20 Winter Day Trips For NJ Families
Freezing weather can lead to stir-crazy kids (and parents), so we've pulled together a list of more than 25 great winter day trip ideas for New Jersey families.
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 for New Jersey families.
Editor's note: While we are trying to promote safer activities that occur outdoors or with social distancing guidelines in place, please keep your family and others safe by always wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. If you arrive at an event that appears too crowded, try using the “nearby” search feature on our Event Calendar to find something else to do.
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 2020-21 are currently available.
3. Ice Skating – Various locations
Several seasonal outdoor rinks are open for the winter.
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 for visits.
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. Everyone can enter for FREE through Thursday, December 31, with the donation of non-perishable food items, new toys, or gently used coats.
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
2020 update: Duke Farms is closed on weekends during COVID.
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. Hunterdon County's event will be virtual this year.
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 a Hudson River exhibit, then playing on the newly reopened Infinity Climber that's suspended from the ceiling. To plan your LSC visit, check out our review and the reopening plan. 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 train lovers of all ages. Children under 3 are FREE.
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. Note that the multilevel climbing and bounce structure and Cafe Stage are currently closed due to the pandemic. Also, pack all your belongings (diaper bags, too!) in a clear plastic bag; they're required for contactless security checks.
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. The audio tour is not running during the pandemic, but the Laboratory Complex Courtyard, parking lots, and Glenmont Grounds are open most Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11am-4pm. All buildings, including Glenmont Mansion and restrooms, remain closed. Entrance fees are currently being waived while under COVID-19 restrictions.
Indoor Day Trip Destinations for New Jersey Families
17. American Dream Amusement Park – East Rutherford
American Dream has been well worth the wait. The spot is home to many family-friendly activities like Nickelodeon Universe—the Western Hemisphere's biggest indoor amusement park. Big Snow, North America's first and only indoor, real-snow, year-round ski and snow resort, is open as well. 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.
18. Bowling – Various 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 – Various locations
2020 update: Please click through to each venue to ensure it has reopened and determine whether advance tickets are required before you head out.
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 2020.