What to Do Over Winter Break

What to Do Over Winter Break

Classes are over, finals are coming to an end and the start of another semester is weeks away. Wondering what to do with your free time over winter break? Rutgers Today asked faculty and staff across the university for some recommendations.

Here are some suggestions to fill your free time.

Take Your Children on an Adventure

(Photo courtesy of the Please Touch Museum)

I know it can be challenging for parents of young children to keep them entertained when they are home for a long break, but my family has found some fun things to do not too far from Central Jersey. We visited the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia when my son was 2 1/2 years old. He really enjoyed the water play area and the ShopRite dramatic play area. There were many different themed areas to play and it was clean and well kept, which can be hard to maintain in a place designed solely for children.

Now that he is in kindergarten, we have taken him to Bowlero in North Brunswick to play in their arcade section. We did not bowl, and there is no entry fee, so for around $20, our son was able to play lots of games (and my husband and I a few as well), and we did not have to plan out a whole day of travel, meals, etc.

I have visited Monster Mini Golf in Edison with other adults and plan to bring our son some chilly day soon. Like Bowlero it is close to Rutgers-New Brunswick and is a relatively low-cost excursion.  It was also clean and well kept and has an arcade section.  It is darkened and has blacklights for a spooky feel but nothing too scary.

–Tara Conover, assistant director, Rutgers Psychology Child Development Center

Head Outdoors

Brandon Alderman and his family hiking on the Scott and Hella McVay Poetry Trail in Princeton (photo courtesy of Brandon Alderman).

It's (almost) never too cold to get the benefits of exercising outdoors. Recognized international guidelines for physical activity recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity on most days of the week combined with additional muscle-strengthening activities performed several days per week. And although it's far from clear, emerging evidence suggests additional psychological and mood-enhancing benefits of engaging in outdoor physical activity.

New Jersey is home to an amazing array of trails and walking paths, including the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail, which is easily accessible from the Rutgers-New Brunswick campus. In addition, one of my favorite walking paths is the Scott and Hella McVay Poetry Trail located near Princeton. Whatever you decide, bundle up and get active for the numerous physical and mental health benefits that accompany an active lifestyle!

Brandon Alderman, associate professor, Department of Kinesiology and Health, Rutgers-New Brunswick School of Arts and Sciences

Go to a Game

(Photo Credit: Ben Solomon)

The RAC will be rocking during the winter break, with both men’s and women’s basketball competing in the venue described as being “louder than a 747 at Newark Airport.” The men host three games, playing Caldwell on Monday, Dec. 30 (7 p.m.), Penn State on Tuesday, Jan. 7 (7 p.m.) and Indiana on Wednesday, Jan. 15 (7 p.m.). Meanwhile, women’s hoops welcomes Indiana on Tuesday, Dec. 31 (3 p.m.) and Nebraska on Sunday, Jan. 12 (2 p.m.). Fans can secure tickets by calling 866-445-GORU (4678) or visiting the Scarlet Knights website.

–Kevin Lorincz, senior associate athletic director for communications

Experience Newark’s Edge

(Photo courtesy of Perry Halkitis)

I am excited to be one of Newark's newest residents. The city reminds me of what New York was like as it was developing in the '70s and '80s and '90s. It has edge and culture. I hope and pray that Newark will hold on to some of that edge because that’s what makes it great.

For winter break I recommend people discover Newark. Plan an entire day (or week) in the state's largest city. Explore the Newark Museum, the state’s largest gallery, for unforgettable experiences in the arts and natural sciences. Head over to the historic Newark Public Library and check out their LGBTQ Community Center before grabbing lunch in one of the city’s many restaurants in the Ironbound neighborhood. After lunch, be sure to take a stroll in Branch Brook Park, conceived by Frederick Law Olmsted, famous for his work on Central Park. Complete your day by catching a show or event at either the Prudential Center or the New Jersey Performing Art Center. P.S. Leave your car at home - Newark has a myriad of transportation options!

Perry Halkitis, dean, School of Public Health, Rutgers-New Brunswick

Check Out the Library

(Photo courtesy of Rutgers University Libraries)

We have dedicated recreational reading collections in Camden and New Brunswick, so stop by and check something out before you head home for break – and don’t forget that you can have books delivered to any Rutgers library. I particularly recommend our collections of graphic novels, which feature popular titles from Black Panther to The Walking Dead.

If ebooks are more your speed, we have tons of classics that can be accessed from your computer or mobile device. Into sci-fi? How about settling down with The Time Machine? If you’re a horror fan, it might be a perfect time to read (or reread) Dracula. Or, if you’ve been looking forward to a cup of cocoa and a good, old-fashioned love story, try Emma just in time for a new feature film adaptation coming out in February. The John Cotton Dana Library also has an extensive collection of sci-fi on the shelves.

If you’re feeling a little adventurous, I’d recommend something from the Popular Culture and Philosophy series. These books examine subjects like Bruce Springsteen, Downton Abbey and Star Trek through the lens of philosophy, offering the perfect blend of accessible and academic. The combination of pop culture topics and critical analyses will get you turning pages while keeping your mind sharp for the start of classes in January.

Zara Wilkinson, reference librarian, Paul Robeson Library, Rutgers-Camden

Make a Difference in Your Community

Around this time of year, people become more generous with their time and money to support organizations and causes that help those less fortunate. While it is certainly impactful to make donations, for those looking to do a little more, here are some organizations that provide much needed support to those in need in and around the city of Camden:

  • Cathedral Kitchen is the largest emergency food provider in Camden, N.J., serving more than 100,000 meals a day. With over 9,000 volunteer opportunities, Cathedral Kitchen provides guests with a sit-down plated meal daily and access to a variety of social services. In addition, they provide meals for local after-school programs, groceries for low-income senior centers and donated food to local pantries, churches and soup kitchens that also serve their client population.
  • The Ronald McDonald House Southern New Jersey provides a home away from home for families whose children or extremely ill and are being treated in nearby hospitals. Serving approximately 800 families annually, the work is supported by volunteers who provide “family welcome bags” that include basic essentials families may need for their stay at the house or “snack packs” for the families to have something healthy to eat. Volunteers also assist by making breakfast and dinner daily for the families and running fun family activities in the evenings. 
  • Joseph’s House provides a continuum of services to the homeless from emergency shelter to access to supportive housing and comprehensive social services. The vision behind Joseph's House is to be a place in Camden where no neighbor sleeps outside, even for one night; where those brought down by poverty, addiction or mental illness have a place to go, where they will have a friendly great them and provide them support. By going on AmazonSmile you can make easy donations that will get delivered right to Joseph's House, but you can also gather your family, friends and co-workers to provide donations for items on their everyday items wish list, such a toiletries, socks, coats and feminine hygiene products that can be personally delivered to Joseph’s House. 

Nyeema C. Watson, associate chancellor for civic engagement, Rutgers-Camden