100 Free Fun Things To Do in New Jersey with Kids

Admission to the Cape May County Park & Zoo is completely free. Photo courtesy of the zoo
Admission to the Cape May County Park & Zoo is completely free. Photo courtesy of the zoo

From free zoos to museums, there are tons of fabulously free things to do with kids in NJ – which just goes to show that you don't need to spend a lot of money to have a great day. Read on for 100 free places to take your family in NJ. 

Looking for even more options? Be sure to check out our Guide to Free Fun Things To Do with NJ Kids, too. Note that some venues are run by volunteers, so donations are appreciated.


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1. Cape May Zoo — Cape May Court House

Grab your binoculars and spy more than 550 animals at this fantastic free zoo. See lions, giraffes, snakes, monkeys, cheetahs, and more.

2. South Mountain Fairy Trail — Millburn

This half-mile trail is home to tiny “fairy houses" that will enchant young and old hikers alike. Take the Rahway Trail, which starts at the Locust Grove picnic area in the South Mountain Reservation. 

RELATEDFree Admission for Kids at 50+ Top New Jersey Family Attractions

Allaire State Park: 100 Free Things to Do in NJ with Kids
Visit Allaire State Park to see historic shops staffed by re-enactors in period attire. Photo courtesy of the park

3. Allaire State Park — Farmingdale

Travel back in time to 19th century New Jersey at the Historic Village at Allaire State Park. You can walk around the restored village in the off-peak months (December-March) for free. Come back in April-November and see the shops and houses like the bakery, a carriage house, a general store, a blacksmith, and more—all with staffed re-enactors in period attire.

4. Morristown National Historical Park — Morristown

If you visit historic Morristown, plan a trip to Morristown National Historical Park and learn about how General Washington and the Continental Army spent the winter of 1779-1780 in Morristown. The park maintains Washington's Headquarters Museum and library collection, as well as items from pre- and post-Revolutionary America. Check the site for seasonal hours and closures.

5. Duke Farm — Hillsborough

Enjoy a walk on the paved paths lined with manicured lawns at this free private park. You'll find statues, an orchid enclosure, and a waterfall.

6. New Jersey State Museum — Trenton

This Jersey gem features natural and cultural exhibits as well as fine art.

7. Historic Longstreet Farm — Holmdel

Experience the sights and sounds of a Monmouth County farm from the late 1800s, and don't miss the great free weekend programs like demonstrations, games, and farm walks.

8. Cohanzick Zoo — Bridgeton

This zoo is open year-round and features animals like tigers, hawks, leopards, bears, and more.

9. Atlantic City Beaches — Atlantic City

These beautiful sandy beaches are free year-round to visitors.

10. Princeton University Art Museum — Princeton

While the main museum is being renovated until spring 2025, there are some free gallery spaces (like Art@Bainbridge on Nassau Street and Art on Hulfish at 11 Hulfish St.) to enjoy. Keep your eye out for free Zoom drawing workshops, too, that teens may enjoy.

11. Frelinghusen Arboretum — Morristown

Have a picnic lunch on the Great Lawn and spend the day walking the gorgeous grounds of the Frelinghusen Arboretum.

12. Lucy the Elephant — Margate City

This huge elephant structure is fun to look at from the outside and you can visit the grounds for free. Tours of the inside require a small fee.

13. Highlands Beach — Highlands

You'll find this great free beach in Sandy Hook Bay, under an hour from New York City. 

14. Promenade at Liberty State Park — Jersey City

See spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline on the 2-mile riverfront walkway at Liberty State Park.

15. Sandy Hook Lighthouse — Sandy Hook

On weekends, climb to the top of the 250-old Sandy Hook lighthouse, located in Gateway National Recreation Area in Highlands. Tours leave every 30 minutes and max out at eight people per group. The lighthouse is open on weekends and climbers must be over 48" tall. Parking fees are in effect in peak season.

16. Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial at Liberty State Park — Jersey City

Teach older kids about the events of September 11, 2001, at the Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial, where the names of victims are etched into two 30-foot tall steel walls. 

17. Children's Regatta Playground — West Orange

Kids will want to play for hours on this nautical-themed playground located in the South Mountain Recreation Complex. It has a wave-like rubber surface and playground equipment designed to look like boats. 

18. New Jersey Botanical Garden — Ringwood

This botanical garden is a sight to see, especially when the flowers are in bloom. Walk through Crab Tree Allee, the peony garden, the azalea garden, the lilac garden, and more. On summer weekends, there's a $5 parking fee.

19. State Theatre Summer Movies Series — New Brunswick

In the summer, head to the State Theatre of New Jersey for morning and evening weekday movies on a huge screen.

20. All Sports Museum of Southern New Jersey — Bridgeton

This free museum is home to early 20th-century uniforms, equipment, trophies, medals, and more. Two gems of the museum are Willie Mays's Golden Glove and a mitt owned by Mickey Mantle.

21. Dorbrook Recreation Area — Colts Neck

This large park features 540 acres, which includes a barrier-free playground, tennis, and basketball courts, a sprayground in summer months, and 2.3 miles of paved trail for walking, biking, and skating.

22. Rutgers Geology Museum — New Brunswick

At the Rutgers Geology Museum, you'll find exhibits devoted to geology, anthropology, and natural history. Highlights include a dinosaur trackway, a model of a small carnivorous dinosaur, a mastodon skeleton, a Ptolemaic-era Egyptian mummy, and fluorescent minerals.

23. Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park — Paterson

Come see majestic Paterson Great Falls, which flows over a 77-foot cliff. 

24. Somerville Cruise Nights — Somerville

Every Friday from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Main Street in Somerville is lined with tons of classic cars. It's a perfect evening stroll for young and old visitors alike.

25. Montclair Jazz Festival — Montclair

This festival, which takes place in August-September, is one of the largest free jazz festivals in the country. Enjoy the Soundcheck Series performers free of charge.

Cheesequake Park: 100 Free Things to Do in NJ with Kids
Families and dogs can spend a day exploring the trails at Cheesequake Park. Photo by Sara Marentette

26. Cheesequake Park — Matawan

Take a hike on one of the many kid-friendly trails or visit the Interpretive Center to see nature and wildlife exhibits. There's a small fee to park. 

27. Rutgers Gardens — New Brunswick

This beautiful garden is open every day but Monday to visitors who want to see its many lush gardens and stroll down the walking paths. 

28. Environment Education Center — Basking Ridge

The  Environmental Education Center at Lord Stirling Park has 9 miles of hiking trails, educational programs, gardens, natural play areas, and more. 

29. Colonial Park — Somerset

Colonial Park has a large playground with options for tots through about age 10. There are tons of spots for a picnic and a 1.5-mile walking loop. Plus, the park offers inexpensive mini-golf and pedal boats.

RELATEDGuide to Museums and Art for New Jersey Kids

Kips Castle : 100 Free Things to Do in NJ with Kids
Kips Castle has unobstructed views of the New York City skyline. Photo by Margaret Hargrove

30. Kips Castle — Verona

Kip’s Castle is a 9,000-square-foot castle-style mansion that sits on 11 acres of land. Visit Kip's to see the castle and spectacular views of New York City. 

31. Island Beach State Park — Seaside Park

This beach is free to visit (parking fee for NJ residents is $5-$10, depending on the day), and is perfect for bundling up and flying a kite. 

32. Waterloo Village — Stanhope

Waterloo is a restored living history village where you can walk the beautiful grounds and see Victorian homes and buildings, a blacksmith shop, a sawmill, and a re-created Lenape Indian Village.

33. Great Swamp — Morris County

Pick your favorite trail and enjoy the great outdoors at this enormous wildlife refuge. Several great education programs are offered throughout the year.

34. Freedom Skate Park — Trenton

Freedom offers indoor skateboard events, board giveaways for at-risk youth, live music performances, and more at the Roebling Wire Works Building. Check the schedule for events that are free and open to all.

35. Batsto Village — Hammonton

Take a walking tour of this abandoned historic village in Wharton State Forest. There are 33 preserved structures to walk by and peer into. If you want to go inside the mansion, tours are $1-3/person, but free to kids under 5.

36. The Raptor Trust — Basking Ridge

This bird rehabilitation and education center is open 7 days a week for free, self-guided tours of the aviary trail. On certain days, they host scavenger hunts and story walks.

37. Washington Crossing Historic Park — Titusville

See the spot where George Washington crossed the Delaware River and changed the course of history during the Revolutionary War. There's also a historic village to walk through.

38. The Center for Contemporary Art — Bedminster

This space is dedicated to contemporary art, and the galleries are free and open to the public. See the website for current exhibitions and hours.

39. Pier C Park — Hoboken

Stroll along the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway and take in stunning views of the river and NYC skyline. There's a great play area for kids with climbing structures, slides, water play, and more.

40. Reeves-Reed Arboretum — Summit

Explore 13.5 acres of historic and contemporary gardens and 6 acres of woodland forest. The arboretum is open year-round but is breathtaking in the spring, when the Daffodil Bowl is in full bloom.

41. Belmar-Lake Como St. Patrick's Day Parade

Don't miss seeing the biggest parade in NJ on March 3, 2024. 

42. Observatory in Voorhees State Park — Glen Gardner

Explore the vast night sky at this observatory on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons, June-October. The facility houses the largest public telescope in New Jersey.

43. Columbia Trail — High Bridge

Hike or bike the trail starting in High Bridge and you might see some fairy houses along the way.

44. Night Out

See what activities your local area has in store for National Night Out, the first Tuesday in August. Berkeley Heights, for instance, has a great one with live music and free refreshments.

45. Easter Egg Hunt

In the spring, take the kids to a free Easter egg hunt.

46. 4H Fairs

In the summertime, 4H clubs shine with huge county fairs featuring demos and entertainment. Look for great free admission fairs in Somerset, Morris, and Hunterdon counties. Some fairs charge a small fee for parking.

47. Disney Play Zone at Menlo Park Mall — Edison

Do some window shopping at Menlo Park Mall and then take a break to play at the Disney Junior Play Zone on the upper level near Nordstrom.

48. Cotsen Children's Library — Princeton

The whimsical Bookscape gallery at the  Cotsen Children's Library is perfect for you and your little one to cuddle up with a good book. Read together near the 2-story bonsai tree or in the cozy living chairs 

49. Hoboken Historical Museum — Hoboken

This museum displays artifacts covering Hoboken history. Look for educational programs, lectures, tours, films, plays, and free storytimes. 

50. Van Saun Park — Paramus

Pack a picnic lunch and spend the day at this huge park, which boasts a massive playground, a walking trail, and a zoo. The zoo is free before April.

51. Teaneck Creek Conservancy — Teaneck

Explore 1.3 miles of trails that showcase permanent eco-art installations.

52. Culture Pass

Check out the culture pass at your local library and score free passes to places like the Morris Museum and Imagine That!

53. Twin Lights — Highlands

Climb up the Twin Lights lighthouse and see beautiful views of the Atlantic.

54. Summer Concerts

See a free summer concert in your area or try a new place. Livingston, for instance, has a great concert series under the gazebo in Memorial Park, where the program features music that young and older audiences alike will enjoy.

55. Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park — Long Branch

Play at the huge beach-themed playground, Tony's Place. After Labor Day, you can go on the beach for free, though lifeguards won't be on duty.

56. Deserted Village of Feltville/Glenside Park — Berkeley Heights

Explore this section of the Watchung Reservation and see the restored historic structures of this abandoned town. On the third weekend in October, visitors can take a guided tour, view the restored Church and General Store, ride a hay wagon, and take part in other activities for free.

57. Heritage Glass Museum — Glassboro

This museum is great for teens/tweens and older kids who understand they can't touch the beautiful glass artifacts from South Jersey. 

RELATEDFind an Amazing Petting Zoo in New Jersey Where Kids Can Meet the Animals

Branch Brook Park : 100 Free Things to Do in NJ with Kids
Branch Brook Park is home to an extraordinary cherry blossom festival each year in April. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala

58. Branch Brook Park — Newark

This huge park is home to the Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival every April, where visitors can walk through rows and rows of picturesque cherry blossoms.

59. Beach Treasure Hunt — Lavallette

Head to President Avenue Beach every Monday in the summer to dig in the sand and find coins. All participants win a small prize.

60. Presby Memorial Iris Gardens — Upper Montclair

Visit during the annual spring Bloom Season, typically mid-May through the first week of June, and see hundreds of beautiful irises. Some weekends have live music, too. A $10 donation is suggested.

61. Cattus Island County Park — Toms River

On Saturdays and Sundays from 2-3pm, take a walk with a naturalist and learn about various nature topics like animal habitats, winter birds, signs of spring, and more.

62. Holiday Jubilee and Lights Parade — Somerville

The first Friday in December, enjoy the annual Holiday Jubilee on Main Street with live performances, horse-drawn carriage rides, hot chocolate, ice skating, and pictures with Santa. The next day, enjoy an evening parade of lights down Main Street.

63. Mount Holly Fire & Ice Festival — Mount Holly

On Saturday, January 17, 2024, stroll the streets of Downtown Mount Holly to see amazing ice sculptures and sample delicious chilis entered in the Chili Cook-Off.

64. Cooper's Pond Park — Bergenfield

Take the walking path that winds around the pond and see the beautiful water and wildlife like the ducks that visit the pond.

65. Public Art Tour — Summit

Stroll the streets of lovely downtown Summit and see more than 15 pieces of public art on display.

66. Kites & Castles — Lavallette

Every Thursday evening in the summer, head to Philadelphia Avenue Beach for a themed sandcastle competition and kite flying. There are free prizes for all who participate.

67. Be a Maker

Check out the free monthly building and craft classes offered by Lowes, Home Depot, and Michaels.

68. Drumthwacket — Princeton

Take a tour of “The People’s House” on Wednesdays and see the collections on display.

69. See Fireworks

In addition to Independence Day Fireworks, the Somerset Patriots have great fireworks displays after many games in the spring and summer. If you aren't going to the game, park at Target or Costco around 9:15pm, and get ready for a spectacular show.

70. Museums of Us

If you have a Bank of America credit card, the cardholder can get free admission to certain places like the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City or the Hunterdon Art Museum in Clinton on the first weekend of every month.

71. Rutgers Day — New Brunswick

Don't miss Rutgers Day, held annually on the last Saturday of April. It promises to have performances, exhibits, hands-on activities, and demonstrations.

Wildwoods International Kite Festival : 100 Free Things to Do in NJ with Kids
Colorful kites decorate the sky at the Wildwoods International Kite Festival. Photo courtesy of Wildwoods

72. Wildwoods International Kite Festival — Wildwood

Watch kites dance across the sky on Rio Grande Avenue in Wildwood on May 24-27, 2024. Some days include special events like the Night Kite show and silent and loud auctions.

73. Play on a Sprayground

Check out one of NJ's awesome sprinkler parks this summer, many of which are free to enter.

74. Raggamuffin Parade — Hoboken

Dress the kids for the Halloween parade held every year at Halloween time. After the parade, enjoy inflatables, music, and activities

75. See a Play in Pleasant Valley Park — Basking Ridge

This summer, visit Pleasant Valley Park to see one of Trilogy Repertory Theatre's free musical theatre productions. Check the site for more details.

76. Jakes Branch County Park Nature Center — Beachwood

Check out the free weekend family programs like live animal talks, nature walks, and drop-in crafts.

77. See the New Jersey Symphony

Every year, the New Jersey Symphony hosts free outdoor concerts at various parks like Ocean County College in Toms River, Raritan Bay Waterfront Park in South Amboy, Branch Brook Park in Newark, Marine Park in Red Bank, and Liberty State Park in Jersey City. Check the symphony's site for details about upcoming summer concerts.

78. Butterfly Festival — National Park

Learn about pollinators' importance, play games, hear live music, and see shows at the Butterfly Festival in Red Bank Battlefield Park.

79. Historic Smithville

This quaint village of shops is fun for window shopping, but be sure to check out the seasonal free events like Dickenfest in December, the Easter Parade in March, the Costume Pet Parade in October, and car shows over the summer.

80. Bike the Boardwalk — Atlantic City

Grab your bike helmet and nonchalantly cruise down the Atlantic City boardwalk. Many say that it's the best way to experience it. Check the biking hours before you go.

81. Montville Community Playground

Take the kids to play at the Montville Community Playground, which has a few play areas for various ages. Pack a picnic lunch and race through the nearby fields.

82. Nomahegan Park — Cranford

Visit the beautiful Nomahegan Park, which encompasses 6,200 acres and boasts a renovated playground. It's also the perfect spot for sledding when it snows.

83. Hunterdon County Holiday Parade — Flemington

Come visit the annual holiday parade at 5pm in early December

84. Middlesex Greenway — Metuchen 

No need to worry about cars on this 10-foot-wide, 3.5-mile-long paved bike path, with access points in Metuchen, Edison, and Woodbridge.

85. Morris County St. Patrick's Day Parade — Morristown

Get decked out in green and snag the perfect spot to watch Morristown’s annual St. Patty’s Day parade on March 9th, 2024.

86. Public Art Tour — Westfield

Explore the quaint town of Westfield and take a walking public art tour.

87. James A. McFaul Environmental Center — Wycoff

This 81-acre wildlife sanctuary has nature programs and workshops. The site features a waterfowl pond, bird shelters, a boardwalk, a nature trail, a memorial gazebo, and exhibits.

88. Ride a Steam Train at Jersey Shore Live Steam — Bass River

This non-profit is open on weekends to give visitors the chance to ride small trains built on a 1/8th scale. These locomotives are built by their members and maintained by the donations of visitors.

89. Shakespeare in the Park — Englewood

For families with teens and older kids who'd appreciate getting a taste of theatre, the Englewood Public Library hosts the Classics on the Lawn series in the summer. Every Wednesday for eight weeks, see a different play written by playwrights like Chekhov, Shakespeare, and Wilde performed by the Black Box Repertory Company.

90. Fishing at D&R Canal State Park — Kingston

Go fishing at D&R Canal State Park, where fishing is permitted the entire length of the canal and river. Trout are stocked at various locations in the canal during spring months and the river draws many game species like migratory American shad and striped bass.

91. Succeed2gether Montclair Literacy Festival

From April 27-May 4, 2024, this festival offers student readings, book talks, children’s activities, and a poetry café.

92. Noyes Museum of the Arts — Atlantic City, Hammonton

Spend some time looking at the art exhibits on display at this South Jersey museum.

Warinanco Park : 100 Free Things to Do in NJ with Kids
Warinanco Park is known for boating. flower gardens, sports center, and picturesque lawns and trails. Photo by Kaylynn Ebner

93. Warinanco Park — Roselle Park

Warinanco is perfect for bike rides and walks on the long winding paths through picturesque lawns. There's a great playground and a sprayground that will keep little ones busy for awhile.

94. Millburn Lunar New Year Festival

Celebrate Lunar New Year in Millburn and see dance and martial arts demos, games, crafts, and more.

95. Fort Mott State Park — Pennsville

Visitors can walk through the old gun batteries and visit the museum to see displays about Fort Mott’s place in history and the technology used in defending the Delaware River. There's also a playground near the parking lot.

96. Toms River Halloween Parade

This parade has an 80+ year legacy of treating spectators to an incredible display of floats, music, live actors, and candy every Halloween night.

97. Thrilling Thursdays in Margate

Grab your beach chair and head to Margate for free movies on the beach every Thursday evening in the summer.

98. High School Concert

See your town's next generation of musicians at a winter or spring concert.

99. Barnegat Lighthouse

Climb the 217 steps of this historic lighthouse and get a panoramic view of Island Beach, Barnegat Bay, and Long Beach Island. You can also experience it virtually at the Interpretive Center.

100. Asbury Park Boardwalk

Take a walk down the Asbury Park Boardwalk any time of the year to see the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean.

Places featured in this article:

Morristown National Historic Park

South Mountain Fairy Trail

Princeton University Art Museum

Regatta Playground, South Mountain Recreation Complex

All Sports Museum of Southern New Jersey

Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park

Cheesequake State Park

Environmental Educational Center

Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center

President Avenue Beach

Philadelphia Avenue Beach

James A. McFaul Environmental Center

Jersey Shore Live Steam

Washington Crossing State Park

Menlo Park Mall (by the fountain)

Van Saun County Park

Teaneck Creek Conservancy

Twin Lights National Historic Site

Heritage Glass Museum

Red Bank Battlefield Park

Montville Community Playground

Noyes Arts Garage at Stockton University