Home sweet Hoboken. The small-town city where strollers, school kids, dogs and twenty-somethings come together is more vibrant than ever. With family-friendly parks, cafes, markets, and play spaces packed into this walkable city, it's no wonder so many young families love it. From kid-friendly entertainment and restaurants to festivals and museums, what's not to love about the Mile Square City? For small towns in New Jersey, Hoboken is tops. Read on for 40 of our favorite, mostly FREE, things to do in Hoboken.
Urban Jungle Play is perfect for little builders and climbers. Photo courtesy of Urban Jungle Play.
1. Build something amazing with the Imagination Playground blocks at Urban Jungle Play, climb the jungle gym, or let your little ones loose in the soft play zone. Drop-off available.
2. Tumble, climb, and dance at Kidville, jump in the toddler ball pit Romparoo, or crawl through the play tunnels at My Gym.
3. Wiggle with your baby at Mommy and Me Zumbini, a combo of music and zumba for the under-4 set.
4. Watch mega cruise ships and NY Waterway ferries sail along the Hudson or count helicopters soaring into the heliport across the river.
5. Eat, drink, shop, and listen to live music at the Hoboken Arts and Music Festival on Washington Street. The kids' zone features bounce houses, performances, and games.
Navigate the hay maze at the Harvest Festival. Photo courtesy of the City of Hoboken.
6. Can't make it to a farm for pumpkin picking this year? Head to the Harvest Festival in October, when Pier A Park is full of pony rides, a hay maze, petting zoo, and pumpkin painting.
7. No backyard? Grab a seat at Pier 13, a family-friendly beer garden and food truck destination with a breathtaking view of Manhattan.
8. Coast on bicycles along the river from Pier A to Harborside Park.
9. Train-loving tots will love a tour of the historic Hoboken Terminal (just not during rush hour).
10. Explore the city's history at the Hoboken Historical Museum, which holds family-friendly events throughout the year. Come on Thursdays for a free storytime featuring stories and songs about city life.
11. Check out an old-time fire truck at the Fire Department Museum and let the kids pretend to drive. On the third Sunday of the month, the museum offers free tours geared toward kids ages 2–6.
12. Stroll along the Hudson River waterfront promenade.
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Go kayaking on the Hudson. Photo courtesy of the Cove Boathouse.
13. Strap on a life vest and try kayaking on the Hudson at the Cove Boathouse.
14. Skate the ramps and half-pipes at Castle Point Skate Park, a great spot for your budding X Gamer.
15. Dash through sprinklers at Church Square Park or climb the jungle gym at Elysian Park.
16. Trike or scoot around the waterfront path at Maxwell Park or reserve some court time for tennis or basketball at Columbus Park.
Check out the amazing playground at Pier C Park. Photo by Shinya Suzuki/CC BY-ND 2.0.
17. Race around the grassy lawn at Pier A Park or slide down the tunnel tube at Pier C Park.
18. Enjoy weekly puppet shows from Puppetonia at Symposia Bookstore.
19. Spread out a blanket in Shipyard Park on summer Tuesday evenings for Family Fun Nights concerts.
20. Rock out to Hoboken's own family-friendly jam band, The Fuzzy Lemons.
21. Paint and craft outdoors with toddlers at Art in the Park.
22. Roam the stacks at the historic Hoboken Public Library, built in 1897, or head upstairs to the children's room for storytime. Check website for event schedules.
23. Swim indoors at SkyClub or Stevens Aquatics with a membership fee.
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Enjoy some old-school gaming at Aether Game Cafe. Photo by Shari Simpson.
24. Spend an afternoon playing Clue, Pictionary, Kerplunk, Candyland, and other board games at Aether Game Cafe.
25. When summer rolls around, watch a family Movie Under the Stars at Pier A.
26. Catch a family-friendly play in the park—StoryBook Theater presents two shows every summer.
27. Taste the fresh mutz at Fiore's, Vito's, Biancamano's, or Luca Brasi's.
28. Pair that mozzarella with some Jersey tomatoes and basil from the Uptown or Downtown Farmer's Markets.
29. Get your zeppoli and street food fix at the Italian Festival in September or St. Ann's Feast in July. Live music and sausage-and-pepper sandwiches? We're in.
Schnackenberg's serves up classic milkshakes. Photo courtesy of Schnackenberg's
30. Spin on a counter stool at Schnackenberg's, a classic luncheonette serving egg creams, milkshakes, donuts, and more.
31. Enjoy a perfect macaron at Baking Mama, a tiny local bake shop known for mouth-watering cookies, cakes and macarons—including green tea, pistachio, and red velvet.
32. Indulge in a stuffed cupcake at Jaret's. Bite into gooey centers filled with flavored frostings like butterscotch, banana, caramel, Nutella, peanut butter, chocolate, and mint.
33. Have we mentioned the cannoli? Giorgio's Italian & French Pastry Shop offers a classic.
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The annual Ragamuffin Parade is a Halloween tradition. Photo courtesy of the City of Hoboken.
34. Trick out your stroller for Halloween and dress up with the crowds for the annual Ragamuffin Parade on Washington Street, followed by massive trick-or-treating.
35. Pull up a highchair for an early dinner at one of many kid-friendly restaurants, where kids eat free or with a discount: Elysian Cafe, Arthur's, Black Bear, and brunch at Halifax or Porter Collins, to name a few. Check websites for details.
36. Cheer on the Red Wings at Hoboken High School's football stadium under the Friday night lights. You can hear the Rockin' Red Wings marching band for blocks around.
37. Play soccer, baseball, softball, basketball, or flag football through the city's Recreation department for a nominal fee.
38. Join Elvis the Elf for the annual City Hall Christmas tree lighting and concert.
39. Browse homemade handicrafts at the City Hall Holiday Crafts Fair or the Historical Museum.
40. Play fetch with Fido at one of three dog parks.
Top photo: Pier A Park. Photo by Shinya Suzuki/CC BY-ND 2.0
Originally published 2011; updated for 2017.