Spring is here (cue the cheering), and we have plenty of kid-friendly NJ attractions, even as the pandemic drags on. If you feel like exploring the Garden State in 2021, we’re here to tell you there’s good news—you can go to those places you visited pre-COVID-19 or even try something new, with lots of safety measures in place. Check out these New Jersey attractions for families for now and in a few weeks when the weather turns warm.
featured image via @mymoments.jackie
Become an NJMOM Insider! For all the best things to do with your family around New Jersey, be sure to sign up for our weekly newsletter delivered right to your inbox each week, and don’t forget to tag your photos #NJMOM and @njmom for a chance to be featured on our social media.
NJ attractions for families that are guaranteed fun for kids (and parents) of all ages
The Turtle Back Zoo is open and following COVID-19 protocols, including timed entry, limited capacity, ample hand sanitizing stations, guided socially distanced pathways, and even thoroughly sanitizing their beloved train every 2 hours (it reopens March 2021). Check out The African Adventure section, the newest part of the park, and features lions, giraffes (they will be out on warmer days), hyenas, and the recent addition of penguins, then enjoy some delicious shaved ice before heading home.
560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052
New Jersey’s largest and most popular theme park, Six Flags Great Adventure and Wild Safari Drive-Through, should take a top seed on your spring fun bucket list for NJ attractions. The Wild Safari Drive-Through opens March 20, 2021, and the main park opens March 27, 2021. Aside from thrilling rides for kids of all ages, their drive-through safari is especially COVID-19 friendly, allowing the whole family to experience elephants, giraffes, lions, bears, and more—up close and personal, from the comfort and safety of your car. After taking a ride through the safari, if you’re still up for more adventure, starting May 15, 2021, head over to Six Flag’s water park, Hurricane Harbor, and spend the rest of the day sliding and splashing on the lazy river and in the pools.
1 Six Flags Blvd, Jackson, NJ 08527
With breathtaking views of the NYC skyline and ample outdoor space to practice social distancing from others (1,212 acres, to be exact), Liberty State Park is a Hudson County gem. Pack a picnic lunch and take in views of Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty, play on the large playground, stroll the 2-mile Liberty Walk Promenade, and enjoy the urban outdoors. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is currently planning to design a new area of this northern NJ attraction.
200 Morris Pesin Dr, Jersey City, NJ 07305
One of the most popular national parks in the country because of its unique eco-system (it has a beach and a maritime forest with a large population of wildlife), Sandy Hook is open and ready for a family day in the sand. Plan on getting an early start at this park as it gets warmer since capacity is limited and quickly fills up. Some designated picnic areas are now available to the public, along with basketball and tennis courts, and of course, the beach. Restrooms are open, too, and beach parking is free until Memorial Day.
128 South Hartshorne Drive, Highlands, NJ 07732
Reconnect with nature at this national historical park and New Jersey tourist attraction that’s home to the awe-inspiring Paterson Great Falls, a 77-foot high waterfall nestled within the Passaic River. Rich in history, this landmark and surrounding park is home to Alexandar Hamilton’s ample stories and the Industrial Revolution. The museum is closed until further notice, but the grounds are open, so check the website before you go.
72 McBride Avenue Extension, Paterson, NJ 07501
Heading down to LBI? Be sure to stop by Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, right at the northern tip. This NJ lighthouse is known to have been one of the most important navigational points for ships at one time, and with a historic lighthouse that offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, it’s considered one of the top NJ tourist attractions. Though the lighthouse itself is closed due to COVID guidelines, the 32-acre park makes for a great day trip.
208 Broadway, Barnegat Light, NJ 08006
At the western heritage-themed Wild West City, littles can get their cowboy fix and travel back in time to Dodge City, circa 1880. Kids will get a kick out of seeing the one-horse length (6 feet) marks all over the park to encourage social distancing, and face masks are required upon entering the admission gate for kids over the age of 2. (Actors and employees will be masked as well.) The train, pony ride, and mini-golf course, as well as the barnyard zoo and select “living history” stations, will all be opening May 1, 2021. The stores, museums, and restaurants (take-out) will also open at that time.
50 Lackawanna Drive, Stanhope, NJ 07874
Kids who love dump trucks and watching any and every construction vehicle will be in awe at Diggerland USA —the only construction theme and water park in America. Families can operate specially engineered real machinery and swim, soak, and slide in the themed water park area. Following state policy, facial coverings are required in all areas other than the water, and social distancing markers are in place. Additional efforts include cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, contactless admissions and payment options, and hand hygiene facilities.
100 Pine Edge Drive, West Berlin, NJ 08091
Won’t be going to Disney any time soon? Timeless childhood tales come to life in rides and kid attractions amongst a tree-filled park setting at this beloved 20-acre family amusement park. Kids will have a ball riding spinning teacups, a carousel, a railroad train ride, flying elephants, and more. Storybook Land is following all state guidelines, so be sure to book ahead of time. This amusement park opens for the season on March 27, 2021.
6415 Black Horse Pike, Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234
The Cape May County Zoo is one of those must-see NJ attractions, and it’s free (donations are appreciated), and spring hours will start on March 12, 2021. Grab your mask and head on an adventure where you’ll see animals like alpacas, snow leopards, and everything in between. Guests are admitted on a first-come, first-serve basis, so be sure to get there early.
707 North Route 9, Cape May, NJ 08210
The 6-story Lucy The Elephant was built in 1881 and is the oldest roadside attraction in the world; and has even earned a US National Landmark title. Moreover, it’s worth checking out this historical NJ attraction, which once housed a tavern inside and has a colorful shore history. To keep capacity low and to maintain social distancing, there are 45-minute guided tours every 25 minutes. Moreover, to allow for disinfecting of public surfaces in between, and masks are required inside. Lucy and the gift shop are open now, but starting April 1, 2021, they will be open five days a week.
9200 Atlantic Ave, Margate City, NJ 08402
Sink into the ocean and go deep diving at Adventure Aquarium in Camden. You’ll see sharks, giant turtles, hippos, fish, and even a few mermaids swimming all around you as you wander through this aquarium. Most importantly, it’s open now, but by reservation only and at a limited capacity. And don’t forget to bring your masks.
1 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ 08103
Ready for action? Step into the Land of Make Believe for a day of water park and amusement park fun for all ages. The whole fam will have a blast on the Rockin’ Tug Thrill Ride, or if you’re more daring, try the Scream Machine 360. Also, when it’s time to cool off, check out the water playground featuring Black Beard’s Pirate Ship, where littles can scramble up the plank and practice their best “ahoy there matey” impressions. This NJ attraction will be opening for its 67th season starting Memorial Day weekend—May 29th, 30th, and 31st.
354 Great Meadows Road, Hope, NJ 07844
Roar into spring with this northern New Jersey attraction featuring over 30 moving and roaring life-size dinos. The Field Station: Dinosaurs will be reopening on May 29, 2021, with new trails, new dinosaurs, and improved infrastructure. Opening Day will also feature the premiere of their newest live musical—The Great Dinosaur Whodunit—and be the first guest to visit their first-ever museum exhibit—Movie Dinosaurs: From Gertie to Indominus Rex.
Overpeck County Park Henry Hoebel Area
Fort Lee Road, Leonia, NJ 07605
Hop aboard “Big J,” “BB 62” (for Battleship #62), “Black Dragon,” or what we all know today as Battleship New Jersey. Take a tour of this historical ship, where you can explore everything from the crew’s mess to turbines and propellor shafts. The Battleship is open for Self-Guided Power Tours on Saturdays and Sundays, and you can add extension tours. All tour guests must pass a health screening, wear a face covering, and practice social distancing.
62 Battleship Place
Camden, NJ 08103
Twin walls transect a gently sloped mound leading directly toward Ground Zero at the Empty Sky Memorial. The length of each wall at the memorial is precisely equal to one side of the former World Trade Center Towers as the wall’s height reflects the proportion of the former buildings sideways. Seven hundred and forty-nine New Jersey victims’ are named on the stainless steel walls and give any visitor pause looking at them. This memorial is located at Liberty State Park, and it is open to visitors.
1 Audrey Zapp Drive, Jersey City, NJ 07305
Grounds for Sculpture is one of the most popular NJ attractions featuring nearly 300 contemporary sculptures covering 42 landscaped acres. Check out the larger-than-life art, or wander through the landscape to view ponds, wildflowers, and architectural reflecting pools on the grounds. Entry to Grounds For Sculpture is by advance timed tickets only, and capacity is limited. Both members and the public are required to reserve timed tickets online before visiting.
80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton, NJ 08619