Fun Things to Do in New Jersey With Kids

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Asbury Park, one of the best beaches in NYC

From mini-golf to amusement parks to boardwalks on the Jersey Shore, New Jersey provides an abundance of fun things to do with kids. An easy train ride from NYC, northern New Jersey attractions offer family-friendly activities ideal for a day trip from New York City. Check out the American Dream – a 3,000,000 square foot retail and entertainment complex. Get in some beach time on the Jersey Shore or base your explorations in Camden just outside of Philadelphia for more family fun. Wherever you go, you’ll find plenty of things to do to keep the whole family happy even if you just have time for a weekend getaway to New Jersey!

1. Battleship New Jersey Museum & Memorial, Camden, NJ

Regularly ranked as one of the best museums in New Jersey, the Battleship New Jersey Museum Memorial displays artifacts from the battleship’s past. It also immerses you in the exhibits as you tour the vessel. Climb into the 16-inch gun turret, track a tomahawk missile launch in the Combat Engagement Center or stretch out on the sailors’ bunks.

2. Camden Children’s Garden

For nature-themed fun, young children enjoy the Camden Children’s Garden. Climb on a rooster, hummingbird or sea dragon on the carousel. Or plan your visit for mid-November for the garden’s special event – the Train Festival at Camden Children’s Garden featuring crafts, games, train stories and a train ride through the garden.

3. Visit the Adventure Aquarium on the Camden Waterfront

Located on the Camden Waterfront, the family-friendly Adventure Aquarium boasts more than 15,000 aquatic species in two million gallons of water. The only aquarium in the world to exhibit hippos, Adventure Aquarium also houses Little Blue penguins as permanent residents. The aquarium also features a V-shaped rope suspension bridge – the longest Shark Bridge in the world – that hovers just inches over Shark Realm.

4. Diggerland Amusement Park and Water Park, West Berlin

Operate real construction machinery at the unique Diggerland USA construction-themed amusement and water park. The whole family can drive, ride, slide and soak in this unusual New Jersey attraction.

5. Experience Cape May Beach

Situated on New Jersey’s southernmost point, Cape May is one of the USA’s oldest seaside resorts. Enjoy expansive ocean views, gawk at ornate Victorian mansions or explore the history of Cape May on a guided trolley tour. Of course, you can also just enjoy the beach. But if you visit during peak season from Memorial Day to Labor Day, you’ll need a daily or seasonal tag to enter the beach.

6. Visit the Jersey Shore Alpacas

In the Cape May county community of Green Creek,  you’ll find Jersey Shore Alpacas – a small family farm. The whole family will enjoy meeting the adorable alpacas. Be sure to visit the gift shop for soft alpaca clothing items and cuddly toys. The Jersey Shore Alpaca experience is available by appointment only. Be sure to check the website for details.

7. Spot Whales and Dolphins with Cape May Whale Watcher

While you’re visiting Cape May, consider booking a dolphin and whale watching tour with Cape May Whale Watcher. You can also choose a lighthouse or sunset tour.

8. Atlantic City Boardwalk

Sample salt taffy or decadent fudge from shows along the Atlantic City Boardwalk. The heart of this seaside city, the Atlantic City Boardwalk spans 4.8-miles and features several piers lined with New Jersey attractions, shops, eateries and museums. As you stroll the boardwalk, take in the sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean.

9. Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Water Parks, Wildwoods, NJ

Experience a classic seaside amusement park at the family-owned and operated Morey’s Piers. Located on the boardwalk in Wildwoods, New Jersey, Morey’s Piers offers over 100 rides and attractions. Spanning six beach blocks, Morey’s Piers includes three amusement piers and two beachfront waterparks.

10. Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson Township, New Jersey

One of the world’s largest theme parks, Six Flags Great Adventure offers plenty of thrill rides including 14 world-class roller coasters. The amusement park also includes four theme areas: Boardwalk, Frontier Adventures, Fantasy Forest and Movietown. Special events include Fright Fest and Holiday in the Park.  

11. Experience the Magic of Storybook Land, Egg Harbor Township

Embrace the spirit of childhood with a walk through the 20-acre amusement park, Storybook Land. Introduce your children or grandchildren to classic children’s books and nursery rhymes as you experience rides and attractions at this beloved New Jersey attraction.

12. Turtle Back Zoo, West Orange

Situated on 20 acres in the South Mountain Reservation managed by the Essex County Park system, Turtle Back Zoo is a must-see New Jersey classic. Open year-round, the zoo features an open air pavilion for pony rides and a train ride that takes you through the woods to view the zoo residents.

13. Jenkinson’s Boardwalk, Point Pleasant

For plenty of family fun, base your Jersey Shore experience in Point Pleasant. A mile-long boardwalk bordering the Atlantic Ocean is home to Jenkinson’s Boardwalk Amusements. Here you’ll find a fun house, four arcades, a Victorian ice cream parlor and gift shops.

Jenkinson’s Boardwalk also features three mini golf courses and the Jenkinson’s Aquarium  – home to penguins, parrots, sharks and more. Just off the boardwalk, you can book adventures with Point Pleasant Parasail. Book a sport fishing trip and enjoy plenty of nightlife.

14. Asbury Park Boardwalk

A highlight of the Jersey Shore, the Asbury Park Boardwalk features an eclectic mix of eateries including Korean fusion tacos, sausages, oysters and Italian ice. Plentiful shops showcase everything from antiques to souvenirs. Art galleries add to the Asbury Park Boardwalk experience as do special events throughout the year including a Jazz Festival and an Oyster Festival held every summer.

Step back in time at the Silverball Retro Arcade in Asbury Park where classic pinball games keep the whole family entertained. There’s also oceanfront mini-golf and Asbury Splash Park with a famous tipping teacup to keep the kids happily soaked.

15. Take a Day Trip to Morristown

Located just 25 miles west of NYC, Morristown is steeped in history and culture. Here you’ll find Washington’s Headquarters Museum – one of 12 National Parks in the Garden State. More history awaits at Jockey Hollow where soldier encampments provide insights into the Revolutionary War. The park also features hiking trails for all levels.

16. New Jersey Botanical Gardens, Passaic County

Surrounded by 1,000 acres of woodlands, the New Jersey Botanical Gardens provides a nice nature oasis in Passaic County. With 96 acres of specialty gardens and miles of marked trails, it provides a fun outdoor adventure for the whole family.

17. Hike & Picnic at Garrett Mountain Reservation, Passaic County

Situated more than 500 feet above sea level, the 568-acre Garret Mountain Reservation provides sweeping views of northern New Jersey and the New York City skyline. The park makes an ideal place for a family hike followed by lunch in one of the park’s picnic areas.

18. Land of Make Believe

Designed with a focus on children under 13, the Land of Make Believe is a family-focused amusement park and water park. Here parents are encouraged to participate with their children riding kid-friendly roller coasters or splashing about in the water park.

19. Liberty Science Center, Jersey City

Located in Liberty State Park, the Liberty Science Center features the largest planetarium in the country and the fourth largest in the world. An array of interactive exhibits and an 89-foot dome are some of the highlights of this intriguing science center. Be sure to take in a show at the planetarium.

20. Liberty State Park, Jersey City

With expansive views of the NYC skyline, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Liberty State Park attracts roughly four million visitors each year. Within the park’s 1,212 acres, you’ll find the historic Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal. The park also houses the Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial.

From the park you can take the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Other amenities induce picnic areas, a playground, hiking and biking trails and more.

21. Shop and Play at American Dream, East Rutherford, New Jersey

A massive retail and entertainment complex, American Dream sits within the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Rainy days never stop the family fun at American Dream which features special events along with an incredible variety of indoor amusement parks. Splash down the slides at the world’s largest indoor water park, DreamWorks. Come face-to-fin in the SeaLife underwater tunnel where you’ll find sharks, rays and over 10 aquatic exhibits featuring NYC landmarks.

In TILT, experience the unique art museum created by the 3D art of Tracy Lee Stum. A former Guiness World Record holder, Tracy creates interactive art where kids of all ages step through the looking glass into 3D murals.

Ride giant roller coasters at the Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park – the largest indoor amusement park in the Western Hemisphere. Or play a round or two at Angry Birds Mini Golf.

Or, ski on real snow year round at Big Snow, North American’s only year-round indoor ski resort. There’so much to see and do at American Dream it makes an ideal day trip from New York City.

Where to Stay Near New Jersey

There are lots of options for hotel stays near New Jersey, including vacation rentals. Use this interactive map to help you find a place to stay in the area.

Booking.com

 

Based in New York City, Terri Marshall is an award-winning writer covering cultural travel, multi-generational travel, road trips, soft-adventure, camping, cars and characters. From hanging out with penguins in Antarctica to fishing for piranhas in Peru to road-tripping through the jungles of Belize, Terri’s always up for an adventure. Drop her into a landscape filled with mountains, towering evergreens, waterfalls and a glacier or two and she’ll be in heaven. But what thrills her most of all is traveling with her teenage grandkids. Terri serves on the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Committee for the North American Travel Journalist Association (NATJA). She also serves as the First Vice-Chair of the Eastern Chapter for the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). In addition to writing for SheBuysTravel, Terri’s publication credits include AARP, Island Soul, Girl Camper Magazine, A Girls Guide to Cars, CHILLED, World Footprints, North Hills Monthly, Alaska Business Monthly, Alaska Contractor and more. Follow her on Instagram at TrippingWithTerri.
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