The lazy days of December break may be the best time to take part in New Jersey's family-friendly holiday activities—especially if you have visiting relatives to entertain or kids who have already moved on from their presents. From spectacular light displays to cold-weather fun, there's plenty to do during the days off from school.
Most New Jersey schools are closed from Monday, December 24, 2018 through Tuesday, January 1, 2019, allowing plenty of time to experience some of the holiday highlights you may have missed in the hectic run-up to Christmas. It's also the perfect time to check out an indoor play space, museum, or fun zone.
Be sure to check out our December GoList and Holiday Fun Guide for more great ideas. Happy Holidays, NJ!
Meet Santa and friends at Jenkinson's Sea of Lights. Photo courtesy of Jenkinson's
1. Holiday fun is a shore thing at Jenkinson's Sea of Lights. The festivities also include crafts, treats and Santa.
2. Stay warm in your car and drive through Skylands Stadium Christmas Lights Show, featuring more than two million lights arrayed in breathtaking displays set to joyful holiday music.
3. Stroll through Turtle Back Zoo after dark, and admire the animal- and holiday-themed figures lit up along the walkways. Costumed characters will greet children, and some zoo animals may be playing under the stars. FREE
4. If the winter chill is too much for your family, lace up your skates at one of New Jersey's many state-of-the art indoor skating centers. Most feature skate rentals, snack bars, and warming rooms. Or go for a spin on the ice bumper cars at Ocean Ice Palace in Brick!
5. All aboard the 28th Annual Holiday Model Train Show, with magical miniature cities, towns, a boardwalk and more.
RELATED: Best and Brightest Christmas Light Displays in New Jersey
Scuba Santa makes an appearance at the Adventure Aquarium. Photo courtesy of the aquarium
6. Make a splash at Adventure Aquarium's Christmas Underwater, with Scuba Santa, the world's tallest underwater Christmas tree, a Snow Shower Dance Party and storytime with an elf.
7. Hop on a real train, along with Santa, on one of many Polar Express and Christmas Trains throughout the state. Tickets go quickly for these, so check websites for availability.
8. Treat the family to a holiday show. New Jersey Ballet's Nutcracker and McCarter Theatre's A Christmas Carol hold performances during the break.
9. Kids of all ages can get crafty at New Jersey State Museum's Winter Break Art Studio, with a new project each day inspired by museum's current exhibitions. FREE
10. There's so much to do at Morris Museum's Vacation Celebration, including crafts, a performance of Jack Frost Magical Holiday and a Touch the Music Workshop.
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Take a spin on the ice at the Van Saun's Winter Wonderland. Photo courtesy of Derek Sands for the Bergen County Executive's Office
11. Gather up the family to wander the galleries of the Newark Museum during its Holiday Fun Days, and then find your way to the Education Lobby to tinker, discover, and create your own works of art using the same media featured in the museum's collections.
12. Visit Van Saun Park's annual Winter Wonderland, featuring outdoor ice skating, Santa's workshop, food trucks, a holiday train, and carousel rides.
13. Burn some energy indoors at a drop-in play space, like the brand-new Woodland Indoor Playground in Cedar Grove, or Menlo Park Mall's FREE Disney Junior Play Zone.
14. If you're heading to the mall to do some last-minute shopping, the kids will appreciate a pit stop at Short Hills' Indigo Bookstore, which features unique books, gifts, and hands-on play areas. Check the store's schedule for free events. FREE
Santa and Mrs. Claus bring Christmas cheer to Storybook Land. Photo courtesy of the park
15. Santa and Mrs. Claus bring holiday magic to Storybook Land every evening when they wave a wand and light up the park. Rides are open daily.
16. The doc is in at Liberty Science Center. Kids will love playing doctor at Liberty Science Center's Doc McStuffins: The Exhibit. While you're there, solve a mystery at the new Sherlock Holmes Exhibition.
17. Check your local library for free crafts and activities over the break. Mercer County Library hosts a New Year's Crown workshop.
18. Take in small-town holiday charm on Red Bank's free Holiday Horse & Wagon Rides and Princeton's Holiday Trolley Tours.
19. Bundle up for thrills and chills at Six Flags Holiday In the Park. The park transforms into a winter wonderland with characters, shows, and holiday-adorned rides and attractions.
RELATED: Make a Day of It with These Winter Day Trips for NJ Families
Spend a special moment with Santa at Johnson's Corner Farm. Photo courtesy of the farm
20. Keep the holiday fun going with a hayride through Johnson's Corner Farm's musical holiday light show, then roast marshmallows, decorate holiday cookies, and visit farm animals.
21. Step back in time and celebrate an Old-Fashioned Christmas at Cape May's Physick Estate, with model trains, letters to Santa, and activities from Christmases past.
22. Celebrate the end of 2018 aquatic-style at Adventure Aquarium's New Year's Eve Splash, featuring a dance party, giveaways, and fireworks over the Delaware River.
23. Spend a fun-filled New Year's Eve day on the boardwalk at First Night Ocean County, with arcade games, face painters, magic, jugglers, and more. Top off the day with fireworks at 5pm.
24. Skate into the new year at Deptford Skating Center's Kids Daytime NYE Party, with inflatables, skating, and an afternoon countdown.
25. Too cold to leave the house? Introduce the kids to classic holiday movies from your own living room.
This post has been updated for 2018.