We’ve all had those days—you’re cooped up in the house and the entire family is going a little stir crazy because it’s pouring rain, swelteringly hot, or just too bitter cold to go outside. Why not try some indoor activities in NJ and burn off that excess energy? Get moving at an indoor rock climbing gym, play space, or trampoline park (where bouncing off the walls is the point), enjoy live entertainment at a kid-friendly play or musical, or learn something new while stargazing at a planetarium or exploring a museum. Scroll down for a ton of great indoor activities in NJ, along with some of our top picks in each category.
Featured Photo Credit: @lauren.goblirsch
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Indoor Activities in NJ for any season
Burn off energy at an indoor play space
There’s a reason that play spaces have become one of the most popular indoor activities in NJ—there’s something for every kid. Indoor play spaces offer Open Play sessions that allow your little ones to let out all of their pent-up energy by running, climbing, jumping, and playing on safe, full-sized playground equipment. Some facilities offer special classes, camps, and drop-off sessions, so mommy can enjoy time to herself to finish some errands. Age-appropriate areas and toys allow your little one to play safely with children of the same age, providing the opportunity to make new friends and meet new playmates.
Climb into a new activity
Rock climbing at one of New Jersey’s indoor rock gyms is a perfect way for kids to stay active and reach new heights together. And doing it as a family helps work on team-building, especially when you’re overcoming a difficult wall or conquering special challenges like blindfold climbing and three-legged climbing. Don’t worry if you’re all beginners, since novice and experienced climbers alike are welcome at these family-friendly climbing gyms.
Bounce your way to a good time at a trampoline park
Bounce your way to fun at an open jump session at one of New Jersey’s trampoline parks, which feature wall-to-wall (and sometimes floor-to-ceiling) bouncy trampolines. Kids can go freestyle and jump around to their heart’s content, try to slam dunk a basketball, leap into a foam pit, or take on the whole fam in a lively game of dodgeball (trust us, mama, it’s way more fun than the one you’ve done in gym class). Many trampoline parks have dedicated areas for toddlers and younger kids so that everyone can get in on the action.
Bowling is fun in your “spare” time
The shoes might not be the cutest, but bowling is a crowd-pleaser when it comes to family entertainment. It’s easy enough for almost all ages (we won’t tell if you want to use the bumpers!), comes with a snack bar, and often includes an arcade or other fun attractions to keep everyone occupied. Look for special events like family fun nights and glow bowling that could be right up your alley.
Head out for a weekend road trip
A long weekend road trip has been a long time coming, and sneaking away can be just the thing you need to recharge your family’s batteries. Luckily, there are plenty of family-friendly resorts in and around NJ for all ages and budgets you can drive to in under 2 hours when you want a little getaway. Or, if you are looking for something a little more remote, check out Cabin Rentals in NJ.
Game on at these retro arcades
Do you remember the good old days of video games, when Pacman and Donkey Kong ruled and you spent your whole day (and all the quarters you had saved up) at the arcade? Lucky for you (and the kids too, of course), the classic games of childhood are back at these retro arcades. And you don’t even have to bring your quarters or tokens—pay one price for a free-play wristband and play all the games you’d like within an allotted time period.
Give a standing ovation for live performances
Whether your little ones are theater lovers or have never experienced a live production, there are plenty of venues in New Jersey to see a kid-friendly show. Performances range from classic children’s plays and toe-tapping musicals to singalongs and cool interactive stage shows that let the kids in on the fun. And if they catch the acting bug, it may even inspire them to audition at one of New Jersey’s children’s theaters.
Think waterparks are only a summertime thing? Nope—you can plunge down a waterslide, drift in the lazy river, or get knocked down in the wave pool. There are a bunch of indoor waterparks to discover all over the state, including American Dream DreamWorks Waterpark in East Rutherford or Big Kahuna’s Water Park in West Berlin. Kids will have a ball getting soaked indoors, and you’ll all feel like you want on a resort vacay miles away.
Ready, set, go-karts!
Feeling the need for speed? You can’t beat go-kart racing on an indoor track for an adrenaline-pumping afternoon that both children and adults can enjoy. Rev up those engines and engage in a little friendly competition with the kiddos to see who gets to the finish line first (moms, we’re rooting for you!)
Make new discoveries at NJ museums
New Jersey is home to over 200 museums, so there’s one to satisfy every child’s personality and interests. Stimulate the imagination and make new discoveries about science, history, art, and so much more. From Liberty Science Center to the New Jersey State Museum, there are plenty of great museums to explore in the Garden State.
Stargaze at the planetarium
Sit back, relax, and get lost in space while looking up at the stars above and watching a special film presentation in the domes of New Jersey’s educational and entertaining planetariums. Kids (and their grownups) of all ages will get lost in the enchantment of the dome’s crystal clear projection—all while learning something new.
Go under the sea at an aquarium
You’ll find Nemo and all of his ocean-dwelling friends at New Jersey’s aquariums, which offer an up-close glimpse of amazing marine life, like sharks, sea turtles, otters, and penguins. Besides seeing fascinating sea creatures, little ones can get lessons about conservation and take part in educational programs from marine professionals. Some aquariums offer touch tanks with stingrays and other animals for an exciting hands-on experience.
Create a lifelong reader
Is there anything more satisfying than watching your child get engrossed in a good story? Check out one of New Jersey’s family-friendly bookstores and spend the day scouring the aisles with your kids to find the latest and greatest titles or classic reads that can’t be missed. Local bookstores usually have helpful staff who can steer your children—even the ones who aren’t bookworms—to books that will capture their interest and inspire a lifetime of reading, and many offer storytime events that are great for the little ones.
Team up for laser tag
Indoor laser tag is a mission to have fun, should you choose to accept it. Grab your laser gun, strap on your sensor vest, and team up with the fam to engage in a thrilling and intense competition. You’ll run through mazes and dodge your opponents, all while trying to be the last one standing. Win or lose, laser tag is a cool bonding experience that really gets the heart pumping!
A different kind of golf course
One of the best indoor activities in NJ is a family-friendly golf facility, where kids of all ages can have fun and practice their swing in a relaxed, climate-controlled hitting bay. No golf experience is required, and simulators and cool technology help children and adults hone their skills. For little ones, nothing beats the experience of glow-in-the-dark mini golf at NJ’s five Monster Mini Golf locations. The walls will come alive with silly, animated monsters that talk, walk, and wiggle amid the backdrop of a pulsating soundtrack.
Make a family skate date
Lace up your skates and relive those fun childhood experiences at the local roller skating or ice rink. If you opt for roller skating, kids can choose between regular skates or roller blades (often recommended for beginners). Try to book a lesson if you have a newbie and check the schedule for cool events like glow skating.
Scout out some sweet treats
Who doesn’t love some sweet comfort foods, especially during all of this chilly winter? Whether you prefer to indulge in the perfect chocolate chip cookies, search for the perfect dessert spots, or warm up with some delicious hot chocolate, make it a day to discover the delicious sweet spots throughout the Garden State.
Entertain the whole family
Looking for a variety of things to do all in one entertainment space? Well, look no further than a space that creates entertainment for all ages. Hit indoor rollercoaster at the Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park at American Dream Cheer, cheer on a jousting match at Medieval Times in Lyndhurst, load up your Power Card at Dave and Buster’s in Wayne, Woodbridge, or Blackwood, or become a kingpin at Humdingers in Paramus.