31 Kid-Friendly Things To Do This New Year’s Weekend

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It’s that wonderful stretch between Christmas and New Year’s with a bunch of family-friendly things to do this week and weekend. Celebrate the new year blueberry style with the New Year’s Eve Bash and Blueberry Giant Drop in Hammonton, take the plunge at the First Day at the Beach in Ocean City, or lace up your ice skates for a good time at Roller Skating at Convention Hall in Cape May and don’t miss the last chance to see Six Flags Holiday in the Park in Jackson. And if you are looking for more, spend the last day of 2021 with a Kid-Friendly New Year’s Eve Celebration and start 2022 off on the right foot with plenty of First Day Hikes in NJ. Since COVID-19 rules and regulations are continually changing, it’s best to check ahead for in-person events

Featured Photo Taken at Six Flags Great Adventure 

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Newark Winter Village
Now-December 30
This open-air festival overlooks beautiful downtown Newark with curbside eats, ice skating, a market, private chalets, igloos, games, curling, food, and Santa’s Workshop.
Cost: $5-$10, reservations required
Mulberry Commons Park, 162 Mulberry Street, Newark, NJ 07102

Storybook Land Christmas Fantasy with Lights
Now-December 30
Santa is back in the North Pole, but there are millions of lights (they even appeared on last year’s Great Christmas Light Fight) and many rides for your littles to enjoy.
Cost: $26.95
6415 Black Horse Pike (Route 40/322), Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234
(609) 646-0103

Kip’s Castle
December 30
Take a self-guided tour at Kip’s Castle to experience the holidays circa the 1920s. Kip’s Castle Park grounds are open from dawn to dusk seven days a week.
Cost: Free
22 Crestmont Road, Verona, NJ 07044
(973) 433-7469

Turtle Back Zoo Holiday Lights Spectacular
Now-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, a train, carousel, reptile house, aquarium, and Essex Farm and Pony rides. Donations are recommended.
Cost: Free
560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052

(973) 731-5800

Virtual Kwanzaa Festival
Now-December 31
Take an online class to explore West African dance, stepping, Zumba, drumming, capoeira, Bebop Graffiti Arts, or Afrobeats. This year’s virtual festival runs through December 31, featuring online programs inspired by the seven principles of Kwanzaa (unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith). Tune in for a panel discussion about storytelling with the elders, social justice, or Black theater, or stop by the community marketplace for some online shopping.
Cost: Free
Virtual, New Jersey Performing Arts Center
1-888-696-5722

New Year’s Eve Bash and Giant Blueberry Drop
December 31-January 1
Come celebrate the new year in the “Blueberry Capital of the World.” Wrap up 2021 in a festive environment, complete with live music and fireworks, and welcome in 2022 with a midnight countdown in front of Town Hall.
Cost: Free
100 Central Ave., 
Hammonton, NJ 08037
(609) 597-9014

NYE Firework Spectacular at Pier Village 
December 31-January 1
Head to Pier Village for a celebration full of food, music, and dancing. There will be horse and carriage rides, and skating on the Ice At Pier Village rink will be open. Stay for the celebration and the end of the year fireworks show at 9 PM.
Cost: Free; some events have a fee
110 North Ocean Ave.,
Long Branch, NJ 07740 

First Night Morris County 2022
December 31
This event is a reimagined version of Morris County’s popular First Night event, a kid-friendly celebration of arts and culture. There are over 50 performances (in-person, live-streamed, and on-demand), and it all kicks off at 4 PM on New Year’s Eve. There will be a flurry of performances until midnight, including music performances, art exhibits, film festivals, and comedy shows. And don’t miss the new midnight countdown. Also, each ticket includes on-demand and streaming access to performances happening until January 3.
Cost: $25 for early bird tickets (through December 21); $30 for standard tickets
Downtown Morristown
(973) 539-8008

Six Flags Holiday in the Park
December 31
New Year’s Eve in NJ is a great excuse to experience your favorite theme park in a new light. Head to Main Street, the heart of the park, and admire the five-story brightly-lit tree. Make sure your kiddos get photos with the Evergreen Queen, Jack Frost, Peppermint Princess, Poinsettia Princess, Snow Queen, and of course, Santa Claus. And don’t forget to visit Mrs. Claus, too—she’ll be reading holiday stories for your littles. And for a bird—or reindeer—eye’s view of the park, ride on the Skyway over Wild Lights National Park. And make sure you’re in a good spot at 9 PM for the New Year’s Eve fireworks.
Cost: Ticket prices vary based on membership level
1 Six Flags Blvd., Jackson, NJ 08527
(732) 928-2000

New Year’s Family Camp
December 31
Celebrate this New Year’s Eve in NJ at Fairview Lake YMCA Camp’s campgrounds. You’ll go hiking during the day, kids can make crafts, and the whole fam can test their skills at an archery class. You’ll stay in cabins—with heat and bathrooms—and eat in the dining hall. And at night, you can warm up by the campfire, go for a night hike, and welcome in the New Year with a camp celebration.
Cost: $139 for adults 18 and over, $118 for kids 12-17, $95 for kids 5-11. Children 4 and under are free
1035 Fairview Lake Rd., Newton, NJ 07860
(973) 383-9282

New Year’s Eve Celebration at Iplay America
December 31
For a truly kid-friendly party—with fun rides, a DJ, party favors, and confetti cannons—this is the place to be for New Year’s Eve in NJ. Take a food break and refuel at Miracle at Game Time Bar & Grill, or grab a snack at one of the in-park concession stands. After that, it’s back to the games, rides, and other attractions. You can also book a Topgolf swing suite, and there are private VIP suites where you can watch the NYE celebration and ball drop in Times Square on a big screen TV.
Cost: $42.99 for the advance New Year’s Eve Party Pass ($52.99 at the door). VIP and suite rentals are additional
110 Schanck Rd., Freehold, NJ 07728
(732) 577-8200

Bye 2021 New Year’s Eve Virtual Run
December 31
End the year strong and healthy with the entire family by running (or walking) a virtual run. They have plenty of options, like a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, and marathon. Choose your route and time—then lace up and get going. Each participant will get a postcard, a certificate of completion, a digital running journal, training plans, access to contests, and more.
Cost: $5 for the virtual packet, $14 for the medal packet, $30 for the entire packet, $39 for the premium packet
Virtual

New Jersey New Year’s Eve Signature Dinner Cruise
December 31
Ring in the New Year—on the water! Aboard this dinner cruise, you’ll sail on both the East and Hudson Rivers. Make sure to grab a camera—not only are there plenty of photo opportunities with the NYC skyline as the backdrop, but the cruise also provides holiday accessories (like hats and noisemakers) for your kiddos to wear and use in these ‘gram-worthy photos. And after your fam enjoys a buffet dinner and dances to DJ-mixed music, make sure to grab a spot to watch the fireworks show. Keep in mind that you’ll have to leave your littles at home—guests must be four years old or older.
Cost: Depends on ticket package. Call for details
Departs from Lincoln Harbor Marina, 1500 Harbor Blvd., Weehawken, NJ 07086
(866) 817-3463

NYE 2022 Bollywood Disco
December 31
Grab a plate of food—they have an international food station—and then listen to the music, watch the belly dancers, and enjoy the festive atmosphere. Don’t miss the broadcasted ball drop at midnight. And don’t worry about your kiddos and littles; this party has a special space for them, complete with kids’ meals, a clown, a magician, face painting, music, games, party favors, and more.
Cost: $285 for couples; $150 for singles; $95 for guests 10-20; $65 for kids under 10
560 Stelton Rd., Piscataway, NJ 08854
(732) 609-0124

New Year’s Eve Midnight Fireworks
December 31
Bring a little history into your fam’s New Year’s Eve celebration this year. Climb aboard the historic Battleship New Jersey, a museum and memorial. They’ll have live music and food, and your squad might even be able to fire a gun salute. Then grab a viewing spot to watch dazzling fireworks show over the Delaware River. Proceeds from the event go toward the restoration of the Battleship.
Cost: $10 per person; members are free. $10 parking
100 Clinton St., Camden, NJ 08103
(866) 877-6262

2022 First Night Ocean City NJ
December 31
This New Year’s Eve in NJ celebration is packed—they have 30 different activities happening at 21 various venues from 4 PM to just before midnight. Join the party a little early at 3:45 PM at the Music Pier for the kickoff and ribbon cutting and then stay at the Music Pier for musical and juggling performances, or head to the Civic Center for inflatables and ice skating. The primary and high schools have magic shows (with different magicians), and the high schools also have karaoke and musical performances. Swing by the skate park for a skate party, and then stop by the library for trivia and storytime. Check out the full schedule here. And make sure to hang around for the fireworks show at midnight to welcome in the new year.
Cost: $20 for an all-inclusive button (good for all events)
Venues all around Ocean City, NJ 08226
(609) 399-6111

Noon Year’s Eve Kids Countdown
December 31
If you are looking for a fun, family-friendly way to celebrate the new year early, why not check out Renault Winery’s Noon Year’s Eve? The kids will receive noisemakers and their choice of hot chocolate or Martinelli’s sparkling cider, have a chance to snap photos with characters, and they can watch Livestream live countdowns from around the world. Make sure you take a spin on the ice rink and hang by one of the firepits after (reservations suggested).
Cost: Prices vary per event
72 North Bremen Avenue, Egg Harbor City, NJ 08215

(609) 965-2111

Cozy Up By The Fire For “Movies On The Lawn” at La Mer
January 1
Bringing the classics to La Mer Beachfront Resort. Cozy up on the lawn and watch the classic “A Christmas Story.” There will be an outdoor dining patio and Adirondack chairs on the lawn. Private fire pits for four guests include complimentary buttery popcorn and table service, with a special menu to enjoy during the film.
Cost: $50 for private fire pits
1317 Beach Ave. Cape May, NJ 08204

(609) 898-2244

First Day at The Beach
January 1
Get ready to get wet and dive into 2022. It’s time for Ocean City’s First Dip in the ocean for the new year.
Cost: Free
Beach Adjacent to the Music Pier, Ocean City, NJ 08226

1-800-BEACH-NJ

Discover Double Trouble First Day Jaunt
January 1
Explore the historic village, Mill Pond Trail, and Cedar Creek. This easy trail is open to ages 10 and over. Registration is required.
Cost: Free
581 Pinewald Keswick Road, Bayville, NJ 08721

Roller Skating at Convention Hall 
January 2-March 27
Get ready to skate in Cape May. Guests may bring their skates or rent.
Cost: Prices vary, $45 for 10 admissions
714 Beach Ave., Cape May, NJ 08204
(609) 884-9565

Dasher’s Lightshow: A Christmas Drive-Thru
Now-January 2
Get glowing as you drive through light tunnels, see snowmen, and cover acres of land, all synced to holiday tunes. Get into the holiday spirit one car full at a time.
Cost: $35 per vehicle, but prices change depending on the day and time
220 Orange Street, Newark, NJ 07103
newark@dasherlightshow.com

Holidig Holiday Light Show
Now-January 2
It’s the second annual holiday light show at Diggerland USA. See lights, drive through tunnels, and see all sorts of construction equipment light up. Don’t forget to turn your radio dial to their holiday music channel during your drive.
Cost: $32.95 per vehicle
100 Pineedge Drive, West Berlin, NJ 08091
(856) 768-1110

Thomas Sweet’s Holiday Village
Now-January 3
Stop by Thomas Sweet Chocolate for their annual Winter Village, a miniaturized winter scene in the store windows. You can gaze upon this gorgeous lit village for the entire holiday season. While you’re there, go skating on the square, or enjoy the beauty of the Christmas tree.
Cost: Free
Thomas Sweet Chocolate,
29 Palmer Square West, Princeton, NJ 08542

Smithville Holiday Light Show On The Lake
Now-January 6
Over 120 Christmas Trees with over 50,000 Christmas lights float on Lake Meone in the center of Historic Smithville. When darkness falls, an orchestrated show of lights and music plays across the lake. The show can be seen from either side of the village and the bridge.
Cost: Free
Historic Smithville, 615 E. Moss Mill Rd., Smithville, NJ 08205

(609) 748-8999

Fanwood’s Famous Christmas House
Now-January 8
See over 30,000 lights at Fanwood’s Famous Christmas House, which has bright displays and a light show every evening. Donations will be accepted for the NJ Institute for Disabilities.
Cost: Free
82 Paterson Road, Fanwood, NJ 07023

(908) 403-6486

Let it Glow: A Lantern Spectacular
Now-January 30, Thursday through Sunday
Take an enchanting stroll through the Bergen County Zoo to see over 30 scenes of handmade delight and the animals that live there. You can even hop aboard the train. This event is separate from Winter Wonderland in the park and requires an admission ticket.
Cost: $15 for adults, $7.50 for children, under 2 is free
216 Forest Avenue, Paramus, NJ 07652
(201) 634-3112

Grounds For Sculpture Night Forms
Now-February 27, select dates
Glowing trees, sounds, art—it’s a multi-sensory experience at Grounds For Sculpture. Night Forms: dreamloop by Klip Collective takes place after hours, and it is a combination of video projection, light, sound, and storytelling.
Cost: $14 and up
80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton Township, NJ 08619
(609) 586-0616

Morris County Winter Farmers’ Market – Grow It Green
Now-March 27 (except December 26)
The Morris County Winter Farmers’ Market features more than 20 farmers and local food vendors to develop a local food system that patrons can eat locally and seasonally. There will be freshly grown produce, farm-raised beef, pork and poultry and fresh seafood, baked goods, farm eggs, and so much more.
Cost: Free
Convent Train Station, Convent Road, Morris Township, NJ 07960 

2nd Annual Winter Wonderwalk
Now–into Winter 2022
Wrap yourself in the warmth of the holiday season as the grounds of Cape May’s only Victorian House Museum. The Emlen Physick Estate will be lit up and glowing. Join the Winter Wonderwalk to walk the grounds and view these fun and whimsical display of winter’s past. And continue the festivities by walking along the streets of Cape May’s decorated homes.
Cost: Free
1048 Washington Street, Cape May, NJ 08204

(609) 884-5404

RWJBarnabas Health: Cooking Classes for Kids
Dates and times vary depending on the program
Kids of all ages will love cooking up healthy treats in these virtual hands-on cooking classes (adult supervision required during class): Try Healthy Kids in Hannah’s Kitchen for kids 8-12, where they’ll learn to use a recipe, cook with nutritious ingredients, and utilize kitchen basics or try Taste Testers in Hannah’s Kitchen, a Mommy and Me style class for 2-4-year-olds.
Cost: Free
RWJBarnabas, Virtual
(973) 926-7371

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About Author

Melanie Bodner has always had a love for writing, but now she has a new love…being a mom. Before having her kids, Melanie was no stranger to writing or working with children. She wrote for a local newspaper as a reporter and taught English and Dance in a public school. Now Melanie enjoys spending time with her kids, doing yoga, writing and decorating her home. Check out her Instagram @burlapbythebeach.

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