New Jersey

40 Things To Do with Kids on a Rainy Day at the Jersey Shore

The Jersey Shore is known for its gorgeous beaches, of course, and outdoor entertainment like boardwalk fun. But not every summer day can turn into a sunny beach day. What happens to the family fun when it rains? Beach houses, no matter how grand, start to feel pretty small when you are stuck indoors.

Fortunately, there are plenty of indoor spots to explore along the shore. From Asbury Park to Cape May, we've put together a list of shore activities that will get you off the beach and out of your condo. So whether the rain is spoiling your beach day, you need a day out of the sun, or just a change from the sand and surf, we have you covered.

For more entertaining activities this season, check our list of 70 Best Things To Do at the Shore all summer.

Best Water Theme Parks Near NYC for Families

While there are no full-fledged outdoor water theme parks in NYC (yet), you don't have to go too far to find some awesome ones. We've rounded up 13 of our favorites for families in the tristate area, mostly in New Jersey, including beachside spots, and Pennsylvania, and all are less than a two-hour drive from Midtown Manhattan. There's also a great pick in the Hudson Valley and on Long Island. No two are alike: Each one offers different experiences and thrills.

Find more rides in our Theme and Water Parks Guide, including indoor water parks for those rainy or cold days.

Best Jersey Shore Beaches for Families: Sandy Hook to Cape May

Make your New Jersey kid a beach baby and go "down the shore." New Jersey boasts 130 miles of shoreline and some of the prettiest beaches anywhere. Whether your family is looking for a busy boardwalk with children's rides, a beachside water park or sprinkler playground, towering lighthouses, toddler attractions, or something a bit quieter, the Jersey Shore has it. 

We've rounded up 10 of our favorite Jersey beaches, from a national park on the northern shore down to the busier southern beaches of Cape May and Atlantic City. So pack the car (and the kids) for a beach day trip or a long weekend—the summer possibilities are endless. And for more beach fun, check out our Jersey Shore Family Guide, including a roundup of our favorite boardwalks.

Best Amusement Parks for Preschoolers in and Near NYC

For young children, a ride on a carousel’s painted pony, a spin with dad around the bumper car track, and a dripping swirl of frozen custard are the stuff summer memories are made of. No need to seek out the latest scary high-tech roller coasters (which means you can cross Luna Park's most scary rides off your list).

Rides that look mild (or frankly, downright boring) to big people usually provide just the right amount of thrills for toddlers and preschoolers. Happily, there are a number of amusement and water parks in or near the New York City metro area that offer these kinds of tame attractions. Here's our roundup of theme parks perfect for the pint-sized.

Find more seasonal rides in our Theme and Water Parks Guide for families.

12 Family Camping Spots Near NYC in State Parks and More

Camping trips are great for kids, especially NYC kids. They get to spend time outside in green spaces that may seem, to city kids, to go on forever. Plus they can learn esteem-building skills, including how to canoe, fish, chop wood, cook over a fire, pitch a tent, and more. Although there are a number of campgrounds offering fancy perks these days, from wi-fi to heated swimming pools, many camping trips are low-tech, so they allow families time to unplug and reconnect with one another. Plus, pitching a tent is generally an affordable alternative to a hotel.

Camping can be dirty and difficult, though, and require plenty of equipment, including a car. That alone can make an overnight trip to the great outdoors a challenge for many NYC families. But it doesn't have to be that way. There are several campgrounds in the tristate area that are perfect for first-timers and families. For example, we recently tried Tentrr, an online site that rents campsites in the New York area, such as the popular Hudson Valley, that are fully equipped with tents, cots, and other equipment. Just reserve your favorite site and show up!

Read on for more top campgrounds within a few hours of the city that are packed with things to keep kids busy, and two of which are within city limits. A number of these prime destinations are accessible via mass transit, and one campground even provides nearly everything you need. Remember, some of these favorites book up early!

There's no excuse not to hit the woods for a family vacation this year.  

Crystal Springs Resort: Two NJ Hotels Host Mountains of Family Fun

Sometimes, it's all about the location when you travel. Exploring new areas of your state or country are exciting. But other times, it's all about the amenities. When you pack two sister resorts full of skiing, snow adventures, water play, and spa options, there's really no need to go past the grounds—which is the case with Crystal Springs Resort in northern New Jersey.

Read on to discover everything you need to know about Grand Cascades Lodge and Minerals Hotel, and if they're right for your family.

Find more vacation destinations in our Family Resort Guide, which is packed with reviews.

Free and Cheap Kids' Ski Programs in the Northeast This Winter

Let's face facts: No matter how exhilarating skiing and snowboarding are, they are also among the most expensive activities in which a family can participate—especially if your kids take a single run and spend the rest of the day sipping cocoa.

Thankfully, many nearby state ski associations offer free or mostly free lift tickets to grade-schoolers, even if you're not a resident of that state. Of course, there are hurdles to clear to get those benefits—kids need to be the appropriate age, apply online and, in some cases, be accompanied by a paying adult. There are also "processing fees" attached to several, but it breaks down to a very discounted ticket if you use it more than once. But for avid skiers and riders, or those who merely want to try out the sports, these programs can save you plenty of cash when skiing with the kids.

Read on for more information on how to ski for free in New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. (Note: Connecticut has a residents-only program for free ski passes for kids at Mohawk Mountain.)

Check our Ski and Snow Sports Guide for more fun on local hills and mountains.

Family Getaway to Wildwood, NJ: Beach, Water Parks, Rides

Along the Jersey Shore, beaches and boardwalk offer endless summer fun for kids, but each shore town has its own personality, top sights, and vibe. So how do you know which is right for your family?

We’ve explored nearly all of them, from Cape May at the southern point, on up to Asbury Park. I just returned from a family trip to Wildwood and its action-packed boardwalk and Morey’s Piers with a bazillion rides, multiple water parks, games, and so much more. It’s busy and chaotic, but exudes retro charm thanks in part to its Doo-wop-themed diners and local customs like when the whole boardwalk stops in its tracks at 11am to raise their hands to their hearts as the national anthem plays over the loudspeaker.

Read on for all the details on what to expect from your summer getaway to this Jersey Shore hot spot.

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