New Jersey Winter Activities to try THIS Winter!

Posted on: December 12th, 2020 by

Oh my goodness! Winter is coming! We’re coming out of an unusual fall and some say this winter could be difficult. Some say we could be spending A LOT of time indoors, bored. I disagree. I am so excited for all the things there are to do in New Jersey this winter. Get excited with me!

Get excited for winter with these New Jersey winter activities.

Jennifer Auer, Jersey Family Fun

Truth be told while the winter brings colder weather it also brings more time for family activities, especially this year. 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 might have to if we see restrictions continue or regular attractions close.

We love to stay home where it’s warm; while we also like to go out and explore. With the holidays, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day, President Day’s weekend, kids have many more days off from school. Other kids might still be home doing virtual learning. However you look at it there is more time for New Jersey winter activities and more time for making great family memories.

New Jersey winter activities horizontal image

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 things to do in New Jersey this winter. 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!”

As we prepare to take a few days off to celebrate Christmas, do our own winter activities in New Jersey, and enjoy the slowdown that usually comes in January, we can’t do it without saying thank you. This October marked our ELEVENTH year of doing business. Thank you for all of our support. We had such plans to celebrate with a big party, but sadly those are on hold.

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.

Local Winter Break Activities to Bust Winter Break Boredom

Cool Outdoor New Jersey Winter Activities for Families

Catch a fish ice fishing

Ice fishing is a favorite winter activity for many New Jersey families. 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. Coming soon I’ll share a few spots in New Jersey for ice fishing.

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 newest blog posts, How and Where to go Ice Fishing in New Jersey with Kids.

Ice Fishing in New Jersey
Ice Fishing is a favorite winter activity for many Sussex County residents!

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.

Snowshoeing-in-New-Jersey-Try-it-with-the-kids

One of our newest 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.

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!

Ski-Buddies

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.

Sled at one of New Jersey’s best places for sledding

First sign of snow and what do kids want to do? They want to go sledding. It’s a classic must to 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 on up the hill for some exhilarating snow fun.
sledding hills in New Jersey

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. 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.

Cranmore Mountain Adventure Park snow tubing hill
At the bottom ready to go back up the lift for another ride down.

Ice Skate in New Jersey

Winter is the perfect time to try ice skating and New Jersey is home to ice skating rinks both indoors and outdoors. While the indoor locations maybe off limits or closed come winter, I’m hopeful that New Jersey outdoor ice skating rinks will be open.

Learning to ice skate at Codey Arena in West Orange NJ
He was excited to see the zamboni while ice skating

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 at a week to 10 days of subfreezing temperatures to produce safe skating conditions.

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

For help on teaching kids how to ice skate click over to our post.

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.

Maple Sugaring New Jersey

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.

Complete a Family Scavenger Hunts at the Frelinghysen Arboretum

There are plenty of great things to explore outdoors in the winter. The scavenger hunt at the Arboretum is a great way to do that. Scavenger hunts 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. Check out Jersey Family Fun’s article about the scavenger hunt for more details.

Watch for shooting stars at a New Jersey observatory

More details coming soon.

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’s 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 2021 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.
The-stone-harbor-bird-sanctuary-is-one-of-the-stunning-stops-you-can-make-along-Ocean-Drive-a-scenic-drive-in-New-Jersey

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.

New Jersey Winter Activities to try THIS Winter!

Go for a hike

Listening to predictions for this winter and it sounds like there may not be a lot of opportunities for snow. Don’t let it disappoint you too much. You can still get out there for a winter hike. The best part, there are little to any ticks in the winter.

Take a look at our 25 Things to Know About New Jersey State Parks to help you determine where to start hiking at first. Or visit our 70+ Places to Hike in New Jersey for even more hiking options.

snowmen bunnies on the nature trail at the Tuckerton Seaport
The snow characters will greet you as you start you hike on the Tuckerton Seaport Nature Trail.

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.

Long-Branch-Beach-with-snow-Zoom-Background
The rocks of Long Branch beach covered with snow.

Shop at Winter Farmers Markets

Winter farmers markets have been popular in the past, and I think, with our current situation, they will be popular again. 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.

Farm fresh produce at NJ farmers markets (1)

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. So even if the indoor buildings are still closed for now, there’s still 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.

tiger at Cohanzick-zoo

Pose with sculptures

This past fall my boys and I had our first visit to Grounds for Sculpture. It’s such an incredible space. Grounds for Sculpture is a museum, sculpture garden, and arboretum where art and nature are always at play.

Grounds-for-sculpture-man-looking-at-water

The indoor museums are currently closed but outdoors 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 card holders 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.

cannon at monmouth battlefield 2

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. I haven’t see them in the winter, but I imagine in a frozen, or somewhat frozen form, they are stunning!

Even if you’ve been to the Great Falls, if you haven’t visited in fall, DO IT! Get a different view as the leaves change around the waterfall. You can learn more about the Paterson Great Falls in Earning Paterson Great Falls Junior Ranger Badges.

There are other waterfalls in New Jersey that you can learn about through this article on NJ Hiking. Combine a visit to a waterfall with hiking or snowshoeing and you have the perfect New Jersey winter activity.

National Historical Park Paterson Great Falls in Paterson New Jersey

Sip your way through the South Jersey Hot Chocolate Trail

Visit South Jersey, South Jersey’s state-designated tourism marketing nonprofit, has assembled a trail map to South Jersey’s must have hot cocoa beverages.

South Jersey Hot Chocolate Trail

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 have traveled into 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 than you can do by car.

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 it’s 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.

If you’re reading this before the holidays you may find these articles also helpful.

For ways to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah at home visit these blog posts and listings

Posted in: All, Things to do in New Jersey, Things to do in North Jersey, Things to do in South Jersey

Jennifer Auer is the hyperlocal mom blogger who runs Jersey Family Fun. From New Jersey, this mom of 3 boys just can’t sit still! Her husband likes to say she’s a work-at-home mom who never stays home. Jennifer started traveling as a child and hasn’t stopped since. Instead of letting her husband and boys slow her down, she brings them along! As her boys transition from tweens to teens there’s still so many places she wants to discover with them both across the U.S. and internationally. She has been a Jersey Girl for 35+ years, and a Jersey Mom for 15+ years and a New Jersey mom blogger for 10 years, although she'd much rather be referred to as an influencer or just by name. She has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus on Entrepreneurship from Bryant University in Rhode Island.

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