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!
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Many events in this listing occur on multiple dates, so be sure to read through the entire description. We’ve also rounded up a number of anytime activities your family can try all season long.
Free Things To Do in July 2018
See August Events | See Anytime Events
Sundays, July 1 onward Shop for treats, along with family-friendly fun, at summer farmer's markets in Asbury Park, Flemington, and Jersey City
Sundays, July 1 – August 26 Listen to great live music at the shore as part of the Long Branch Bands by the Sea concert series.
Catch the Kiddie Beach Show on Monday nights at Jenkinson's. Photo courtesy of Jenkinson's Boardwalk
Mondays, July 2 – August 27 Head over to Jenkinson’s in Point Pleasant every Monday night for the Kiddie Beach Show, featuring a lineup of comedy and magic shows.
Monday, July 2 and Monday, August 6 Music and door prizes are part of the free fun at DSC's Cars and Custard monthly car cruise
Monday, July 2 Fanwood Summer Movie Series presents The Lego Batman Movie; subsequent showings take place on Tuesdays in July and August
Tuesdays, July 3 onward Preschoolers will love hearing stories and playing instruments at Miss Barb's Preschool Storytime.
Tuesdays, July 3 onward Shop while your little one enjoys Weekly Story Time at Pottery Barn Kids every Tuesday morning.
Tuesdays, July 3 – August 7 Watch classic and recent movies for free on the State Theater's big indoor screen, including Coco and The Great Muppet Caper.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays, July 3 – August 22 More opportunities for relaxing indoor movies await with Marquee Cinemas Free Summer Films, beginning with Boss Baby and Despicable Me.
Trolls plays at the Bow Tie Cinema Summer Kids Series in July. Photo courtesy of Dreamworks
Tuesdays, July 3 – August 15 Free indoor movies continue on Tuesday with Bow Tie Cinemas Summer Kids Series, with Trolls as the July debut.
Tuesdays, July 3 – August 28 Downtown Westfield gets musical every Tuesday evening with Sweet Sounds Downtown Jazz Festival.
Tuesdays and Thursdays, July 3 – August 28 Seaside's Casino Pier is loaded with free kid's entertainment twice a week, including face painting and balloonists.
Tuesdays and Sundays, July 3 – September 4 Stick around Seaside Heights on Tuesdays, and Sundays, for Movies on the Beach.
Tuesday, July 3 Catch a showing of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle when Morgans Farms presents Movies Under the Stars.
Tuesdays, July 3 – August 21 Get crafty every Tuesday at Bridgewater Library's Craftacular.
Wednesday, July 4 Oceanfest in Long Branch brings together all the sights, sounds, and sensations of the summer with a street fair, live music, costumed characters, a balloon artist, and fire eater. Stick around for the fireworks.
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Willdwood's 4th of July celebration includes a parade, live music, and fireworks. Photo courtesy of the Greater Wildwoods Tourism Authority
Wednesday, July 4 Spend Independence Day in Wildwood for its all-day 4th of July Fireworks, Concert, and More.
Wednesday, July 4 Cheer for the red, white, and blue at more of these awesome fireworks displays happening all around NJ.
Wednesday, July 4 Celebrate the 4th close to home at small-town parades and fireworks.
Wednesdays and Thursdays, July 4 – August 30 Angry Birds Movie kicks off Citiplex 12's twice-a-week indoor series.
Wednesday, July 4 and Thursdays, July 11–26 Relax to the tunes of the Smooth Band Orchestra, which kicks off the Union Township Summer Concert Series.
Thursdays, July 5 – 26 Head to downtown Glassboro Thursday nights for Summerfest, featuring live entertainment and craft activities for kids of all ages and abilities, plus local craft beers and wine for the grown-ups.
On Thrilling Thursdays you can have a picnic and catch a flick on beautiful Margate Beach. Photo courtesy of the event
Thursdays, July 5 – August 23 Enjoy free access to one of our favorite Jersey Shore beaches, Margate Beach, on Thrilling Thursdays. After a day in the sun, watch a family-friendly movie under the stars.
Thursdays, July 5 onward Hoboken Historical Museum invites the little ones every Thursday to Penny's Storytime, with stories and songs about city life.
Join the festivities on the beach every Thursday starting at dark at Jenkinson's Beach. Photo courtesy of the event
Thursdays, July 5 – August 30 Thursdays nights are like 4th of July all summer with fireworks on Jenkinson's Beach.
Thursdays and Tuesdays, July 5 – August 16 Bring a blanket to Knight Park twice a week for Summer Movies, starting with The Muppets.
Fridays, July 6 – August 31 Put your toes in the sand and enjoy a screening of Moana as part of Jenkinson's Movies on the Beach.
Fridays, July 6 onward Stop in the Lovin Oven in Frenchtown for children's stories and songs every Friday.
Fridays, July 6 – August 31 Experience a different kind of happy hour Friday nights at Donaldson Farm's Summer Nights. Check out a new performer each week, plus lawn games and a sprinkler for kids to cool off.
Friday, July 6 Washington Lake Park hosts a screening of The Emoji Movie as part of Gloucester County's Movies in the Park series.
Fridays, July 6 – August 31 Fireworks light up the sky every Friday night in Wildwood.
RELATED: Free Summer Outdoor Movies for New Jersey Families
Cheer for the sweet underdog singers in the uplifting film Sing. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures
Fridays, July 6 – August 31 Sea Isle City Movies Under the Stars kicks off with Sing.
Fridays, July 6 – August 17 Catch a flick in West New York's Veteran's Park on select Fridays in the summer, beginning with Jumanji.
Saturdays, July 7 onward Keep cool the first Saturday of every month at the Freehold Raceway Mall at the Kids Club: Powered by Nat Geo Kids, with fun activities, free carousel rides, and prize drawings.
See amazing creations at the Wildwood Crest Sand Sculpting Festival. Photo courtesy of the festival
Saturday, July 7 Check out amazing sand sculptures at the Wildwood Crest Sand Sculpting Festival; you can even try your own sand work of art.
Saturdays, July 7 – September 1 Visit Cape May Point State Park for a nautical-themed Lighthouse Storytime on Saturday morning.
Saturdays, July 7 – August 18 Bring your little gardeners to Macculloch Hall for Dig It! Plant It! Eat It! every Saturday.
Saturdays, July 7 – 28 Saturday mornings are Story Circle time at WheatonArts & Cultural Center.
Saturdays, July 7 – 25 Listen to great live music every Saturday in Princeton as part of Palmer Square Summer Stage.
Saturdays, July 7 – September 1 Music and movies make for a lively evening every Saturday in Fort Lee.
Saturdays, July 7 – September 1 Gather at Highland Park's municipal lot every other Saturday for the Outdoor Movie Theater.
First Saturday and Sunday of every month Get free admission to the Morris Museum, Newark Museum, Montclair Art Museum, and Liberty Science Center with your Bank of America card.
Sunday, July 8 Rock out to live local bands at Fanwood Summer FanJam.
Monday, July 9 – 13 Creatures of all kinds visit Jenkinson's Beach for Wild World of Animals.
Mondays, July 9 – August 20 William Morris Beach is the place to be every Monday for exciting kids' entertainment, beginning with Miss Gabby Kids' Concert.
Tuesday, July 10 Get the buzz on bees at Rancocas Nature Center's Meet the Beekeeper.
Tuesdays, July 10 – August 21 Hear great bands every other week at Middletown Summer Concert Series, held at the Middletown Arts Center.
Wednesdays, July 11 – August 22 The Cape May Lighthouse becomes a beacon of fun on Wednesday nights with kid-friendly activities, performers, and entertainers at the base of the lighthouse.
Wednesday, July 11 Steve Woyce brings his shark-themed magic show to Waldwick Public Library and Rockaway Township Library.
Wednesdays, July 11 – August 1 The parks of South Orange host art projects for kids every Wednesday night, followed by concerts at Floods Hill.
Wednesdays, July 11 – August 1 Moana is the premiere showing at Bernards Township Movies in the Park.
Wednesdays, July 11 – August 15 Take in the Manhattan skyline and hit movies every Wednesday at Hoboken Movies Under the Stars, with Star Wars: The Last Jedi as its first July showing.
Wednesdays, July 11 – August 22 Van Vorst Park in Jersey City presents Ferdinand as part of its summer movie series.
Wednesdays, July 11–25 Bring the family to an outdoor screening of Peter Rabbit, the first of July's Big Screen Outdoor Movies in Morris Township.
Thursday, July 12 – August 30 Catch a showing of the LEGO Ninjago Movie at Thomas McGovern Park; check the schedule for more Jersey City outdoor movies this summer.
Friday, July 13–15 Blues and barbecue are on tap at Wildwood's Anglesea Blues Festival and NJ State Barbecue Championship.
RELATED: Free Admission for Kids at 50 of NJ's Biggest Family Attractions
Relax on the lawn and listen to great music at the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts. Photo courtesy of the museum
Friday, July 13 – September 7 Bring a blanket and picnic dinner for a relaxing evening of music on the lawn of the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts.
Rock out at Maplewoodstock in Memorial Park. Photo courtesy of Maplewoodstock
Saturday, July 14–15 Maplewoodstock
offers two full days of fun, with food, craft vendors, a kids zone, and live music acts.
Saturday, July 14–15 Morris County Community Gardens welcomes visitors to explore the area's gardens, with food tastings and demonstrations.
Tuesdays, July 17 – August 14 Warinanco Park presents Tuesday night Family Fun & Flix, beginning with Despicable Me 3.
Wednesday, July 18 The always-free Cape May Zoo hosts John Walter Cape Community Band in the park's bandstand.
Get creative at the NJ Sandcastle Contest in Belmar. Photo courtesy of Belmar Tourism
Saturday, July 21 Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers are invited to the New Jersey State Museum’s Small Explorer Series for easygoing activities exploring various themes through stories, held on the third Saturday of the month.
Saturday, July 21 The Wooden Boat Festival takes over Huddy Park in Toms River, featuring hand-crafted boats, food, live entertainment, and family-friendly activities.
Saturday, July 21 The fun in Toms River rolls on at Summer in the Street, with live entertainment, face painting, food, and more.
Sunday, July 22 Boyd Park in New Brunswick plays host to Hub City Sounds: Guelaguetza, a colorful celebration of the food, music, and culture of Oaxaca, Mexico.
Thursday, July 26 A kids' movie in a theater for free? Yup! Mayo Performing Arts Center kicks off its summer movie series with The Greatest Showman.
Saturday, July 28 Teaneck hosts a street fair with all the fixins.
A version of this article first published in 2013, but it is updated and revised each year.