May GoList: Best Things To Do with NJ Kids This Month

Family-Friendly Activities in New Jersey May 2018

May is bursting with springtime fun. It's the perfect month to fly a kite, celebrate moms, and check out the gazillion fairs and festivals happening across the state. You can explore New Jersey's amazing shore at Ocean Fun Days, and travel back in time to the Renaissance and the Wild West.

When the weather's not cooperating, head indoors to see a performance, including The Wizard of Oz and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. It all culminates in Memorial Day weekend, which marks the start of summer fun with the opening of many water parks and amusement parks, including the tot-friendly Land of Make Believe

Read on to see our 20 top picks for the merry month of May. For even more things to do, be sure to check out our Event Calendar, with new activities and events added daily, as well as our Spring Fun Guide for New Jersey Kids. Spring is finally here—soak it up, NJ!

First-Ever Autism Day at Six Flags Great Adventure – Jackson 
Thursday, May 3
Custom Education Foundation and Gersh Academy are transforming Six Flags Great Adventure into a sensory-friendly environment for individuals on the autism spectrum. This is the first time ever that an amusement park of the magnitude of Six Flags has been transformed into a sensory-friendly environment.

The beloved classic the Wizard of Oz comes to the State Theatre of New Jersey. Photo courtesy of the production

The Wizard of Oz – New Brunswick
Friday and Saturday, May 4–5
Follow Dorothy, Toto, the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion down the Yellow Brick Road when the new national tour comes to State Theatre New Jersey. The lavish production features breathtaking special effects, dazzling choreography, and classic songs.

It's more than just kite flying at Terhune Orchards—there are many activities for the whole family to enjoy. Photo courtesy of the orchard

Kite Days at Terhune Orchards – Princeton
Saturday and Sunday, May 5–6
Go fly a kite at Terhune Orchards! Bring your own, buy one in the shop, or make and decorate one on site. There will be live music and tons of food to purchase, as well as barnyard games and tractor-drawn wagon rides. Come Sunday for the sheep-shearing demonstration, and take home a piece of fleece on a sheep-shaped card. 

Ride 'em, cowboy! Wild West City reopens for the season on May 5. Photo courtesy of Wild West City

Wild West City Season Opening – Stanhope
Saturday and Sunday, May 5–6
Wild West City celebrates the start of its 62nd season this weekend, so mosey on over to experience life in a frontier town circa 1880. Attractions include live-action shows (22 per day!); stagecoach, pony, and train rides; mini-golf; and a barnyard zoo. 

Saloon: An Acrobatic Musical Adventure by Cirque Éloize – Princeton
Friday and Saturday, May 10–11
The Wild West fun continues at McCarter Theatre, where the Canadian troupe Cirque Éloize will present two performances of Saloon. The company blends circus arts with dance, music, and theater to create a surreal, dreamlike experience. Recommended for ages 10+. 

Lake Hopatcong Block Party – Landing
Saturday, May 12
Celebrate New Jersey's largest lake with an action-packed day filled with boat rides, music, food trucks, a children's area, family train ride, a park-wide scavenger hunt, and more. FREE

The Children's Festival in Historic Smithville features inflatables, a traveling zoo, crafts, and more.

Children's Festival – Smithville
Saturday, May 12
A festival especially for kids? Don't mind if we do. This popular fair in Historic Smithville features the Cape May Zoo's traveling zoo, along with face painting, inflatables, balloon animals, and games. While you're there, check out Smithville's carousel, train ride, arcade, and paddle boats. Admission is free; some activities have a small fee.

Celebrate Mother's Day at Morey's Piers with tea and a special craft. Photo courtesy of Morey's

Mother's Day Weekend – Various locations
Saturday and Sunday, May 12–13
May 13 is Mother's Day (in case anyone in your family needs reminding), and there are lots of special events happening around NJ this weekend. Just a few include: Mother's Day at Morey's Piers, where all moms ride free from noon – 5pm; a Mother's Day Tea Party at Paws Discovery Farm; free admission for moms at Garden State Discovery Museum; and perhaps best of all, Mother's Day Wine Trail Weekend at Terhune Orchards. We've also got the scoop on the best brunch spots in Northern NJ and the Jersey Shore

Butterflies and Birds Family Festival – Camden
Saturday and Sunday, May 12–13
Learn about butterfly gardening and bird adaptations, create your own models of a butterfly life cycle and bird's nest, visit the butterfly house, and go for a ride on the carousel and train.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – Newark 
Sunday, May 13
You won't want to miss Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s 20th anniversary engagement at NJPAC. The 3pm matinee program features works by Hope Boykin, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, and Alvin Ailey. For older kids (or parents planning a grown-up night out), there are also 8pm performances on Friday and Saturday, May 11–12.

Give family camping a go at Cora Hartshorn Arboretum. Photo courtesy of the arboretum

Family Camp-Out at the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary – Short Hills
Saturday, May 19
This is a great opportunity for a first-time camping experience for the whole family. Pitch a tent in the woods, roast s’mores, and more. Dinner and breakfast provided, as well as some great activities such as a night hike and campfire stories. Bring your own gear. Register online.

9th Annual Fairy and Pirate Festival – Budd Lake
Saturday, May 19
Come dressed in costume to do a fairy dance at Turkey Brook Park during a fun-filled day of all things magical, including face painting, a giant slide, pirate challenges, bouncy castle, pony rides, food, vendors, and a treasure hunt. Rain date: May 20.

New Jersey Renaissance Faire – Bordentown
Saturdays and Sundays, May 19 – June 3
The New Jersey Renaissance Faire is an event of epic proportions. Located on the beautiful 60 acres of Liberty Lake, the Faire is the largest festival of its kind in the state of NJ and has made a name for itself as the most interactive Renaissance Faire in the country.

Touch-A-Truck – Paramus
Sunday, May 20
Kids can climb aboard all kinds of vehicles at the Garden State Plaza parking lot at this 14th annual event sponsored by the Junior League of Bergen County. Bounce houses, face painting, and other activities round out the fun.

Ocean Fun Days – Island Beach State Park and Sandy Hook
Saturday and Sunday, May 19–20
This two-day festival celebrates the ocean and coastal environment with exhibits, classes, nature tours, and kids' activities. The fun includes fishing clinics for kids, touch tanks, fiddler crab races, a scavenger hunt, and more. FREE

Wildwood hosts North America's largest kite festival. Photo courtesy of the festival

Wildwoods International Kite Festival – Wildwood
Friday–Monday, May 25–28
The 32rd Annual Wildwoods International Kite Festival, the largest kite festival in North America, features kite makers from around the world flying their most incredible colorful creations.

Have a sweet spring celebration at a strawberry festival.  

Strawberry Festival at Johnson's Corner Farm – Medford
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, May 25 – June 3
The farm kicks off strawberry festival season with a two-weekend celebration of the sweet fruits of spring. There's something fun for everyone, from hayrides to music.

Land of Make Believe celebrates its season reopening on May 26. Photo courtesy of the park

Land of Make Believe Opening Day – Hope
Saturday, May 26
The popular amusement park for little ones reopens for the season this weekend. Splash around in the water park if the weather's warm, or stay dry on rides like Jump Around Frog and T-Rex. The park will be open on weekends only through the third weekend in June, after which it will be open daily through Labor Day.

Field Station: Dinosaurs Opening Weekend – Leonia
Saturday–Monday, May 26–28
The dinos are back! Head to Overpeck Park to visit a T-rex, triceratops, and 30 other life-sized prehistoric creatures. Kids can also dig for fossils, see a movie, catch a live show, play games, and take part in workshops. 

Raging Waters is right on the beach! Photo courtesy of the water park

Water Parks Open for the Season – Various Locations
Memorial Day weekend marks the opening of most water parks in NJ! Get your swimsuits ready, and check websites for more info.

Originally published 2013; updated for 2018. 

Photos courtesy of the events/venues.