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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Hi Jewish Link readers!:)

I hope that by reading through this guide, you will realize that there are A LOT of fun places to visit, all within driving distance! Whether you’re looking to enjoy the day at a theme park, attend an uplifting concert, or spend some time outdoors before winter comes in, Chol Hamoed Sukkot is the ideal time to do it all! This year, there are FIVE WHOLE DAYS of Chol Hamoed!—Monday, October 2-Friday, October 6 (Hoshana Raba). That means plenty of time off from school for the family to partake in some fun activities together.

Sometimes, as Shadchan Aleeza Ben Shalom from the Netflix series “Jewish Matchmaking” put it, we suffer from “analysis paralysis,” an overabundance of choices that can often lead to indecisiveness. One of my biggest pet peeves when I had the opportunity to hang out with my friends in high school was the time we wasted scrolling on our phones and discussing which activity to do. Why didn’t we just prepare for a few minutes beforehand and go right to the activity? Instead of being able to do a full-day event, we ended up settling for something like mini golf (not that I don’t love mini golf, but it’s not worth two hours of planning just to figure that out).

So I’m here to help you avoid “analysis paralysis” by giving you three alternate routes to use in order to spend your chag properly. These paths I’ve dubbed Thrills, Chills, and Grills. Please note that you don’t have to follow any schedule to a tee. You can mix and match activities each day and pick whichever itinerary works best for you.

Remember: it’s up to YOU! Just make sure to take lots of pictures and submit them to The Jewish Link, showing where you went, and get entered for a chance to win some great prizes.

Now let’s begin…

Option 1:

 

Thrills

This itinerary is for people who like to live on the edge, and on Chol Hamoed Sukkot, there is no difference. You don’t need to travel far to find some top-thrill coasters or daredevil experiences. The tri-state area has many unique, world-renowned attractions and activities.

Day 1: Monday, October 2, Luna Park and Brooklyn Concerts

I know, I know. I already did an in-depth coverage of Luna Park at Coney Island more than once in the guide. Well, you know what, it’s a great time to try it! You can pay for a four-hour band or just pay for tickets and do rides as you please. There are some insane coasters there, and if you’re brave enough, try the Sling Shot! It’s along the Atlantic Ocean and is quite beautiful.

Now that you’re in Brooklyn already, you may consider going to a concert or two. Eitan Katz is performing at 8 p.m. at the Oceana Theater (just a seven-minute drive or 25-minute walk). If you want to go earlier in the day, the Yeshiva Boys Choir is performing for FREE between 2-9 p.m. at the Coney Island Amphitheater, which is right next door to Luna Park.

Advice for you if you’re purchasing the Extraordinary Band at the park—the clock ticks as soon as you purchase it, so don’t waste time! Relax and grab ice cream at Coney Waffles or go to a concert after your time is up, but try to do as much as you can in your allotted time. In the past, Luna Park has even had a sukkah on the premises, so hopefully they’ll have one again!

If you can, try to spend some time walking along the boardwalk and enjoy the breathtaking views of the ocean.

 

Day 2: Tuesday, October 3, , Hosted by NCSY

Even if you’re not a rides person,  is really pretty and is just fun to be at. There are many tamer rides and fun carnival games to try as well.

Plus, over Sukkot, it’s a great
social scene, so you’ll be sure to see some people you know!

 

Day 3: Wednesday, October 4, American Dream Mall

The American Dream Mall can practically be its own vacation site with a great number of activities in which to partake. For men, the DreamWorks Waterpark has two sessions between 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and 5-10 p.m., allowing a guy access to the world’s largest indoor waterpark. (Note: for women, this package will be offered on Monday, October 2, so plan your schedule accordingly if this interests you.) The DreamWorks Waterpark has some ridiculous waterslides, including ones where you stand in a capsule and the floor drops you 14 stories into a wave pool; it is all themed to hit DreamWorks movies. If you’re not interested in getting wet, the Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park offers dozens of thrilling roller coasters and attractions for your entertainment. Another option could be a mixed day: you can play mini golf at Angry Birds, ride the Dream Wheel, conquer Blast 7D and even do some Nickelodeon Universe roller coasters by utilizing the pay-per-ride option (which I have done myself by just paying around $12 to ride the park’s most thrilling coaster: TMNT Shellraiser). Best of all, there are so many delicious kosher food options at the mall, and there’s a sukkah on the third floor for you to fulfill the mitzvah of the chag.

Since it is all completely indoors, it might be a good idea to adjust your schedule: If rain is forecasted, be sure to visit the American Dream Mall on that day. But again, with so many attractions and delicious food options, it would make sense if you return to the mall for multiple days over Chol Hamoed.

 

Day 4: Thursday, October 5, Supercharged Entertainment and Topgolf

This might be my favorite combo activity of any day. Supercharged Entertainment (see last Pesach Guide) and Topgolf (see issue #472) are literally next door to each other and relatively a short drive away from Bergen County (around 45 minutes). Supercharged is an action-packed facility with the largest indoor go-karting track in the world, an arcade that rivals Dave & Buster’s, axe throwing and a few other rides. I had an incredible time there, and it is a must-do if you love go-karting. While Topgolf doesn’t really belong in the thrills section, I’ll slide it in here since if you’re already at Supercharged, you might as well check out Topgolf, too. Topgolf has a lot of fun, relaxing vibes and is a perfect way to unwind after a few days of a lot of walking around theme parks! The couches are sublime and they infuse high-tech, interactive games with the classic driving range gameplay. While you’re in Edison, be sure to check out some of the local kosher restaurants like Jerusalem Pizza or China Lee in Highland Park.

 

Day 5: Friday, October 6, iFly and VR Dog

To finish the week off, due to it being Erev Shabbos, I have selected two local destinations for you to try. iFly and VR Dogare each less than a 10-minute drive from Teaneck and practically next door from each other. iFly offers around 75 minutes of entertainment but gives you the experience of weightlessness and free falling as you are propelled in the air. You are literally FLYING! It looks so cool, and if you arrive between 11 a.m.-4 p.m., on non-peak days, it’s $30 cheaper. I’ll admit, I have never visited iFly, but I certainly plan on going at some point in the (hopefully) near future. It looks too cool to pass up. You can read more about VR Dog in my full review in issue #435. To sum it up, it’s a really cool VR place that has some insanely realistic games to play. I would try the Zombie shooting game—it’s terrifying, challenging and a really fun experience.

 

Chills

This schedule is more for families with younger children and individuals/couples not looking for high-intensity venues.

 

Day 1: Monday, October 2, Concerts; The Chol Hamoed Sukkos Riverside Experience

There are multiple concerts happening during Chol Hamoed. At 2 p.m. in Newark, New Jersey, Avraham Fried, Benny Friedman, Joey Newcomb and Moshe Tischler are teaming up to perform the extravagant concert: The Chol Hamoed Sukkos Riverside Experience. This will be the Super Bowl of Jewish concerts. Each singer brings his own unique style of music and his own personal flare to the event. Personally, I am a big fan of Friedman and Tischler. Multiple songs by Friedman are included in my running music playlist, and they are great pump-up songs. Tischler has a beautiful, crisp voice, and he performed at my wedding in 2021, so I am biased. Either way, I’m sure you and your family will have the best time at this uplifting event!

 Day 2: Tuesday, October 3, Sesame Place, LEGOLAND: New York Resort or Diggerland This is kind of a cheap move, I know, combining very different theme parks in one paragraph. But there’s only so much to do in so little time. Sesame Place is perfect for children between the ages of 3 and 6. It’s a clean park with several fun live shows with great music. The park has some pretty good rides with its two roller coasters, Vapor Trail and Oscar’s Wacky Taxi.

I have not yet gotten the chance to visit LEGOLAND, but it looks spectacular, so I hope to visit sometime soon. The rides are all LEGO-themed and there are replica skyscrapers and cities at Miniland ll that are made of LEGO. If you or your children like LEGO, this is a must-do activity. This park is best suited for 4-10-year-olds, but the park actually offers Adult Nights Out, so there is something for everyone!

Finally, Diggerland is another family-friendly theme park that you should put on your to-do list. Have you ever wanted to drive a tractor or ride in an excavator? Well, at Diggerland, you can! This theme park took a bunch of old construction vehicles and somehow turned them into a full playground. I visited a few months ago with nieces and nephews, and we had such a great time that we hope to return soon. It’s best suited for children between the ages of 4-8. There is also a sukkah with kosher food.

Day 3: Wednesday, October 4, New York City Day

Visit some skyscrapers, the Statue of Liberty or catch a show! This one is not really suited for children due to the possibility of them having a hard time walking around New York and perhaps not being able to appreciate a Broadway show. Personally, I went to my first show at 7 and had an amazing time: I still remember loving the costumes and songs. Especially if you go to a Disney Broadway show where the lyrics are familiar, Broadway can be a great experience even for younger viewers.

If you’re feeling “up to it”, I would say check out a famous building like the Empire State Building, One Vanderbilt Glass Elevator or the Freedom Tower. For families, check out one of the Circle Line Cruise options and take a tour around Manhattan! You’ll learn a lot about the city’s history and get beautiful photos of the Statue of Liberty!

Day 4: Thursday, October 5, Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure or Liberty Heights Trampoline and Adventure Park

I visited Urban Air once with my 3-year-old nephew and was surprised at how much there was to do there. With dozens of trampolines, obstacle courses, arcade games and VR play areas, Urban Air is an awesome place in which to bring young children to run around and have fun. Be warned as an adult—the trampolines are harder than they look! Liberty Heights in the Catskills looks very similar to Urban Air, only with even more to do! They have giant lava slides where riders fly a few feet into the air before landing in a ball pit. If you are looking to go shopping in the Monticello area, I would recommend checking it out!

 

Day 5: Friday, October 6, Paramus Mini Golf and Bowler City

To me, there are few better date spots than mini golf, with Paramus Mini Golf being my favorite local one. With a quaint 18-hole course themed like New York, Paramus Mini Golf is a nice spot to visit. It is especially suited for Erev Shabbos when the day is shorter since mini golf is a relatively quick activity. Alternatively, Bowler City in Hackensack is a nearby spot for some fun bowling. My favorite part is the funny animations on the TV that display your score on each roll.

 

Grills

If you’re an outdoorsy person, then this is the schedule for you! I love going on hikes and excursions over Chol Hamoed, and luckily there are a lot of fantastic nearby options. While Danny Chazin is really the person you want to ask for some breathtaking hikes, I wanted to come up with my own list of assorted alfresco activities.

Day 1: Monday, October 2, Top View Riding Ranch

Who said that horseback riding can only be found out west? Right here in New Jersey near Morristown, Top View Riding Ranch offers an awesome horseback riding experience through the forest. It’s a very relaxing experience, and the horse trainers are well-prepared to guide you the whole way.

Day 2: Tuesday, October 3, Paintball

I was thinking of just saying  again since it’s outdoors and this is the NCSY day, but I felt like that would be cheating. Instead, consider paintball! I have gone paintballing a few times, and while it is scary at first, once you get hit, you realize it’s not too bad and it becomes a lot more enjoyable. Whether playing capture the flag, team battle or free-for-all, paintball is a great bonding experience and makes for an exhilarating day! Check out Long Live Paintball or Battle Creek Paintball for nearby venues.

 

Day 3: Wednesday, October 4, Visit the Zoo

Each Wednesday, the Bronx Zoo offers FREE admission to its fabulous facilities. The Bronx Zoo is huge, and you’ll definitely get your daily steps in visiting there. There are some really cool animals like elephants, monkeys and giraffes to see at the zoo. For a more local zoo, check out the Van Saun Park Zoo. I used to love going as a kid and riding the train there. Even as an adult, I enjoy going with my friends and family to see all of the different animals.

 Day 4: Thursday, October 5, Take a Hike

My best advice is to “see Danny Chazin’s recommendations” for this excursion. That said, I really recommend Paterson Great Falls if you are interested in seeing a spectacular local waterfall, Ross Dock Picnic Area for a beautiful park overlooking the city, or hiking along the Palisades or Bear Mountain which are both mildly challenging and fun hikes.

Day 5: Friday, October 6, Votee Park

I wrote a whole article about it, but I’ll say it again: Votee Park is the underrated gem of Teaneck. There is so much to do, whether running or biking around the crisp 1.2-mile track, playing basketball on the brand-new courts or having fun in their large playground area. It’s right near the local restaurants too so you can pick up a milkshake from Lazy Bean or vodka fries from La Cucina Di Nava and enjoy eating them in the park!

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