (If you’ve never used a port-a-potty before, beware!) Bring along sports equipment and start a game of soccer, baseball, frisbee or football in the large, open fields. (For a park with hiking trails within a half-hour drive of Bergenfield, a friend recommended Garret Mountain Reservation.) Breathing in the fresh air while surrounded by nature is a great way to spend the day, and always fun to do with others.

When it’s sunny and bordering on hot outside, the beach could be a great place to relax. Sunscreen and sunglasses are paramount, and don’t forget a snack or two (or 20). Bring a beach chair or towel to stretch out on, and a ball or frisbee if you’re going with family or friends. (My sister recommends the beach in Long Branch; check out her article about it at https://jewishlink.news/july-4th-weekend-beach-getaway/.)

Indoors

Even when Pesach is late in the year like it is this year, the weather does not always cooperate to allow for outdoor activities. When it is chilly or rainy outside, don’t sit around and sulk; get moving with some creative activities inside.

One such “homemade” experience indoors can be organizing a mall scavenger hunt for your friends or family. Any mall works; hit up Garden State Plaza if you want somewhere close by. When preparing the scavenger hunt, include inside jokes as well as challenges to approach people and employees in the mall with questions. End off the scavenger hunt with a final clue leading to a favorite store and item to buy, or back home to a bowl of ice cream or the like.

Another low-key indoor activity that is fun for most ages is to spend some time with your significant other, your siblings, your grandparents/grandchildren or your friends at a crafts store like Michaels, picking out an art project to do. Then go home and do the art project together. Some ideas of projects include creating a custom door sign, dressing a teddy bear, making bead jewelry, and decorating a clock, a mirror, or a jewelry box. In a similar vein, teenagers and young adults may prefer to go to IKEA and pick out a piece of furniture to build and/or paint. (Tip for teens: Just make sure to come up in advance with a useful place to put the furniture, so that your dad doesn’t freak out on you when he sees what you’ve come home with.)

Finally, for the most literal homemade activity of all, have a cook-off/bake-off. Go into your kitchen and get into the mode of all those cooking challenge shows you see on TV. Challenge a friend or family member to cook or bake something with unusual rules, ingredients and/or time constraints. Try to make the best kosher-for-Pesach cookies or brownies you possibly can, without using a recipe. (Tip for teens: If your mom walks into the kitchen and gets mad at you for engaging in this activity, do not blame the idea on me. Instead, tell her that you are making your family dinner for the evening. Assuming, 1: you have not yet covered the floor with sugar and raw eggs, and 2: your cooking skills will amount to something at least half edible, your mom’s angry frown will probably turn into a pleasantly surprised smile and she might actually leave you alone.)

Indoors But Not Homemade, When All Else Fails

While I thoroughly enjoy activities that are natural and homemade, there is one category of activities that I cannot deny is enjoyable for the whole family, and useful when all else fails.

Kids of all ages (and secretly many adults) love indoor gyms and trampoline arenas. Local options include Urban Air (Hackensack), Catch Air (Paramus), Kids Empire (Paramus), We Rock the Spectrum (Paramus), and Lily & Liam (Englewood). Check the websites for age recommendations.

One indoor attraction that I would specifically like to highlight is Crayola Experience, also known as the Crayola Factory. A 90-minute drive from Bergenfield in Easton, Pennsylvania, Crayola Experience is fantastic for families with kids under the age of 12, and is totally worth the drive. Although parking for Crayola is not straightforward–they don’t have their own lot–you can usually find a spot nearby in public parking lots or on the street, assuming there is no town event going on in the vicinity. Inside the colorful Crayola building are four floors of fun, creative activities for everyone in the family. These hands-on activities include technological fun, multiple creative art opportunities, and two awesome climbing areas for kids in different age groups. The Crayola staff are friendly and constantly keep the activity areas clean and stocked. For those who like seeing the word “free” (especially on Pesach), note that ages 2 and under always enter for free, and that teachers, military personnel, firefighters, law enforcement, and EMTs can get a free annual pass (which includes quarterly bring-a-friend-free days).

Check the website for more information, including operating hours, parking information, and how to purchase tickets and annual passes. https://www.crayolaexperience.com/easton



Adina Schonbrun is a fantastic sister-in-law to Zack Greenberg. Adina recently earned a PhD from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and is looking for a scientific role in pharma or academia that will enable her to leverage advanced organizational, analytical, and/or communication skills. Adina can be contacted via LinkedIn.

 

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