Liberty Science Center - making a 6-ft bubble

Making a giant soap bubble at Liberty Science Center
Photo Credit: Shannon Entin / Homeschool TMOM

On Sunday, February 2, Super Bowl XLVIII will take place in East Rutherford, NJ, giving it the honor of being the first outdoor Super Bowl ever held in a cold-weather location. While the players prepare to battle it out on the field, New York and New Jersey are already battling it out economically, each trying to convince fans to spend their money on its own side of the river.

As much as I enjoy New York City, I’m here to tell you that the Garden State has a lot to offer visitors – both fans and those dreading the influx of fans – especially if you want to avoid big crowds, high costs and bone-chilling cold. The Farmer’s Almanac predicts bitter cold this winter (true so far!) and a storm that will hit the Northeast just in time for the big game.

Sure, the Big Apple has Super Bowl Boulevard – a 10-block stretch down Broadway that will have concerts, athlete autograph signings and a seven-story-tall toboggan slide ride – but how about some warmer, family-friendly destinations that will make happy memories for the whole family? Oh, and by the way? Your kids might learn some new things, too!

Carlo’s Bakery
About 20 minutes from MetLife Stadium is the bakery that started it all. Buddy Valastro’s Cake Boss series is filmed at Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken. Be ready to wait in line (sometimes 2 hours, though probably less in the winter), but true fans know it’s a treat to taste the pastries first hand and get some great photo ops. And who knows, you just might spot Buddy.

Liberty Science Center/Liberty State Park
Drive about 10 minutes from Carlo’s to Liberty Science Center in Jersey City at Liberty State Park. You can also hop a ferry to the Statue of Liberty if you want to brave the cold. With four floors of hands-on exhibits, animals, and awe-inspiring science demonstrations, this attraction is a must for family fun. My kids love the Touch Tunnel, an 80-foot long, crawl-through, pitch-black maze. And no matter how old they get, I always have a hard time pulling them away from the Wonder Why exhibit where they can climb the rock wall, test their reaction time, make a six-foot soap bubble, balance a beach ball on a stream of air, and lots more.

Horseshoe crab at Sandy Hook beach

Horseshoe crab found at Sandy Hook beach
Photo Credit: Shannon Entin / Homeschool TMOM

Sandy Hook Beach
Sandy Hook is a surprisingly fun place to visit in the winter. You can’t sunbathe, but you can still walk on the beach and take in the amazing view of the New York City skyline across the bay. Less than an hour from MetLife Stadium, Sandy Hook boasts hiking trails, historic forts, and a lighthouse you can tour. On a cold day, my son and some friends explored the beach and found this horseshoe crab, one of the more popular marine residents at Sandy Hook.

CoCo Key
Who says you can’t have some water fun in the dead of winter? At CoCo Key, the thermometer always reads a perfect 84 degrees. This stellar indoor water park is a happening place to play during the big game or wind-down afterward. From the lazy river and the water slides to the hot tub and the full bar overlooking all the action, CoCo Key has something for everyone. The Hotel ML houses CoCo Key, offering quality accommodations, amenities and extras for the kids, such as clowns, balloon animals, and free dance parties. About 80 minutes from MetLife Stadium, the Hotel ML offers an ideal location to round out your Super Bowl tour of New Jersey and is likely to be less expensive than hotels closer to the game.