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Expand Your Child’s Horizons At Children’s Museum

Florham Park's "Imagine That!" has several holiday-themed events planned.

It's the holiday season, and kids are wide-eyed with wonder. They're taking in everything around them.

So why not take advantage of that alertness, and sneak in a little fun-filled education? Imagine That! Children’s Museum, 4 Vreeland Road in Florham Park, could be what you're looking for.

“Our target age bracket is from one to nine years old,” said Deborah Bodnar, the director for the museum.

Imagine That! Has been in existence for more than 20 years, and the location in Florham Park has been available to families for seven. It that time, the facility has grown and changed to accommodate the different needs and requirements of attendees.

“We are in the process of going 'green.' We have the air quality tested on a regular basis, and we are a peanut-free environment,” Bodnar said.

Also, because the typical visit can last up to two and a half hours, the location also has an on-site café.

“If guests are here during lunchtime, they can step in and pick from a full menu of healthy choices,” Bondar said.

Imagine That! has scheduled an array of holiday-themed and winter recess activities, so if you are stuck for something enlightening to do with your family in December and January, and it is too cold to play outside, you may want to take a look.

That's why we've picked it for this installment of Day Tripper, a weekly look at destinations that are out of town, but in reach, and worth the trip.

DAY TRIPPER DIGEST

Estimated Travel Time: 31 minutes

Why it’s Worth the Trip:  It’s always a good thing to expand the creative potential in your child, but there aren’t a lot of locations that that allow the kind of unrestrained access to activities like Image That! will. Plus, it is a place where kids can be active and energetic during the winter, and not wreck the house in the process. For moms and dads, that’s a great advantage.

How to Get There from Here: Detailed driving directions.

You’ll Probably Get Hungry:  If you choose not to eat at Imagine That!, you can have a sandwich at Cheeseburger In Paradise or the Florham Park Café, both on Vreeland Road, or the Eighteen Café at the intersection of Vreeland and Columbia Turnpike. You're only a few turns from Route 10, which has a lot of other options as well.

While You’re in the Area:  Take a drive southeast and, weather permitting, hang out at the West Essex Park. Afterward if you want to hit the mall, the Livingston Mall has stores such as Barnes and Noble Bookstore, Modell’s Sporting Goods, Hot Topic Pop Culture Merchandise, and The Children’s Place childrens clothing.

Imagine That! will host a special Breakfast with Santa, on Dec. 18 ($10.99 child, $13.99 adult), and an Olive Press Demonstration on Monday, Dec. 26, 2011, 1 to 4 p.m. To explore the meaning of Chanukah, a local Rabbi will stop by to explain the process of extracting oil from olives, teach about the meaning of the menorah, and lead the children in arts-and-crafts classes where they will be able to decorate dreidels to keep.

During the winter school recess is the Sock Snowman Craft class on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011, 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Kids will be able to come in and make a sock-snowman decorations to keep.

Bodnar also mentioned the many activities and exhibits the facility has year-round.

“Which one is the most popular, that’s difficult to say. We have a real Piper Cub airplane the children can climb into and pretend to fly, the firetruck [which tends to be very popular with boys who want to grow up to be firemen], a pirate ship, and a grocery-store playset area,” Bodnar said.

There is also the miniature Space Shuttle and a Post Office play station, the indoor sandbox Sandcastle, and a puppet theater. Bodnar’s personal favorite is the TV Newsroom set. “The children love to see themselves on the monitors, and it’s so fun to watch them as they play,” she said.

Other areas of the Museum include a multicultural zone with items from all around the world including the biggest hit of the bunch (pardon the pun), a gong. In the arts and crafts area there is much to do and, just in case you were worried, all the paint supplies are washable.

Admission fees are $9.95 for a child and $7.95 for an adult. There is no charge for infants under one year. The admission fee includes unlimited time to explore the activities of the children’s museum, and Imagine That! is open year-round, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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