20 Winter Day Trips in New Jersey for Families

The Morris Museum is packed with family-friendly fun including a brand new maker space for kids. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala
The Morris Museum is packed with family-friendly fun including a brand new maker space for kids. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala

Freezing weather can lead to stir-crazy kids (and parents), so we've pulled together a list of 20 great winter day trip ideas for New Jersey 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 20 great winter day trips in New Jersey for families.

Editor's note: Please keep in mind COVID cases are on the rise. Check with each venue before heading out for vaccination and mask requirements.

Have a blast snow tubing at Mountain Creek. Photo courtesy of Mountain Creek

Winter Sports Day Trips for New Jersey Families

1. Mountain Creek – Vernon

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 Snow Pass if you plan to go more than once.

2. Campgaw – Mahwah

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 2021-22 are currently available.

3. Ice Skating – Multiple Locations

Several seasonal outdoor rinks are open for the winter.

RELATED: A Dozen Easy Hikes in NJ for Families with Small Children

The Lakota Wolf Preserve is an awesome winter day trip destination
Go wolf-watching and learn all about these beautiful creatures at the Lakota Wolf Preserve. Photo courtesy of the preserve

Animal-Inspired Winter Day Trips

4. Lakota Wolf Preserve – Columbia

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.

5. Jenkinson's Aquarium – Point Pleasant Beach

Explore coral reefs and laugh at the penguins' slip-and-slide antics. Check the website for daily shark, penguin, and seal feeding times.

6. Turtle Back Zoo – West Orange

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

Scuba diver at the Adventure Aquarium a NJ day trip destination
Enjoy an under-the-sea day trip at the Adventure Aquarium. Photo courtesy of the aquarium

7. Adventure Aquarium – Camden

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

8. Duke Farms – Hillsborough

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.

9. Reeves-Reed Arboretum – Summit

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.

10. Great Swamp – Morris County

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. Note that the buildings are closed during the pandemic, but the trails and grounds are open.

11. Maple Sugaring – Various Locations

Several NJ farms and nature preserves have annual maple sugaring events come January and February. Registration is already underway for the February event at Tenafly Nature Center, and tickets can be reserved for Great Swamp's events in January and February.

RELATED: Great Day Trips to New Jersey State Parks and Forests

Liberty Science Center
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

12. Liberty Science Center – Jersey City

Kids love exploring skyscrapers and the Hudson River exhibit, then playing on the Infinity Climber that's suspended from the ceiling. To plan your LSC visit, check out our review. For more options, don't miss our guide to Northern New Jersey museums.

13. Montclair Art Museum – Montclair

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.

14. Morris Museum – Morris Plains

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 brand new maker space that just opened there, too. Children under 3 are FREE.

RELATED: 11 Inexpensive Winter Weekend Getaways For NYC-Area Families

The Crayola Experience offers colorful fun
Get artsy at the Crayola Experience. Photo courtesy of the museum

15. Crayola Experience – Easton, Pennsylvania

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. Its Colorful Christmas installation runs through Monday, January 3, 2022. Help Santa save Christmas as you go on a themed adventure, meet a snowman and friends as they tell stories and sing colorful carols and take a photo with a life-sized snow globe.

16. Thomas Edison National Historical Park – West Orange

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. Note that the Glenmont Mansion remains closed as a result of the pandemic.

Indoor Day Trip Destinations for New Jersey Families

17. American Dream Amusement Park – East Rutherford

American Dream is home to many family-friendly activities like Nickelodeon Universe—the Western Hemisphere's biggest indoor amusement park. 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.

18. Bowling – Multiple Locations

From low-key neighborhood alleys to neon-lit, arcade-style bowling centers, nothing beats a game of tenpin on a blustery afternoon. Check out our guide to New Jersey's top family-friendly bowling alleys.

19. iPlay America – Freehold

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.

20. Indoor Trampoline Parks – Multiple Locations

Burn off some energy without having to bundle up and bounce on an indoor trampoline or bounce house. Check out our round-up of Garden State indoor trampoline parks and bounce houses.

This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated for 2021.

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