Morris

A Dozen Must-Do Holiday Activities for New Jersey Kids

There are five weekends from December 1 to January 1, and hundreds of ways to fill them. Overwhelmed by the possibilities? If you’re looking for fun activities the kids will love that don’t cost an arm and a leg, look no further than our list of the best family outings worth adding to your busy December to-do list. From holiday light shows to breakfast with Santa, we’ve compiled 12 great memory-making activities for this month.

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

15 Stores That Offer Free and Cheap Classes for NJ Kids

Extracurricular activities create enriching experiences for kids, but they can also take a toll on your wallet. While kids are encouraged to explore their passions, the price tag on sports teams, dance classes, and art lessons can be overwhelming.

The good news is that stores throughout the state offer free—and nearly free—classes that allow you to save money while developing your family’s interests. These low- or no-cost classes, crafts, storytimes, and other activities are great ways to fill in schedule gaps without busting your budget.

Many stores have various locations, so be sure to check the websites for local schedules.

Restaurants Open for Thanksgiving Dinner in New Jersey

Not feeling up to hosting Thanksgiving this year? Here's something to be thankful for: There are plenty of restaurants open throughout the state on Thanksgiving Day. Having your holiday out means that you can sit back and enjoy the party—and you won't have to wash a single dish.

We've chosen 20 of New Jersey's best spots to enjoy a holiday feast. Call ahead for a reservation, and then use your extra time to plan some fall fun with the family, or try out one of these Thanksgiving crafts. Happy Thanksgiving!

Best Trick-or-Treating Neighborhoods in New Jersey

Halloween is nearly here, and in several New Jersey neighborhoods the locals are thinking, “Bring it on!” These Halloween-obsessed towns deck out their homes every year with fabulous decorations that delight trick-or-treaters big and small. Others turn their streets into festive Halloween block parties.

Where can you join in the fun near your home? We’ve compiled a list of more than 30 towns and neighborhoods that are worth a visit. Those who make the trip can expect lots of treats—not to mention some prime photo ops.

Find more fun in our New Jersey Halloween Guide, including pumpkin patches and the best FREE Halloween events for local kids.

Polar Express and Christmas Trains for New Jersey Kids

Every year, New Jersey's railroads get decked out in their holiday best to offer special Christmas-themed rides for the whole family. Wait—Christmas? We know, it's a bit early to start hauling out the holly, but these rides are a popular holiday tradition, and they sell out fast!

Though these trains don't go all the way to the North Pole, most include a visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, along with treats, caroling, and stories. One storybook Santa train invites kids to wear their pajamas and hear a classic Christmas story read aloud on the rails, while another ferries passengers to a Christmas tree farm.

Read on to find out where to take a holiday train ride with Santa Claus, and book your tickets as soon as possible. Then you can put Christmas aside for a while and get back to your fall fun.  

Great Swamp: Year-Round Nature Trails for New Jersey Kids

There’s something magical about stepping onto a wooded trail with your kids, with a soundtrack of chattering birds and the sunlight peeking through the canopy. While New Jersey has no shortage of parks, reservations, or nature centers, one of my family’s go-to spots for this type of get-back-to-nature excursion is the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.

It spans several towns in Morris County and nearly 8,000 acres. Formed by melting glaciers 25,000 years ago and protected as a registered National Natural Landmark in 1966, the area is now managed and maintained by national, state, and local groups.

There are myriad hiking trails with boardwalks above the swamp, drop-in family programs, nature centers, and plenty of chances for fall foliage and wildlife sightings. Read on for our favorite exploration spots for NJ kids at this beautiful nature refuge.

Cool Pumpkin Displays, Festivals, and Decorating Events in NJ

Are your kids already preparing for Halloween, with visions of candy, costumes, and pumpkins dancing in their heads? Kick off the festive fall season at one of the many wonderful pumpkin-themed events happening around NJ, from elaborate pumpkin exhibits and carving competitions to good old-fashioned pumpkin picking and decorating fun.

Read on for our top picks, plus a bonus event that’s worth a drive across the state line. You can find even more even seasonal events in our Fall Fun Guide

Halloween and Fall Foliage Train Rides for New Jersey Kids

Halloween and hayrides go hand in hand, but if you really want to up your game this year, take a trip on a Halloween train! If you have a junior conductor in your family, don't miss out on one of these four seasonal NJ railway adventures. From spooky to scenic, these rides offer a unique bit of fall fun for the whole family: passengers can take a seat in a vintage caboose, travel through gorgeous fall foliage, visit a pumpkin patch, and even trick-or-treat onboard. After the ride, round out the day with autumn activities like corn mazes, crafts, and a costume party.

Check out our NJ Fall Fun Guide for even more seasonal family fun around the state.

Harvest Festivals, Hayrides, and Fall Fair Fun in New Jersey

The air is crisp, the apples are ripe, and fall fair and harvest festival season is about to get underway! We've rounded up two dozen great harvest fests in New Jersey, all packed with signature autumn activities like hayrides, corn mazes, pumpkin decorating (and picking), pie contests, scarecrow making, live animals, live music, and more. Some even incorporate a little early Halloween fun.

Read on to find an event near you, including the Great Pumpkin Festival, the Fall Festival at Spruce Street Harbor Park, the Blackwood Pumpkin Festival, and more.

For more seasonal activities around the Garden State, be sure to check out our Fall Fun Guide and our list of 35 Things We Can't Wait To Do with NJ Kids This Fall

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