Your tweens may be too big for bouncy houses and tea parties, yet too young for solo outings with friends. But they still love family fun (even if they won't always admit it). To keep those in-betweeners happy and engaged, find an activity that sparks their curiosity or stretches their growing limbs. When a trip to your local playground is met with eye-rolling instead of cheering, it's time to check out these amazing activities for older kids in New Jersey. The good news? You may genuinely enjoy competing with your tween in bowling and mini golf, tackling the fast slides at a water park, or seeing a play or concert together. Read on for 30 ideas that are cool enough for big kids.
1. Take in an almost-Broadway show at one of New Jersey's celebrated regional theaters, like Papermill Playhouse, McCarter Theater, or the State Theater. Showtimes online.
2. Show your Scarlet Knight or Pirate pride at a Rutgers or Seton Hall sporting event. Both schools' schedules online.
3. Longer legs mean longer hikes, so check out New Jersey's great hiking trails and reservations, from the pinelands to the mountains. Spend an entire day exploring a state park.
4. Spring and summer mean baseball, and New Jersey has minor league action up and down the state.
5. Lace up your skates for a whirl around a roller rink, glow necklaces and 80's shades optional.
6. Gaze at artwork at one of the state's museums or make some music at the GRAMMY Museum.
Your tweens are old enough to give glass blowing a try. Photo courtesy of Hot Sand in Asbury Park
7. Step up your arts and crafts game with glass blowing.
8. Treat them to their first rock or pop concert this summer.
RELATED: NJ Playgrounds Cool Enough for Big Kids
Go head-to-head on the Battle Beam at Urban Air Adventure Park in Milltown. Photo courtesy of the park
9. Bounce and flip at an indoor trampoline park.
10. Create beaded jewelry or pottery at a local studio.
11. Enjoy a sweet treat together at a popular ice cream spot or retro candy shop.
12. Stroll through history at New Jersey's Revolutionary War sites.
13. Step back in time to pinball nirvana in Asbury Park, or play old-school arcade games for hours at a game cafe.
14. Cruise the waterways on a dinner cruise, ferry, or other exciting boat ride. Or share the work of rowing or pedaling on a lakeshore ride.
Tweens looking for a thrill will love The Kingda Ka at Six Flags. Photo courtesy of Six Flags
15. Tackle the wildest roller coasters New Jersey has to offer.
16. Walk through the Grounds for Sculpture (without a stroller!).
17. Have some Ninja Warrior–style fun at an awesome indoor obstacle course.
18. Tee up for a round of outdoor digital golf, tracking your scores with a micro-chipped ball.
19. Go skydiving—without jumping from a plane—at iFly in Paramus.
20. Face off in a game of laser tag.
21. Escape from a family-style escape room.
RELATED: Zip Lines and Adventure Ropes Courses for Kids in and Around NJ
Get a group of friends together for tween sewing projects at M. Avery Designs in Hoboken. Photo courtesy M. Avery Designs
22. Design and sew your own fashion accessories.
23. Zip and swing above the trees at an outdoor ropes course.
24. Roll some strikes without bumpers at your favorite bowling alley.
25. Relax with a tween spa treatment or mani-pedi at one of New Jersey's many spas or salons, like Glitter & Glam in Paramus.
26. Spend the night at Liberty Science Center for a camp-in, or board a ferry to visit the new Statue of Liberty Museum.
27. Splash around and tackle the tallest slides at a water park.
28. Head outdoors and go camping.
RELATED: Great NJ Gardens and Lush Arboretums To Explore with Kids
Do some laser-tagging at iPlay America. Photo courtesy of the venue
29. Spend an afternoon playing, climbing, and exploring one of New Jersey's mega indoor fun spots, like iPlay America or Branchburg Sports Complex.
30. Pick up a paintbrush and canvas at one of New Jersey's painting studios.
For even more inspiration, check out our list of things to do in New Jersey before your kids grow up.
Originally published 2013; updated for 2018.