The Garden State is beautiful in spring and summer – from farms to lakes to going “down the Shore” there’s so much to do. But there’s still plenty of fun to be had in Jerz when the weather gets cold. Check out our pick of the best kid-friendly things to do in New Jersey, whether you’re looking for fun indoor spots (like Medieval Times or Liberty Science Center) or an outdoor adventure (followed by hot chocolate, natch!).
12 Kid-Friendly Things to Do in New Jersey This Winter
1. Let Them Climb the Walls
Kids and adults can get their energy out at a rock-climbing gym. Rockville Climbing Center in Hamilton has auto belays that take up the slack as you scale high walls and slowly lower you to the ground. The Gravity Vault has multiple locations in NJ, with more opening soon. Get a day pass or for even more thrills, try competing against friends on their Augmented Reality Climbing Wall which offers a variety of games.
2. STEM the Boredom at LSC
Liberty Science Center in Jersey City has educational fun for every age in your group. Little scientists will love Wobbly World, where they can test out balance, motion and cause and effect in a colorful play space. Pompeii: The Immortal City is an exhibit that will take you back in time to the day Mt. Vesuvius erupted. And teens whose parents didn’t get tickets in the presale (ahem) will go crazy for the Taylor Swift Laser Show, which takes place in the country’s biggest planetarium.
3. Get Lit at Grounds for Sculpture
Bundle up your crew and head to Grounds for Sculpture after dark for an immersive sound and light show that’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. The museum and sculpture garden, set on 42 beautiful acres in Hamilton, changes into a feast of sound + vision when the sun goes down and Night Forms: Infinite Wave takes over. Kids and adults will get a kick out of this multi-sensory show that’s interactive and awe-inspiring.
4. Get Wet at an Indoor Water Park
Just when you thought that bathing suit was stowed away until Memorial Day, there are multiple reasons to break out the bikinis and speedos (ok, black one-pieces) to slip, slide and swim in an indoor water wonderland. DreamWorks Water Park at American Dream mall in East Rutherford has a lazy river, a wave pool and a giant Shrek overseeing the fun. Plus, it’s a tropical 81 degree inside all year round (nice!).
5. Hit the Ice to Feel So Nice
Ice skating is the perfect family activity for when it’s cold outside but you still need get your bodies moving. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or a budding Brian Boitano – rent a pair, lace ‘em up and go for a spin! The Rink at Winter Wonderland in Bergen County’s Van Saun Park features ice skating AND Ice Bumper Cars. Newport Skates in Jersey City is right on the waterfront and offers both lessons and open skate.
6. Roll & Bounce at a Jersey Roller Rink
You’ll feel like you stepped back into the 1980’s when you take the family to one of Jersey’s roller rinks. At South Amboy Rollermagic, join for family skate. Rent a pair of blades or quads if you’re old school and freestyle in the center of the rink of you’ve got some moves. The Branch Brook Park Roller Skating Center has Friday night Family Roller Skate. Keep your eyes on Jackson, NJ where a new location is set to open soon.
7. Soar with the Stars at a NJ Planetarium
Take the fam for an experience that’s out of this world at a planetarium (no, they’re not just for school field trips!). At New Jersey State Museum’s Planetarium in Trenton you can take in a show on Saturdays and Sundays. The Raritan Valley Community College Planetarium has sensory-friendly shows, astronomy and music programs for youngsters and even planetarium date night!
8. Go Under the Sea at Adventure Aquarium
At Adventure Aquarium in Camden, your brood will make a new buddy – Charlie, the new giant Pacific octopus has taken up residence and because they are missing part of their third arm, the team isn’t sure if it’s a boy or a girl! You can also see 15,000 aquatic animals including Button and Genny, the aquarium’s hippos. If you dare, walk the longest shark bridge in the world to view what is the largest collection of sharks in the Northeast. Consider buying a discounted membership so admission won’t take a bite out of your wallet.
9. Bundle Up and Head to the Zoo
Visiting the zoo isn’t just a warm weather activity in NJ – Cape May County Zoo is open year-round and get this – admission and parking are both free! Check out cheetahs, zebras, foxes and more friends. Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange is open daily except for major holidays and offers plenty to see including the sea lions, penguins and a 1,600-gallon touch tank. If your kids are feeling brave, they can touch the sting rays as they swim by!
10. Give Them Old School Screentime
Playing video games is a great way to pass a brutally cold winter day. You could head to the ubiquitous spots like Dave & Busters, but why not put a retro spin on things and check out YESTERcades? With three locations in the Garden State you can introduce the kids to Pac-Man, pinball and Q*bert! Pricing is per hour, so no pocketful of quarters needed! For a pinball experience like no other, head to the boardwalk as Asbury Park to check out the Silverball Retro Arcade. Don’t miss the classic pinball machines like Fireball, which will school your kids on how much fun you can have without the Nintendo Switch!
11. Get Medieval on Your Crew
Join the royal court with a trip to Medieval Times in Lyndhurst. Kids will have a ball cheering for the knights as they joust and show off their skills in an epic tournament. Witness horsemanship and falconry while feasting on a four-course meal of chicken, garlic bread, sweet buttered corn and more. When the queen, the knights and the squires take to the stage, you’ll be transported to the 11th century. Bonus: parents can also enjoy an adult bevvie here.
12. Take Flight at iFly
It doesn’t get more exciting than a day of indoor skydiving, and if you and your crew are over 40 inches tall you can suit up at iFly in Paramus. A vertical wind tunnel allows you and your family to take flight (after a training session where you’ll practice your flying position). All flyers will don a flight suit and helmet – no fancy flips and trick until you’re an experienced flyer, though. Now that’s an outing that will give them stories to tell the next day at school!