11 Free Things to Do in NJ in December



Looking for some fun but don't want to spend your hard-earned cash? No problem. We found 25 free things to do in NJ this month.

40th Festival of Trees

Rock around the Christmas tree at this indoor exhibit of decorated trees from December 1-13. There’ll be live holiday music and food from the Snowflake Café on weekends at the Environmental Education Center in Basking Ridge.

Holiday Lights Spectacular

Take a traditional winter stroll underneath sparkling lights at the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, featuring over 50 winter and animal favorites. Make a food donation on your way in and celebrate with winter-themed activities every weekend from December 1-10.

Boonton First Friday: Old Fashioned Holiday

It’s all about the holiday shopping on Boonton’s Main Street. On December 1, listen to carolers as you pick out your stocking stuffers and take a peek at the homemade gingerbread house contest (and enter your own creation!).

Greasy Luck

Head to the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts on December 1 for a family-friendly event focused on the story of Leland Emerson, captain of the whaling ship Sarah Ann in the year 1843. There’ll be character, songs, activities and storytelling.

Casino Pier Holiday Festival

On December 2, there’ll be an explosion of ugly sweaters at the Casino Pier Arcade in Seaside Heights. Join the contest and try to win the grand prize before spending time with your kids making arts and crafts like an Olaf sock snowman, a bird feeder or a Santa beard. You definitely don’t want to miss the indoor snowball fight, either, followed by a visit from Santa.

Celebrate the Holidays at Rutherfurd Hall

Visit the historic Vail Mansion and celebrate the holidays at Rutherfurd Hall in Allamuchy on December 2. Snap some family photos with Santa, listen to music, make holiday crafts and more.

Joe Fischer Holiday Magic

Hit the Public Library in Nutley on December 2 for a fun interactive magic show to welcome the winter holiday season.

Outdoor Live Nativity

The 5th Annual Outdoor Live Nativity features members of King of Kings Lutheran Church in Mountain Lakes, who are excited to inspire others with a living recreation of the birth of Jesus. On December 2, there’ll be stable, manger, live animals and brilliant star used in order to bring this traditional story to life.

Holiday at Essex County Kip’s Castle

Head to Verona from December 2-30 (except for Mondays and Christmas Eve) for a self-guided tour of the first floor and experience the holidays circa 1928.

Kick Off the Holiday Season Weekend

Venture to Terhune Orchards in Princeton from December 2-3 for holiday festivities. The family can enjoy wagon rides and visit the barnyard. Choose a Christmas tree and wreath or grab some fruit, baked goods and wine.

Lake Mohawk German Christmas Market

From December 2-3, come out to the Lake Mohawk Boardwalk in Sparta for the 16th year of this magical market which hosts artists, food and drinks inspired by Deutchland. Pick out some Christmas presents and enjoy the fun and fare Germans have to offer.

The Marketspace at Westfield

On weekends from December 2-10, stop by the Marketspace pop-up on East Broad Street in Westfield. Check out the revolving selection of handcrafted wares and high-end gifts.

Santa Visit Kale’s Garden Center

On weekends from December 2-17, Kale’s Garden Center in Princeton will be hosting Santa Claus. Families can also choose a Christmas tree after the kids grab a photo with Kris Kringle.

Sensory Library Time

This after-hours program at the Cranford Public Library on December 8 was created for children with autism and their families. Families can enjoy browsing a space that minimizes unnecessary stimulation, and spend time in ticketed art programs.

Breakfast with Santa in Historic Smithville

On Saturday, December 9 and December 16, join the big man for breakfast at Historic Smithville. Aside from enjoying your favorite breakfast foods, your kids will also have the opportunity to take photos with Father Christmas.

The Caboose Mystery with Steve the Magic Conductor

Join Steve the Magic Conductor at Brunswick Square on December 9 for a special performance of The Caboose Mystery, where the audience will help solve a mystery in this train-themed magic show.

A Craft Circle at the Hope Family Store

Join the HOPE Family Store in Kearny on December 9 and use store-provided materials to create items like hats, scarves and gloves to support Priests and Sisters at St. Cecilia’s parish. This event is meant to inspire creativity and compassion.

Touch the Music: The Nutcracker

Lend your ears to the sounds of Tchaikovsky at the Cranford Community Center on December 9. Kids age 3-12 can learn the different sounds instruments create, then practice themselves.

An Afternoon with Thomas Nast

Spend some time at the Morristown and Morris Township Library on December 10 to celebrate the 115th anniversary of Thomas Nast’s death. Enjoy a guided walking tour through Nast’s family home, Villa Fontana and exhibits.

Third Annual Hot Chocolate Hike Weekend

Take a much-needed break from the holiday rush and breathe in the crisp air of winter on a guided hike at the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary in Short Hills from December 16-17. After you visit some woodland friends, warm up with a cup of hot cocoa by the fireplace.

Stocking Making Demo

Who doesn’t love custom Christmas stockings? Take the holidays into your hands at the Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park on December 17 and make your own Christmas stockings with your littles ones. Reward yourself with some sweet treats for a job well done.

Miracle on Elm Street

This holiday, you don’t have to travel to the city to skate outdoors, just the Village Green in Summit on December 17. Spin your kids around and show off your skating skills before sitting around a bonfire with a cup of chili or soup from a nearby food truck. Kids can also take pictures with Santa, make cookies or try arts and crafts!

Winter Solstice Celebration

Celebrate the Winter Solstice with the Early Street Community Garden in Morristown on December 21 with s’mores, songs by the fire and relaxing yoga poses. Learn about the solstice and set positive goals for 2018.

Staten Island Children’s Museum: Cool School Holiday

Enjoy a day of free admission on December 26 at the Staten Island Children’s Museum in New York.

First Night Ocean County…in Seaside Heights

Mark your calendars and head to the Boardwalk in Seaside Heights on New Year’s Eve for a family celebration. There’ll be fun, games and fireworks.