Your Summer Bucket List
Things to do in NJ with Kids this August
From fairs and festivals to spraygrounds and sand castles, we’ve been collecting hundreds of summer activities throughout New Jersey—good ol’ inspiration for family fun!
Before we know it, though, all these long, hot days will be a thing of the past. Make the most of them with our end-of-summer bucket list—31 must-do activities to banish the phrase “I’m bored” from your kids’ (and your) vocabulary.
Outdoor events = family fun
1 Carouse at a carnival. In the mood for rides, pulled-pork sandwiches, and the chance to win giant stuffed animals? Then Jersey fairs and carnivals are just the ticket! Your kids (and you) will love the games of chance that promise a prize, along with Ferris wheels and funnel cake!
2 Feast at a food festival. From BBQ bonanzas to ice-cream dreams, August offers food festivals celebrating everything from grape stomping to Jersey tomatoes. So check out our list, pack up the kids, and take a bite!
3 Get crafty. Do you and the kids share an artistic bent? We’ve got just the thing! Check out our list of all the NJ arts and crafts fairs across the state to find a crafty event near you!
4 Sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” What’s synonymous with summer? Baseball! Jersey’s minor-league games are a big hit with families due to friendly atmospheres—not to mention fair prices and interactive fan fun. So grab a hot dog and watch young prospects hustle!
5 See a show! From concerts to outdoor theater and movies, we’ve got more than 100 performances on our calendar through the end of the summer. Don’t miss out on a chance to watch amazing family-friendly shows.
Explore on and off the beaten path
6 Coast on over to thrilling rides. Nothing says summer like a trip to an amusement park, and nothing says thrilling like an adrenaline-boosting roller coaster ride! Coasters aren’t just for the big kids. There’s fun for the little ones, too!
7 Set sail for a pirate adventure. Ahoy, mateys! What kid doesn’t go through a pirate stage? Give your little buccaneer the adventure of a lifetime at one of Jersey’s pirate adventures.
8 Journey under the Earth. Explore one of the coolest places in New Jersey, the mines at the Sterling Hill Mining Museum, which contain more than 300 kinds of minerals, about 50 of which glow!
9 Go tubing. Get ready for a scenic ride down Jersey’s waterways. Before you know it you’ll be at the end of your journey, and the kids will be begging to go rafting again!
10 Test your skills at an arcade. From Space Invaders to Dance Dance Revolution, arcades have grown since their heyday in the ‘70s. You’ll still find classic skee ball, pinball, and Pac-Man machines, so get out there and turn in your tickets for a prize behind the counter.
12 Play a game of tag. Remember how much fun hide-and-seek was when your kids hadn’t figured out every hiding spot in the house? Laser tag is a way to bring back the magic.
13 Go rock climbing. Let’s face it, the bounce house is not for you. Try climbing at one of NJ’s climate-controlled facilities! It’s an activity you can share with the family. Plus, kids will just love the competitive aspect (Quick! Race to the top to beat Mom!)
Look no further than your own backyard...
14 Gaze at the stars. Any clear night is a perfect time for stargazing! We have a list of observatories, too.
15 Camp out! Don’t deny the pleasures of s’mores and the great outdoors—even in your own yard! Sleep under those stars in tents.
16 Run through the sprinkler! Nothing fancy is required. And the kids might inspire you to take some passes, too.
17 Go Jersey Fresh! Garden with the kids who can help you weed and water. Plus, they’ll be invested in eating their veggies!
18 Capture a moment in time. Fill a coffee can with mementos, letters, drawings—anything—and bury it in the yard as a time capsule to treasure in the future!
19 Host a Red, White, and Blue BBQ! Go for Americana in all its glory by hosting a classic barbeque to celebrate summer.
…Or your living room (or kitchen)
20 Organize a playdate. All you need is a few essentials (googly eyes, anyone?) and maybe a bit of patience. Be sure to check out our list of the five items you need for a successful playdate in which there are lots of smiles all around (and minimal fighting).
21 Cue a Movie. On a rainy evening, curl up on the couch with your kids for a family movie night. You’ll never regret spending time with your kids, so go ahead—let them pick a flick and pop some corn!
22 Stretch. Kids and adults can learn a ton from yoga. From breathing techniques to balance to building strong and flexible bodies, it’s a great way to relax and focus together. If your kids are young, help them through the process, showing how to properly position their bodies.
23 Cook with your kids. Turn cooking into a fun learning experience rather than a chore. Kids can measure, pour, and stir. Teach them all about the ingredients, and make the recipes nutritional so they learn the importance of healthy eating.
24 Make your own ice cream. All you need is two zip-top bags (one quart-sized, one gallon-sized), whole milk, vanilla, sugar, and salt. And a whole lot of shaking—the kids love this part!
Don’t forget it’s all about family time.
25 Bike around the neighborhood. Enjoy the summer sun as a family with this inexpensive and environmentally-friendly outing. And did you know that New Jersey is home to many bike-friendly trails and parks? We have maps available for download.
26 Go for a walk. Catch up on the day’s events by taking a stroll around the block.
27 Break out the board games. Some of the best family time can come from embracing an unplanned opportunity.
28 Listen in at storytime. Visit storytime at a local library and be delighted by great books you’ve probably never heard of.
29 Venture to a new playground. Have your kids worn out the swings at your neighborhood playground? Find new acres of fun at the fabulous parks we’ve listed just for you.
30 Play dress up. From ball gowns to fireman outfits, kids will love acting out new characters, especially if you play along!
31 Trade babysitting. Don’t forget that you need some quality time, too. At some point this month, make it a point to get out of the house, sans kids. For reliable and affordable childcare, check out our ideas for swapping babystitting with friends and neighbors.
Even more fun ideas from NJ Family: