If you're scratching your head to come up with some fun ways to spend Columbus Day with kids who are home from school, look no further. We've pulled together a list of 20 fun family outings that NJ kids are bound to love, from picking pumpkins to visiting sea turtles. You can find many more options in our Fall Fun Guide, and if the weather's looking iffy, check out our Indoor Playspace Guide for a backup plan!
1. Enjoy the fall foliage on display along NJ's beautiful trails, like those at Cheesequake State Park or Great Swamp. Collect some leaves along the way to make a rubbing at home.
2. Take a hayide and pick out the perfect pumpkin at one of NJ's many farms.
3. Go apple picking and let the kids help make an apple pie at home.
4. If you're entertaining kids with a wide age gap (or if the weather is questionable), Liberty Science Center is an excellent day trip. Whether you have little ones interested in the new Thomas & Friends exhibit, elementary school children who want to climb the Infinity Chamber, or older ones interested in a 3-D movie, this interactive museum offers hours of educational fun. LSC has a great cafe, but there are lots of family-friendly restaurants nearby, too.
Peppa Pig comes to BergenPAC in a brand-new live show. Photo courtesy of the production.
5. Peppa Pig fans at home? Treat them to a showing of Peppa Pig Live! at Bergen Performing Arts Center. Tickets are going fast!
6. Head over to Delicious Orchards Food Market for its annual Columbus Day Pumpkin Fest. Enjoy pumpkin painting, games, music, food samples, and more.
7. Check out the Six Flags Great Adventure Fright Fest during the day for family-friendly haunted trails, mazes, shows, and attractions. After 6 p.m., Halloween attractions are recommended for those over 12.
8. Take a family-friendly bike ride on one of NJ's great trails.
9. Fall is a great time for a zoo trip. The Bergen County Zoo and Turtle Back Zoo are perfect choices for preschoolers and elementary school children.
10. Columbus Day Weekend is the final weekend in 2017 for Wild West City. Dress up like a cowboy or cowgirl and enjoy western-themed shows and exhibits.
RELATED: 20+ Fun-Filled Fall Day Trips for New Jersey Families
KidStreet in Bridgewater is a day trip–worthy playground. Photo by the author.
11. Explore a new playground. KidStreet in Bridgewater is destination-worthy for kids of all ages.
12. For kids who love coloring and crafts, the Crayola Experience in Easton, PA, is sure to be a hit.
12. The summer sun might be a distant memory, but that doesn't mean you can't visit the beach. Take a walk on the sand, fly a kite, and eat a picnic lunch. Just stay out of the water, as lifeguards won't be on duty. FREE admission after Labor Day.
13. If the weather isn't cooperating, check out iPlay America, a large indoor amusement park with rides, games, bowling, shows, and more.
14. Visit Adventure Aquarium for Sea Turtle Awareness Weekend.
15. Plan a trip into NYC to enjoy the annual NYC Columbus Day Parade down Fifth Avenue.
Make magical discoveries at the Grounds for Sculpture. Photo by David Howarth/courtesy of Grounds for Sculpture.
16. Be amazed at the larger-than-life artwork at the Grounds for Sculpture.
17. Wander through one of NJ's incredible corn mazes.
18. Take a Columbus Day Hayride at Abma's Farm.
18. Explore a new neighborhood like Hoboken, Madison, or Somerville.
19. Send your budding culinary artist to Columbus Day Camp at Bambino Chef.
20. Make a day of it at Liberty State Park, where you can walk the riverfront promenade, look for birds along the Hudson River Estuary, take a ferry to the Statue of Liberty, and more.
21. Stroll through the enchanted Greenwood Gardens and discover sculptures, flowers, water features, and even a few barnyard animals.
RELATED: Cool Pumpkin Displays, Festivals, and Decorating Events in NJ
Use the day to start working on those Halloween costumes! Photo by David Silva.
22. Shop for (or create) a costume for Halloween 2017.
23. In honor of Columbus Day, prepare a homemade Italian meal. If you have have the energy (and patience), kids can help make homemade tomato sauce and pasta. Or let them add sauce, cheese, and toppings to a make-your-pizza dinner.
24. Celebrate the season at A. Casola Farms' Fall Fest, or at one of NJ's top family-fun farms.
Top photo courtesy of Liberty Science Center.