New Jersey is a small northeast state packed full of things to do for kids of all ages. You’ll find zoos, aquariums, amusement parks, rides and ocean adventures to fill your vacation schedule with ease.
If you want to explore some of the best things to do in New Jersey with kids, you’ve come to the right place.
1. Visit SeaQuest in Woodbridge
SeaQuest Woodbridge is an exciting and unique aquarium that offers over 20,000 square feet of ocean excitement. It’s one of the most family-friendly activities in the state because there’s so much to do.
But be prepared — SeaQuest isn’t your typical aquarium. Instead, you’ll get to see and interact with more than 300 different rotating species of fish, sharks, turtles, birds and lizards, just to name a few. In fact, you can even buy a few feeding tokens and let your kids give the animals a bit of a treat.
Just a forewarning, though, SeaQuest is 100% animal friendly, so don’t be shocked if you find a surprise on your head in the form of a feathered friend. Most of SeaQuest’s facilities have aviaries that allow their birds to stretch their wings whenever they want.
2. Hit the Boards
One of the things New Jersey is known for is its boardwalks. As far as outdoor activities go, one of the best things to do in New Jersey with kids is to “go to the boards.” Up and down the coast, you’ll find one boardwalk after another filled with family-friendly rides dotting the string of barrier islands.
An afternoon or evening at the boardwalk is an excellent way to wind down and burn off any excess energy your little ones might have. Not only will they love bouncing from one ride to the next, but they’ll also love trying their hand at different games on the piers.
3. Take a Whale-Watching Tour
Cape May might be the most picturesque town in New Jersey. As the southernmost point of the state, this historic city is home to vibrant Victorian homes, delicious food and, of course, the beach.
Now and then, you’ll be lucky enough to see some dolphins jumping through waves on the scenic beach, but the best way to see them up close is on a whale and dolphin-watching tour. You and your family can hop on a boat and take to the Atlantic in search of some of the largest water mammals out there.
Tickets are easy to book online, but space is typically limited, so you should definitely book ahead.
4. Enjoy a Hike
Did you know that NJ has 39 state parks? They’re home to thousands of miles of trails crisscrossing the state, just waiting to be explored. You’ll find options for all skill levels so grab your sneakers or hiking boots, pack a picnic and set out with your little ones on a forest adventure.
One suggestion for an easy hike is Batsto Village in Wharton State Forest. There’s a range of flat trails to explore, and you can end your hike investigating the historic village. Don’t forget to take a tour of the mansion while you’re there.
5. Sample the Local Produce
NJ is called the Garden State for a good reason. It’s home to some of the most delectable produce in the country. When you visit, stop at one of the hundreds of roadside farm stands to try a Jersey tomato, Hammonton blueberries, Jersey peaches and some sweet corn.
Not sure how to go about finding the tastiest Jersey produce? Take a look at the Jersey Fresh cohort, which guides you to the best places you and your family can load up on goodies near you.
6. Explore Turtle Back Zoo
After taking in heaps of animals at SeaQuest, you can head to the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange. This zoo has everything you need for a day outdoors, including a train, playground, pony rides and, of course, animals.
Your kids will love crawling through the glass tunnels at the prairie dog enclosure, taking in the big cats and touring the butterfly enclosure. One of the most extraordinary things you’ll encounter is Bowie the Labrador retriever and his best friend, Nandi the cheetah.
7. Head Down the Shore
What’s better than a day at the beach for things to do in New Jersey with kids? From Seaside to Point Pleasant to Wildwood, there’s no shortage of gorgeous sandy beaches waiting for a new sandcastle or two. While you’re there, take a few minutes to show your kiddos how to find sand crabs.
Your kids will also love the seashore-specific foods that you can’t get anywhere else in the state. Kohr Brothers, Denato’s, Curley’s Fries, Manco & Manco, Sam’s Pizza and Jimbo’s are just a few examples of eateries that you won’t find outside the Jersey Shore.
8. Go Blueberry Picking
Although there are tons of blueberry farms across the state, one of the best parts of exploring New Jersey’s Pinelands is the abundance of wild blueberries that fill the forests in the summer. You’ll be able to tell which ones are blueberries by their telltale red branches, but they’re all over the woods in the Pine Barrens and Wharton State Forest.
If you want to blueberry-pick in the woods, look for signs when you park. Any state park or reserve with wild blueberries will show you how to locate them. It’s a great way to work a bit of botany into your family vacation.
9. Join a Ghost Tour
If you need to fill a few more hours of your day after hanging out at SeaQuest, you can book a ghost tour in historic Woodbridge. As the state’s oldest chartered settlement, this little town is full of rich history, not to mention a few spirits who’ve decided to stick around.
A ghost tour is excellent for kids because it offers a lot of spookiness combined with a fair bit of drama and a dash of history. If your little ones don’t spook easily, you should definitely give a ghost tour a shot.
If you’re not in the Woodbridge area, don’t worry. New Jersey is quite the haunted state, so you can find tours in Princeton, Cape May and Ocean City, among others.
10. Include a Trip to the Past
Medieval Times in Lyndhurst is perfect for kids of all ages because it’s the one place where it’s perfectly acceptable to eat with your hands while you watch knights jousting in the presence of a royal court.
Your family will feel like they were just transported to the Renaissance era as you take in the Andalusian horses on show. A royal falconer will show you just how hard it is to train a falcon to your whims, and all the while, you’ll dine on a four-course meal fit for all ages.
11. Delve Into Liberty Science Center
It’s not hard to work a little education into your vacation with the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. It’s a 300,000 square-foot facility filled with scientific wonders that’ll occupy your kids for hours.
Wobbly World is perfect for the younger crowd, catering specifically to those under 5. However, if you have older kids, you can check out the Minecraft exhibition or the Infinity Climber, which is sure to get your blood pumping.
Hopefully, you’ve found plenty to fill your itinerary on your next trip to the Garden State. The attractions on this list are easily some of the best things to do in New Jersey with kids, so there’s no doubt at all they’ll love every second of your trip.