Whether your kids are budding scientists, aspire to be the next Picasso, or gravitate toward the whimsical or wacky, there is an NJ museum that will actively engage their passions and provide countless hours of fun for the entire family. And we’re lucky to have museums all over NJ that stimulate the imaginations and cultivate an appreciation of art and science in the youngest patrons to the oldest ones. Spend the day in nature amid immense sculptures and lush landscapes at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, overlook our state from new heights atop the Statue of Liberty National Monument, or escape reality into an off-the-wall world of optical illusions at the TiLT Museum in East Rutherford. Scroll down for 16 NJ museums you’ll want to explore right now. (featured photo credit: Liberty Science Center)
Here are 18 NJ museums kids should experience
Known as the Museum of Ideas, Monmouth Museum strives to educate patrons in art, history, and science through interactive experiences and exhibits. Younger kids will have a ball learning and exploring in the interactive and STEAM-based Becker Wing before moving onto the Meyer Art & Nature Area to visit “Stella,” the giant dinosaur sculpture made from auto parts. This NJ museum features family-friendly displays, including work by local artists, to inspire kids’ creativity.
765 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft, NJ 07738
Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial
What’s cooler than a museum housed inside one of America’s most decorated battleships? Climb aboard the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial, where you’ll learn about the military history and inner workings of the USS New Jersey, an impressive Navy vessel built in 1942 and measuring the length of three football fields. Sit in the chair Admiral Halsey used while commanding his fleet and relax in real sailors’ bunks before embarking on a tour that takes you five stories above and two decks below for a deeper appreciation of this historic battleship. Preschoolers have a fun and safe place to play at Jason’s Kids Kompartment, and the Chow Line offers onsite refreshments, making it even easier to keep the whole family happy.
62 Battleship Place, Camden, NJ 08103
Statue of Liberty National Monument
New Jersey families are fortunate to live next door to one of the United States’ most beloved and recognizable symbols of liberty and freedom—The Statue of Liberty National Monument. Tourists travel from all over the world to visit Lady Liberty, but locals just need to hop aboard a fun, quick ferry ride from Jersey City’s Liberty State Park. Before going, check out the online Junior Ranger Activity Booklet for engaging activities to complete throughout your visit. Spend your time on the grounds of Liberty Island, climb into the Pedestal (the Crown is reservation only), and enjoy the unparalleled views. Pair your Statue of Liberty experience with a visit to Ellis Island for a full day of Hudson River history.
Liberty Island on the Hudson River
When you enter this magical land of optical illusions, your world will turn topsy-turvy. At the TiLT Museum, you’re not just there to look at the art—you become part of the colorful, mind-bending exhibits. Legendary urban artist Tracy Lee Stum designed this immersive, selfie-worthy experience where you can star in your own video game, fly through the city on a hot dog, or climb the Statue of Liberty amid dynamic backdrops that will tilt your whole perspective. When you’re ready to return to reality, enjoy the rest of the attractions at the American Dream Mall.
American Dream, 1 American Dream Way, East Rutherford, NJ 08003
Grounds for Sculpture
For the nature-loving family whose perfect day includes a stroll through the park, Grounds for Sculpture is the NJ museum for you. Forty-two acres of beautifully curated, diverse gardens are home to an ever-evolving collection of nearly 300 contemporary outdoor sculptures. Children will love to roam the fascinating landscape while stumbling upon colossal artistic structures, discovering hidden nooks and crannies, and doing a double-take at pieces that seem, at first glance, like they are part of nature. Adults will enjoy the winding paths’ whimsical ambiance, twinkling lights, surprise ponds, bamboo forests, and romantic willow trees. Four indoor galleries make Grounds for Sculpture a destination during any weather and don’t miss lunch or dinner at the onsite Rat’s Restaurant with its sublime setting that feels like a Monet painting come to life.
80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton, NJ 08619
Sterling Hill Mining Museum
Once one of the world’s richest zinc ore deposits and zinc mines, The Sterling Hill Mining Museum is now an exciting underground adventure. Take a tour of the mine —the fourth oldest in the United States— and get an up-close look at actual mining equipment, drilling and blasting demonstrations, and explore the colorful Rainbow Tunnel. Kids will be amazed how the rocks and parts of the mine glow in technicolor when exposed to ultraviolet light (don’t forget to snap a shot for the ‘gram). Learn more about geology at the Discovery Centers, Zobel Hall Museum, and the Warren Museum of Fluorescence, and try your hand at sluicing that lets you go home with your gems.
30 Plant Street, Ogdensburg, NJ 07439
Liberty Science Center
Located on the bank of Jersey City’s Liberty State Park, Liberty Science Center’s goal is to deliver science education to its patrons in an exciting and fun way. Spend time exploring Wobbly World for kids ages 0-5, explore the multi-story, suspended Infinity Climber, and see a Million-Volt Lightning Machine. With a calendar full of special exhibits that appeal to children’s interests, like The Science Behind Pixar, kids can enter immersive worlds, discover a different side to their favorites, and learn problem-solving skills. Don’t miss the BASF Kids’ Lab for your little scientist to participate in a hands-on science experiment. If that’s not enough, the museum is home to the largest planetarium in America.
222 Jersey City Boulevard, Jersey City, NJ 07305
New Jersey State Museum
Visiting the New Jersey State Museum in our state’s capital is almost like experiencing four museums in one—different areas focus on a distinct part of NJ history. Travel back in time with 2 million prehistoric and historical pieces in Archaeology & Ethnography. The Fine Art collection displays stunning works about New Jersey’s history and scenery in the latter 20th century. Discover everyday objects from the 17th century through the present in the Cultural History area. And finally, the museum’s Natural History exhibit features fascinating collections of native fossils, bones, minerals and ores, and animal studies.
205 West State St., Trenton, NJ 08608
The Newark Museum of Art
Explore the arts from around the world at The Newark Museum of Art, with various galleries from Global Africa and Decorative Arts to a picturesque Museum Garden with rotating exhibits. Kids can participate in multiple interactive activities, engaging them in geology, fire safety, renewable energy, and outer space. In MakerSPACE, little ones are introduced to the museum’s collections through songs, art, and storytelling. Special family events such as movie nights and community art projects are frequently offered, too.
49 Washington Street, Newark, NJ 07102
Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum
Travel back in time to learn about military and aviation history at this family-friendly museum with hands-on exhibits and activities for everyone. See the restored Hangar #1 building, learn about Cape May’s history during World War II, and view over 25 historic airplanes, helicopters, and jets. Your kiddos will love to sit in the cockpits of select aircraft, take part in interactive STEM displays, and even climb into an actual air traffic control tower.
500 Forrestal Road, Cape May, NJ 08204
Do your kids love creepy crawlies? At Insectropolis, take a trip into the insect world, where kids will learn facts and habits about bugs, bees, spiders, caterpillars, and rare insect species. The interactive exhibits engage and challenge kids to think and live like insects. Start exploring at Bug University to brush up on bug basics, tune into WBug Radio to learn how bugs communicate, and get the buzz on bees and their colonies at the Hive Airport.
1761 Route 9, Toms River, NJ 08755
From a single collection in the early 1900s to exhibitions, educational programs, and live performances, the Morris Museum has flourished over the years. And fun fact—it’s the only NJ museum to have a Smithsonian affiliation in the state. Kids can learn about NJ’s Native American history, watch a model train wind through an ever-changing miniature display, or touch a dinosaur egg in the Earth Science Gallery. Don’t miss the Bickford Theatre events throughout the year, including storytelling workshops, community concerts, and children’s theatre.
6 Normandy Heights Road, Morristown, NJ 07960
Old Barracks Museum (Closed for winter training, reopens February 7, 2024)
Kids can go back in time to learn about 18th-century history at this building. This is the only existing and restored military structure in NJ connected to the Colonial Wars in 1758, predating the American Revolution. History buffs will appreciate the collection of over 2000 artifacts, ranging from fine art to militia, and there are exhibits spanning centuries of military history, the World’s Fair, and the Women’s Anti-Suffrage Movement. Check out their unique event lineup, which includes re-enactments, a park cleanup day, and a Sunday Tea.
101 Barrack Street, Trenton, NJ 08608
The world’s largest collection of paradox exhibits in one place are all at American Dream in East Rutherford, NJ. This unique attraction gets your brain working with more than 70 mind-blowing exhibits where you’ll constantly question whether what you see is real or an illusion. And for older kids who are into snapping photos on their phones, they’ll have a blast coming up with ways to pose in mind-bending selfies.
1 American Dream Way, East Rutherford, NJ 07073
Doo Wop Experience Museum
The all-new Doo Wop Experience and Neon Sign Garden highlight architecture, design, music, pop culture, and everything else that put Wildwood on the map. See vintage lamps, clocks, and cool-looking pieces of mid-century furniture. After all the nostalgia, stop by the retro-style malt shop inside the Doo Wop Experience for a delish shake or sundae.
4500 Ocean Avenue, Wildwood, NJ 08260
Aviation Hall of Fame and Museum of NJ
See the rocket engine that propelled the X-15 or the first American hovercraft invented by Charles Fletcher. Learn all about the aerospace industry with spaceflight, engineering, piloting, and research, and see aircraft, helicopters, and airplane models. See their custom-built “Fundamentals of Flight” and check for updates about their Open Cockpit Day to really get in the pilot’s seat.
400 Fred Wehran Drive, Teterboro, NJ 07608
Tuckerton Seaport & Baymen’s Museum
This community museum and center occupies 40 acres along Tuckerton Creek at the center of the Jersey shore. The entire area is an interactive peek into New Jersey’s rich maritime history, artistry, heritage, and environment, highlighting the unique contributions of its baymen. Tour museum exhibits, climb the lighthouse, or participate in their make-and-take crafts. After, head to the historic Captain’s House and Tea Room for a freshly baked scone and spot of tea.
120 West Main Street, Tuckerton, NJ 08087
Historical Speedwell (reopening April 2024)
Learn all about the “Birthplace of the Telegraph” and the early years of the Industrial Revolution through guided tours and interactive exhibits. This National Historic Landmark museum has everything from the S.S. Savannah Exhibit, which explores the maiden voyage of the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean, to the Factory Building, where Stephen Vail’s son, Alfred, worked with Samuel F.B. Morse to conduct the first successful demonstration of the telegraph.
333 Speedwell Avenue, Morristown, NJ 07960
Are you planning on visiting any NJ museums this year? Let us know which ones you love!
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