Hidden Gems of NJ: Educational Spots and Museums
The fam will learn about everything from golf to geology to pinball at these unique NJ spots.
Photo courtesy Silverball Museum Arcade
1000 Ocean Ave., Asbury Park
This throwback is filled with tons of vintage pinball games you can actually use. All machines are set to free play with an entry pass, so you won’t have to worry about plunking quarters while you try to beat the high score.
Photo courtesy the Grammy Museum Experience
165 Mulberry St., Newark
A new addition to the Prudential Center, this spot is a must for music lovers. There are interactive exhibits where kids can experience the sounds of Grammy-winning artists, and even a section dedicated to NJ legends like Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen and The Sugarhill Gang.
Photo courtesy WheatonArts and Cultural Center
1501 Glasstown Rd., Millville
If you’ve never seen glass being made, stop by The Glass Studio to watch the painstaking work of creating beautiful things. See examples of the fragile medium on display at the Museum of American Glass on the premises, plus make some creations of your own at a family art workshop.
PHOTO COURTESY The USGA Museum
77 Liberty Corner Rd., Liberty Corner
If you know what these initials stand for, this is the museum for you. The United States Golf Association Museum has rooms dedicated to legendary golfers like Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, plus an extensive history of the sport. After checking out the exhibits, head to the putting green where the kids can practice their short game.
PHOTO COURTESY The rutgers Geology Museum
Geology Hall, 85 Somerset St., New Brunswick
Rutgers is filled with must-see spots, like its spectacular gardens and Zimmerli Art Museum. You’ll want to wander through this equally awesome geology museum’s extensive collection of fossils, dinosaur bones and unique rocks.
Photo courtesy of ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / FREDER
1761 Rte. 9, Toms River
This bugseum is totally unique and perfect for kids (and grown-ups) who love all things creepy-crawly. The kids can pretend to be termites and crawl through a mud tube, or get up close to honeybees. The brave members of your crew can even touch a scorpion, tarantula or hissing cockroach.
PHOTO COURTESY Franklin Mineral Museum
32 Evans St., Franklin
NJ is home to some of the most spectacular fluorescent rocks in the world. At the Franklin Mineral Museum (and The Sterling Hill Mining Museum nearby), you can see these glow-in-the-dark specimens underground and fossils indoors, including a petrified wood collection. The kids can dig for their own “hidden gems.”
PHOTO COURTESY Drone Academy
99 US 202/31 S., Ringoes
The state’s first drone training flight school teaches kids to build and use their own drones. Your STEM-obsessed makers will be flying their masterpieces in no time.
PHOTO COURTESY New Jersey Astronomical Association
Voorhees State Park, Observatory Rd., High Bridge (Glen Gardner for GPS)
If you want to get a look at the sky through NJ’s largest public telescope, head to High Bridge. Visitors can take a tour and check out exhibits about space. On most Saturday nights, they’ll also get a chance to see the stars. Kids who register for the Young Astronomers Program will get plenty of hands-on learning. And if your little ones don’t stay up late, take them on select Sunday afternoons starting in June to see the sun in a whole new light.
245 Lake St., Upper Saddle River
This famed stone house dates back to 1739, and is managed by the Upper Saddle River Historical Society. The museum is home to cool annual events, like a maypole celebration in the spring.
1003 Morris Ave., Union
Part of Kean University, this museum was home to the first elected governor of NJ, William Livingston. Dating back to late 18th century, this historic home is filled with antique furniture, textiles and toys. Tour the mansion, where famous guests like George Washington and William Howard Taft have slept, and view the collection of historical artifacts like letters from Thomas Jefferson. Tea parties are also often hosted in the garden, which is home to some of the oldest trees in the state.