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 a lot of options in the Garden State to activate children’s 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 12 NJ museums you need to explore right now. (featured photo credit: Liberty Science Center)
Here are 11 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 WonderWing for hands-on learning activities for younger children to stimulate their 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 are free for ages 2 and under.
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 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 $25, depending on the tour.
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 currently closed), 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. Tickets for the ferry and access to the Pedestal total approximately $24 for children and $48 for adults.
Liberty Island on the Hudson River
When you step inside 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. 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. 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 are home to an ever-evolving collection of close to 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, with two on-site restaurants available for dining. The admission cost is $10 and up.
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. Tickets start at $10 for kids and $13 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 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 Paw Patrol and Minecraft, kids can enter immersive worlds and discover a different side to their favorites and learn problem-solving skills along the way. 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 the western hemisphere. Admission prices are $30 for adults, and $25 for kids, though there are discounts if you purchase in advance.
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—you have different areas that 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 pieces focusing on New Jersey’s history and scenery in the latter 20th century. Discover everyday objects from the 17th century through present-day 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. General admission is free, and donations are appreciated.
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. The museum has timed tickets at $10 for adults and $8 for kids.
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. Tickets are $14 for adults, $10 for ages 3-12; 2 and under, active US military, and members are free.
500 Forrestal Road, Cape May, NJ 08204
Do your littles 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 keep kids’ attention and challenge them 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. Tickets are $10 per visitor, and 2 and under are free.
1761 Route 9, Toms River, NJ 08755
Are you planning on visiting any NJ museums this year? Let us know which ones you love!
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