Winter is coming soon to America, especially New Jersey, and many people might not think of the Garden State as a typical winter wonderland. After all, we’re not a quiet, bucolic small-town kind of state – the type classically seen in Norman Rockwell Christmases. But as the season turns in New Jersey, something unusual happens – and New Jersey does the winter season like no one else around — especially when it comes to incredible day trips and weekend getaways. Not only are there a lot of amazing things to do in New Jersey in winter, from Camden to Cape May and the Atlantic City boardwalk, but many of them can’t be found anywhere else in the country. From free things to do in winter in New Jersey, like a visit to a natural skating rink, to luxurious and romantic things to do in winter in New Jersey, like staying in a high-end resort, it’s easy to discover just how amazing the
winter season is in this small state.
As for family fun in New Jersey in winter, it’s almost too much! Polar express trains, stunning light displays, and even a whole Christmas village! For those seeking adrenaline, there is more than one incredible place to hit the slopes or enjoy nature in a New Jersey state park. When the weather gets cool, it may just be the best time of the year for seeing just what makes New Jersey so unique.
Holiday Events In New Jersey
There is no other time of year when as many amazing destinations get together to put on a show as the Christmas season. Some of these events are seasonal only, while others transform well-known or historic destinations into dazzling displays of color and beauty. From Christmas light shows, to tree walks, to a Polar Express train ride and even an entire Christmas village in one of New Jersey’s most stunning shopping and dining districts, there’s something here for everyone.
1. Let It Glow - A Holiday Lantern Spectacular
Bergen County Zoo, Van Saun County Park, 216 Forest Ave, Paramus, NJ 07652, USA
Location: Paramus, NJ. Popularity: Popular. This is one of the premiere light events in the state, and the zoo is always a top attraction. Price: Included with zoo admission - $4 for adult residents of Bergen County, and $8 for non-residents. Kids are $2 or $5. Train ride tickets are an additional $5. Let It Go - A Holiday Lantern Spectacular
is the most unique holiday lantern spectacular in all of New Jersey, transforming the Bergen County Zoo into a dazzling display of colors and creatures. Animals big and small are brought to life by illuminated craftsmanship, including some eerie Halloween touches like a giant Venus fly-trap. The best way to see all the animals is by boarding a small Christmas train for a one-of-a-kind tour through the new landscape that can only be seen around the holidays.
2. Winter Wonderlights
Winter WonderLights, 655 Cranbury Rd, East Brunswick, NJ 08816, USA
Location: East Brunswick, NJ. Popularity: Popular. The busy Central Jersey location lends itself to this exciting drive-through event. Price: $30 per car, or $125 for a season-long VIP pass Winter Wonderlights
is located at the Middlesex County Fair Grounds and is the largest animated holiday drive-through in New Jersey. The highlight is definitely a massive two-hundred-foot tunnel of lights, which feels like driving under a rainbow. From there, you'll marvel at a dozen twenty-foot trees decked out in stunning lights that greet you along your drive. There are 1.5 million lights here, and the displays celebrate the season and all major hotels celebrate it, too. There's even a soundtrack - turn your radio to a special station, and holiday music will be beamed into your car!
3. Skylands Stadium Lights Show and Christmas Village
Skylands Stadium, 94 Championship Place, Augusta, NJ 07822, USA
Location: Augusta, NJ. Popularity: Very Popular. Skylands Stadium is home to top attractions throughout the year, and this is one of the headliners. Get your tickets early! Price: $29 per car, or season VIP tickets for $29. Admission to the outdoor Christmas village is free. Skylands Stadium Lights Show and Christmas Village
is the largest light show in New Jersey, boasting an amazing two million lights on display every year. The highlight is a drive through a massive field of illuminated, animated light displays celebrating the traditions and characters of the season, but that's just the start of the fun. The walk-through Christmas lights tunnel is just as stunning, and the Christmas village is a blast for all ages. You'll find a skating rink, carnival games, a hot chocolate bar, and a s'mores station - and of course, a chance to visit with Santa!
4. Christmas Tree Trail at Indian Acres Tree Farm
Indian Acres Tree Farm, 111 Tuckerton Rd, Medford, NJ 08055, USA
Location: Medford, NJ Popularity: Moderately Popular. This is a hidden gem of an attraction on a beautiful, out-of-the-way farm. Price: 2022 prices - $16 per adult, $12 per child. The Christmas Tree Trail at Indian Acres Tree Farm
is a new tradition, making its big debut in 2022 in New Jersey. The farm it's in is a long-time Medford tradition, currently selling pre-cut trees as it works on growing the next crop of cut-and-go trees. The walking tour through the lights is much more rustic and much more peaceful than most similar events, with the farm using their actual trees for sale as part of the display. It's the Christmas light display that feels the most like you're stepping back into a simpler time.
5. Winterwood Gifts and Christmas Shoppe
Winterwood Gift & Christmas Shoppe, 3137 Rte 9 S, Rio Grande, NJ 08242, USA
Location: Rio Grande, NJ Popularity: Moderately popular. This is a year-round store in a rural South Jersey town, but it certainly gets heavier traffic during the Christmas season. Price: Free admission to the store. All ornaments and Christmas collectibles are individually priced. Winterwood Gifts and Christmas Shoppe
is the ultimate destination for those who want to turn their home into their own Christmas wonderland. While the store is open during the year, there's no question that the entire stock is bigger and better than ever when people are in the holiday spirit. Nutcrackers, angels, figurines, and other tree decorations are all on display, and many of the gifts and decorations are made locally. During the holiday season, Santa may be in town to meet with kids!
6. The Polar Express Train Ride
The Polar Express Train Ride, 1 Railroad Plz, Whippany, NJ 07981, USA
Location: Whippany, NJ Popularity: Extremely popular. This might be the hottest ticket for Christmas fun in all of New Jersey, especially for families. Many voyages will sell out! Price: Pricing varies by voyage. Adult tickets range from $55 to $93. Child tickets range from $48 to $86 The Polar Express Train
is probably the most iconic holiday adventure in New Jersey, with the fun beginning at the picturesque train station. Unlike many other holiday trains, this one is directly themed to the Tom Hanks movie, and turns the vintage train into a fairy tale adventure complete with music, hot chocolate, holiday shortbread, and a visit from Jolly Old Saint Nick himself. This has become a yearly holiday tradition for many New Jersey families, and many voyages book up months before the Christmas season.
7. Historic Smithville Christmas Village
Historic Smithville, 615 E Moss Mill Rd, Smithville, NJ 08205, USA
Location: Smithville, NJ Popularity: Very popular. This is one of New Jersey's signature Christmas events, and it'll usually be hopping with activity but rarely cramped. Price: Admission to the village is free. Tickets to the carousel and train are $3 a person. Food, beverages, and goods are available for purchase throughout the event.
Historic Smithville Christmas Village
is an annual event that takes over the historic shopping and touring district, covering it with thousands of lights. Many of the local small-batch shops start turning out specialty goods for the season - this is one of the best spots in the state for fresh-baked treats. A train ride and carousel both add to the holiday magic for kids, turning the entire village into a little theme park. It's worth sticking around for night to fall, when the lights truly come to life and turn the entire Smithville Christmas Village into a pastoral sight to behold.
Christmas Towns In New Jersey
Sometimes it’s not enough to find great things to do in New Jersey in the winter – we want a town that truly embraces the spirit inside and out. These three towns put the lights up early and fill the time before December 25th with parades, shows, home tours, and other special events that make sure the holiday spirit never stops until the big day.
8. Haddonfield Location: Haddonfield, NJ Popularity: Moderately popular. Haddonfield is an attractive Christmas destination, but its attractions are well spread out. Price: Free admission - but it's mainly a shopping district, so make sure to support the local businesses! Haddonfield
is known for having the most beautiful main street in New Jersey around the Christmas season, with the entire downtown of this historic town being lit up in lights. The signature event of the season is the Candlelight Shopping event, where the many small businesses lining King's Highway open for a nighttime shopping spree. Locals love to come out, get all their holiday shopping done at the start of the season, and support some great small businesses in the process. The event usually runs on weekends from late November until only a few days before the holiday, with most events running until 9 PM. Live music, free carriage rides, an annual tree lighting, and a visit from Santa round out the holiday delights.
9. Clinton Location: Clinton, NJ Popularity: Very popular. The Red Mill is one of the hubs of New Jersey Christmas spirit, and you can always expect a healthy crowd at events. Price: Admission to the Red Mill Museum's Winter Village is $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and children under $12. On weekends, children and seniors are $8 and door tickets for adults are $12. Museum members and active duty military are always free. Clinton
is a beautiful town, and it's no surprise that the town's iconic Red Mill is the centerpiece of its holiday season events. This historic building and museum is taken over by a Christmas village every year, with the signature attraction being the Festival of Trees. This is a maze of dozens of small Christmas trees, each with its own distinct decoration style. Santa regularly drops in on the Red Mill during this season, and the town plays host to a charming annual Christmas parade of floats, lights, and even a miniature Red Mill building!
10. Woodstown Location: Woodstown, NJ Popularity: Moderately popular. Woodstown by Candlelight is a hot ticket, but for the rest of the season, this is a charming, laid-back Christmas destination. Price: Woodstown by Candlelight tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for kids. Woodstown
is the perfect place if you're looking for a laid-back, old-school Christmas in a small town. For one month each year, the town is taken over by Woodstown by Candlelight, a charming festival featuring events including a visit from Santa on the Woodstown Central Railroad and a living Nativity scene at the local Episcopal Church. The headliner, though, has got to be the beloved Holiday Home Tour, where the residents of the town deck out their homes in their holiday best and visitors take a moonlit trek from house to house. It's the perfect throwback to an old-fashioned Christmas.
For those of us who love the cold weather, the winter months might feel like the perfect time to go outdoors! These four locations agree. If you’re looking to go ice skating, you have your pick between a special seasonal ice skating rink or a natural wonderland. For those who want their winter activities to be a bit more action-packed, the choice is yours – inside or out?
11. Vintner Wonderland at Renault Winery
Renault Winery, 72 Bremen Ave, Egg Harbor City, NJ 08215, USA
Location: Egg Harbor City, NJ Popularity: Popular. The winery is always a top destination in the region, and the ice skating rink is always packed with families. Price: $12 to $15 for a 90-minute skating session, $10 for skate rental. Vintner Wonderland
is an annual event located in the rural Renault Winery, a popular event venue and tasting room. The headliner is a massive ice skating rink on the grounds, but that's just the beginning. The rink is surrounded by booths offering seasonal food and drink., as well as a massive Christmas tree. Skating equipment can be rented on site, and tickets are timed offering a 90-minute skating window. Live music keeps things energetic, and the rink is right next to Vintner Village, a market where you can find local goods, delicious snacks - and of course, wine tastings for the grown-ups!
12. Natural Ice Skating Rink at Holmdel Park
Holmdel Park, 44 Longstreet Rd, Holmdel, NJ 07733, USA
Location: Holmdel, NJ Popularity: Not popular. This isn't an attraction - it's nature at work, and it's one of the region's true hidden gems. You'll usually be joined by some fellow skaters, but collisions aren't likely to be a concern here! Price: Completely free! Mother Nature doesn't charge admission, and the park is open to the public. Holmdel Park
is a laid-back, beautiful county park with a stunning lake that transforms into the best natural skating rink in New Jersey during the winter seasons. Don't wonder about the safety of skating on a lake - the park takes it seriously for you. The ice-skating rink is only open when the ice is at least five inches thick and has been inspected. Even if the rink isn't open, this park is a winter wonderland filled with beautiful hiking trails to explore.
13. Skiing and Snow-Tubing at Campgaw Mountain
Campgaw Mountain Ski Area, 200 Campgaw Rd, Mahwah, NJ 07430, USA
Location: Mahwah, NJ Popularity: Very popular. It's a ski resort in winter! This is what the mountain has been building towards all year, and they're pulling out all the stops as long as the weather is cold. Price: Season passes range between $259 and $389. Day pass rates for 2023-2024 TBD, but previous season day passes were in the $65 range. Campgaw Ski Area
is one of the most famous mountain destinations in New Jersey, and is a popular spot for skiing and other winter sports. While the ski lifts are always packed with adventure-seekers, it might be best known for its epic snow-tubing course! With seventeen lanes, it's always a fun adventure and rarely too packed. There is no minimum age to go snow-tubing, and anyone who is at least 48 inches is welcome to test their courage. Supervised sessions for younger kids above 42 inches are sometimes held, and daily admission at Campgaw is capped to ensure a safe environment without overwhelming crowds.
14. Indoor Skiing and Snowboarding at Big Snow American Dream
Big SNOW American Dream, 1 American Dream Wy, East Rutherford, NJ 07073, USA
Location: East Rutherford, NJ Popularity: Popular. The American Dream Mall is always a top destination, and Big Snow is no exception. But for those who want to enjoy it in winter, they may actually see slightly lower crowds - as many people will choose the outdoor option. Price: Two-hour passes go for $59.99. 6-packs of visits are available for $240. Equipment rentals available on site. Big Snow American Dream
is one of the best things to do in New Jersey in winter, especially for beginners. The indoor ski slope in the American Dream Mall is the only one of its kind in the entire United States, and it's battled many challenges to get opened. Now that it is, though - it's amazing! No matter the weather, the ski slope is topped with fresh snow and kept at a frosty 28 degrees. Four ski lifts and slopes suitable for all skill levels are the ideal way to practice your slope skills and get ready for the mountain! Admission is capped at 500 people per two-hour session, so you'll never be too cramped on the slopes.
Sometimes, we just need to get away from it all. If you want to escape the cold and relax in the lap of luxury, there’s a stunning beachside resort waiting. For those who want a more rustic experience, a mountain cabin may just be the ideal winter getaway. For those of us who just like to go big, New Jersey’s most exciting resort is just as stunning in the winter as it is every other season.
15. Soak The Cold Away At Ocean Place Resort And Spa
Ocean Place Conference Center, 1 Ocean Blvd, Long Branch, NJ 07740, USA
Location: Long Branch, NJ Popularity: Moderately popular. This is a hopping beach resort during the summer, and the offseason is the perfect time for discounts and deals. That means those who want the comfort of the spa during the cold months may see low crowds. Price: Nightly rates average between $297 and $339 in the winter months. Ocean Place Resort and Spa
is a tropical getaway, packed during the summer months - and that makes it a hidden gem during the winter. Many people struggle with the constant cold and wind during the winter, and this health spa is the perfect retreat. The spa offers multiple rejuvenating treatments including an herbal soak and a steam room that will warm you to your bones. From there, retreat to the peaceful cafe to indulge in light but filling European cuisine - called by many the best hotel restaurant in New Jersey.
16. Cozy Mountain Getaway in a Historic Home Location: Sussex, NJ Popularity: Popular. One of the most distinctive and rustic of New Jersey's vacation rentals, it frequently books up for the holiday season early. Price: Average rates for the winter months range between $210 and $240. This mountaintop VRBO
has been called the closed thing to spending the night in "The Waltons", and it's certainly picturesque enough to qualify. A charming and historic cabin surrounded by trees, it has two bedrooms and sleeps six people. It's the little things that count here - there are amenities including a firepit and a vintage library filled with books. It's also close to many great New Jersey winter activities, and a thriving shopping and diving scene. If you're looking for a place for a picturesque New Jersey Christmas or a rustic staycation, this VRBO is a hot ticket.
17. Romantic Resort Getaway At Crystal Springs Resort
Crystal Springs Resort, 1 Wild Turkey Way, Hamburg, NJ 07419, USA
Location: Hamburg, NJ Popularity: Very popular. This sprawling resort pulls out all the stops for the Holiday season, and it's common for it to book up for Christmas early. Winter activities remain popular through the following months. Price: Nightly rates for the winter months start at $350 for the Minerals Hotel and $479 for the Grand Cascades Lodge. Spa and dining packages are booked separately. Crystal Springs Resort
might just be the most spectacular resort in the entire Garden State, and it really comes to life during the winter season. Before Christmas, the entire resort is covered in one of the state's best light displays. During the colder months, an outdoor snow pool combines a heated pool with a stunning snow-covered backdrop. The resort is full of fun options like an indoor water park, an ice skating rink, an axe-throwing activity, and fire pits for roasting marshmallows. The resort is also home to a wide array of restaurants for every taste, including some of the best resort dining in the northeast.
Perhaps due to its proximity to New York, New Jersey is busy, busy, busy all the time, and that’s part of its appeal. But as winter arrives, it takes on a new magical quality that we look forward to all year. What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey in winter? Which of these New Jersey winter activities have you done in past years? Let us know in the comments section! Make sure you have all your
cold-weather essentials, and make your plans for a winter of fun and adventure now!
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