Freezing weather can lead to stir-crazy kids (and parents), so we've pulled together this list of great winter day trips from New Jersey for families. Bundle up for a day of snow tubing or watch the wolves wrestle in their snowy habitat at the Lakota Wolf Preserve. If you're dreaming of summer days, check out an indoor water park, where kids can splash the day away, or visit the Adventure Aquarium to see penguins, sharks, and stingrays in action. Whether your crew loves outdoor adventures, or prefers indoor pursuits, read on to find the perfect winter activity for you from this list of 25 winter day trips from New Jersey for families.
Find all our picks for seasonal fun in our Winter Fun Guide and bookmark our Day Trips Guide for all-seasons destinations.
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Have a blast snow tubing at Mountain Creek. Photo courtesy of Mountain Creek
Winter Sports Day Trips from New Jersey for Families
This ever-popular ski spot is busy on holiday weekends for good reason: It offers the best nearby ski experience for New Jersey families. With 46 runs, snow tubing, and a vertical drop of 1,000 feet, this mountain has something for everyone. Consider purchasing a season pass or ticket package if you plan to go more than once.
Perfect for beginners and young skiers, Campgaw Mountain offers group and private lessons for ages 6 and under and a dedicated beginner hill with magic carpets for easy access to the top. The mountain also offers snow tubing, and advance tickets are recommended. Tickets go on sale six days before the day you would like to visit. Season passes for 2022-23 are currently available.
3. Ice Skating – Multiple Locations
Several seasonal outdoor rinks are open for the winter.
There's lots to see and explore at this open-air festival overlooking downtown Newark with ice skating, go-karting, curbside eats, and a bustling marketplace. Located directly across the street from the Prudential Center, check out a local restaurant to make a full day of your time in Newark.
RELATED: A Dozen Easy Hikes in NJ for Families with Small Children
Go wolf watching and learn all about the beautiful creatures at the Lakota Wolf Preserve. Photo courtesy of the preserve
Animal-Inspired Winter Day Trips from New Jersey
Join a guided tour of the wolf terrain, learn about wolves' social pack behavior, watch them play in the snow, and maybe even hear them howl. Do note, however, that reservations are required.
Explore coral reefs and laugh at the penguins' slip-and-slide antics. Check the website for daily shark, penguin, and seal feeding times.
This Essex County gem is home to hyenas, giraffes, wolves, black bears, and more amazing creatures. Take a ride on the beloved endangered species carousel, which is perfect in any weather. The zoo is open daily from 10am-3pm. Parking is FREE, as are children under 2.
RELATED: The Best NJ Zoos and Aquariums for Animal Encounters with Kids
Enjoy an under-the-sea day trip at the Adventure Aquarium. Photo courtesy of the aquarium
Wave hello to beloved hippos Genny and Button, gaze at the stingrays and sharks, or check out the adorable blue penguin colony.
NJ Day Trips to Take in Nature's Glory
Choose from 18 miles of well-maintained, paved trails that meander through gardens and woodlands and see wildlife, sculptures, and even a timed, manmade waterfall. This gorgeous park is perfect for a walk or bike ride.
Explore the beautiful Reeves-Reed Arboretum, which often hosts family-friendly events like animal-focused nature walks, stories, and crafts. Bookmark the event calendar for all the upcoming happenings.
This 8,000-acre park has a slew of hiking trails with boardwalks above the swamp, nature centers, and plenty of chances for wildlife sightings.
Several NJ farms and nature preserves have annual maple sugaring events come January and February. Registration is already underway for the events at Tenafly Nature Center.
RELATED: Great Day Trips from New Jersey to State Parks and Forests
The Liberty Science Center offers plenty of exhibits, whether your kids want to explore or romp. Photo courtesy of Liberty Science Center
Garden State Day Trips Full of Discovery and Exploration
This 300,000-square-foot educational center on the Jersey City waterfront is jam-packed with exciting hands-on STEM learning activities, including Wobbly World, for kids of all ages. For more options, don't miss our guide to Northern New Jersey museums.
Perfect for budding artists, this museum, better known as MAM, hosts various family programs throughout the year. Don't miss the large sculptures that sit on the grounds outside the museum. There are plenty more family-friendly activities in this bustling town.
Music lovers of all ages adore the chance to check out the Murtogh D. Guinness Collection of 750 mechanical musical instruments, ranging from a player piano to intricate music boxes. There's also a model train exhibit that fascinates all ages, and curious kids will be thrilled with a visit to the maker space. Children under 3 are FREE.
RELATED: 14 Inexpensive Winter Weekend Getaways for NYC-Area Families
Get artsy at the Crayola Experience. Photo courtesy of the museum
Young doodlers love a trip to this brightly colored wonderland. Hands-on art projects featuring crayons, markers, clay, and painting equals tired and happy kids.
Travel back in time and discover where America's greatest inventor changed the modern world. Thomas Edison's home and laboratory are a must-see for budding inventors.
Indoor Day Trips from New Jersey for Families
American Dream is home to many family-friendly activities like Nickelodeon Universe. You can also go ice skating on an NHL-size rink, play a round of Angry Bird mini golf, and visit a three-story candy shop. Want more? There's even an indoor water park, plus a SeaLife Aquarium and Legoland Discovery Center.
19. Bowling – Multiple Locations
From low-key neighborhood bowling alleys to neon-lit, arcade-style bowling centers, nothing beats a game of tenpin on a blustery afternoon.
Too chilly for the boardwalk? This indoor amusement park combines classic rides like bumper cars and a carousel with carnival games, laser tag, bowling, restaurants, and a sweet shop—all inside one cavernous space.
Even when the weather outside is frightful, it's always a balmy 85 degrees inside these indoor water parks. Dust off that bathing suit, make a splash, and pretend like it's summer again.
Burn off some energy without having to bundle up and bounce on an indoor trampoline or bounce house.
Soar to new heights at an indoor rock climbing facility that's fun for the whole family.
24. Futsal – Multiple Locations
Get in on the action and learn a new sport. Futsal is an indoor soccer game growing in popularity in New Jersey.
From Frogger to VR, these top NJ arcades blend old and new. Check out new games, updates of old faves, and even virtual reality adventures.
Originally published in 2017.