22 Kid-Friendly Things To Do This New Year’s Weekend December 29-31


2023 is almost over, but that doesn’t mean the family fun has to end, especially this last weekend of the year. Take in the gorgeous fireworks and celebrate the end of the year at the Fireworks Spectacular at Pier Village in Long Branch, countdown to the New Year and stay and play all day at Nickelodeon Universe Noon Year’s Eve Celebration in East Rutherford, or catch the sight of dinosaurs and meet them at Jurassic Quest in Edison. And for more family fun, make sure you hit up all the local holiday activities before January 1. (Featured photo credit:istock/leembe)

(Note: It’s always best to check ahead for in-person events.)

Jurassic Quest
December 28-January 1
Have a little one who is obsessed with dinosaurs? This show is the only place to experience the largest and most realistic dinosaur exhibit, an interactive baby dinosaur show, a meet and greet, a dino bounce house, and so much more.
Cost: Ticket prices vary
New Jersey Convention and Expo Center, 97 Sunfield Avenue, Edison, NJ 08837

Winter Break At The Museum
December 29 at 11 AM
Winter break may almost be over, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t time for fun activities with the family. Enjoy a fun craft and story time while you are here.
Cost: Free
New Jersey State Museum, 205 W. State Street, Trenton, NJ 08625

Meet Owls & Hawks at Liberty Science Center
December 29-30 
These amazing birds will be at Liberty Science Center, and there will be fun presentations about them. This is part of the Holiday Adventure, so make sure you check out the other things happening while you are there.
Cost: Ticket prices vary
Liberty Science Center, 222 Jersey City Boulevard, Jersey City, NJ 07305

Paw Patrol Live
December 29-30
Grab the fam and watch the pups from Paw Patrol come alive on the stage. It’s Pirate Day in Adventure Bay, and the friends need to rescue Cap’n Turbot from a mysterious cavern.
Cost: Ticket prices vary
New Jersey Performing Arts Center, 1 Center Street, Newark, NJ 07102

Patriots Week Sky Talks
December 29-30
Come to the Planetarium and take in the sky as George Washington would have seen it on Christmas Day in 1776. Before each program, there will be a live sky talk.
Cost: $10 per adult, $5 per child 12 and under, $1 off per senior 65 and over
New Jersey State Museum, 205 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08608

JSLS Holiday Train Rides
December 30 
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.
Cost: Free
Jersey Shore Live Stream Organization/The Tuckerton Railroad, 11 Oak Avenue, Bass River, NJ 08087

“Noon” Year’s Eve Eve Party and Show
December 30 at 11 AM
Get ready for the New Year a little earlier this year with the fam. Shake those noisemakers to laser songs and find out what to look for in the night sky in 2024.
Cost: Ticket prices vary
Robert J. Novins Planetarium, 1 College Drive, Toms River, NJ 08732

New Year’s Family Camp
December 30-January 1
Celebrate this New Year’s Eve in NJ in a cozy cabin stay at this camp-style celebration. Go hiking during the day, make crafts, and the family can test their skills at an archery class. You’ll stay in heated cabins with private 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 in the great outdoors.
Cost: $184 for adults 18 and over, $153 for kids 12-17, and $126 for kids 5-11. Children 4 and under are free
1035 Fairview Lake Rd., Newton, NJ 07860

Nickelodeon Universe Noon Year’s Eve Celebration
December 31 at 10 AM
Grab the whole family and head to Nickelodeon Universe for a kid-friendly countdown to noon on NYE. The celebration features a dance party and an all-access pass to stay and play all day.
Cost: Ticket prices vary
Nickelodeon Universe, 1 American Dream Way, East Rutherford, NJ 07073

First Night Ocean County
December 31 at 1 PM
Ring in the new year with the entire family at this celebration. There will be a Frozen sing-a-long, a holiday magic show, a holiday concert, and more.
Cost: Free
Casino Pier Arcade, 800 Ocean Terrace, Seaside Heights, NJ 08751

NYE Family Bash
December 31 at 3 PM
This will be a fun night filled with activities to close out 2023. There is something for everyone, from bowling and games to a buffet meal and a virtual ball drop.
Cost: $55 online, $59 in person
The Funplex Amusement Center, 182 NJ-10, East Hanover, NJ 07006

First Night Morris 2024
December 31 at 4:15 PM
Celebrate the end of 2023 with an event to remember. This is the 32nd year for this event, and it’s filled with performances, fireworks, a children’s fun festival, and a midnight countdown.
Cost: $30 per ticket
Mayo Performing Arts Center, 100 South Street, Morristown, NJ 07960

Fireworks Spectacular at Pier Village
December 31 at 9 PM
Head to Pier Village for a celebration full of family fun. There will be food specials, carousel rides, and boardwalk-style games. Stay for the celebration and the end-of-the-year fireworks show at 9 PM.
Cost: Free
110 North Ocean Ave.,
Long Branch, NJ 07740 

Hogmanay Bonfire
December 31 at 5:30 PM
The Hogmanay Bonfire has been a tradition for the Lawrence Historical Society since 1997. Grab a pencil and paper at the event and write down all the bad things from the previous year that you wish to toss into the fire. The Brearley House will be open for tours throughout the event, and the Society’s Junior Historians Club will host activities for children, including a Brearley House scavenger hunt. Food vendors also will be onsite. The bonfire itself will be lit promptly at 6 PM, and a bagpiper will be on hand to entertain attendees.
Cost: Free, but donations are welcome.
The Great Meadow, 1761 Brearley House, 100 Meadow Road, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648

New Year’s Eve Celebration at Iplay America
December 31 at 7 PM
This is the place to be for New Year’s Eve in NJ for a truly kid-friendly party—with fun rides, a DJ, party favors, and confetti cannons. Play games and go on the rides, refuel at Game Time Bar & Grill, or grab a snack at one of the in-park concession stands. 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

Fireworks on the Beach in Sea Isle City
December 31 at 8 PM
Bring your chairs, blankets, and warm clothes to experience a beautiful fireworks display on the sand. The show starts at 8 PM, so you’ll have plenty of time to celebrate without staying up til midnight. 
Cost: Free
JFK Blvd Beach, Sea Isle CityNJ 08243

First Night Ocean City, NJ
December 31 at 4 PM
This New Year’s Eve in NJ celebration is packed—they have 30 different activities happening at various venues from 4 PM to just before midnight. Check out the ventriloquist show, or swing by the skate park for a skate party, see amazing magicians, sing along to dueling pianos, and then stop by the Library for LEGO at the Library. Check out the full schedule here. And make sure to hang around for the fireworks show at midnight to welcome the new year.
Cost: $22 for an all-inclusive button (good for all events).
Venues all around Ocean City, NJ

Kids New Year’s Eve
December 31 at 1 PM
This annual New Year’s Eve party is fun for the whole family to celebrate the start of 2024. There will be a magic show plus food and drink specials.
Cost: Free
Joe Pop’s Shore Bar and Restaurant, 2002 Long Beach Blvd, Ship Bottom, NJ 08008


The Winter WonderLights
Now-December 31
New Jersey’s largest animated holiday light show will dazzle your whole family with over 1.5 million lights dancing to your favorite holiday music. The trees, the tunnels, and a tribute to first responders and US armed forces are just a sample of what you will see on the half-mile drive.
Cost: $30 per car or $125 VIP season pass per car; guests are encouraged to buy their tickets online.
655 Cranbury Road, East Brunswick, NJ 08816

Holidig Drive-Thru Light Show at Diggerland
Now-January 1
At America’s only construction theme and water park, you can see trucks, equipment, and scenery lit up for the season. As you drive on the course, you’ll discover tunnels, festive treats, and lots of lights along the way. Don’t forget to tune into Diggerland USA’s radio station to get into the holiday spirit.
Cost: $34.95
Diggerland USA, 
100 Pinedge Drive, West Berlin, NJ 08091

Winter Lantern Festival
Now-January 2
Head to American Dream and check out all of the gorgeous Chinese lanterns at this exhibit. This unique world of light is full of family-fun activities, including making your own paper lantern, taking photos with life-size dinosaurs, and exploring the traditional display.
Cost: Ticket prices vary
American Dream, American Dream Way, East Rutherford, NJ 07073

Festival of Trees 2023
Now-January 7
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

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About Author

Karen lives in Central Jersey with her two dogs, one cat, husband and daughter Olivia. Graduating from Seton Hall University with a B.A. in Journalism and Public Relations, she has been writing and working in the social media field for a few years. One of her proudest moments as a writer so far has been interviewing Tim Gunn from 'Project Runway' and subsequently winning Honorable Mention in NJ for Feature Writing. When she is not busy as a mom, she enjoys reading, going to the beach and watching the Real Housewives.