Winter in New Jersey can be beautiful — until it’s the third freezing-cold day in a row, and you and your kids are going stir crazy. If this sounds like what winter has been like for you and your brood so far, don’t panic: New Jersey has plenty of places to for the whole family to go. The kids can burn off energy, be entertained — and even learn a thing or two. And let’s face it: Anything beats watching Minions for the eight hundredth time.
Garden State Discovery Museum
Garden State Discovery Museum is jam-packed with exhibits for kids of all ages. The Little Discoveries Barnyard is tailored to infants and toddlers up to four years old, with activities that focus on engaging kids at each learning stage. Special exhibits include a replica of a California Pizza Kitchen, where kids learn to work as a team and fill roles such as head chef, prep chef, and server, the Philadelphia Flyers’ Mini Rink, which lets kids act as athletes, announcers, and spectators, and a fan-favorite basketball court.
Location: 2040 Springdale Road, Suite 100, Cherry Hill
Hours: Sunday – Friday from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, Saturday from 9:30 am to 8:30 pm
Fees: $13.95 plus tax for adults and children over 12 months old, and $12.95 plus tax for seniors. Garden State Discovery Museum also offers a Buy One Get One Free discount for military personnel.
More info: discoverymuseum.com or call 856-424-1233
Insectropolis, The Bugseum of New Jersey
If your kid’s buggin’ out — literally — then this shrine to all things insect is a must-visit. Start your day by learning all there is to know about insects (how they’ve survived through history, how they communicate and work together, how their physique works for them) at Bug University, Unique Physique, and WBUG Radio, before visiting the bugs themselves. Kids are able to hold various types of insects, including tarantulas and cockroaches, as well as wander through the Bugseum or the Insectropolis Zoo to get an up-close look at their favorite creepy-crawly, or flying, bugs.
Location: 1761 Route 9, Toms River
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
Fees: $8 per visitor, children under 2 enter for free. Groups of 15 or more pay $6 per visitor.
More info: insectropolis.com or call 732-349-7090
Imagine That!!! is a hands-on discovery museum that offers more than 50 exhibits for children to explore. Highlights include a train exhibit, pirate ship, monster truck, miniature train set, airplane — even an enchanted castle —and kids are invited to touch (and climb on) everything! This is a great spot for kids of all ages to learn, play, and run around.
Location: 4 Vreeland Road, Florham Park
Hours: Open 7 days a week from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm (call ahead or check the website, sometimes they close early for private events)
Fees: Admission is $9.95 for adults and $10.95 for children.
More info: imaginethatmuseum.com or call 973-966-8000
Liberty Science Center
Liberty Science Center has something for all the budding doctors, architects, meteorologists, and scientists in New Jersey. Its most popular exhibits include the Touch Tunnel, an 80-foot, dark crawl-through that shows just how much we depend on sight and touch (tip: get on line early for this one, it’s first-come, first-served), the Communication exhibit, which allows children to experiment with digital graffiti and is great for babies learning to mimic the world around them, and the Wonder Why exhibit, which features a Digital Picasso drawing station, a 6-foot soap bubble station, and a rock wall.
Location: 222 Jersey City Boulevard, Jersey City
Hours: Tuesday – Friday 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, Saturday – Sunday 9:00 am to 5:30 pm
Fees: General Science Center admission is $17.75 for children 2-12, $21.75 for adults 13 and older, and $18.75 for seniors aged 62 and older. A Combination Pass allows visitors general admission, and an IMAX or 3D film, and the pricing for that is $22.75 for children, $27.75 for adults, and $24.75 for seniors.
More info: lsc.org or call 201-200-1000
Montclair Art Museum
Spark an early interest in and appreciation for art, and provide an outlet for all of that young creativity, by visiting the Montclair Art Museum. The Yard School of Art provides programs for children and adults throughout the year, and was voted no. 1 in the 2015 Discover Jersey Arts People’s Choice Awards for both Favorite Adult Art Class and Favorite Art Camp. The Education Department also features many family programs (like the monthly Park Bench events for preschoolers) to engage the both children and parents with age-appropriate art projects and conversations about different pieces and exhibits.
Location: 3 South Mountain Avenue, Montclair
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Fees: Members and children under 12 are free. Non-member adults $12, seniors (65+) and students (with I.D.) $10. The first Thursday (extended hours, 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm) of the month, galleries are free for everyone.
More info: montclairartmuseum.org or call 973-746-5555
The Newark Museum allows children to explore their own imaginations and create art based on the things that interest and inspire them personally. In the Makerspace program, kids use sewing machines, computers, and even 3D printers to design and make their own creations. The Newark Museum also houses the Alice and Leonard Dreyfuss Planetarium — the first in the state— which is an interactive way for kids to learn about astronomy and our solar system. For toddlers and children under 12, the Creative Play program is an opportunity to view art and create your pieces own as a family.
Location: 49 Washington Street, Newark
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Fees: Adults $15; U.S. and Canadian veterans and families (with I.D.), children, seniors, students (with I.D.) $8; members, Newark residents, and children 2 and under enter for free. Planetarium admission is extra.
More info: newarkmuseum.org or call 973-596-6550
The Funplex Amusement Center
You don’t have to wait until summer to play beloved Jersey Shore games like skee ball; Funplex boasts more than 100 games, including boardwalk arcade favorites like skee ball and claw games. There are even indoor thrill rides, like the 30-foot drop Free Fall. Kids (and adults) can hit the 4D theater for the Dark Ride game (where guests shoot at skeletons), or enjoy an intense game of LASERTRON laser tag.
Location: 182 Route 10 West, East Hanover
Hours: Monday – Thursday 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm, arcade opens at 12:00 pm; Friday 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm, arcade opens at 12:00 pm; Saturday 10:00 am to 11:00 pm; Sunday 10:00 am to 9:00 pm
Fees: Admission is free and pricing varies for each attraction. For a detailed pricing chart, click here.
More info: funplexeasthanover.com or call 973-428-1166
Take a step back in time — way, way back — at Medieval Times, where kids (and adults) get to embrace their inner prince or princess. Guests are seated arena-style for dinner (which they eat with their hands, of course, as there were no utensils in the medieval era). Each section is assigned a knight, and guests can cheer for their champion as he battles before their eyes. There are dashing knights, incredible horse tricks, sword fights — and an evil knight or two. The outcome is different every time, so there’s no guarantee who will win.
Location: 149 Polito Avenue, Lyndhurst
Hours: Tickets are valid for one show, and the venue is open to guests at this time. Find the schedule here.
Fees: Adult tickets cost $62.95 and children 12 and under cost $36.95. There are also ticket packages available.
More info: medievaltimes.com or call 866-543-9637
With 20,000 square-feet of games and rides, Tilt Studio is jam-packed with attractions and games for your kids to check out. The NJ outpost of this national chain offers glow-in-the-dark mini-golf (fun for both big and little kids), a mini bowling alley and more. Tilt Studio also offers weekly deals so be sure to call ahead or check out their website before planning your trip!
Location: 1580 Vorhees Town Center, Vorhees
Hours: Monday – Thursday 11:00 am to 9:00 pm, Friday 11:00 am to 10:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am to 10:00 pm and Sunday 11:00 am to 7:00 pm
Fees: There are various packages available depending on which day of the week you visit.
More info: tiltstudio.com/voorhees-nj or call 856-782-6572
Sometimes, nothing but the classics will do. And Bowleros offers just that and more. With 82 bowling lanes, an arcade, laser tag, billiards, food and drinks, Bowlero has it all. It’s the perfect place to bring the kids any day of the week for a fun-filled afternoon or evening.
Location: 1 Carolier Lane, North Brunswick
Hours: Monday and Wednesday 10:00 am to 12:00 am, Tuesday and Thursday 4:00 pm to 12:00 am, Friday 10:00 am to 2:00 am, Saturday 11:00 am to 2:00 am, Sunday 11:00 am to 11:00 pm
Fees:Prices range from $4.69 to $8.69 per person, per game depending on the which day and at what time you visit.
More info: www.bowlero.com or call 732-846-2424
Sahara Sam’s Oasis
It doesn’t matter how low the temperature drops, because it’s always summer at Sahara Sam’s! Home to New Jersey’s only indoor surfing simulator, as well tons of waterslides, a lazy river, obstacle course, and water basketball game, this park will keep you and the kids busy all day. And if you need a break from all that swimming, access to Sam’s state-of-the-art arcade is included with your ticket purchase. So don’t store those bathing suits and swim trunks just yet.
Location: 535 North Route 73, West Berlin
Hours: Sahara Sam’s is generally open Thursday – Friday 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm and Saturday – Sunday from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm, however this schedule is subject to change, so be sure to call ahead (or check out their online calendar here).
Fees: Full day tickets cost $36.95 ($31.95 when purchased online) and twilight tickets (valid from 3:30 pm until close) cost $26.95 ($28.95 when purchased online)
More info: saharasams.com or call 856-767-7580
Flyers Skate Zone
There’s nothing like hitting the ice skating rink when it’s cold out‚ but let’s face it, there’s such a thing as too cold out. So bring the fun indoors: Flyers Skate Zone hosts public skate sessions seven days a week, and offers skating lessons, hockey clinics, and figure skating camps, so this is your one-stop-shop to learn anything there is to do on the ice.
Location: 501 North Albany Avenue, Atlantic City
Hours: Open every day from 8:00 am to 11:00 pm, but hours are subject to change. (Check the online calendar here.)
Fees: $8 for public skate admission and $3 for skate rentals.
More info: ac.flyersskatezone.com or call 609-441-1780
Monster Mini Golf
It’s Halloween all year long at Monster Mini Golf, where guests can play 18 monster-themed, glow-in-the-dark holes. Each location has a slightly different take on the monster theme, but they’ve all got guys and ghouls creeping around the golf course in all their black light glory.
Location: There are multiple locations around the state, in Eatontown, Edison, Fairfield, and Paramus
Hours: It varies at each location, so make sure to call ahead.
Fees: It varies at each location, so make sure to call ahead.
More info: monsterminigolf.com
If your kid loves jumping on the trampoline — and what kid doesn’t? — this is the perfect place to go. Kids ages two and up are welcome to hone those gymnastic skills (or just burn some energy) jumping on their own section of trampoline. Referees are always nearby to make sure the kids stay safe while bouncing around, and little ones under six are required to wear helmets. Rebounderz also has a foam pit, basketball courts, and an area for parents to hang out while the kids are jumping.
Location: 76 Carter Drive, Edison
Hours: Monday – Thursday 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Friday 3:00 pm to 10:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am to 10:00 pm and Sunday 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
Fees: $12 for 30 minutes of jump time, $17 for 60 minutes, $25 for 90 minutes, $27 for 120 minutes, and $3 per pair of jump socks.
More info: rebounderzedison.com or call 732-902-6987
Fire Me Up! Studio
If you’ve got a little artist on your hands, Fire Me Up! Studio is the place to go! Kids and adults are welcome to work on various art projects including ceramics, pottery, canvas work and more! There are even classes offered for those who would like to take a more structured approach to their work. Fire Me Up! is also a great place to host parties, as they can accommodate 50+ people in their expansive space.
Location: 117 North Union Avenue, Cranford
Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm, Thursday and Friday from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm, Saturday from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm and Sunday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm
Fees: Studio time is free, guests pay for the items and materials that they will be using.
More info: www.firemeupstudio.com or call 908-272-2600