24 FREE Things To Do In January


Hello, 2023—January is coming in hot with lots of free family fun. Start the new year off on the right foot with a guided First Day Hike at Whitesbog, celebrate The Year of the Rabbit at the 2023 Chinese New Year Celebration in Summit, or have some hot eats and see chilly art at the Fire and Ice Festival in Mount Holly. If you want more winter fun, check out Winter Activities to do in NJ and cross some activities off of your bucket list in 2023. (featured photo credit: istock/jferrer)

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

First Day Hike at Whitesbog
January 1 at 10 AM
Take the whole family on a guided 3-mile walk on sandy trails (you can even bring furry friends on a leash). After, stop by for hot chocolate and tea in the General Store. Migratory birds may be in the area, so don’t forget to bring binoculars.
Meeting Location: Whitesbog Historic Village, 799 Lakehurst Rd Browns Mills, NJ 08015

Old Dutch New Year: Talk of the Taverns
January 1 at 2 PM
Get outdoors on a walk along historic Somerville’s Peters Brook Greenway and Main Street with brief stops for historical storytelling. Place Washington’s Headquarters Flags at two stone markers recalling George Washington’s passage through the area in early January 1777 and return for a brief festive open house at Old Dutch Parsonage as the sun sets on the first day of the new year. 
Wallace House & Old Dutch Parsonage State Historic Sites, 71 Somerset Street Somerville, NJ 08876

Wonderous Winter Walk at Hartshorne Wood Park
January 4 at 10 AM
Dress up in your winter gear and tag along with a Park System Naturalist as you explore Hartshorne Woods Park in the wintertime. Meet in the Rocky Point parking lot in Highlands. This event is open to all ages, under 18, with adults. 
1402 Portland Road, Highlands, NJ (Rocky Point Entrance) 07732 

Patacong Valley Model Railroad Open House
January 7,8 and 14, 15 at 10 AM
Take in the sights and sounds while exploring the layout of the Patacong Valley Model Railroad. It takes about 30-45 minutes to view the entire setup. Don’t miss the seek-and-find puzzles ranging from easy to hard. 
1308 US-40, Richland, NJ 08350

Sunset Beach: A Place For All Seasons
January 8 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. We’ll also explore nearby areas, including the Magnesite Plant, Davey’s Lake, and Pond Creek Marsh. 
502 Sunset Boulevard, Cape May, NJ 08204

Ice Sculpture Show
January 14 at 12 PM
The Pier Village Ice Sculpture Show will kick off the winter season at Pier Village. See live ice carving starting and watch award-winning sculptors design and carve 14 sculptures in an elimination style “speed carving” format. 
Pier Village, Long Branch, NJ 07740

Family Woodland Hike
January 15 at 1 PM
Join the New Jersey Botanical Garden hike leaders on an easy, child-friendly hike in the Garden’s woodlands, where you’ll learn about the plants and animals around you in a walk designed to fit the group. Wear sturdy shoes, and meet at the Carriage House Visitor Center. 
Morris Road, Ringwood, NJ 07456

2023 Chinese New Year Celebration
January 15 at 1:30 PM
The Summit Chinese American Association is once again hosting the Year of Rabbit. There will be family portraits, a neighborhood greeting, Luna New Year Snack tasting, and children’s activities. At 3:30 PM, there will be a New Year Gala with a performance. 
272 Morris Avenue, Summit, NJ 07901

Snow Globes and Martin Luther King Day Events
January 16 at 11 AM
Drop in and make your own snow globe at the Museum of Early Trade and Crafts. There will also be Martin Luther King Jr.-themed paper crafts and books.
Museum of Early Trade and Crafts, Education Annex, 23 Main Street, Madison, NJ 07940

New Jersey School Fair 2023
January 21 at 11 AM
Celebrate National School Choice Week in NJ by bringing the entire family to the school fair. There will be food, music, raffle prizes, a photo booth, and face painting.
Kean University, 1000 Morris Avenue, Union, NJ 07083

Mount Holly Fire and Ice Festival
January 28 at 11 AM
Watch fire dancers, sample chili, and vote for your favorites, but the biggest show is seeing the blocks of ice get transformed into artistic sculptures.
Mount Holly, NJ 08060

Ice Harvest 
January 29 at 10 AM
Howell Farm was once called the “ice farm” because locals could buy ice from the pond and keep their milk cool on the way to the train station. Learn all about the tools and technology that made ice harvesting a successful business. Visitors can pull ice blocks up to the house, chip ice to make ice cream, and make an ice candle (small fee).
Howell, Living History Farm, 70 Woodens Lane, Hopewell, NJ 08530

Seashore Open House at Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park
January 29 at 1 PM
Stop by the Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park Activity Center, Long Branch, for the annual Open House with hands-on activities and education about the shore and the sea. Speak with a Park System Naturalist about your own shell collection or the aquatic animals on display. You can even create a beach keepsake to take with you.
221 Ocean Avenue, Long Branch, NJ 07740

Wassailing the Apple Trees at Terhune Orchards
January 30 at 1 PM
Celebrate the ancient British tradition of dancing and singing to celebrate the protection of the orchards to ensure a successful crop next season. There will be an evening bonfire too.
330 Cold Soil Road, Princeton, NJ 08540

Ongoing Events

Holiday Light Show on the Lake
Now-January 6
Visit Historic Smithville to ride the carousel and roast s’mores by the firepits on the green. Then watch 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. An orchestrated show of lights dances across the water to Christmas music when the sky is dark. The show can be seen from either side of the village and the bridge.
Cost: Free
Historic Smithville Village, 
615 E Moss Mill Road, Smithville, NJ 08205

Monmouth Museum Holiday Train Display
Now-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. 
Cost: Free
Monmouth Museum, 765 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft, NJ 07738

Winter Walk 
Now-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

RWJBarnabas Health Events

Healthy Kids in Hannah’s Kitchen
January 10, 17, 24, and 31 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.
Cost: Free
Online or Rev. Dr. Ronald B. Christian Community Health and Wellness Center at Newark Beth Israel
Medical Center, 208 Lyons Ave., Newark, NJ 07112

My First Cooking Class In Hannah’s Kitchen
January 14 at 9:30 AM
Join us in-person or virtually for this hands-on cooking class for ages 4-7 with a parent/guardian/loved one present. Even the pickiest eaters will learn to love their veggies in this fun and interactive class.
Online or Rev. Dr. Ronald B. Christian Community Health and Wellness Center at Newark Beth Israel Medical
Center, 208 Lyons Ave., Newark, NJ 07112

Taste Testers In Hannah’s Kitchen
January 14 at 11 AM
Join us in-person or virtually for this mommy & me style healthy cooking class for ages 2-4 with a
parent/grandparent/loved one.
Virtual or Rev. Dr. Ronald B. Christian Community Health and Wellness Center at Newark Beth Israel Medical
Center, 208 Lyons Ave., Newark, NJ 07112

Toddler Time: Holiday Snacks
January 16 at 10:30 AM
Bring your little ones, ages 2 to 4, for a hands-on cooking class with our registered dietitian featuring fun and festive holiday snacks.
LiveWell Center, 200 Wyckoff Rd. Suite 1200, Eatontown, NJ 07724

Teen TakeoverCook-along: Healthy Ramen Noodle Bowls (hybrid)
January 18 at 6:30 PM
Join Ms. Jenn for a hands-on cooking class in our demonstration kitchen, where we’ll have fun making Ramen Noodle Bowls! Teens 11-17 years old are welcome to attend! Please email livewellcenter@rwjbh.org if you wish to attend virtually.
LiveWell Center, 200 Wyckoff Rd. Suite 1200, Eatontown, NJ 07724

Safe Sitter
January 21 at 9:30 AM
Safe Sitter® is designed to prepare students in grades 6-8 to be safe when they’re alone, watching younger siblings, or babysitting. The class has fun games, guided discussions, and role-playing exercises. Students will learn safety, childcare, and life and business skills. Lunch or dinner will be provided to attendees. 
LiveWell Center, 200 Wyckoff Rd. Suite 1200, Eatontown, NJ 07724

Healthy Kids Cooking Class (in-person)
January 21 at 11 AM
Grab your apron and join Ms. Jenn in a hands-on cooking class at the LiveWell Center. Young chefs aged four and up are welcome to attend with an adult.
LiveWell Center, 200 Wyckoff Rd. Suite 1200, Eatontown, NJ 07724

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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.