Father's Day can be more than golfing and barbecues this year, with such a great variety of family-friendly activities happening across the state. Whether Dad prefers baseball or fishing, airplanes or amusement parks, our list of Father's Day happenings has something for everyone. Read on for our top picks for celebrating Dad this June.
For more ways to have fun with fathers throughout the month, check out our playground guide, roundup of family festivals, and Event Calendar. And if Dad really has his heart set on golfing, there's always (mini) golf!
Unless otherwise noted, the following events take place on June 17. Many require advance registration.
Explore the Great Outdoors
Enjoy an outdoor stroll and nature exploration at Cora Hartshorn Arboretum. Photo courtesy of the arboretum
Fathers in the Forest – Short Hills
Gear up for a 45-minute family-friendly hike through the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum & Bird Sanctuary. An experienced guide will lead the walk and discuss the surrounding plants and wildlife.
Father's Day Family Woodland Hike – Ringwood
Take a family-friendly, Father's Day hike through the New Jersey Botanical Garden's woodlands and explore the surrounding plants and animals.
Father’s Day Walk – Tenafly
Register for a guided walk through the shady grounds of the Tenafly Nature Center. Dads and children under 2 are free. All ages are welcome, but strollers are not allowed.
Float Down the Delaware – Milford
Take an adventurous tube, raft, canoe, or kayak ride down the Delaware River. Delaware River Tubing has a three-to-four-hour trip that includes a BBQ lunch at a floating food stand adjacent to Adventure Island along the way.
Have a Bite
Grounds for Sculpture – Hamilton
Peruse close to 300 whimsical sculptures nestled among exotic trees and flowers on this 42-acre wonderland. Kids can't climb the creations, but touching is okay for most and photo-ops abound. The cafe offers a special Father's Day BBQ to celebrate dads.
Father’s Day Luau – Landisville
Bellview Winery’s family luau includes fun for everyone. Nosh on food while listening to relaxing steel drum music. Adults also can enjoy some tropical sangria while kids jump around bounce houses and frolic on the large lawn.
Alstede Farms' Father's Day Brunch – Chester
Take a scenic hayride to a brunch buffet that offers farmhouse favorites and freshly harvested produce. A special kids package includes unlimited activities such as pony rides, a bounce house, and wagon rides. Then, hit the fields for some strawberry picking. Dads get a free ice cream cone on June 17.
Father's Day Brunch Buffet at The Bernards Inn – Bernardsville
Treat Dad to a magnificent brunch buffet at The Bernards Inn. This sumptuous buffet will feature a variety of breakfast and lunch selections including pancakes, French toast, salads, fruits, cheeses, omelets, seafood, pasta, and hot entrées.
Picnic in the Park – Various locations
If your kids are too active to take to a restaurant and weather permits, head to your favorite park with a picnic basket. You can pack Dad's favorites at home, or head to one of his preferred eateries and get something to go. Spread out a blanket and bring some fun, such as a Frisbee, soccer ball, or other portable outdoor game. Choose a park with a themed playground, carousel, or other fun activities for extra excitement.
Be a Sport
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Cheer on the Somerset Patriots or the Lakewood BlueClaws at a Father's Day ballgame. Photo courtesy of Somerset Patriots.
Baseball Games – Bridgewater and Lakewood
Take Dad out to the ballgame! Cheer on the Somerset Patriots, Lakewood BlueClaws, Sussex County Miners, or Trenton Thunder. Kids can participate in activities like playing catch on the field with Dad before the big game, getting autographs from the players, and running the bases following the games.
Monmouth Park – Monmouth
Bring a picnic lunch, dine at the concessions, or indulge in prixe-fixe or buffet dining while watching thoroughbred horse racing. Dad can grab a cold one at the Father’s Day beer garden and listen to live music. Kids will love the free family activities, including a playground. There’s also a Father’s Day Sports Ticket Drawing, in which Dad can win tickets to see his favorite local sports teams. Dads get in free.
Freshwater Fishing Derby – Howell and Freehold
For some hands-on fun, join Dad in a fishing derby at Manasquan Reservoir (Saturday) or Turkey Swamp Park (Sunday). Both beginners and experienced anglers are welcome to participate. Free clinics are available for anyone needing assistance, and prizes will be awarded for the biggest fish. Limited pole rentals are available.
Seek out Thrills and Amusements
Dads ride free at Jenkinson's on Father's Day. Photo courtesy of Jenkinson's Boardwalk
Jenkinson's Father's Day Celebration – Point Pleasant Beach
Spend Father’s Day at the shore in the company of fish, sharks, penguins, and more. Stick around for the day and enjoy all the family attractions on Jenkinson’s Boardwalk, including rides, the fun house, and mini-golf. Dads enter free with a paid child admission.
Morey's Piers Father's Day Celebration – Wildwood
Dads get free admission to rides and slides at Surfside Pier and Mariner's Landing Pier. Check website for details and hours of operation.
Casino Pier – Seaside Heights
Hit the boardwalk for some summertime fun. On Father’s Day, dads ride free on most Casino Pier attractions. Pops who prefer water rides can head to Breakwater Beach instead for free admission. All dads must be with a paying child.
Skimmer Festival – Sea Isle City
This seaside festival offers food, live music, and free family activities and rides for kids on Saturday. On Sunday, there's live music by The Snake Brothers Band; free guided historical trolley tours, which highlight town landmarks along the way; and an antique auto show, culminating in awards for the top vintage vehicles and a car parade to close the event.
Street Fair & Craft Show – Nutley
This annual community event features crafts, food, live entertainment, games, and rides. Grown-ups can check out more than 100 vendors selling new and vintage items along Franklin Avenue, and little ones can make a sand art project for Dad, have their faces painted, or visit the petting zoo. And there’s plenty of delicious food to satisfy everyone as local restaurants serve up street-fair classics and gourmet treats.
Dunellen Street Fair & Craft Show – Dunellen
Spend some time walking around this outdoor fair. Browse arts & crafts vendors, grab a bite eat, and listen to live music. There are rides for kids to enjoy, too.
Tri-County Fair – Rockaway
The last day of this festival offers performances by the Kent Family Magic Circus, a $30 ride-all-day pass, and monster truck rides. Carnival rides and games, face-painting, balloon art, arts & crafts vendors, and food are also available.
Kelly Miller Circus – Little Ferry
This intimate circus hits Willoe Lake Park for Father's Day, offering live action only 50 feet away from spectators. Young and old alike will be entertained by silly clowns, daring stunts, and other classic acts. The circus has chosen to exclude exotic animals this year.
Go for a Ride
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Ride the rails with Dad at the Whippany Railway Museum and Excursion Train Rides. Photo courtesy of the museum
Whippany Railway Museum Excursion Train Rides – Whippany
Climb aboard for a Father’s Day train ride. The 45-minute trip on a vintage caboose guides you through the countryside along the Historic Whippanong Trail. Wind through swampland teeming with wildlife and cross high above the Passaic River on a historic bridge.
The Mine Train – Phillipsburg
Ride one of Delaware River Railroad Excursions’ historic passenger trains, then mine for gemstones in the Ol’ Susquehanna Mine. An experienced guide leads the tour and explains how to pan for emeralds, crystals, and rubies. Pack a lunch and take a break in The Picnic Grove for a fun family meal.
Open Cockpit Weekend – Teterboro
Climb into the cockpit of a fighter helicopter, military aircraft, or airport fire truck at the Aviation Hall of Fame and Museum.
Father's Day Cruise – Lincoln Harbor
Celebrate Father's Day in style with Spirit Cruises on the Hudson River. Choose between a brunch and dinner cruise, both of which include a buffet, music, games, and beautiful views of the New York City skyline.
Horseback Riding – Vernon
Head to Legends Riding Stable to spend a Father's Day off the beaten path. Adults and older kids can hit the trails with an experienced guide; younger kids can hop on a pony. Riding lessons are also available.
Travel Back in Time
Military Timeline Weekend – Cape May
Historic Cold Spring Village will host its annual Military Timeline Weekend, which will feature encampments, weaponry displays and demonstrations from living history groups depicting various conflicts throughout the centuries.
Historic Smithville – Galloway
Explore the quaint Village Greene at Historic Smithville while listening to the authentic Smithville Fife & Drum Corp. There’s plenty for the whole family to enjoy, with more than 50 shops, eateries, a carousel, train rides, and paddleboats.
Wild West City – Stanhope
If Dad is a fan of classic Westerns, take him to this outdoor “theme” park where cowboys and horses are a mainstay. On Father’s Day, Larry Storch, who played Corporal Agarn on the 1960s TV show “F Troop,” makes a special guest appearance. Dads are free with a paying child.