What’s not to love about fall? The cool autumn air, brilliantly colored leaves, apples, pumpkins, Halloween... the list goes on and on. Once fall begins, I always find that my calendar is bursting with activities, from pumpkin picking to harvest festivals and everything Halloween. Get outside and take advantage of all of the seasonal fun our Garden State has to offer. Here are 40 fantastic fall activities to enjoy with your family.
Looking for more? Check out our NJ Fall Fun Guide, which we'll continue to update throughout the season.
1. Relish the Garden State’s beautiful fall foliage at a scenic park or playground.
The delicate butterflies are something to be seen at Tenafly Nature Center's Butterfly House. Photo courtesy of the nature center
2. Breathe in the crisp autumn air on a family hike or on a visit to a NJ nature center. Tenafly Nature Center’s new Butterfly House is now open through October.
3. The beaches are FREE to roam after Labor Day. (Of course, that means they are usually closed to swimming for safety reasons, but still!)
4. Now that crowds have thinned down the shore, it’s the perfect time to climb the steps at one of NJ’s great lighthouses.
5. Celebrate all things creepy crawly at Rutgers Master Gardeners of Mercer County’s 16th Annual Insect Festival: "Please Bug Me" on Saturday, September 8.
6. Didn’t get enough time in the pool this summer? There are plenty of great indoor water parks in our area.
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Apple picking at Demarest Farms is always a hit. Photo by yusuke toyoda via Flickr.
7. It’s apple picking season! Pick at Terhune Orchards, Alstede Farms, Demarest Farms, and plenty of others.
8. Fall is a great time to try out a new class: Sign up for a new baby-and-me class, preschool music class, or an after-school enrichment program.
Burn off some energy at CatchAir. Photo courtesy of the venue
9. Spend an afternoon in one of our favorite indoor play spaces and fun zones, from romper rooms to ice rinks to museums.
10. Hurry! It's not too late to have a "wonderful kind of day" at Liberty Science Center's Arthur's World exhibit through Sunday, September 16.
11. Meet the newest residents at Turtle Back Zoo, a flock of Caribbean flamingos who will leave your little ones tickled pink.
12. If your kids have grown bored with your neighborhood park, find a new playground that's worth the drive.
13. Meet more than 80 of your child's favorite authors and illustrators at the annual Princeton Children’s Book Festival on Saturday, September 22.
14. Get in the autumn spirit at a harvest festival; check out the Hopewell Harvest Fair (Saturday, September 22) and Dunellen HarvestFest (Sunday, October 7).
15. Watch the winner of NBC's America's Got Talent, 13-year-old singer/ventriloquist Darci Lynne, perform with her puppet friends Sunday, September 23 at State Theatre New Jersey.
16. Party with the pumpkins at the annual Pumpkin Festival at the Whippany Railway Museum on Sunday, October 7.
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Pick pumpkins and have tons of fall fun at Alstede Farm.
17. Pick your very own pumpkin at one of NJ’s fun-filled pumpkin farms.
18. While you’re there, take the family on a hayride and get lost in a corn maze.
19. Instead of a sandbox, let the kids dig through a corn pit at Wightman’s Farm. This is a must-do with my own every year.
20. Jets or Giants? In my house, fall means football. Catch a home game at MetLife Stadium.
21. Cozy up with farm animals at these NJ agri-spots.
22. Take a stroll with the dead at one of New Jersey's Zombie Walks. Our favorites are the Asbury Park Zombie Walk (Saturday, October 6) and the Smithville Zombie Walk (Saturday, October 27).
23. See a show! Watch The Very Hungry Caterpillar transform into a beautiful butterfly at the Mayo Performing Arts Center on Sunday, October 28. Or travel with Dorothy down the yellow brick road at The Wizard of Oz Friday and Saturday, November 2-3. Preschool favorite Peppa Pig takes to the stage at the Bergen PAC on Sundy, November 4.
24. Bring your special needs child to the Camden Aquarium on Saturday, October 20 for F.I.S.H. Night. The lights are turned down and the sounds are kept low allowing sensitive kids to explore the exhibits in a relaxed and welcoming setting.
25. Capture a one-of-a-kind holiday card photo at NYC's Candytopia through Thursday, November 15. Besides the phenomenal photo ops, you can also score free candy samples in every room from the first to the last. Sweet!
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Camp out at Diggerland on October 20!
26. Sleep under the stars at one of NJ's best family campgrounds. Or camp out at Diggerland on Saturday, October 20 and enjoy rides, arcade games, and s'mores over a bonfire.
27. Stroll, shop, and eat your way through the fall street fairs, such as the Caldwell Street Fair (Sunday, October 7) or the annual New Providence Street Fair (Sunday, October 28).
28. Check out a zoo full of boo at a zoo Halloween event.
29. Have more fall fruity fun at The Chatsworth Cranberry Festival on Saturday and Sunday, October 20-21.
30. Hop aboard a Halloween train ride, including the Great Pumpkin Train for a boo-tiful choo-choo ride along the Delaware River starting Saturday, September 29.
31. Get your thrills at an NJ amusement park fall event. Storybook Land hosts Happy Hayrides on Thursdays – Sundays in October, and Trick-or-Treat Weekend Friday–Sunday, October 26-28.
32. Take a Halloween trip to a theme park during Six Flag’s Fright Fest, held weekends September 15-October 31. Find pint-sized thrills at Sesame Place during The Count’s Halloween Spooktacular on select dates from Saturday, September 22 – Sunday, October 28.
33. Enjoy a good fright at one of New Jersey's haunted houses.
34. Relive the magic of the fourth adventure in the Harry Potter series with your favorite wizard at Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire In Concert on Saturday, October 27. While the film is projected in high-definition on a giant screen on the stage at NJPAC, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra performs Patrick Doyle's score.
35. Get goose bumps on Cape May's ghost trolley tour. It's known as one of the most haunted towns in America!
36. The Big Apple Circus is back under the Big Top at Lincoln Center for a star-studded show, kicking off Saturday, October 20.
37. Throw on your costume and enjoy the festivities at a Halloween Parade. We love Hoboken's Ragamuffin Parade & Costume Contest (Wednesday, October 31) and Boo at the Boardwalk on Jenkinson's Boardwalk (October 20-21, 27-28).
38. Disney on Ice: Mickey's Search Party skates into the Prudential Center Thursday–Sunday, November 1-4. This year’s special guest is Miguel from Coco.
39. Step inside the extremely colorful world of Poppy, Branch and Guy Diamond starting Thursday, November 15 at DreamWorks Trolls The Experience, an interactive Trolls extravaganza near Times Square.
40. Get an early dose of seasonal spirit with Elf The Musical at the Mayo Performing Arts Center on Sunday, November 18.
Top photo: Wightman's Farm. Photo by Laurie Rein. Unless otherwise noted, photo courtesy of the venues