Sandy Hook

Free Beaches in New Jersey: No-Cost Family Fun in the Sun

If your summer bucket list includes camp, vacation, and trips to our beloved Jersey Shore, summertime can be a season of major spending. Jersey Shore excursions are a must for summer fun, but prices of beach badges and passes can really add up. Luckily, New Jersey is home to some free beaches—that's right, no admission fees required (though some do have parking fees). While some of these free beaches are found in popular vacation hotspots, other quieter and unguarded ones are located by swimming lakes and bays. Read on for 10 of our favorites.

7 Great Jersey Shore Lighthouses to See with Kids

New Jersey is home to nearly a dozen lighthouses that are open to the public. Whether your kids are old enough to climb up to the top or not, there's plenty to do and see on a lighthouse tour. Most are located near beaches or state parks full of family-friendly diversions, so they make great destinations for day trips. This is an affordable—sometimes even free—summer activity your whole family will love. We've rounded up a few of our favorites.

For more Jersey Shore fun, check out our Jersey Shore Family Guide and Summer Fun Guide.

New Jersey Theater Alliance Stages Festival: Your Guide to Kid-Friendly Shows

If you'd like to introduce your kids to the magic of theater, check out the performances and theater-related activities that are a part of the 2016 New Jersey Theatre Alliance Stages Festival. With over 80 kid-friendly performances, workshops, classes, and camp samplers offered throughout New Jersey free or at low-cost, The Stages Festival is the perfect introduction to professional theater for children of all ages.  All events are produced by the professional theaters of New Jersey. According to Ruth Zamoyta, the New Jersey Theatre Alliance Stages' Development & Communications Director, parents love live performances because "they get the kids off the computer, off the phone, and even away from the screens that you find on the TV or in the movie theater."  She adds,  when it comes to the workshops, mini-camps, and classes, "kids get to express themselves freely and creatively. In all Stages events, participants come away with a feeling of togetherness--live theatre is a shared experience, and the workshops and classes are collaborative."

7 NYC Ferry Rides With Kid-Friendly Attractions to Explore

New York City is surrounded by water and the addition of the NYC Ferry has made it easier than ever to hop on a boat for a day trip to a not-so-distant shore. While the destination is important, of course, getting there is part of the fun, because cruising on the water is much more exciting for jaded city kids than taking the boring old subway.

We've already raved about all the family activities you can enjoy on Governors Island, and riding the FREE Staten Island Ferry is on our list of the top 100 things to do with kids in this town. But there are even more ferries departing NYC docks that offer cool rides to popular places where there are lots of things to do and see with the kiddos.

Top 5 Beaches for NYC Families

Summertime means beach time, but while there are lots of shores near and even in NYC, some are more family-friendly than others. After packing up all your gear and schlepping the kids by car, train, bus or ferry, the last thing you want to find out is that your chosen beach has no bathroom or that bathing suits are optional. Skip the guesswork with our roundup of the top five beaches for NYC families, including detailed info on attractions, food, bathrooms and hidden costs. All are within 90 minutes of Manhattan by car but they're easily accessible via public transportation, too.

Family Getaways in New Jersey for Memorial Weekend

While there's plenty to do in NYC with kids on any weekend including Memorial Day, lots of families like to celebrate the unofficial start of summer with a fun-filled day or weekend trip out of town. In the past, we've rounded up Pennsylvania getaways that are far enough away to feel like bona fide vacations without the plane ride. But there are lots of closer destinations in New Jersey that are just as engaging but with less time spent cooped up in the car/train/bus.

From nearby spots like Jersey City's enriching Liberty Science Center, which you can do in a day via public transportation, to relaxing multi-day jaunts filled with sand, surf and rides on the Jersey Shore, we've got the goods on where to go in the Garden State this Memorial Day or any summer weekend.

You can find more vacation inspiration in our NYC Day Trips Guide and on our Travel site.

Jersey Shore Beach Update

Summer is in full-swing and, as the governor announced live on the Today show the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend, the Jersey Shore is back and open for business! This is generally true, however there are a few areas that were hit the hardest that aren't bouncing back as quickly as others (including Mantoloking and Sea Bright). Things may still be on the mend, but there is a lot of fun to be had at the shore this year. Keep reading for a 2013 update to my previous post to get you in the know about the beaches at the Jersey Shore! Here's a list of some of the spots that are open now and how much they will cost you. Let's all continue to help "restore the shore" and get down there with our NJ kids and families this summer!

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