Weekend Fun: Day Out with Thomas, Amazing Sandcastles, Free Movies

The second weekend of July is packed with summery delights, from blueberries and barbecue to free movies on the beach. You can watch the sunset from the top of Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City, rock out at Maplewoodstock, and take a ride with Thomas the Tank Engine. And if you haven't been to the New Jersey State Fair yet, catch it this weekend before it closes!

Did we mention that many of this weekend's events are FREE? And speaking of free, be sure to take a look at our list of 100 Free Things To Do with Kids This Summer in NJ, featuring no-cost activities and events through September.

Check out our Summer Fun Guide for the best ways to stay cool this weekend, and don't miss our July GoList and Event Calendar for even more summer happenings. 

All Weekend


Go for a ride with Thomas. Photo courtesy of the event.

Day out with Thomas – Phillipsburg
Make your little conductor's dreams come true with a ride on Thomas the Tank Engine. This 25-minute ride features a talking Thomas, a meet & greet with Sir Topham Hatt, storytelling, photo-ops, crafts, and a Thomas & Friends Imagination Station. To add to the fun, there will be performances by juggler Jeff Peden, ventriloquist Scott Wagstaff, and the Grand Master Band Wagon.

Blueberry Bash – Princeton
'Tis the season for blueberries. Head to Terhune Orchards this weekend to pick your own, enjoy a wagon or pony ride, compete in a bake-off, play games, or simply indulge in blueberry treats like muffins, cobblers, tea, and salsa. There will be live music on Saturday and Sunday from noon until 4 p.m.


Get groovy at Maplewoodstock. Photo courtesy of the festival.

Maplewoodstock – Maplewood
Head to this Maplewood’s Memorial Park for a festival featuring both local and national music and arts, along with some delicious food, art vendors, and a Kid Zone. If you’re going on Saturday, be sure to check out headliner Los Lobos, or catch Ruthie Foster on Sunday. FREE

NJ State Barbecue Championship – Wildwood
Be sure to bring your appetite to this party. In addition to taking part in some serious BBQ eats, you can get tips from professional pit masters, listen to live music, and watch cooking demonstrations. FREE

Saturday, July 8

Wildwood Crest Sand and Sculpting Festival – Wildwood Crest
The beach is where it’s at in Wildwood Crest this weekend. Bring your tools if you want to participate, or watch the artists build their amazing creations. With a corn hole bean bag toss, a magic show, and live music all day, there is something for everyone to enjoy. FREE


Duke Farms Firefly Festival. Photo courtesy of Duke Farms.

Duke Farms Firefly Festival – Hillsborough
The bugs come out at night, especially fireflies. Be sure to wear your sneakers, as you and your family will walk along a 1.5-mile trail to catch a glimpse of these glowing creatures. There will be activity stations along the way, and you can pick up a paintbrush and collaborate with other lightning bug enthusiasts to document the evening. Registration required. FREE

So You Want to be a Pirate – Hoboken
Bring your little swashbuckler to Elysian Park for a day of pirating adventure. Everyone is welcome to get dressed up and search for treasure, walk the plank, sing songs, listen to pirate stories, and more. FREE

Movies on the Beach – Belmar
If you’re down the shore this weekend, head to the 8th Avenue Beach in Belmar to enjoy a free movie on the beach. Get there early for a great seat—The Secret Life of Pets begins at 8 p.m. FREE

Sunday, July 9

By The Light of the Moon Lighthouse Climb – Atlantic City
The Absecon Lighthouse is open late tonight for sunset climbs. Enjoy beautiful views of the sun going down over the ocean. The price is $10 and includes snacks and drinks.

Somerset County Concert Series – Bridgewater
This free event at Duke Island Park offers a night of music and fun. Radio Nashville is headlining this weekend. Bring your chairs, snacks, and treats. FREE


The Secret Life of Pets. Photo courtesy of Universal.

Seaside Heights Movies at the Beach – Seaside Heights
The Secret Life of Pets is showing this weekend at the Beach at Carteret. This free event begins at sunset and perfect for families. Don’t forget your chair, towel, and snacks. FREE

New Jersey State Fair – East Rutherford
The state fair wraps up today—catch it before it's gone! This enormous fair boasts more than 150 rides and attractions, including classic carnival games, daily circus shows, a petting zoo, and a high-dive show.

Top photo: Thomas the Train. Photo courtesy of the event.

Sunflower Picking at Happy Day Farm
Happy Day Farm - 8:00 AM Pick
Plays In The House Teen Edition
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The Shows Must Go On
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Make Your Own 18th Century Ice Cream
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A Hamilton Read-Along
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Neighborhood Guides
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