Jersey Shore

30 Super-Fun Summer Day Trips for New Jersey Families

Road trips rock! And we've got 30 ideas for NJ summer day trips that minimize the drive time and maximize the fun time. Whether it's gathering fresh fruit at a pick-your-own farmswimming at a lake, hitting the Jersey Shore's beaches and boardwalks, or visiting an amusement park, get ready to hit the road to one of these favorite summer destinations.

Need more inspiration? Check out our Summer Fun Guide for NJ Kids for even more ideas for family fun.

And, if it's too hot or rainy to head outside, look to our indoor guide and rainy-day suggestions to keep the good times rolling. 

Great Day Trips to New Jersey State Parks and Forests

While most non-residents don't equate New Jersey with beautiful green spaces, there are a whopping 36 state parks and 13 state forests to explore in NJ—and at least one of them should be on your summer fun to-do list.

We've picked nine destinations that are perfect for a fun-filled day trip, where hiking, biking, swimming, and boating are just some of the fun outdoor activities to enjoy. Add acres of gorgeous scenery and some wildlife-spotting, and NJ state parks and forests make for an ideal day of family fun in the fresh air.

The Best Lakes for Swimming with Kids in New Jersey

New Jersey is known for its outstanding beaches, but it also has some of the best lakes for swimming in the Northeast. This summer, if you want a break from the pounding waves, dive into the calm waters of one of these beautiful New Jersey lakes.

For more wet (and dry) summer fun, check out our NJ Kids Summer Activities Guide—and sign up for our FREE newsletters to get posts like this delivered to your inbox!

Cape May’s Grand Hotel is a Perfect Jersey Shore Family Beach Getaway

With its beautiful sandy beaches, activity-filled boardwalk, and delicious kid-friendly restaurants, Cape May is a long-time beach vacation favorite for families. Located at the southern tip of the Jersey Shore, the iconic lighthouse and bayside sunsets provide picture-perfect memories off Exit Zero, while gingerbread-style Victorian houses and horse-drawn carriage rides add to the town's historic charm.

With all the makings of a perfect beach getaway at your fingertips, all you need for a Cape May vacation is a hotel reservation, and The Grand Hotel — an oceanfront hotel with awesome amenities — is a great choice for families. Read on to find our recommendations for the best things to do, best places to eat, and the best spots to stay in Cape May, NJ, and your next family beach vacation could be just a click away.

New Inflatable Water Park Opening at NJ Lake This Summer

Looking for a new way to cool off this summer? How about slipping down a blow-up water slide and splashing into a beautiful NJ lake?

That's exactly what Lacey Township had in mind—so it's installing a huge new inflatable water park in Lake Barnegat (2nd Lake) in Forked River, which is slated to open in late June. Intended for swimmers ages 8 and older, the "hydro-playground" will combine slippery waters slides, bouncy inflatable climbers, floating balance beams, monkey bars, and more.

Not heading down the shore this summer? Residents of northern NJ can check out the water park at Lewis Morris County Park's Sunrise Lake Beach Club.

10 Awesome Accessible Playgrounds for New Jersey Kids

New Jersey has a growing number of parks and playgrounds that cater to every outdoor adventurer, particularly children with special needs. Every child has a right to play in his or her own special way, so we’re recognizing some of the best all-access playgrounds the state has to offer.

Featuring ground-level playthings, wide ramps for wheelchairs, belts and buckles for added protection, and plenty of rest and reflection areas to retire to between bouts of fun, these playgrounds are beyond special and well-deserving of their shout-outs!

And now that summer is on the horizon, find more inclusive outdoor fun at the Watchung Sensory Trail, and at Van Saun Park's Harmony Playground, featuring a pond-themed, ADA-accessible splash pad

15 Awesome Water Parks for New Jersey Kids and Families

New Jersey has several fantastic water parks, some of them right on the beach! From big-name parks and boardwalk favorites to the state's first municipal water park, we've rounded up 15 of New Jersey’s best water parks and an overview of what to expect from each one. We've even included a couple of fantastic indoor water parks to keep kids splashing on rainy days.

If you're looking for water fun on a slightly cheaper scale, check out our Best Water Playgrounds and Splash Pads roundup. For more summer awesomeness, visit our New Jersey Kids Summer Activities Guide and our NJ Theme Parks Guide.

Best Jersey Shore Beaches for Families: Sandy Hook to Cape May

Make your New Jersey kid a beach baby and go "down the shore." New Jersey boasts 130 miles of shoreline and some of the prettiest beaches anywhere. Whether your family is looking for a busy boardwalk with children's rides, a beachside water park or sprinkler playground, towering lighthouses, toddler attractions, or something a bit quieter, the Jersey Shore has it. 

We've rounded up 10 of our favorite Jersey beaches, from a national park on the northern shore down to the busier southern beaches of Cape May and Atlantic City. So pack the car (and the kids) for a beach day trip or a long weekend—the summer possibilities are endless. And for more beach fun, check out our Jersey Shore Family Guide, including a roundup of our favorite boardwalks.

Best Water Playgrounds and Splash Pads in New Jersey

Who doesn't love running through a sprinkler on a hot and steamy summer day? Bring it to the next level at one of New Jersey's splash pads and spraygrounds, many of which are located in local parks and playgrounds.

We've rounded up some of our favorite water playgrounds around the state, some of which are newly renovated or even brand-new for the 2019 season. (And we’ve even got our splash pad radar at the ready for parks poised to open next summer—like North Bergen’s Paterson Plank Road Park, which just broke ground last month.)

Remember, these are not water parks, so you won't find a ton of bells and whistles—though some do offer interactive features like dumping buckets or whimsical designs like water spouts in the shape of cattails (Van Saun Park); animal fixtures (Bridgeton); or basketball sprayers (Manalapan). But the best part? Most of these splash zones are completely FREE.

Visit our Best NJ Water Parks article to go all in for theme park fun. Or strap on those water shoes, pack the towels, and read on for some of New Jersey's best water playgrounds and spray parks in your neighborhood. 

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