Mama Porretti's Picks for October

October is quite a month for us, beginning with both of our children's birthdays and ending with Halloween and in between filled with crisp fall weather and all that New Jersey has to offer during this festive time. It is hard to choose what to do every weekend and I have already written about several great picks, but here are a few more timely places to visit this month:

*Loantaka Brook Reservation in Chatham- This is the perfect place to enjoy the local foliage. It is a paved path through the woods (eventually leading to Kitchell Pond) that is ideal for strollers, bikes, trikes or just a nice fall walk. I bring my kids here for their annual 'fall portrait in the leaves' each October, and it never disappoints. To get there, go to Southern Blvd. in Chatham and make a left at the light onto Shunpike. Bear left at the stop sign and the park will be on your right.

Also in this area worth noting: The Great Swamp Education Center on Southern and Castle Park on Shunpike (from Southern go right at the light).

*The Count's Halloween Spooktacular at Sesame Place- Now that the water park area of Sesame Place is closed, you can pick up $20 off discount coupons at McDonalds that are good on all October weekends. This special event includes two new Halloween shows (one an Elmo Live show), hayrides and storytimes with the characters, an interactive maze and trick or treating throughout the park. Kids are invited to attend in costume. Sesame Place is in Langhorne, PA about one hour and fifteen minutes from here.  

*The Haunted Mill at The Red Mill Museum in Clinton- If Sesame's Count isn't spooky enough for your kids, then take them to a haunted house! Clinton is a really cute little town about 20 minutes down 78 West and the museum sits right on the river in the middle of town. The Haunted Mill is rated as one of NJ's best haunted attractions and includes over 50 live actors and state of the art sound and visual effects. It is not for the faint of heart. The hauntings take place on Friday and Saturday nights Oct. 16-30. Tickets include a haunted hayride and a walking terror trail.  

*As of press time, the ever popular Hay Rides and Campfires on Friday nights at the Trailside Nature & Science Center in the Watchung Reservation still has available tickets for Oct. 2, 9, 16 and Nov. 6. The cost is $5 for Union County residents and it begins at 6:30. All tickets must be purchased in advance and include a hay ride, entertainment by a folk singer, and hot chocolate and marshmallows to toast over a campfire. You can pick these tickets up at the same time as the Great Pumpkin Sail (as noted in my September column) tickets for Nov. 1 which went on sale Oct. 1.

*Finally, not to rush the seasons, but there is a great Christmas experience for kids that sells out early each fall. I have previously praised the train rides at the Historic Phillipsburg Railroad in Phillipsburg, NJ, which is about 45 minutes from here just before you cross into Easton, PA. The Polar Express Train Ride departs on weekends from Nov 28-Dec. 20. On the train you will re-live the experience of the little boy in The Polar Express children's book written by Chris Van Allsburg. During your ride you will listen to this wonderful story, every child will be served hot chocolate and cookies and visit with Santa, who will give each child a very special bell. Kids are encouraged to wear their pajamas, just like in the book. My children are obsessed with this movie, so this is not to be missed by our family.  

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