25 Old-School Activities for NJ Families: Drive-In Theaters, Vintage Trains & More!

Ice Cream, Vintage Trains, Drive-In, Amusement Parks, Mini Golf

Ah, the good ol' days. Remember roller-skating, ice cream sodas and drive-in theaters? These simple pleasures can still be found all over New Jersey. Relive your childhood while introducing your kids to some new-old activities this summer. We’ve rounded up 25 great ideas to get you started, everything from vintage train rides to living history farms. So put down that smartphone and step back in time. There’s plenty of old-fashioned fun to be had in NJ!

  1. Nothing beats the simple pleasure of an ice cream sundae. Visit classic ice cream shops such as Bischoff’s and Holsten’s for homemade sundaes, ice cream sodas and other delicious treats.
  2. Feed the chickens, milk the cows and more at NJ’s living history farms. A fun and educational experience for the whole family!
  3. Take in a vintage baseball game this summer. The baseball players that belong to the Mid-Atlantic Vintage Base Ball League wear old uniforms and play according to 19th-century rules.
  4. Visit one of NJ’s charming small towns. Stroll along the streets in Chester or Lambertville and visit antique shops, unique eateries and more.
  5. Cool off with a dip in one of NJ’s natural swimming holes.
  6. Enjoy a double feature at Delsea Drive-In Theatre, the only remaining drive-in theater in New Jersey.
  7. Grab some grub at one of NJ’s numerous diners. Favorites such as Tick Tock Diner, Mustache Bill’s and White Mana have been serving up classic diner food for decades.
  8. Learn about maritime history and how the lighthouse keepers and their families lived many years ago at these seven Jersey Shore lighthouses.
  9. Sit back and relax on a vintage train ride at the Whippany Railway Museum.
  10. Spend a rainy afternoon roller skating with the kids. There are lots of rinks throughout the state offering this throw-back activity.
  11. Play classic arcade games like Centipede and Ms. Pac-Man at YESTERcades in Red Bank and Somerville.
  12. Step back in time at one of NJ’s historic villages and enjoy a fun day totally off the grid.
  13. Watch a movie or attend a special event at the Landmark Loew’s in Jersey City, one of the country’s original Movie Palaces.
  14. Head to The Circus Drive-In for a truly unique dining experience. Established in 1954, the restaurant still offers car-hop service. Your kids will love it!
  15. Want to be the coolest parent around? Take your teen to an All Ages show at The Stone Pony, the club where none other than Bruce Springsteen got his start.
  16. Explore the great outdoors on a nature hike—it’s the perfect family outing for kids of all ages.
  17. Introduce your kids to pinball at the Silverball Museum in Asbury Park, where they’re welcome to play over 100 classic pinball machines.
  18. Pay a visit to Lucy the Elephant, standing six stories high, and climb to the top for a spectacular view of Atlantic City. This old gal has been around since 1881!
  19. View vintage aircraft, air and space artifacts, photos and models at The Aviation Hall of Fame & Museum
  20. Family-friendly amusement parks such as Storybook Land, Wild West City and Land of Make Believe offer old-school attractions sure to delight kids both young and old.
  21. Stroll the boardwalk in Jersey Shore towns like Point Pleasant, Asbury Park and Wildwood. Don’t forget to stop for classic (and delicious!) treats like funnel cake and salt water taffy.
  22. Try your hand at fishing. Spots like Manasquan Inlet and Barnegat Bay are good places to start or rent a fishing boat at several locations along the coast.
  23. Tour Liberty Hall Museum and explore the home of New Jersey’s first elected governor, William Livingston.
  24. Some things never change and miniature golf is one of them. Take in a round or two at one of NJ’s many great courses.
  25. Celebrate the start of summer with a backyard campout, complete with s’mores. Or take a family camping trip.