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Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Hamilton, NJ’s "Winter Wonderland" is a great family holiday outing–and, it’s free, too!

One of our best local holiday events is the “Winter Wonderland,” held in Kuser Park in Hamilton, NJ. We have made this a family outing for several years, and every year we have tons of fun!  There is something for everyone, from little kids to adults, and, best of all, it’s virtually free–the only “entrance fee” is a suggested donation of a new toy for Toys for Tots, or a food item for the local food bank. 

It is hard to miss “Winter Wonderland” from the street–the first thing you will see is the Christmas light show, displaying thousands of twinkling Christmas lights. As you approach the park from the parking lot (or the street if you get there late) you will come across a lighted train, waiting to carry you into the park itself.  The “train ride” is actually a hayride, pulled by a tractor, decorated for Christmas, and the kids love it.

Once you get into the Wonderland itself, you need to choose which activity to do first–and there are many!  On one side is the stunning Kuser Mansion, a Victorian beauty decked out for the holidays. The Wonderland is one of the few times that the Mansion is open for free tours, and the line can get long.  It is worth the wait.  This year, the theme was Christmas Around the World, and each of the many rooms represented a different country–Greece, Italy, Germany, England, and Canada, to name a few. There was a Santa Claus room, and a Hanukkah display.  Even the bathrooms were decorated! Also in the Kuser Mansion, in the basement, is an awesome model railroad display, with dozens of trains zipping along numerous tracks, passing incredible scenery.  For train lovers, kids, or anyone who wants to see something different, this exhibit is a must.

If you are looking for activities for the younger set, “Winter Wonderland” is always full of those. This year, in addition to the beautifully lit, towering evergreen Christmas tree, there was a Living Christmas Tree, made up of people singing Christmas carols.  Kids and adults alike loved it!  In fact, there were musical performances throughout the night, all Christmas or holiday-themed.

Past the Christmas trees, you find Santa’s Village, which contains, among other things, Santa’s House (complete with Santa and Mrs. Claus), the Elf House, the Candy Shop, where you can get reindeer treats for Christmas Eve, and, best of all, a Post Office where your child can write a letter to Santa and “mail” it in the outdoor mailbox.  And Santa will write back!  There is also a small petting zoo, and wandering characters that charm the kids–Elves, snowmen, a teddy bear, Blue from Blue’s Clues, and more.  Take a picture with them for a nice holiday souvenir!  And, if you do get cold or hungry, there are food trucks set up, offering everything from funnel cakes, to hot chocolate and hot apple cider, to burgers and fries (there is a cost for the food and beverage items).

What a fun way to spend a Saturday night with your family!  If you happen to be in the central NJ area in the beginning of December, I highly recommend walking through Hamilton’s “Winter Wonderland.”

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