The Best Campgrounds In & Around NJ for Kids and Families

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Choosing the best kid-pleasing campground starts with understanding what keeps everyone around your campfire happy.  While teens may enjoy high-energy fun — and require access to dependable wi-fi — younger campers may find joy in the simpler pleasures of feeding a family of ducks, or a splash pad to cool off in. New Jersey and the surrounding area offers a variety of camping experiences from rustic wilderness to beaches to amusement parks for camping families. Continue reading

Brand Profile: Forest River

1_862_1914015_41477593.jpg;maxwidth=1024;maxheight=1024;mode=cropWhether it’s weekend getaways with the family in an expandable trailer, cross-country exploring in a cozy trailer, hauling toys for an off-road adventure, “Glamping” in a luxurious fifth wheel, or settling in for the season in home-like comfort, Forest River has an RV model that’s a perfect fit. Continue reading

Roadtrip Essentials: What to pack for your next trip.

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Packing for a road trip or camping trip can feel a bit overwhelming, especially when you have a large family or little kids. Instead of stressing or rushing at the last minute, use this easy guide to make sure you bring all the essentials. Continue reading

Summer Activities for the Whole Family

From boardwalks to bees and rivers to wetlands – and many adventures in between — New Jersey is chocked full of summer activities for the whole family. So grab the kids and pack up the RV as you head to these family-fun destinations!

Morey’s Piers

The boardwalks of The Wildwoods have been welcoming families with rides, restaurants, shopping and water parks for years – and among the most famous amusement areas is Morey’s Piers. New for this summer is the Starlux, 27 beach-themed holes of miniature golf – perfect for some low-key fun-for all family time.  The fun at the Starlux tee’d off for the first time on May 27.

moreypierIf putt-putt golf is too tame for your family, head to the Adventure Pier for the Grand Prix Raceway, now winding its way through the pier on a longer, twistier wooden track. If go karting isn’t thrilling enough for your clan, take a 105-foot plunge on the Great White roller coaster. Reach top speeds of 50 mph on the classic out-and-back wooden coaster, a favorite of families and coaster enthusiasts worldwide.

Joking around

If the kids are older and craving cutting edge thrills, head to Six Flags Great Adventure and Safari in Jackson, New Jersey to take a spin on the new-for-2016 Joker roller coaster. The park’s 14th and most unique coaster is ironically, no joke. Head straight up a 12-story, 90-degree hill, on the 4-D, free-fly coaster, flipping head-over-heels along the weightless journey. Experience exhilarating leaps and dives along and unexpected drops as you tumble from one level to the next – all with no track above or below.  Riders must be at least 48 inches taller and no taller than 76 inches. But don’t be deterred if you have little ones too, there are rides and attractions for all ages!

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Blown Away

Castaway Cove may be Ocean City’s oldest amusement park, but it hosts one of the state’s newest thrill rides, GaleForce. Joining the park’s 32 rides, GaleForce blows away others roller coasters at 125 feet with a drop that exceeds 90 degrees and launch speeds exceeding 64 mph.  Riders must be 48 inches tall  The park offers plenty of other rides and attractions for younger, smaller family members.

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See the Lighthouses

Summer is is the perfect time for families to explore some of New Jersey’s 11 lighthouses. Seven of the light houses are especially suited for family visits. Even if the kids aren’t old enough to climb, lighthouses – located near beaches or state parks — are great, affordable, family destinations.  Among family-friendly lighthouses to visit are Absecon, Barnegat, affectionately called Old Barney; Cape May; Hereford Inlet, with its beautiful butterfly garden; the oldest operating lighthouse in the U.S., Sandy Hook; Sea Girt and Twin Lights.  Aug. 7 is National Lighthouse Day and many of New Jersey’s lighthouses will mark the day with special activities. Call each lighthouse directly for additional information.

Barnegat Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse located in Barnegat Lighthouse State Park on the northern tip of Long Beach Island, New Jersey

Barnegat Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse located in Barnegat Lighthouse State Park on the northern tip of Long Beach Island, New Jersey

Science for Everyone

Escape the summer heat at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, where little scientists can get their geek on with hands-on exhibits and displays. The Science Center features the nation’s largest IMAX dome and is home to the Joseph D. Williams Science Theater, which shows 3-D films. The center offers a variety of exciting traveling exhibitions from across North America and this summer is no exception with activities that include a Nikola Tesla Lightning Show, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Eat and Be Eaten, Honey Bees: Home is Where the Hive Is and an interactive Dino Dig.DinoDig_LandingPage_680x350_1

Drifting down the River

Escape the busy beaches and crowded amusement parks with a leisurely drift down the Delaware River. Tubing on the Delaware is the perfect opportunity for families to stay cool and enjoy a relaxing day together. The Delaware River is a refreshing 80 degrees all summer long and the river flows at a lazy 1 ½ mph. The shallow waters make it perfect for families. There are various locations along the Delaware to begin a tubing adventure.

tubers_wavingGo Natural

Overlooking 6,000 acres of pristine coastal wetlands, the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor hosts over 40,000 visitors each year who go to explore and learn the exciting facts about wildlife in the salt marsh environment. In the summer, the Wetlands Institute offers family-friendly guided tours, as well as back bay boat rides, kayaking, live animal shows, family entertainment, guided beach and dune walks and educational programs for children.

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Now that you have plenty of destinations to visit on your next road trip, the only thing you need to worry about is getting there. When it comes to family vacations, there’s no better way to travel than in a top-of-the-line RV. Crossroads Trailers in Newfield, NJ has a huge selection of new and used RVs and trailers including fifth wheels, travel trailers, destination trailers and more! Come on by and see our units, visit our website, or give us a call at 1-856-697-4497.

 

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Mother’s Day Dining on the Jersey Shore

From New Brunswick in the north to Cape May Point in the south, the Jersey Shore offers a blend of upscale, family, casual and fun dining options to celebrate Mother’s Day. Pack up the RV and take a weekend trip, highlighted by a special Sunday meal with Mom.

Upscale

When it’s Mother’s Day and the kids are away, grown-up or fine-dining ready consider a refined gourmet buffet in a gracious setting at Long Beach Island’s, The Gables, a gloriously restored Victorian inn and restaurant. The Gables was voted the most Romantic Restaurant at the Jersey Shore by Happening Magazine in 2015 and offers dining on the porch, in the beautifully restored Victorian Inn dining room, or in the garden, awash in spring blooms. Zagat rated Gables is the winner of numerous culinary awards and will be offering a brunch menu for Mother’s Day. A children’s menu will be available.gables

If a flight to Tuscany isn’t quite in your budget, plan a Mother’s Day trip to Ama Restaurant in Sea Brite for an authentic, Tuscany-themed a la carte brunch on Sunday until 1 p.m. The Oceanfront restaurant’s kitchen is headed by rising star Executive Chef Chuck Lesbirel, who was recently named one of the top chefs on the Jersey Shore. Treat Mom to award winning traditional and “re-imagined” classics at Ama Restaurante. The restaurant boasts menu items created from seasonal locally-sourced ingredients and a wine list that makes the most of small estate offerings. Dine in the elegant Tuscany-inspired dining room, enjoying views of the Atlantic Ocean to the West and Shrewsbury River to the west.

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For more than 70 years, The Mill in Spring Lake Heights has been a favorite for destination and special occasion dining. Featuring innovative American cuisine showcasing fresh Jersey Shore seafood and classic cut steaks, the Mill is an ideal choice for a special Mother’s Day celebration. Dine in the exquisitely decorated dining room or enjoy casual outdoor dining on the lakeside deck, where Mom can watch the turtles and swans on the lake. Mother’s Day celebrations at The Mill will include a traditional brunch from 10 a.m. til 3 p.m.

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Family-Friendly

When Mom just wants to hang out with the family, consider some laid-back, casual dining options at the Jersey shore for Mother’s Day. If Mom’s craving burgers, head to Point Pleasant’s The Ark Pub and Eatery. Not only does the pub serve up some of the Jersey Shore’s freshest seafood, it is home to the “Best Burger at the Jersey Shore” for two years in a row, as voted by local diners. The winning burger is a combination of, chuck, ribeye, and hangar meat topped with port wine cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, and a homemade honey barbecue sauce. The Ark Pub and Eatery will also offer a family-friendly Mother’s Day brunch until 2 p.m., followed by its regular menu into the evening.

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When the kids are little or Mom just wants to wear her jeans, give a nod to a Jersey Shore tradition on Mother’s Day, and consider a stop at an Uncle Bill’s Pancake Housewith locations in Avalon, Cape May, North Cape May, Ocean City, and Stone Harbor. At Uncle Bill’s they’ve been cooking up pancakes for over 46 years. Forget breakfast in bed, Uncle Bill’s will be serving up their regular menu of breakfast favorites – waffles, eggs, and 15 varieties of pancakes — all day long. Don’t forget another Uncle Bill’s tradition: the restaurant is cash only.

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If Cape May is your Mother’s Day destination, head to the charming and family operated Mad Batter Restaurant in the Carroll Villa Hotel on historic Jackson Street. This year-round favorite is the recipient of many awards including “Best Brunch” and “Best Restaurant” in Cape May. The Mad Batter will offer a delicious brunch menu for Mother’s Day, with favorites including Blueberry Pancakes, Eggs Benedict and the Mad Batter Crab Cake Sandwich. Mom can enjoy the views from the Mad Batter’s front porch, be seated in the sky lit dining room, or in enjoy the garden terrace. A children’s menu with breakfast and lunch favorites will also be available. The Mad Batter doesn’t accept reservations.

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Something Different

Do something a little different this Mother’s Day and be doggone happy about it. Head to the laid-back Labrador Lounge in Normandy Beach. Born in Belmar as a surfer-friendly lounge and hangout, the Labrador Lounge now enjoys popularity in Normandy Beach thanks to its friendly service, laid back atmosphere and eclectic menu. Now a family-friendly favorite, the fresh seafood and sushi appeals to adults while kids can enjoy the canines on display in the restaurant. The Labrador Lounge accepts reservations, but is exclusively BYOB.

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Speaking of dogs, even veggie dogs, keep it casual on Mother’s Day aMaui’s Dog House, in North Wildwood. Maui’s Dog House serves up fresh made hot dogs with over 29 toppings from homemade chili, sauerkraut cooked in beer. Other favorites include an Italian dog with peppers, onions, garlic and sharp provolone cheese, and the top-selling “Forget-About-It” with mustard, onions, chili, cheese and freshly cooked bacon. And, don’t leave without treating mom to the Maui Dog original house specialty, Salty Balls: small, fresh potatoes cooked in a salt and spice brine and served with drawn butter. The family operated seasonal favorite promises a hearty hot dog as well as a fun experience, perfect for a casual family Mother’s Day.

mauidogFinally, if Mom just wants to enjoy the day in her Pjs, head to Shut up and Eat! in Tom’s River. Not only does Mom not have to get dressed; she’ll get 13 percent off her bill for staying in her jammies. Open for breakfast and lunch only, get your fill of omelets, stuffed french toast, eggs and 65 varieties of waffles. Mom’s sure to get a warm welcome from the pajama-clad waitresses, relax while looking over the memorabilia-festooned walls and enjoy some peace while toddlers head to the toy corner to play. The Asbury Park Readers Poll has named Shut Up and Eat! The best breakfast in Ocean County, N.J., for 10 years in a row. If Mom’s not interested in breakfast, the Shut Up and Eat! lunch menu includes award-winning burgers, 14 varieties of grilled cheese “sammiches,” a selection of salads and other sandwiches,quesadillas, as well as soups made on the premises.

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Before heading out for any journey, stop by the service department of Crossroads Trailer Sales to make sure your RV is road ready for Mom’s big trip.

Camping in Spring: Top NJ Destinations

atlanticcityMiss the crowds, the heat of summer and enjoy the best of boardwalks, beaches, birds and nature when you camp around some of New Jersey’s top destinations this spring.

Boardwalks

From Atlantic City to Wildwood, there’s something for everyone along the boardwalks of New Jersey – all located within range of great campgrounds.

Atlantic City’s world-famous four miles of boardwalk is less crowded and cooler in the spring. It may still be too cold for the beach, but the roller coasters are running, the arcades are open and there’s fresh hot pizza and cold ice cream available, along with excellent shopping.

Image provided by roadtrippers.com

Image provided by roadtrippers.com

For adults, Atlantic City boasts bars, its world-famous casinos and top-notch entertainment by night

If family fun is what you have in mind, then head south to Wildwood for boardwalk fun with families in mind. While beach days may still be a few months away, Wildwood’s 38 blocks of boardwalks includes several miniature golf courses, water parks, shopping, restaurants and the famous Morey’s Piers seaside Amusement Park. With a choice of campgrounds nearby, Wildwood is an ideal family camping getaway. wildwoodboardwalk

Birds and Beaches

Spring brings longer, sunnier days and flocks of migratory birds to New Jersey.

To enjoy the best of beaches and birding, head to Cape May. Spring in Cape May is a great time to see migrating songbirds, shorebirds, and other species wearing their most colorful feathers. The spring migration begins in March and runs into July.IMG_006411-resize-3-24-2016-480x720

Cape May is at a crossroads for the spring migration of many bird species, and has numerous premier bird watching spots, thanks to the wind and geography of the region that funnel thousands of bird through the region. So dense is the bird population in the area, it is possible to see more than 70 species in a well-planned two to three hour walk.

Start your spring birding visit to Cape May at the Audubon Society Cape May Bird Observatory. While you’re there, pick up a free map, schedule of daily walks and programs for the season, and a birding checklist. So spectacular are the birding opportunities, The New Jersey Audubon celebrates with the annual Cape May Spring Festival, “So. Many. Birds.”  in late May. 12496137_1172417172781966_1147555768439160529_o

Another spectacle nature offers up in Cape May is the planet’s greatest concentration of breeding horseshoe crabs, according to Pete Dunne, director of the Cape May Bird Observatory. The crabs along the Delaware Bay beaches are accompanied by the shorebirds, lined up to feast on the newly laid eggs.

If birds and crabs don’t excite everyone in your RV, Cape May is still a top-notch destination. Visit the beautiful Victorian homes, Washington Street Mall and the Cape May County Zoo. Before Memorial Day and the crowds of summer, enjoy a quiet walk along the promenade or ride a bicycle to Higbee Beach. Reconvene your entire group — birders, beach-goers and shoppers – for a dinner at one of Cape May’s excellent restaurants.

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With far fewer people than the summer months and temperatures in the upper 60s, it’s also a great time to enjoy long walks on the beach.

Cape May has many outstanding campgrounds with easy access to all the region has to offer.

The birding doesn’t stop in Cape May. If your spring journeys keep you to the north; visit the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, just 10 miles away from Atlantic City.StationPhoto2

The Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge’s location in one of the Atlantic Flyway’s most active paths makes it a critical link in the network of national wildlife refuges administered nationwide by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge offers a peaceful break from the bright lights of Atlantic City with salt meadow, marsh, coves and bays that make it a prime location for spotting migrating birds, feasting and resting from their long journeys.

The Garden State

Spring brings the opening of camping season in many of New Jersey’s state parks.  New Jersey boasts almost 20 state parks, forests and recreation areas with campsites and cabins. These top destinations celebrate the natural and historic sites with forests, recreation areas, historic buildings and restored villages.

Visit a state park to hike the Appalachian Trail through the forest until it opens up to a view of valleys and ridges, forests and farms. Walk the 50-mile Batona Trail through the fresh aromatic pine forests of the Pine Barrens. Step into history with a visit to Allaire Village, Batsto Village, the manor houses at Ringwood State Park or any of the historic sites in New Jersey.CgUzZHNUUAA-wzN.jpg large

Once you’ve mapped out your next roadtrip to one (or a few) of these awesome destinations, make sure your RV is ready to roll by heading to Crossroads Trailer Sales in Newfield. Their experienced staff will make sure you have the right RV for all your upcoming adventures!

Maintenance Tips: How to Keep Your RV in Top Condition

Image provided by trailerlife.com

Keep your RV in top condition for safe travels, cost savings and maximizing your resale value. Wash, check, flush, clean and apply a healthy dose of founding father, philosopher and inventor Benjamin Franklin’s axiom, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” when it comes to your RV.

Whether you vacation is in a motorized RV or a towable, RV maintenance is a big job, but ignoring routine maintenance and cleaning your RV inside and out can lead to big trouble and big expenses. Establish a routine for daily cleaning and checklist for throughout the year to keep your RV in top condition. Continue reading

How to Take Great Photos of Your Horse or Pet

Little boy with camera is shooting his dog

Taking winning family photographs on an RV vacation, around the house or for special occasions, may mean including fur-covered friends, big and small. From horses to Chihuahuas, you can take great pictures by applying a few fundamentals to your pet photography.

Keep three words in mind as you prepare to photograph your horse or pet: light, level and location.

Before you actually start snapping pictures of your horse or pet make your preparations because once you begin, there won’t be much time. While animals are man’s best friend, a pet is not always a photographer’s best pal and won’t wait while you fiddle with gear and poses. Have a plan before you press the shutter and it will be a better experience for you and your horse or pet.

Light

Unless you have a high level DSLR and a separate speed light — flash or strobe – you can use off the camera, think natural light when it comes to taking pet photographs. An on-camera light, especially on a pocket camera,  will cast a weak light directly into your pet’s eyes, creating red eye, loss of detail and inaccurate color – and that’s if you are lucky enough to get your shot. The shutter on smaller cameras can lag from the time you push the button – add in time to regenerate the flash – and your window for a great picture is probably gone.

The best light for your pet photography is natural light, preferably outdoors. Look for a clear area with nice, even light and put the sun at your back, shining directly on the spot you’ve chosen for your photograph. petphoto7

“Palm reading” is a simple, unscientific way to check the quality of light for your pet photograph. With the sun still at your back, hold your hand out, palm up, over your photography area. See how the light plays across your palm. Are there speckles from a nearby tree? Is the light a dull gray because the sun is blocked? Adjust the position you’ve chosen for your photograph until the light is soft and even on your palm.

Plan to take your photograph first thing in the morning or in the last light of day, avoiding the harsh, detail-killing light of mid-day. Because the light travels further to reach us in the morning and afternoon hours, it is more diffused, or softer. Morning light is cooler and cleaner and is especially pleasing when shooting lights and darks. The late afternoon – the hour before the sun sets — is warm and works best for shooting golden or reddish colors.

Location

Your pet is the focal point of your picture, so don’t let a cluttered background steal the show. petphoto4Choose a location at least eight feet away from the background to help create separation between your pet and the background. Look through the viewfinder of your camera, past the subject, scanning for light poles, multi-colored, multi-textured buildings and distractions. Pick up any debris and clutter. Shift around – keeping the sun at your back – to minimize distractions in your photograph. A few steps can make a huge difference in the content of your photograph.

Remember, you want your horse or pet to be the star; the background should just fade quietly away in your picture. Look for a simple hedge or fence, rolling green hills or open field, with an inviting light.

Level

The best way to get a great shot is to get down to the level of your subject. petphoto5

Photographing animals is about capturing our relationship with our horses or pets, and the window to that relationship is in the eyes. Get down until you and the camera are eye level with your pet to help show the partnership you share – even if it means laying down. When equines come into play, it may mean climbing on a utility ladder, box or fence to get eye-to-eye with your subject.

Standing tall above your pet is the superior position and casts your pet in an inferior light. Shooting from this position may be good for a gimmick or “pet shaming” photograph, but it can create distortion – a big head and little body – and will result in more of a caricature rather than a portrait of your pet.

Shooting from the inferior position – the photographer is lower than the subject — is a hazard of equine photography, and leaves many a photographer wondering why their prized pony’s dimensions look a little “off.” Level yourself with your horse’s eyes.

Zoom In

Now that light, location and level are settled, zoom in, if your camera allows. While it’s tempting to ratchet out to the widest angle to capture every inch of your horse or large

animal, the wide angle will create distortion that alters the proportions of your pet. Adjust your zoom while looking through the viewfinder until you see proportions that look natural. Ifa full-body image is what you need, just back up and get further away.

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A great photograph captures the personality – or soul – of your pet. The windows to the soul are the eyes and that’s where the camera needs to focus. San Francisco based pet photographer Josh Norem says it succinctly, “If the eyes aren’t in focus, the shot is wasted. End of discussion.” If your camera allows, set the focus for a single focal point – and aim for the eyes — rather than “auto,” which will focus on the point nearest the camera — probably a nose or paw.

Preparation and Shooting

Chefs call it “mise en place” or “everything in place” — all the ingredients and tools — ready to go when it’s time to start cooking. In pet photography, it’s also the key to success.

Decide when and where you’re going to shoot, have your camera set and ready to go, check your background for distractions, have a blanket to lie on or your ladder to climb for the picture set up, before your pet enters the scene.

Have your pet ready to go – brushed, groomed – and happy. A quick play session before the shoot will get everyone in the right frame of mind (no pun intended).

Stay relaxed but work quickly. Use treats or a toy held over the camera to grab his/her attention. Avoid having other people on the scene shouting out instructions that may confuse or stress out your pet and take attention away from the camera.

Shoot quickly. If your camera has a “sports” or “burst” setting, use it to shoot a series of pictures rather than trying to get the one perfect image. Remember, you’ve already done the hard work – checking out the light, choosing the right location and getting on the right level – now you’re composing your photograph with a focus on the eyes.petphoto6

Most animals have a short attention span for photography. If you don’t get that perfect shot, come back tomorrow and try again. The results – and the experience — will be better for everyone.

When you’re ready to go “on location” for your pet photography, be sure your RV is road worthy with a service visit to the professionals at Crossroads Trailer SalesAnd for all you horse enthusiasts, don’t forget to browse our great selection of new and used horse trailers.