Summer is a great time to reconnect as a family.   Going on outings helps to create memories and have fun but it can be costly to get into all of the fun attractions in NJ.  Save some money this summer with these 10 free and fabulous family friendly things to do with kids. 

Beat the heat and get soaked at a spray ground like Dorbrook Recreation Area Spray Ground in Colts Neck or Ponderosa Park Spray Ground in Scotch Plains.  See our complete list for one near you.   

Have an artful adventure and do a self-guided scavenger hunt at the Princeton University Art Museum.  They have programs for 3 – 8 years and also for the older kids ages 7 – 12 years old.   

Visit the farm and see some animals at Historic Longstreet Farm.  See the Music Man and enjoy music from the 1890s as Rich Marzec plays on the piano and accordion July 3 & Aug 14.  Celebrate Independence Day as it was during the 1890s. Patriotism was celebrated with music, games and good picnic food. Join the staff at Longstreet Farm as they celebrate the holiday with games and contests on July 4. Or see what the blacksmith is making in his workshop July 10 and Aug 14.  

Take an evening hay ride at the Howell Living History Museum.   The evening hayride lasts 20 minutes, through the 130 acre working farm. During the program, you can also take self-guided tours, picnic in the picnic area and join a marshmallow roast.  

Explore Huber Woods Environmental Center with your family and friends.  They provide a free backpack program which contains all you need to make your self-guided nature walk filled with adventure and exploration. Pick a backpack for Pre-K, Forest, or Meadow.  Or you can do the tree challenge. Use of the backpack is free but you must leave your valid NJ drivers license with the docent.   They also have a small reptile house with turtles, snakes, and other reptiles. 

Wander the garden, pack a picnic, and then drop-in for a surprise story time at Deep Cut Gardens July 2 and Aug 6.  Join them for a reading from a nature- or garden-related book. If it’s cold or rainy they’ll be inside the Horticultural Center, but if it’s fair they will be out in the garden. A clue at the entrance will lead you to the secret spot! Recommended for ages 3-7.   

Visit the Raptor Trust, one of the best wild bird rehabilitation centers in the United States, for a unique opportunity to view at close range the many hawks, eagles, falcons and owls that are permanent residents at the facility.   Entrance is free but a donation of $2 a person is encouraged.  July 2 and Sept 3 they are hosting a special guided tour for a small charge.  Learn about the Trust and hear some of the fascinating stories of their fifty resident birds.  Find out more about what you can do to help wild birds during this bird-busy time of year.  Pre-registration is required for this program. 

Bike or hike new trails through a variety of habitats, wander an indoor orchid garden, explore an outdoor sculpture gallery, or visit the Great Falls at Duke Farms. They offer free activity sheets you can print prior to visiting and are designed for families to learn at their own pace.  For a small fee they offer a variety of family friendly programs.  You can attend a nature or horticulture program, take an organic gardening class, go on a geocaching adventure or bring the children for a Family Wonder Walk.

The Morris Museum located in historic Morristown boasts a permanent collection of more than 40,000 objects ranging from rocks and minerals to model trains, as well as one of the country’s largest collections of mechanical musical instruments and automata.  They are running several special exhibits this summer such as Toothpick World, Planet Ocean, and For Amusement Only: Arcades and Cafes.   On the second and third Thursday of each month admission is Pay as You Wish from 4 – 8 pm.  Or if you have Bank of America card the first full weekend each month is free.  

Why not spend Friday nights at the Drive-in Movies?   July 15, 22, 29 head to Duke Island Park in Bridgewater you can travel back in time with drive-in movies just like in the 50's - complete with large screen and popcorn.   They start at 8:30pm