The littles are finished with the school year and the calendar now confirms it, it’s now OFFICIALLY summer, mamas! And let’s be honest, there really is no better place to spend a summer than in this great state. From the beach days and boardwalk nights to morning hikes and evening concerts – New Jersey has it all to make this your best summer yet. Whether you’re looking for a new spot or activity to explore or you want to revisit some #NJMOM faves, we’re here to help you plan and pack the next few months with adventure and all kinds of family fun, with this ultimate #NJMOM summer bucket list!
featured image via @maria.gallagher
Zoos + Aquariums
No matter how many times we visit the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, we are always left with utter amazement. Kids can get up close and personal with so many underwater creatures like stingrays, starfish, and sharks. Head to Hippo Haven to meet Button and Genny, two massive Nile hippos (PS – this is the only aquarium in the world to exhibit hippos). Or, get your dose of adrenaline as you walk across the Shark Bridge, a v-shaped bridge that hangs above the shark realm.
1 Riverside Dr, Camden, NJ 08103
Turtle Back Zoo
There’s a reason Turtle Back Zoo has been voted #1 Zoo in New Jersey. This Essex County gem boasts over 200 species of animals from all around the world, hosts unique animal exhibits and attractions (we love the giraffe encounter!) and is well-kept and extremely welcoming for families. The zoo is hosting a number of events this summer including Family Nights; Night Moves, an evening tour of nocturnal animals; and Zoovies, a free movie under the stars every Wednesday night.
560 Northfield Ave, West Orange, NJ 07052
Cape May Zoo
Talk about a budget win! The Cape May County Park & Zoo is completely free and open every day of the summer for kids to experience more than 550 animals representing 250 species over 85 acres of exhibits. Look for some cool special summer events like Yoga at the Zoo and an evening concert series.
707 U.S. 9, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
Looking to get out of the sun for a bit on your beach weekend? Jenkinson’s Aquarium is the answer. Sitting right on the boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach, this intimate aquarium is home to many fish, penguins, sharks, and coral reefs. Keep your eyes peeled for the penguins, too! In the right weather, the aquarium staff sometimes brings them out on the boardwalk as a fun little treat for the kiddos. This summer, look for special activities like Kid’s Beach Blanket Bingo and Shark Weekend.
300 Ocean Ave, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742
Holland Ridge Farms
Gorgeous tulips in April and stunning sunflowers in September – no matter the month, we always love the stunning scenery at Holland Ridge Farms! Head here to enjoy five acres of sunflowers from September to October. This place could not be more picturesque, tucked away in Cream Ridge, a more rural part of the state that’s just a short drive away from many popular summer destinations.
86 Rues Rd, Cream Ridge, NJ 08514
Sussex County Sunflower Maze
The most well-known sunflower festival in NJ is the Sussex County Sunflower Festival hosted by Liberty Farm. The farm hosts kid’s scavenger hunts, family photographers, and butterfly meadows, not to mention the giant maze of gorgeous blooms that’s a hit year after year. Peak sunflower season here is from August through September.
101 Co Rd 645, Sandyston, NJ 07826
Johnson’s is another wonderful family-friendly farm in South Jersey filled with activities for kids every season. But we love visiting in the late summer when you can pick sunflowers, take a hayride, feed farm animals and let the littles explore in the Discovery Barn.
133 Church Rd, Medford, NJ 08055
Tony’s Place in Long Branch
Tony’s Place at Seven President’s Park is an award-winning playground for all kids. This park is inclusive and universally accessible, which is great for families with kids of different ages and abilities, or for children with special needs. From the ocean views to the slides, rock climbing, and nearby Skateplex skate park, there’s something for everyone here.
Ocean Ave, Long Branch, NJ 07740
Belmar is home to many adventure-filled playgrounds, including 4 oceanfront playgrounds on 4th, 8th, 12th, and 16th avenues. These popular play havens are right on the beach, beside the boardwalk – perfect to keep the kids entertained while you soak in a little sun and fun. And, just a few blocks off the beach, you have two newly updated spots to explore: 15th Avenue Playground at E Street was renovated in Spring 2017 to be a kid-safe rubber playground with baby swings and many park amenities, and the 8th Avenue Playground at C Street has brand-new climbing robes, swings, a whirl-around, slides, on a rubber surface for safe play.
Newport Green Park in Jersey City
Want to avoid Parkway traffic this summer? Hudson County has a beautiful “urban beach” at the Newport Green Park in Jersey City. Kids can enjoy playtime along the waterfront while you all take in the stunning Manhattan skyline views. The park has a climbing net and carousel and a great little splash pad for those hot summer days.
14th St, Jersey City, NJ 07310
For more awesome beachfront playgrounds, click here.
High Point State Park in Sussex, NJ
Adventure to the highest point in NJ at High Point State Park in Sussex County. This park has tons of kid-friendly hiking trails, playgrounds, and a nearby lake to spend a beautiful summer day out in nature. Soak up gorgeous views of New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania as you make your way up to the High Point Monument.
High Point, Sussex, NJ 07461
Appalachian Trail Boardwalk in Glenwood, NJ
This gorgeous walking portion of the Appalachian Trail runs between the rolling mountains of Vernon Valley. The boardwalk trail is built over a river and marshlands, making it the perfect opportunity to get up close to some wildlife with your kids. Your little ones will see frogs, turtles, birds, fish, and other animals along the river. Just note, there are no guardrails so you’ll want to be sure to keep an eye on your little ones as they explore the path.
Appalachian Trail, Glenwood, NJ 07418
Atlantic County Park in Estell Manor, NJ
Head here for the Swamp Trail boardwalk – a scenic riverside trail that’s nearly 2 miles long. On the route, you’ll see old artifacts, playgrounds, a nature center and a spot to picnic with your little ones. Keep an eye out for gorgeous views of South River. If you’re making a day trip of it, there’s a lot more to explore at this South Jersey park, like the boat ramps, ball fields, and mountain biking trails that are perfect for older kids.
Atlantic County Park, Estell Manor, NJ 08319
Morey’s Piers Waterparks
The Wildwoods boardwalk is a huge summer must-visit that offers two different waterpark options for the fam to splish splash all summer long. Ocean Oasis Waterpark & Beach Club features the more adventurous crazy Cliff Dive and a six-lane slide called the WipeOut, and Raging Waters Waterpark has whole-family fun options like the Fountain Pool and an interactive pirate-themed area called Shipwreck Shoals. Both parks offer private cabana and locker rental all summer.
3501 Boardwalk, Wildwood, NJ 08260
With more than 20 thrilling waterslides, Mountain Creek Waterpark will have kiddos of all ages splashing into summer with tons of fun. The Lil’ Dipper splash area is perfect for toddlers, the Cannonball Pool is perfect for those who love to make a big splash, and there’s the Canyon Cliff Jump for the major adrenaline seekers (Dad, we’re looking at you on this one).
200 NJ-94, Vernon Township, NJ 07462
Casino Pier & Breakwater Beach
If you’re in Seaside for the weekend, you definitely want to make a stop at Breakwater Beach. Located next to Casino Pier, this shore fave has a huge wave pool, tons of water slides, a splash pad area for little water-lovers, and a lazy river. You can book a private cabana here for a shady spot to stash your stuff and enjoy wait service when you need a break from the splash fest.
800 Ocean Terrace, Seaside Heights, NJ 08751
Thundering Surf Waterpark
This landmark is an LBI must-do! With eight waterslides, a Lazy Crazy River, interactive water activities, the super cute Cowabunga Beach wave pool for toddlers, water blasters, and a giant tipping bucket (watch out below!) Thundering Surf Waterpark promises a great time for the whole family. Don’t miss a chance for the big kids to test how well they can hang ten with the FlowRider wave simulator!
300 Taylor Ave, Beach Haven, NJ 08008
Lake Barnegat Inflatable Waterpark
New this summer in Lacey, Lake Barnegat will open its huge inflatable waterpark! The opening is set for June 29 and the park will be open to children 8 years old and up. Think of a giant, bounce-house-style obstacle course that floats and offers tons of slipping, sliding, splashing fun. Keep in mind the cost of a day pass will be $15 per person and swimmers will be required to wear life vests.
Lake Barnegat, Lacey, NJ 08731
Juicy Jersey peaches, comin’ atcha. Alstede Farms is a must-visit for the season, offering tons of fruits and veggies you can pick with the little ones, in addition to a huge farmer’s market, homemade baked goods, furry farm animals to visit, kids activities and homemade ice cream. Picking season runs between May and November. Be sure to check the farm’s harvest calendar for a look at what’s ripe for pickin’ when you want to go!
1 Alstede Farms Ln, Chester, NJ 07930
Earth Friendly Organic Farm
Looking to avoid the dirty dozen? This organic farm located in Monmouth County is known for its blueberry and blackberry season. Head here in the summer months for a quiet day away from the Jersey hustle. The best times to berry pick are June through September. The farm also has a bed and breakfast on site for a little getaway option.
17 Olde Noah Hunt Rd, Clarksburg, NJ 08510
For our full guide of pick-your-own farms throughout the state, click here.
Liberty Science Center
The Liberty Science Center is definitely a #NJMOM favorite. This interactive science museum in Hudson County brings equal fun for adults and kids who love hands-on learning. For a rainy summer day or a break from the heat, head to one of the incredible planetarium shows, the iconic touch tunnel, or check out one of the rotating exhibitions. This summer, we have our eye on The Lion Guard and LEGO art events, sure to be hits with the kids.
222 Jersey City Blvd, Jersey City, NJ 07305
Garden State Discovery Museum
Whether your kids have a love for science and getting dirty, or enjoy expressing themselves making arts and crafts, Garden State Discovery Museum should be on your list. There are more than 20 kid-focused exhibits perfect for children ages infant to 10 years old to get some hands-on fun. With summer events with themes like superhero training, unicorns and slime-making, this South Jersey stop is a major #momwin.
2040 Springdale Rd #100, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
Does summer break have your littles bouncing off the walls? Solution: iFLY indoor skydiving in Paramus. This is a truly unique, adventurous experience, where your kids can essentially take flight in a safe, indoor skydiving simulator. It’s basically a giant wind tunnel that simulates what it feels like to skydive. The professionals here are amazing and put on quite a show too.
211 NJ-4, Paramus, NJ 07652
Monster Mini Golf
With five locations in Fairfield, Edison, Paramus, Cherry Hill, and Eatontown, this 18-hole miniature golf course is nothing like the mini golf you played growing up. The entire place is completely under the luminescent glow of black lights, with spooky monster-animated holes. Neon colors light the way as you compete for that hole-in-one. There’s also a high-tech video game arcade, mini bowling, monster-themed laser tag and more.
Various Locations in New Jersey
Rides and Amusement
It really wouldn’t be summer without a trip to Jenk’s! With iconic kids rides, all the yummy boardwalk treats, weekly fireworks, outdoor movies and concerts and of course a dip in the ocean, there are plenty of reasons Jenkinson’s Boardwalk has been a Jersey Shore destination for generations. Bonus #NJMOM hack: every Monday, take advantage of Eat and Play, where you can take advantage of rides, mini-golf, and pizza with special guest characters for just $27.95 from 4-9PM.
300 Ocean Ave, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742
Casino Pier on the Seaside Heights boardwalk is another summer fave, bringing together families from all around NJ. From iconic, old-fashioned rides like the tilt-o-whirl to the new Centrifuge, this amusement park is shore to please kids of all ages! Hit the arcade for some competitive fun, and don’t forget to stroll the boards to snag a summer snack staple like the foot-long pizza or boardwalk fries.
800 Ocean Terrace, Seaside Heights, NJ 08751
Six Flags Great Adventure
Are your teens looking for more action? Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ has some of the largest and fastest rides in the metropolitan area. There are tons of coasters to choose from to make for a full day of thrills. New this summer is Wonder Woman, Lasso of Flight!
1 Six Flags Blvd, Jackson Township, NJ 08527
Fantasy Island Amusement Park
Right in the heart of Beach Haven, this intimate amusement park is perfect for your little cuties on your visit to Long Beach Island. This is a smaller park geared toward mostly younger kids, but there are still rides that older ones will enjoy, not to mention a great indoor arcade. With great kiddie rides, fun games, a little mini-coaster, and an ice cream shop right inside, a night at Fantasy Island is the stuff summer family memories are made of!
320 7th St, Beach Haven, NJ 08008
Morey’s Piers is full of more than 100 rides and attractions, making it one of the biggest amusement parks in the state. From kiddie to family to thrill to extreme rides, the 3 different piers offer something for all ages and adventure levels. Sitting right on The Wildwoods’ boardwalk, you’ll catch an iconic display of lights, sites, and smells that will bring you right back to your own childhood.
Wildwood & North Wildwood, New Jersey, U.S
Grounds for Sculpture
Looking to amp up that IG feed? Grounds For Sculpture is a 42-acre sculpture park and museum located in Hamilton, NJ, where visitors can enjoy an outdoor collection of over 270 sculptures. Be prepared to be amazed by the charm and character of the grounds. This is perfect for a little culture or art lesson for the littles!
80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton Township, NJ 08619
Asbury Park Bazaar
The Asbury Park Bazaar is a seasonal pop-up marketplace featuring local artwork, photography, art classes, and workshops. This summer, it’s set for July 20 & 21 and will feature live music, DJs, food, children’s art classes, and tons of vintage vendors. This eclectic summer favorite is set right in historic Convention Hall, close to all of the amazing shops, venues and restaurants the Asbury Park Boardwalk and downtown have to offer.
1300 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712
Minor League Baseball Games
Summer would not be complete without a night at the ballpark. Buy the littles some peanuts and crackerjacks and get yourselves to one of New Jersey’s five kid-friendly stadiums for some great minor league baseball action. Keep an eye out for fireworks nights and special events all summer!
Lakewood Blue Claws 2 Stadium Way, Lakewood, NJ 08701
Trenton Thunder Arm & Hammer Park, Trenton, NJ
Bridgewater’s Somerset Patriots TD Ballpark, Bridgewater Township, NJ
Sussex County’s Miners Skylands Stadium 94 Championship Place Augusta, NJ 07822
Jackals of Upper Montclair Yogi Berra Stadium 27 Clove Rd, Little Falls, NJ 07424
QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning
Mark your calendars! If you haven’t been to the QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning, this is a must-add to your list. This marks the 37th year for this hot air balloon festival, the largest summertime hot air balloon and music fest of its kind in North America. Come and feel love at first flight as you take a hot air balloon ride high in the sky from July 26th to July 28th. Or perhaps, music + food + just enjoying the gorgeous views is more your scene? This year ABBA, The Band Perry, and The Beach Boys are performing along with a kids concert on Friday night.
39 Thor-Solberg Rd, Whitehouse Station, NJ 08889
Movies on the Beach, via Capemay
Movies on the Beach – Cape May
Oh, the quintessential Cape May activity! On Thursday nights in July and August, bring a beach chair and a blanket to the beach along Convention Hall, to enjoy a free movie right in the sand.
Beach beside Convention Hall, 714 Beach Ave, Cape May, NJ 08204
Belmar Movies on the Beach
In Belmar, bring your beach chairs to 8th Ave. beach every Saturday from July 13th through September 7th for free movies on the beach.
8th Ave. Beach Belmar, New Jersey
Jenkinson’s Movies on the Beach
Jenkinson’s has its version of free movies on the beach every Friday night starting June 21st, perfect to hit up after an evening of rides or a walk along the boardwalk.
300 Ocean Ave, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742
Seaside Heights Drive-in Movie Schedule
Seaside Heights is upping its movie game this summer by showing movies on the beach, and on the bayfront!
Sumner Ave Lot Entrance 800 Ocean Terrace, Seaside Heights, NJ 08751
Delsea Drive-In Movie Theatre
And don’t miss this Jersey gem in Vineland! This long-standing, 2-screen drive-in movie theater is the last of its kind in the state to offer concessions and a movie from the comfort of your car. The box office opens at 6:45 PM Thursday 6/20, Friday 6/21, Saturday 6/22, Sunday 6/23 & Thursday 6/27.
2203 S Delsea Dr, Vineland, NJ 08360
Hello, lawn seats! There’s nothing like taking in a concert on a beautiful summer night. This outdoor venue along the Camden waterfront has a great lineup this summer, including The Grateful Dead, Third Eye Blind, Florida Georgia Line, KidzBop, Jason Aldean, and more!
1 Harbour Blvd, Camden, NJ 08103
PNC Bank Arts Center
Right in Central Jersey, the PNC amphitheater is the perfect location to meet up with friends from all over the state and enjoy good music. There are a lot of good shows lined up this summer, with artists like Jimmy Buffet and Thomas Rhett. KidzBop is stopping here too!
116 Garden State Pkwy, Holmdel, NJ 07733
MetLife Stadium & Prudential Center
Some big names are making their way through Newark and East Rutherford these next few months. The teenage girls will love seeing Shawn Mendez, you can make a #momsnightout catching Jennifer Lopez, or opt for a date night and see The Rolling Stones.
MetLife Stadium 1 MetLife Stadium Dr, East Rutherford, NJ 07073
Prudential Center 25 Lafayette St, Newark, NJ 07102
County Fair State Schedule
We promise the kids will have the time of their lives on late summer evenings when the fair shows up to your neighborhood. New Jersey hosts 21 county fairs over the summer showcasing the each county’s individuality. Each fair is different but most include: music, agricultural exhibits, craft shows, rides, carnival entertainment, vendors and community events, horse shows, and more. Check out when your fair is coming to town here.
State Fair Meadowlands
State Fair Meadowlands is a big dose of fair fun for the family, with all the amusement rides you can imagine, live shows and concerts, and of course, fave fair foods like funnel cake for.the.win! Your littles will love the illusionists and the Royal Racing Pigs (yes, that’s a thing). Check it out June 20th through July 7th.
1 MetLife Stadium Drive, East Rutherford, NJ 07073
Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair
This annual summer fair is the largest firemen’s fair in New Jersey and is the second largest fair of its kind. The grounds will hold rides like the Zipper, Rainbow, Wipeout, and Ferris Wheel – for the big kids. Tots can go on trains, a merry-go-round and sit inside a real firetruck. The 2019 Fair Haven Fire Department Firemen’s Fair will be held Friday, August 23 – Saturday, August 31, 2019
645 River Rd, Fair Haven, NJ 07704
Battleship New Jersey
America’s most decorated battleship is right on the waterfront in Camden, ready for you and the family to explore! Your little adventurers will get to see exhibits of the ship’s artifacts, sit in the Admiral’s chair, and lay on the bunks where sailors slept. There’s even the option to spend the night on the ship! You can read more about this #NJMOM Adventure here.
100 Clinton St, Camden, NJ 08103
If you have a little green-thumb-in-training, you’ll want to check out the 180-acre botanical gardens on Rutgers’ Cook Campus this summer. There are children’s programs for those interested in gardening, insects, wildlife, and bees. It’s a perfect summer spot to explore and get in touch with nature.
130 Log Cabin Road, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Empty Sky Memorial
Reflect, remember, and honor the New Jersey residents we lost during 9/11 by visiting this stunning memorial. This monument with the New York skyline backdrop holds a special place in the hearts of so many and is a great pause to take during the buzzing summer months.
1 Audrey Zapp Drive, Jersey City, NJ 07305
Thomas Edison Museum
Take a look inside the life and mind of this brilliant inventor, one of New Jersey’s most treasured residents. How amazed will the kids be when you take a tour Thomas Edison’s laboratory, where electricity was discovered?! You can also make your way through this American icon’s greenhouse, mansion, car collection, and grounds, all right in West Orange.
211 Main Street, West Orange, NJ 07052