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Traincation! A NJ Transit “Fun” Day on the Midtown Direct

by: Sue Adler
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Traincation: A Fun, Family-friendly Trip on the Midtown Direct!

If you’re looking for an entertaining activity for the kids as the weather warms up, look no further than the town train station! It’s a fun and affordable trip in between a staycation and a vacation that we’re calling a traincation! There are four towns, Summit, Chatham, Madison and Morristown, along the Midtown Direct to Penn Station, as well as some great activities that you can walk. So ditch your car and shout with us, “all-aboard!”

Begin your traincation fun day by reading Donald Crews’ book, Freight Train, and then let’s take off! (And as a reminder, kids under five ride free!)


Reeves-Reed Arboretum 
Phone: 908-273-8787

Learn the history of the area while crawling like a caterpillar at the Reeves-Reed Arboretum. Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and once visited by the Lenni Lenape Indians, this exquisite property hosts birthday parties, an impressive greenhouse with plants that kids can examine with magnifying glasses, and hiking trails.

Pick up an illustrated map which makes learning fun by encouraging kids to act out the life of a Monarch butterfly, or do a “honeybee dance” to show other bees where the sweetest nectar lies. Admission is free, with a suggested $5 donation.

McCool’s Ice Cream
Phone: 908-522-9731 

As the sister store to the Madison original, McCool’s ice-cream is a refreshing treat for all ages. With 45 flavors to choose from, even the pickiest child will be satisfied! It’s located at 14 Beechwood Road in Summit.

Mabie Memorial Day Playground

Are you getting tired of taking your little ones to the same jungle gym? Then it’s time to try a new one! The Mabie Memorial Day Playground has two bocce courts, lots of picnic benches, and a huge rock where kids can play “King of the Hill.” It’s open from dawn to dusk.


School of Rock
Phone: 973-635-2100

The next stop is Chatham’s School of Rock! Lessons are taught by professional musicians and vocal coaches. Kids from ages 7 to 18 can rock out in 45-minute private classes on the instrument of their choice. For drop-in classes, it’s necessary to call before arrival.

Jabberwocky Books and Educational Toys
Phone: 973-635-5244

Jabberwocky hosts monthly children’s book signings, and exciting monthly Pokémon tournaments. Their toys are educational-based, and span a variety of ages. It’s the perfect place for your child to spend their hard-earned allowance!

Café Beethoven
Phone: 973-635-0005

Café Beethoven actually encourages kids to press their noses up against the glass of their cookie display case, where they proudly boast 15 different varieties. They also make a fabulous hot chocolate with whip cream. Beethoven doesn’t have high chairs, but welcomes children of all ages.


Nicky’s Firehouse Family Restaurant & Pizza
Phone: 973-765-0565

Need to feed your hungry lot? Just a 2-minute stroll from the train is one of the best-kept-secrets in NJ pizza history. Nicky’s Firehouse is a replica of Madison’s first firehouse, located just down the street. Each child gets their own fire hat and pages to color. There is also an extensive children’s menu.

Dewey’s Comic City
Phone: 973-593-0042

Dewey’s, located just a few blocks from Nicky’s, is where you want to bring kids who are going through a Batman phase! They host a thrilling Friday evening card game tournament for ages 11 and up.

Creative Hands Art Studio
Phone: 908-604-0773

Kids as young as 5 can learn how to use a pottery wheel at this local favorite for children’s art classes, located behind the station. Your tiny Picasso can also try drawing, painting, or sculpture. For drop-in classes, call office manager Betty in advance.


South Street Creamery
Phone: 973-267-8887

For the best homemade ice-cream in NJ, walk to the South Street Creamery where you’ll receive a warm welcome from this family-owned establishment! They also have a lunch menu which changes daily and their soup and sandwich combo for only $7.48 is delish.

The Teaching Room
Phone: 973-540-8358

Located next door to the Creamery is The Teaching Room, where you’ll find educational tools for teachers that can be implemented in your own home such as sticker books, a Velcro help chart, and a variety of sensory toys.

For more information and to check schedules for a NJ Transit fun day, visit NJ Transit online or call 973-275-5555!

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