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 Silverball Museum in Asbury Park or Morristown Game Vault

There's always things to see and friends to be made at Liberty Science Center. Photo by author.

3. Spend the day at Liberty Science Center

4. Hike, play, picnic, and "zoo" at South Mountain Reservation

5. Take a nostalgic train ride at Whippany Railway Museum

6. Play in the giant playground in Liberty State Park and enjoy the spectacular view of Manhattan 

7. And while you're there, make a day trip of it and visit the Statue of Liberty

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

The pumpkin picking at Ort Farms makes folks happy. Even preteen girls. Photo courtesy of author.

11. Celebrate fall with some pumpkin picking or slinging

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. Brush up on your fairy tales in Storybook Land

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

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. See the dinos up close at Field Station: Dinosaur's new home

27. Check out one of the wonderful and walkable small towns in our state

28. Ride the roller coasters at Six Flags Great Adventure

29. Or take your amusement park experience indoors with iPlay America

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

The Atlantic City boardwalk is full of fun and shapes. Photo by author.

33. So many kid-friendly things to do 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. Watch (or enter your little one in) the Ocean City Baby Parade

54. Visit Thomas Edison National Historic Park

55. Eat Disco Fries at Tick Tock Diner

56. Sledding at the Tourne County Park in Boonton

Relaxing at the Grand Cascades Hotel at Mountain Creek. Photo courtesy of the author.

57. Ski Mountain Creek, enjoy the water park, or just rest up at one of their sumptuous hotels.

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. Search for eggs at Liberty Hall during their annual Easter Egg Hunt

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. No better way to bond with the family and experience the great NJ outdoors than camping

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

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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Lead photo of Splashplex, courtesy of the author.

Originally published February 2013