It’s back to reality, and we’re beating those post-holiday blues with a bunch of fun things to do with the fam this first official weekend of 2024. Watch the talented sculptors create frozen art and strike an icy pose at the Ice Festival in Long Branch, see model trains and everyone’s favorite Thomas the Tank whiz around the tracks at the 65th Annual Model Train Show in North Haledon, and enjoy stunning, larger-than-life lantern displays of animals and nature at Let it Glow at the Bergen County Zoo in Paramus. And for more family fun, make sure you hit up all the local holiday activities before January 1. (Featured photo: istock/ImagineGolf)
(Note: It’s always best to check ahead for in-person events.)
Festival of Trees 2023
This must-see holiday tradition is one that the whole family will enjoy. Peruse the museum’s galleries, mantels, and porches beautifully decorated by local businesses, garden clubs, and non-profit organizations.
Cost: Ticket prices vary
Morven Museum and Garden, 55 Stockton Street, Princeton, NJ 08540
Holiday Light Show on the Lake
Visit Historic Smithville to hear your favorite holiday tunes synchronized to a unique light display. There will be over 120 Christmas trees, constructed from 50,000+ Christmas lights, magically floating atop Lake Meone in the center of the village. When the sky is dark, an orchestrated show of lights dances across the water to Christmas music. The show can be seen from either side of the village or the bridge.
Historic Smithville Village, 615 E Moss Mill Road, Smithville, NJ 08205
Experiential Arts Labs with Appel Farm
January 6 at 7:30 AM
This learning experience is so much fun for everyone in the family, including games, dance and movement, music and sound, and more.
Cumberland County Library, 800 E. Commerce Street, Bridgeton, NJ 08302
A Twelfth Night Celebration: 1775 On The Eve Of War
January 6 at 1 PM
This colonial celebration includes live music, games, refreshments, and a Twelfth Night cake. This event focuses on the last peaceful holiday season prior to the Revolutionary War and encourages participants to bring tea (to burn!) to show displeasure over King George’s tea tax.
Hancock House Historic Site, 15 Front Street, Hancocks Bridge, NJ 08038
January 6 at 11 AM
Bring your creative spirit and spend some time completing hands-on activities perfect for ages 5-12. Kids can build Legos, paint, make jewelry, experiment with coding robots, and more.
Museum of Early Trades & Crafts, 23 Main Street, Madison, NJ 07940
NJ Audubon: January Jaunt at Hawk Rise Sanctuary
January 6 at 10 AM
Visit Hawk Rise Sanctuary and take a unique look at nature with the entire family. Make sure you come bundled up and enjoy hot tea or hot cocoa afterward.
Hawk Rise Sanctuary, Range Road, Linden, NJ 07036
January 6 at 12 PM
You’ll be amazed as you watch the ice sculpting competition from talented and award-winning sculpting teams from across the country. After, head to the warming house for hot drinks, live music, and firepits, and participate in a family-friendly scavenger hunt, games, and crafts. Cost: Free; some activities incur a fee.
Pier Village, 50 Chelsea Avenue, Long Branch, NJ 07740
JSLS Holiday Train Rides
All aboard these 1/8 scale trains that loop through a mile-long track and take you along the decorated forest. You will see tons of beautiful holiday lights as you take in the sights.
Jersey Shore Live Stream Organization/The Tuckerton Railroad, 11 Oak Avenue, Bass River, NJ 08087
65th Annual Model Railroad Show
January 6-7 at 12 PM
If you have a little one who loves trains, then bring them to this fun model railroad show. There will be layouts for kids, refreshments, a Thomas the Tank Engine sighting, tons of trains, and more.
Cost: $8 adults, children 10 and under are free
575 High Mountain Road, North Haledon, New Jersey 07508
Holidig Drive-Thru Light Show at Diggerland
Drive-thru America’s only construction theme and water park and enjoy the lights, tunnels, holiday displays, and more. Don’t forget to tune into Diggerland USA’s radio station to hear music as you enjoy the lights.
Diggerland USA, 100 Pinedge Drive, West Berlin, NJ 08091
Sunrise Walk on the Farm
January 7 at 7 AM
Start your day on the farm with a beautiful sunrise. You get the opportunity to explore the farm before daily chores are started and then head into the Visitor Center for a hot drink.
Longstreet Farm, 44 Longstreet Road, Holmdel, NJ 07733
Experience The Battle of Princeton
January 7 at 9:30 AM
This is such a fun experience for all the history buffs in your family. The day includes witnessing British and American reenactments of the Battle of Princeton, talking with living historians, participating in a memorial wreath-laying ceremony, touring the historic Thomas Clarke House, and more.
Princeton Battlefield, 500 Mercer Street, Princeton, NJ 08540
Sunset Beach: A Place For All Seasons
January 7 at 9 AM
Part of the world-famous Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area, the Sunset Beach area hosts an array of birds, including sparrows, warblers, hawks, and waterbirds. On this guided walk, you will also explore nearby areas, including the Magnesite Plant, Davey’s Lake, and Pond Creek Marsh.
502 Sunset Boulevard, Cape May, NJ 08204
The Wizard of Oz
Follow the yellow brick road with Dorothy and her friends to see Oz in this classic tale that will delight everyone in the fam. This adaptation uses actors, puppets, new songs, and favorites from the movie.
Cost: Ticket prices vary
Mayo Performing Arts Center, 100 South Street, Morristown, NJ 07960
January Vegan in NJ Market
January 7 at 12 PM
This pop-up vegan market is full of amazing vendors selling all vegan products. You will find something no matter what you are looking for.
American Legion Post 346, 21 Gully Road, Neptune, NJ 07753
Over the Rainbow Party
January 7 at 12:30 PM
If your family loves the Wizard of Oz, this party is for you. You will have the chance to make a rainbow craft and enjoy other themed activities.
Cost: $5; registration in advance is required
Learning Express Toys of Morristown, 158 South Street, Morristown, NJ 07960
Legends of the Night Sky
Have you ever wondered about Orion, the great hunter of the winter sky? Head to this event, where they will be playing a traditionally animated full-dome movie all about Orion and why we can see his belt in the sky.
Cost: Ticket prices vary
Edelman Planetarium at Rowan University, Science Hall, 201 Mullica Hill Road, Glassboro, NJ 08028
Let It Glow
It’s a holiday spectacular with stunning, larger-than-life lantern displays of animals and nature that will wow you and your littles. 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
Skating on the Square
Now-February 25, open Thursday-Sunday
Bundle up and bring your ice skates for a fun day of skating outside. This eco-friendly, outdoor synthetic skating rink is so much fun for the whole family.
Cost: $10 per person
19 Hulfish Street, Princeton, NJ 08542
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