Q: Hi! I’m trying to plan a short trip for my 14-year-old son and I during New Jersey’s November Teacher’s Convention 4-day break . You guys always seem to be doing something fun; any ideas for me? ~ Thanks! Mike
A: Hi Mike! Yup, it’s that time of year again if you live in New Jersey — time for a 4-day weekend for the NJEA Convention, aka the Teachers’ Convention, if you have kids in public school. For 2016, the dates are November 10 through 13, so you still have a month to plan. The good news is that the crowds are usually thin, and prices low, for this long weekend in many destinations since only New Jersey public schools have off. (Which is not to say there are no crowds. At Disney World these November dates are called “New Jersey Week,” and the theme parks — and flights to Orlando, and actually Florida in general — are packed!) However you can even fly off somewhere if you’d like, as long as it’s not popular with New Jerseyians.
In the past, my family has taken advantage of the off-season, super-long weekend to fly to Denver. The weather was crisp and cool and we had kid-friendly spots like History Colorado mostly to ourselves when we visited on weekdays. Denver is one of Playground’s favorite family getaways (we wrote all about it here), and airfare on the nonstop flights from Newark on Southwest and United has been incredibly reasonable recently (less than $300).
And last year we loaded up the car and hit the road with our dog to explore the Mid-Hudson Valley, including an afternoon indulging at the CIA, Culinary Institute of America, which was a big hit with my now 13-year-old son Aidan. We also went to Hyde Park and The Roosevelt Library, which is great for teens; if the weather is nice, combine this itinerary with Storm King Sculpture Park, where you and your son can rent bikes to explore the grounds.
Another easy option would be Toronto, which has quick flights on Porter Airlines from Newark — it’s just a 90 minute flight and often around $79 each way!
You could also road trip (or hop on Amtrak) to visit cities such as Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston, or Washington, DC, all great getaways that Georgette and I have personally road tested with our families.
There are plenty of fun options closer to home, too. Consider one of the roaring indoor water park hotels such as Kalahari, a top pick for tweens and teens, or Camelback Resort’s Aquatopia which Georgette recently visited with her family and loved.
Finally, consider a “staycation” in New York City. Catch a Broadway show such as School of Rock or visit the hands-on MoMath (the Museum of Mathematics) indulge in the chocoholic menu at Max Brenner (one of my son’s favorite New York spots), tour around Rockefeller Center or relax in Central Park — then either head home or make it a real vacation by hitting the hay in a cool NYC hotel—my son Aidan and I did this at Kimpton’s swanky 70 Park Avenue in midtown east and we had a blast! (An extra bonus of our overnight is that we got to visit the Empire State Building after dark; a real treat for a suburban kid.)
Safe travels! Enjoy the weekend!
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