If your only impression of New Jersey has anything to do with Snooki or Jersey Shore, then I hope you’ll give New Jersey a second chance. There’s so much fun stuff to do in New Jersey with kids from sculpture gardens to science centers to art museums that I hope you’ll pack your bags and head out to New Jersey at your first chance. Take a look at my eight favorite stops to make in New Jersey with kids.
1. Grounds For Sculpture (Hamilton): A sculpture garden is a fantastic way to introduce children to fine art. Children can touch most of the art they see here, and they can wander freely amongst more than 270 contemporary sculptures. Look out for frequent tours and workshops just for kids.
2. Turtle Back Zoo (West Orange): This zoo is small, so it’s perfect for exploring with children. You’ll find plenty of exotic animals, like alligators and jaguars, as well as animals native to New Jersey, like porcupines and peregrine falcons. Kids will also love the train rides and aerial adventure course.
3. Liberty Science Center (Jersey City): Older children won’t even realize all they are learning because they are having so much fun at this hands-on museum. Exhibits include Energy Quest, Skyscraper and a Touch Tunnel. You can even watch a movie in the nation’s largest IMAX dome.
4. Ocean City Boardwalk (Ocean City): Forget everything you think you know about the Jersey Shore. Ocean City, NJ is a dry town, which makes the boardwalk perfect for families. There are no bars or wild crowds, just lots of family-friendly eateries, amusement parks, and miniature golf courses.
5. Princeton University Art Museum (Princeton): A great first art museum for kids, the Princeton University Art Museum is large enough to showcase major artists, such as Warhol and Monet, yet small enough to be seen in an afternoon. Stop at the information desk and choose an age-appropriate packet to help your kids explore the art in-depth
6. Duke Farms (Hillsborough): Here you’ll find miles and miles of walking and biking trails, as well as 11 geocaches hidden on the property. Check the website for lots of family friendly activities, such as guided bike tours and mothly Nature Explorers programs for kids ages six to 10.
7. Adventure Aquarium (Camden): This aquarium has it all — seals, penguins, jellyfish, and lots of sharks. Kids will love the Touch a Shark exhibit and the Kids Zone. If you are visiting Philadelphia, it’s a snap to take the ferry from Penn’s Landing right to the aquarium. What a fun and relaxing way to travel.
8. Six Flags Great Adventure (Jackson): If you like thrills and spills, head to Six Flags Great Adventure where you’ll find rides ranging from the terrifying Kingda Ka roller coaster to the tame Looney Tunes themed rides for kids. Be sure to also check out Hurricane Harbor (water park) and Wild Safari (the largest drive-through safari outside of Africa).
Do you have any favorite must-visit spots in New Jersey? Just let us know in the comments section below.
Danielle Greco is a native of New Jersey who likes to brag about her home state as often as she can. She is a single mom to two wonderful children, ages 6 and 4, and can be found at 52 Brand New, where she blogs about a new experience she tries with her children each week.
Photo Credit: Simon