December is finally here. While some are excited for the snow, others are dreading the season. I have mixed feelings about winter; while icicles are lovely, I do love me some ice cream on a hot day. My plan is to make the most of it while escaping the cold every now and then. These 12 places are perfect for just that!
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Grand Cascades Lodge - 1 Wild Turkey Way, Hamburg
A magnificent getaway, one of the most exquisite parts of this escape is the biosphere pool complex. It's a tropical paradise all year long with lush greenery, trickling waterfalls and eighty degree temperatures. You'll also find an underground aquarium, 140-foot waterslide, grotto-like jacuzzi, cave-themed steam room/sauna, and cafe serving up fresh gelato and tropical drinks.
2. The Playground At Caesars - 1 Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic City
An adult playground, you'll find shopping and dining options galore. There's frequent live music and, best of all, an indoor beach. Relax on a beach chair and sink your toes in the sand while staring out at the ocean...without feeling a chill.
3. Lee's Hawaiian Islander - 768 Stuyvesant Avenue, Lyndhurst
Take a culinary journey to Hawaii at this restaurant and cocktail lounge. Serving up Chinese and Polynesian cuisine, you'll find everything from tiki masks to tropical birds adorning the walls and ceiling. There's even a rock waterfall! Be sure to sip on a tropical beverage while enjoying your flaming pu-pu platter.
4. Bahama Breeze Island Grille/Cheeseburger In Paradise/Rainforest Cafe - Multiple Locations
While we're all about supporting local businesses, there's nothing wrong with visiting a tropical-themed chain restaurant every now and then. At Bahama Breeze Island Grille, the motto is, "time flies when you're having rum." Even rum-free, this is the place to be for a diverse menu of island favorites including jerk chicken and empanadas. Cheeseburger in Paradise offers "Tiki Bar Time" instead of happy hour and has tropical drinks that will transport you to...paradise. Another favorite, the Rainforest Cafe recreates the Amazon with incredible animatronics and decor.
5. iPlay America - 110 Schanck Road, Freehold
Missing the boardwalk? Head here for boardwalk rides, games, sweets, treats and more...indoors. Enjoy classics like Skee-Ball, bumper cars and the iconic balloon pop. While dining options are abundant, you can get boardwalk favorites like pretzels, cotton candy and nachos. With a giant arcade, live music and special events for both children and adults, you'll want to head here to beat the winter blues.
6. Sahara Sam's Oasis - 535 North Route 73, West Berlin
Sahara Sam's offers a massive indoor water park that's open all year long. There are plenty of waterslides to choose from and a lazy river for relaxation. They're hosting a New Year's Eve Bash that's sure to be a blast and they've also got an arcade for water-free fun. You'll also want to check out CoCo Key Indoor Water Resort in nearby Mount Laurel.
7. King Spa - 321 Commercial Avenue, Palisades Park
This stunning spa and sauna is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Indulge in a wide variety of heat therapies including salt saunas, steam saunas and an infrared ray room. Your stress will just melt away! You can also enjoy treatments here including body scrubs and massages. Hungry? Head to the food court, full of Korean favorites like bi bim bap.
8. The Great Story - 430 Huyler Street, South Hackensack
When it's too cold to go to the park, head to this indoor playground. It's got a giant sandbox, ball pit, slides, mini-castle, dress-up stations, dollhouses, toys, games and more. It's the perfect place for the little ones to spend some time during winter break.
9. The Funplex - 182 Route 10 West, East Hanover/3320-24 Route 38, Mt. Laurel
Similar to iPlay America, The Funplex offers a wide selection of rides and games (which vary by location) and laser tag. You'll also find immersive 4D rides at both locations and bowling in Mount Laurel.
10. Montego Bay Resort - 1800 Boardwalk, Wildwood
It's not exactly Jamaica, but this themed hotel offers an indoor pool, play area, water slides and tiki bar. It definitely gives off tropical vibes! You'll also find an oceanfront eatery, pizzeria, lounge and ice cream parlor - you never need to leave the property. Of course, you may want to if you're visiting December 8th - December 9th...there's a free holiday celebration with Santa at the Wildwoods Convention Center.
11. Adventure Aquarium - 1 Riverside Drive, Camden
Every New Jerseyan needs to go to Adventure Aquarium. The Aquarium is home to the largest collection of sharks on the East Coast, including the only great hammerhead shark on exhibit in the United States, the only aquarium in the world to exhibit hippos, one of only six facilities in the US to have Little Blue penguins as permanent residents, and it features the longest shark bridge in the world. There's also an immersive shark tunnel! For the holidays, they'll be hosting a special event - Christmas Underwater. There's plenty to do and see, including the world's tallest underwater Christmas tree.
12. iPic Theater - 2023 Hudson Street, Fort Lee
Dine-in theaters have become a thing in recent years but there's nothing else in New Jersey like this. The cream of the crop when it comes to cinema, iPic offers plush seating (including reclining seats that come complete with a personal pillow and blanket), a massive menu, $250 bottles of champagne and an on-site eatery (you can also have food delivered right to your seat). For a very special date night, head here.
When the weather outside is frightful, these destinations are so delightful. Which are you most likely to visit? What other New Jersey attractions would you add to this list? For more winter fun in New Jersey, check out this
ice skating rink.