Seaside Heights

A Dozen Must-Do Holiday and Christmas Experiences for NJ Kids

This year, 2018, has the earliest possible date for Thanksgiving: November 22. What we lost in turkey prep time, we'll make up for in a lovely, elongated holiday season on the road to Christmas and New Year's. In between your Christmas shopping and holiday to-dos, we've assembled our annual list of activities kids will love—and won't cost an arm and a leg. From holiday light shows to breakfast with Santa to Christmas trains, we’ve compiled 12 great memory-making activities for this month.

Check out our full calendar of events and our holiday guide for even more options.

Where To Rent Paddleboats and Rowboats in New Jersey

Looking for a great summer outing that’ll float the family’s boat? A ride in a paddleboat (sometimes called a pedal boat) or rowboat offers panoramic views of New Jersey's scenic parks and lakes, and an opportunity for family time that may actually be peaceful. 

Paddleboat rentals are available throughout the state. Check the specific paddling locations for any age or weight restrictions, then sit back and enjoy the ride. (And don't forget the sunscreen!)

Feeling more adventurous? Find the best places for tubing and rafting in and around NJ.

Island Beach State Park: A Haven for Nature-Loving Beachgoers

There's more to the Jersey Shore than rides, salt water taffy, and (let's face it) crowds. Island Beach State Park (IBSP) may well be one of NJ most beautiful and unique beaches, drawing thousands of nature enthusiasts every year.

Though you'd get to Island Beach from the same Garden State Parkway exit as Seaside Heights, the two beaches are worlds apart. Ten-mile long Island Beach is situated between the Atlantic Ocean and Barnegat Bay and is one of the last few undeveloped barrier beaches on the North Atlantic Coast. From hiking to bike riding, and, of course, swimming, here are some things outdoorsy families will love about Island Beach.

Get Merry and Go Round on Unique Carousels with NJ Kids

With all the crazy thrill rides found in theme parks these days, there’s something simply magical about taking a spin on an old-fashioned carousel. Often one of the first rides a child gets to experience, carousels have a special way of making even the most timid tiny ones crack a smile, and they’re a treat for all ages. New Jersey is home to both traditional and turned-up-a-notch carousels, and you don’t have to trek far to find one. Hop on a carousel at one of the area malls for a year-round shopping distraction, go for a spin in a park or zoo, or catch views of the Atlantic from a Jersey shore carousel on the Boardwalk.

We’ve rounded up 15 of the best and most unique carousels in and around NJ, so pack up your little ponies and give them a whirl.

100 Things To Do in New Jersey with Kids Before They Grow Up

Now that my oldest child is a 'tween, I understand that phrase I heard often during those difficult baby/toddler times: "The days are long, but the years are short." Thankfully, filling those short years with quality bonding time is even easier with our top 100 not-to-be-missed family activities right here in New Jersey.

From indoor play to awesome zoos, and from quiet fun to thrill-seeking adventures, there's tons of incredible stuff to make memories that will last forever. We have beautiful forests for hiking, beaches for lounging, and cool playgrounds and parks—all of which make for a great day trip with Jersey kids.

NEW: We have a free printable version with the best anytime NJ activities from this list. Print it out and stick it on your fridge to inspire you any time you need an activity idea.

Read on for our 100 best things to do right now in NJ.

70 Things To Do with Kids at the Jersey Shore

There's nothing better than lazy, relaxing summer days at the beaches of the Jersey Shore with its miles of sandy coastline. Of course, at some point the kids are going to want to get up and do and see something, right?

If you're looking for ways to keep the kids entertained during a vacation at the shore this summer, this list of 70 family-friendly activities for toddlers to teens all up and down the New Jersey coast should hit the spot. We've even included a number of FREE things to do.

For more fun down the shore, check out our Jersey Shore Guide, which includes information on amusement parks and water parks, top beaches, best boardwalks, and more.

Quirky Christmas: Some NJ Holiday Events You May Not Have Heard Of

We all have our favorite holiday traditions, whether it's viewing annual light displays, cutting down a Christmas tree, or having breakfast with Santa. All good stuff, to be sure. But if you're thinking you might like to mix up your holiday adventures a bit, check out some of these, shall we say, "off the beaten path" ideas. We've got activities that will take you on a boat, to an alpaca farm, and even back in time. Because sometimes parents need to throw something new into the mix to keep kids on their toes. And who knows? One of them might become a new favorite. For even more ways to celebrate the season, check out the December GoList and our Holiday Guide.

New Jersey Theater Alliance Stages Festival: Your Guide to Kid-Friendly Shows

If you'd like to introduce your kids to the magic of theater, check out the performances and theater-related activities that are a part of the 2016 New Jersey Theatre Alliance Stages Festival. With over 80 kid-friendly performances, workshops, classes, and camp samplers offered throughout New Jersey free or at low-cost, The Stages Festival is the perfect introduction to professional theater for children of all ages.  All events are produced by the professional theaters of New Jersey. According to Ruth Zamoyta, the New Jersey Theatre Alliance Stages' Development & Communications Director, parents love live performances because "they get the kids off the computer, off the phone, and even away from the screens that you find on the TV or in the movie theater."  She adds,  when it comes to the workshops, mini-camps, and classes, "kids get to express themselves freely and creatively. In all Stages events, participants come away with a feeling of togetherness--live theatre is a shared experience, and the workshops and classes are collaborative."

Downtown Trick-or-Treating in New Jersey

The countdown to trick-or-treat is on! If you’re not ready to send your little goblins door-to-door, bring them store-to-store at one of New Jersey’s thrilling downtown trick-or-treat events. Collecting goodies from your favorite local retailers is a safe, organized alternative to traditional trick-or-treating and a great way to support local businesses. Take a stroll downtown for these free, family-friendly Halloween festivities. Maybe you can sneak in a little shopping while you’re there. And if you’re heading to the shore, pile on the treats at a boardwalk Halloween event. For more Halloween fun, visit Mommy Poppins New Jersey Halloween Guide.

Ocean County, NJ: Beaches, Parks, Theater for Families

Ocean County, New Jersey, plays host to some of the state's top beaches, including Seaside Heights, Long Beach Island, and Point Pleasant. There are boardwalk amusement park rides, games, and eats aplenty. But there's more than just the shore to Ocean County. In close proximity to NYC, Philadelphia, and Atlantic City, this area has appeal to vacationers and transplants with its laid-back beach communities and great restaurants, but also arts and culture.

We're rounding up our favorite places in the county to visit with the kids, including Strand Theater, a maritime village, several play and nature spots in Toms River, and yes, those gorgeous seaside towns. Take a look at this list of our top picks for NJ kids and families in Ocean County as you plan your family getaway or day trip. And for more shore fun, check out our Jersey Shore Family Guide.

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