Looking for something to do with the kids? Looking to get closer to nature or history? Nothing is better than heading out for a fun family outing….nothing that is than a FREE family outing (or in some places, add a small fee for something extra). Here are just some of NJ Kids picks for a Fabulous and Free family outing. Multiple activities can be incorporated into these destinations since they can be both indoors and outdoors. Combine a picnic, scavenger hunt, hike, walking tour, with a little bit of history, art and nature! For more Fabulous and Free ideas, go to our website under things to do. You only need some creative planning.
Westpoint Military Academy, NY – There’s an onsite museum featuring a great weapons exhibit where you will see a full scale cadet barracks room, a cadet uniform room, and more. You may see Cadets onsite training and on duty. BONUS: There’s a fee for the one or two hour bus tour onsite; worth it for the history lesson! Plus nice park grounds to run around.
Statue of Liberty National Monument – There is no entrance fee to enter the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island. There is a fee to reserve a ticket to the crown. BONUS: Get there with the Statue Cruises leaving from NJ and NY daily (check schedules ahead of time). You’ll experience how it was to arrive New York Harbor as an immigrant.
Cohazink Zoo – NJ’s first zoo, it now houses over 200 birds and animals from around the world. BONUS: The natural landscaping (a river runs through the park) is perfect for an afternoon stroll.
NJ Botanical Garden, Skylands: The Garden of the Garden State - Wander through 96 acres of formal gardens, or along gentle paths winding through the woods. Each month, there are new blooms and hundreds of varieties. BONUS: Incorporate a hike and explore miles of marked trails among the 1000 acres of woodlands. Find out about structured walks that’s right for the season.
Environmental Centers throughout New Jersey are fantastic educational centers with programs, tours and exhibits. BONUS: Many may have a hiking trail or picnic area. Spend the day close to nature. Organize a scavenger hunt!
Farms throughout NJ welcome visitors! It’s a busy season for farmers. Each season features a different crop! Whether it’s the season for peaches, tomatoes, strawberries, pumpkins or apples, you are sure to find loads of activity. BONUS: Some are U-Pick Farms. Go online on our site to find farms and their seasonal activities.
Freylinghausen Arboretum – Spend the day exploring the blooming landscaped gardens, including wetlands, native woodlands and the meadow. BONUS: There is a Braille Garden for our sight-impaired friends.
Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge - The center covers 7,768 acres of varied habitats and is an important resting and feeding area for more than 244 species of birds; Fox, deer, muskrat, turtles, fish, frogs and a wide variety of wildflowers and plants can be found on the refuge. BONUS: Visitor Center and miles of trails and boardwalks to explore.
The Raptor Trust - Close to the Great Swamp, this is one of the premier wild bird rehabilation centers located in central NJ. Open to the public 7 days a week. You can view at close range the many hawks, eagles, falcons and owls that are permanent residents at the facility. There is no charge to visit, but a modest donation of $2.00 per person is encouraged.
Gateway National Recreation Area - Thousands of ocean and bay front areas for swimming, sailing, fishing, bird watching and of course nature hikes. Fort Hancock and the Sandy Hook Lighthouse are also located here.
The New Jersey Naval Museum – Museums and grounds are free. In the museum, you will find lots of cool gadgets and a collection of unique items that were used during the WWII, and on the grounds, authentic torpedos and submarines. BONUS: There’s a small fee to tour the actual USS Ling submarine where you can experience life underneath the sea.
Howell Living History Museum – The working historical farm demonstrates life from the 1700s; sites include animals, crops, barns, farmhouse and more. BONUS: They offer a number of special events and activities every month.
Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park – This small museum is dedicated to Thomas Edison and his work. BONUS: Enjoy a beautiful walk or picnic in renovated Edison State Park.