Compiled and Photographed by Sarah Einhorn
Chanukah is synonymous with family time! Trying to find somewhere to go with the whole crew? Look no further. Here’s a list of fun spots that will allow you to enjoy each other’s company while having a great time.
Jersey City, NJ
What I really like about Hudson Play is that they have activities for children of all ages. Children up to age four have a specially designed soft play area. There are plenty of riding toys, a pretend area, and soft building blocks for the little tots to use. There is also a moonwalk and huge Connect 4 game as well as a mini Lego table. Ages five and up can enjoy the two-speed rock climbing wall, a four- lane Ninja Obstacle Course with nets, swings, monkey bars, and a 12-foot warped wall, which my kids loved trying again and again. There is also a virtual reality roller coaster to be enjoyed for an extra fee. All visitors ages five and above must wear closed-toe sports shoes with a pliable rubber sole. Hudson Play is a great destination for a day of wholesome fun for all ages.
COVID UPDATE: Extra cleaning precautions are being taken and face coverings are required for all guests over age two.
Wednesday-Monday: 9 A.M.-6:30 P.M.
4 years and under:
90 min PLAYpass: $15
Virtual Reality Roller Coaster:
$5 per person-per ride
Approximate Distance from Flatbush:
American Dream Mall, East Rutherford, NJ
The roller coasters, all four of them, were our favorite part of Nickelodeon Universe. When we arrived we were amazed to see a full-sized amusement park, just like the outdoor ones, under a roof; we were so excited that we were actually able to go to an amusement park in the winter.
There are more than 35 rides at Nickelodeon Universe catering to all ages and stages.
A third of the rides are thriller rides, and each has a unique distinction. The Shellraiser, the world’s steepest roller coaster, is popular for its almost straight drop. The Shredder is the world’s tallest and longest spinning roller coaster. The Skyline Scream is the world’s tallest indoor spinning drop tower. Timmy’s Half Pipe Havoc is a giant skateboard that zooms up, down, and then up again in skateboard fashion. If you don’t care for thriller rides, no worries. A third of the park is populated by family-friendly rides. Some examples are the Slime Streak roller coaster, which is perfect for people who are looking for a tamer ride. SpongeBob’s Jellyfish Jam is a great swing ride, and the two-level merry-go-round is also enjoyable. The world’s tallest ropes course is also a popular family attraction. It you have toddlers in your party, the last third of the park is geared to them. The Paw Patrol Adventure Bay has climbing structures and slides for the little ones under 52”. The Dora Sky Railway allows the children a ride on a train with a view from above. There’s a smaller ferris wheel, a truck ride, and an airplane ride that the young ones will enjoy.
We visited on a Sunday last January. The park was quite full, and the lines were long. It is smart to come early on weekends to avoid the wait. I would also suggest counting on spending a whole day there, even though it is located within the mall and you may be tempted to go elsewhere. There is so much to do and so much fun to be had that I wouldn’t be surprised if you plan a return trip while you leave.
COVID UPDATE: Guests must wear face coverings at all times and follow physical distancing guidelines.
Advance tickets are required. Tickets can be purchased online.
Nickelodeon Universe ticket for guests ages 10+:
Weekdays: $59.00 Weekends/Holidays: $75.00
Nickelodeon Universe ticket for guests ages 3-9:
Weekdays: $55.00 Weekends/Holidays: $65.00
Children ages two years and younger access the park for free (rider restrictions apply).
Nickelodeon Universe senior citizen ticket for guests ages 65+:
Weekdays: $49.00 Weekends: $59.00
Approximate Distance from Flatbush: 45 minutes
American Dream Mall, East Rutherford, NJ
“We’re going skiing and it’s raining,” my daughter pointed out as we drove to Big SNOW. Everyone had a good laugh at the irony.
Located in the American Dream Mall, Big SNOW is North America’s first indoor real-snow ski and snowboard park. We visited last year at the end of December not long after Big SNOW opened. When we arrived, the staff pulled up our reservation and helped us check in. We were introduced to Big, the Big Snow Mascot and were explained the way Big Snow works in one of the orientation “gondolas.” We were pleasantly surprised to hear that snow gear such as snow pants and jackets were included with our ski rentals. Once everyone bundled up and stored our belongings in the lockers, we headed to pick up our skis. The staff helped put on and fit the boots. Once our skis were fitted, we headed “outdoors.” We appreciated that our two-hour slot only began once we went out, not at our arrival time.
They could have fooled me. If I wouldn’t have seen the roof and walls, I would’ve believed that we were outdoors. The 180,000 square-foot area where the snowy slopes are located is kept at a steady 28 degrees – a comfortable cold. My kids only skied last season and were nervous to head to the slopes before practicing. They practiced with instructors for a few minutes until they were comfortable with trying the smaller hill.
The Lil’ Dipper is the smaller hill with two magic carpets taking beginners up the hill. The hill has lots of twists and turns dug out to help improve the skills needed to tackle the more difficult Switchback and very difficult Northern Lights slopes. Skiers can get up the slopes either with the Big Express Quad chair lift or standing with the Poma Lift. I didn’t dare try the difficult slopes, but it was fascinating to watch all the skiers and snow boarders have a time of their lives going up and down.
We had such an incredible time skiing that when we left we were trying to think when would be a good time to return. One thing is for sure: the weather forecast will not play a factor in our plans.
COVID UPDATE: There are a limited number of guests allowed. Contactless scanning is in place for arrival and entry into and out of the snow dome, and all gear is sanitized. Guests must wear face coverings and follow social distancing precautions.
10 A.M.-10 P.M.
Last guest arrival check-in time is 7:45 P.M. or 2 hours and 15 minutes prior to closing daily.
Price: It is recommended to buy tickets online since it guarantees a slot and there is a discount for online tickets.
Single SNOW Day Packages start at $69.99 +Tax
Observation tickets are available onsite for parents and escorts at a rate of $14.99.
Approximate Distance from Flatbush: 45 minutes
Cranford, NJ (Additional Locations in Hoboken, Metuchen, and Montclair)
We had a great time painting at ArteVeno Studio. None of us were experienced painters. We were a variety of ages, yet we all enjoyed it immensely. We painted a scenic picture with a lighthouse and water. Everyone registered for the class had an easel waiting for them with the paint and brushes needed to create that specific picture. Our instructor, Heather, a professional artist, and her assistant, gave extremely clear instructions each step of the way and then came around to see if anyone needed help. There was upbeat music playing whenever Heather wasn’t talking, and many people enjoyed drinks they had brought. The interesting part was that we all painted the same thing, yet each painting was unique.
Classes are pre-booked online and you get to see which picture will be painted during the class. Evening classes have a minimum age requirement of 14 years, so we joined a two and a half hour class on a Sunday afternoon in Cranford, NJ because not everyone was above that age. No prior painting experience is necessary, and it is surprising to see what you can create with step-by-step instructions.
COVID UPDATE: Live classes are currently postponed due to COVID-19. They offer Create at Home Classes where you choose a painting and they send you a kit of that painting with the pre-recorded video for you to watch and paint on your own schedule. Paint on your own, or with a group of friends.
Check online for classes and availability.
Average price per class is $35
East Hanover, NJ
I have very fond memories from when I was a kid visiting Funplex with my extended family. I was extremely impressed back then with the design and fun elements in the Foam Frenzy area. During our recent trip, the Foam Frenzy area was closed due to COVID-19, but we had a great time on all the other rides and with the many arcade games spread all over the facility.
The first ride that we noticed upon entering Funplex was the bumper cars, and just behind that was the Super Twister, a giant pendulum-like ride with seats all around the end. The Skyscraper ride takes the riders up and around, a calmer ride but still fun. There are plenty of arcade games and a 4D interactive ride. There is also laser tag and a virtual reality game. The Warrior Course, an obstacle course, looked exciting, but was closed during our visit.
The second room, the Boardwalk, is home to the go-kart track and two thrilling rides. Reverse Time takes riders high up to the ceiling and then lets them down with a drop. Drop n Twist spins the riders on an angle both backwards and forwards – definitely not for the faint of heart. The state-of-the-art bowling alley at the Boardwalk rounds off the experience.
We had an awesome time at Funplex even without Foam Frenzy, and we can’t imagine how much fun it will be when it reopens.
COVID UPDATE: Funplex is open for limited hours due to COVID-19. Masks and social distancing required. Extra cleaning is in place to keep guests safe.
Hours: Check online for the current hours and to purchase online tickets.
Bands start at $39 + tax.
$15 Fun Card offers 30 credits to be used on any arcade game, bowling, or on indoor attractions.
Approximate Distance from Flatbush: 1 hour