Where can you surf, ski, shop, or ride a roller coaster under one roof? If this seems like a riddle, it’s not—just off the turnpike stands the dazzling American Dream, a mall and entertainment complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey, that’s filled with over 3 million square feet (equivalent to 45 football fields–yup, you read that right) of fun. While it’s only slightly smaller than its sister property, Mall of America in Minnesota, this space is the ultimate entertainment complex in the Northeast, with a chance to ski indoors at Big Snow (the only indoor ski slope in the Western Hemisphere), get lost in the labyrinth of the Mirror Maze, or ride a roller coaster indoors at Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park. If that’s not enough, they have the largest indoor water park in the US, the world’s largest collection of paradox exhibits, and the world’s largest candy store with over 10,000 types of candy. Oh, and did we mention the shopping, including luxury stores, mall favorites, and the only Saks Fifth Avenue location in NJ? American Dream has no shortage of noteworthy records and excitement for any age, which is why it’s on our list of Best of Things To Do in New Jersey. Scroll down for what to do to make the most of your visit—whether it’s your first time or your 20th. (featured image credit: American Dream)
Big Attractions at American Dream, not your typical mall
Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park
Nickelodeon Universe is the biggest indoor theme park in the Western Hemisphere and has some of the world’s steepest, tallest, and longest rides in New Jersey, making it the best day ever for family fun. But the thrills aren’t all daring—little will want to hop on Blue’s Skidoo or the Guppy Bubbler, and the whole family will have a ball on the Bikini Bottom Crosstown Express. Thrill seekers can take a ride on The Shredder or Aang’s Air Gliders. And kids can scout out the beloved characters in the park, like Blue’s Clues, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and SpongeBob Squarepants, to snap photos for your feed and collect autographs.
American Dream DreamWorks Water Park
It’s the largest indoor water park in the United States and always a balmy 81 degrees. With thrilling slides, splash-tastic lazy rivers, and awesome wave pools, you can get wet any time of the year. Book one of the poolside cabanas for up to five guests and get comfortable hanging out for the day (or night during twilight hours), or make it a staycation with a Sky Box Suite, which offers luxury amenities like designer décor, flat-screen television, a private changing room, and Coca-Cola beverages.
Want spectacular views of the NYC skyline? There is no better place to get them than in an air-conditioned, comfy gondola as you go through the 30-minute rotation, seeing iconic buildings like the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building from NJ than American Dream. And to keep with the carnival theme, stop at Deep Fried Love after you get off the wheel for some treats like deep-fried Oreos and funnel cake—yum.
Geoffrey’s Train Ride
All Aboard—ride the rails on this colorful mini-train ride through American Dream. With a Toys “R Us theme featuring Geoffrey the Giraffe and friends, kids will have a blast scoping out the entire mall. Buy your tickets (kids under 2 are free) and board by either Toys R Us or It’s Sugar. Take a big loop around, and make sure to snap photos for your feed.
Museums and other fun.
If you are looking for the world’s most extensive collection of paradox exhibits in one place, American Dream has it. This creative attraction gets your brain working with more than 70 mind-boggling exhibits that will have you asking, is it real or an illusion? And with displays that let you snap imaginative photos (sitting on a ceiling upside down, anyone?), the whole family will have a blast posing and sharing on their feeds.
Legoland Discovery Center
LIttles can get lost in play at The Legoland Discovery Center with play zones, a 4D cinema, an interactive ride, and creative spots to build. And if that’s not enough, they can meet Legoland characters, shop for their favorite LEGO sets, or see a LEGO recreation of New Jersey and New York in the 1.5 million brick Miniland.
Sea Life Aquarium
Go under the sea with over 3,000 sharks, anemones, tropical fish, and other sea life swimming against the backdrop of New York City. There are ten aquatic exhibits, including the awe-inspiring underwater tunnel with NYC landmarks featuring over 1,000 creatures swimming above you as you walk through.
Optical illusions are everywhere at this topsy-turvy attraction. At the TiLT Museum, you’re not just there to look at the art—you become part of the colorful, mind-bending exhibits. Urban artist Tracy Lee Stum designed this immersive, selfie-worthy experience where you can star in your own video game, fly through the city on a hot dog, or climb the Statue of Liberty amid dynamic backdrops that will tilt your whole perspective. Expect new exhibits, too, where you can see work from emerging artists.
Ski inside? Yup, you can be on the only slope on this side of the planet that’s got real snow blowing all year. Bundle up with gear, then take a chair lift to the top (there are even trees and a lodge facade to give it an outdoor feel) and ski, board, or sno-bike down. First-timers can take a lesson, or kids can learn to snowboard through the Camp BIG program before the (outdoor) ski season starts. And this year, kids can climb, slide, and sled on real snow at the all-new SNOW Play and Sledding area (rentals for outwear are available if you don’t have yours).
Looking to learn to surf but can’t make it to the shore? Inside American Dream’s indoor wave pool, you can surf whenever you want. Learn from professional surfers whether you are a beginner, intermediate, advanced, or expert (when the waves can reach 3-4 feet!). Private lessons are available too.
Skate onto an NHL regulation-sized ice rink with opportunities for open skating, figure skating, and hockey tournaments. Skate rentals are even included in the price of admission, and ice skating supports are available for novice skaters. If you have a hockey player in the house, ages 5-9 can be a part of the NJ Devil’s Learn to Play Program to really step up their game. You can even host a private event at The Rink—play like a pro with your own game that features penalty boxes and locker rooms for the full experience.
Angry Birds Mini Golf
Golf is not for the birds at this 18-hole 3D mini-golf spot, and if you love the Angry Birds game and movies, this course will make them come alive. There is even a built-in “birdhouse” that you can book for parties.
Blacklight Mini Golf
Get a hole-in-one at this vibrant mini golf course with alien territories, uncharted planets, and spaceships. Take a swing while music plays under cool neon lighting effects. Don’t miss taking an Insta-worthy photo with their glowing murals while you work towards that hole-in-one.
Step into a real-life kaleidoscope at this American Dream attraction. Get lost in a labyrinth of neon lights, electric beats, twists and turns, and your reflection at every corner. Check out their admission packages, including an Out-of-this-World pass for the Mirror Maze and Blacklight Mini Golf to top off an intergalactic experience.
Climb and Dig
Did you know that the world’s tallest ropes course is in American Dream? The Legends of the Hidden Temple Ropes Course has a total of 9 levels, and each is record-breaking, so push past your limits to scale the course. Kids who’d rather stay closer to the ground will find sparkly treasure at the Gem Mining station in the middle of American Dream.
Experience the first fully interactive and immersive Blast 7D ride. The ride combines a virtual reality experience and the thrills of a roller coaster and a multi-player role-playing game. Ages 5-105 can immerse themselves into five different ride modes and ride to the top of the competition. Feel like you are diving, flying, or falling through other worlds. Or gather your crew to play the high-tech game of Activate and test your team’s mental and physical agility through real-life challenges. Hundreds of game combinations are available, from the Mega Grid to Hoops.
Shopping, eating, and events
Restaurants for all tastes
From classics like Cinnabon and Five Guys to sit-down gourmet restaurants, American Dream has so many options when you need a quick bite or a relaxing meal. There are also unique spots you won’t find in your typical mall that cover every palate—Peruvian food, falafel, Austin Barbeque, bubble tea, Ramen, Italian, and much more. When it comes time to satisfy your family’s sweet tooth, check out It’s Sugar, with thousands of candy choices, and the Cotton Pop Shop, filled with artisanal cotton candy and popcorn. Sit down to enjoy the delicious dishes featuring Modern Italian cuisine at Carpaccio from Bal Harbour in Florida—a must for a sophisticated cocktail and meal. Other favorites that are one of a kind to American Dream are Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, with its unusual ingredients for frozen treats, and Oreo Cafe, where you can find yummy concoctions made with—you guessed it—the iconic sandwich cookies.
Shop American Dream
While entertainment is a big draw, American Dream is also the place to practice retail therapy. From Aldo to Zara, American Dream has the mall favorites everyone loves (including some stores with the most square footage in NJ). Find trendy favorites like H&M and American Eagle, mall stalwarts like Old Navy, Sephora, and Armani Exchange, and shops for kids, including everyone’s beloved Toys R US (the only stand-alone in NJ) and Build-A-Bear. And for the ultimate in luxury, shop the posh corridor of The Avenue, a curated collection of designer stores, including Tiffany & Co, Hermes, Saint Laurent, Jonathan Adler, Louis Vuitton, and the only New Jersey location of Saks Fifth Avenue.
The underwater tunnel at SeaLife Aquarium has views that can’t be beat. Photo Credit: American Dream
What to know before you go
Many attractions have different hours from one another, so make sure to check ahead for times. Parking is free for 30 minutes and $5 afterward; valet parking and a Supercharger site for electric vehicles are also available. For the latest deals at American Dream, check here to stay up to date. There are nursing stations, ATMs, baby changing stations, family restrooms, smart strollers, free WiFi, and a lounge area with charging stations available throughout the mall. There is even a Behind-the-scenes tour and VIP Experiences to elevate your visit. Want to spend the night? Check out the hotel options nearby. American Dream is open year-round and has a calendar of events like character visits, mini-golf activities, and tons of family-friendly events, so stay up to date on those and new attractions by following their Instagram and Facebook pages.
1 American Dream Way
East Rutherford, NJ 07073
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