JiLLY’s STORES / Ocean City

Are you ready for some summer fun? How about completely free summer fun? From sunrise at the beach to outdoor movies and concerts, to various hikes and free park admission, to ice cream making and kite flying, there is something for everyone in your family to enjoy. It’s time to go out and make some new memories!

1. Grab some popcorn and catch a free outdoor movie under the stars.

2. Take a walk to one of NJ’s spectacular waterfalls. They’re especially impressive the day after a rainstorm.

3. If you haven’t ventured to some of New Jersey’s beautiful state parks, now’s the time to change that. 

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


5. The Raptor Trust Bird Rehabilitation and Education Center in Millington is a great place to see hawks, owls, eagles, vultures and falcons that have been rescued and rehabilitated. Walk the grounds for no charge, or ask for a staff-led talk for groups (cost applies).

5. Try out a brand new playground. Here are some of the most unique playgrounds in NJ.

STAFF PHOTO / Mercer County L.E.A.D. Fest

6. What says summer more than an outdoor carnival or festival? Many have free admission so you can spend your money on what really matters – funnel cake or 50/50 raffles or trying to win an overstuffed bear! County fairs are taking place across the state.

7. Walk around a downtown area. Red Bank, Somerville, Summit, Westfield, Morristown, Lambertville, RidgewoodHaddonfield, Freehold Borough and Historic Smithville are some of our favorites!

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

9. You can never have too much ice cream in the summer. Howell Living History Farm hosts a free ice cream party in July – in addition to other free Saturday programs throughout the year.

10. Kids Eat Free at restaurants like Applebee’s, Denny’s, IHOP, Johnny Rocket’s, Qdoba Mexican Grill, Red Robin and more.

11. Enjoy the peace and serenity of a beautiful sunrise at the beach. Check the times for both twilight and sunrise so you don’t miss any of the sun’s rays come over the horizon.

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. Summer music has a different type of feel. Make new memories, or relive old ones, at an outdoor concert.

17. The Princeton University Art Museum is always free, but fun this summer is a series of Outdoor Walking Tours on the weekends.


18. Stroll the boardwalks and be “shore” to sample some saltwater taffy or buy a hermit crab. Make sure you grab your sunscreen and a hat!

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

20. Pick-your-own blueberries, lavender and peaches, among other crops, take place throughout the summer months. Although admission to the farms are usually free, you will have to pay for everything you pick. Locations like Hallock’s U-Pick Farm in New Egypt or Lee Turkey Farm in East Windsor offer a variety of produce crops almost all year round.

21. Taking in fresh air is calming, and Jersey has many beautiful gardens you can walk through for beauty, as well as peace of mind. A treasured part of the 180-acre Rutgers Gardens is the bamboo forest. Essex County Presby Memorial Iris Gardens is the largest public iris garden in the United States, and is a living museum of botanical preservation. Morven Museum & Garden will occasionally offer free admission to the grounds.

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


22. Summertime is no time to slack off on sports! Join the Ultimate Beach Frisbee Tournament to show off your skills. You can also bring the kids to watch a Beach Roundnet Open tournament.

23. And speaking of beach sports, why not visit go fly some kites on the beach, either on your own or at a super kite festival.

23. Fireworks aren’t just for the Fourth of July! Catch a dazzling display in Wildwood every Friday at 10 pm and Seaside Heights every Wednesday at 9:30 pm.


24. The Atlantic City Airshow returns to “ooh”s and “aah”s as the whole family delights in watching expertly skilled pilots dip and dive over the Atlantic Ocean. Find a spot anywhere along the Atlantic City beach and boardwalk to view the amazing demonstrations in the sky.

25. Many food truck festivals offer free admission – though, of course, anything you would like to sample will have a fee.

26. Build something by hand at one of the Home Depot workshops. On the first Saturday of every month, from 9 am to noon, order and complete a free Kids Workshop Kit of the Month.

27. Go crabbing at the Jersey Shore.


28. Get in on the fun at a National Night Out celebration by you, where the kids can meet local law enforcement plus see helicopters in action. NNO is held the first Tuesday of August each year; this year, departments will celebrate on Aug. 1.

29. Enjoy a warm summer night with a backyard campfire and some s’mores (try these special treats, too!).

30. Put on your walking shoes and take a hike through one of these beautiful areas. New Jersey isn’t called the Garden State for nothing!

31. Hit up a lake in NJ to cool off (all you have to do is pay is parking!).

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

33. Don’t let your kids experience the summer slide. Visit a local Barnes & Noble to read a book, or attend an author meet-and-greet at many local libraries. Some libraries have scavenger hunts or reading programs so kids can be rewarded for their love of reading.

35. Try geocaching in a local park.

36. See the famous (and scary!) Tripod Rock. The whole family can do this easy walk in the woods to see this glacial Tripod Rock.

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 from The Downtown Boathouse. Or drift along the Delaware River in a canoe, tube or whitewater raft.

39. Tune into Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, which starts July 23 this year! And while you are in Shark Mode, Adventure Aquarium is welcoming back the Scuba Tooth Fairy for a few weeks.

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!

PEDDLER’S VILLAGE / Stories in Sand

42. Build an amazing sandcastle. We’ve got tips! Right over the bridge in PA, Peddler’s Village has its Stories in the Sand exhibit up through the end of August.

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

44. Cruise nights are all the rage – not road rage! – for young and old car enthusiasts alike. Flemington, Somerville, Smithville and Manasquan have classic car nights scheduled throughout the summer.

45. Arts and crafts shows are great ways to support vendors and artisans and get some beautiful decor for your home or office.

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

47. Butterfly gardens and parks are a beautiful way to experience nature before the Monarchs migrate to Mexico.

48. Rock to the beat at an outdoor summer concert. Pack a picnic basket, bring a blanket and watch the sunset while you listen to some jammin’ tunes.

49. Is it too early to think about Christmas? If not, there are many Christmas in July events religious and non-religious families can enjoy. Wildwood will hold a Golf Cart Parade or meet with Santa Claus in North Wildwood. The Wildwood Crest Festival & Boat Parade is sure to delight as well.

50. Soar into space in the New Jersey State Museum’s Planetarium! The Planetarium regularly premiers new and exciting shows for a variety of ages that feature state-of-the-art Full DomeVideo. The Planetarium offers both traditional sky and full-spectrum laser programs.

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