It’s beginning to look like the holidays, with seasonal kid-friendly things to do all weekend. Hop in the car and enjoy the lights at the Holidig Drive-Thru Lights Show at Diggerland USA in West Berlin, see the animals and the holiday displays at the Turtle Back Zoo Holiday Lights Spectacular in West Orange, or step back into a simpler time with Our Day of Thanks! A 19th Century Thanksgiving Celebration at the Historical Allaire Village in Wall. And before autumn disappears, check out our guide to fall activities in NJ. (featured photo credit: Diggerland USA)
(Note: It’s always best to check ahead for in-person events)
Santa at Bridgewater Commons
Now through December 24
Here Comes Santa Claus! Santa will welcome kids to the Center Court on the Lower Level, where he’ll be sitting among 23 garland-topped light curtains and candy-cane-inspired twists. Children can share their Christmas Wish List with Santa and pose for photos with him. Their faces will light up for the many fun Santa events such as Santa’s Luau on November 30, Santa Cares Day on December 4 and 18 for a sensory-friendly experience, Santa’s PJ Night on December 7, and Santa’s Ugly Sweater Night on December 14. Make sure to reserve your photo with the man in the red suit. And experience the Christmas spirit this season with live performances each Saturday afternoon of holiday carols and festive songs by New Jersey based a cappella quartet The Village Carolers.
Bridgewater Commons, Lower Level and Center Court, 400 Commons Way, Bridgewater, NJ 08807
Holidig Drive-Thru Light Show at Diggerland USA
November 16-January 1
America’s only construction theme and water park will be decked out in a drive-through display of glowing lights, tunnels, holiday displays, and more. As you drive through the exhibits, tune into Diggerland USA’s radio station to get into the holiday spirit.
Diggerland USA, 100 Pinedge Drive, West Berlin, NJ 08091
5th Annual Big Santa Lighting and Drone Show
November 18 at 5:30 PM
It’s the 5th annual lighting of the iconic Big Santa at Westfield Garden State Plaza. The festivities include a drone light show, musical performances, food trucks, giveaways, and surprise visits from holiday favorites such as The Grinch and Santa Claus. They will arrive in a fire truck escorted by the Paramus High School Marching Band.
One Garden State Plaza, Paramus, NJ 07652
Mermaid Princess Tales of the Sea
November 18 at 6 PM
Head to Jenks Aquarium for a special guest—the Mermaid Princess will read one of her favorite stories. There will also be crafts and face painting from 5:30 PM -7:30 PM.
Cost: Included with general admission
300 Ocean Ave. North, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742
Starting November 18
Celebrate a successful harvest at Renault Winery with a charming and festive experience for all ages. Kids will love the ice skating, tractor rides, and live entertainment while you enjoy gourmet dining and wines. Santa Claus comes to town in December to light the Christmas tree, read a holiday story, and eat breakfast with the kids (reservations required).
Cost: Prices vary
72 Bremen Ave., Egg Harbor City, NJ 08215
Avalon’s Festive Friday and Snowfest Saturday
Kick off the holiday season in Avalon with a whole weekend of activities. On Friday, there will be live music, children’s performances, character appearances, face painting, an art bar, crafts, giveaways, hot chocolate, a drive-in holiday movie, and a parade featuring the Big Guy as a special guest. On Saturday, watch ice sculpting, take a photo with Santa, enjoy bounce houses, carnival rides, and obstacle courses, and cozy up with lots of cocoa.
Cost: Prices vary
Avalon, NJ 08202
Magic of Lights New Jersey
November 18-December 30
Experience the dazzling lights display entirely from the comfort of your car. Set your radio to their light show station, and then enjoy festive music as you drive through a merry arrangement of Christmas lights, trees, and decorations that will surely put your whole crew in the holiday spirit.
Cost: $20 and up
PNC Bank Arts Center, 116 Garden State Pkwy, Holmdel, NJ 07733
South Jersey Holiday Light Show
November 18 through December 31, date and times vary
Get in the festive spirit at this drive-through holiday light show featuring dozens of dazzling displays and scenes celebrating everything your family loves about this season. Pack a snack and turn on the car radio to a station that syncs the light show with holiday tunes as you drive among the twinkling lights on the mile-long route.
Cost: $25 per car; tickets must be purchased in advance
Bridgeport Speedway, 83 Flood Gate Road, Swedesboro, NJ 08085
Turtle Back Zoo Holiday Lights Spectacular
November 18-December 31, select dates
Grab your winter coat and get ready to stroll through the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo to see over 50 winter and animal characters. The event will feature weekend Santa visits, as well as train rides, carousel rides, visits to the Reptile House and Aquarium, and pony rides.
Cost: Donation recommended, additional fee for some attractions.
560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052
Old Fashioned Christmas
November 18-January 1
See the seaside town of Cape May transform into a Dickens village just in time for the holidays. Don’t miss free events like the Winter WonderWalk on November 18, tours of the Physick Estate, Tree Lighting on November 19, and the Christmas Candlelight House Tours. They also have a Lamplighter Christmas Tour and Santa’s Trolley Tours throughout the season.
Cape May, NJ 08204
November 19 at 10 AM
Get a head start on holiday shopping at this local maker festival featuring artists, creatives, and vendors on the boardwalk.
6111 New Jersey Avenue in Wildwood Crest, NJ 08260
Holiday Craft Show
November 19 at 10 AM
Bring the whole family to this Christmas and Holiday Craft show, featuring 130 crafters, Allaire artisans, floral exhibits, historical demonstrations, and more to kick off the holiday season in style. Craft demonstrations will also be at the Carpenter, Blacksmith, and Tinsmith shops, the General Store, and food trucks for a bite after shopping.
Cost: $5 for ages six and up
The Historic Village at Allaire, Allaire State Park 4263 Atlantic Avenue, Farmingdale NJ, 07727
Holiday Crafters & Artisan Fair
November 19 at 10 AM
Browse through an array of local artists and crafters while the kids can enjoy hot chocolate and cookies. Santa will be there from 12 PM-3 PM.
Rutherfurd Hall, 1686 County Road 517, Hackettstown, NJ 07840
Sunset Lake Turkey Trot 5k Run
November 19 at 10 AM
Bring the whole family out to cheer on runners in the 5K or enter the Fun Run, a one-mile run/walk for all ages. There will be healthy snacks for runners and walkers after the race.
Sunset Lake 1350 Coriell Drive Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
Bell Works Fresh Night Market
November 19 at 2 PM
Shop small, explore local vendors, and enjoy seasonal drinks at the monthly Bell Works Fresh Night Market in the Main Atrium.
101 Crawfords Corner Road, Holmdel, NJ 07733
Christmas Fantasy with Lights
November 19-December 30, dates and times vary; Santa visits until December 23
Santa Claus is ready to wave his magic wand and light the park with over one million lights for the holiday season. Your littles will love seeing the park glow after dark and be thrilled to go on rides and attractions (all open at night) during this magical time.
Cost: $27.95 per person if bought in advance, $30.95 per person at the door.
Storybook Land, 6415 Black Horse Pike (Routes 40/322), Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234
Monmouth Museum Holiday Train Display
November 19-January 8
Kids will love seeing this nostalgic display featuring Lionel Trains winding through an over 30ft exhibit of towns, mountains, cities, and more. Alongside the trains, the Main Gallery hosts a 20ft Holiday Tree and Pat Brentano’s “Consider the Trees” show.
Monmouth Museum, 765 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft, NJ 07738
Our Day of Thanks! A 19th-Century Thanksgiving Celebration
November 20 at 11 AM
Experience an early 19th Century Thanksgiving with the villagers of James P. Allaire’s Howell Iron Works Company. The historic homes, craft shops, and retail buildings will be open to welcome you with craft demonstrations (Blacksmith, Tinsmith, Carpentry, Leather-Making, and more), cooking at the Allaire Mansion, and other special activities to “give thanks” open to all ages.
Historical Village at Allaire, 4263 Atlantic Avenue, Wall Township, NJ 07727
Children’s Tour of the Willows
November 20 at 1 PM
Learn about the people who lived at Willow Mansion using your senses of sight, sound, smell, and touch to learn about life in the past. This tour is designed for ages 4-12.
Cost: $5 per adult and child
Fosterfields Living Historical Farm, 73 Kahdena Road, Morristown, NJ 07960
MyGOAL Autism Special Needs Fall Festival
November 20 at 1 PM
Check out stations with different games and activities for special needs children and their families offering resources and fun for all. They will offer free blood pressure screenings to adults as well.
Livingston Student Center, 84 Joyce Kilmer Avenue, Piscataway, NJ 08854
Give A Hoot! Owls Of New Jersey
November 20 at 4 PM
Join a presentation about owl species, including what these top predators eat, where they nest, their calls, and the adaptations that enable them to be super hunters. Then step outside for the possibility of hooting owls.
NJ Audubon Scherman, Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, 11 Hardscrabble Road, Bernardsville, NJ 07924
Fall Saltwater Fly Fishing
November 20 in Manasquan
Learn from a Park System Naturalist how to target striped bass during their fall migration and everything you need to know to fly fish. The demonstration and discussion will address gear, line and leader set-ups, flies, reading water, and creating a plan of attack. This event is open to ages 12 and up with an adult.
Seven Presidents Ocean Front Park, 221 Ocean Ave. N., Long Branch, NJ 07740
Fisherman’s Cove Conservation Area, 383 3rd Ave., Manasquan, NJ 08736
November 20-January 15
Visit Taylor Park and enjoy magical light displays as you stroll along a path at the lake’s edge. After you and your family enjoy the lights, visit Millburn’s unique retailers and restaurants. The park is lit from 4:30 PM until 10:00 PM nightly.
Cost: Free to enter
100 Main Street, Millburn, NJ, 07041
The Mainland – Harvest Fest Weekends
Every weekend until November 20
It’s Harvest Fest at The Mainland. Try different fall food and drink specials, a corn maze, family fun events, an adventure-packed arcade, and live music.
Cost: Costs vary
151 Route 72, Manahawkin, NJ 08050
DiDonato’s Magical Holiday Express
Have your crew go all aboard for a Christmas light display ending with a meet and greet with Santa and his elves. Don’t miss the Holiday Movie tent and take photos with your favorite snowman, Toy Market, and Walkthrough Holiday Village.
1151 South White Horse Pike, Hammonton, NJ 08037
Let It Glow
Now- January 15
It’s a holiday spectacular at the Bergen County Zoo with amazing, larger-than-life lantern displays of animals and nature that are awe-inspiring. Walk through the exhibits up close, then take a train ride through the zoo.
Cost: $9 and up
Bergen County Zoo, 216 Forest Avenue, Paramus, NJ 07652
RWJBarnabas Health Events
Healthy Kids in Hannah’s Kitchen
November 15 and 22 at 4:30 PM
Come in person or join virtually for this hands-on cooking for ages 8-12. Your child will learn how to cook with nutritious ingredients, how to read a recipe, kitchen safety tips, measuring techniques, and learn knife skills.
Online or Rev. Dr. Ronald B. Christian Community Health and Wellness Center at Newark Beth Israel
Medical Center, 208 Lyons Ave., Newark, NJ 07112
Kids Craft: Gratitude Trees and Grateful Turkey Table Toppers
November 17 at 4 PM
It is the season to think about what we are most grateful for. Bring the kids to LiveWell Center to create gratitude trees or grateful turkey table toppers – a sweet addition to your tablescape this season. Children ages 5-10 are welcome to attend.
LiveWell Center, 200 Wyckoff Rd. Suite 1200, Eatontown, NJ 07724
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