Often when we think of summer going on vacation comes to mind.  But as staycations become more popular and you find yourself looking for things to do with the kids, New Jersey has lots of options close to home that you might never have thought about.   Play tourist and check out one of the many attractions our state has to offer from lighthouses to dinosaurs, elephants, and much more.  

  1. Liberty State Park offers dramatic waterfront views, a visitor’s center, interpretive center, and picnic areas. Visit two of America’s most notable visitor experiences – the Statue of Liberty National Monument on Liberty Island and the Ellis Island National Immigration Museum on Ellis Island with round trip ferry transportation from Statue Cruises.

  2. Nearby the Liberty Science Center is a 300,000-square-foot not-for-profit learning center. Dedicated to bringing the power, promise, and pure fun of science and technology to people of all ages, they have 12 museum exhibition halls, a live animal collection with 110 species, giant aquariums, a 3D theater, the world’s largest IMAX Dome Theater, and even a tornado-force wind simulator.  

  3. Lucy the Elephant stands a majestic 65 feet tall and is a historic landmark located in Margate.  On the tour you will learn about Lucy’s unique architecture and history, and you will get to climb a spiral staircase through her insides providing a spectacular 360° view of the surrounding shore area.

  4. Visit one of 11 different lighthouses across the 130 miles of coastline.  National Lighthouse Day is August 7.  Activities include special tour hours and free climbing for children up to age 14.  Participants will be able to earn a Junior Lighthouse Keeper Certificate and souvenir sticker by answering questions on the specific characteristics and history of the lighthouse visited. Visit njlhs.org for more details.  

  5. Dinosaurs have roared back to life at the new location of Field Station Dinosaurs.   Over thirty life-sized, realistic dinosaurs (including the ninety foot long Argentinosaurus, so big it's visible from the Empire State Building) are on display.  The story of the dinosaurs is vividly presented on twenty acres of wild, unpredictable woods, mysterious pathways, and mountain trails. 8/5, 8/19,8/26: Super Stars of Science.

  6. Take to the seas on a whale or dolphin watching cruise.  If your family is looking for fun, it can be found on the waters around Avalon, Atlantic City, Cape May and Wildwood.  

  7. Visit America’s most decorated battleship in Camden.   At the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial not only do you see exhibits of artifacts from the ship’s past, but you are put into the exhibit as you go through the tour route. Sit in the chair from which Admiral Halsey commanded the fleet. Stretch out on the bunks where the sailors slept. Climb into the 16” gun turret and learn how the projectiles were loaded. 8/12: WII Victory Day On The Battleship.

  8. See where one of America’s greatest inventors lived at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange.   Thomas Edison’s home and laboratory are a step back in time, when machines were run by belts and pulleys and music was played on phonographs.  8/25: Fee Free Days.

Jeongmin Lee