As far as holidays go, January 1 has become an unlikely underdog. Year after year, all of the hype surrounding New Year’s Eve overshadows the lovely and peaceful 24 hours known as New Year’s Day. Don’t let the first day of the New Year pass you by in a leftover Christmas cookie-fueled Netflix marathon. Set the tone for an outstanding 2017 by getting outside, spending time with friends and family — and maybe even by getting a jump on your resolutions. Here’s how!
Polar Bear Plunges
The Polar Bear Plunge is a great way to do something a little crazy for a good cause. Grab your friends, throw on your bathing suit, and take a jump in the ice-cold Atlantic with a bunch of strangers. At least no one can call you boring in 2017.
Sons of Ireland Polar Bear Plunge
Location: Convention Hall, 1300 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park
Details: This year, the Sons of Ireland’s charities include Shore House, an organization that benefits adults living with mental illness, and Stephy’s Place, a charity helping those suffering with grief and loss.
More info: www.sonsofireland.org
Brigantine Polar Bear Plunge
Location: Laguna Grill & Rum Bar, 14th Street South and the beach, Brigantine
Details: The Brigantine Polar Bear Plunge benefits Fisher House, which is a charity that helps military families.
More info: www.brigantinepolarbears.com or call 609-266-7731
Atlantic City Polar Bear Plunge
Location: Resorts Casino, 1133 Boardwalk, Atlantic City
Details: The Atlantic City Polar Bear Club asks that you make a donation to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America.
More info: www.atlanticcitypolarbearclub.com or call 267-566-4649
First Day Hikes
First Day Hikes are free, guided hikes hosted by the New Jersey State Park Service to help start your new year off in a fun and healthy way. The hikes are of varying distance and difficulty level, and offer a great opportunity to get outside with friends and family. Individual parks throughout the state organize these hikes. See the below list for some options!
Bass River State Forest – Burlington and Ocean Counties
Belleplain State Forest (Hike or bike ride available) – Cape May and Cumberland Counties
Boxwood Hall State Historic Site (First Day Tour) – Union County
Cheesequake State Park – Middlesex County
Kittatinny Valley State Park – Sussex County
Monmouth Battlefield State Park – Monmouth County
Round Valley Recreation Area – Hunterdon County
Stokes State Forest – Sussex County
More info: www.state.nj.us or call 609-292-2733
Grab a Bite
From low-key brunches to pizza parties that let your kids run off some of their holiday energy, here’s where you can chow down on January 1.
Historic Smithville Inn
Location: 1 North New York Road, Galloway
Details: Head to the Historic Smithville Inn for a delicious New Year’s Day brunch buffet. Seatings begin at 11 am, with the last seating taking place at 5 pm, and the cost is $28 per person with a glass of champagne included. Make your reservation today!
More info: historicsmithvillenj.com or call 609-652-7777
Location: 395 Bloomfield Avenue, Caldwell
Details: Enjoy New Year’s Day brunch with the whole family at Cloverleaf Tavern. Menu items include mini pork roll sandwiches, kids mac and cheese, grilled chicken tacos, prime rib roast and more. There’s something for everyone at the Cloverleaf!
More info: www.cloverleaftavern.com or call 973-226-9812
Location: 16 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton
Details: Zagat-rated Rat’s offers a New Year’s Day brunch buffet featuring house-made charcuterie, iced seafood, and carving and omelet stations. The food, combined with the beautiful sculptures surrounding Rat’s, makes this the perfect way to start off 2017.
More info: www.ratsrestaurant.com or call 609-584-7800
More First Day Fun
Food Trucks and Fireworks at the Tuckerton Seaport
Location: 120 West Main Street, Tuckerton
Details: Head to the Tuckerton Seaport for a day filled with food trucks, live music, and fireworks. Starting at noon, the whole family can enjoy programs such as an ice cream-making demonstration, trips through the historic Captain’s House, a hayride through the frozen woods, and, last but not least, the fireworks (set to go off at 6 p.m.)!
More info: www.tuckertonseaport.org or call 609-296-8868
First Day at the Beach
Location: Music Pier, Ocean City Boardwalk between 8th and 9th Streets
Details: After ringing in the New Year with Ocean City’s First Night celebrations, keep the fun going with a 5k boardwalk run (more information here) followed by the first plunge into the Atlantic Ocean. If you’re into a more low-key New Year’s Day, take advantage of the bargain-filled shopping extravaganza taking place in downtown Ocean City.
More info: www.oceancityvacation.com or call 1-800-232-2465
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