100 Things To Do in New Jersey With Kids Before They Grow Up

Hike the Appalachian Trail—72 miles  are n New Jersey! Photo courtesy of Visit NJ
Hike the Appalachian Trail—72 miles are n New Jersey! Photo courtesy of Visit NJ
7/16/23 - By Rose Gordon Sala

Check out these iconic things to do in New Jersey with kids—including attractions, events, activities, museums, and more—that every New Jersey native really must experience!

Never did I imagine that I would be raising three kids in New Jersey, but I'm pretty happy with the way things turned out as this area makes it easy to entertain kids.

Our state is crazy expensive, as we all know, but it's also diverse, both in terms of its population and geography, which means there are plenty of fun things to do in New Jersey with kids of all ages and interests. From the gorgeous Jersey Shore beaches to our plentiful Garden State farms, New Jersey offers tons of incredible kids' activities. We have cool playgrounds, fantastic hikes and parks, and awesome zoos. There are lakes to swim in every summer and mountains to ski in the winter.

Read on for our list of the 100 best things to do in New Jersey with kids, and don't let those kids tell you they're bored again!


Like what you see? Make sure to subscribe to our free newsletter for even more fun kids' activities in New Jersey.

Exploring New Jersey’s Neighborhoods

If you're in the mood for a more local itinerary, check out our Neighborhood Guides, where we have top picks for the best things to do with kids in family-friendly hot spots ranging from Hoboken to Cape May and all the areas in between.

Money Saving Tips For Exploring NJ

As we mentioned, the Garden State can be hard on a family budget, but we like to think of ourselves as the curators of family fun on the cheap. To that end, be sure to bookmark our Guide to Free Fun Things To Do in New Jersey with Kids, where we share all our top tips for how to score free admission to top New Jersey attractions, plus places where kids can play for free, eat for free, and even go down The Shore for free.

Top Things To Do in New Jersey for Visitors

While this list of the best things to do in New Jersey is geared toward locals, we've got plenty of top picks for family fun for out-of-towners, too. Here are a few helpful roundups for anyone visiting New Jersey with kids:

Best Things To Do in NJ with Kids By Age

100 things to do in New Jersey with kids: Cape May Zoo
Visit the free Cape May Zoo; it's manageable for little kids, has a great playground, and sweet exhibits. Photo by the Lisa Warden

100 Top Things To Do in New Jersey With Kids

1. Cape May Zoo

Walk the boardwalk at the FREE Cape May County Zoo to see buffalo, bears, and zebras.

2. Jersey Shore

Enjoy a day (or week) at one of the many Jersey Shore family beaches, such as Seven Presidents and Cape May. We love a beach day trip in the summer, but a winter walk is great, too!

3. Cape May Lighthouse

While you're in Cape May, let them work off that energy by climbing the 199 steps to the top of the Cape May Lighthouse.

4. Pick Apples

Fill your basket with apples at Terhune Orchards, or another of the Garden State's pick-your-own farms.

5. State Theatre

See a Broadway show at the spectacular State Theatre in New Brunswick.

100 things to do in New Jersey with Kids: Liberty Science Cener
Walk on the moon at the Liberty Science Center. Photo by Karen Turner

6. Liberty Science Center

Spend the day at Liberty Science Center, and visit its state-of-the-art planetarium.

7. Pumpkin Picking

Celebrate fall by wandering the farm for pumpkin picking. Get the perfect photo by bribing them with the farmstand ice cream.

8. Ride the Rails

Take a nostalgic train ride at the Whippany Railway Museum or on another historic NJ railroad. These trains offer Halloween rides in the fall, Santa visits in December, and sometimes Thomas the Train rolls in, too.

9. Liberty State Park

Play in the giant playground in Liberty State Park and enjoy the spectacular view of Manhattan any time of the year.

10. Ice Skate

Lace-up your skates and hit the ice rink. We love the pop-up rink at Van Saun Park in Bergen County.

100 things to do in New Jersey with kid before they grow up: Van Saun Park splash pad
Cool off in the amazing water playground at Van Saun Park. Photo by the author

11. Van Saun Park

Ride the train through the Bergen County Zoo in Van Saun Park and then take in the carousel, playground, and splash pad.

12. Jenkinson's Aquarium

Get a behind-the-scenes tour at Jenkinson’s Aquarium, or just enjoy the penguins and other sea life at this New Jersey aquarium located right on the boardwalk.

13. Hike the AT

Hike the New Jersey portion of the Appalachian Trail. Big kids might even be able to conquer the Stairway to Heaven trail, which starts flat before hitting the mountain.

14. Fairy Trail

Play, picnic, hike, and look for fairy houses at the South Mountain Reservation.

15. Family-Friendly Farms

While away a perfect fall day at a favorite nearby farm, feeding animals, taking a pony ride, or picking what's ripe.

100 things to do in New Jersey with kids: Storybook land
Visit the enchanting Storybook Land. Photo courtesy of the park

16. Storybook Land

Brush up on your fairy tales at Storybook Land, or just hit the kiddie rides.

17. Hike the Stream

Pick a hike with water, a river, or a stream, and the kids will complain less, I promise!

18. Rutgers Day

Celebrate the state university system with an action-packed, family-friendly festival, Rutgers Day.

19. Canoe NJ's Waterways

Take a canoe or pontoon boat through the Meadowlands or another local river or lake.

20. River Tubing

Tube down the Delaware River when the kids finally learn to swim. It's one of those iconic summer activities you've got to try.

100 things to do in New Jersey with kids: NJ Lottery Festival of Ballooning
See the sky fill with colorful hot-air balloons at the NJ Lottery Festival of Ballooning. Photo courtesy of the festival

21. Balloon Festival

See the ascension at the New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning.

22. Diggerland

Take your bulldozer-obsessed child to the construction-themed amusement park and water park, Diggerland.

23. Great Falls

Watch the impressive Great Falls crash in Paterson.

24. Maple Sugaring at New Jersey Parks

Go maple sugaring in the late winter.

25. Cattus Island Park

Hike the "hidden beach trail" in Cattus Island County Park.

100 things to do in New Jersey with kids: Field Station: Dinosaurs
Visit the dinos at Field Station: Dinosaurs in Leonia from May to October. Photo by the author

26. Field Station: Dinosaurs

See prehistoric creatures up close at Field Station: Dinosaurs.

27. Walkable Small Towns

Ride NJ Transit to one of the wonderful and walkable small towns in our state.

28. Six Flags

Ride the roller coasters at Six Flags Great Adventure, and splash in the wave pool at Hurricane Harbor.

29. Wild West City

Or play cowboys and cowgirls at the western-themed Wild West City in Sussex County.

30. Lake Swimming

Spend the day swimming in a refreshing New Jersey lake and building sandcastles on the shore.

100 things to do in New Jersey with kids: Christmas Lights
New Jersey goes all out with the Christmas lights, like this house in Union. Photo by the author

31. Christmas Lights

See an over-the-top block of Christmas Lights at these New Jersey houses and neighborhoods.

33. New York Jets Training Camp

See the Jets Training Camp at their center in Florham Park during the late summer.

33. Water Parks

Cool off at the amazing water parks in New Jersey, enjoying splash pads when they're young and the thrill slides when they're teens.

34. New Jersey Shore Boardwalk Amusement Parks

Ride a thrilling coaster at one of New Jersey's famed boardwalks, play at the arcades, and enjoy sailing above the coastline in swings, wheels, and more rides.

35. Boardwalk Food

Afterward, stroll the boardwalk and fill your bellies with amazing Jersey Shore food: Johnson's popcorn, Shriver's fudge and saltwater taffy, and Kohr Brother's frozen custard, to start.

100 things to do in New Jersey with kids: Sussex County Sunflower Maze
Head to the seasonal Sussex County Sunflower Maze in summer and early fall. Photo courtesy of the county

36. Sunflower Fields

Puzzle your way through the Sussex County Sunflower Maze, or just pick the pretty summer blooms at these NJ farms.

37. Ride the Polar Express Train

Meet Santa and sip hot cocoa on these Polar Express and Christmas trains. It's among our favorite things to do in New Jersey with kids during the holidays.

38. Adventure Aquarium

Walk the Shark Bridge at Adventure Aquarium, or enjoy its scuba Santa during the holiday season.

39. Washington's Headquarters

Brush up on your Revolutionary War history at Washington's Headquarters in Morristown.

40. Allaire State Park

Bike through Allaire State Park.

100 things to do in New Jersey with kids: Grounds for Sculpture
Enjoy photo ops and beautiful views at the Grounds for Sculpture. Photo by DMH Photography

41. Grounds for Sculpture

Explore the massive outdoor art installations at South Jersey's Grounds for Sculpture.

42. Raptor Trust

View hawks, eagles, falcons, and owls at close range at the Raptor Trust.

43. Washington's Crossing

Watch the annual reenactment of Washington's Crossing of the Delaware.

44. Putt Putt on the Boardwalk

Go mini-golfing on (or off) the boardwalk.

45. Stargazing

Go stargazing at the historic Batsto Village in Wharton State Forest.

100 things to do in New Jersey with Kids: Denville Dairy
It's not just cones at Denville Dairy! Photo courtesy of the dairy

46. Ice Cream Shops

Enjoy homemade ice cream on a hot summer day at Denville Dairy or one of these NJ ice cream spots.

47. Medieval Times

Cheer for your knight at Medieval Times.

48. Cherry Blossom Festival

Be awed by the world-famous Cherry Blossom Festival in Branch Brook Park in Newark. This New Jersey park has more cherry trees than the famed Washington, DC, fest.

49. Sunrise Mountain

Hike Sunrise Mountain at Stokes State Forest, or take a day trip to one of these other amazing NJ state parks and forests.

50. Liberty Hall

Search for eggs at Liberty Hall during the annual Easter egg hunt.

100 things to do in New Jersey with Kids; Mountain Creek water park
Mountain Creek is open all year for seasonal activities. Photo courtesy of Mountain Creek

51. Mountain Creek

Ski or snow tube at Mountain Creek, enjoy the water park, or just rest up at one of its sumptuous hotels.

52. Watchung Reservation

Visit Watchung Reservation for easy hiking trails, an awesome playground and nature center, and a brand-new sensory trail—or hit another one of our favorite NJ reservations.

53. Palisades Interstate Park

Take in the view of New York as you hike at Palisades Interstate Park.

54. Ocean City Baby Parade

Watch (or enter your little one in) the Ocean City Baby Parade.

55. Thomas Edison National Historic Park

Visit the home and laboratory of one of America's greatest inventors at Thomas Edison National Historic Park.

56. Tick Tock Diner

Eat disco fries at Tick Tock Diner.

100 things to do in New Jersey witk kids: Visit Hoboken
Hit the playground after a stroll along Pier C in Hoboken. Photo by Shinya Suzuki via Flickr

57. Pier C

Stroll along Pier C in Hoboken and take in amazing views of Manhattan while your kids play in the park.

58. Pine Barrens

Try to avoid the Jersey Devil in the Pine Barrens.

59. Nutcracker Ballet

Catch a fantastic kids' show or holiday Nutcracker performance at one of NJ's many family-friendly theaters, including Mayo Performing Arts Center, Bergen Performing Arts Center, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, or South Orange Performing Arts Center—many of which offer sensory-friendly performances!

60. 9/11 Memorials

See the Empty Sky 9/11 memorial at Liberty State Park, or the wall of names perched atop Eagle Rock Reservation, looking out toward the NYC skyline.

61. Morris Museum

Spend a Saturday at the Morris Museum and be sure to save time for its maker space.

62. Land of Make Believe

Hit the rides and visit Santa at the Land of Make Believe.

100 things to do in New Jersey with kids: Turtle Back Zoo
Visiting the Turtle Back Zoo means plenty of cute photo ops. Photo by Margaret Hargrove

63. Turtle Back Zoo

Gape at the lions, giraffes, and bison up close at the Turtle Back Zoo.

64. Greenwood Gardens

Explore the magical grounds of Greenwood Gardens, or soak up the scenery at another one of NJ's gorgeous gardens and arboretums.

65. Family Music Festivals

Bring the whole family to an outdoor music festival like Maplewoodstock or Hoboken Arts and Music Festival.

66. Camp Under the Stars

Bond with your crew in nature at these family campgrounds.

67. Newark Museum

Visit the Newark Museum to see an amazing art collection, along with cool science exhibits, planetarium shows, and a fire museum.

100 things to do in New Jersey with kids: Johnson's Corner Farm Corn Maze
Find your way through a corn maze this fall in New Jersey. Photo courtesy of Johnson's Corner Farm

68. Corn Maze

Let the kids lead you out of one of these New Jersey corn mazes that pop up in late summer and early fall.

69. Smithville Village

Ride the train, carousel, and paddleboats at the old-time Smithville Village.

70. Red Bulls

Take the whole family to a Red Bulls soccer game in Harrison.

71. Iris Gardens

See thousands of irises in bloom from May through June at Presby Memorial Iris Gardens.

100 things to do in New Jersey with kids: DreamWorks Water Park at American Dream Mall
DreamWorks Water Park at American Dream Mall is a larger-than-life oasis of wet-and-wild fun. Photo by Gina Massaro

72. Indoor Water Parks

Warm up at DreamWorks Water Park: Make Waves Year-Round at American Dream Mall or another nearby indoor water park.

73. Battleship New Jersey

Visit Battleship New Jersey for a big-time thrill.

74. Reeves-Reed Arboretum

Stop by the Discovery Center at Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit, or visit during one of its many family-friendly festivals, such as the Daffodil Festival in the spring.

75. NJ Lighthouses

Climb or visit one of the many NJ lighthouses. Kids love the view from the top, and you can help them check off one of these iconic things to do in New Jersey.

76. Climb Inside Lucy the Elephant

A national historic landmark, Lucy was erected in 1881. Visit her and the rest of these off-the-beaten-path attractions for an only-in-Jersey experience. 

100 things to do in New Jersey with kids: Red Mill Museum
The bucolic setting of the Red Mill Museum is gorgeous no matter the season. Photo by Anthony Cuffari via Flickr

77. Red Mill Museum

See the falls at the historic Red Mill Museum quarry or visit during the Haunted Village...if you dare.

78. Baseball Game

OK, so we don't have a pro baseball team, but kids never want to stay for the whole game anyway, right? Root for the home team at one of these minor league baseball stadiums around the state.

79. Cranberry Festival

Celebrate New Jersey's cranberry harvest at the Annual Cranberry Festival in Chatsworth.

80. Duke Farms

Bike ride through Duke Farms landscaped grounds; when everyone gets hungry, pull over for a picnic.

81. American Dream Mall

There are so many fun things to do at this New Jersey mega mall you'll need more than a day to see and explore it all.

100 things to do in New Jersey with Kids: Tripod Rock hike
Sit under Tripod Rock, perched here long ago by glaciers. Photo by the author

82. Pyramid Mountain

Take selfies under Tripod Rock after hiking Pyramid Mountain.

83. Sail With Pirates

Go sailing with pirates, or hit the water on another exciting boat ride.

84. Newport Green

Play and splash around at Newport Green in Jersey City or one of NJ's other awesome water playgrounds.

85. Escape to AC

Enjoy a night or two in Atlantic City with the kids. It's surprisingly filled with free family entertainment, including a brand-new beachfront water park.

86. Big Snow

Ski at the indoor snow park at American Dream Mall.

100 things to do in New Jersey with kids: Holland Ridge Farms
Pick a dozen tulips at the spectacular Holland Ridge Farms. Photo by the author

87. Holland Ridge Farms

Pick tulips from among the millions planted at this New Jersey flower farm in the spring and gorgeous sunflowers in the fall.

88. Old-School Arcades

Become a pinball wizard at the Silverball Museum Arcade in Asbury Park or the Morristown Game Vault.

89. Sterling Hill Mining Museum

Tour the Sterling Hill Mining Museum and mine for your own treasures.

90. Brookhollow's Barnyard

See baby animals at NJ farms, including Brookhollow's Barnyard. It has a sweet sandbox, playground, and playhouses that the kids always adore. Feed the animals from a little bucket.

91. Northlandz

Bring your train lover to Northlandz to see the miles and miles of model trains and its doll collection.

100 things to do in New Jersey with kids: Howell Living History Farm
Visit the farm animals at Howell Living History Farm. Photo by William Doyle via Flickr

92. Howell Living History Farm

Learn about the past at Howell Living History Farm.

93. Cut Your Own Christmas Tree

Toss the plastic tree and go cut down your own beauty on one of NJ's Christmas tree farms.

94. Pi Day

Get your math fun on at Pi Day in Princeton.

95. Asbury Park Boardwalk

See the murals and famed boardwalk in Asbury Park.

100 things to do in New Jersey with kids: High Point State park
Visit High Point State Park for a view of the tri-state region. Photo by Jessica Delfino

96. High Point State Park

See three states from the top of the monument at High Point State Park.

97. Hunt for Haunts

Do you have the mettle to take on one of these New Jersey ghost tours?

98. Freedom & Fireworks 4th of July Show

Stay up late to watch the big fireworks display on July 4th in Liberty State Park.

99. Polar Bear Plunge

Be a spectator (or participant) at the NJ Polar Bear Plunge.

100. Dig into Jersey Donuts

Treat yourself to over-the-top confections at NJ's incredible doughnut shops.

This article was first published in February 2013 and has since been updated.

Places featured in this article: