25 Family Staycation Ideas for the NJ School Holidays in November

New Jersey School Holiday Activities for Kids in November 2018: Veterans Day, Teacher Conferences, Thanksgiving
Take a trip to the North Pole on The Polar Express. Photo courtesy of the Whippany Polar Express Ride

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 6, 2018. While not all schools are closed, many are off or have half-days. NJ schools also will be closed for the statewide teacher conferences happening Thursday, November 8, and Friday, November 9, 2018. 

Of course, don't forget about Thanksgiving later this month, when kids have off on Thursday, November 22, and Friday, November 23, 2018, and some have a half-day or no school on the Wednesday prior. Yikes! That means more time off than the December holidays for some NJ school kids.

With that in mind, we're putting together a list of 25 fantastic things to do this November in New Jersey with the kids. Lucky for you, dear parent, the holiday season also means plenty of fun activities, many of which are FREE. Read on for more ideas. 

Don't forget to find more fun in our November GoList and our daily Event Calendar of activities around New Jersey. 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


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

1. Watch a mermaid swim with the sharks at Camden's Adventure Aquarium, Saturday, November 3 – Sunday, November 11, 2018.

2. Visit a new-to-you zoo before it gets too cold or one of the state's other aquariums on rainy days.

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

RELATED: Polar Express and Christmas Trains for NJ Kids


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

4. Play paleontologist at Field Station: Dinosaurs before the beasts pack it up for the winter on Sunday, November 11, 2018. (Note: It's open during the NJ teacher conference days.)

5. Take a hike, and take in the beautiful fall foliage. 

6. Find a vacation-day mini camp at a museum.

7Go back in time to one of our state's Living History Farms. Howell Living History Farm offers Thanksgiving Hayrides over the break.

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

9. Stroll through one on New Jersey's walkable downtowns. Westfield offers a lot of great family-friendly options.

10. Pedal your bikes along one of these NJ pathways.

11. 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 items like seeing the latest dinos at the American Museum of Natural History.

12. Ride the mini train or carousel at Van Saun Park.

13. Join Mickey and friends on their quest for Tinkerbell at Disney on Ice: Mickey's Search Party, Friday, November 2 – Sunday, November 4, 2018.

RELATED: 30+ Free Things To Do with NJ Kids in November


Get cooking in the giant play kitchen at Kidz Village. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala

14. Drop in for playtime at a new indoor play space, like The Village Play Cafe or the FREE Disney Junior Play Zone.

15. See the FREE holiday light shows at Turtle Back Zoo and the historic Smithville Village, which kick off in mid-November. 

16. Catch an old-fashioned tree-lighting at Cape May's Physick Estate on Friday, November 16, 2018, or check out another seasonal tree ceremony.

17. Pile into the car for the drive-through Skylands Stadium epic Christmas Lights extravaganza, beginning Friday, November 16, 2018.

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

RELATED: November GoList: The Best Things To Do with NJ Kids This Month


Catch a (giant) Pokemon and more at the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Photo by Shinya Suzuki

19. Pack the big kids onto the train to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (or balloon inflation the night before) for a special holiday treat.

20. The doc is in at Liberty Science Center, with the new Doc McStuffins exhibit; LSC is open on all the school holidays except Thanksgiving Day. 

21. Get in the holiday spirit with a children's theater show like The Year of Frog and Toad, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Babes in Toyland.

22. Board a Polar Express train for an early winter treat. 

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

24. Catch the opening of the annual holiday model train show on Friday, November 23, 2018, featuring Thomas and more fun miniatures, presented by the Garden State Model Railway Club.

25. Give Santa your wish list over the Thanksgiving break when he starts popping up at the malls and at local farms like Alstede

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

This post has been updated for 2018.

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