Spring break starts Friday, March 25 for Princeton Public Schools and those in all surrounding towns, with the exception of Hopewell Valley Regional School District. If you and your family are staying home for the break, there are plenty of things to see and do in the tri-state area (and beyond). You can take a staycation by staying in town and visiting local places, taking day trips, planning a quick getaway, or any combination of the aforementioned. Below are some family friendly staycation ideas.
D&R Canal – Cycling and hiking along the tow path, plus kayaking and canoeing (you will have to bring your own because Princeton Canoe & Kayak Rental doesn’t open until April 4). Check here for points of entry (Main Canal).
Geocaching – This is a fun family activity that’s similar to a scavenger hunt. There are some in Princeton, mostly in the woods, but there is also one in town.
Princeton Battlefield – You can fly a kite, play Frisbee, go for a hike, pack a picnic lunch for the family to enjoy on the lawn.
Greater Princeton Area
AMC MarketFair 10 – Have lunch in the mall or grab a bite at the theater, then watch Zooptopia, Kung Fu Panda 3, or The Divergent Series – Allegiant.
Duke Farms – Go cycling, hiking, geocaching, visit the Orchid Range greenhouse and so much more!
Grounds for Sculpture – It has been voted favorite museum in New Jersey for years, most likely because it’s not a conventional art museum. This is a great place for kids to have a little more freedom, and they will love the life-sized or oversized sculptures. Reserve a free museum pass through the Princeton Public Library or buy tickets at the door.
Howell Living History Farm – Walk through to see farming as it was practiced in New Jersey in the period 1890-1910. They’ll open their henhouse to visitors who want to meet newly hatched chicks, collect eggs from nest boxes and learn how to candle and grade eggs on March 26, and farmers will introduce visitors to babies born this spring on April 2.
Terhune Orchards – Attend their free Bunny Chase from 10 AM – 4 PM on Saturday, March 26. Kids from ages 2-8 years can follow the treasure hunt clues and find their spring surprise at the end! Each child can make a bunny to take home, and everyone can enjoy a Terhune Orchards bunny cookie. There will also be wagon rides around the farm, and pony rides.
Adventure Aquarium – Walk through the Shark Realm tunnel and it’s almost like being in a shark cage. Go to the Ocean Realm for a scuba experience without getting wet. They have daily shows and feeds, you can touch a shark, and visit exhibits. If you have time, go to the 4D theater to see Ice Age: No Time for Nuts.
Atlantic City – There’s so much to see and do in AC, e.g. the Absecon Lighthouse, the world-famous Steel Pier, Central Pier Arcade and Speedway, the Atlantic City Aquarium, Lucy the Elephant, the IMAX Theatre at Tropicana (Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice and The Divergent Series: Allegiant), Tropicana’s Multimedia Light & Sound Show, and shopping at the Tanger Outlets and they offer 25% off coupons from March 11 – April 17!
Camden Children’s Garden – The four-acre garden includes the popular Philadelphia Eagles Four Seasons Butterfly House, the tropical exhibit Plaza de Aibonito and Ben Franklin’s Secret Workshop. On Saturday, March 26 you can have a buffet brunch with the Easter Bunny, which is also the season’s opening day. You can also visit with the Easter Bunny in their Tree House and receive a special treat.
Diggerland – They open just in time for spring break! This construction theme park has amazing rides, including those that allow you to operate machinery like a backhoe. There will be an Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday, March 27 around noon.
Great Adventure – The amusement park opens on Wednesday, March 23, so you can go on rides, but even better, take an adventure through the safari park and pretend for a moment you’re on the African continent.
Jersey Shore – The weather is transitional for the moment. If it happens to be 60+ degrees and sunny you can take a walk along the boardwalk or on the beach, and make sand castles (with gloves). If you go to Point Pleasant, check out Jenkinson’s Aquarium, where on March 26 they will have a Seal- abration. Jenkinson’s Boardwalk is having a 2-for-1 Easter Sale March 25 – 27. If you plan on going to Ocean City, Gillian’s Wonderland Pier has their Annual Easter Ticket Sale. Maybe LBI is more your speed. Fantasy Island Amusement Park is having a Half Price Pre-Season Token Sale. Bring a skim board and eat Mahi Tacos at Surf Taco, for a totally awesome spring day!
Liberty Science Center – In addition to exploring the science center, meet Sid the Science Kid on Friday, March 25, go to the Nikolai Tesla Lightning Show, or check out Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition. Then drive to Liberty State Park to get a rear view of the Statue of Liberty.
Camelback Mountain Adventures – Have Alpine adventures in PA. Ride the Mountain Coaster 4,500 feet down Camelback Mountain, race a friend 1,000 feet on the dual ziplines or zip-flyers, give the full tree top course or the Kids Explorer Course a try, free fall 30 feet to a stunt airbag, tackle the 3-story climbing wall, and jump and flip with the Euro Bungee that will take you 20 feet in the air.
Giggleberry Fair – Located in in Peddler’s Village, this indoor family fun center is great for younger kids.
Great Wolf Lodge – Looking for a quick getaway? This family-friendly theme resort is quite popular with kids. They boast an indoor water park including cabanas, activities, attractions, i.e. a half-length bowling alley for younger kids and a ropes course, a fitness center, and spa treatments for both adults and kids. They also have special offers for the spring.
Kalahari Resorts – This is another getaway idea in the newest family resort in the Poconos. It has Pennsylvania’s largest indoor water park, arcade, family activities, and Easter weekend activities. They also offer spring specials.
New Hope – Take the family for a ride on a restored 1920s steam locomotive or historic diesel locomotive through Bucks County with New Hope & Ivy Railroad, go out to lunch, feed the ducks, do some antiquing, buy the kids ice cream, walk across the bridge to Lambertsville and back.
Philadelphia Zoo – America’s oldest zoo presents Zoo360, which are several exploration trails around the zoo that allow animals the freedom to travel throughout the grounds.While visiting, you can take a ride on the Swan Boat, SEPTA PZ Express, or 6ABC ZooBallon. Go on a camel safari, ride a pony or draft horse. And don’t forget to go to the children’s zoo and wildlife academy KidZooU, which was designated the exhibit of the year.
New York City
Broadway Show – People travel from all over the world to experience a musical in NYC, and you’re just a commute away. Treat your family to something spectacular like The Lion King, Aladdin, Matilda, Wicked, School of Rock the Musical, Finding Neverland, Tuck Everlasting, Fiddler on the Roof, Stomp – Off Broadway, The Gazillion Bubbles Show, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Blue Man Group, Disney on Broadway Tour, The Berenstain Bears Live!, or The Fantastiks.
Bronx Zoo – It’s the country’s largest metropolitan animal park. The Butterfly Garden and the Farmyard (petting area) of the Children’s Zoo both open on March 25. Admission is free on Wednesdays, and you can bring a picnic lunch. The Monorail doesn’t open until April 30, but the Zoo shuttle starts on March 25. Rio the 4D Experience is now playing, and you can take a ride on the Bug Carousel in addition to seeing the animals.
Brooklyn Botanical Gardens – Children’s Garden classes begin on April 1. They have the beautiful Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, which was the first Japanese garden to be created in an American public garden. There is a Ryōbu torii in the pond indicating there is a Shinto shrine nearby, wooden bridges, stone lanterns, and a viewing pavilion. The ornamental cherry trees have started to bloom. Check here for a “Cherrywatch”. This garden will mentally transport you to Kyoto in the spring.
Central Park – Kids will love going to the Central Park Zoo, Kerbs Boathouse where you can sail a remote control boat, the Alice in Wonderland statue, Belvedere Castle, the Carousel, row a boat on the Lake, take an iconic ride on a horse-drawn carriage through the park, and the lists goes on.
Circle Line – What a great way to relax, see Manhattan by water, and feel like you’re on a cruise. Sail around Manhattan island, the southern tip, or to the Statue of Liberty, and kids only pay $1 through March 27.
Museums – Princeton Public Library’s Museum Pass Program offers free admission to Children’s Museum of Manhattan, Guggenheim, Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, and Museum of Modern Art to name a few. American Museum of Natural History has plenty in store for you. There are exhibits, programs, tours (Night at the Museum Tour) and the Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson welcomes you.
South Street Seaport – Visit the South Street Seaport Museum, check out Lightship LV-87, also known as Ambrose that was built as a floating lighthouse to guide ships safely into lower New York Bay, and the four-masted barque Peking that was built in Germany.
Lower Manhattan – Walk along the promenade of Battery Park, then take a free roundtrip ride on the Staten Island Ferry to get a closer view of the Statue of Liberty for a vacation feeling. Or, actually go to the Statue of Liberty and/or Ellis Island, or sail the Clipper City Tall Ship through the New York Harbor.
Inner Harbor – Get an early start down and it could be a day trip to enjoy the harbor, which really makes you feel like you’re on vacation. Urban Pirates offers a family friendly harbor tour. There are many other harbor tours from which to choose.
Light City Baltimore – It features a 1.2 mile Art Walk with 29 illuminated visual artworks, more than 75 street theater and pop-up performances, and 50 live concerts on two stages, all free and open to the public March 28 – April 3
Mount Vernon – What a beautiful National Landmark Historic District and a city Cultural District, home to the original Washington Monument, Mount Vernon Place with the Marquis de Lafayette Monument, The Walters Art Museum (free of charge), Contemporary Museum, Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Lyric Opera House, Center Stage, Enoch Pratt Free Library Central Branch, Spotlighters Theatre, and Mount Vernon United Methodist Church that was built on the site of the house in which Francis Scott Key died.