The constant tug-of-war between education and fun finds middle ground inside this Central Jersey children’s museum, as entertaining exhibits and engaging staff members embed knowledge in each young visitor. Young guests can play veterinarian at the Pet Vet Center, read the news and see themselves on television at the TV News Room, or shed light on the complexities of the human body inside a replica doctor’s office outfitted with realistic equipment.
A motorcycle, retired fire engine, and a grounded airplane shows visitors the wonders of mechanized travel in the Varoom!!! Vehicle Showroom, which leads to an enchanted castle outfitted with a wooden drawbridge, a faux moat, and a new level 3 train exhibit. Party rooms manned by helpful staffers merge learning and celebration, and the onsite gift shop coaxes homebound brain building with a selection of scientific toys.
Miles of trails snake through the verdant woods surrounding Seaton Hackney County Stables, beckoning riders and their stallions to showcase skills learned from the full-service facility’s multitude of equine activities. A staff of seasoned equestrians imparts English- and Western-style horsemanship techniques during frequent camps and lessons, introducing pupils of all ages to Seaton's stable of more than 35 resident horses. Mounted atop the valiant steeds, the staff also shepherds guests on guided trail rides through nearby environs or leads offsite excursions that explore area parks and horse-only dance halls.
Within the 5,000-square-foot Ballplayer’s Edge facility, baseball and softball players train to swing the bat faster, throw the ball harder, and play the game better. The facility’s crack team of coaches—led by Joel Burgos, hitting coach for Rutgers University-Newark—improve strength, agility, and instincts with training tools that include four adult-size batting cages and the ProBatter PX2 hitting simulator. The simulator immerses players in game-like situations, complete with virtual pitchers delivering strikes from either the windup or the stretch. Meanwhile, RightView Pro video analysis captures each home-run cut, shown bunt, and taunt lobbed at the computerized player, allowing for side-by-side comparison with major-league swings.
Rows of LCD televisions cast a glow across Power Play Gaming’s cavernous gaming room, reflecting the competitive glint in players’ eyes as they attempt to slay their enemies with intricate button combos. The battles and races that play out on each screen represent the pinnacle of modern video gaming, with selections from the latest Xbox 360, Wii, and PlayStation consoles on prominent display. Players can test their luck in solo adventures by the hour or declare their participation in one of the regular tournaments by slapping their desired opponents with a controller. The gaming center also specializes in parties, during which groups of up to 20 friends can join together for multiplayer jaunts through cyberspace.
While waiting for the end of a party or regular gaming session, parents can sip complimentary coffee, recline in massaging chairs, and surf the Internet on waves of free WiFi. The gaming hot spot is open Wednesday–Sunday for casual gamers, though parties can be scheduled outside of regular business hours.
Nationwide Bowling orchestrates a cacophonous symphony of clanking pins and cheering bowlers at 11 modern bowling centers located throughout New Jersey. Center size varies from the Hudson-Bayonne location where 60 lanes with automatic scoring, a grill, sports bar, and arcade games accommodate armadas of bowlers to Garden Palace, which houses 16 lanes, a bar, and a snack shop. At all locations, staffers host birthday parties and corporate events and organize leagues for competitive bowlers or people who just like to chuck heavy objects as hard as they can.
At Essex Equestrian Center, more than 35 horses and ponies work together with an expert team of instructors to teach riding basics. Students can choose from the disciplines of hunter, jumper, dressage, and western riding for lessons that are conducted in private or group settings. Classes take place year-round as the center features both an outdoor ring and an Olympic-size indoor arena, perfect for when the weather calls for rain or Olympic-size hail.