Truth be told while the winter brings colder weather it also brings more time for family activities. Sports schedules tend to slow down. We’re less likely to rush rush rush and more likely to linger in one place, but we also need the occasional break to avoid cabin fever. These New Jersey winter activities are the perfect solution for making the most of winter days.
Whether you are looking for a new day trip in New Jersey, a new winter activity to try, or a new place to try a favorite family winter activity, this guide is packed with great ideas for things to do in New Jersey this winter.
Cool Outdoor New Jersey Winter Activities Near Me for Families
See something here you want to know more about? Chances are we’ve got even more details, just click the link. Look to us all winter long to help you prevent the “I’m bored” and replace it with the “This is awesome!”
Catch a fish ice fishing in NJ
Ice fishing is a favorite winter activity for many New Jersey families near me. It offers a wonderful way for families to get together and enjoy the fresh air while engaging in a little sport.
Ice fishing can take place on any pond and lake with safe ice. Most state-owned lakes allow ice fishing, whereas county or municipally-owned waters may prohibit this activity.
Those ice fishing should be prepared to cut their own hole. Before fishing, always make sure you research the policies and regulations for each lake. Learn more about ice fishing in New Jersey, in one of our guide in How and Where to go Ice Fishing in New Jersey with Kids.
Go Head to Head on Ice Bumper Cars in Paramus NJ
Have you ever loved the thrill of colliding with other cars on a bumper car rink? Now you can up the ante by bumping into your foes on the ice at Van Saun County Park in Paramus.
The smooth icy surface allows you to bump and slide a lot more fluidly. If you pick a session during the night you will notice that there is also a ring around each car that glows! This is fun winter activity for those who love the ice but are unable to ice skate. Caution: Bumping into other cars may cause you to twirl around in yours upon the ice.
Register online for Bergen County Winter Wonderland Ice Bumper Cars. Each 45 minute session gives you 2 different 8-minute sessions of bumper car fun on the ice. Tickets start at $20. Visit the Bergen County Winter Wonderland Calendar for the full schedule of dates and times. Ice skating is also available for an additional fee.
Try Out Ice Hockey for Free
During the winter, we focus our attention on ‘colder’ winter sports and activities for families. Try Ice Hockey for Free Day is one of those special winter activities we highlight. Saturday, February 24, 2024, USA Hockey and over 500 local programs across the country will encourage kids, ages 4 to 9, to come to a local participating rink and participate in a try ice hockey for free day as part of Hockey Week Across America.
Have a snowshoeing adventure
Snowshoeing is my favorite winter activity. There’s just something about hiking in the woods while it’s peaceful and empty and covered in a blanket of snow.
One of our newest winter articles is a guide to Snowshoeing Trails in New Jersey. There are at least 15 New Jersey snowshoeing trails. These trails range from 1.5 miles to 10 miles in length. Learn more in our guide to New Jersey Snowshoeing Trails.
Check out these Night Lights
If the kids haven’t experienced the night lights of Night Forms: Infinite Wave at Grounds for Sculpture they absolutely must! It’s definitely worth staying up past bedtime for.
Night Forms, created by Klip Collective, is a multi-sensory light and sound experience that takes place throughout the Grounds For Sculpture art and horticulture collection. It’s similar to previous versions but with more to see. Building on the excitement generated during the last two years of collaboration with Klip Collective, this year’s Night Forms season brings back more than a dozen installations from last year’s Infinite Wave along with a reprise of Froghead Rainbow, one of the most popular works from Klip’s inaugural project, dreamloop, located in the Amphitheater.
We had the opportunity to visit at the beginning of its run, the second year, in 2023 and it was truly incredible and special. At every turn, there was something to see and watch. Often we found ourselves frozen in place mesmerized by the changing lights and images projected on the sculptures and trees.
Night Forms is on view from November 24, 2023 — April 7, 2024, Fridays through Sundays, from sunset to 10 pm (last ticket available at 9:00 pm).
Become an ice harvester, in Lambertville, NJ, like Kristoff
Kristoff’s occupation in Frozen is based on a real-life occupation. Currently, when most people want ice they can just head over to their freezer. In the past, though, ice was a commodity that only those of means could afford or those people living in places with cooler temperatures.
People soon discovered that it would be profitable to ship the ice to other places. This caused ice harvesting to really take off in the early 1800s until the advent of home electric refrigeration in the 1900s. People were able to use their home ice boxes to help preserve their food and drinks.
Large blocks had to be cut from frozen lakes that weighed between 250 to 300 pounds. Initially horse-drawn plows would cut grids on the surface and then workers would finish cutting the blocks with large hand saws and breaker bars.
Blocks had to be floated to the shore and stored in ice houses. These were designed to preserve the ice until the next harvest or year. If stored correctly they could even be shipped worldwide. Customers would put out signs on their porch indicating how many pounds of ice were needed to be delivered into their ice box.
On January 28, 2023, Howell Farm will host an Ice Harvest. A 2024 date has not yet been set. At this event, visitors can learn about tools used for ice harvesting and help haul ice blocks to the ice house. Kids can make an ice candle craft to take home. Visitors can also chip ice to make ice cream and there will be ice cream samples to try.
If you cannot attend the big ice harvest we expect the Howell Farm Ice Harvest Weekday Sessions will return for 2024. The 2024 dates have not yet been set. People must register online beforehand. In this class, kids can harvest the ice by using simple machines, churn and taste some ice cream and visit the animals.
See live ice sculpting at a NJ Fire & Ice Festival
Another winter activity near me and probably you to attend is some Fire & Ice festivals that are Snow and Heat Miser approved. The colder weather allows ice sculptures to be enjoyed by everyone and many even have live ice sculpting demonstrations.
To balance out the icy cold, there are often places offering warm foods or drinks and bonfires at these festivals. Our kids also love how some ice sculptures allow them to put their faces behind them and how these festivals often have hot cocoa.
Ski, Yes you CAN Ski in New Jersey
Whether you are looking for a fun winter getaway or a day trip with the kids, you don’t have to go far this winter to hit the slopes to ski in New Jersey!
We may not have all the mountains that the Poconos or upstate New York has but there still are plenty of spots where you can ski in New Jersey. From North Jersey to Central Jersey, New Jersey has indoor and outdoor ski trails. Check out our Cool Places to Ski in New Jersey for more information about where to ski in New Jersey.
Dine outdoors in an igloo near me in New Jersey
When people think of an igloo they generally think of a dome-shaped structure made out of snow. While New Jersey generally does not get cold enough to have sustainable igloos throughout the winter, there are places to eat that let you dine in an igloo.
These NJ dining igloos are often made of clear plastic and many are even heated. They are a fun way to dine outdoors with just your family while staying warm and still being able to see your surroundings. Here are a few locations that have had igloos in the past. Details for 2024 are still being confirmed.
- Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten in Asbury Park – Igloos here are on the 9,000 square foot rooftop biergarten. This venue often has live music.
- Fig and Lily Garden in Morristown – The cuisine at this restaurant is Eastern Mediterranean and it is BYOB with igloos that seat up to 8 people.
- Renault Winery
Sled at one of New Jersey’s best places for sledding
The first sign of snow and what do kids want to do? They want to go sledding. It’s a classic must do New Jersey winter activity. If kids could have two wishes for winter it would be enough snow to close schools and enough to go out sledding.
Here are a few of our favorite places for sledding in New Jersey. Find more at our guide to the Best Places to Go Sledding in New Jersey.
Sledding at Echo Lake Park
- Echo Lake Park is one of Union County’s most popular sledding destinations! It’s one of five sites sanctioned by the county so find a parking spot and hike up the hill for some exhilarating snow fun.
Sledding at Holmdel Park
- When there is snow on the ground and conditions are safe, Holmdel Park at Longstreet Road in Holmdel, is the place to go for sledding. When conditions are safe for these activities, park hours are expanded to allow for time for sledding. Call Holmdel Park at 732-946-9562 for current sledding conditions. Learn more at www.monmouthcountyparks.com.
Jersey Family Fun’s listing of the best places to go sledding in New Jersey, is organized county by county to help you find great local sledding hills in New Jersey.
Snowtube in New Jersey
Next to sledding, snowtubing is another of the great New Jersey winter activities near me and you. Grab a snowtube with our Amazon affiliate link. A regular pool tube is not going to be able to stand up to winter snow and the occasional rock or branch. Use our guide to the best places to go sledding in New Jersey to help you find places to take that snowtube in New Jersey.
Sail across the ice while Ice Skating in New Jersey
Ice skating is one of the most freeing activities to try. Once people learn how to skate it is easy for them to get back onto the ice even many years later. The ice lets the skater smoothly glide along without the encumbrance of having to deal with a road or other rougher surface. Hallmark movies often show that ice skating outdoors is a must every winter.
Winter is the perfect time to try ice skating and New Jersey is home to ice skating rinks both indoors and outdoors.
When the conditions are right and the ice is at least five inches thick, ice skating may be allowed at parks across New Jersey. Look out for the “Skating Today” signs at Holmdel, Shark River, and Turkey Swamp Parks. It normally takes a week to 10 days of subfreezing temperatures to produce safe skating conditions.
Pop Up Outdoor Ice Skating in New Jersey
- Winterfest Ice Skating Cooper River offers a 60 by 120 foot ice skating rink in Cooper River Park in Cherry Hill for people to enjoy ice skating outdoors during the winter. It’s open from November 24, 2023 through to February 25, 2024.
Outdoor Ice Skating in New Jersey
- Aspen Ice is located at 16 Aspen Drive in Randolph.
- Summit Avenue Park is located at 150 High Street, Newton
- Swartswood State Park is located at 1091 E. Shore Rd., Newton
- The Asbury Hotel Ice Rink is located at 210 5th Avenue, Asbury Park
- Holmdel Park Pond is located at 44 Longstreet Road, Holmdel
- Ice at the Pier is located at 50 Chelsea Avenue, Long Branch
Maple Sugaring makes for sweet New Jersey winter activities
Do you think you can only go maple sugaring in Vermont?
If you’ve been wanting to learn about maple sugar making and how maple sugar you can do it in New Jersey. Most years, beginning in January, parks offer amazing opportunities to go maple sugaring in New Jersey. Not only are these maple sugar events affordable, fun, and educational, they are tasty too! Plus you can learn how maple sugar is made.
Visit our guide to the Best Places to Go Maple Sugaring In New Jersey to find local maple sugaring events offering maple fun tours and tapping maple trees and more. Participating in maple sugaring events is one of the sweetest things to do in New Jersey during the winter.
Watch for shooting stars at a New Jersey observatory
Shooting stars and shiny planets, winter can make for some peaceful nights observing the night sky. Visit our list of New Jersey planetariums and observatories open to the public for shows and observing the sky.
Grab the binoculars and go birding
Not all birds go south for the winter. Get outdoors this winter with your family and explore nature by bird watching in New Jersey. At nature centers and wildlife refuges, there are many opportunities throughout the season to investigate and learn more about birds in their natural habitat.
Here are a few to get you started.
- The New Jersey Audubon birding walks range from family programs and introductory experiences to more focused bird walks. Learn more and find out about upcoming 2024 bird walks at their site, njaudubon.org/gobirding.
- The Plainsboro Preserve is located at 80 Scotts Corner Rd, Cranbury.
- Forsythe Wildlife Refuge in Galloway.
- Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary is a 21.5-acre bird sanctuary and nature preserve in Stone Harbor, Cape May County. Learn more at stoneharborbirdsanctuary.com.
As February starts approaching look for details about the Great Backyard Bird Count. It is one of the most popular annual events among bird watchers. Count birds at the feeding station, build nesting boxes for spring, explore your artistic side, and learn cool facts about birds you may not have known before.
Go for a hike
Listening to predictions for this winter and it is hard to know how much snow to expect. Don’t let it disappoint you too much. You can still get out there for a winter hike. The best part, snow or not, there are little to any ticks in the winter.
Enjoy a winter beach walk
It may not be the ideal weather for sunbathing on the beach, but there’s still plenty to see on the beach during the winter months. Frozen sand formations, strong waves, and untouched paths of shells all can make a winter beach visit memorable.
Shop at Winter Farmers Markets
Winter farmers markets have been popular in the past. Look for them to pop up all over New Jersey. These markets are great places for seasonal produce and homemade goods. They also provide a great way for New Jersey families to shop local this winter.
Take a winter safari at NJ zoos
Explore New Jersey Zoos! One thing I love about our zoos is that they are open to the public, yearround. Indoor buildings provide a break from the cold, and outdoors there’s so much to see and explore. Plus it’s always fun to see how the animals react to the changes of the season, different types of weather, seeing their first snowfall, or even feeding time.
Complete a Family Scavenger Hunt at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum
When most people think of winter fun they think of spending the day indoors where it is warm and cozy. But that is not the only way to have fun this winter. In winter, nature is filled with many unique things to see and explore that you can’t see during any other season. The perfect way to do that is to bundle up the family and get outdoors for a nature scavenger hunt at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morristown, NJ.
The arboretum started as a private residence with a growing garden. When Matilda Frelinghuysen passed away she donated the land to the county to be used as a public arboretum. The arboretum is open throughout the winter for people to explore and hosts a variety of educational programs for adults, children, and families.
Scavenger hunts at the Arboretum are usually offered every weekend and cost just $10 per family. You get a list of things to hunt for and you take pictures as you go.
Once you find at least 10 items on the list you can collect your prize. The hunt changes every month so you can explore something new each time.
You can learn more about the scavenger hunts in our Hunting for Some Outdoor Winter Fun in Morris County and view their event schedule on our Calendar of Events.
Pose with sculptures
My boys and I had our first visit to Grounds for Sculpture on a chilly day in the fall. It’s such an incredible space. Grounds for Sculpture is a museum, sculpture garden, and arboretum where art and nature are always at play.
In addition to the indoor museums, there are nearly 300 contemporary sculptures located across 42 landscaped acres. Everywhere you look there is something to see and if you blink you might miss it.
Visit and see what’s blooming in the winter or how the sculptures may differ. Bring your phones or cameras fully charged because you won’t be able to resist taking lots of pictures.
Tickets must be purchased in advance and many days sell out weeks ahead of time. To learn more and find a date you can visit, visit their website. Also, visit our Library Museum Pass blog post. There you can find libraries that participate in a program that allows library cardholders to check out museum passes at no charge.
Go back in time at battlefields in New Jersey
Ever since we visited the battlefields of Fredericksburg Virginia, my youngest has been fascinated by battlefields. The cannons, forts, lookout towers capture his imagination and he can’t help but have a pretend battle with his brothers.
In New Jersey, we have a few state parks with battlefields. The bonus of visiting in the winter, less crowds. Plus if there’s snow you can have an epic snowball fight ON the battlefield.
- Fort Mott State Park
- Monmouth Battlefield State Park
- Princeton Battlefield State Park
- Washington Crossing State Park
Find a frozen waterfall
The most majestic waterfall in New Jersey has to be the one at Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park. I truly wish I loved closer because I would be there ALL THE TIME. Not only are the waterfalls at Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park truly majestic but they are also quite significant when it comes to waterfalls on the East Coast. The Paterson Great Falls are the second largest waterfall east of the Mississippi. In the winter, even in their frozen state, they are magnificent!
Even if you’ve been to the Great Falls, if you haven’t visited in the winter, DO IT! Just take the path as the stairs can be icy. Get a different view as the snow covers the rocks around the waterfall and parts of the water are frozen. You can learn more about Paterson Great Falls in Earning Paterson Great Falls Junior Ranger Badges.
There are other waterfalls in New Jersey that you can learn about through our article about New Jersey hiking trails with waterfalls. Combine a visit to a waterfall with hiking or snowshoeing and you have the perfect New Jersey winter activity.
Take the Atlantic City Mural tour from your car
This is one of those New Jersey winter activities you can do without ever leaving your car. Atlantic City has over 60 murals! I travel to Atlantic City quite often attending events and finding things to do in Atlantic City with kids and I can not believe I did not know that.
A month into the pandemic, I discovered Atlantic City murals. I spent the next week creating a Self Guided Atlantic City Murals Tour that you can do by car.
Book a winter cabin getaway
Get away with your family to these great cabin rentals in New Jersey. Yes! Some are open in the winter too! We’ve located cabin rentals in NJ at campgrounds, private cabin rentals, and beautiful lakefront properties. Many cabins offer fireplaces and indoor heating so don’t worry about being cold, just get out there!
Don’t spend the winter cooped up in front of the television or with the kids on their screens. Don’t let the monotony of being inside start to take its toll. Avoid letting cabin fever set in. Get out and enjoy all the New Jersey winter activities our state has to offer.
If you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors like we do, you need to read this, Portable Potties Help Kids Pee & Poop Outside. Kids have to go at the most inconvenient times. As long as you’re prepared you won’t have to cut your NJ winter activity short.
My thanks to writer, Lorelei for contributing more ideas for winter activities near me, her, and other families across New Jersey.
Stay warm! Stay safe! And use these ideas to show your kids how much fun they can have indoors or outdoors with these New Jersey winter activities.
Cold, Not Your Thing
If being out in the winter cold isn’t your thing visit our Ultimate Guide to New Jersey Indoor Activities for Kids and Teens. We’ve got a fantastic list of indoor activities in New Jersey for those times you don’t want to be outdoors.