The Best of the Holidays in South Jersey
8 can’t-miss holiday attractions in South Jersey
Photos courtesy of Historic Smithville
1. December Weekend Events in Historic Smithville
When it comes to celebrating Christmas, no town does it quite like Historic Smithville. Throughout December, this old-fashioned town in Atlantic County is filled with tons of fun events, like Breakfast with Santa (December 8 and 15), Story Time with Mrs. Claus (every Saturday–Sunday through December 23) and the amazing annual Holiday Light Show (every Thursday–Sunday through January 6), where you can watch more than 100 Christmas trees float on Lake Meone, light up and sync with holiday music.
2. Christmas Celebration at Adventure Aquarium
You may have taken the kids to Adventure Aquarium before, but trust us—you’ve never seen it like this before! During December, the aquarium transforms into an underwater winter wonderland, complete with holiday lights, Christmas trees and indoor snow. Stop by every day (through December 30) to see Scuba Santa swimming amongst Ocean Realm’s creatures, the world’s tallest underwater Christmas Tree or indulge in some milk and cookies with Santa.
3. Santa’s Trolley Ride in Cape May
On Saturday-Sundays until December 22, take the trip down to the Physick Estate in Cape May to get in the Christmas spirit with the jolliest couple around—Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Take a trolley ride through town with Mrs. Claus as your guide, storyteller and sing-along leader. When the ride comes to an end at the Carriage House, hop off for a meet-and-greet (and a sweet!) with Santa.
4. Sea of Lights Holiday Festival at Jenkinson’s Aquarium
If you’re closer to the shore than to Camden, this Point Pleasant spot offers its own under-the-sea Christmas spectacle. The Sea of Lights Holiday Festival at Jenkinson’s Aquarium runs December 14-15, 21-22, 26-28, and they go all out decorating for the holidays—hundreds of lights, Santa appearances (including Scuba Santa), Princess Palooza Mini Holiday shows and more. But the real fun is just outside on Jenkinson’s Pavilion, so bundle up to the max and step onto the boardwalk for treats, crafts, games and more.
5. First Night of 2019 Aboard the Battleship
Have a unique New Year’s Eve experience aboard the Battleship New Jersey! Eat dinner and breakfast at the chowline, tour the Battleship, fire a saluting gun and catch the best view of the Delaware River's New Year's fireworks show when the clock strikes midnight. After the fireworks, sleep in the same bunks the crew of the USS New Jersey once did.
6. Car Menorah Parade and Lighting
On December 2, head to the Chabad Center in Cherry Hill for Chinese fingers good, latkes, donuts, chocolate Chanukah Gelt, dreidels and of course—a menorah lighting to kick off Hanukkah. The parade and lighting are free and all are invited.
7. Photos with Santa
Avoid the nasty mall traffic and snap photos with Santa at McNaughton’s Garden Center in Cherry Hill instead (weekdays, ends December 21). Then, check out the Christmas Shop and walk through Gaudio’s “G” Boys Animation Wonderland.
8. Cape May’s Ghosts of Christmas Past Trolley Tour
Take a trolley ride through the historic (and haunted) streets of Cape May (until December 31) with a member of the East Lynne Theater Company. Head to the Emlen Physick Estate to start your journey, then your guide will recount Victorian holiday ghost stories as you tour the dark streets.