Indoor Activities for Kids: 40 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 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.
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 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!
Spend the day exploring the Liberty Science Center. Photo courtesy of LSC
7. Explore the Liberty Science Center
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.
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
12. Work Out the Wiggles
13. Get Creative
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.
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.
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.
Catch a ride on The Slime of Your Life at Nickelodeon Universe. Photo by Elaine Quilici
24. Enjoy the Thrill
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
Take a mini-vacation at Big Kahuna's. Photo courtesy of the venue
28. Make a Splash
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.
Monster Mini Golf puts a new spin on putt-putt. Photo by njn917 via Flickr
32. Tee it Up
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.
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
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.