Spend the day exploring the Liberty Science Center. Photo courtesy of LSC
Spend the day exploring the Liberty Science Center. Photo courtesy of LSC

Indoor Activities: 30 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 boredom-busters on stormy days. No matter the season, NJ has a great array of indoor fun for the whole family, from museums and indoor play spaces to bowling alleys and roller rinks.

If staying dry 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.

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-wearing are also required at most of these picks, so be prepared.

Spend a day exploring the Adventure Aquarium. Photo courtesy of the aquarium

1. Get up close to sea life at Jenkinson's Aquarium or the Adventure Aquarium.

2. Visit a local museum, like the Morris Museum, where children's programs and kid-friendly exhibits are regularly offered.

3. Explore the special exhibits at the Liberty Science Center and check out a stellar show at its state-of-the-art planetarium.

4. Hit the (indoor) slopes at Big Snow at the American Dream entertainment complex any time of year.

5. Burn off some energy at Englewood's Xtreme Energy, whether it's the tramps, ropes course, rock climbing wall, or Playscape's climbing structures and foam pit.

RELATED: Kid-Friendly Museums in Northern New Jersey

Girl paints picture of a cow
Paint or make pottery at Around the Corner Art Center in Freehold and Morganville. Photo courtesy of Around the Corner

6. Head to a drop-in arts and crafts session at Around the Corner Art Center for painting, pottery making, and more. Many arts and crafts spots offer at-home art kits ready for pick up as well.

7. Play retro video games and current favorites at one of these New Jersey arcades.

8. Introduce the kids to the Garden State's newest indoor play space, Exceptional Explorers in Livingston.

9. Engage in imaginative play for little ones at Tay + Te or Magic Sky Play.

10. Get creative with these simple crafts for preschoolers or these DIY sensory activities for babies.

RELATED: Guide to Indoor Play Spaces for New Jersey Kids

Girl explores the color wheel at Imagin That!

11. Explore and play at the remodeled Imagine That!!! museum and play space in Florham Park.

12. Browse a local bookstore, let your child choose a new book, or visit Canadian bookseller Indigo's mega-store in the Short Hills Mall.

13. Bounce all your energy out at an indoor trampoline park or bounce house like the Sky Zone in Springfield.

14. Amusement parks aren't just for summer: Explore American Dream's Nickelodeon Universe and the newly debuted DreamWorks Water Park

15. Get messy and create your own tub of slime at The Slime Factory in the Menlo Park Mall.

16. Battle it out and burn off some energy with a round of laser tag at Lively Laser Tag.

RELATED: Toys Sure to Entertain Kids for Hours and Hours Again and Again

Kids float in Sahara Sam's indoor water park's lazy river
Take a mini-vacation at Sahara Sam's. Photo courtesy of the venue

17. Splash the day away at an indoor water park like Sahara Sam's in West Berlin.

18. 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!).

19. Lace up your ice skates and glide around an indoor skating rink like North Jersey's Skyland's Ice World and Aspen Ice Arena.

20. Check out one of two Dave and Buster's locations in New Jersey.

21. Have some indoor STEM fun at Genius Gems in Millburn or the new Snapology Discovery Center in Tinton Falls.

RELATED: Free Admission for Kids at 50 of New Jersey's Biggest Family Attractions

Monster Mini Golf's glow-in-the-dark holes
Monster Mini Golf puts a new spin on putt-putt. Photo by njn917 via Flickr

22. Tee up for glow-in-the-dark fun at Monster Mini Golf, which just opened a new location at American Dream.

23. Another can't-miss indoor putt-putt spot at American Dream: Check out The Angry Birds Not So Mini Golf Club.

24. Climb, swing, and balance like a ninja at an indoor obstacle course like Hudson Play in Jersey City.

25. Go skydiving—indoors—at iFly in Paramus.

26. Try your luck at carnival games, ride a mini roller coaster, or hone your arcade skills at iPlay America.

RELATED: A Dozen Museums for Kids and Families in Central and Southern Jersey

Icing is drizzled over a collection of mini doughnuts
Sample the delicious confections at the Montclair Bakery. Photo courtesy of the bakery

27. Treat the kids (and yourself) to a delicious doughnut.

28. Or indulge in a sweet treat (and 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!

29. Dress in your finest frocks and ties for high tea at Harmony Tea Room in Westwood.

30. Bring older kids to New Jersey's first family-friendly escape room, Escape Room Center, geared toward kids 8 and older.

This post, originally published in July 2012, is updated annually.

Cattus Island Nature Walks
Cattus Island County Park - 2:00 PM Pick
Easter and Springtime Family Festival
Alstede Farms - various times Pick
Live Animal Talks
Jake Branch County Park Nature Center - various times Pick
Cape May County Park & Zoo - 10:00 AM
Neighborhood Guides
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