If you’re staying put over the February President’s weekend and winter break, don’t worry about everyone feeling bored—we’ve got a bunch of ideas to do over those days off to keep you and your kids active and entertained. Try sliding down the hills for a nighttime tubing session, head inside to play a family game of mini-golf, escape to a nearby ski resort to take on the slopes skiing or boarding, or get tropical vibes renting a cabana at an indoor water park for a mid-day escape. And if you’re looking for things to do that won’t cost a dime, check out Free Things to do in February for even more adventures. (featured photo credit: American Dream)
(Note: It’s always best to check ahead for in-person events)
Bounce away with the family at a trampoline park. Photo Credit: istock/JackF
Get your game on
Whether it’s a family challenge at mini-golf, bowling, testing your speed at a go-kart track, or bouncing it out at a trampoline park, you can have a ball no matter the weather. Most of these places are a mecca of activity—many offer arcades, laser tag, games, and gourmet cuisine to make a full day of it. Or take this as a chance to introduce your kids to the video games you played as a kid (hello, Donkey Kong), and head to a retro arcade in the Garden State.
Grab your skis or hop on a snowboard
Whether you want to take a day trip with the littles or a week-long family vacation, you don’t have to go far to get on the slopes. Sign up for lessons, spend the day on the trails, try boarding, or cozy up to an apres-ski fire pit—you can find a mountain to fit your family’s needs at Jack Frost Ski Resort or one of these ski resorts nearby.
Scout out some sweet treats
Who doesn’t love some sweet comfort foods, especially during chilly winter? Whether you prefer to indulge in the perfect chocolate chip cookies, search for the ideal dessert spots, or warm up with some delicious hot chocolate, plan to discover the delightful, sweet places throughout the Garden State.
Take a trip under the sea
You might not be heading on a beach vacay, but there is plenty of sea life to see indoors. From observing brilliant and bright fish at Jenkinson’s Aquarium in Point Pleasant Beach to seeing the sharks up close at the NJ SEA LIFE Aquarium in East Rutherford or hanging with the hippos at the Camden Adventure Aquarium, the aquariums in NJ are perfect for your little sea explorer.
Take on the thrill of snow tubing
If you’re looking for more thrill than a traditional sledding day but aren’t quite ready to hit the slopes of the ski mountain, this activity is for you. Snow tubing is a great way to get outside and breathe in the crisp air while laughing the whole way down. Unlike skiing and snowboarding, no experience or lessons are required to enjoy this activity. Not sure where to go? Take a look at these snow tubing spots in and around NJ for a day of thrills.
Travel in space
Sit back, relax, and get lost in space while looking up at the stars and a film presentation in the domes of New Jersey’s educational and entertaining planetariums. Kids (and parents) of all ages will be mesmerized by the enchantment of the dome’s crystal clear projection – all while learning something new.
Shop at a winter farmers’ market
Many farmers’ markets have extended from the warmer months into open-air markets for the winter. Bundle up and find more than produce—most farmers’ markets offer meats, baked goods, soups, chocolates, and artisan gifts all in one place. Check out these delicious winter markets around NJ.
Head out for a road trip
A long weekend or mid-week road trip can be just the thing you need to recharge your family’s batteries. Luckily, there are plenty of winter getaways in NJ or nearby for all ages and budgets that you can drive to in under 2 hours. From Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg with a steamy outside pool for any season to the traditional Skytop Lodge in the Poconos with classic family fun, there’s a place you can go within a two-hour drive to feel far away. Want to take a drive and see snow? Take a trip up the thruway to the majestic Whiteface Lodge in Lake Placid, where you’ll feel like you hopped on a plane and landed in a winter wonderland.
Think waterparks are only a summertime thing? Nope—you can plunge down a waterslide, drift in the lazy river, or get knocked down in the wave pool. There are a bunch of indoor waterparks to discover, like Dreamworks WaterPark (the biggest in North America), Big Kahuna’s in West Berlin, and the mega-resort Kartrite over the border in New York. Kids will have a ball getting soaked indoors, and you’ll all feel like you want on a resort vacay miles away.
Head out to a brunch
Treat your family to a delicious meal with a fun twist —make planes and trains a special part of your restaurant experience. Your kids will feel like they are a part of the action as they sit down for a unique outdoor dining experience with built-in entertainment. Have to keep your meals gluten-free? Check out these 25 gluten-free restaurants where the whole family can find a treat.
Move playtime indoors
Let your littles bounce around, climb the walls, or get imaginative in one of the many playspaces just for them. Visit the travel-themed, Exceptional Explorers play space in Livingston, check out the fishing zone at The Great Story in Ridgefield, or run and play at the Jellybean Jungle in Marlton. Wherever your littles let their sillies out, you can guarantee a naptime (even on the car ride home).
Lace up those skates and get out on the ice. Photo Taken at Ice at Pier Village
Glide around on an ice skating rink
Bundle up and try this classic winter activity where everyone can get in on the action, whether it’s just learning together or having a blast sliding along to tunes. And with seasonal outdoor rinks and indoor ones offering fun ways to slide along (Friday night DJ skate, anyone?), this is a great way to spend the day or night. Find an ice skating rink near you for a few spins around the rink.
Entertain the whole family
Want a variety of things to do all in one entertainment space? Look no further than a space that creates entertainment for all ages. Hit the rollercoaster at IPlay America in Freehold, cheer on a jousting match at Medieval Times in Lyndhurst, load up your Power Card at Dave and Buster’s in Wayne, Woodbridge, or Blackwood, or become a kingpin at Humdingers in Paramus.
Climb to new heights
Climbing as a family at a rock climbing space is a fantastic way to learn life skills and work as a team. Kids and parents can work together to overcome a difficult wall or conquer unique challenges like blindfolded or three-legged climbing. And many also have zip lines or places to do bouldering, making you feel like you’ve escaped to a mountain range activity park.
Go on a winter hike
Grab your jacket and water bottle, and hit the trails—yes, even in winter. You’ll get some fresh air, admire the beautiful scenery, and sneak in exercise. Plus, being outside is an exhilarating way to spend the day. And if you’re looking for a place you’ve never been to or want to find one close by, check out our hiking guide featuring the best hikes in the state.
See how maple sugar goes from tree to tap
If you’ve always wondered how the sweet stuff goes from tree to your table, you can see it up close at a maple sugaring demonstration. Visit the Great Swamp Education Center, Tenafly Nature Center, or Washington Crossing State Park —you’ll learn how to identify maple trees, tap, and how they boil down the sap to make the syrup.
Explore a museum exhibit
Now is a great excuse to get to that museum in New Jersey you’ve wanted to visit. Bundle up and witness art coming to life outdoors at the unique Grounds For Sculpture. Give your family a one-of-a-kind interactive experience on a floating museum at Battleship of New Jersey. Or head to Liberty Science Center, where kids can explore special exhibits like Thomas the Train and have a ball climbing through the sensory tunnel or digging for dino artifacts.