July is all about barbecues and fireworks, sure—but that's just the start of the fun happening throughout the Garden State this month. You can take a ride with Thomas the Tank Engine, dig for dinosaur bones, and rock out at Maplewoodstock. Learn all about the Hudson River in a Children's Sail Along the Palisades, cheer on your favorite ballplayers at the 2017 Atlantic League All-Star Game, and celebrate blueberry season at NJ's many pick-your-own farms and festivals.
But wait, there's more! July is packed with free summer movies and tons of family-friendly festivals. And of course, it's prime season for beaches, boardwalks, and water parks. Find all of this and more in our Summer Fun Guide, and don't forget to check our Event Calendar, updated daily with summer happenings across NJ.
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Work with a dino expert to find fossils at Liberty Science Center. Photo courtesy of Liberty Science Center
Jack Horner's Dino Dig at Liberty Science Center – Jersey City
July 1 – September 4
LSC's popular Dino Dig exhibit is back and bigger than ever. Budding paleontologists can dig through 35 tons of sand to uncover massive dinosaur bones, including a six-foot-long Triceratops skull and T. rex bones and teeth. The fossils are replicas of those discovered in Montana by Jack Horner, the paleontologist who inspired Jurassic Park.
New Jersey State Fair – East Rutherford
Through July 9
Catch this enormous fair before it closes on July 9. It features more than 150 rides and attractions, including classic carnival games, fair food (funnel cake, anyone?), and daily circus shows. Don't miss the Great American Thrill Show, featuring daredevil acrobats and aerialists.
Fireworks – various locations
See the July 4th fireworks in Jersey City with Lady Liberty in the background, watch them light up the sky over the ocean in Asbury Park, or check out another one of the many awesome displays happening throughout the state. In addition to the main attraction, most celebrations also include parades, road races, kiddie rides, and live entertainment.
Amelia Earhart Forever – Princeton
Princeton Summer Theater presents an original children's show about the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic. There will be a post-performance meet-and-greet after each show, during which the actors will talk with audience members and sign programs. Performances will run on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Take a ride with Thomas on the Delaware River Railroad. Photo courtesy of Delaware River Railroad Excursions.
Day Out With Thomas – Phillipsburg
July 7–16, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays
All aboard! Thomas the Tank Engine invites little engineers to team up with him for a day of family fun at Day Out with Thomas: The Friendship Tour 2017. The event includes a 25-minute ride with a talking Thomas the Tank Engine, a meet-and-greet with Sir Topham Hatt, an Imagination Station featuring a variety of activities, and live entertainment including a juggler and ventriloquist.
Maplewoodstock – Maplewood
Los Lobos headlines this year's Maplewoodstock, a two-day festival featuring regional and national music and arts in Memorial Park. Bring a blanket or chairs and relax to the tunes, or take the kids over to the Kid Zone for bouncy rides, face painting, arts and crafts, and ice cream. FREE
Enjoy delicious treats at the Blueberry Bash Bake-off at Terhune Orchards. Photo courtesy of the orchard.
Blueberry Bash at Terhune Orchards – Princeton
Pick blueberries, relax on a wagon ride around the farm, and enjoy a variety of kids' activities, including pony rides, games, and face painting. There will be live music and puppet shows on both days, as well as lots of tasty blueberry treats—cobbler, muffins, pie, and even blueberry salsa.
2017 Atlantic League All-Star Game – Bridgewater
The Somerset Patriots host this mid-summer classic. Come early for autographs, a Home Run Derby, and limited-edition giveaways, and stick around after the game for fireworks and other entertainment.
Compete for a trophy at the New Jersey Sandcastle Contest in Belmar. Photo courtesy of www.vacationinbelmar.com
31st Annual New Jersey Sandcastle Contest – Belmar
Head to Belmar's 18th Avenue beach to gawk at the incredible sand creations, or jump in and join the competition! This beloved Jersey Shore tradition is free and open to participants of all ages, with three prize places awarded in six different categories. Spend a fun day at the beach and enjoy free giveaways, drinks, snacks, music and more. FREE
Children's Sail Along the Palisades – Alpine Basin, NY
Kids ages 5–12 and an accompanying grown-up are invited to set sail on the Hudson for an amazing, hands-on experience. An environmental educator with Tenafly Nature Center will be on hand to teach kids and adults about Hudson River fish, crabs, and other creatures. The sail is limited to 40 people, so register early!
City of Water Day – Hoboken
Celebrate the NY-NJ Harbor at this waterfront festival in Maxwell Place Park (or on Governors Island in New York). Highlights include free historic boat tours, live music, ferry rides, and delectable food from local vendors. There is plenty of fun for the kids too—visit the children’s tent for interactive and educational activities relating to the waterfront. Don't miss the Cardboard Kayak Race! FREE, but advance registration required for certain boat tours.
Doktor Kaboom! – Toms River
Kid favorite Doktor Kaboom! brings his thrilling "science comedy" show to Ocean County College's Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts for a free performance. Part Mr. Wizard, part Mr. Rogers, Doktor Kaboom! blends theatrical entertainment with the wonders of scientific exploration. Reservations are required. FREE
Music Beyond Borders: Féraba – Morristown
Head to the Morristown Green to experience West African dance, drumming, and tap dancing in this free lunchtime concert presented by Mayo Performing Arts Center and Morris Arts. Féraba, a New York City–based touring company, fuses the traditional sounds and movements of West Africa with American tap dance, hip-hop, and jazz. FREE
Go up, up, and away at the Festival of Ballooning. Photo by Garrett Heath/CC BY 2.0
QuikChek Festival of Ballooning – Readington
The annual QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning is a truly awesome event. It offers a wide variety of entertainment, including colorful hot air balloons ascending twice daily, three headline concerts, world-class children's entertainment, hundreds of arts & crafters, food vendors from around the world, fireworks, balloon glows, and more.