Indoor Activities for Kids: 40 Ways to Spend a Rainy Day in NJ

Allow yourself to get drawn into the mesmerizing art at the Morris Museum next time you're looking for indoor activities for kids in New Jersey. Photo by Kaylynn Chiarello Ebner
Allow yourself to get drawn into the mesmerizing art at the Morris Museum next time you're looking for indoor activities for kids in New Jersey. Photo by Kaylynn Chiarello Ebner

Rainy days may be perfect for curling up with a book or stomping in puddles, but sometimes busy kids need more than at-home boredom-busters on stormy days. That's where these indoor activities for kids come in. No matter the season, New Jersey has an array of great indoor activities for the whole family, from museums and indoor play spaces to bowling alleys, roller rinks, and more.

If staying in sounds better, we've got plenty of ideas for at-home rainy day fun, too. Find more picks for things to do with kids on the next bad weather day in our Guide to Indoor Play Spaces in New Jersey for Kids

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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. Plus, the Spark!Lab maker studio is the perfect spot for kids to unleash their creative side.

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. Or, check out the newly opened Catch Air in Hasbrouck Heights, which has slides and climbers galore.

RELATED: Indoor Birthday Party Spots with Mega Playgrounds in NJ

Indoor activities for kids 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 the 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 a bunch of kid-friendly destinations in its ever-expanding lineup, including 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.

6. Movie Night

Break out the snacks and have a movie night—or day!

RELATED: Free Indoor Play Spots in New Jersey for Kids

Indoor activities for kids Liberty Science Center
Spend the day exploring the Liberty Science Center. Photo courtesy of LSC

7. 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.

8. Break a Sweat

Scale the walls at an indoor rock-climbing gym instead of at home. A new outpost of The Gravity Vault recently opened in Montclair.

9. Get Your Game On

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

10. 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

Indoor activities for kids Around the Corner Art Center
Paint or make pottery at Around the Corner Art Center in Freehold and Morganville. Photo courtesy of Around the Corner

11. 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.

12. Work Out the Wiggles

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

13. 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.

14. 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!

15. Sip Tea

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

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

Indoor activities for kids Exceptional Explorers
Exceptional Explorers offers plenty of space to play. Photo courtesy of the venue

16. 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.

17. Plan Your Escape

These family-friendly escape rooms offer a challenging, all-ages activity.

18. Collect Rocks

The Franklin Mineral Museum is perfect for your mini geologist, with thousands of displays filled with minerals and rocks to examine.

19. Take Flight

Go skydiving—indoors—at iFly in Paramus.

RELATED: Guide to Indoor Play Spaces in New Jersey for Kids

Indoor activities for kids 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

20. Expand Their Imagination

Explore and play at Imagine That museum and play space in Florham Park.

21. 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.

22. Bounce it Out

Burn off energy at an indoor trampoline park or bounce house like Sky Zone in Springfield.

23. Hit a Play Cafe

New Jersey is home to a handful of delightful play cafes that give kids room to romp and offer perks for parents like a cup of joe and Wi-Fi.

RELATED: Indoor Obstacle Courses, Ninja Warrior Training, and Aerial Arts Facilities in NJ

Indoor activities for kids Nickelodeon Universe
Catch a ride on The Slime of Your Life at Nickelodeon Universe. Photo by Elaine Quilici

24. Enjoy the Thrill

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

25. 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.

26. Make Music

Learn about music history and sing your hearts out the GRAMMY Museum in Newark.

27. Lace Up Your Skates

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

RELATED: Top 12 Indoor Play Spaces in New Jersey for Kids

Indoor activities for kids Big Kahuna's Indoor Water Park
Take a mini-vacation at Big Kahuna's. Photo courtesy of the venue

28. Make a Splash

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

29. Tag, You're It!

Battle it out for bragging rights with a round of laser tag at Lively Laser Tag.

30. 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 and take heart: These spots offer plenty of indoor fun, too!

31. Blow Off Some "STEM"

Have some indoor STEM fun with your mini maker at Genius Gems in Millburn. Or, try Snapology Discovery Center in Tinton Falls, which has drop-in hours a couple of afternoons per week. Call for the weekly schedule.

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

Indoor activities for kids Monster Mini Golf
Monster Mini Golf puts a new spin on putt-putt. Photo by njn917 via Flickr

32. Tee it Up

Play a round of indoor glow-in-the-dark mini golf, including at Blacklight Mini Golf, which is now open at American Dream.

33. Take Another Swing

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

34. 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.

35. Enjoy Games and Goodies

Check out one of 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

Indoor activities for kids Montclair Bakery
Sample the delicious confections at the Montclair Bakery. Photo courtesy of the bakery

36. Treat the Kids (and Yourself)

Enjoy a delicious doughnut for breakfast, lunch, or even dinner (why not?).

37. Play Games

Make a big bowl of popcorn and teach the kids a new card game or break out a favorite board game.

38. Montclair Art Museum

Marvel at the artwork at the Montclair Art Museum, which is just the right size for kids.

39. Make Some Magic

Put on your very own magic show at home.

40. Interactive Dining

Treat the kids to a fun, interactive dining experience.

This post, originally published in July 2012, is updated annually. Kaylynn Chiarello Ebner contributed additional reporting.

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