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. Read on for 20 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, from the pinelands to the mountains.
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.
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.
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.
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 or ferry ride across the Hudson.
Photo courtesy of Six Flags in Jackson.
15. Tackle the wildest roller coasters New Jersey has to offer.
16. Walk through the Grounds for Sculpture without a stroller.
17. Teach your tween the tricks of billiards.
18. Tee up for a round of outdoor digital golf, tracking your scores with a micro-chipped ball.
19. Swing away at a local batting cage.
20. Face off in a game of laser tag.
21. Escape from a family-style escape room.
Tween sewing projects. Photo courtesy M. Avery Designs in Hoboken.
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 your favorite museum for a camp-in.
27. Splash around and tackle the tallest slides at a water park.
28. Head outdoors and go camping.
29. Spend an afternoon playing, climbing, and exploring one of New Jersey's mega indoor fun complexes, like iPlay America or Branchburg Sports.
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.
Top photo: Zip atop the trees at Mountain Creek. Photo courtesy of Mountain Creek.
Originally published 2013; updated for 2017.