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 Anna, Elsa, and Olaf skate their hearts out at Disney on Ice: Frozen at the Prudential Center January 3-6.
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 5-6.
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 Menlo Park Mall's new Disney Junior Play Zone, 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 Mary Poppins Returns (in theaters now) or The Lego Movie 2 (opens February 8).
9. Tots can bring their teddies (or other fave stuffies) to the Morris Museum's Teddy Bear Tea on January 12. In addition to a magical performance, delicious treats make the day complete.
10. Your kid’s favorite dolls step into the spotlight for American Girl Live, a musical inspired by the brand’s popular characters and stories, at Bergen PAC (January 17), Mayo Performing Arts Center (January 19), and Count Basie Theater (January 20).
Audience participation is encouraged in this fantastic underwater bubble show! Photo courtesy of the show
. Pop bubbles at a sensory-filled performance of B-The Underwater Bubble Show on March 30 at State Theatre New Jersey.
. Keep little ones busy and warm at a budget-friendly play space that costs less than $15 per kid.
13. TKTKTKSchools are closed on January 21 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 sleuth with a visit to the Sherlock Holmes exhibit.
15. See a caribou antler from Ice Age New Jersey, a painting by artist Ben Shahn, a 1930s flight suit from a South Jersey female pilot, Native American projectile points and much more at Objects Count, an exhibit showcasing an eclectic selection of artifacts and specimens collected by the New Jersey State Museum over the past 10 years.
16. Come dressed as your favorite character to Liberty Hall Museum's Frozen Ball January 26. 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 25-27.
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 February 10.
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. TKTK 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 at Paper Mill Playhouse of Junie B. Jones (February 16), Rosie Revere Engineer (February 23); or Henry & Mudge (March 2).
The NFL Experience transports visitors from the stands to the field in this immersive, interactive exhibit. Photo courtesy of the NFL Experience
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. TKTKMake 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 Family Fun Day on February 9 for games, tasty crafts, and a special performance.
30. Ring in the Year of the Pig with a Chinese New Year performance by the Nai-Ni Chen dance company at NJPAC January 31-February 1.
31. Based on the book of the same name, SOPAC's Amber Brown Is Not a Crayon on February 10, is a uniquely funny musical that follows Amber and her friend Justin, who is moving to Arizona and leaving Amber behind in New Jersey.
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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 March 9, 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. TKTKTK 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 18) at the State Theatre NJ's Family Day, which includes a performance of Jack Hanna's Into The Wild Live, 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 newest outpost of Dave & Busters in Wayne.
41. Wander the shelves at the new 30,000-square-foot Indigo Bookstore at Short Hills Mall 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 2.
The party continues at Jenkinson's Aquarium, which celebrates Dr. Seuss's birthday on March 2 with a Cat in the Hat storytime.
48. Enjoy an autism-friendly performance of the New Jersey Tap Dance Ensemble as part of the Milk & Cookies series at State Theatre NJ on March 2.
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