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. We are lucky to have over 200 options in the Garden State to activate children and adults’ imaginations, many of which are immersive experiences that transcend the traditional idea of a museum. 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 10 NJ museums you need to explore right now.
Featured Photo Credit: Liberty Science Center
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.
Here are 10 NJ Museums Kids Should Experience:
Known as the Museum of Ideas, Monmouth Museum aims to educate patrons in art, history, and science through interactive experiences and exhibits. Visit the WonderWing for hands-on learning activities for younger children that will stimulate the imagination. Then explore the Meyer Art & Nature Area to visit “Stella,” the giant dinosaur sculpture made from auto parts, and seek out birds, butterflies, and other wildlife in this outdoor classroom. This NJ museum features family-friendly displays, including work by local artists, to inspire kids’ creativity. General admission tickets are $10, and the museum is open Wednesday through Sunday.
765 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft, NJ 07738
Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial
What’s cooler than a museum housed inside of 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 actual chair that Admiral Halsey used while commanding his fleet and relax in real sailors’ bunks. Various interactive tour options will take you five stories above and two decks below, giving visitors of all ages a deeper appreciation for this historic battleship. Preschoolers have a fun and safe place to play at Jason’s Kids Kompartment, and the Chow Line offers on-site refreshments, making it even easier to keep the whole family happy. Ticket prices start at $20, depending on the tour, and the museum is open daily.
62 Battleship Place, Camden, NJ 08103
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum
This one-of-a-kind museum of oddities is an NJ museum filled with (literally) unbelievable attractions. Over 400 weird and wacky exhibits at Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum Atlantic City Boardwalk location will grab your attention as soon as you walk in the door. Enter the Odditorium to see a roulette table made of over 14,000 jellybeans, a spider made out of knives and scissors, and authentic shrunken heads. Looking for an adrenaline rush? The whole family can take on the Laser Maze Challenge, a timed event where you have to navigate around brilliant green lasers without breaking a beam. When your visit is over, try out one of the boardwalk’s family-friendly restaurants like the jungle-themed Rainforest Cafe. Ticket prices start at $13, and the museum is open 7 days a week.
1441 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
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 your little ones just need to hop aboard a fun, quick ferry ride from Jersey City’s Liberty State Park. Before your go, check out the online Junior Ranger Activity Booklet to provide your children with engaging activities to complete throughout your visit. Spend your time on the grounds of Liberty Island, climb into the Pedestal (the Crown is currently closed), and enjoy the unparalleled views. Also, make sure to download the monument’s free mobile app to discover access points, uncover educational facts and images, and unlock tour paths and tips. Pair your Statue of Liberty experience with a visit to Ellis Island for a full day of Hudson River history. The monument is open daily. Tickets for the ferry and access to the Pedestal total approximately $24 for children and $48 for adults.
Liberty Island on the Hudson River
Your world will turn topsy turvy when you step inside this magical land of optical illusions. 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. 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 get back to reality, enjoy the rest of the attractions at the American Dream Mall. General admission tickets are $20
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 is home to an ever-evolving collection of close to 300 contemporary outdoor sculptures. Children will love to roam the interesting 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 whimsical ambiance of the winding paths, with twinkling lights, surprise ponds, bamboo forests, and romantic willow trees. Six indoor galleries make Grounds for Sculpture a destination during any weather, with two on-site restaurants available for dining. Timed tickets must be purchased online in advance, as capacity is limited. Admission cost is $10 for children and $18 for adults.
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 they’re exposed to ultraviolet light (don’t forget to snap a shot for the ‘gram). Learn more about geology at the Rock Discovery Center, Zoben Hall Museum, and the Warren Museum of Fluorescence, and try your hand at sluicing and go home with your gems. Reservations for tours, available Wednesday through Saturday, are required at least five days in advance. Tickets start at $8 for kids and $11 for adults.
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 in a prehistoric era with two new dinosaur exhibits that let kids dig for fossils and watch a multimedia T. Rex show, explore the multi-story, suspended Infinity Climber, and test out a tornado wind simulator. Children will also enjoy seeing 100+ species of live animals and getting a behind-the-scenes look at race cars. Reserve a spot at 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 the western hemisphere.
222 Jersey City Boulevard, Jersey City, NJ 07305
New Jersey State Museum
Visiting the New Jersey State Museum at our state’s capital is almost like experiencing four museums in one. Travel back in time with 2 million prehistoric and historical pieces in Archaeology & Ethnography, consisting of specimens brought back to New Jersey by diplomats, military officials, missionaries, and civilians throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The Fine Art collection displays stunning pieces that focus on New Jersey’s history and scenery, mainly from the second half of the 20th century. Discover objects that defined the everyday life of New Jersey residents from the 17th century through present-day in the Cultural History area – ceramics, entertainment devices, furniture, and flags carried into battle, just to name a few. 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 a full range of interactive activities that will engage them in topics like 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. Some of the museum’s exhibits are currently closed or have moved to a virtual format due to COVID-19, so be sure to check online before you visit. The museum is open Thursday through Sunday, and timed tickets ($10 for adults, $8 for kids) are available in advance only. Guests 12 and over must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the visit.
49 Washington Street, Newark, NJ 07102