Looking for a fun way to kick off 2020 (and some great places to take preschoolers in January)? We’ve found fun stuff around the state that’ll make it worth leaving your warm and cozy home. If they loved Frozen 2, they won’t want to miss a trip to the Liberty Hall Museum in Union for a Frozen Ball, where they can dress as their favorite characters from the Disney film and meet the queen herself. Visit the Mega Model Train exhibit at the Morris Museum in Morristown to learn the importance of railroads with hands-on activities. If you’ve got big Sesame Street fans at home, join the characters at One World, One Sky, a planetarium show at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. Or, spend time outdoors with live music and food at the Fire and Ice Festival in downtown Mount Holly.
And if you’re looking for free things to do this month, we’ve got you covered.
Hit a Museum
On January 25, Liberty Hall Museum in Union will host a Frozen Ball where your little Anna, Elsa and Kristoffs can come dressed as their favorite characters, play games, warm up at the hot chocolate bar and meet Queen Elsa ($20/members, $25/non-members). Or if your little ones are more Angry Birds and less Olaf, take them to the Liberty Science Center to see the Angry Birds Universe Exhibit, where they can shoot at life-size Angry Birds with massive slingshots ($30-35). After, ages 2-8 can climb aboard the Dinosaur Train and head back to the Mesozoic period to check out steam engines, excavate fossils, learn about dino diets and chill in a dinosaur nest (included with museum admission, ends January 20). Plus, grab tickets to Extreme LSC on January 24, an epic party (every fourth Friday of the month) that has a laser tag arena, massive ball pit and a slime lab for your slime lovers to take on ($20/adults, $12/ages 2-12).
From January 4-5, stop by the Garden State Model Railway Club in North Haledon for its 62nd Annual Model Railroad Show, featuring a 1,200-square-foot layout of steam and diesel locomotives including Thomas the Train and friends, freight trains and passenger trains with working signals ($6/adults, free/ages 12 and under). Through February 29, head to the Morris Museum in Morristown for Mega Model Trains, where you and the kids can learn the importance of railroads with hands-on activities (free/members, $10/adults, $7/ages 3-18). Every Thursday-Sunday through February 2, The Museum of American History in Deptford will host its 17th Annual Antique Toy Show, showcasing important historical trains used throughout American history.
Grab a Book
Every Friday throughout the month, bring your lil’ ones for storytime and crafts at the Warren County Library in Hackettstown (free, registration required). Every Wednesday, Watchung Booksellers in Montclair has a sweet Mommy and Me Storytime with singing and games for your 2-and-unders (free, registration required). On Mondays at the Princeton University Library, kiddies ages 2 and under can play to their heart’s content while building their vocabulary at the museum’s Bookscape gallery, which is full of soft ramps, tunnels and plush alphabet letters (free).
Explore the Universe
On January 4, the Planetarium at RVCC in Branchburg will host a sensory-friendly showing of The Sky Above, which features videos of planets, moons and constellations in addition to laser lights. On January 25, head back for a Rockin’ Rocket Ride into space to visit the Milky Way set to music from Jane Murphy ($10). From January 4-5, stop by the State Museum in Trenton for a slew of shows the kids will love. Watch One World, One Sky, as you join the cast of Sesame Street on a journey through the planets. Or, see Season of Light, a new show that explores the astronomical and cultural reasons behind our December traditions.
Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Head to Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit for Oaks and Acorns on January 15, where your lil’ one will take nature walks, make crafts and learn about the famous civil activist who changed a nation (free/members, $10/non-members). On January 20 at the Morris Museum in Morristown, stop by the workshop to make a peace dove craft, participate in an interactive exhibit and stick around for Mariel’s Melodies, a musical performance featuring jazz trombonist Mariel Bildsten ($10/members, $15/non-members). Visit the Newark Museum of Art to celebrate this special day with hands-on activities, planetarium showings, music and live performances (free).
Hit the Great Outdoors
Take a trip to Bergen County’s Winter Wonderland in Paramus (open until January 5), which boasts a variety of seasonal attractions like an open-air ice rink, Santa’s North Pole Workshop, carnival games and more ($15, free/ages 3 and under). From January 16-17, bring the kids and join Senior Park Naturalist Laura Bush on an early morning walk through Echo Hill Park in Flemington. Then, warm up inside with storytime and crafts ($3, registration required). On January 22, head to Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit for Who’s Been Here and join environmentalists as they investigate and track animals that visit the Arboretum in the winter. On January 25, visit downtown Mount Holly for their Fire and Ice Festival which will feature professional ice carving demos, chili chefs and live performances from Suze and Watson as they play songs from Springsteen and more (free).
On January 11, grab tickets for Mr. Pennygaff’s Cirkus Sideshow Spectacular at the State Theatre in New Brunswick. See Mr. Pennygaff juggle, try daring stunts and interact with the audience ($5). On January 18, head to SOPAC in South Orange and watch professional comedian Mark Nizer perform in 4-D as he juggles lasers at 1000 rpm and more ($20). On January 20, visit MPAC in Morristown for Dog Man: The Musical, a comedic live performance based on the bestselling international series from Dav Pilkey, the creator of Captain Underpants ($12-15).