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, check out our ideas for rainy day fun at home and make the most of those rain clouds!
Spend a day exploring Adventure Aquarium. Photo courtesy of the aquarium.
1. Get up close to sea life at Jenkinson's Aquarium or Adventure Aquarium.
2. Visit a local museum, where children's programs and kid-friendly exhibits are often on offer.
3. Explore the special exhibits at Liberty Science Center and check out a stellar show at its new, state-of-the-art planetarium.
Paint or make pottery at Around the Corner Art Center in Freehold and Morganville. Photo courtesy of Around the Corner.
4. Head to a drop-in arts and crafts session for painting, pottery making, jewelry designing, and even glassblowing.
5. Entertain young children with an afternoon at the Garden State Discovery Museum.
6. Play pinball or classic video games at game cafes in Hoboken or Morristown.
7. Explore and play at the newly remodeled Imagine That!!! museum and play space in Florham Park.
RELATED: Splash and Slide at Indoor Water Parks for NJ Families
Take a mini vacation at Sahara Sam's. Photo courtesy of the venue
8. Splash the day away at an indoor water park.
9. If you'd rather do some outdoor splashing, pull on your rain boots and hike to a nature center to stomp in as many puddles as you can (these spots offer plenty of indoor fun, too!).
10. Have some fun with your food at a themed restaurant.
11. Get creative with these simple crafts for preschoolers or with these DIY sensory activities for babies.
12. Browse a local independent bookstore and let each child choose a new book.
Jump, bounce, and slide at Pump It Up. Photo courtesy of the venue
13. Bounce all your energy out at an indoor trampoline park or bounce house, including the new Sky Zone in Springfield.
14. Check out one of New Jersey's newest indoor play spaces, including The Busy Bee in Millburn and Play City in Weehawken.
15. Battle it out and burn off some energy with a round of laser tag.
RELATED: Free Admission for Kids at 50 of NJ's Biggest Family Attractions
Glowing Putt-Putt at Monster Mini Golf. Photo by njn917 via Flickr.
16. Tee up for glow-in-the-dark fun at Monster Mini Golf.
17. Climb, swing, and balance like a ninja at an indoor obstacle course.
18. Boogie around a roller rink like it's 1985.
iPlay America has more than 200+ games, rides, laser tag, go karts and many other attractions to keep kids happy and busy on a rainy day. Photo courtesy of the venue
19. Try your luck at carnival games, ride a mini roller coaster, or hone your arcade skills at iPlay America.
20. Grab a coffee or hot chocolate and let your youngest kiddos play at one of these FREE indoor playspots, including Garden State Plaza's newly revamped play space.
21. Rock out with a local kindie band.
22. Or take your little music lover to the new GRAMMY Museum Experience in Newark.
23. Wow your mini train enthusiast with a trip to this model railroad museum.
RELATED: A Dozen Museums for Kids and Families in Central and Southern NJ
Treat yourself and the kids to a treat at the Montclair Bakery. Photo courtesy of the bakery.
24. Indulge in a sweet treat at one of New Jersey's best candy stores and sweet shops.
25. Or treat the kids (and yourself) to a delicious doughnut.
26. Dress in your finest frocks and ties for high tea.
27. Play a game of ten-pin at a modern or retro bowling alley.
28. Bring older kids to New Jersey's first family-friendly escape room, geared toward kids 8 and older.
29. Lace up your ice skates and glide around an indoor skating rink.
30. Wander the stacks at your local library, or check the library calendar for free storytimes, craft hours, or Lego building groups.
Originally published July 2012; updated for 2018.