Historic Smithville: Here’s Why This is One of the Most Amazing Christmas Celebrations in the State
This small town in south Jersey has perfected Christmas magic.
I'm a sucker for Christmas charm and shopping, so when I heard about the quaint Historic Smithville, my interest was piqued. So much so that I was willing to bundle up my kid on a very chilly day and make the long journey from North Jersey to South Jersey to see this town. Here’s what you should know before you go.
1. Check their website (historicsmithvillenj.com) before you go, that’s the best place to find out about all of the events and times. When you get to the town there are maps, but not a list of events, so knowing before you go is ideal.
2. If you get lost, visit the Colonial Inn. Their front desk staff is knowledgeable and ready to give out information and advice.
3. Mrs. Claus is adorable. She’s sits in a tiny tucked away cottage (next to the cheese shop) and reads stories to the kids. Her space is small, so you may have to wait outside if there’s a crowd.
5. There’s a Christmas train ride, which is the standard Smithville train with wooden holiday cutouts placed all around, but it is still cute and for $2 a person, it was definitely fun to see the village from the rails.
6. There’s a tiny adorable carousel in the center of town (also $2 per ride), and that, along with two arcades (one filled with modern games, and one filled with working antique games) really added to the old meets new feel of the town. (One store had a sign saying they accept bitcoin. You can’t get more modern than that).
7. There is a lot of shopping here, and you could easily cross a bunch of people off your list with everything from clothes, cheese, soap, wine, crafts, pottery and more. (My personal favorite was the entire store devoted to peanut butter).
8. Be prepared to eat. In addition to the regular restaurants and taverns around town, on December weekends there are free samples everywhere, so bring your appetite.
9. If it is too far to drive here and back in one day, sleep in a room that overlooks Lake Meone.
10. Don’t miss the magical talking tree -- your kids will be talking about it for days. It looks like a standard decorated tree, but stand in front of it and the tree starts talking. Kids can interact and ask just about anything from how old she is (the voice the day we went was female), or if she gets cold, or if she’s friends with Santa. She commented on what they were wearing and made them laugh, a lot. If its not too cold, we highly recommend hanging out and listening in to see what the kids ask her. It’s a riot. We suspect that there’s a cleverly placed camera and microphone at work, but we’d like to chalk it up to Christmas magic.
11. The floating lit trees are reason to come on their own and they’re pretty fabulous. The trees (which are really just strings of lights in tree shapes) hang out on floating platforms, but once it gets dark, they come to life. Not only do they look beautiful reflecting off the water, but they’re all synced to music so they change colors and dance around as traditional holiday tunes play. They cycle continuously through a series of songs, and there were great vantage points from every angle so you don’t have to worry about not getting close enough to see them.
12. Many of the stores close early, so if you head down after dark to see the lights, you might miss out on many of the other holiday activities, so head down in the afternoon and make the trees your last stop before dinner.