From major monuments and historical sites to quirky theme parks and landmarks, it’s no secret New Jersey has a ton of fun family-friendly attractions for you to enjoy. Here’s our #NJMOM breakdown of the best! Did you know you can operate real-life machinery at Diggerland in West Berlin, take a step back to prehistoric times at Field Station: Dinosaurs at Overpeck County Park, or see the country’s only hammerhead shark on exhibit at Adventure Aquarium in Camden? Your options are endless. Oh! And if you’re in the need of a good amusement park, check out NJMOM’s Best Amusement Parks Guide.
Here are the best attractions around New Jersey:
Get your hands dirty and get behind the wheels of some diggers at Diggerland USA, a construction-themed adventure park that allows your family to drive and operate some real heavy machinery. Your littles will love excavating, exploring and controlling real construction equipment, all while building fun memories together as a family. We’re talking rides that send you soaring, digging, and even simulating dump trucks unloading their cargo! There’s a rock wall, ropes course, and so much more. Diggerland USA offers multiples areas of fun for kids of all sizes – from your super littles, to your littles, and even you! Diggerland has a special park for adults only – Diggerland XL.
100 Pinedge Dr., West Berlin, NJ
Home to 15,000 aquatic species throughout 2 million gallons of water, Adventure Aquarium in Camden is an underwater wonderland just waiting for kids to explore. Not only is it the largest aquarium in the state, but it has some seriously impressive distinctions, like the largest collection of sharks on the East Coast and being the only aquarium in the world to exhibit hippos. You can check out the country’s only great hammerhead shark on exhibit, visit with some Little Blue penguins or make your way over the longest Shark Bridge in the world, extending just inches over the Shark Realm. Catch a daily live show or 3D movie, grab a bite to eat right on site and check out the new Flying Fish Beer Garden for mom and dad. For a guide to all of the other aquariums to hit up around the Garden State, click here.
1 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ
Lucy the Elephant looms large over the beachfront in Margate, and is a true New Jersey landmark. Known as the World’s Greatest Elephant and originally used to lure more people to the Jersey Shore, she is the oldest surviving roadside tourist attraction in America and a must-see for the family. You can learn about Lucy’s architecture and history as you climb a spiral staircase 6 stories to the top, which provides a fantastic 360-degree view of the area. Guided tours through Lucy the Elephant are set for every 30 minutes. Lucy is open 7 days a week in the summer. To plan your visit, click here.
9200 Atlantic Ave, Margate, NJ
STEM learning takes center stage at Liberty Science Center, a 300,000 square-foot curiosity playground right in Liberty State Park. With 12 museum exhibition halls, a live animal collection boasting 110 species, giant aquariums, a 3D theater, live simulcast surgeries, hurricane and tornado-force wind simulators, classrooms and labs, teacher-development programs, and the Western Hemisphere’s biggest planetarium, your visit will be packed with educational fun. Exhibitions and planetarium shows rotate throughout the year, ensuring there’s always something new for you and the kids to explore. But the permanent exhibits like the iconic touch tunnel, rock wall, and infinity climber are perennial favorites for the whole family.
Liberty State Park
222 Jersey City Boulevard
Jersey City, NJ
Searching for a fun and interactive way to celebrate a part of our country’s history with your little ones? Look no further than the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial on the Camden waterfront. Set on the Jersey side of the Delaware River, America’s largest and most decorated restored battleship (887 feet long and 45,000 tons!) serves as home to this exciting museum. You and your clan can discover a ton of unique historical information while also seeing how sailors live. This is a museum, memorial, and an interactive experience all rolled into one.
62 Battleship Place, Camden, NJ
Channel your inner cowgirl and step back in time at Wild West City in Stanhope. It’s a western heritage theme park that recreates 1880s life in Kansas. When you visit the park, you’ll experience 22 different live-action shows fueled by crowd participation, with fun features like pony rides. Experience the wild west as you stroll down Main Street, take a ride on the train or stagecoach, play miniature golf, and visit the zoo. Ready to strike it rich? Roll up your sleeves and pan for gold. This theme park is a true treasure in New Jersey, and a chance to fully immerse your family in the western culture of the 1880s.
50 Lackawanna Dr., Stanhope, NJ
It’s the oldest working lighthouse in the country, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, and a gorgeous historic site any time of the year. Sandy Hook Lighthouse remains one of the state’s must-see attractions and is perfect for a scenic day-trip with a history lesson built right in. Sitting about a mile and a half inland from the tip of Sandy Hook, the top of the lighthouse offers incredible views of the coastline and New York City. Tours are offered every half hour each afternoon (hours vary depending on time of year). Keep in mind kids need to be 48 inches to climb. While you’re there, check out interpretive exhibits and learn about the lighthouse’s role in the Revolutionary War. You can also explore Fort Hancock. In addition to the rich history, the entire area offers a gorgeous setting for some unforgettable family photos. For a guide to other amazing lighthouses around NJ, click here.
85 Mercer Rd, Highlands, NJ
The Sterling Hill Mining Museum in Ogdensburg is one of New Jersey’s hidden “gems” to add to your list for your next family play day. Once one of the world’s richest zinc ore deposits and zinc mines, today, it’s an adventurous underground museum. Your littles will love going inside the mine, seeing real mining equipment in action, watching drilling and blasting demonstrations, and making your way through the infamous Rainbow Tunnel. This is a special part of the mine where the intensely fluorescent zinc ore is exposed. When these minerals are exposed to ultraviolet light, talk about a wow factor! The neon colors are like a science experiment and light show all in one.
30 Plant St., Ogdensburg, NJ
Field Station: Dinosaurs is every little T-rex-lover’s dream. Bring the family to learn about and meet these prehistoric creatures in an interactive setting. With over 30 life-sized realistic dinosaurs, Field Station brings the prehistoric time to life right in front of your eyes. Gaze up at the T-Rex or the Spinosaurus that look out over beautiful Overpeck Park in Bergen County. Scientists have worked to make sure the exhibit encompasses the latest theories and information on the dinosaurs, including newer discoveries. Your kiddos can dig for fossils and stick around for shows in the amphitheater. The park closes for the winter and reopens on Memorial Day weekend.
Overpeck County Park, Leonia, NJ 07605
Who knew the oldest weekly running rodeo in the country is right here in New Jersey? Cowtown Rodeo in Pilesgrove is also the only professionally weekly rodeo show in the state. Dating back to 1929, Cowtown Rodeo has upheld Wild West traditions, continuing to bring joy to families year after year. Shows include bull riding, steer wrestling, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, tie down roping, team roping, and girls barrel racing. Opening night is scheduled for May 25, 2019. Shows go on in rain or shine and seating is bleacher-style. Yee haw!
780 Harding Highway, Pilesgrove, NJ 08098
For the little bug-lovers in your life, Insectropolis is a must-see. Created by a termite extermination company, the people behind this bugseum (yes, that’s a thing!) know the stories and facts that kids love to hear about bugs. There’s plenty to see; everything from creepy crawly cockroaches to beautiful butterflies. Kids can even touch a tarantula if they’re feeling brave. Don’t worry though, bug-touching is completely optional. But, learning about all things insect-related is a guarantee.
1761 Route 9, Toms River, NJ
It was just named the best zoo in the state by Reader’s Digest, confirming what we already knew: The Cape May County Zoo makes for an amazing day trip for the family for a variety of reasons. First of all, it’s free! It sits on 80 acres and serves as home to 550 animals, including favorites like snow leopards, African lions, lemurs, and red pandas. You can book a variety of animal encounters (how excited will your kiddos be to get to watch the giraffes feed?) and rent out space for birthday parties and other events. Don’t miss the reptile and amphibian houses for lots of colorful crawlies the little ones will love. The zoo is open every day except Christmas, so you have a ton of options to plan your visit. Click here for our #NJMOM guide to all of the great area zoos at our fingertips.
707 U.S. 9, North, NJ 08210
Spanning 42 acres, Grounds for Sculpture is a sculpture park and museum that offers a dose of wonder and culture for your family in a gorgeous setting. Wander the grounds and see one of the rotating exhibits, hundreds of works by dozens of famed sculptors, and maybe even a resident peacock (there are many that roam the property). Founded in 1992 by artist Seward Johnson, the venue’s goal is to promote an understanding of and appreciation for contemporary sculpture. It’s suggested you leave about 2 hours for your visit. There are a variety of restaurants right on site (Rat’s is a favorite!) and you’re also a stone’s throw away from downtown Princeton. your visit.
80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton Township, NJ 08619