Spring break means sunshine and outdoor fun. But if a trip to Florida or the Caribbean is not in your family's plan this season, a low-key getaway that's closer to home is an ideal way to welcome warmer weather.
From New Jersey beach towns to campgrounds and indoor water parks and resorts, we've found the best options for fun family destinations right here in the Garden State. And if you're looking for a shorter jaunt minus the overnight stay, check out our guide to New Jersey family day trips. But don't forget we just profiled some pretty cool family travel deals too!
Most New Jersey schools are on spring break in mid-April, when weather in the northeast can be unpredictable: Too chilly for outdoor swimming, yet too warm to stay cooped up inside all week. My family once drove to Washington, D.C. in 75-degree sunshine to see the cherry blossoms, only to get drenched later in a freezing downpour. So dress everyone in layers and plan a mix of indoor and outdoor fun for the whole family.
Crystal Springs Resort – Hamburg
When it's too warm for skiing and too chilly for outdoor swimming, this resort's tropical indoor pool oasis is the place to be. Featuring an underground aquarium, huge waterslide, and hot tub all surrounded by lush foliage, the Biosphere Pool Complex is a winner with families staying at the resort. Dining options range from cafe fare to the upscale Restaurant Latour, which boasts an award-winning wine cellar. Though the golf courses are not scheduled to open until May, hiking, biking, and horseback trails should be open weather-permitting, along with tennis courts.
Delaware River Valley Family Campground – Columbia
Tucked along the scenic Delaware River, this family-friendly campsite offers cabins as well as trailer rentals, a family game room, mini golf, and basketball courts. The heated outdoor pool and kiddie pool open in warmer weather.
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Enjoy the gorgeous views at High Point State Park. Photo by Jason Jenkins via Flickr.
High Point State Park – Sussex
Camping season begins April 1 at most New Jersey campsites, so head to the highest spot in the state for a sweeping view of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the Delaware River. Enjoy family hikes through the woods and around lakes, including part of the Appalachian Trail. High Point State Park features tent campsites along Sawmill Lake that are available from April 1. Rental cabins open in May. If April showers dampen your campsite, head to the Franklin Mineral Museum to explore mining, fossils, and fluorescent mineral displays.
Co-Co Key Water Resort – Mount Laurel
No need for summer weather to enjoy the thrills of looping water slides and high-speed flumes. This indoor water park features four-story slides, an 300-gallon dump bucket, aquatic jungle gym, water basketball, lily pond, and a lazy river. An on-site cafe, dip-in theater, and arcade add to the fun. Check in to the nearby Hotel ML and Conference Center to relax and recharge before a second day in the water park. Or, head out from there to Camden to visit the Adventure Aquarium, or on to Philadelphia's family attractions, including the Franklin Institute and Please Touch Museum. Don't miss our guide to Philly for First Timers.
Shoot some hoops at Sahara Sam's Oasis.
Sahara Sam's Oasis – West Berlin
More indoor splashing fun awaits at this massive water complex featuring a surfing simulator, mat slides, family tube slides, an adventure playground, leisure pool, tubing river, and toddler-only zone. Several hotels in nearby Mt. Laurel offer stay and play packages for water park visitors, and all provide easy access to Philadelphia to continue the family fun.
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On balmy nights, catch a flick under the stars at the Asbury Hotel.
Asbury Hotel – Asbury Park
The newest addition to this popular beach town, the trendy Asbury Hotel offers some family-style rooms with bunk beds that the kids will love. Parents will enjoy the rooftop lounge space with games, bean bag chairs, and a movie screen (weather-permitting). A lobby lounge serves coffee and snacks, and an adjacent bar features live entertainment. Restaurant options abound in Asbury Park, along the boardwalk and on bustling Cookman Avenue. A beachfront playground at Seventh Avenue is also sure to keep kids happy—even if they can't bodysurf in the chilly ocean. And don't miss the Silverball Museum Arcade for hours of pinball.
Congress Hall – Cape May
The iconic yellow Cape May resort features spring break family specials that include dining credits, family yoga, and a welcome basket with toys and treats. Family activities scheduled in April include cooking lessons, a Mad Hatter tea party with Alice, train rides, arts and crafts, a Peter Pan luncheon, and an interactive children's play. If that's not enough to keep everyone busy, head out for a three-hour cruise with Cape May Whale Watcher to catch a glimpse of migrating whales and frolicking dolphins, or climb the 199 steps to the top of the Cape May lighthouse.
Grand Hotel – Cape May
A popular summer family destination, the Grand Hotel also features a heated indoor pool, bike rentals, and a fitness center, making it a good option for cooler weather. A spring break mid-week family special includes daily buffet breakfast and kids' camp offerings from partner EcoVentures. Day camp activities include hands-on shark lessons, scavenger hunts, ocean-themed arts and crafts, nature walks, and building a terrarium.
Jenkinson's Boardwalk and Aquarium – Point Pleasant
There's a ton to do at Jenkinson's Boardwalk, even when the weather isn't beachy. Games and activities include two mini golf courses, four arcades, a ropes course, fun house, and, of course, rides—the amusement park will open for the season on April 8, weather permitting. Stop by Jenkinson's Aquarium to visit sea turtles, penguins, sharks, and other aquatic creatures, and then hit the Sweet Shop for your fix of salt-water taffy and fudge. There are plenty of restaurants and hotels nearby.
Kids can play and chill in the game room at Ocean Place Resort.
Ocean Place Resort – Long Branch
This beachfront resort has plenty to keep kids busy: an indoor pool open year-round and a game room stocked with TVs, board games, billiards, and a life-size chessboard. Stroll to nearby Pier Village for shopping, dining, and a small arcade.
For even more family-friendly spring break getaways, check out our picks for family resorts in the Poconos and Hudson Valley. If your crew is up for a longer road trip, don't miss our family travel guides to Philadelphia and Boston. And if a road trip is not on your agenda this April, visit one of these indoor play spaces or zoos.
Top photo: Crystal Springs Resort's Biosphere pool brings a taste of the tropics to New Jersey. Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy of the hotels/resorts.