It’s official—school is out, the smell of the ocean is so close, and we’re ready to do all the things to do in NJ this summer. Whether your family loves to head to the shore, go to the lake, hit the amusement parks, or stay close to home, we’re here to tell you that summer 2023 in NJ will be epic. Spend a day at a waterpark overlooking the sand, hit one of the festivals with live music, cruise along the coast searching for whales, or zipline above the trees for a unique adventure. Ready to fill your bucket list? Scroll down for ways to make this summer the best one yet. (featured photo credit: Phil Hoops @hoopsapproved)
Fun things to do in NJ this summer
Endless Summer Fun Starts at American Dream
American Dream in East Rutherford, New Jersey, is a premier destination for attractions and entertainment that are fun for the whole family. With record-breaking rides at DreamWorks Water Park– the largest indoor water park in North America – and Nickelodeon Universe – home to cool coasters that boast the world’s steepest drop and tallest indoor drop tower – adults and kids of all ages can kick off their summer surfing, splashing, and braving the biggest thrills under one roof. Need to beat the heat at the height of the season? Check out Big SNOW, the first and only indoor, year-round ski resort in North America, with real snow, sledding, snowboarding, and skiing for every experience level. Families can also hit the ice and skate at The Rink, an NHL-regulation-sized ice rink. Kids and parents will also enjoy a mix of traditional family fun in unique, unmatched environments; from the Angry Birds Mini Golf Course to Sea Life Aquarium, there’s always an adventure to be had at American Dream. If you want to bring some colorful snap-worthy memories to your Instagram grid, tons of cool photo opportunities await at the TiLT Museum, a world-renowned urban art center, where you can become part of the art. For more information, visit American Dream.
1 American Dream Way, East Rutherford, NJ 07073
Explore Grounds For Sculpture
Art making is always more fun with family! This summer, Grounds For Sculpture is offering two exciting Family Ceramics workshops: On July 15, draw, cut, and assemble a pop-up relief title inspired by a summer tradition, and on July 22, roll clay into coils to create a decorative bowl for your family table. All pieces will be fired & glazed. Each class is 2 hours and is $20 per child and $35 per adult participating. The workshop fees include admission to Grounds For Sculpture, where you can enjoy the rest of your day exploring 42 acres of art and nature in a peaceful setting.
Grounds For Sculpture, 80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton, NJ 08619
Get active at Diggerland
Get ready to get wet—Water Main Waterpark is now open with a new expansion. There is an all-new wave pool with variable patterns of waves over 3 feet and a zero-depth splash area with water features. Plus, a crossing activity pool with construction-themed lily pads, a mesh net to cross, and overhead crane sprinklers. You’ll also find more cabanas, more shaded areas, and another snack shop. At Diggerland Park, get excited for the brand new Hook & Ladder, where you can see, touch, learn, and climb aboard several real emergency vehicles, including an ambulance, an antique firetruck, and a ladder truck. Experience the new Lumberjack Claw, where you can grab the controls of this real log loader with a giant claw and play this bigger-than-life arcade claw game. The park is open from 10 AM – 6 PM daily and will be open on July 4. NJ Mom exclusive sale: G
100 Pinedge Drive, West Berlin, NJ 08091
Summer Farm Fun at Johnson’s Locust Hall Farm
Johnson’s Locust Hall Farm is family-owned and operated in Jobstown, NJ, with proximity to major highways like the New Jersey Turnpike & Route 295. Our location offers a true farm experience throughout Spring, Summer, and Fall. With 325 acres, the farm is packed with opportunities and tons of events and activities for families to enjoy as your summer destination. From seasonal crop picking every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (peaches, blackberries, cherry tomatoes, sunflowers, field-grown flowers), sunset evening events for families like our Evenings On The Farm on select nights and our first ever Christmas In July celebration, Mom’s night out at our Flower Workshops every other Thursday night, and even our most sought after event—Summer Farm To Table Dinner for a parent’s date night. Our farm also offers a wine-tasting experience featuring New Jersey’s oldest winery, Tomasello. The tasting room outlet is located in our Farm Market, open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 11 AM-5 PM. Visit our website for more information about our farm and all our offerings.
2691 Monmouth Road, Jobstown, NJ 08041
They’re baaack—summer festivals and fairs in NJ are here again, and there’s always fun for the whole family. Find festivals with food trucks, live music, vendors, or rides in towns near you all season. Or gear up for statewide ones, like the State Fair Meadowlands (June 22- July 9), with thrills, spills, and many family-friendly shows. Later in the summer, July 28-30, the NJ Lottery Festival of Ballooning will fill the skies with jaw-dropping and breathtaking hot air balloons. So get ready to pack up the car and taste fried Oreos, ride all the rides, and get in some quality family time at the fair.
Size up the shore
Whether you like to jump right into the ocean or sit under an umbrella in the shade, spending time at the shore is an NJ summer rite of passage. Yes, there are so many beaches and so little time, and if you’re not sure where to start, look at our recommendations of the 11 beaches to visit this summer with tips on where to park (and where the free ones are). Make sure you get your 2023 NJ beach badge, and if your kiddos are looking to ride the waves, they can hang ten and get surf lessons in New Jersey.
Get out on the lake
Getting out on the water in New Jersey doesn’t always mean the shore. There are a bunch of pristine swimming lakes in NJ that are just as family-friendly as the ocean. Lakes like Sunrise, Greenwood, and Lake Nummy are perfect for a day on the water. Or, if you’re a family who craves adventure, explore the wildlife-rich Rahway River or the historic Parvin Lake by kayaking or canoeing in NJ.
Cape May is always on the list of things to do in NJ this summer. Photo Credit: @stay_lokal
Step back in time to a historic seaside town
Victorian homes, delicious restaurants, and of course, the beach—Cape May hotels are where it’s at. From M&M pancakes at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House to a Taco Tuesday lunch at Big Wave Burritos, Cape May is a shore gem you should visit at least once. Book an overnight in one of the family-friendly Virginia Cottages with a chef-style kitchen or Lokal Hotel with child-friendly suites with private decks. And you’ve been warned—it will be hard to tear yourself away from this seaside paradise.
Sizzle, boom, pop!
It wouldn’t be summer without a fireworks show, and our summer fireworks guide in NJ will bring on the sizzle and spark. See the weekly fireworks along the shore, set your blanket down to watch the 4th of July fireworks, or find that perfect spot in the park to watch the live show. Seeing fireworks in NJ is truly one of those staple summertime activities for the whole crew.
Take a quick escape
Want a quick getaway without a pricey plane ticket or lots of gas? If you love the outdoors and roasting marshmallows, try camping in NJ. The Garden State is full of locations to pitch your tent and settle in for a fun night. Or, if you want plusher accommodations, check into one of the many family resorts you can get to in under two hours. Lucky enough to have a sitter for the kids? Then it’s time to book that adult-only getaway you keep talking about.
See NJ top spots
While many NJ attractions are open year-round, there is something special about hitting them up in the summer months. From exploring the ecosystem in Sandy Hook to seeing the animals at Cape May County Park and Zoo, NJ is full of must-see places. So lace up those sneakers and get ready to explore New Jersey like you never have before. And if you are looking for something a little different, there are strange NJ attractions you’ll want to add to your bucket list too.
Chase the waterfalls
Did you know that waterfalls are scattered around the Garden State, some small and some up to 77 feet tall? Explore everything from Buttermilk Falls in Layton to Tillman Ravine in Branchville. Waterfalls in New Jersey are always a fun, family-friendly idea with an excellent reward when you reach your destination. And don’t miss the second largest waterfall by volume east of the Mississippi at Paterson Great Falls in Paterson, NJ.
Climb to the top of an NJ lighthouse
Want a peek into our state’s maritime history? New Jersey Lighthouses are historic, beautiful, and have outstanding views and are worth visiting for the fun climb to the top and museum area. Visit East Point Lighthouse, built in 1849, or the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse, which almost resembles a gingerbread cottage. Another reason to seek out a lighthouse? Climbing the stairs to the top is also a great way to burn off extra out-of-school energy.
Let loose on the swings
Nothing starts or finishes a summer day like time on the playground. Take a road trip to explore a new one, like Newport Green Park in Jersey City or Ocean Acres Park in Stafford Township, and explore our list of the best playgrounds in NJ. Spending time down the shore? Hit up one of the beach playgrounds from Long Branch to North Wildwood to keep your toes in the sand with ocean views.
Get sky high
Climb up into the trees and fly on a zip line for a unique perspective and adventure. Take a Tarzan swing at Tree to Tree in Cape May, scale a 50 feet climbing wall at The Mainland Adventure Park in Manahawkin, or get the best ocean views you will ever see at Jenkinson’s Adventure Ropes Course. Whether ziplining is your sport or you like the challenge of ropes courses, there are over 8 places to keep your little adventurer more than occupied.
Let your flip-flops hit the boards
The smell of funnel cake and the sound of the waves and screams from the amusement rides can only mean one thing—yup, you are at a Jersey Shore boardwalk. There are six family-friendly boardwalks on the Jersey Shore that are iconic landmarks and pavilions that have entertained generations of families each summer. Don’t miss the family-friendly Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk, and for more things to do in NJ this summer down the shore, strolling the boards at Morey’s Piers in Wildwood is a must.
Spend the day on the water
You don’t have to travel to Alaska—yes, NJ whale watching is a thing. From the Sunstreak in the Highlands to the Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center in Cape May, you can spot Northern Right whales, Minke, or even Humpbacks without leaving your home state. Want your kids to live out their seafaring fantasies? Hop aboard one of the pirate adventures in NJ. Dress up like a pirate on Jersey Shore Pirate or dance like one on Black Pearl Pirate Tours for a swashbuckling family adventure.
Hit a homerun with the fam
Batter up—the Garden State is full of baseball teams in NJ that hit a home run in family entertainment. The best part is that these baseball games are more than just the game—there’s food, entertainment, and even bounce houses for the kids. So, when thinking about things to do in NJ this summer, make sure baseball is on the list.
Get soakin’ wet
Plunge down a waterslide, drift in the lazy river, or get knocked down in the wave pool. Waterparks in New Jersey are a great way to cool off from the hot Jersey sun. Glide down a slide at Thundering Surf Waterpark in Long Beach Island, try the wave pool at Diggerland USA in West Berlin, or enjoy a pirate-themed adventure at the Land of Make Believe at Pirate’s Cove in Hope, NJ. Looking for a free way to get wet? Spend the afternoon at one of the fantastic splash parks in NJ.
Try all the coasters
Get your summer thrills on fun rides and coasters around the Garden State. Try the New Jersey Devil roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson. Go for the thrills at Land of Make Believe in Hope Township or climb aboard construction-themed rides at Diggerland USA in West Berlin. Whatever type of adventure you want, there are plenty of rides and kiddie experiences at these amusement parks in New Jersey.
Make it a movie night
A movie under the stars is even better than a theater, and heading to a drive-in movie or outdoor one on the sand can always be a great idea. Catch a movie at the Delsea Drive-In Theater, which many call a Vineland gem, for a unique and retro experience of seeing a drive-in movie in NJ. If you want to ditch the car and bring a blanket or chair instead, there are still plenty of options. There are outdoor movies in NJ at the park, the beach, and even along the river.
Things to do in NJ this summer should always end with ice cream. Photo taken at Cookman Creamery
Snag something sweet
There is nothing like a frozen, sweet treat on a hot summer day, and there are so many delicious options in New Jersey. Step back in time and try one of the old-fashioned ice cream shops in New Jersey to treat your sweet tooth. Or, if you are looking for more ice cream in NJ, don’t miss charming shops like Amanda Bananas in the Hoboken area, Cookman Creamery in Asbury Park, or Sundae Best Homemade Ice Cream in Avalon. When looking for things to do in NJ this summer, ice cream is always the answer, rain or shine.
Parks for the win
Explore the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park spanning several New Jersey counties, or take in the fantastic views at Liberty State Park in Jersey City. High Point State Park, Hurd Park, and Branch Brook Park are just some NJ parks to visit this summer. Whether you hike, bike, or walk the trails, visiting a park is a great way to get active this summer.
Pick the freshest flowers and fruits
One of the best things to do in NJ this summer? U-pick farms where you can pick a bunch of fruits, flowers, and veggies to bring home. Get a whiff of aromatic lavender at a lavender farm in New Jersey and take home some lavender treats from lavender lotions, lavender tea, or lavender for baking. Visiting blueberry-picking farms in New Jersey is a tasty summer treat where you can enjoy the process and then enjoy it again when you eat those delicious fruits on the way home. Peach picking in NJ is another sweet way to spend the afternoon with the family. And summer isn’t complete without picking your own sunflowers or getting lost in a sunflower maze.
Have some adult-only fun
Did you know that there were over 100 small vineyards in NJ pre-Prohibition? The deep, sandy soil, mild weather, and long growing season give New Jersey a boost to grow the perfect grapes to make a large variety of wines. In fact, South Jersey’s Outer Coastal Plain has the same climate and soil as the Bordeaux region in France, making for world-class wines that are affordable and close to home. Learn about wine-making or stick with sipping on vino at over 50 vineyards and wineries in the Garden State. Or, if you are looking for a lager, visit a brewery in NJ. Want something stronger? Head to a craft distillery specializing in bourbon, whiskey, vodka, and gin.
Save some cash
Looking to not spend a dime? Luckily, there are many free things to do in NJ whenever the mood (or your wallet) strikes. Check out the free things all over the state you can do—visit an art museum in Princeton, hop on a free kayak or canoe at Scotland Run Park in Gloucester County, or head to the free Cape May Zoo. And one of the best-kept secrets of the Jersey Shore is the free, no-badge-required beaches you can visit during the season in the Wildwoods, Cape May, and Atlantic City.
Make this summer a hole-in-one
The family that plays together stays together, and there are plenty of hole-in-one NJ mini-golf locations to keep you going all summer. Explore 19 holes with life-size African animals at Mini Golf Safari next to Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, or head over to the Asbury Eighteen for 18 holes of mini-golf with a beach vibe in Asbury Park. Down the shore, you can get scary and try out your spooky putt-putt skills at Haunted Golf in Ocean City. Whether you like your mini-golf with pirates or animals, hitting the putt-putt course is a family must this summer.
Download and print our free NJ Mom summer checklist to make this the best summer ever. Be sure to check off activities and add your faves as your family makes your way through the list!
What are your favorite things to do in NJ this summer?
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