It’s hot, hot, hot and there’s a feeling of good vibes everywhere, which can only mean one thing—summer is here. Whether your family loves to head to the shore, go to the lake, hit the amusement parks, or stay close to home, we’ve got you covered for everything you should do in NJ for summer 2021. Spend a day at a waterpark, dip your toes in the sand, 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: Six Flags Great Adventure Hurricane Harbor
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Fun Things to do in NJ this summer
1. Make it a beach day
Pack up the beach chair, umbrella, and all of the other beach essentials, and get ready to soak in the sun. Whether you like to jump right into the waves or if you prefer to keep your toes in the sand, heading to the shore is always a great idea. Once you find your 2021 NJ beach badge, you’ll be all set for the season, or if you aren’t sure where to start, take a look at our recommendations of the 11 beaches to visit this summer. And if the kiddos haven’t had enough after a long beach day, there are plenty of beachfront playgrounds to get their sillies out.
2. Pitch a tent
The heat of the fire on your fingers while you roast a marshmallow just right, the smell of fresh pine needles, the silence of the woods at night are just a few of the fun perks of camping in NJ. The Garden State is full of perfect locations to pitch your tent and settle in for a fun night. From Pleasant Acres Farm RV Resort in Sussex down to Adventure Bound Camping Resorts in Cape May, you can go camping and feel miles away. And if you’re not up for tenting it, RV rentals and cabin rentals are at many NJ campgrounds too.
3. Hit the boards
There’s nothing quite like the sound of flip-flops hitting the wooden planks of a Jersey Shore boardwalk. It’s a relaxing, repetitive sound punctuated by the harmonious sounds of boardwalk arcade games and the thrilling screams of amusement park guests. Whether you want to visit the historic Asbury Park Boardwalk or the family-friendly Ocean City Boardwalk, you’ll find at any of these 6 boardwalks on the shore. Ready to hit the boards? Point Pleasant Beach Boardwalk is a great place to start.
Enjoy the top two American Dream attractions for one low price! While both parks boast world records and big thrills, DreamWorks Water Park and Nickelodeon Universe now offer exclusive summer savings with the purchase of a combo ticket. DreamWorks Water Park is the largest indoor water park in North America, home to the biggest indoor wave pool and largest collection of award-winning water rides worldwide. Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park offers an action-packed experience with record-breaking rides inside the biggest indoor theme park in the Western Hemisphere.
For a limited time only, save $39 off your total ticket price with a Summer Dream Pass, valid for one-time use admission to both DreamWorks Water Park and Nickelodeon Universe between June 11th – August 13th, 2021. Click the Dream Pass link, select the number of Summer Dream Passes you want, pick your days, and that’s it!
1 American Dream Way, East Rutherford, NJ 07073
4. Take your kids out to a ballgame
Strike one, the umpire yells—there’s nothing better than some Big League Chew on a hot summer day sitting in the stands cheering on your favorite team. Luckily, the Garden State is full of baseball fields to watch America’s favorite pastime (and at way less a cost for a ticket to the big leagues). And you never know you may be watching a pro player in the making. So, get your mitt ready to catch that next fly ball in the stands of a baseball game this summer.
5. Cruise out on the water
You don’t have to travel to Alaska to see whales. Instead, board a tour, and feel the ocean spray and the salty breeze as you watch for these majestic mammals near the Jersey Shore. Take a cruise on the 115-foot Miss Belmar ship or take the Seastreak Ferry in Highlands to search for whales and other sea life. Taking an NJ whale watching cruise is definitely a unique and memorable way to spend a summer day.
6. 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 if you like the challenge of ropes courses, there are over 8 places to keep your little adventurer more than occupied.
7. Splash it out
Plunge down a waterslide, drift in the lazy river or get knocked down in the wave pool. Waterparks in New Jersey are so much fun and a great way to cool off from the hot Jersey sun. Glide down a slide at Thundering Surf Waterpark in Long Beach Island, visit The Water Main, brand new at Diggerland USA in West Berlin, or get drenched by a 1,000-gallon bucket at the Land of Make Believe and Pirate’s Cove in Hope, NJ. So pack your towel, sunscreen, and get ready to get soaked this summer!
8. Take a thrill ride
This is the summer to be more daring (after all, we survived COVID, right?), so why not get your thrills out on awesome coasters and daredevil rides? Try the brand new New Jersey Devil roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson. Or visit Morey’s Piers right off the Wildwood boardwalk to excite everyone or step into a favorite nursery rhyme at Storybook Land in Egg Harbor Township. Find your favorite heart-pounding rides and kiddie adventures at these amusement parks in New Jersey.
9. Enjoy lake life
We may be known for the Jersey shore, but there are lots of lakes in NJ too, and there are many pristine swimming lakes that are just as family-friendly as the ocean. Lakes like Sunrise Lake, Greenwood Lake, and Lake Nummy are perfect for a day on the water. Or, if you’re the family who craves adventure, explore the wildlife-rich Rahway River or the historic Parvin Lake by kayaking or canoeing in NJ. Whether you swim or paddle your way through Jersey lakes and rivers— a day on the water is always a good day.
10. Picnic in a garden
Grab a gingham picnic blanket and wicker picnic basket out of storage and head outdoors for an old-fashioned family picnic. Make some sandwiches, or even better, pick some up from a local deli and indulge in a relaxing afternoon on the lawn. And for the perfect backdrop with pretty scenery, check out these garden and nature centers in New Jersey. Got littles? Let them run around while you enjoy a few minutes of peace in the shade at some of the best playgrounds in New Jersey.
11. Pick your own fun
Kids gain a sense of accomplishment when they pick their own fruits and vegetables and then enjoy the fruits of their labor. New Jersey is full of pick your own farms and organic ones too. Strawberry picking runs through June, cherry-picking is quick in mid-June, and blueberry season typically runs from mid-June to July. Watch for peach, raspberry, and plum season, too—so, get picking and enjoy a fresh, healthy treat.
12. Hit the trails
How many state parks in NJ have you been to? Explore the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park spanning over several New Jersey counties or take in the fantastic views at Liberty State Park in Jersey City. Reach the highest point in our great state at High Point State Park in Sussex, or take it easy on 10 miles of sandy beaches at Island Beach State Park in Seaside Park. The Garden State is full of parks for your family to explore from the ocean to the top of the mountains and everything in between.
13. Bring home fresh florals
Get lost in a maze of sunflowers, or take in the sweet aromas of lavender while taking home a floral souvenir of your day. Flower picking and even admiring the fields is an insta-worthy and relaxing activity for the whole family. So 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. And summer isn’t complete without picking your own sunflowers or getting lost in a sunflower maze.
14. Taste the grapes
Learn all about wine-making or just stick with sipping on vino at over 50 vineyards and wineries in the Garden State. Explore New Jersey’s rich tradition in winemaking. Did you know that there were over 100 small vineyards in NJ pre-Prohibition? The deep, sandy soil, mild weather, and long growing season gives 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.
15. Putt-putt to a hole-in-one
The family that plays together stays together and there are plenty of hole-in-one mini golf locations to keep you going all summer long. Explore 19 holes with life-size African animals at Mini Golf Safari next to The 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, make visiting one a must for your family this summer.