9 Fun Outdoor Things to Do in NJ This Winter

Dr. Dimitrios Lambrou Mar 08, 2021

Is the annual bout of cabin fever getting to you? Or is your family ready to bust out of its small social distancing bubble and get active despite the cold? No matter why you're looking for fun outdoor things to do in NJ this winter, we've got you covered.

Check out these activities that you can do with family and friends.

1. Check Out Cattus Island Nature Walks

This free event provides educational fun for the whole family. Check out the event listing or calendar to find out what the topic is each weekend and then enjoy learning about birds, signs of spring and other nature topics.

  • Cost: Free.
  • Location: Cattus Island County Park, 1170 Cattus Island Blvd., Toms River, NJ
  • Time: 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. 
  • Who it's for: Families and people of all ages.
  • Link for more information: Mommy Poppins

2. Visit the Frelinghuysen Arboretum

Take a cell phone tour to learn more about the plants in the gardens or enjoy nature trails, cross-country skiing or wildlife viewing. Bring your own equipment, and note that buildings are closed to the public as of February 2021. There is a port-a-john on site, but restrooms are also closed.

  • Cost: Donations encouraged.
  • Location: 353 East Hanover Avenue, Morris Township, NJ 07960
  • Time: Grounds are open 8 a.m. to sunset daily.
  • Who it's for: Families and people of all ages.
  • Link for more information: Morris County Parks Commission

3. Check out the Tenafly Nature Center

Whether you're looking to hike with other adults under the light of the full moon, take your significant other to a campfire night or learn more about nature with the kiddos, the Tenafly Nature Center has something to offer. These programs fill up fast, so plan early for your adventures this winter and early spring. Registration is required, as the center is limiting participation in each program to support safety and social distancing. 

  • Cost: Some programs are free while others come with a fee. Fees must be paid in advance when you register.
  • Location: 313 Hudson Ave, Tenafly, NJ 07670
  • Time: Each program has set times and dates.
  • Who it's for: Programs are available for different ages. An adult typically needs to accompany children for kids' programs. 
  • Link for more information: Tenafly Nature Center

4. Skate at the Rink at Winter Wonderland

Part of Bergen County's Wonderland in Van Saun Park is on hiatus this year due to pandemic concerns, but the ice skating rink is open and ready for adventurers. Skates in size youth 9 to men's 13 are available to rent, and skating sessions are limited to 50 minutes to give everyone a turn on the ice.  

  • Cost: $5 per person including skate rental.
  • Location: 216 Forest Avenue, Paramus, NJ
  • Time: Choose an available time from the website. Preregistration and payment is required. 
  • Who it's for: Anyone. Adults must accompany children. 
  • Link for more information: Bergen County's Winter Wonderland

Other places you may be able to ice skate this winter include:

5. Explore Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge

The folks at this wildlife refuge take in injured or at-risk animals and strive to give them a second chance at life. The attached nature center is open to the public and includes animal and nature exhibits and walking trails. The price of admission helps fund the wildlife rescue and refuge efforts.  

  • Cost: $10 for those 13 and older, $5 for kids age 4-12 and free for those 3 and younger. 
  • Location: 4 Sawmill Road, Medford, NJ 
  • Time: Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Who it's for: Anyone. Adults must accompany children. 
  • Link for more information: Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge 

6. Register for a Monmouth County Parks Program

From private lessons on how to ride a bike or develop your golf swing to group activities, such as archery lessons and senior hikes, Monmouth County Parks programs offer something for everyone. Register for kids activities like s'mores and science experiments, enjoy time outdoors with others or spend some time making art. Browse the program listings to find options that fit you or your family's needs.

  • Cost: Varies by program. 
  • Location: Programs take place at various parks and other public areas in the county.
  • Time: Varies by program. 
  • Who it's for: Programs are available for adults, kids and families. 
  • Link for more information: Monmouth County Parks Programs

7. View the Art at Grounds for Sculpture

Come snow or bright sunny weather, the landscape at Grounds for Sculpture is something to behold. Take the family and explore the trails and art, which span a large area that includes natural elements such as ponds, trees and gardens. You must purchase tickets in advance and arrive within a 30-minute time period that you reserve. This is to spread people out better for social distancing as they walk through the grounds. 

  • Cost: $10; free for children 5 and under.
  • Location: 80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton, NJ
  • Time: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Monday during winter. You must arrive within your reserved time.
  • Who it's for: People of all ages. 
  • Link for more information: Grounds for Sculpture

8. Snow Tube at Mountain Creek

Enjoy a wild ride down the hill at Mountain Creek. You don't need special equipment or know-how to enjoy this outdoor activity. Mountain Creek even has a magic carpet lift, which means you can enjoy the ride down without ever having to make the hike up! This location doesn't sell on-site tickets, so you must purchase in advance online and know that snow tube operation may be suspended during inclement or dangerous weather.

  • Cost: Starts at $30.
  • Location: 200 NJ-94, Vernon Township, NJ 07462
  • Time: Varies by day; you must purchase tickets in advance for a reserved date and time that's available 
  • Who it's for: Snow tubers must be at least 5 years of age and 42 inches tall. 
  • Link for more information: Mountain Creek 

9. Schedule a Wolf Tour

Take an educational wolf tour at Howling Woods Farm in Jackson, NJ. Once you're on the tour, you'll be able to meet Kotori, Naiche, Chante, Sirius, Orion, Raven, Luna, Jack and Sayen — the wolves and wolfdogs of Howling Woods. The tours are an hour long, and you must make and pay for a reservation before you arrive. As of February 2021, tours must be booked at least three weeks in advance, so book yours today.

  • Cost: Varies, call to book a tour.
  • Location: 1371 W Veterans Hwy, Jackson Township, NJ 08527
  • Time: By appointment; call to schedule
  • Who it's for: People of all ages, though pets are not allowed, and families should consider whether their kids are able to follow guidelines while visiting the preserve.
  • Link for more information: Howling Woods 

Whether you're planning a cold-weather staycation or just need to get out of your house for movement and exercise, you can see that the area has plenty to offer. Just make sure you check with each program and call ahead to ensure winter weather or COVID-19 hasn't changed hours or requirements. Then, follow guidelines for staying safe as you get outside and have some fun in NJ this winter.