5 Outdoor Holiday Activities the Whole Family Will Enjoy

Winter Wonderland at Van Saun County Park opens Friday, Nov. 24 and runs through Jan. 1. Courtesy of Bergen County Executive's office

While those holiday tunes will tell you it’s the most wonderful time of the year, for parents and caregivers who spend long days indoors with children, this season may feel like the most challenging time as well.

Kids, brimming with excitement and anticipation, typically have even more energy than usual around the holidays. Finding activities that capture the holiday spirit and allow children to get out some of that exuberance are a win-win for families. Fortunately, there are plenty of festive outdoor celebrations throughout northern New Jersey that will appeal to kids of all ages.

Let’s take a look at some open-air options that will keep everyone’s spirit merry and bright!

Winter Wonderland at Van Saun Park

Back for its second season, Bergen County presents its Winter Wonderland at Van Saun Park. Complete with an ice rink, carousel, train ride, and indoor/outdoor food tent and beer garden, this is a little kid’s (and his or her parents’) paradise. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be available inside the North Pole Pavilion to hear the holiday wishes of boys and girls.

The Winter Wonderland kicks off Friday, Nov. 24 and will be open on weekends only until Tuesday, Dec. 26 when it will welcome guests daily through Jan. 1. Special events include Christmas tree and Menorah lightings as well as ice carving displays.

Winter Wonderland at Van Saun County Park opens Friday, Nov. 24 and runs through Jan. 1.
Courtesy of Bergen County Executive’s office


Presale General Admission $14, General Admission $16

Children 3 and under are free

Tickets include unlimited skating, skate rental train and carousel rides.

For more information, visit Winter Wonderland at Van Saun Park’s website.

Holiday Lights at the Turtle Back Zoo 

Get a little fresh air and exercise as you stroll among the sparkling lights that illuminate more than 50 winter and animal characters at the Holiday Lights exhibit at the Turtle Back Zoo. Admission is free but the zoo encourages visitors to embrace the spirit of giving by donating non-perishable food items, new toys, and gently-used coats. The exhibit is open Friday, Saturdays, and Sundays from 5 to 9 p.m. starting Nov. 24 through Dec. 10 and then runs daily through Jan. 2, with the exception of Dec. 24 and 25, when it will be closed.

For more information, visit the Turtle Back Zoo’s website. 

Holiday Lights at the Turtle Back Zoo runs through Jan. 1. Admission is free.

Christmas Festival at the Morristown Green

Check out the lighting of the Morristown Green, Sunday, Nov. 26 at 5 p.m. The month-long celebration will feature visits with Santa and activities each weekend. Enjoy this tradition, which dates back to 1913 when a small group of volunteers began lighting a lone star on the top of a single tree. The festive square will be illuminated through Friday, Dec. 22. There is no cost to attend.

Visit Morristown’s Green to celebrate the season.

Hot Chocolate Hike at Cora Hartshorn Arboretum

Enjoy guided hike on the grounds of the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum during the third annual Hot Chocolate Hike weekend, Saturday, Dec. 16 and Sunday, Dec. 17. Keep an eye out for woodland creatures and then warm up with a cup of hot cocoa served fireside in the historic Stone House. Guests are advised to bundle up for this outdoor adventure. Reserve your spot online.


Suggested Donation: $5 per person age 2 and up

Frelinghuysen Arboretum’s Holiday Scavenger Hunt

Grab your camera or cell phone and as many pairs of observant eyes as you can when you attend the Frelinghuysen Arboretum’s Scavenger Hunt Tuesday, December 26 through Sunday, December 31 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Find the items listed, and take home a prize for the entire family.


$10 per family