Consider taking a step away from material objects this holiday, and try giving the gift of adventure to your loved ones. Create memories and tradition by trying new things as a family, and participating in an unforgettable activity together – right here in New Jersey.
Here are 10 Adventures to Gift this Holiday:
1. Helicopter Tours
Experience our beautiful state like you’ve never seen it before. Rolling hills, miles and miles of coast, city skylines, mountain peaks, and the vast Atlantic can all be admired from great heights during a ride your family will never forget. Businesses operated helicopter rides in New Jersey offer a variety of tours and packages to fit your desires. Between city tours, shoreline tours, photography tours, and more – every adventure seeker can find something that peaks their interest.
● Steel Pier Helicopters, Atlantic City: Try the “Build Your Own Tour” to customize your own experience in South/Central New Jersey.
● East Coast Helicopter Rides, Wildwood: Take off right on the beach next to Morey’s Piers!
● Platinum Helicopters, Princeton: Turn any of their menu flights into a “Sunset Flight.” Mention it to their staff and they will time your flight perfectly.
● Core Helicopters, Linden: Leaders in introductory flights, flight lessons, and aerial photography services.
● Sky River Helicopters, Pittstown: Sky River Helicopter’s location is ideal to tour New Jersey, New York, and the Poconos.
● Liberty Helicopter Tours, New York, NY: Choose from a variety of tours for the best New York aerial tours available.
2. Hot Air Ballooning
As far as adventures go, a hot air balloon ride is about as relaxing as it can get. There is no reason to avoid this bucket list item any longer, because New Jersey is home to some of the best Hot Air Balloon companies available. This whimsical flight is available year round in New Jersey, weather permitting. Every season will provide a spectacular backdrop for your adventure, helping your family develop a deeper appreciation for their state. Have a fear of heights? Skylands Ballooning states, “Until you experience this for yourself, it is hard to believe; there is no sensation of height when you are in a balloon.”
● Skylands Ballooning, Blairstown: Take a sunrise or sunset champagne flight for an extra special experience.
● Newark Hot Air Balloons: Ride in a group of 4 – 8 guests, or choose a more intimate flight.
● In Flight Balloon Adventures, Asbury: Serving New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania
● Up Up and Away Hot Air Balloon Company, Lebanon: Choose between two balloons – The Windswept, or The Mini.
● Hunterdon Ballooning, Inc, Flemington: Fly over New Jersey’s beautiful Hunterdon County in this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
● Tewksbury Balloon Adventures: Spend a relaxing hour floating over patchwork farmland, fragrant apple orchards, pastures and magnificent old estates of Northwest New Jersey.
● Above the Clouds, Middletown, NY: Above the clouds operates year round, 7 days a week (weather permitting).
Related Articles: 10 Gifts for the Little Traveler
3. Archery Lessons
This adventure is a great chance to learn a new skill as a family. Though this activity seems rather extreme, it is actually very accessible; New Jersey is home to several archery ranges and schools that encourage beginners to step up to the range. Whether you are interested in shooting at an indoor range or outdoor sight range, there are plenty options to choose from in New Jersey.
● X-Ring Archers, Lambertville: New Jersey’s first and oldest archery school in the state.
● WA-XO-BE Archers, Monmouth Junction: Visit the Friday Night Introductory Archery Nights, no experience required.
● Fletcher’s Corner, Cape May: Open to the public 7 days a week.
● Stark Archery, South Hackensack: Ages 8 – seniors are able to learn the art of shooting at Stark Archery Academy.
● Obissquasoit Bowmen, Bridgeton: Offers indoor ranges, and outdoor practice/sight ranges with lights for night shooting.
● Appalachian Bowmen, Newton: Champions of youth interested in archery.
4. Drive Your Dream Car and Race on a Track
For NASCAR, Formula One, and exotic vehicle enthusiasts, this gift of adventure will be a dream come true. With so many famous driving tracks in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, it is easier than ever to get behind the wheel of your dream car and take it around the same track as professional racers. Extreme driving experiences are always prefaced with safety instructions, and drivers are provided with proper safety gear. Suit up, jump in, and hit the road!
● Drive Exotic Cars at Englishtown Raceway Park: Drive exotic cars (Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche and more!) on Raceway Park Road Course that features a 50’ wide, 1,400 ft straightaway, a 90 degree right turn, a 16 degree banked left turn, and a mini corkscrew.
● Racetrack Driving Experience at New Jersey Motorsports in Millville: The Lightning Raceway features 10 turns exciting for enthusiasts of any skill level.
● Super Thrill Ride with Professional Drivers at Englishtown Raceway Park: Take the passenger’s seat as a professional driver pushes the limits around this famous racetrack.
● NASCAR Racing Experience at Dover International Speedway in Dover, DE: Drive for 8, 16, 24 or 32 minutes at real racing speeds in cars that have been driven by NASCAR legends, driven by NASCAR legends like Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Dale JR.
● Drive a Stock Car at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, PA: Hit top speed in real 600 horsepower Sprint Cup style stock cars at the famous 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway.
● Formula 2000 Racing at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, PA: Hit up to 130mph in the best handled car you will ever drive, under the guidance of a professional Formula One driver.
Related Articles: Less Is More in Gift Giving, Right?
5. Family Horseback Trail Riding
Saddle up and try something new this season with your family. Whether you are an experienced rider or a horseback riding novice, trail riding through the Garden State as a family is a wonderful way to bond during every season. With no shortage of stables in New Jersey, there are plenty of locations that offer fully guided family and group trail riding. For your little horse-lovers, try an introductory pony ride on-site for a thrilling, outdoor experience.
● D&D Stables, Buena: Trail rides from 1 – 6 hours long for beginners and experienced riders alike.
● Echo Lake Stables, Newfoundland: Follow the paths of the ancient Indians from mountainside to swiftly running streams, beside centuries old rock walls.
● Elite Equine Group, Woodland Park: Located just 20 minutes from the George Washington Bridge.
● Legends Riding Stable, Vernon: Offers mid-week specials for scenic trail rides, all year long.
● Lord Stirling Stable, Basking Ridge: Lord Stirling has access to 14 miles of scenic trails. No horse experience necessary.
● Miller Farms, Berlin: Have a ride to remember on weekends at Miller Farms.
● Round Valley Trail Rides, Lebanon: Ride around New Jersey’s scenic Round Valley Reservoir.
● Seaton Hackney Stables, Morristown: Hosts off-site trail riding through Harding Township and Morris County Parks such as Jockey Hollow, Lewis Morris Park, the Valley Brook Equestrian Club in Flanders.
● Top View Riding Ranch, Blairstown: A Western experience back East.
● Washington Riding Stables, Sayreville: Guided trail rides through 500 acres and 8 miles of trails.
6. Zip Line Tours
An adventure for lovers of the outdoors and active families, Zipline Tours are way to explore nature through the heights of New Jersey forests. Climb through sky-high ropes courses, adventure trails, and unique crossings. You will always be secured to a safety line while crossing through each section. Many courses include multiple zip lines, providing you with multiple thrills as you soar over crystal lakes and ponds and through the woods with panoramic views. Bundle up for a winter zip line tour, or strap on a headlamp for a sunset tour for an even more thrilling family adventure. This activity is physically demanding enough to pose a challenge, but do not be intimidated! Beginner adventurers are encouraged to try out this extraordinary experience.
● Mountain Creek Zip Tours, Vernon: Zip year round with winter zipline tours and sunset tours.
● TreeTop Adventure Adventure Course, West Orange: Located within the Turtle Back Zoo, this zip course can be enjoyed by little ones ages 6 and up. Try out the Junior and Adult Ropes Courses, too.
● Pocono Tree Ventures, East Stroudsburg, PA: Composed of 9 ziplines connected by ladders and bridges.
● Go Ape Zip Line & Treetop Adventure, Bear, DE: Located right in beautiful Lums Pond State Park, with the largest freshwater pond in Delaware.
7. Skydiving (Outdoors & Indoors)
Adventure junkies will definitely be thrilled to see this gift card at the holidays. This ultimate bucket list item is more accessible than you may think. First time divers will begin their experience with a short introductory class (usually about 20-30 minutes) before moving onto ground preparation for harness fittings. All beginner flights are tandem; you will always be strapped to a licensed professional sky diver. Board the aircraft and climb to altitude, and on your way, enjoy the beautiful aerial views. The most thrilling part is next: the freefall! Once the parachute is deployed, enjoy a 5 – 7 minute glide through the sky before landing gently on the ground. Skydive Sussex states, “You will literally feel on top of the world as your instructor guides you to the ground.” Leave the experience with priceless videos or photos of your experience to share with family and friends.
● Skydive Sussex, Sussex: Jump from 14,500 feet – the highest jump in the Northeast.
● Skydive Jersey, Pittstown: Situated on the beautiful Alexandria Field with over 130 acres of pristine countryside.
● Skydive East Coast, Westcreek: This is not your typical skydiving experience – you’ll have an unparallelled view of the ocean!
● Skydive Cross Keys, Williamstown: Skydive Cross Keys boasts some of the most experienced guides in the country, with thousands of jumps under their belts.
● Skydive Philadelphia: Tandem skydiving is on sale for the holidays.
Not ready to take flight? Try an Indoor Skydiving Simulator.
● iFly Westcheser, Yonkers, NY: Little thrill-seekers 3 and over are welcome to fly indoors at iFly.
● iFly King of Prussia, PA: Flights last 60 seconds (as opposed to the 45 seconds of outdoor skydiving freefalls).
● iFly Mount Laurel: COMING SOON!
8. New York City Winter Sightseeing Cruises
One perk of living in New Jersey is its proximity to New York City. This winter, consider skipping the traditional sight-seeing routes on the busy streets, and opt for a tour with a little more space. The City is at its most beautiful in the winter months – take it all in from a heated, enclosed cruise around the island of Manhattan to see New York from a different perspective. Each company offers a menu of themed tours that can fit any family’s wishes: dinner and dancing, New York sightseeing tours, Sunsest cruises, and even more options will have you celebrating together in no time.
● Classic Harbor Line, Chelsea Piers, Manhattan: Offering a variety of cruises around the city on the enclosed, heated 1920s style motor yacht, including the Holiday Statue and Skyline Sightseeing Cruise.
● Bateaux New York, Chelsea Piers, Manhattan: Bateaux features creative cuisine, live entertainment, outstanding service, and incredible views.
● Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, Pier 83 at W 42nd Street, Manhattan: Try the Harbor Lights Cruise for an extra glitzy view of New York, or the New Years Eve Cruise to ring in 2017 in style.
● Circle Line Downtown, South Street Seaport, Manhattan: Includes a variety of tours: Statue of Liberty Express, Statue by Night, New York Taxi & One World Observatory, to name a few.
9. Go Karting
Often a favorite activity on the Jersey Shore, this thrilling amusement is offered throughout New Jersey for adventuring families everywhere. Go Karting is hands-on and fun with the perfect amount of competitive nature, making it the perfect experience for groups. Choose between an outdoor or indoor course to suit your preference. For serious adrenaline seekers, visit New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville to ride the Ungoverned Kart with 9 Horse Power Honda engines (includes safety briefings and safety gear). For a more laid-back go karting experience, Pole Position Raceway in Jersey City offers indoor bumper go karts.
● Raceway Park, Englishtown: Offering instructional go karting classes – many racing professionals started their careers with moto sports and go karts!
● New Jersey Motorsports Park, Millville: Race on the same track that NASCAR drivers Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliot have raced on.
● Pole Position Raceway, Jersey City: Race this indoor go kart track in high-performance European indoor go karts.
● iPlay America, Freehold: Children as young as 10 years can race around this indoor track in electric go karts.
● Central Pier Arcade & Speedway, Atlantic City: Go kart on the boardwalk with an ocean view always in sight!
● Seaside GoKart Speedway, Ocean City: This family friendly ride features two-seater cars so kids can ride with their parents.
10. Learn to Fly
What’s better than the gift of adventure? The gift of flight is our best guess! Start with an Introductory Flight Lesson to get your adventerer started – you’ll be surprised how quickly it takes to latch on to the basics of flying an aircraft. Each flight school in New Jersey features different planes, and every instructor is a licensed professional with years of experience. If someone in your family has always wanted to fly an aircraft, don’t make them wait any longer.
● Andover Flight Academy: Offers an incredibly unique range of aircraft, all open to the public.
● Fischer Aviation, Fairfield: Located at the Essex County Airport, and open seven days a week.
● American Flyers Flight School, Morristown: Has the features of a large organization while retaining focus on each pilot’s personal experience.
● Princeton Flying School: Located at Princeton Airport. Take an Introductory Flying Lesson and fall in love with flying!
● Old Bridge Flight School, Manalapan: Aircraft include Cessna 172s, Piper Seminole (PA44), and Aeronca Champion.
● Eagles View Flight School, Farmingdale: Since opening its flight school in 1993, Eagles View grew from 2 aircraft to the 10 they currently are home to.
● Freeflight Aviation, Medford: Holiday Flight Gifts include Flight Introduction, Ground School, and a commemorative gift.
● Crosswinds Flight School, Williamstown: Over a decade of helping aviation enthusiasts reach their professional and recreational goals.
Not quite ready for such great heights? Try Aero Safety Flight Simulation in Lincoln Park, NJ.