Indoor Activities: 35 Ways to Spend a Rainy Day in NJ

Hit the ball pit at Xtreme Energy the next time rainy day skies ruin your outdoor fun. Photo by Kaylynn Ebner
Hit the ball pit at Xtreme Energy the next time rainy day skies ruin your outdoor fun. Photo by Kaylynn Ebner

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.

Kids in silhouette looking at The Adventure Aquarium exhibits
Spend a day exploring the Adventure Aquarium. Photo courtesy of the aquarium

3. Visit an Aquarium

Dive into some family fun with a visit to the aquarium. You and your kiddos can get up close to sea life at Jenkinson's Aquarium or Adventure Aquarium in Camden.

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.

RELATED: Art Studios Offering Drop-in Classes and Take-Home Kits

Light Bright wall at the Liberty Science Center
Spend the day exploring the Liberty Science Center. Photo courtesy of LSC

6. Explore the Liberty Science Center

You can easily spend an entire day at the Liberty Science Center, from the special exhibits to its state-of-the-art planetarium.

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.

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

10. Drop in for Arts and Crafts

Around the Corner Art Center offers walk-in canvas painting, pottery making, and more. Many arts and crafts spots offer at-home art kits ready for pick up as well.

11. Work Out the Wiggles

Little ones can engage in imaginative play at Tay + Te or Magic Sky Play.

12. Get Creative

You only need a few simple materials, mostly things you have around the house, to make these simple crafts for preschoolers or DIY sensory activities for babies.

RELATED: Indoor Obstacle Courses, Ninja Warrior Training, and Aerial Arts for NJ Kids

Conquer the monkey bars at Exceptional Explorers on the next rainy day in New Jersey
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.

RELATED: Guide to Indoor Play Spaces for New Jersey Kids

Girl explores the color wheel at Imagine That!
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.

Nickelodeon Universe is guaranteed to make you forget about a bad weather day
The Slime of Your Life at Nickelodeon Universe. Photo by Elaine Quilici

21. Enjoy the Thrill

Amusement parks aren't just for summer: Go for a whirl at American Dream's Nickelodeon Universe and DreamWorks Water Park.

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

Hit the ice and glide around an indoor skating rink like North Jersey's Skyland's Ice World and Aspen Ice Arena.

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

25. Make a Splash

Get wet and wild at an indoor water park like Sahara Sam's in West Berlin or the Kartrite in the Catskills.

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'

Have some indoor STEM fun with your mini maker at Genius Gems in Millburn or 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

29. Tee Up

Tee up for glow-in-the-dark mini golf, including at Blacklight Mini Golf, now open at American Dream.

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.

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

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.

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