Jersey Shore

Free Admission for Kids at 50 of NJ's Biggest Family Attractions

NJ is home to many wonderful places for kids—the state’s museums, zoos, farms, and lighthouses are all great venues for family outings. The only downside? Visiting all these attractions can get pricey, especially if there are multiple kids in your family. The good news is that many of these destinations offer free admission for kids under certain ages, and we've rounded up 50 of them here.

Keep this post handy, and make sure to strategically plan your visit before your child's next birthday!

New Birthday Party Spots for New Jersey Kids

Your little one's birthday is coming up, and the pressure is on. There are seemingly countless places to hold your birthday bash, but which ones will keep your guests happy and engaged (without breaking the bank)? From toddlers to teens, we've compiled a list of some of the newest party options throughout the great Garden State, including indoor play spaces, a trampoline park, art studio, and more. For even more ideas, check out our birthday party guide.

Cheap Thrills: 30+ Drop-in Play Spaces for NJ Kids That Cost $15 or Less

When it’s too cold for the playground, and another playdate at home seems dull (or, to be honest, too stressful), taking your kid to a warm indoor play space is a welcome respite for the whole family. 

New Jersey has no shortage of indoor playgrounds from North Jersey to South Jersey, plenty of which offer drop-in hours. Still, many of these hot spots require long-term memberships or pricey entrance fees that often run $20 to $25 per child for a single drop-in.

When you just need someplace clean, fun and warm for your kids to play—that's not your living room—we found more than 30 indoor gems, all for $15 per child or significantly less, and some that are absolutely free! Your kids still get out of the house to experience a play space where everything seems new to them, and you don't have to clean up after, or empty your wallet! 

And don't forget your nearby shopping mall, where you'll often find low-key indoor playgrounds where kids can work out the wiggles while you shop. 

Find more indoor fun spots in our local NJ guide, or try these at-home boredom busters for days when you just want to stay in. If you find yourself with a full day to fill and you're up for a little more adventure, plan a winter day trip.

12 NJ Play Cafes with Fun for Kids and Perks for Parents

Once you become a parent, it’s all about the kids. That’s what "they" always say, right? Well, for the most part, that’s absolutely true—but, every once in a while, parents get a pass for fun (or at the very least, some time to fuel up for the rest of the day), too. The founders of some of our most-loved New Jersey indoor play spaces certainly seem to think so, and we couldn’t be more appreciative of the parental perks they’ve been brewing up!

From free Wi-Fi to seating that’s both comfortable and functional; and coffee that rivals cups from your favorite java joint to snacks and sips that go way beyond basic vending machine munchies; these premiere places put in the work to earn their stripes in the play cafe category—and have even become day trip–worthy in their own right.

Read on for 11 of the best spots catering to kids and their caretakers. At the end of the day, if the little ones love it, it’s well worth the cost of admission; if mom and dad get something out of it, too, then that’s grounds for repeat returns.

New Jersey Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free

Who says there’s no such thing as a free meal? Restaurants throughout New Jersey offer free kid meal promotions nearly every night of the week. (Basically, you never have to cook again.) Visit your favorite family-friendly restaurant on a kids-eat-free night, and you won’t have to worry about overspending on kids’ entrees, especially the ones that are barely touched. Check out some of these New Jersey dining spots that feature free kid meals on certain nights of the week. 

Top Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks in New Jersey

Looking for an outdoor winter activity for the whole family? There are a number of outdoor ice skating rinks in NJ where you can take a skating lesson, play hockey, or just grab a hot chocolate and go for a spin during a public session. Of course, if you feel like staying indoors, you can always check out our list of the Best Indoor Ice Skating Rinks in NJ. And for more wintry sports, try our Ski & Snow Guide.

Where To Celebrate New Year’s Eve with Kids in New Jersey

New Year’s Eve is one of those holidays that changes drastically once you become a parent. Any kind of grown-up fun usually involves weeks of planning. Who can babysit? How much do we pay on New Year’s Eve? Do we let the tweens stay up until we get home? Unless you truly need an adult night out (in which case, GO for it!), how about a happy compromise? Read on to get the scoop on events in NJ for families who want to ring in the New Year together, including parties at an indoor amusement park, an aquarium, and even a battleship. Just be sure to reserve your spot soon!

Looking for pre–New Year entertainment? We rounded up 25 great things to do this holiday break, plus even more fun events happening this week for the kids. Be sure to check our Event Calendar for more.

Where To Enjoy High Tea in New Jersey with Kids

If your little sweetie loves the finer things in life—and has the patience to make it through a sit-down meal—he or she may be ready to enjoy an afternoon at one of NJ's many local tea rooms. From the fine china and finger sandwiches to the tempting sweets, your little one will be enchanted during this special one-on-one mommy time. Many host sweet birthday parties, and several offer special holiday events.

NJ Has Ice Rink Bumper Cars – and We Can't Wait To Try Them

No ice skating skills? No problem. You can still have tons of fun on the ice at Ocean Ice Palace in Brick, NJ, home of the state's first ice bumper cars. This hot (or should we say cool?) new trend has been popping up at ice rinks across the country over the past year or so, including one in Providence, Rhode Island, but you don't have to travel to New England to experience it for yourself.

The Brick-based rink introduced the cars in February, and now that winter is upon us once again, we're super excited to have another option for keeping the kiddos entertained indoors

And of course, we're all for snow tubing, skiing, and snowboarding—but if you're looking for winter fun that requires less effort, gear, and money, ice bumper cars might be worth a whirl.

Restaurants Open on Christmas Day in New Jersey

Too pooped to put on Christmas this year? Not to fret! There are plenty of restaurants in New Jersey where you can pull up a chair on Christmas Day. So, once all the presents under your Christmas tree have been unwrapped and the stockings scavenged, you can lounge in your PJs, sip your coffee, and watch the kids play with their gifts and goodies without having to worry about cooking and cleaning before guests arrive.

We’ve rounded up 11 of New Jersey’s best haunts to feast on festive fare. Call ahead to secure your spots at the table, and then start mapping out the holiday light displays you can catch after dinner. You won’t have to build in extra travel time, because chances are you’ll have the roads all to yourselves. Merry Christmas!

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