New Jersey

100+ Free Things To Do with Kids This Summer in New Jersey

Summer is the season for no-cost fun all across New Jersey. From fireworks and festivals to free outdoor movies, we’ve rounded up more than 100 family-friendly events to enjoy all summer long that won’t break the bank.

You can find even more cool seasonal activities and destinations in our Summer Fun Guide and Event Calendar. Have a fabulous (and free) summer, New Jersey!

Island Beach State Park: A Haven for Nature-Loving Beachgoers

There's more to the Jersey Shore than rides, salt water taffy, and (let's face it) crowds. Island Beach State Park (IBSP) may well be one of NJ most beautiful and unique beaches, drawing thousands of nature enthusiasts every year.

Though you'd get to Island Beach from the same Garden State Parkway exit as Seaside Heights, the two beaches are worlds apart. Ten-mile long Island Beach is situated between the Atlantic Ocean and Barnegat Bay and is one of the last few undeveloped barrier beaches on the North Atlantic Coast. From hiking to bike riding, and, of course, swimming, here are some things outdoorsy families will love about Island Beach.

10 Great Beachfront Playgrounds in New Jersey

Put your kids in the swings and your feet in the sand at beachfront playgrounds along the Jersey Shore. The beaches of New Jersey are home to playgrounds that are like giant sandboxes, with colorful play structures and ocean views. Swing by some of these beachy-keen playgrounds on your next day trip or vacation to the shore.

Please note that some of these playgrounds may require fees for beach entrance during the summer months

Weekend Fun: Firefly Festival, NJ State Fair, Fairy Day

School is out, and summer is officially on. Let the celebrating begin this weekend! Have a blast at big-time summer festivals, like the jam-packed New Jersey State Fair, plus the food-centric North Wildwood Italian-American Festival, Tropical Fruit Festival, and Whitesbog Blueberry Festival. Whimsical fun can be found at fantasy-filled festivals, such as Fairy Day and Fantasy Faire

Spend time, not money, at free-admission activities including Firefly Festival, St. Gregory the Great Carnival, SMASH: Fossils, and Gymboree's National Day of Play

Check out our Summer Fun Guide for New Jersey Kids for more options for family fun, and go for a swim at New Jersey's Best Pools with Day Passes. And look to our event calendar and June GoList for a complete listing of happenings this weekend and beyond.

Best July 4th Fireworks for NJ Families from Jersey City to the Shore

From small town celebrations to waterfront extravaganzas, we've got the scoop on NJ's best options for family-friendly fireworks shows on July 4th. You can cheer on the red, white, and blue in Atlantic City, which hosts one of the country's biggest celebrations; spread out a beach blanket and enjoy a display down the shore; take in the fireworks extravaganza at the New Jersey State Fair; or choose from more than a dozen other great shows happening throughout the state. 

In addition to fireworks, these July 4th celebrations include lots of other fun activities, such as parades, a Revolutionary War encampment, live music, and even a canoe race. Read on for more than a dozen picks. 

For even more holiday-weekend fun, be sure to check out our Summer Fun Guide.

Cabo with Kids! All Inclusive Decadence at Mexico's Grand Velas Resort Los Cabos

Sometimes as parents we're happy to plan the family vacation around theme parks and cartoon characters; other times we want to be pampered like a real princess, not a Disney princess. A vacation that provides grown-up decadence and luxury with fun and entertainment for kids (including time supervised by someone else)—that is the ultimate family getaway. And that is what we found in Los Cabos at Grand Velas' new seaside resort.

Free Summer Outdoor Movies for New Jersey Families

See your favorite stars under the stars this summer, when beaches and parks throughout the state host free outdoor movies on supersized screens. Bring along a blanket or beach chair (and maybe a little bug spray), and enjoy all those big-screen family hits you may have missed during the school year—or check our some of your family's favorite flicks for a second or third time, minus the ticket fee. Some venues offer food vendors, and some provide pre-show fun.

We've also included some free, and nearly-free, indoor options for those days you feel like chilling in the AC.

Check individual venues for movie listings and alternate rain plans.  

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Ocean City: Family-Friendly Summer Fun on the Jersey Shore

Summertime at the Jersey Shore means beach days and boardwalk rides, mini-golf and arcade games, topped off with fresh seafood dinners or pizza and ice cream. Shore towns from Sandy Hook to Cape May offer the best bets for family vacation fun, and Ocean City, a classic family beach destination at the southern shore, is one of our favorites.

Nicknamed America's Family Resort, Ocean City draws families from across New Jersey and Pennsylvania to enjoy its wide beaches, kid-centered boardwalk, and family events. Read on for details about visiting Ocean City with kids. And for more beach vacation ideas, check out our inside look at southern shore gems Wildwood and Cape May

Swim Lessons and Classes for New Jersey Kids

Looking for a way to introduce your child to the pool? Parent-child swim classes are a great way to help kids develop a love of swimming and instill confidence around the water. These programs teach water skills in a safe and age-appropriate way, and most allow children as young as 6 months to participate. Once your little one gets the hang of it, you can take the family to the pool, beach, or water park with confidence. And most programs continue to offer lessons for kids up to age 12 and beyond.

For more kids' classes, be sure to check out our Guide to Classes and Enrichment Programs.

Father's Day Weekend in New Jersey: Skimmer Festival, Circus, Tri-County Fair

Dad's the VIP of this mid-June weekend. Our roster is loaded with events that Dad, and the whole family, will enjoy. Head down the shore for games and amusements, with freebies for fathers at Seaside Heights' Casino Pier, Morey's Piers in Wildwood, and Jenkinson's in Point Pleasant. Bring a hungry Dad to Father's Day Brunch at Alstede Farms, a Father's Day BBQ at Grounds for Sculpture, or a Father's Day Luau at Bellview Winery. And don't miss our list of 25 ways to celebrate Dad with kids for even more ideas.

This busy weekend also features circus and carnival fun, with the Kelly Miller Circus coming to town in Little Ferry and the four-day Tri-County Fair in Rockaway.

Check out our Summer Guide for New Jersey Kids for more options for family fun, including Great Amusement Parks for Preschoolers and Toddlers in New Jersey. And look to our event calendar and June GoList for a complete listing of happenings this weekend and beyond.

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