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 2022 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
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 and a mesh net to cross, with 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 Mini Dig: Shapes game where kiddos can use a mini excavator to move different objects into shapes. And there are also the new Crazy Cranes, where you can operate a real service crane and move weights. The park is open from 10 AM – 6 PM daily and will be open on July 4. Season passes are now only $129.99 each, and you can get $4 off each ticket with code: NJMOM22S.
Enjoy Summer at The Newark Museum of Art!
They’re baaack—summer festivals and fairs in NJ are here again, and there’s always fun for the whole family. All season, find festivals with food trucks, live music, vendors, or rides in towns near you. Or gear up for statewide ones, like the State Fair Meadowlands (June 23- July 10) with thrills, spills, and lots of family shows, or the NJ Lottery Festival of Ballooning on July 29. Pack up the car and get ready to taste fried Oreos, ride all the rides, and get in some quality family time at the fair.
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 Disney favorite at Demarest Farms in Hillside or watch a movie at the Delsea Drive-In Theater, which many call a Vineland gem when you go to see 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.
Step back in time to a historic seaside town
Victorian homes, delicious restaurants, and of course, the beach—Cape May hotels and restaurants 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 definitely do 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.
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, take a 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 2022 NJ beach badge, and if your kiddos are looking to ride the waves, they can hang ten and get surf lessons in New Jersey.
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 a lot of 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 all 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 at the end when you reach the 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
New Jersey Lighthouses give a peek into our state’s seafaring history, and they are always worth visiting for the fun climb to the top and museum area. New Jersey Lighthouses are historic, beautiful, and have outstanding views. Visit East Point Lighthouse, built in 1849, or the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse, which almost looks like a gingerbread cottage. Another reason to seek out a lighthouse? Climbing the stairs to the top is also a great way to burn off some extra out-of-school energy.
Let loose on the swings
Nothing starts or finishes a summer day like some 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, some of the best playgrounds in NJ. Or hit the shore and head to one of the beach playgrounds in New Jersey from Long Branch to North Wildwood to keep your toes in the sand while their feet are off the ground.
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.
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 if you are looking for more things to do in NJ this summer, you can’t forget the piers at Morey’s Piers in Wildwood.
Spend the day on the water
You don’t have to travel to Alaska—yes, NJ whale watching is off the coast. From the Sunstreak in the Highlands to the Cape May Whale Watch and Research Center in Cape May, you can spot Northern Right whales, Minke, or even Humpbacks without leaving your home state. Or, for thrills out on the seas, pirate adventures in NJ are the perfect way to spend the day. 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
Want to see the best that baseball offers without a professional game’s high price tag? The Garden State is full of baseball teams in NJ who 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 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, try the new wave pool at Diggerland USA in West Berlin, or enjoy a pirate-themed adventure at the Land of Make Believe and Pirate’s Cove in Hope, NJ. If you want something for the little ones, let them cool down at one of the many awesome 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. Or visit Morey’s Piers right off the Wildwood boardwalk or become part of a nursery rhyme at Storybook Land in Egg Harbor Township. Whatever types of thrills you want, there are plenty of rides and kiddie adventures at these amusement parks in New Jersey.
Get out on the lake
When you think about water in New Jersey, it isn’t always just about the shore. 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, Greenwood, 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.
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 sweet 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 a sample of 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
When thinking about things to do in NJ this summer, 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. 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.
Have some adult-only fun
Learn about wine-making or stick with sipping on vino at over 50 vineyards and wineries in the Garden State. 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.
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 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, hitting the putt-putt course is a family must this summer.
What are your favorite things to do in NJ this summer? We’d love to hear about it!
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