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. Watch hot-air balloons take to the sky at the QuickChek Festival of Ballooning, 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
Grand Reopening of Jack Horner's Dino Dig at Liberty Science Center – Jersey City
Friday, June 30 – July 8
LSC's popular Dino Dig exhibit returns for Summer 2018! 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. Through July 8, catch opening-week festivities like dino races, pin the tail on the dinosaur, and more. The exhibit will remain open through early September.
There are 18 days of action-packed fun at the huge New Jersey State Fair. Photo by Jackie via Flickr
New Jersey State Fair – East Rutherford
Daily through Sunday, July 8
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.
Take a ride with Thomas on the Delaware River Railroad. Photo courtesy of Day Out With Thomas
Day Out With Thomas – Phillipsburg
Friday, June 30 – Sunday, July 1 and Friday, July 6 – Sunday, July 8
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.
Fireworks – various locations
Wednesday, July 4
See the July 4th fireworks in Jersey City with Lady Liberty in the background, watch them light up the sky over the ocean in Wildwood, 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. And don't miss the many small-town 4th of July celebrations taking place statewide, too!
Wildwood Crest Sand Sculpting Festival – Wildwood
Saturday, July 7
Serious sand lovers can grab a pail, shovel and other tools and head to the beach at Wildwood Crest for the town's annual sand sculpture festival. This ultimate summer event is worth checking out even if you don't want to compete. Kid-friendly activities include a corn hole bean bag toss and other games, a children’s magic show, and live music. FREE
Enjoy delicious treats at the Blueberry Bash Bake-off at Terhune Orchards. Photo courtesy of the orchard
Blueberry Bash at Terhune Orchards – Princeton
Saturday, July 7 – Sunday, July 8
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.
Ice Cream Day Excursion Train – Whippany
Sunday, July 8
All aboard a 45-minute round-trip ride from the Whippany Railway Museum, followed by a scoop of ice cream in honor of National Ice Cream Month.
Children's Sail Along the Palisades – Alpine Basin, NY
Thursday, July 12 – Sunday, July 15
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. NOTE: each sail is limited to 40 people, and the July 14 and 15 sails are already full—so register now!
City of Water Day – Jersey City, Hoboken, Teaneck, NYC
Saturday, July 14
Get out and celebrate the New York Harbor and surrounding waterways with paddling, sailing, kayaking, and more. This waterfront festival is held at various locations in New York and New Jersey, though the main event takes place in the Seaport District, Pier 17, in Lower Manhattan. Highlights include free historic boat tours, live music, ferry rides, and delectable food from local vendors. FREE, but some activities require a fee and/or advance registration.
Maplewoodstock – Maplewood
Saturday, July 14 – Sunday, July 15
Third World and Josh Ritter are the headliners of 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
Compete for a trophy at the New Jersey Sandcastle Contest in Belmar. Photo courtesy of www.vacationinbelmar.com
32nd Annual New Jersey Sandcastle Contest – Belmar
Wednesday, July 18
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
Water Lantern Festival – Jersey City
Friday, July 20 – Saturday, July 21
Enjoy a picturesque evening at Liberty State Park, when the Hudson River becomes illuminated by beautiful lanterns. The festivities begin with food trucks and music, followed by the designing of lanterns at 6:30pm. NOTE: July 21 is sold-out already, and tickets are going fast for July 20!
Go up, up, and away at the Festival of Ballooning. Photo by Garrett Heath/CC BY 2.0
QuikChek Festival of Ballooning – Readington
Friday, July 27 – Sunday, July 29
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.