From indoor museums to historic sites, from aquariums and zoos to science centers, and from railroads to cruises and much more, the state of New Jersey has no shortage of interesting and fun things to see and do for the entire family. There are forests and parks for hiking, interactive museums with abundant hands-on activities, and opportunities for watching whales among so many other attractions that make for a great day out with kids. New Jersey offers a wide variety of things to do no matter what families enjoy, whether its outdoor adventures or a fun day indoors.
The Absecon Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in the state of New Jersey, situated in Atlantic City at Rhode Island and Pacific Avenues. Visitors can take the 228-step journey to the top of the lighthouse and take a step back in time as they explore one of the country’s oldest lighthouses. Once at the top, they’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of the city skyline, as well as a look at the Absecon Lighthouse’s original Fresnel Lens, which was first lit back in the year 1857. There is also a gift shop, a Lightkeeper’s dwelling replica, and a small museum.
31 S Rhode Island Ave, Atlantic City, NJ 08401, Phone: 609-449-1360
2.Atlantic City Aquarium
© Atlantic City Aquarium
More than one hundred different varieties of marine animals and fish call the Atlantic City Aquarium home. One of the highlights of the aquarium is its tropical shark touch tank, which offers guests a rare chance to get up close and personal with a number of shark species. Visitors can also touch other local marine creatures, such as sea urchins and horseshoe crabs, at the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Zone. The Atlantic City Aquarium is also home to diamondback terrapins, seahorses, moon jellies, moray eels, and a Loggerhead Sea Turtle. Shows include exotic animals shows and live dive feeding shows.
800 North New Hampshire Ave, Atlantic City, NJ 08401, Phone: 609-348-2880
3.Atlantic City Cruises
© Atlantic City Cruises
Atlantic City Cruises offers a variety of daily sightseeing excursions along the waters surrounding Atlantic City, New Jersey. Cruises available include the Morning Skyline, Dolphin Watching, Afternoon Delight, and Happy Hour. The Dolphin Watching Adventure lets passengers visit with resident bottle-nosed dolphins, while the Happy Hour cruise during the evening offers a chance for guests to simply relax and enjoy the gentle bay breeze. The Afternoon Delight is particularly great for families, offered daily at 4:00pm from mid-June through the beginning of September. Atlantic City Cruises provides daily cruises from May to October and departs from the Historic Gardner’s Basin.
800 N. New Hampshire Ave, Atlantic City, NJ 08401, Phone: 609-347-7600
4.Battleship New Jersey
The Battleship New Jersey is both a memorial and museum that not only provides several exhibits featuring artifacts from the history of the ship for visitors to explore, but also puts guests into the exhibits as they make their way through the battleship’s tour route. Kids in particular will love to lay on the sailor bunks, sit in the Admiral’s chair and pretend to command the fleet, climb into the gun turret, and much more. The tours of the Battleship New Jersey are designed to be interactive, making the experience not only educational, but also fun for the entire family.
62 Battleship Pl, Camden, NJ 08103, Phone: 856-966-1652
5.Black River and Western Railroad
The Black River and Western Railroad has served the Ringoes, New Jersey community for more than fifty years and is sometimes referred to as “the little-railroad-that-could.” The railroad now offers events and trains for nearly any occasion, from rail-fan specials to date night- to holiday-themed events. The volunteer staff of the Black River and Western Railroad is committed to the preservation of railroad history and helps provide visitors of all ages with a chance to experience old-fashioned steam railroading. The museum at Ringoes Station houses artifacts and displays that share the story of the railroad’s history and its volunteer railroaders.
108 John Ringo Road, Ringoes, NJ 08551, Phone: 908-782-6622
6.Cape May County Park and Zoo
The Cape May County Park and Zoo in Cape May Court House, New Jersey is a free attraction that’s great for the entire family. Open nearly every single day throughout the year, as long as weather permits, the zoo is home to more than 550 animals that represent over 250 species. Popular animal exhibits include the Ring tail Lemur exhibits, where visitors can watch the lemur family play, and the Bald Eagle Habitat. The Cape May County Park and Zoo is only closed on Christmas. Summer hours are 10:00am until 4:45pm and winter hours are 10:00am until 3:45pm.
707 North Route 9, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210, Phone: 609-465-5271
7.Cape May Whale Watcher
© Cape May Whale Watcher
The Cape May Whale Watcher is a 110-foot vessel that has been whale watching and dolphin watching in the areas of Cape May, Atlantic City, Stone Harbor, Wildwood, and other parts of the New Jersey Shore since the year 19993. The Cape May Whale Watcher boasts that they have the fastest and largest boats for marine mammal watching anywhere in the state of New Jersey, as well as the only boats to have a “never expiring ‘Marine Mammal Sighting’ guarantee.” The Cetacean Spectacular is a popular choice of the variety of experiences, lasting three hours on the Atlantic and the Bay.
1218 Wilson Dr, Cape May, NJ 08204, Phone: 609-884-5445
8.Franklin Mineral Museum
© Franklin Mineral Museum
The town of Franklin is home to a zinc mining district, known throughout the world for its abundance of rare and fluorescent minerals. Showcasing this abundance, the Franklin Mineral Museum exhibits fossils, artifacts, both worldwide and local minerals, and fluorescent minerals. There is also a two-level safe replica of a mine and a large mineral rock field. The kid-friendly Franklin Mineral Museum offers a “Kid’s Adventure Package,” which includes all of the fun and interesting things children can do at the museum. Families can also enjoy a picnic lunch in the covered pavilion or outdoor picnic area.
32 Evans St, Franklin, NJ 07416, Phone: 973-827-3481
9.Garden State Discovery Museum
© Garden State Discovery Museum
Established in 1994, the Garden State Discovery Museum in Cherry Hill, New Jersey offers a variety of opportunities for children and their families to explore and discover through play. Designed for kids ranging from infants to ten years of age, the museum consists of a wide array of interactive, hands-on exhibit areas. Exhibits at the Garden State Discovery Museum include Vet & Pet, the Silver Diner, the Rock Climbing Wall, the Nature Center, the Channel 6 Action News Studio, the Backstage Theater, and the Farm Stand. Under Construction is an “unbuilt” two-story playhouse where children can try their hand at construction.
2040 Springdale Rd, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003, Phone: 856-424-1233
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10.Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is a 7,768-acres wildlife refuge in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. The grounds feature over eight miles of nature trails, wildlife observation and visitor centers, and an auto overlook road. There are also several opportunities for self-guided tours, hiking, and birdwatching at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. With the exception of holidays, the visitor center is open from 10:00am until 4:00pm daily and offers a short Nature Detective Trail. The Wildlife Observation Center includes a 1.5-mile boardwalk that lets guests view a variety of different animal species and habitats.
32 Pleasant Plains Rd, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920, Phone: 973-425-1222
11.Historic Cold Spring Village
© Historic Cold Spring Village
The Historic Cold Spring Village brings the 1800’s to life as visitors explore the thirty-acre site. This unique destination is great for the whole family, featuring daily family activities, twenty-seven historic and restored buildings, and interpreters dressed in period clothing demonstrating basket weaving, tinsmithing, pottery, bookbinding, broom making, printing, woodworking, and blacksmithing. Along with the various craft buildings, the village also includes an ice cream parlor, a bakery, the Cold Spring Brewery, a country store, and a restaurant. The Historic Cold Spring Village is home to several farm animals as well, including sheep, chickens, horses, and others.
720 US 9, Cape May, NJ 08204, Phone: 609-898-2300
12.Hunterdon Museum of Art
© Hunterdon Museum of Art
The Hunterdon Museum of Art is housed in a stone mill built during the nineteenth century and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Within the unique setting, the museum features changing exhibits of design, craft, and contemporary art, and has been a landmark art center in the region since the year 1952. Along with displaying works of art created by both emerging and established contemporary artists from all over the globe, the Hunterdon Museum of Art also provides a wide variety of workshops and art classes for both adults and children, as well as a summer camp.
7 Lower Center St, Clinton, NJ 08809, Phone: 908-735-8415
13.Insectropolis The Bugseum of New Jersey
© Insectropolis The Bugseum of New Jersey
Insectropolis, known by many as the Bugseum of New Jersey, is a one-of-a-kind museum about the important roles insects have within the planet’s natural ecosystem. Insectropolis guides people through what it refers to as a “bug-themed city” that features thousands of different bug specimens from all over the world, as well as live insects visitors can view. The touch-screen computers at the unique museum provides bug games for kids to play, or they can pretend to be a termite as they crawl through the mud tube. Other activities include getting up-close to the observation bee hive and touching a tarantula and other creatures.
1761 Route 9, Toms River, NJ 08755, Phone: 732-349-7090
Jenkinson's Aquarium is located in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey is home to a wide variety of animal exhibits for visitors of all ages to explore, offering a chance to get up-close and personal to many different creatures from throughout the world. Exhibits at the aquarium include Pacific and Atlantic harbor seals, alligators, African penguins, coral reefs, Pacific sharks, Atlantic sharks, and much more. Jenkinson's Aquarium also includes a touch tank, allowing guests to touch an array of live animals, ranging from stingrays to sea stars. The aquarium also provides programs for kids of all ages.
300 Ocean Ave, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742, Phone: 732-892-0600
15.Liberty Science Center
© Liberty Science Center
The Liberty Science Center offers a wide variety of hands-on, interactive experiences for visitors to explore technology and science. Noted as one of the state’s top museums, the center features both permanent and temporary exhibits designed to educate guests about the world around them, from the universe down to microbes, as well as the Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium, one of the largest planetariums within the Western Hemisphere. The LSC Giant Dome Theaters shows laser show and films, while the Joseph D. Williams Science Theater shows 3D movies. Visitors can also grab a snack or a healthy lunch from the Cafe Skylines.
222 Jersey City Blvd, Jersey City, NJ 07305, Phone: 201-200-1000
16.Marine Mammal Stranding Center
© Marine Mammal Stranding Center
The Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, New Jersey is home to the Sea Life Museum, which provides visitors of all ages with an opportunity to learn about a variety of marine life. Founded in 1978, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center is the state’s only rescue facility that handles injured and sick marine wildlife, such as sea turtles, seals, dolphins, and whales. Life-size replicas of marine mammals, sea turtles, and several different game fish are housed at the center as well. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday during the summer and open on the weekend the rest of the year.
3625 Atlantic Brigantine Blvd, Brigantine, NJ 08203, Phone: 609-266-0538
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Northlandz is known as the world’s largest miniature wonderland, home to more than one hundred model locomotives that run along eight miles of train tracks. Open every day except for Tuesdays, this unique and interesting museum also features hundreds of different collectible dolls and intricate dollhouses. Northlandz holds the Guinness Book of World's Records title for “the world’s largest model railroad,” and offers visitors a chance to see a display that consists of over 10,000 freight cars, 35-foot sculpted mountains, over 250,000 trees, thousands of handcrafted buildings, and four hundred bridges, including one spanning forty feet.
495 US Highway 202 Flemington, NJ 08822, Phone: 908-782-4022
18.Paws Discovery Farm
© Paws Discovery Farm
The Paws Discovery Farm provides “acres of family fun,” promoting a special relationship between people, the environment, and the local history, as well as a particular emphasis on providing a fun learning environment for children. The Paws Discovery Farm offers animal programs, story hours, birthday parties, classes, and special events year-round, and visitors can explore a number of interactive exhibits, along with more than eighty animals and birds that call the farm home. There are a variety of outdoor and indoor adventure opportunities for kids to enjoy, including live barnyard animals, award-winning gardens, picnic areas, and nature trails.
1105 Hainesport Mt Laurel Rd, Mt Laurel Township, NJ 08054, Phone: 833-246-3276
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19.Space Farms Zoo & Museum
© Space Farms Zoo & Museum
The Space Farms Zoo and Museum is home to over five hundred animals representing one hundred species. The zoo’s claim to fame is that it features the country’s largest private collection of animals from North America in their natural surroundings, however, Space Farms also contains exotic species from other parts of the world. The museum goes a different route, featuring over 50,000 artifacts that include Native American artifacts and fifty antique cars, horse-drawn sleighs, early American tools, farm implements, motorcycles, tractors, clocks, and more. It’s also home to the country’s second largest privately owned antique firearm collection.
218 County Rd 519, Sussex, NJ 07461, Phone: 973-875-5800
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20.The Cohanzick Zoo
The Cohanzick Zoo in Bridgeton was the first zoo to open in the state of New Jersey and has been around since the year 1934. Located within a 1,100-acre city park, the small zoo is home to almost one hundred mammals and birds from throughout the world. Visitors can find a variety of animal residents at the quaint zoo, such as gibbons, leopards, bears, tigers, Asiatic black bears, and many others. The Cohanzick Zoo is open from 9:00am until 5:00pm daily during the spring and summer, and from 9:00am until 4:00pm during the fall and winter.
45 Mayor Aitken Dr, Bridgeton, NJ 08302, Phone: 856-453-1658
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21.The Lambert Castle Museum
Constructed back in 1892, the Lambert Castle Museum was originally known as the Belle Vista, built by Catholina Lambert, a silk magnate. The Castle was acquired by the City of Paterson in 1925 and later by the County of Passaic in 1934. Now home to the archives and museum of the Passaic County Historical Society, the Lambert Castle Museum is now open to the public and features furnishing reflective of Passaic County’s local history and changing exhibits. Visitors can take a self-guided tour to explore the historic residence as they view both historical exhibits and period rooms.
3 Valley Rd, Paterson, NJ 07503, Phone: 973-247-0085
© Tuckerton Seaport
Tuckerton Seaport is a working maritime village in the middle of historic Tuckerton, New Jersey, situated along Tuckerton Creek. This unique attraction brings the maritime traditions of the Jersey Shore, both past and present, to life through its hands-on activities, exhibits, and people. Visitors of all ages can discover the maritime heritage of the area, as well as the interactions between nature and culture along the Barnegat Bay, through live aquatic displays, interpretive exhibits, demonstrations, historic and recreated buildings, festivals, events, and more. There are also baymen, basket makers, boat builders, and decoy carvers to education and entertain guests.
120 West Main St, Tuckerton, NJ 08087, Phone: 609-296-8868
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23.Turtle Back Zoo
The Turtle Back Zoo is located in West Orange, New Jersey and is home to a wide assortment of animal exhibits, activities, and experiences for visitors of all ages, including pony rides. The African Adventure area takes guests on a journey through the African Savanna, home to the Masai giraffes. Guests will find two of the most rare species of animals of the Turtle Back Zoo in Amazing Asia: the red panda and the Amur leopard. The Australian Exhibit is home to grasslands of the “land down under,” featuring animals like the Great Gray Kangaroos and Bennett’s Wallaby.
560 Northfield Ave, West Orange, NJ 07052, Phone: 973-731-5800
23 Fun Things to Do in New Jersey with Kids of All Ages
- Absecon Lighthouse, Photo: Clare/stock.adobe.com
- Atlantic City Aquarium, Photo: Atlantic City Aquarium
- Atlantic City Cruises, Photo: Atlantic City Cruises
- Battleship New Jersey, Photo: Matt/stock.adobe.com
- Black River and Western Railroad, Photo: James/stock.adobe.com
- Cape May County Park and Zoo, Photo: Chelsea/stock.adobe.com
- Cape May Whale Watcher, Photo: Cape May Whale Watcher
- Franklin Mineral Museum, Photo: Franklin Mineral Museum
- Garden State Discovery Museum, Photo: Garden State Discovery Museum
- Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Photo: Wilfred/stock.adobe.com
- Historic Cold Spring Village, Photo: Historic Cold Spring Village
- Hunterdon Museum of Art, Photo: Hunterdon Museum of Art
- Insectropolis The Bugseum of New Jersey, Photo: Insectropolis The Bugseum of New Jersey
- Jenkinson's Aquarium, Photo: blanchardimage/stock.adobe.com
- Liberty Science Center, Photo: Liberty Science Center
- Marine Mammal Stranding Center, Photo: Marine Mammal Stranding Center
- Northlandz, Photo: Northlandz
- Paws Discovery Farm, Photo: Paws Discovery Farm
- Space Farms Zoo & Museum, Photo: Space Farms Zoo & Museum
- The Cohanzick Zoo, Photo: Tyron/stock.adobe.com
- The Lambert Castle Museum, Photo: surasaki/stock.adobe.com
- Tuckerton Seaport, Photo: Tuckerton Seaport
- Turtle Back Zoo, Photo: DiPetre/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: ALAN/stock.adobe.com