Weekends and school breaks are so easy in the warm weather. You just tell your kids to go outside and play (and resist the urge to lock the door after them!) Winter is harder when it’s too cold to for them to stay outside for hours at a time. Luckily we've got plenty of ideas for What to Do With Kids This Winter in and around NJ. So plan a few outings that will educate, entertain and, most importantly, exhaust your little loves.
The good news first. Campgaw Mountain has recently expanded their tubing park to 18 lanes!
Or, head to Mountain Creek for tubing, the KIND Bars & Boxes Rail Jam on January 12th or the Gatecrashers Fun Race on February 2nd.
If you’ve got a few days to spare, split your time between tubing, skiing and boarding at Camelback, and the warm water and scream-worthy slides of Aquatopia, their indoor water park in an Epic Weekend Getaway.
If that’s not enough ice for you, why not try your hand at ice fishing? Invest an hour of drive time, drill a few holes (the state max is 5) and drop your line in the hopes of scoring a pickerel, perch, sunfish, crappie, bass or muskie. You’ll find your fellow diehard fishermen at Lake Hopatcong, Round Valley Reservoir, Spruce Run Reservoir and Furnace Lake, as soon as the ice gets thick enough.
Or, make a weekend of it and visit the Ice Castle, in Lincoln, New Hampshire. Channel your inner Elsa and visit this castle built of thousands of icicles placed to include LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, tunnels, slides, fountains and mores. Visit Friday or Saturday nights from 7:15 – 10:15 and witness the interplay between fire and ice as firehandlers twirl, toss and eat fire. Or, say hello to the frozen Ice Princesses every Saturday and Sunday from noon – 4:00pm. Expected to open the 2nd week of January.
See a show.
You only have to go as far as bergenPAC or NJPAC to find an afternoon (or evening) of entertainment for the whole family. Some upcoming events include:
American Girl Live: Featuring original songs, this all-new musical follows new friends to a sleepover camp as they navigate and exciting summer away from home. Iconic American Girl characters lend a hand as the campers follow their hearts, share their dreams and learn the power of friendship. Thursday, January 17th at 7:00pm.
The Pop-Ups: These Grammy-nominated musical duo present their puppet musical live show as part of the Sensory Friendly Kidz Cabaret Series. Saturday, February 2nd, 1pm and 3pm
iLuminate and Masters of Illusion: These two shows will entice even your tweens and teens to the theater. iLuminate, described as a neon comic book, tells the story of a group of 20-somethings living in a city of glowing colors. And Masters of Illusion will make you believe the impossible with levitating women, escapes and sleight of hand. Tuesday, February 5th at 7:30 pm and Friday, February 8th at 8:00pm.
Disney’s Frozen Sing-a-long: Last but certainly not least, Elsa and Anna will lead the citizens of Engledel in song and pose for photos with their royal subjects in the lobby before the show. Sunday, February 17th, 1:00pm and 4:00pm.
Kidz Bop Live: Oh, yeah. You know these guys. The Kidz Bop kids are taking over the Prudential Center in Newark on Friday, February 15th at 7:00pm. Get ready for an earworm or two as you and your kids enjoy this family-friendly show with the most ambitious stage design and choreography to date.
Got a kid who loves to know how things work? Plan for a visit to That Physics Show, That Chemistry Show or That Inventions Show. You and your child will love the entertaining presentation and hands on demos of the principles of physics, chemistry and inventions from the 1850s.
Go to the Dogs.
Howl with excitement the weekend of February 9 – 11, because the Westminster Dog Show will be back in town at Madison Square Garden. Visit on Saturday, February 9th and have a chance to meet and play with over 100 different breeds (cats too!) at the Meet the Breeds event. Spring for the Go Anywhere ticket and in addition to admission to the judged competitions, you’ll also have access to the dogs’ “benching areas” where they’re groomed and held between competitions.
Then, count the days until the new Museum of the Dog opens at the AKC headquarters in midtown Manhattan. Expect interactive exhibits and fine art tributes to (Wo)Man’s Best Friend. Believe us, we’ll let you know the minute it opens sometime in January.
Slide Me Some Sugar
Maple Sugar that is. Maple Sugaring demonstrations and events are being held in Bergen County at the Tenafly Nature Center from February 3rd through March 30th, culminating in a Pancake Brunch on March 31st. Or visit the JA McFaul Environmental Center in Wyckoff, contact center for exact times and dates for maple sugar demonstrations. And Duke Farms in Hillsborough Township will host their annual Sugar Maple Celebration in mid-March.
Play and Learn.
Liberty Science Center: LSC is amazing on a normal day. But this winter, they’re upping their game with special exhibits ranging from Doc McStuffins to Sherlock Holmes (you get to help solve the mystery!), to a new NSFK (Not Suitable for Kids) LSC After Dark murder mystery on January 17th. If you’ve never been, go. It’s one of the best things NJ has to offer. And if you’ve been before, go back. There’s tons more to do!
Relativity Room: Closing on February 3rd, Escher: The Exhibition & Experience showcases 200 works by M.C. Escher, the artist whose work is part optical illusion, part intersection between art, math, science and poetry. View the works and then experience them through experiments and play areas that explain the impossible perspectives of Escher’s work. Visit the Relativity Room which turns size and scale on its head and the Infinity Room where you can see your reflection forever.
The Color Factory: Artists, illustrators and designers tell the stories of the shades, colors and hues collected around the city in a 20,000-square-foot SoHo space that will leave you feeling bright and cheery, no matter how dreary the winter day is outside.
Little Orchestra Society: Celebrating 70 years this season, the Little Orchestra Society brings music education to kids in ways that are accessible, age appropriate, entertaining, engaging and, most of all true to the original artists. No Kidzbop here, LOS musicians play real music by real composers accompanied by characters (like Professor Treblemaker) who interpret the music for their littlest fans. Mark your calendar for “Gioachino Rossini! Stories that Sing!” the weekend of Februar 2nd and 3rd and we’ll be that your kids won’t be the only ones who learn something new that day!
Intrepid Museum: Visit the Intrepid during Kids Week (February 17-23) and explore the themes of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math through interactive displays, live demonstrations and special guest visits. All Kids Week programming is free with Museum admission.
Culinary Institute of America: Are you constantly cleaning up messes that your aspiring chef has concocted in your kitchen? Take the day off and join into a parent-child cooking class at the Culinary Institute of America. Young Chefs ages 8-12 will learn kitchen basics and knife skills in these hands-on classes. Teen chefs will can choose from a variety of baking classes or take a class on gourmet meals.
Insectropolis: Located in Toms River, Insectropolis is an insect learning center for the bug-curious. With interactive displays set in a bug-themed city, your kids can play bug games on touch-screen computers, crawl through a mudtube like a termite, forage for food and build tunnels like an ant, safely observe the busy bees and toucha a live tarantula, scorpion, millipede or hissing cockroach displayed by expert insect handlers.
Go Au Naturel.
Though we humans tend to experience winter from the warmth of our cozy houses, birds, insects, spiders and mammals don’t have that luxury. If you and your kids need a breath of fresh air, check out the winter-long roster of activities at local nature and environmental centers like Tenafly Nature Center, Lorrimer Sanctuary, JA McFaul Environmental Center or Duke Farms, and learn a little something about what happens out in the cold while we’re all toasty inside.
Eat it Up.
The ultimate sweets festival, The Chocolate Expo is coming to Westfield Garden State Plaza on Sunday, January 27th! Make your holiday returns, find a little something new for yourself, and then spend a few hours getting a head start on Valentine's Day shopping, visiting with local and regional chocolatiers, dipping all sorts of goodies in the chocolate fountains, and sampling unique foods, wine and choclate pairings and more. You’ll also have the opportunity to meet the actors who played Mike Tee Vee from the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Jeremy Potts of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang fame.
If the cold weather has you a little on edge, visit Bergen County’s new axe throwing venue and get your aggression out by tossing a few axes at a wall. We’re just wondering if it’s bad form to post faces on the bulls eye?
Great Beer Expo: Raise a glass to the Great Beer Expo, a place where, on Saturday, February 2nd, you can join with the rest of the over 21 set to sample over 150 beers from, at current count, 29 different breweries. Admission includes a souvenir 5 oz. tasting cup with a 2 oz. pour line and you can sample any beer the brewers have. Admission DOES NOT include a designated driver (but there IS a designated driver ticket available for $10) or an Uber so please plan accordingly.
Playcrafting + Microsoft Game Jam: If you or someone you know is a game designer wannabe, make plans to attend this global event the weekend of January 25th-27th. Game makers come together and learn the common theme on Friday night, then have 48 hours to create a digital or non-digital (read: board game) game. Teams are formed on site, or, if you’ve got someone you like to work with, bring them along. Admission also includes free talks and workshops, an expo and a demo showcase.
Broadwaycon: Seems these days there’s a –con for everything so it was just a matter of time until Broadway jumped on the bandwagon with Broadwaycon. For three days, from January 11-13, immerse yourself in all things Broadway, from autograph signings, to beginner dance workshops, to panel discussions with the casts of current Broadway and off-Broadway shows.