FREE! FREE! FREE!
We all love getting things for free!
We don’t always have to spend money to have fun with the family. There are quite a few New Jersey activities that do not require even a penny once you are there. Put your wallet away and enjoy quality time together! Here are some great places to enjoy with the family at no admission cost. Explore as many as you can! Please confirm times before going. Some places may required timed admissions.
FREE PLACES TO VISIT & ENJOY
Beaches and the Jersey Shore - Enjoy some relaxing moments by the water while our weather still allows it. Play on the sandy beaches, walk the boardwalks, and sit back with a good book, some music, and great food. Soak in the sun’s rays now before our colder months arrive, and breathe in the invigorating, fresh air. Check out each beach exit along the GSP. Beaches are generally free before Memorial Day and after Labor Day.
Batsto Village - 31 Batsto Road, Hammonton: Known for its historical significance in New jersey, dating back to 1766, this preserved-in-time village, with museum, sawmill, gristmill, post office and more, is open to all for free. Guided tours are available for a minimal $3 per adult and $1 per child.
Big Brook Park Fossil Site - 521 County Rd 520, Marlboro. This park offers wetlands, rolling hills and open meadows with beautiful, maturing trees perfect for hiking and wildlife enthusiasts. Big brook drains into a swimming reservoir and people are welcome to hunt for fossils in the brook.
Cape May County Park & Zoo - 707 RT 9N, Cape May Court House: Open daily from 10am to 4pm, (except Christmas) this park and zoo offers free admission and free car parking. Enjoy strolling the grounds, admiring all the animals and exhibits, then take a break for a picnic lunch or some playtime on their two playgrounds. For a list of other Zoos to visit, LINK to "Where to See the Animals"
Center for Contemporary Art - 2020 Burnt Mills Rd, Bedminster Township: Free admission to roam the halls and exhibits of this contemporary art gallery. Explore the talents of renown and emerging artists alike, and perhaps use this inspiration to create masterpieces of your own at home. If interested, this center also offers wonderful classes for a cost or a discounted fee for members.
Cohanzick Zoo - 45 Mayor Aitken Drive, Bridgeton: Open daily from 10am to 3pm, this small zoo allows you to walk around, for free, admiring all your favorite animals. A few high contact areas during the pandemic are closed, however, with new, one-way paths and requirements for mask-wearing and social-distancing, the majority is open for your enjoyment.
Duke Farms - 1112 Dukes Parkway, West Hillsborough. Over 1000 acres of beautiful, explorable spaces. Enjoy a nice stroll as you learn about conservation efforts and how you can fight climate change. On site is also a farm-sourced, award-winning cafe if you’re hungry. There are additional, optional classes and events as well if you don’t mind spending a little, which are usually around $5pp.
Environmental Education Center - 190 Lord Stirling Rd, Basking Ridge. Located in Lord Stirling Park, this center offers 9 miles of beautiful hiking trails, exhibits, a resource library and occasional special events and festivals. There are interactive educational materials as part of the Great Swamp Experience which highlight scientific information about the Great Swamp. Children will enjoy crawling through the beaver lodge, the play area as well as the interactive exhibits.
Visit the Environmental Education Centers near you.
Frelinghuysen Arboretum - 353 East Hanover Avenue, Morris Township:
Horticultural landscapes for your viewing pleasure, open Saturdays and Sundays, 8am to dusk. Enjoy a stroll, a family backpack, or a group tour, and a delicious lunch break at their Café. Before heading home, you can also view their shop should you be needing a few new plants for the home. Spend the day exploring the blooming landscaped gardens, including wetlands, native woodlands and the meadow. There is a Braille Garden for our sight-impaired friends. Before heading home, you can also view their shop should you be needing a few new plants for the home.
Howell Living History Farm - 70 Woodens Lane, Hopewell Township: Experience a local, working farm. Admission, tours, and educational programs are free. Enjoy some fresh air and learning about all the hard work it takes to be a successful farmer. This farm also has a huge corn maze which is free for children 4 and under, however, $8 for older kids and $10 for adults.
Hacklebarney State Park - 119 Hacklebarney Rd, Long Valley, NJ. Gorgeous, relaxing walking trails perfect for a stroll and hours of fishing. Pack some food for a picnic and your fishing rod, and enjoy the peace and quiet of nature.
Leonard J Buck Garden - 11 Layton Rd, Far Hills. Botanical garden with amazing displays of Japanese primroses and azaleas. Beautiful and fragrant colorful grasses, flowers and plants abound which will enhance your stroll at any time throughout the year. There’s a suggestion of $1-$3pp donation but this fee is not a requirement.
Marine Mammal Stranding Center - 3625 Brigantine Boulevard, Brigantine: Open Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 2pm, tour this center that saves and houses stranded and injured marine life. Tour the pool house, the Quonset hut, the museum, and gift shop as well as the observation tank. Learn all about our local marine life and ways to keep them safe.
New Jersey Maritime Museum - 528 Dock Road, Beach Haven
Open 10am to 4pm Fridays-Sundays, this free museum, by the beach, invites you to come learn about our maritime history, view artifacts from shipwrecks and exhibits about navigational equipment, marine life saving procedures, as well as historical diving gear to name a few.
Paterson Great Falls National Park - 72 McBride Avenue Extension, Paterson. A most magical and peaceful place to enjoy waterfalls, geology, and great, natural trails and landmarks. Self-guided tours and Junior Ranger booklets are available for all.
Presby Memorial Iris Garden - 474 Upper Mountain Avenue, Montclair.
Referred to as the “rainbow on the hill”, this gorgeous garden invites you to soak in the beauty of over 100,000 blooms, some of which bloom late into the fall. Don’t miss your opportunity for a pleasant walk through their beautiful grounds.
Reeves Reed Arboretum -165 Hobart Ave, Summit.
There’s always something beautiful to explore here on these 13.5 acres of natural beauty with historic and contemporary gardens and 6 acres of woodland forest. Offering activities in gardening, hiking, art, bird watching, community involvement and so much more. There are also multiple free classes and fun events every month.
Rutgers Gardens - 130 Log Cabin Road, New Brunswick.
Tour 180-acres of fragrant botanical gardens which are also used as a living laboratory by students and staff of Rutgers University for their studies and experiments. Enjoy the sites, the trails, the shop, and many learning opportunities along the way. Open Saturdays – Thursdays from 8am-7pm.
Twin Lights Lighthouse - 2 Lighthouse Rd, Highlands. Explore the grounds and breathtaking views of NY Harbor and the Jersey Shore for free and schedule a tour any day between 9am and 4pm.
Visit the other New Jersey Lighthouses, -> "Visit Amazing New Jersey Lighthouses And Start Your Climb."
Willowwood Arboretum - 300 Longview Rd, Far Hills. 130 acres of beautiful farmland with over 2,100 native and exotic plants and trees. Open dusk until dawn, enjoy trails, gardens and a babbling brook
BURN SOME ENERGY ON A HIKE
Here are some ideas, but don't miss our big list from "The Great Outdoors - Guide to parks, nature, trails and gardens"Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
Hike on boardwalks through a swamp to observe wildlife in this interesting park, covering 7,768 acres of varied habitats. There are easy hikes with many ADA accessible. This 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. Stop by the Visitor Center to get a map of their miles of trails and boardwalks to explore.
Liberty State Park
Enjoy miles of nature with the NYC skyline as the backdrop. Central Railroad Terminal of New Jersey AND Richard Sullivan Nature Area are adjacent and there are ample spots to play and picnic.
Trailside Nature and Science Center – It may seem small, but it is chock full of displays, including live animals, dioramas, the night sky and more. Located in Watchung Reservation, there are miles of trails, a deserted village, and a fabulous playground in the “Loop”.
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. It is free admission until Memorial Day.
Warren E Fox Nature Center - 109 Boulevard Rt 50 S, Mays Landing - With over 15 miles of hiking trails, a nature center with wonderful, educational exhibits, a helpful staff, and occasional free events and classes, this is a great option for quality, family time this fall. Open 8am to 4pm daily.
OBSERVE WILDLIFE AT A SANCTUARY
Hawk Rise Sanctuary - A short, but beautiful hike along a converted landfill, marshlands and wooded boardwalk. Interpretative signs explain the history of Hawk Rise and provide a good lesson on landfills and how they can be returned to nature PLUS lots of birds.
The Scherman - Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary - Owned and operated by the New Jersey Audubon Society, it has 276 acres of woodland, field, and floodplain habitat that is home to over 200 species of wildlife over the course of a year. The Sanctuary is open to the public and offers a variety of programs throughout the year. Be sure to stop by the visitor’s center to see some live animals.
The Raptor Trust - Close to the Great Swamp, this is one of the premier wild bird rehabilitation centers located in central New Jersey. You can view at close range the many hawks, eagles, falcons and owls that are permanent residents at the facility.
Poricy Park Conservancy – You can explore over 250 acres of open space, wildlife and their habitats, dig in prehistoric fossil beds, and wander through the Historic Murray Farmhouse.
Several kid-friendly museums are always gratis (or pay-what-you-wish), and tons more offer special free museum days. Here's a link to the Free Family Friendly Museums for Kids In and Around NJ.
ATTEND FREE VIRTUAL CLASSES
For more virtual programs, visit our virtual pages LINK
Art: Multiple, free art & design classes from MOMA (Museum of Modern Art-NYC)
Schooling: Free classes in all core subjects, plus computer programming, life skills, arts & humanities, and test prep.
Woodworking Basics: Learn woodworking skills, for free, virtually through videos and step-by-step program.
Quality time alone or with the family doesn’t mean you need to shell out any money. New Jersey has quite a few wonderful, free activities which are perfect to enjoy right now before the cold weather greets us. Grab the picnic basket, some good shoes, and a camera, and enjoy as many of the above free opportunities as you can!
Happy Free and Fun!!!
***As with any activity or business we mention, please always double check with them directly before partaking in their services in the event information may have changed for any reason***
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