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50 Free Things to Do In NJ This Summer

Need some inspiration this summer? Check out these completely free activities around the state!



Ready for some summer fun? How about completely free summer fun? From outdoor movies and waterfall hikes, to fishing and fireworks -- there’s no shortage of things to do with the family in NJ.

1. Grab some popcorn and catch a free indoor movie (Hello Coco for the 32nd time).

2. Take a walk to one of these spectacular waterfalls -- they’re especially impressive the day after it’s rained.

3. Brush up on your history and see where George Washington once stayed at the Morristown National Historical Park.

4. Lions, tigers and bears, oh my! Spend some quality time with your kids’ favorite animals at the Cape May County Zoo or the Cohanzick Zoo. Admission and parking are both free.

5. Try out a brand new playground -- here are the best playgrounds in NJ.

6. Let loose at a good, old-fashioned county fair: Try the Monmouth County Fair (July 25-29; free for kids 12 and under) for rides, games and good food.

7. Check out bald eagles, ruins and forts on the beautiful hiking trails along of the Maurice River Bluffs.

8. Give back to the community by volunteering as a family.

9. Skate at one of NJ's many roller rinks.

10. Support your local firefighters at the Manasquan Fireman’s Fair from July 31 to August 4.

11. Be an All-Star athlete for the day at the Hall of Fame Sports Museum.

12.  Channel your inner marine biologist at the Marine Mammal Stranding Center where you can get your feet wet and rescue a stranded (mock) dolphin or sea turtle.             

13. Have you been to a sprayground yet? Grab bathing suits and pick a great one near you.

14. Explore the great outdoors, indoors at the Warren E. Fox Nature Center.

15. Tour a lighthouse -- both the Sea Girt Lighthouse and the Barnegat Lighthouse are free to visitors.

16. Catch a free movie under the stars -- check out the locations statewide.

17. Go on an art scavenger hunt at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. Family First Sundays on the first Sunday of every month means you can take part in a host of hands-on activities and take a guided tour. The Princeton Museum has great free art programs, too.

18. Stroll the boardwalk at Jenkinson’s, Wildwood or Ocean City and be sure to sample some salt water taffy (ok fine, you’ll have to pay for the taffy).

19. Grab your helmets (and a picnic lunch) and go for a family bike ride at Duke Farms in Hillsborough. You can bikeshare for a small fee if you don’t own a bike as well.

20. Catch a concert -- Many local libraries put on weekly concerts, or you can check your local park for a lineup, like the Grace Lord Park in Boonton’s Concert in the Park series.

21. Pack a picnic (and some sunscreen) and enjoy a day on the beach at one of these free NJ beaches.

22. Bowl for free at one of these local alleys.

23. Fireworks aren’t just for the fourth of July! Catch a dazzling display in Wildwood every Friday at 10 pm and Seaside every Wednesday at 9:30 pm. Check out the full list of NJ fireworks.

24. Enjoy a leisurely day and celebrate the Morris Canal at the Canal Day Music and Crafts Festival on August 18.

25. Go camping on the beach: Head to Seaside Heights for a night under the stars complete with a bonfire.

26. Build something by hand at one of the free Home Depot Workshops every first Saturday morning of the month.

27. Go crabbing at the Jersey Shore.

28. Check out our 101 Days of Summer for daily activities, travel and events.

29. Enjoy a warm summer night with a backyard campfire - make one of these delicious twists on a s’more.

30. Learn about the men and women who keep us safe at the New Jersey State Police Museum.

31. Hit up one of the 400 public lakes in NJ and go fishing.

32. Take a pretzel factory tour, and grab some on your way out.

33. Check with your local Barnes and Noble for storybook readings schedules.

34. Join a book club at your local library - many libraries have summer programs with prizes, scavenger hunts and more.

35. Try geocaching in a local park.

36. See the famous (and scary!) Tripod Rock and scramble underneath it if you dare!

37. Hike down the Shore Trail at the Palisades Interstate Park and swing on a swing out over the Hudson River.

38. See New York City from the water in a kayak -- borrow one for free at Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse.

39. Learn about nature on a guided nature trail every first Sunday and third Tuesday of the month at the Meadowlands, and every first Tuesday and third Sunday of the month in Teaneck.

40. See nearly 5,000 different species of seashells at the Discovery Seashell Museum in Ocean City

41. Check out the Frog Pond at Buttermilk Falls Natural Area and try to catch one!

42. Build an amazing sandcastle. We've got tips!

43. Catch a free Kiddie Beach Show concert every Monday night on the Jenkinson’s boardwalk

44. Spend a rainy day at your local Michael's for crafts like making slime, Father's Day cards, cookies and more.

45. Head to the air conditioned mall and free storytime on Tuesday at some Pottery Barn Kids locations.

46. Catch some waves at Crystal Beach, Downtown Beach, and Manasquan Inlet, the best beaches to body surf in New Jersey.

47. Celebrate the beauty of butterflies at the Butterfly Festival in Pennington, on August 4, which features an insect zoo, exhibits, beer garden, parades and of course, butterflies.

48. Try your hand at kite flying on the next windy day at one of these flying hot spots: Overpeck Park in Ridgefield Park, Van Saun County Park in Paramus, and Terhune Park in Teaneck.

49. Go to one of the Garden State's many fairs and festivals. Across NJ you'll find inflatables, petting zoos, clowns, face painting, animals and more.

50. Head to the shore and climb aboard whale and dolphin watching excursions. There's nothing like seeing your fave nautical mammals in person.

More Like This: 
Free Things to Do in NJ in July 
Our Ultimate Guide to Summer in NJ
Fairs and Festivals in NJ


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