There’s no shortage of holiday fun to have around NJ, and there’s plenty to do in South Jersey. Bundle up and hit the road for these can’t-miss events.
When it comes to celebrating Christmas, no town does it quite like Historic Smithville in Galloway. Throughout December, this old-fashioned town in Atlantic County is filled with tons of fun events, like Breakfast with Santa (December 7 and 14), Story Time with Mrs. Claus (every Saturday–Sunday through December 22) and the amazing annual Holiday Light Show starring more than 120 Christmas trees on Lake Meone lighting up in sync with holiday music (pictured). Don’t miss the Magic Talking Tree or weekend s’mores on the greene.
Take a 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 Santa’s Trolley Ride (weekends through Dec. 21) 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. Through the rest of the year, you can also take the Ghosts of Christmas Past Trolley Rides, which centers a Victorian holiday ghost story, and the Holiday Lights Trolley Rides, a 30-minute trip that shows off decorated inns and homes while holiday music plays.
Your kid’s fave construction theme park is going merry and bright for its second consecutive season. In addition to all the heavy machinery and attractions available year-round, the fest boasts a holiday hayride, parade and decor to get little builders in the spirit. Your fam will also get to chow down on winter-inspired bites, thaw out at the bonfire and decorate ornaments. The kids won’t want to miss a meet-and-greet with D-Rex and Daisy, either, the dinosaur park mascots. Running through Dec. 1, plus Dec. 21-29.
Holiday Celebrations at the Aquarium
You may have taken the kids to Adventure Aquarium before, but trust us—you’ve never seen it like this. The aquarium transforms with Christmas Underwater, a magical event featuring the world’s tallest (and eight mini) underwater Christmas tree, indoor snow and letters to Santa. Don’t miss your chance to snap a pic of Scuba Santa swimming in his red suit (Nov. 29-Dec. 30). You can also visit for Milk & Cookies with Santa on Dec. 8, 14 and 21. If you’re closer to the shore, Jenkinson’s Boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach offers its own under-the-sea Christmas spectacle. Sea of Lights Indoor Holiday Lights Spectacular runs from December 13-14, 20-22 and 27-28. Think hundreds of lights, Santa appearances, crafts, games and photo ops. Head to the Pavilion for arcade games and the Sweet Shop for some festive treats.
Your little ones who won’t make it to midnight will love Garden State Discovery Museum‘s New Year’s at Noon in Cherry Hill. Ring in the new year with your kids at 11:45 am and 2:45 pm. Sing and dance with the museum (in its biggest celebration so far!) as you count down to 2020. Hit the Civic Center for First Night Ocean City. Take on inflatables and ice skating, then visit the Music Pier for shows with the Franklin Institute, Imagination Movers and more. Head to the high school for telescope observations, the Harlem Wizards and a karaoke party. The primary school will host a magician and Dueling Pianos. The aquatic center will be open for swimming, too. If you want to go all-out, head to Sahara Sam’s Midnight at the Oasis for indoor water attractions, a foam party, DJ and more. There’ll also be food, dessert, champagne and sparkling cider toasts and more to ring in 2020.