Build sandcastles, hunt for seashells, and splash in waves at the beautiful Jersey Shore. Pick a spot like Point Pleasant (home to Jenkinson's Boardwalk and Aquarium), Asbury Park, Ocean City, Wildwood, or Keansburg, and get ready to bring your beach day to the next level with shopping, games, food, rides, and mini-golf.
RELATED: Record-Breaking Roller Coaster Coming to Six Flags New Jersey
American Dream houses an amusement park, water park, hockey rink, aquarium, and so much more.
This mega-mall was well worth the wait! American Dream boasts a truly amazing collection of day trip-worthy attractions for kids of all ages with more being added regularly. Go skiing indoors at Big SNOW (temporarily closed), enjoy thrilling rides at Nickelodeon Universe, meet the aquatic life at Sea Life, build at the Legoland Discovery Center, play Angry Birds Mini Golf, check out the indoor DreamWorks Water Park, and more. Oh yeah, and you can go shopping and grab a bite to eat, too.
Six Flags is 510 acres of pure fun. Whether you're into heart-pounding extreme roller coasters, toddler rides at the Bugs Bunny National Park area, or everything in between, Six Flags won't disappoint. There's also an amazing drive-thru safari (for an additional fee) where you'll see lions, zebras, monkeys, and tons of other animals roaming the terrain.
Cold, rainy, scorching hot...whatever the weather, families will love spending the day at iPlay America, an enormous indoor boardwalk. You'll have tons of options for entertainment. Grab a bite to eat, race some go-karts, try the boardwalk games, challenge the kids to a game of laser tag, go virtual bowling, or hang out at the arcade and try to win prizes.
This aquarium is truly one of NJ’s gems, boasting multiple rooms and levels of aquatic exhibits. One fan fave is the shark area, where you can walk an 80-foot suspension bridge over a shark bay below or travel through a tunnel where you’ll feel immersed in the shark’s domain. There are also two hippos to meet, several KidZone touch tanks, animal feedings, and more.
RELATED: Great Amusement Parks in New Jersey for Preschoolers and Toddlers
Diggerland USA lets kids—and kids at heart—live out their construction worker dreams.
Do your kids love amusement parks? How about trucks and construction equipment? Get both at Diggerland USA, a super-unique construction-themed amusement park. Operate a real excavator or try driving a dump truck, ROXOR, tractor, or RTV. In the summer, you won't want to miss the pool and sprayers over at the Water Main Aquatic Park, which is included with admission.
This much-loved zoo is perfect for young kids. You'll see giraffes, sea turtles, seals, prairie dogs, farm animals, and more. There's a great little dinosaur-themed playground, too. Little ones love the train ride around the park and the carousel. And if you've never explored the other areas of South Mountain Reservation, where Turtle Back is located, plan a return trip to explore the fairy trail, the pirate ship playground, the swan pedal boats, and more.
In my book, the perfect place for a family nature walk is Duke Farms. This FREE private park is enormous (1,000 acres are open to the public) and it has picture-perfect grounds that house statues, ponds, a man-made waterfall (turns on twice daily), an old barn structure, and more. I love that it's paved, so don't be shy about bringing bikes and strollers! When it's time for a snack, head to the farm-to-table cafe during non-winter months for a snack or sandwich.
This is the largest nature reserve in Union County. You'll find lots of hiking trails that work for little legs, an interactive nature center, and a great playground to enjoy.
Channel your inner cowboy or cowgirl and head over to the super-unique Wild West City. Experience what life was like in Dodge City, Kansas, in the late 1800s, as cast members dress and talk like the period. Pan for gold, ride a pony, take a train ride (watch out for bandits!), see old farming tools, watch blacksmithing demonstrations, and more. Definitely keep an eye on the daily schedule of live events with fights, dancing, and audience participation.
It's nature meets art at this amazing park, where you'll find more than 270 sculptures spread over 42 picturesque acres. There are also rotating exhibitions in six indoor galleries and performances from time to time. Pack a picnic lunch and stay the day.
RELATED: Themed Restaurants in New Jersey for Family-Friendly Interactive Dining
Spend a wild meal cheering for the nights as you dig into a feast fit for a king at Medieval Times. Photo by the author
Travel back in time to see knights in shining armor compete in fantastic games of horsemanship, jousting, and combat. You'll feast on a big dinner while rooting for your favorite knight.
Great Swamp is a bucket-list-worthy destination! There are tons of beautiful trails to explore, some with boardwalks. Don’t miss the Great Swamp Outdoor Nature Center, where kids can take part in educational programs (like maple sugaring), nature walks, demonstrations, and more.
NJ is home to five minor league baseball teams where fans can expect to watch baseball in a family-friendly stadium with fun activities and great food. Cheer on the Trenton Thunder, Somerset Patriots, Sussex County Miners, NJ Jackals, or the Lakewood BlueClaws.
If you have little ones at home, you’ll love this sweet amusement park geared for preschoolers and toddlers. There are 17 cute rides inspired by childhood stories like a dragon-themed roller coaster, a chair swing, flying dragons, a carousel, a maze of playing cards from Alice in Wonderland, and more. Visit in the winter for its charming, popular seasonal holiday lights display.
RELATED: Atlantic City With Kids: 20 Things To Do in the Jersey Shore Town
The Ocean City boardwalk is jam-packed with kid-friendly activities. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala
This seaside town makes for a perfect family-friendly beach getaway. Enjoy rail biking, the beach, fantastic restaurants, beautiful historic hotels and bed and breakfasts, the iconic Cape May lighthouse, and the FREE Cape May Zoo. The Ocean City Boardwalk plus Wildwood and Morey’s Piers are just a few miles away.
The Smithsonian-founded Spark!Lab is now open at the Morris Museum, and it’s perfect for kids ages 5-12 who love to tinker, build, and be creative. The museum is also home to a large indoor model train, a dinosaur area, taxidermy species, and more.
This huge park has a fantastic playground and beautiful grounds for a walk, picnic, or Frisbee toss. It's also home to the lovely Bergen County Zoo, featuring species native to the Americas. There's also a carousel, train, and pony rides near the zoo, plus a seasonal Winter Wonderland, that's home to one of our favorite ice skating rinks.
Enjoy a show at the State Theatre, which underwent a huge renovation during the pandemic. Programming includes plenty of kid-friendly shows.
Head to Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park and see this Passaic River waterfall. The water flows over a 77-foot cliff, dropping about 2 million gallons of water daily. It's truly an amazing sight to behold.
RELATED: 100 Things To Do in New Jersey With Kids Before They Grow Up
Field Station: Dinosaurs lets kids get close to life-sized, animatronic dinosaurs. Photo by Janet Bloom
Go on an expedition to Bergen County’s Overpeck Park and see more than 30 life-sized, moving dinosaurs come to life before your eyes. Learn all about dinosaurs along this exciting safari walk and then settle in at a show to hear more. Be careful, though. You just might find yourself face to face with a mighty T. Rex!
If you have a kid that's into trains, they'll be in awe at this enormous model train museum. With eight miles of track, it's the largest of its kind in the world. Trains weave through intricately designed landscapes and scenes. Note that this museum is best for children who have the patience to walk slowly through the halls and take it all in. Before you leave, buy tickets for a ride on the full-size replica steam engine that travels through the woods.
NJ's called the Garden State for good reason. There are tons of working farms to visit! Whether it's spring, summer, or fall, you can get your fill of great pick-your-own fruits and veggies at venues like Terhune Orchards. And if flowers are what you're after, don't miss Holland Ridge Farms in the spring, when it features an amazing array of colorful tulips to create the perfect spring bouquet.
Montclair is a fantastic town to enjoy with kids, and one of the town's gems is the Montclair Art Museum. In addition to seeing and appreciating the art, kids can create their own at the Sunday Studio (FREE with admission). Space is limited, so be sure to reserve your spot online in advance.
Unless noted, all photos courtesy of their respective venues