40 Things to Do with New Jersey Preschoolers Before They Turn 5
We have just five precious years or so to spend with our little ones before they head off to kindergarten. At this age, kids are growing and developing faster than they will at any other time in their lives, so many of us want to fill their days with as many opportunities to learn, laugh, and love life as possible! That means play spaces, mommy-and-me classes, storytimes, playgrounds, and other treasures that the Garden State holds for toddlers.
For more can't-miss Garden State destinations, check out 100 Things to Do in New Jersey with Kids Before They Grow Up.
3. Dazzle little ones with impressive holiday lights across New Jersey.
4. Let imaginations run wild at indoor play centers, including Woodland Indoor Playground and the Village Play Cafe. (For more, check out our guides to play spaces in North Jersey, Central, or South Jersey.)
Kids get hands-on learning experiences at the Liberty Science Center. Photo courtesy of LSC
7. Enjoy a zoo, carousel, train, and super-sized playground at Van Saun County Park.
See sharks up close at Adventure Aquarium. Photo courtesy of the aquarium
11. Experience a live performance for the first time at the State Theatre’s Milk & Cookies series, which features music, puppets, and stories. New "relaxed" performances for special needs kids are planned.
You can't beat a beautiful day at the Jersey Shore. Photo by Kate Lewis Andrews
14. Build sand castles and play in the surf at these Jersey Shore beaches.
15. Or hit the kiddie amusement park rides and try skee-ball for the first time at these popular boardwalks.
18. Learn about, and even touch, creepy crawlers at Insectropolis, New Jersey’s “bugseum.”
See dinos in the wild at Field Station Dinosaurs (open seasonally). Photo by Rose Gordon Sala
19. Go prehistoric at Field Station: Dinosaurs, a dinosaur theme park right here in Jersey.
20. Make a splash with the sprinklers at one of New Jersey's many (mostly FREE) water playgrounds and splash pads.
Have a construction-themed adventure at Diggerland. Photo courtesy of Diggerland
21. Indulge your young builders in construction adventures at Diggerland.
22. Enjoy a hands-on exploration of nature with mazes, rides, and festivals at Camden Children’s Garden.
23. Get physical at these mommy-and-me classes.
24. Dance, sing, and make music at a mommy-and-me music class.
26. Pick your own apples, strawberries, and blueberries at the Garden State’s wonderful pick-your-own farms.
27. Climb into a fire truck, try out gear, and learn all about fire safety at the Fire Museum in Newark.
Visit the homes of the fairies on the South Mountain Fairy Trail. Photo courtesy of the trail
30. Walk through the woods and search for the tiny fairy houses nestled among the trees on the South Mountain Fairy Trail.
32. Take a ride on an antique train on a rainy day, or plan a trip with the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus during holiday seasons.
Kids can try all kinds of new activities at the Small Explorers Series at the NJ State Museum. Photo courtesy of the museum
33. Try the Small Explorers Series on the third Saturday of each month at the NJ State Museum. Learn about the theme of the month through stories, crafts, and play.
34. Get kids acclimated to the water in their first very first swimming lessons.
35. Bounce the day away at an indoor trampoline parks. Many facilities, like Sky Zone, offer special toddler-only time slots for little jumpers.
36. Take a hike and enjoy the monthly Storytime for Sprouts program at Duke Farms.
38. Check out a show with your child's favorite character, like Elmo, Mickey, or Daniel Tiger, at one of NJ's many family-friendly theaters, including Mayo Performing Arts Center, State Theatre NJ, Count Basie Theatre, bergenPAC, and Paper Mill Playhouse.
39. Get messy (and create a keepsake of the day) at an art studio meant for little hands.
Originally posted 2014