We’re on the lookout for fun places to visit and fresh things to experience in South Jersey all year round. This is especially so in the cold months when it’s easy to make excuses to simply stay home. Check out these great places to go for an afternoon, or all day – and even for a few hours after dusk to keep away the winter blues.

Hippo Haven at the Adventure Aquarium

Have a hippo encounter

Go behind the scenes at Hippo Haven to help feed Button and Genny, the over 3,000-pound hippopatami that live there. Adventure Aquarium in Camden, the only aquarium in the world with hippos on exhibit, offers this truly unique (and educational) encounter for $74.99 per person. Visit adventureaquarium.com.

Tour the Underground Railroad by trolley

Visit the places in Cape May where escaped slaves sought refuge and help to continue their journeys to freedom. The tour begins and ends at the Ocean Street trolley stop and travels through parts of Cape May and West Cape May, with stops along the way including the Mt. Zion Cemetery. Visit capemaymac.org for the tour schedule and tickets.

Plunge like a polar bear

Jump into the frigid Atlantic Ocean while supporting Special Olympics New Jersey athletes. This special polar bear plunge in Wildwood takes place at 1 pm on January 14 on the beach by the Wildwoods Convention Center. For more information or to register visit plungewildwood.org.

Frozen fun

Skate hand-in-hand and then warm up with hot chocolate and S’mores at WinterFest at Cooper River Park. The festive ice rink, located near the corner of Cuthbert Blvd. and Park Ave. in Cherry Hill, is open most Thursdays through Sundays through Feb. 26. Admission is $7.50 for adults, $5.50 for kids 5-12, seniors and veterans. Skate rental is $6. Visit camdencounty.com for more information.

Vibe on French music

Don’t miss the Symphony in C’s French music program at 8 pm January 21 at the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts in Camden featuring Israeli conductor Noam Aviel. Tickets range in price from $25 to $52 and can be purchased at symphonyinc.org.

See sculptures by moonlight

You need more than a day to see the 400-plus works of art at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton. Luckily you can now have most of the night too. “Night Forms: Infinite Wave” is an after-hours multisensory exhibit that runs Thursdays through Sundays from Sunset to 11 pm through April 2. For more information and tickets, visit groundsforsculpture.com.

Go behind prison walls

Whether you’re into ghost tales, true-crime stories or just like cool old buildings, exploring the Burlington County Prison Museum in Mt. Holly will not disappoint. A self-guided audio tour highlights the history of the nation’s longest used prison and hits upon notable convicts, including 9 for murder, who did time in its cells. You can also get a group of your ghost-busting friends together to conduct a paranormal investigation. For more information, visit prisonmuseum.net.

Take an (interpretive) hike

If you’ve ever wished you had a guide with you on hikes to explain what you should be looking out for in nature, Rancocas Nature Center’s interpretive hikes are for you. Guides lead groups of 15 or so through the meadows, forest and wetlands in Rancocas State Park. Be sure to bring binoculars and your good camera. For more information, visit rancocasnaturecenter.org.

Just drive

The roads along the 130-mile Pine Barrens Byway are some of the most scenic in the nation so fill up the tank and go! The byway goes from the shore to Batsto, and it cuts straight through the Pine Barrens, passing outdoor hotspots like the Mullica River, Batsto Village, Tuckerton seaport and the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge. Plan your route at nj.gov/pinelands.

January 2023
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