100 Things to Do in New Jersey with Kids Before They Grow Up

Bucket List For Families in New Jersey Top 100 Activities

Now that my oldest child is a 'tween, I understand that phrase I heard often during those difficult baby/toddler times, "The days are long, but the years are short."  Thankfully, filling those short years with quality bonding time is even easier with our Top 100 not-to-be-missed family activities right here in the Garden State. From indoor play to awesome parks, and from quiet fun to thrill-seeking adventures, there's tons of incredible stuff to make memories that will last forever!

  1. Attend a small town 4th of July or Memorial Day Parade
  2. Become a pinball wizard at the Silverball museum in Asbury Park
  3. Spend the day at Liberty Science Center
  4. Feed the animals at Brookhollow's Barnyard
  5. Brush up on your fairy tales in Storybook Land
  6. Play in the giant playground in Liberty State Park and enjoy the spectacular view of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty
  7. Surround yourself with nature at Skylands New Jersey Botanical Gardens
  8. Enjoy a summer day (or week) at one of the many Jersey Shore family beaches such as: Seven Presidents, Ocean City, Point Pleasant, Asbury Park, Wildwood, or Cape May
  9. Get a behind the scenes tour at Jenkinson’s Aquarium
  10. Catch a fantastic kids show at Mayo Performing Arts Center, Bergen Performing Arts Center New Jersey Performing Arts Center, or South Orange Performing Arts Center
  11. Search for eggs at Liberty Hall during their annual Easter Egg Hunt
  12. Ride the train through the Bergen County Zoo in Van Saun Park and then take in the carousel and playground
  13. Spend a Saturday at the Morris Museum during one of their Family Festivals
  14. Learn all about decoys and surf boards at the Tuckerton Seaport
  15. See three states from the top of the monument at High Point State Park
  16. Bring your train lover to Northlandz to see the miles and miles of their model trains, as well as their doll collection
  17. Have a day of fun and learning at Rutgers Day
  18. Take a canoe or pontoon boat through the Meadowlands
  19. Hike the New Jersey portion of the Appalachian Trail
  20. Take a raft or tube on the Delaware
  21. See the ascension at the Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning
  22. Watch the sheep sheering at Valley Shepherd Creamery
  23. Visit the Great Falls in Paterson
  24. Go maple sugaring in the late winter
  25. Learn how to make your own mozzarella at Cherry Grove Farm
  26. Celebrate St. Patrick's Day at the family-friendly Morris County St. Patrick's Day Parade
  27. Check out one of the wonderful and walkable small towns in our state
  28. Watch (or enter your little one in) the Ocean City Baby Parade
  29. Visit Thomas Edison National Historic Park
  30. Go swim in a lake
  31. See the Jets Training Camp at their center in Florham Park
  32. Have water fun at Splashplex or one of the other amazing water parks in NJ
  33. Marvel at the water show at Caesars Pier in Atlantic City
  34. Stroll a New Jersey boardwalk and fill your bellies with amazing Jersey Shore food: Johnson's popcorn, Shriver's fudge and salt water taffy, Kohr Brother's frozen custard and, of course, french fries and fried oreos
  35. Check out an outdoor Shakespeare performance.
  36. Walk through Kidzone at Adventure Aquarium or enjoy their scuba Santa during the holiday season
  37. Take a tour of the Sterling Hill Mining Museum and even get to mine for your own treasures
  38. Brush up on your Revolutionary War history at Washington's Headquarters in Morristown
  39. Bike through Allaire State Park
  40. Eat in an old time train at Clinton Station Diner
  41. View hawks, eagles, falcons and owls at close range at the Raptor Trust
  42. Watch the annual re-enactment of Washington's Crossing of the Delaware
  43. Go Mini Golfing on (or off) the boardwalk
  44. Star watch at Batsto Village
  45. Go on a wolf watch at Lakota Wolf Preserve
  46. Explore the Grounds for Sculpture
  47. Go to the world-famous Cherry Blossom Festival in Branch Brook Park
  48. Hike Sunrise Mountain at Stokes State Forrest
  49. Indulge in a delicious treat at Carlo's Bakery (The Cake Boss) in Hoboken
  50. Horseback riding on the beach
  51. Enjoy homemade ice cream on a hot summer day at Denville Dairy
  52. Enjoy the view of New York as you hike at Palisades Interstate Park
  53. Camping on the beach at Lewis Morris Park
  54. Sledding at the Tourne County Park in Boonton
  55. Eat Disco Fries at Tick Tock Diner
  56. Ride the roller coasters at Six Flags Great Adventure
  57. Ski Mountain Creek or enjoy some time at the water park in the summer
  58. Visit the State Theater in New Brunswick for their Milk and Cookies Free Performance Theater for children
  59. Catch a planetarium or laser show at Raritan Valley Community College
  60. Stroll along Pier C in Hoboken and take in amazing views of Manhattan while your kids play in the park
  61. Spend a perfect fall day at Alstede Farm
  62. Enjoy the rides AND visit Santa at the Land of Make Believe
  63. Hike, fish and learn all about trout at Pequest Hatchery
  64. See black bears up close at Turtle Back Zoo
  65. See thousands of irises in bloom from May through June at Presby Memorial Iris Gardens
  66. Take a trip into the past with the car hop service or dine under the "big top" at the Circus Drive-in
  67. Wassail the Apple Trees at Terhune Orchards in Princeton
  68. Walk, run or bike over the George Washington Bridge
  69. Visit Battleship New Jersey
  70. Stop by the Discovery Center at Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit for their weekly Saturday nature program and borrow a backpack loaded with everything needed to explore
  71. See a minor league baseball game
  72. Celebrate New Jersey's cranberry harvest at the Annual Cranberry Festival in Chatsworth
  73. Visit one of the many NJ lighthouses or participate in the Lighthouse Challenge
  74. Celebrate fall with some pumpkin picking or slinging
  75. Ride the NJ transit train to NYC or to a nearby town with a great downtown area to explore (Morristown, Summit, Hoboken, Westfield, Montclair, Princeton)
  76. Touch a tarantula and hissing cockroach at Insectropolis
  77. Take a pirate ride
  78. Splash around at the water playground at the Newport Green in Jersey City
  79. Bring the whole family to an outdoor music festival such as: Maplewoodstock or Hoboken Arts and Music Festival
  80. Celebrate National Train Day at one of the many New Jersey locations
  81. Get artsy at the Montclair Art Museum
  82. Take an evening stroll and be delighted with tales about haunted Cape May at the Cape May Walking Ghost Tour
  83. Climb inside Lucy the Elephant at Margate
  84. Explore and laugh at the Garden State Discovery Museum
  85. Get wild at the free Cape May County Zoo
  86. Smell the flowers at the Camden Children's Garden
  87. Pet the animals at Paws Farm Nature Center in Mount Laurel
  88. Ride the train, carousel, and paddle boats at old time Smithville Village
  89. Take the whole family to a Red Bulls soccer game in Harrison
  90. Learn about the past at Howell Living History Farm
  91. Eat some authentic Portuguese food at the Ironbound
  92. Get your math fun on at Pi Day in Princeton
  93. Make an amazing blown glass creation at Hot Sand in Asbury Park
  94. Ride the Cape May-Lewes ferry
  95. Get artsy at Princeton Communiversity Festival of the Arts
  96. Go whale watching in Cape May
  97. Try to avoid the Jersey Devil in the Pine Barrens
  98. Experience Space Farms for yourself
  99. Be a spectator (or participant) at the NJ Polar Bear Plunge
  100. Become a fire safety expert at the Fire Museum at the Newark Museum

Your turn! What are your favorite family-friendly venues in New Jersey?

And don't forget to check out 100 Things To Do With Kids in NYC Before They Grow Up!

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photo credit: kikfoto via photopin cc

Originally published February 2013