Photo by NJ Family Staff
See the Great Falls
72 McBride Ave., Paterson
Did you know Paterson was America’s first planned industrial city? This gorgeous spot on the Passaic River is one of the state’s National Historic Parks. Most people don’t think to visit in the winter but the falls are glistening with ice this time of year. Take a tour (on your own or with a guide) of the park and the surrounding area, rich with culture and history.
Run a 5K
Polar Bear Run/Walk for Autism, Sea Isle City Boardwalk
Penguin Pace, Packanack Community Church, Wayne
We know, just walking to your car in frigid weather can be the worst. But you’d be surprised what a crowd and some hot cocoa can motivate you to do! Get your steps in with the fam at the Penguin Pace 5K in Wayne on February 3. The run ends with an indoor hot cocoa party. Registration is $30. Or check out the Polar Bear Run Walk for Autism on February 18 in Sea Isle City. After the run, head to nearby heated tents for live music, a buffet, awards, prizes, magicians and face-painting. Admission is $20-25.
Skate at an Outdoor Ice Rink
Roosevelt Park, 151 Parsonage Rd., Edison
Ice at the Pier, 50 Chelsea Ave., Long Branch
Newport Skates, 95 River Dr. South, Jersey City
Try teaching the kids to figure eight on a rink with a view. Skip the local hockey arena and head to Roosevelt Park’s family rink in Edison, which overlooks the lake. Admission is $5-6 plus $5 skate rentals. If you want to go bigger than a lake, try Newport Skates or Ice at the Pier. The Jersey City locale faces the Hudson and NYC, while the other is complete with an ocean view, respectively. Both have tons of nearby shops and restaurants your crew will love, too, so don’t head home without exploring.
Photo courtesy of Skylands Stadium // Jean Philippe Photography
Check Out Some Ice Sculptures
94 Championship Pl., Augusta
Skyland Stadium’s annual Frozen in Ice Festival has a new theme this year: the Wild West. From January 27 to February 25, you can take the kids to see ice carvers at work making sculptures from more than 100 tons of ice. In addition to carving demos, you’ll get a chance to soar down a 50-foot-long ice slide, get lost in an ice maze, play games, go ice skating and more. Warm up with a hot cocoa or at the s’mores fire pit. While part of this fest is actually in the Event Center instead of outdoors, the center is kept at below freezing temps to keep the ice sculptures in tact. So don’t forget to bundle up as if you were outside!
Go Horseback Riding
Seaton Hackney Stables, 440 South St., Morristown
973-644-3355; call 973-633-3355 to book rides
Does it get more majestic than horseback riding through a snowy landscape? Book your ride ahead of time at Seaton Hackney Stables’ Loantaka Trails. Riders of all skill levels will be led by an instructor. Rates differ based on the number of riders in your party.
Get Up-Close-and-Personal with Nature
Calling all yogis! Head to Schiff Nature Preserve in Mendham on January 21 for a yoga hike that’ll fit any skill level. Start with an indoor meditation, then an easy hike through the preserve. If you want to skip the meditation, go there January 29 for a Sunday morning fitness hike. Get your heart pumping on a brisk 5-mile hike over varied terrain (make sure they wear the right shoes!) Best part? You can even bring your (vaccinated) pup along on a leash! You may want to call ahead for details to make sure the kids can handle it. If the kids love animals, don’t miss A Winter’s Day on the Farm at Fosterfields Living Historical Farm on February 4. They’ll learn what farm life was like in the early 1900s by hopping on a tractor ride, meeting friendly farm friends, learning ice harvesting and helping with farm chores. When you’ve had enough of the cold, head inside to the farmhouse for food made on a wood-burning stove.
Photo courtesy of Mountain Creek Resort
Catch Some Air Skiing or Tubing
Mountain Creek, 200 Rte. 94, Vernon; 973-827-2000
Campgaw Mountain, 200 Campgaw Rd., Mahwah; 201-327-7800
Hang at the lodge, cruise the mountain or ride the ski lift at Campgaw Mountain. You can have all the same mountain fun you’d have at a PA spot without leaving the state. Mountain Creek is a NJ fave, especially given the many events held during the winter. Head there January 20 for the Outkast for Life Winter Games, January 21 for World Snow Day or January 27 for the Viking Snowshoe Invasion. Kids haven’t gotten their snow legs yet? Sign them up for lessons. If they’re not ready for skiing, tubing is a great way to have carefree (and skill-free) fun. Both these parks have tons of tubing lanes and tube lifts (those carry the tube back up to the top of the hill) to make soaring on fresh powder a breeze.
Tap a Tree to Go Maple Sugaring
From Basking Ridge to Pennington to Tenafly, there are tons of NJ spots that’ll teach the kids to tap trees, collect sap and make fresh maple syrup. Some spots will let you taste the difference between fresh and store-bought sweet stuff, while others will send the kids home with maple syrup they collected themselves!
Try Low-Impact Paintballing
Battle Creek, 625 Macopin Rd., West Milford
NJ Paintball Club, Inc, 56 Weaver Rd., West Milford
Kids ages 8 to 12 can try paintball on Battle Creek’s paintballing fields. The low-impact version of the sport features smaller and lighter paintballs that make less of an impact when they hit a target (aka a lower ouch factor). All you have to do is ask for a .50 caliber. If they’re really ready for the full experience, bring your 10- to 16-year-old to dominate the field at NJ Paintball Club instead.