20+ Fun-Filled Fall Day Trips for New Jersey Families

Fun-Filled Outings for Families this Fall

Leaves are crunching underfoot, a chill is in the air, and the smell of pumpkin spice is everywhere, so it must be autumn in New Jersey—a perfect time for family day trips. We've got the lowdown on the best corn mazes, foliage tours, harvest festivals, and pick-your-own farms in the state. So grab a sweater and a mug of hot cider and head out with the family for an amazing fall day trip. And don't miss our Fall Fun Guide for even more family outings. 

1. See gorgeous fall foliage at the New Jersey Botanical Garden in Ringwood State Park.
With 13 beautifully manicured gardens, the NJ Bontanical Garden is full of the sights and sounds of abundant wildlife. Stop in at the Carriage House Visitor Center for a checklist of birds and other local inhabitants to spot. Try making your own scavenger hunt to occupy younger children; think targets like a statue, a bench, crab apple trees, squirrels, or the planet Jupiter. On Sundays through October, take older children on free, guided tours, which meet at 2 p.m. at the Carriage House Visitor Center. And don't miss the Harvest Fest in mid-October. Admission to the park is free, and so is parking in non-summer months. But leave the picnic basket at home, as picnicking is prohibited.


Hunt the ghosts of Asbury Park boardwalk. Photo by FriedmanPhotography via Flickr.

2. Take a ghost tour.
Ghost hunts are abundant in the Garden State. Try Princeton Ghost Tours, which guides visitors to sites where unexplained apparitions have appeared, and actually lets groups hunt down their own spooks with provided EMF meters, dowsing rods, and night-vision tools. Jersey kids 11 and older will get chills over Asbury Park’s Ghosts and Legends Downtown Tour, the Ghosts of the Boardwalks tour, and the Ghost Tour of Ocean City, as groups visit ghastly sites and learn some local history along the way. Some tours are not for the faint of heart, so talk to the tour guides to discuss the age-appropriateness of theirs.

3. Enjoy fall and Halloween fun at an amusement park.
NJ theme parks get into the spirit of the season with events like Diggerland's DiggerFest, Storybook Land's October Fun days, and Six Flags Great Adventure's Fright Fest (go early for kid-frinedly "thrills by day").

4. Pick your own.
For many families, autumn isn’t complete without a pick-your-own apple trip and a stop at a pumpkin patch. And for the full fall-fun experience, you should check out the corn mazes, hayrides and harvest festivals that take place throughout the state.

5. Play a round or two of FootGolf.
In this soccer-golf combination sport, players kick #5 soccer balls through a golf course, hoping to land their balls in a hole with the fewest number of kicks. The Monmouth County Park System has a nine-hole course at Bel-Aire Golf Course and an 18-hole course at Pine Brook Golf Course, with discounts for players under 13.

6. Head to one of NJ's cool pumpkin displays, festivals, and decorating events
Spend Columbus Day at Delicious Orchards' fifth annual Pumpkin Fest, have old-fashioned fun at Historic Cold Spring Village's Pumpkin Festival, or take a drive to Croton-on-Hudson, NY, for a truly over-the-top display at the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze

7. Hit the horse trail or take a pony ride at Lord Stirling Stable.
Kids of all ages can experience the joy of saddling up and trotting down a trail. Parents or guardians of little ones can rent a small horse or pony for under $15 and lead their child around the pony ring. Or, try the “Pony Pals” program, which includes a pony story, ride and activity, held on various days through December. The 30-minute program for toddlers is $5 and the 60-minute program for kids up to 7 is $10. Check website for details. 

8. Stroll through a small town like Somerville, Madison, or Hoboken. Soak up the charm of New Jersey's quaint downtowns when they are ablaze in fall colors. Grab a coffee, find a playground, poke around the mom-and-pop shops, and then find a local hotspot for a kid-friendly lunch. 

9. Go stargazing at a community planetarium.  Spend an afternoon among the constellations and brush up on astronomy trivia at the NJ State Museum, the Newark Museum, Ocean County College, and the County College of Morris.

RELATED: Best Apple Picking Farms in New Jersey with Kids


Up your pumpkin-picking game this year by taking a steam train to the pumpkin patch. Photo courtesy of Delaware River Railroad.

10. Ride a pumpkin train.
If you visit the pumpkin patch every year, raise the bar this year by arriving in an old-fashioned steam engine. Every weekend in October, The Delaware River Railroad Excursions will depart from Phillipsburg and take passengers on The Great Pumpkin Train to a pumpkin patch in front of the Carpentersville Lime Kilns. Other rides include Black River & Western Railroads' Pumpkin Trains and the NJ Museum of Transportation's Haunted Express. 

11. Attend a high school football game. 
Fall means football for many fans, so wrap the family in your town's high school colors and cheer on the local favorites. Don’t forget blankets and snacks!

12. Celebrate Halloween animal-style at ZooBoo.
Head over to the Bergen County Zoo for a special day of trick-or-treating, ghost stories, magic shows, and the Eerie Express train ride around the zoo in October. This is a popular ticketed event that often sells out, so contact the zoo early for availability. Families can also check out Boo at the Zoo events at Cape May County Zoothe Cohanzick Zoo, and Space Farms Zoo.

13. Take a walk through the Haunted Woods of Oldbridge.
Goblins and ghouls are ready to jump out when you least expect it! Lights, displays, and spooky sounds set the stage for the live actors, local Boy Scouts and their families. The event is free in exchange for a food donation to be given to the Old Bridge Food Bank. Hours are Friday and Saturdays 7–10 p.m. and Sundays 7–9:30 p.m. Little ones can enjoy the displays without scary actors on weekends from 3:30–6 p.m.

14. Explore the wildlife and gardens at Duke Farms
Fall Sundays are for Junior Naturalists to learn about seasonal changes to the animal habitats at this sprawling farm

15. Go on a Jersey devil hunt.
Teach the kids some local lore about the Jersey devil, and then bring them to the Pine Barrens for a look. One possible kid-friendly destination is the Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge, where kids can scope out the resident wildlife.

16. Make apple cider.
Got an apple juice or cider lover at home? The Tenafly Nature Center is holding apple cider-making sessions every Sunday throughout October.

17. Meander through New Jersey's own sculpture garden. 
Monthly Tot Tours at the Grounds for Sculpture include a story and hands-on project. After a brisk stroll through the grounds, grab a bite at one of two cafes on site, or the top-rated restaurant, Rat's. 

RELATED: 35 Things We Can't Wait To Do with NJ Kids This Fall


Learn about daily life in the 1920's at Fosterfields Living Historical Farm. Photo by Emily Wiley via Instagram.

18. Decorate a pumpkin at Fosterfields Living Historical Farm.
The farm is an interesting destination on any given day, as visitors can experience daily life here exactly how it was in the 1920s. On October 22, the park gets even more interesting as visitors can use natural materials to make a unique decorative pumpkin for a small fee.

19. Go on a photo scavenger hunt at Frelinghuysen Arboretum.
Nearly every weekend, for $10 per family, groups can search for targets, take photos of items, and receive a prize for completion. New themes and prizes are offered each month. If you prefer something a bit more free-form, rent a backpack for $5 filled with learning materials, games, and activities for the gardens at the Haggerty Education Reception Desk.

20. Bid farewell to your jack-o-lantern at The Great Pumpkin Sail.
The day after Halloween, head over to Echo Lake Park and send off your jack-o-lantern in style. Just bring your carved masterpiece (must weigh less than eight pounds); the organizers provide candles, pumpkin floats, hot chocolate, marshmallows, and entertainment around the campfire as the pumpkins illuminate Echo Lake. Tickets ($12-16 per six-person family) must be bought in advance and three sessions are available.

Top image: Little leaf-peepers enjoy the foliage at Fosterfields Living Historical Farm. Photo courtesy of Mostly Maplewood.

Area/Neighborhood: 
location: 
New Jersey Botanical Garden
2 Morris Road
07456 Ringwood , NJ 41° 7' 49.8432" N, 74° 15' 29.2248" W
New Jersey
Princeton Tour Company 08544 Princeton , NJ 40° 20' 48.1812" N, 74° 39' 24.7572" W
New Jersey
Ghost Tour of Ocean City
Asbury Ave. and E 9th St.
08226 Ocean City , NJ 39° 16' 43.8348" N, 74° 34' 34.4532" W
New Jersey
Asbury Park Ghost Tours, departing from Paranormal Books & Curiosities
627 Cookman Avenue
07712 Asbury Park , NJ 40° 12' 57.7692" N, 74° 0' 40.9968" W
New Jersey
Alstede Farms
1 Alstede Farms Lane
07930 Chester , NJ 40° 46' 44.526" N, 74° 42' 49.6836" W
New Jersey
Demarest Farms
244 Wierimus Road
07642 Hillsdale , NJ 41° 0' 28.2564" N, 74° 4' 14.826" W
New Jersey
Terhune Orchards
330 Cold Soil Road
08540 Princeton , NJ 40° 19' 54.858" N, 74° 43' 33.15" W
New Jersey
Donaldson Farms
358 Allen Road
07840 Hackettstown , NJ 40° 49' 53.2056" N, 74° 50' 36.8772" W
New Jersey
Melick's Town Farm
472 County Road 513
07830 Califon , NJ 40° 43' 57.0468" N, 74° 50' 17.6424" W
New Jersey
Medick's Town Farm
170 Oldwick Rd.
08858 Oldwick , NJ 40° 39' 51.1668" N, 74° 44' 51.9972" W
New Jersey
Bel Aire Golf Course
3120 Allaire Road
07719 Wall Township , NJ 40° 10' 55.3692" N, 74° 10' 57.2916" W
New Jersey
Pine Brook Golf Course
1 Covered Bridge Blvd.
07726 Manalapan , NJ 40° 19' 38.0244" N, 74° 18' 31.5504" W
New Jersey
BrickFair, Garden State Exhibit Center
50 Atrium Drive
08873 Somerset , NJ 40° 32' 17.2788" N, 74° 31' 13.5912" W
New Jersey
Delaware River Railroad Excursions
99 Elizabeth Street
08865 Phillipsburg , NJ 40° 41' 18.042" N, 75° 12' 1.0224" W
New Jersey
Black River & Western Railroad
80 Stangl Road
08822 Flemington , NJ 40° 30' 9.2952" N, 74° 51' 45.882" W
New Jersey
iPlay America
110 Schanck Road
07728 Freehold , NJ 40° 14' 23.118" N, 74° 16' 51.2976" W
New Jersey
Raritan Valley Community College
118 Lamington Road
08876 Branchburg , NJ 40° 36' 42.1164" N, 74° 41' 18.2004" W
New Jersey
New Jersey State Museum
205 West State Street
08608 Trenton , NJ 40° 13' 15.6036" N, 74° 46' 23.3904" W
New Jersey
Newark Museum
49 Washington Street
07102 Newark , NJ 40° 44' 34.7028" N, 74° 10' 17.454" W
New Jersey
Ocean County College
1 College Drive
08754 Toms River , NJ 40° 0' 30.1068" N, 74° 9' 55.6596" W
New Jersey
County College of Morris
214 Center Grove Road
07869-2086 Randolph , NJ 40° 51' 29.394" N, 74° 34' 52.9464" W
New Jersey
Lord Stirling Stable
256 S. Maple Avenue
07920 Basking Ridge , NJ 40° 41' 50.5356" N, 74° 32' 30.5952" W
New Jersey
Bergen County Zoo
216 Forest Avenue
07652 Paramus , NJ 40° 56' 1.122" N, 74° 2' 51.2772" W
New Jersey
Turtle Back Zoo
560 Northfield Avenue
07052 West Orange , NJ 40° 46' 9.5196" N, 74° 16' 51.4632" W
New Jersey
Haunted Woods of Oldbridge
75 Springhill Rd.
08857 Oldbridge , NJ 40° 25' 36.2244" N, 74° 17' 42.9288" W
New Jersey
Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge
4 Sawmill Road
08055 Medford , NJ 39° 49' 11.4204" N, 74° 50' 41.7444" W
New Jersey
Tenafly Nature Center
313 Hudson Ave.
07670 Tenafly , NJ 40° 55' 28.6968" N, 73° 56' 41.9388" W
New Jersey
Echo Lake Park
Springfield Ave.
07092 Mountainside , NJ 40° 40' 49.7676" N, 74° 19' 53.49" W
New Jersey
Fosterfields Living Historical Farm
73 Kahdena Road
07960 Morris Township , NJ 40° 48' 11.9016" N, 74° 30' 16.1964" W
New Jersey
The Frelinghuysen Arboretum
353 E Hanover Ave.
07960 Morristown , NJ 40° 48' 10.4292" N, 74° 27' 5.9724" W
New Jersey
Overpeck County Park
50 Fort Lee Rd.
07605 Leonia , NJ 40° 51' 55.3176" N, 73° 59' 43.2204" W
New Jersey
NJ Expo Center
97 Sunfield Avenue
08837 Edison , NJ 40° 30' 2.0484" N, 74° 20' 51.5508" W
New Jersey