Being stuck inside on a cold, blustery day with your kids climbing the walls is far from our idea of a good time. Lucky for us, New Jersey has no shortage of ways to keep young 'uns entertained and active this winter, from museums and indoor play spaces to bowling alleys, dine-in move theaters, and roller rinks.
Bundle up your little ones and hit the road to check out one of these 50 fun ideas. Kid-friendly shows, drop-in arts & crafts, and sporty fun zones are just some of our favorite indoor activities guaranteed to cure cabin fever.
Read on for our list of the best of what New Jersey has to offer for the whole family this winter season. And be sure to check out our January GoList and Events Calendar for even more great ideas. Stay warm, NJ!
See Ariel and Price Eric at Disney on Ice: Reach for the stars. Photo courtesy of Disney
1. Watch Mickey Mouse and his pals Anna, Elsa, Ariel, Belle, and Rapunzel skate their hearts out at Disney on Ice!: Reach For the Stars at the Prudential Center January 4-7.
2. Lace up your own skates at one of New Jersey’s many state-of-the-art indoor skating centers. Many feature skate rentals, snack bars, and warming rooms.
3. Don’t like ice or cold? Get your skate on at one of these great roller rinks, and boogie like it’s 1985.
Your kids won't be disappointed with this classic train show at the Garden State Model Railway Club. Photo courtesy of the club
4. Wow your little train enthusiast with a trip to the Garden State Model Railway Club's annual show January 7.
5. Put those new year diets on pause and indulge in a doughnut crawl to find the best in the state!
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Give the kids a break from shopping at this sweet new play space with activities for all ages. Photo by Danielle Halibey
6. Bribe your kids to accompany you to the mall for post-holiday returns with a stop at the new Westfield Garden State Plaza's PlaySpace, or another FREE mall play space.
7. Make the most of your time at the mall with a free—or nearly free—class, craft, or storytime at the Apple Store, Pottery Barn Kids, Barnes & Noble, and other stores.
8. Combine dinner and movie at one of New Jersey’s several dine-in movie theaters with the adventures of Paddington 2 (opens January 12) or Peter Rabbit (February 9).
9. Celebrate the grand re-opening weekend of Imagine That!!! Museum January 13-14 after months of renovations.
Audience participation is encouraged in this fantastic underwater bubble show! Photo courtesy of the show
10. Pop bubbles at a sensory-filled performance of B-The Underwater Bubble Show on January 14 at BergenPAC.
11. Keep little ones busy and warm at a budget-friendly play space that costs less than $15 per kid.
12. Schools are closed on January 15 for MLK Day, so start your Day of Service at Reeves-Reed Arboretum. Kids can make a card from recycled materials to be delivered to a local hospital patient on Valentine's Day.
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Get young learners excited about science and technology at Liberty Science Center's awe-inspiring planetarium. Photo courtesy of the planetarium
13. Stargaze from inside the largest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere at Liberty Science Center.
Visit the land of Sodor at the Liberty Science Center. Photo courtesy of the museum
14. While at the Liberty Science Center, surprise your little engineer with a visit to the Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails exhibit.
15. Participate in the Small Explorer Series at NJ State Museum the third Saturday of every month. Winter themes include Animal Hibernation (January 20), African-American Artists (February 17), and Dinosaurs (March 17).
16. Come dressed as your favorite character to Liberty Hall Museum's Frozen Ball January 27. Warm up at the hot chocolate bar, and enjoy crafts, games, and special appearances.
17. Wow your little fan of big wheels with tickets to the Monster Jam Triple Threat Series at the Prudential Center January 27-28.
18. Burn off some energy and bounce at an indoor trampoline or bounce house.
Have jam session at the GRAMMY Museum. Photo courtesy of the museum
19. Rock out with your tiny musician at the GRAMMY Museum Experience at the Prudential Center in honor of the awards show airing January 28.
20. Spend the day "underwater" with sea life at Adventure Aquarium.
21. Pretend it's summer and make a splash at an indoor water park.
22. Save the zoo for the spring and come meet some new animals indoors at Rizzo’s Reptile Discovery or Insectropolis.
23. Head to the Museum of Early Trades & Crafts on February 1 to learn about the origins of Groundhog Day, make a holiday craft, and enjoy stories and snacks.
24. Snag tickets for a kid-friendly performance of Curious George (February 3), The Cat in the Hat (February 5); or Cinderella (February 9-10).
The NFL Experience transports visitors from the stands to the field in this immersive, interactive exhibit. Photo courtesy of the NFL Experience
25. Kick off Super Bowl 2018 on February 4 with a trip to the NFL Experience in Times Square in NYC. Pint-sized fans can become their favorite NFL players for the day.
26. Strike it big with a fun outing to a family-friendly bowling alley.
27. Skip the mess at home and drop-in at an arts & crafts studio for painting, pottery making, jewelry designing, and even glassblowing.
28. Make Valentine’s Day weekend a family affair with Family Date Night at Jenkinson’s Aquarium February 9-10.
29. Chocolate lovers should head to the Morris Museum's Chocolate Festival on February 10 for games, tasty crafts, and a special performance.
30. Ring in the Year of the Dog on February 10 with a Chinese New Year performance by the Nai-Ni Chen dance company at NJPAC.
31. SOPAC's Stinky Cheese Man & Other Fairly Stupid Tales on February 10 hilariously re-imagines classic fairy tales by swapping characters among stories.
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You won't run out of activities at iPlay America. Photo courtesy of iPlay America
32. When it's too chilly for the boardwalk, ride the bumper cars and carousel at iPlay America indoor amusement park.
33. Keep older kids entertained with paintball or laser tag.
34. In honor of Fat Tuesday and National Pancake Day on February 13, enjoy a free short stack at IHOP.
35. Take your kids out for a date-night dinner at a restaurant where kids eat free certain nights of the week.
36. Inspire your little builder at LEGO Live NYC February 16-18 where kids get to design, create, and play with millions of bricks.
37. Spend your President's Day (February 19) at the State Theatre NJ's Family Day, which includes a performance of Mr. Popper's Penguins, plus face painting, balloon animals, food, and more.
38. Or use your day off to take a day trip to PA to visit the Crayola Experience in Easton, Philly’s Please Touch Museum, or Westchester's Legoland Discovery Center.
39. Pirates or Scarlet Knights? Get a jump on March Madness by taking your little sports fan to a college hoops game.
40. While you watch the games, your kids can hone their arcade skills at the first Dave & Busters in NJ.
41. Wander the shelves at your local library or independent bookstore and let your kids pick a new read.
42. Roll up your sleeves for a family art project every Sunday at Montclair Art Museum.
43. Want even more culture? Visit any of NJ's great museums, where children's programs and kid-friendly exhibits are often on offer.
44. Tee up for glow-in-the-dark mini golf fun and see who can score a hole-in-one.
Challenge the whole family with rock climbing or an indoor obstacle course at High Exposure. Image courtesy the gym
45. Instead of climbing the walls at home, take the kids to do some rock climbing.
46. Work together as a family to find your way out of one of these family-friendly escape rooms.
47. Celebrate the birthday of one of the most beloved children's authors at Morris Museums's Dr. Seuss Family Day March 3.
48. Songwriter Suzi Shelton brings her catchy, danceable pop-rock songs to a FREE Milk & Cookies performance at State Theatre NJ on March 3.
49. Spice up your kids' culinary skills with a hands-on cooking class.
50. Cross off an activity from our list of 30 things to do with preschoolers before they turn 5.
Top photo courtesy of the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia