27 Kid-Friendly Things To Do This Weekend December 15-17


With only 13 more days to make those 2023 holiday memories, the weekend is chock full of family-friendly events guaranteed to capture those Insta reel moments. Step into a traditional Christmas market to shop, celebrate, and enjoy holiday decor at the Asbury Park Christmas Bazaar in Asbury Park, sip cocoa and sample chocolate in celebration of the new Wonka movie at the Cranford Wonka Walk, or celebrate the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa with a marketplace, dance, and music at the Kwanzaa Community Celebration in Montclair. And for more family fun, make sure you hit up all the local holiday activities before January 1. (Featured Photo Credit: Asbury Park Bazaar )

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

Santa’s Hideaway Adventure
Now-December 24
Ho, ho, ho—Santa Claus is coming to town, and this December, one of the most magical ways to see him is at  Ocean Casino Resort on the boardwalk in Atlantic City. Kids will be mesmerized as they take a trip to Santa’s Hideaway Adventure—a fantastical, virtual journey to the North Pole to visit Santa at his charming hideaway in front of a cozy fireplace. But the magic doesn’t stop there—book a festive overnight stay in one of Ocean Resort’s holiday-decorated rooms, experience unique entertainment, and shop for holiday gifts at The Shop at Santa’s Hideaway Adventure.
Cost: $69.99 for package
Ocean Casino Resort, 500 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401

A Live Conversation with Chevy Chase Following the Screening of Christmas Vacation
December 15 at 8 PM
Is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation your family’s favorite holiday movie? Then you will want to be at this event. There will be a special screening of the classic holiday movie followed by a live conversation with Clark Griswold, a.k.a. Chevy Chase.
Cost: $39.50-$95.50
New Jersey Performing Arts Center, 1 Center St., Newark, NJ 07102

A Christmas Carol
December 15 at 10 AM and 11:45 AM
Get into the holiday spirit at this performance of Dickens’ classic story of Scrooge and the meaning of Christmas.
Cost: $12 per ticket
Algonquin Arts Theatre, 60 Abe Voorhees Drive, Manasquan, New Jersey 08736

“It’s A Wonderful Life”
December 15 at 4:30 PM
Introduce your kids to this timeless movie, still shown in its original black-and-white format. Snacks and drinks will be available, so bundle up and bring your own chair to watch the screening.
Cost: Free
Brendan T Byrne State Forest, Highway Route 72 East, New Lisbon, NJ 08064

The Nutcracker
December 15-17
Enjoy this holiday tradition with the family, featuring a live orchestra and choir. This show tells the story of Clara and her Nutcracker Prince as they battle toy soldiers and larger-than-life mice, traveling through a land of dancing snowflakes and sweets.
Cost: Ticket prices vary
State Theatre New Jersey, 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Santa’s Workshop with Mr. and Mrs. Claus
December 15-17
Come hang out at Santa’s Workshop with Mr. and Mrs. Claus and get excited for the big day to arrive. There will be ice skating, food trucks, and, of course, photos with the big guy. 
Cost: Free
216 Forest Avenue, Paramus, NJ 07652

Sunshine Yoga For Kids
December 16 at 10 AM
Enjoy some yoga with the little ones and spend time playing games and using your imagination. The class is taught by a licensed yoga instructor and centers around a nature theme. Each kid will learn 5 yoga poses.
Cost: $12 per child
Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center, 247 Southern Blvd, Chatham Township, NJ 07928

The Beauty of Kwanzaa
December 16 at 3 PM
Join in a fun-filled day of celebrating the beauty of Kwanzaa. This event will be full of rich and meaningful traditions and family-friendly activities, including face painting, a special door prize, and traditional music.
Cost: Free
Have A Nice Clay, 221 North Avenue East, Westfield, NJ 07090

Downtown Cranford Wonka Chocolate Walk
December 16 at 12 PM
Celebrate the opening of Wonka with a Wonka hat, Chocolate Walk Bracelet, and Special Chocolate Bar with every ticket purchase. Chocolate specials will be at participating stores, and complimentary hot cocoa and s’mores will be in the square. You may even win a Golden Ticket!
Cost: $10 per person
downtown Cranford, Eatman Clock Plaza, Cranford, NJ 07016

Kwanzaa Community Celebration Montclair
December 16 at 12 PM
Celebrate the Seven Principals of Kwanzaa with traditional presentations, live entertainment, and programs that illustrate the historical elements of Kwanzaa—shop at the Ujamaa Winter Market, featuring local vendors from Montclair and its surrounding communities. There will be balloon twisting, dance, and music.
Cost: Free
50 South Fullerton Avenue, Montclair, NJ 07042

Countdown to Christmas in Hopatcong
December 16
With 50-plus vendors, free admission, and 50/50s, get in the holiday spirit and shop until you drop.
40 Maxim Drive, Hopatcong, NJ 07843

Santa Paws
December 16 at 1 PM
If you have a furry friend who also loves the holidays, dress them in their furry best and come out to enjoy dog treats and photo ops at participating businesses while you walk along the route. Prizes will be awarded for the best costume.
Cost: Free
North Wildwood Entertainment District, 3rd Avenue to Walnut Avenue, North Wildwood, NJ 08260

2023 Kwanzaa Celebration
December 16 at 12 PM
Head to the Vauxhall Branch Library for an afternoon celebrating Kwanzaa. There will be a performance from Newark-based Zawadi African Dance and Drum that includes a drum and dance showcasing the history of Africa. There will also be a talk titled “Kwanzaa: A Cultural Roadmap for Success.”
Cost: Free
Vauxhall Branch of the Union Public Library, 123 Hilton Avenue, Vauxhall, NJ 07088

Frosty: A Musical Adventure
December 16 at 1 PM
If you love the tale of Frosty The Snowman, then head to this show with your little ones. The story follows a young orphan who discovers magic in a stolen hat, and when he puts it on a snowman’s head, he comes to life.
Cost: $20 per ticket
South Orange Performing Arts Center, One SOPAC Way, South Orange, NJ 07079

Breakfast With Santa
December 16 at 10:30 AM
Haven’t been to see Santa yet? Get your lists ready at this breakfast with holiday fun and cheer. There will be appearances from Marty The Elf and The Big Guy and a cookie kit for the kids.
Cost: Ticket prices vary
Neiman Marcus, 503 Garden State Plaza Blvd, Paramus, NJ 07652

Asbury Park Holiday Bazaar
December 16-17: days may vary per location; check ahead
Step into a traditional Christmas market to shop, celebrate, and enjoy holiday decor and entertainment in Asbury Park at the Grand Arcade. There will also be music, workshops, and kids’ art classes.
Grand Arcade of Convention Hall, 1300 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

The Asbury Hotel, 210 5th Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

Holiday Craft Fair 
December 16-17
Still need to get some of your holiday shopping done? Find dozens of handmade and unique jewelry, handbags, fashion, home decor, and more.
Cost: Free
Rockaway Townsquare, 301 Mount Hope Avenue, Rockaway, NJ 07866

Holiday Train Rides
December 16-17
All aboard – take a ride with the family on the holiday train. The track is a mile-long loop throughout the decorated township forest filled with holiday lights. The train rides are free, but donations are appreciated. 
Cost: Free
The Tuckerton Railroad, 11 Oak Avenue, Bass River, NJ 08224

Holiday With The Animals
December 17 at 10 AM
This family-friendly event is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit. See the Bergen County Zoo animals and get your photo taken with Santa. At 2:30, the animals will get their holiday gifts from the Zoo.
Cost: Free
Bergen County Zoo, 216 Forest Avenue, Paramus, NJ 07652

Season of Light
December 17
Light the cold dark season with a warm and bright show celebrating all holidays. Season of Light explores why humans are fascinated with lighting up our lives during the December holiday season. This show traces the history and development of many of the world’s most endearing holiday customs, all of which involve lighting up the winter season — from the burning Yule log to the lighting of luminarias in the American Southwest and the traditional ritual of the Hanukkah Menorah.
Cost: $3 and up
Edelman Planetarium at Rowan University, Science Hall, 201 Mullica Hill Rd, Glassboro, NJ 08028

Christmas Bazaar
December 17 at 10 AM
Shop for gifts featuring unique Ukranian artisans offering holiday treats and gifts. There will also be Ukranian food and festivities. 
Cost: Free
Ukrainian American Cultural Center of New Jersey, 60 N Jefferson Road, Hanover, NJ 07981

December Holiday Model Train Show
December 17 at 10 AM
Head over and see the world’s largest 3-Rail-O-Gauge model train set, which features 20+ trains. Santa will be making an appearance, and there will be time for photos.
Cost: Admission prices vary
The New Jersey Hi-Railers Train Club, 185 6th Avenue, Paterson, NJ 07524

Snowman Splash
December 17 at 2 PM
Celebrate the holidays at the pool with the whole family. Your little ones will enjoy swimming with fun holiday floats, party games, holiday cookies, and a craft. Feel free to bring your holiday pajamas to change into after swimming.
Cost: $20 per person
Five Star Swim School, 1 Corbett Way, Eatontown, NJ 07724


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

Jenkinson’s Aquarium Sea of Lights Holiday Festival
December 16,22,23, 27 & 28 at 4 PM
Are you ready for a spectacular holiday lights display that will dazzle your little ones? This winter wonderland is full of treats, crafts, photos with Santa, holiday entertainment, and so much more.
Cost: Ticket prices vary
Jenkinson’s Aquarium, 300 Ocean Avenue, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742

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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.