Explore the Watchung Trail during your November holidays staycation. Photo by Margaret Hargrove
Explore the Watchung Trail during your November holidays staycation. Photo by Margaret Hargrove

25 Family Staycation Ideas for the NJ School Holidays in November

School kids across the country are looking at abbreviated November schedules, but New Jersey kids have several holidays to look forward to this month. First up is Election Day, Tuesday, November 2, 2021. While not all schools are closed, many are off or have half-days. Many NJ school districts go a step further, taking the entire first week of the month off.

Of course, don't forget about Thanksgiving at month's end, when kids have off on Thursday, November 25, and Friday, November 26, 2021; some even have a half-day or no school the Wednesday prior, too. Yikes! That means more time off than the December holidays for some NJ school kids.

With that in mind, we've pulled together this list of 25 fantastic things to do to fill those days off. Lucky for you, dear parent, the approaching holiday season also means plenty of fun staycation activities. Read on for our top ideas.

Don't forget to find more fun in our Activity Calendar. It might also be a good time to check off one or two items on our list of 100 things to do in New Jersey with kids before they grow up.

Subscribe to our newsletters to get stories like this delivered directly to your inbox.

1. Go to the Zoo

Visit a new-to-you zoo before it gets too cold.


2. Get Outside

Enjoy FREE or inexpensive programming at nature centers around the state: outdoor adventure awaits at Tenafly Nature Center. You can also visit the indoor complex at Watchung Reservation to see the mini aquarium, book nook, and more.

3. Go Hiking

Take a hike to take in the beautiful fall foliage.

Visit the mermaids at Adventure Aquarium. Photo courtesy of the aquarium

4. See Sea Life

Meet a diver, see adorable little blue penguins, or visit the sharks at the Adventure Aquarium.

5. Hang Out at a Museum

Find a vacation-day mini camp at a museum.

6. Explore American Dream

This North Jersey mega-complex keeps adding kid-friendly features, like an aquarium and Legoland Discovery Center. 

RELATED: Polar Express and Christmas Trains for NJ Kids

See the dinos before they're gone for the winter. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala

7. Go Back to Dinosaur Times

Play paleontologist at Field Station: Dinosaurs before the beasts pack it up for the winter Sunday, November 14, 2021.

8. Visit a Living History Farm

Go back in time to one of our state's living history farms.

9. Go to an Indoor Water Park

Pretend it's summer vacation while you splash about at one of New Jersey's indoor water parks like Sahara Sam's.

10. Head Downtown

Stroll through one of New Jersey's walkable downtowns. We're crushing on Hoboken and Verona right now!

11. Go Biking

Pedal your bikes along one of these NJ pathways.

12. Visit Legoland

Hit the road, and head to the brand new, mega-sized Legoland New York, which is open on weekends and select weekdays, including Thanksgiving!

RELATED: 10 Pennsylvania Getaways For Families

Marvel at the miniature trains at the NYBG Holiday Train Show
The NYBG Train Show opens in time for the Thanksgiving holidays. Photo courtesy of NYBG

13. See the Big Apple

Take a day trip into NYC to catch some of the best of the holidays in the city like the New York Botanical Garden's awesome train show, or just check off one of our 100 best things to do in NYC with kids.

14. Visit Van Saun Park

Ride the mini train or carousel at Van Saun Park.

15. Visit an Indoor Play Space

Drop-in for playtime at an indoor play space, like the brand new CAMP at the Garden State Plaza, The Village Play Cafe, or the FREE Disney Junior Play Zone.

16. Plan a Farm Trip

Plan one last farm trip before it gets too chilly. We've found 15 family-friendly farms chockfull of entertainment all across the state.

17. Go Down the Shore

Build a sandcastle or just stroll along a deserted Jersey Shore beach or boardwalk. Fall is one of my favorite times to visit the beach!

RELATED: CAMP Debuts New Hybrid Toy Store and Play Space at Garden State Plaza

Catch the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Photo courtesy of Macy's

18. See the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Pack the big kids onto the train to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which returns to the streets on Thanksgiving Day.

19. See Skylands Stadium Christmas Light Show

Pile into the car for the drive through the Skylands Stadium epic Christmas Lights extravaganza, beginning Wednesday, November 24, 2021.

20. Go to LSC

See the Paw Patrol exhibit—and the rest of the fun—at the Liberty Science Center. LSC is open on all the school holidays except Thanksgiving Day.

21. See a Show

Visit the renovated and recently re-opened State Theatre to get in the holiday spirit with a children's show like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Musical, or Cirque Dreams Holidaze.

RELATED: Hit the Serene Columbia Trail for a Family-Friendly Hiking Adventure

Glide on the rink at Newport Skates
Newport Skates generally opens for the season in November! Photo courtesy of the mall

22. Go Skating

Glide over to an indoor skating rink, or bundle up for an outdoor one, like Newport Skates, which generally opens for the season in November.

23. Themed Eating

Go out to eat at one of NJ's unique themed restaurants.

24. See Disney on Ice

Join Mickey and friends on a fun-filled adventure in Disney on Ice: Mickey's Search Party, from Wednesday, November 3-Sunday, November 7, 2021.

25. Take a Train Ride

Board a Polar Express train for an early winter treat.

Looking for more? Check out our daily Events Calendar for what's happening in your neighborhood.

This post has been updated for 2021.

Holiday Light Show on Lake Meone
Historic Smithville Village - 5:30 PM Pick
The Polar Express
Whippany Station - various times Pick
Six Flags Great Adventure Holiday Drive-Thru
Six Flags Great Adventure - various times Pick
Festival of Trees at Morven
Morven Museum - 10:00 AM
Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest
Blue Cross RiverRink - 11:00 AM
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides