Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this December 2019

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  With so many joyful and festive events happening this month, it’s definitely going to be hard to choose which ones to attend. Enjoy this special time of year with your family and friends – check out the many free or inexpensive activities happening this December in a town near you.  Happy Holidays from all of us at First Financial, and wishing you a prosperous 2020!

December 1:

Asbury Park Holiday Bazaar at Convention Hall from 11am-6pm. There will be handcrafted and vintage goods, photos with Santa, live holiday music, food, a fireplace lounge and hot drinks bar, 30 foot Christmas tree, kids art and holiday workshops, and a photo booth. Don’t miss this fun holiday event for the whole family! Learn more here.

Long Branch Tree Lighting in Pier Village from 4-6pm. The Pier Village ice skating rink will be open, there will be mini train rides, a meet & greet with Santa, a live band, characters in costume, dancers, carousel rides, and more. Find out more information here.

Bradley Beach Tree Lighting from 4-7pm at Riley Park (615 Main Street). There will be live music, dancers, carriage rides around the park, and free hot chocolate and cookies. Plus, Santa will be arriving to help light the tree by firetruck! Attendees are asked to donate a pair of new socks to benefit the Jersey Shore Rescue Mission in Asbury Park. See more details here.

December 6: Spring Lake’s Christmas Train Village at Duggan Hall (313 Washington Avenue). Open seven days a week from 12pm-5pm until January 6, 2020. Come check out this spectacular holiday display with numerous running trains, animated attractions and much more. The display is free of charge to visit, but donations will be accepted from those who wish to do so. Donations will be given to the Common Ground Grief Center. Learn more here.

December 7:

Free Santa Photos at all First Financial Locations (Toms River, Neptune, Howell/Freehold). Sit with Santa from 10am-1pm! Each participating child will receive a free 4×6 photo in the mail, as well as the original image file will be sent to each parent/guardian. Register at your nearest branch here, or call 732-312-1500.

Santa Ferry Ride leaves from the NY Waterway Belford Terminal in Middletown from 8:30am-2:30pm. This fun yuletide ride will feature Santa and friends, Christmas carols, goodie bags, and a beautiful scenic view of the Statue of Liberty. Tickets must be purchased in advance, and are $17 for residents and $21 for non-residents. Kids under 1 are $5. Learn more here.

Horse Drawn Carriage Rides through Historic Allentown from 12pm-3pm at Pete Sensi Park. Come see Allentown decked out for the holidays by carriage ride, while also listening to historic tales. Tickets purchased the day of are $15 per person at Borough Hall, however advanced registration is recommended due to popularity of this event. Refreshments will also be available for purchase at Pete Sensi Park or enjoy any of Allentown’s historic restaurants after your 20 minute carriage ride. Find out more here.

Holiday Festival at Casino Pier (Seaside Heights) from 1pm-3pm. Entry fee is a new or gently used coat for a local coat drive and a non-expired canned good. Come dressed in your holiday best (or wear your favorite ugly Christmas sweater)! There will be prizes, holiday crafts, games, and a visit from Santa. See more information here.

December 8:

Breakfast with Santa at iPlay America (Freehold) from 9:30am-1pm.  Enjoy a delicious breakfast while Santa walks around, along with live holiday performances where the whole family can sing and dance along. There will also be an opportunity for photos with Santa, and decorating of Christmas cookies and reindeer treats to prepare for Christmas Eve! Learn more and register here.

Winter on Broad Street (Red Bank) from 11am-5pm. There will be lots of fun on the streets of Red Bank including ice skating, a life sized snow globe, a scavenger hunt, food,  a holiday bazaar and plenty of holiday spirit! Learn more about the event here.

December 13: Free Movie Friday at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park from 7pm-10pm. Come see the classic holiday movie A Christmas Story at the Paramount Theater with the whole family, for free!  See more details here.

December 14: Winter Solstice Celebration at Cattus Island County Park’s Cooper Environmental Center (Toms River) from 11am-3pm. There will be games, crafts, live animals, horse drawn carriage rides, campfire storytime, food, a candy cane nature walk, and a visit from Santa! The event is free to attend. Learn more here.

December 15: Christmas in Manasquan from 12:30pm-3pm at 126 Main Street. Don’t miss the town’s annual tree lighting, plus there will be hayrides, ice sculpting, giveaways, and lots of holiday cheer! Find out more here.

December 20: Free Movie Friday at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park from 7pm-9pm. Come see another classic holiday movie It’s a Wonderful Life at the Paramount Theater with the whole family, for free!  See more details here.

December 21: Free Classic Horse & Wagon Rides in Red Bank from 1pm-5pm (11 Bridge Ave or 26 Broad St). Take a free horse and carriage ride through beautifully decorated Red Bank for the holiday season! This is the last day of the event, you won’t want to miss it. Find out additional information here.

December 23: Downtown Freehold’s Annual Menorah Lighting at 5:30pm (10 East Main Street). Be sure to check out Freehold’s annual Menorah lighting to kick off Hanukkah this year! Find out more here, along with other Freehold holiday events throughout the month of December.

December 28 & 29: Springsteen Historical Exhibit in his hometown of Freehold (70 Court St) at 11am. This unique exhibit at the Monmouth County Historical Association will feature 150 items about Springsteen including his personal scrapbooks, yearbook photos, his original recorder, music, and more. General admission tickets are $15 per person, and Freehold Borough resident tickets are free of charge. Learn more here and reserve tickets online.

Happy Holidays!