Indoor Activities: 35 Ways to Spend a Rainy Day in NJ
Rainy days may be perfect for curling up with a book or stomping in puddles, but sometimes busy kids need more than these at-home boredom-busters on stormy days. No matter the season, New Jersey has an array of great indoor fun for the whole family, from museums and indoor play spaces to bowling alleys, roller rinks, and more.
If staying in sounds better, or COVID has you on edge about exploring such public spots, we've got plenty of ideas for at-home rainy day fun, too.
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As a reminder, please click through to each venue's website for current safety precautions, and keep in mind reservations are currently required for most indoor spots. Capacity limitations, social distancing, and mask mandates are also in effect at most of these picks, so be prepared.
1. Go to the Museum
A museum like the Morris Museum that features interactive exhibits, where kids want to linger and playing is encouraged, provides the perfect rainy day escape.
2. Protect Your Furniture
If your kids have turned your couch into a trampoline or the dining room into an obstacle course, Englewood's Xtreme Energy has a ropes course, rock-climbing wall, and foam pit to burn off some energy.
Spend a day exploring the Adventure Aquarium. Photo courtesy of the aquarium
3. Visit an Aquarium
4. Check out American Dream
Nothing beats the mall on a rainy day, and American Dream is no ordinary shopping center. This larger-than-life mega mall has added two new kid-friendly destinations to its ever-expanding lineup: Sea Life Aquarium and Legoland Discovery Center.
5. Make it a Snow Day
You can also hit the (indoor) slopes at Big Snow at American Dream any time of year.
Spend the day exploring the Liberty Science Center. Photo courtesy of LSC
6. Explore the Liberty Science Center
7. Break a Sweat
Scale the walls at an indoor rock-climbing gym instead of at home. A new outpost of The Gravity Vault just opened in Montclair.
8. Get Your Game On
Play retro video games and current favorites at one of these New Jersey arcades.
9. Stroll an Indoor Boardwalk
Try your luck at carnival games, ride a mini roller coaster, or hone your arcade skills at iPlay America.
Paint or make pottery at Around the Corner Art Center in Freehold and Morganville. Photo courtesy of Around the Corner
10. Drop in for Arts and Crafts
11. Work Out the Wiggles
12. Get Creative
Exceptional Explorers offers plenty of space to play. Photo courtesy of the venue
13. Visit a New-to-You Play Space
Grab a pair of socks and introduce the kids to one of the Garden State's newest indoor play spaces, Exceptional Explorers in Livingston.
14. Get a Special Delivery
Great news for cookie lovers: Insomnia Cookies, with locations in Ewing, Hoboken, and New Brunswick, delivers fresh-based cookies right to your doorstep until 3am.
15. Collect Rocks
The Franklin Mineral Museum is perfect for your mini geologist, with thousands of displays filled with minerals and rocks to examine.
16. Take Flight
Go skydiving—indoors—at iFly in Paramus.
Imagine That is an action-packed kid spot in Florham Park with tons of kid-friendly events and appearances to boot. Photo by Margaret Hargrove
17. Expand Their Imagination
Explore and play at Imagine That museum and play space in Florham Park.
18. Shop for a New Book
Browse a local bookstore, let your child choose a new book, or visit Canadian bookseller Indigo's mega-store in the Short Hills Mall.
19. Bounce it Out
Burn off energy at an indoor trampoline park or bounce house like Sky Zone in Springfield.
20. Reach New Heights
Climb, swing, and balance like a ninja at an indoor obstacle course like Hudson Play in Jersey City.
The Slime of Your Life at Nickelodeon Universe. Photo by Elaine Quilici
21. Enjoy the Thrill
22. Get Messy
If you're anything like me, slime is off-limits at home, but slime obsessed kiddos can make their own at The Slime Factory in the Menlo Park Mall.
23. Make Music
Learn about music history and sing your hearts out the GRAMMY Museum in Newark. There's also a fantastic Whitney Houston exhibit.
24. Lace Up Your Skates
Take a mini-vacation at Sahara Sam's. Photo courtesy of the venue
25. Make a Splash
26. Tag, You're It!
Battle it out for bragging rights with a round of laser tag at Lively Laser Tag.
27. Puddle Jump
If you'd rather do some outdoor splashing, pull on your rain boots and hike to a nature center like the one at Great Swamp. Stomp in as many puddles as you can (these spots offer plenty of indoor fun, too!).
28. Blow Off Some 'STEM'
Monster Mini Golf puts a new spin on putt-putt. Photo by njn917 via Flickr
29. Tee Up
30. Take Another Swing
Another can't-miss indoor putt-putt spot at American Dream: Check out The Angry Birds Not So Mini Golf Club.
31. Play Ball
Chances are your lil' slugger has heard of Yogi Berra. At the Yogi Berra Museum, see portraits of baseball greats, vintage mitts and bats, plus the whole family can practice their pitches.
32. Skip Chuck E. Cheese
Instead, check out one of two Dave and Buster's locations in New Jersey that are just as fun for grown-ups, too.
Sample the delicious confections at the Montclair Bakery. Photo courtesy of the bakery
33. Treat the Kids (and Yourself)
Enjoy a delicious doughnut for breakfast, lunch, or even dinner (why not?).
34. Indulge a Sweet Tooth
Take a trip down memory lane at a sweet shop that sells retro candy; Black River Candy Shoppe in Chester has more than 900 candies to choose from!
35. Sip Some Tea
Dress in your finest frocks and ties for high tea at Harmony Tea Room in Westwood.
This post, originally published in July 2012, is updated annually.