GREENWOOD GARDENS

1. We aren’t called the Garden State for nothing! There are beautiful parks and gardens you can explore, especially during a springtime flower festival.

2. Walk around Branch Brook Park in Newark in April to see the beautiful cherry blossom trees in full bloom.

3. You can add in a history lesson by visiting a national park. Certain parks have free admission on select days.

SOMERSET PATRIOTS

4. Take the kids out to a ball game. Minor League Baseball stadiums across the state have discounted tickets, activities for kids, great stadium food and fireworks.

5. If baseball isn’t your sport, you can watch plenty of football, tennis, soccer and lacrosse matches across the state, both at the professional and amateur levels.

SIX FLAGS HURRICANE HARBOR

6. Hurricane Harbor will unveil major upgrades this year. New attractions will include water slides and a splash area for younger kids.

7. There are lots of thrilling roller coasters around the state if your crew is brave enough.

8. A petting zoo is a great place to visit as well. Just make sure you wash your kids’ hands after they feed the goats and sheep.

9. Refuges are a great place to see cute and cuddly wildlife while learning about their environments and how to protect them. Places like the Raptor Trust or Popcorn Park Zoo will teach your kids the importance of being kind to animals as well as conservation efforts.

©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / LANA2011

10. Go horseback riding. Mercer County Stables offers a program to the public, while other stables offer lessons and even adaptive programs for kids who are neurodiverse, like Pony Power Therapies in Mahwah.

11. If you can spend the day near Cape May, a whale or dolphin watching tour aboard a boat is an interesting outdoor adventure on the high seas.

12. Explore a new city, or new places within a familiar city. NYC and Philly are a car or train ride away. Walk through the neighborhoods looking for architecture and history, create your own pizza or dessert tour, or check out where famous movies were filmed.

13. Such a simple but always fun activity is taking the kids to their favorite playground. They can climb up the tower, move across the monkey bars and fly down the slide.

KEN BRASWELL/SHOREGRAFX / Highlands St. Patrick’s Day Parade

14. Parades are a fun, free way to get outside and enjoy your favorite national holiday. Whether it’s St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4 or Labor Day, bring your folding chairs and snacks and line the streets to watch the bands and floats stroll by.

15. Another hallmark of summer is a fireworks display. Head to your favorite Independence Day celebration, theme park or boardwalk on select nights to see the sky light up in color.

16. Consider planting a garden in your backyard. Jersey is known for its tomatoes and corn, so why not try growing your own? Get a small starter kit and you’ll have basil, peppers and lilies growing before your very eyes. The Master Gardeners are a good resource for tips and hold gardening (as well as composting) workshops throughout the year.

17. There are lots of great spots to go birding, Cape May being the premier area. But all you have to do is go into your backyard and look for wing colors and listen for songs. During the winter you’ll see geese, turkey vultures and if you’re lucky, the occasional Bald Eagle.

18. While you’re out and about, consider nature photography. Nowadays smartphones take such high-quality pics that you can sit outside and get some great shots. Consider printing and making them into a photo album for your coffee table.

19. It’s also time to plan a trip to a pick-your-own farm for blueberries, cherries, strawberries and peaches. Go home and bake them into a pie.

20. There are flower farms, too, where you can cut your own zinnias, azaleas and sunflowers.

21. Carnivals, festivals and street fairs are the ultimate family-friendly parties. You can walk around, play games, eat to your heart’s content, listen to live music from local bands and even take part in a pie eating contest or watch pigs race each other. A lot of the county 4-H clubs sponsor fests throughout the year. Don’t forget the funnel cake!

22. If you and your kids are super active, sign up for a 1-mile Family Fun Run or a 5K.

23. You can also take a hike on one of NJ’s beautiful trails. You can see pristine views of lakes and waterfalls, or the NYC skyline, or beautiful vistas from atop a mountain.

24. If walking isn’t your speed, try a bike ride, either in your neighborhood, on a path or in a bike-friendly town.

DONNA BURNS/EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP DOG PARK

25. Your fur baby needs his exercise, too, so visit one of these great dog parks to get him out of the house. You’ll likely meet other pet parents, too, so it’s a social win-win.

26. Another way to be super adventurous is to go skydiving. Take a tandem dive from high above the Sussex Airport.

27. If your kids love a good scavenger hunt, tell them about geocaching. You download an app and using GPS, go on a scavenger hunt to find hidden treasures.

28. There are more than 80 alpaca farms in NJ alone! Visit one during the spring or even during the winter.

NEW JERSEY FESTIVAL OF BALLOONING

29. Hot air balloon rides will satisfy your desire to be high above the ground without the fear of jumping out of a plane. The New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning is set for July 28-30. Warren County holds a series of Flying Festivals throughout the summer, too.

30. If you can’t get to a pool, visit a sprayground filled with sprinklers, watering cans and hoses.

31. Kayaking, canoeing and tubing are great ways to see scenic views along the river while getting in a workout. If you need more of an adrenaline rush, try whitewater rafting. Check the class of the waves before you go.

32. Most people in the state agree that NJ has some of the best beaches. During the warmer months, take a walk on the boardwalk, play arcade games, grab a bite to eat, join an Ultimate Frisbee tournament, swim in the Atlantic or build a sandcastle. During the off season, the beach is a great place to catch a sunrise or sunset while it’s quiet and calm.

GREATER WILDWOODS TOURISM IMPROVEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY

33. New Jersey Jeep Beach Invasion is one reason to take the drive to Wildwood. The three-day event is entirely on the sand, and you can play on the beach obstacle course. 2023 is the 30th anniversary of “Jurassic Park” so expect to see a few very rare Jurassic Park Jeeps on display this year. There will be din0-themed activities and a magician to entertain the kids.

34. There are lots of great outdoor concerts at a venue like MetLife Stadium or PNC Bank Arts Center or your town’s waterfront park. Or check the schedule for a huge music festival, like Sea.Hear.Now or Barefoot Country.

35. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and a cooler filled with snacks and you’ll have an enjoyable evening watching an outdoor movie. Find a drive-in theater for some nostalgic fun.

36. Plan a picnic. Make your own sandwiches, get some bags of chips and soda and lay down a blanket on the grass or use a picnic table at a park. Or, you can hire a customized service like Pardon My Picnic. Rat’s Restaurant in Hamilton Twp. offers picnics you can enjoy while walking through Grounds for Sculpture.

©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / JASONDOIY37. Camping is fun year-round. Make sure your gear is weather-proof and you’ll be set for a few days of natural fun. It’s time to make some s’mores!

38. Practice your (baby) swing for a hole-in-one at a mini golf course.

39. August 7 is National Lighthouse Day, but you don’t have to wait until then to take a tour of a lighthouse at the Shore.

40. Also in August, police departments around the country hold a National Night Out celebration, where you can meet officers, see their equipment, play games and get lots of freebies (usually pizza or ice cream). It’s about building community interaction, so the events are very kid friendly.

41. Walk along the water, grab lunch at a food truck and enjoy the New York Skyline all from Hoboken Waterfront Walkway. Snack on treats from the bakeries and delis in Hoboken, too.

VON THUN FARMS

42. New Jersey has a few Monarch Butterfly Waystations, meaning we are a pitstop during the butterflies’ migration from the Northeast to Mexico every year. You can buy some butterfly larvae for the kids to watch transform at home or visit a butterfly garden where you can feed the butterflies milkweed.

43. If you want a day on the sand, minus the crowds, visit one of NJ’s beautiful lakes to fish, swim or just relax.

44. If you’re not faint of heart, take a ghost tour or walk through a cemetery. You don’t have to wait for Halloween to learn if they’re really haunted.

©istockphoto.com/SanyaSM

45. Take in the sights and smells at a lavender farm. Bring some home as an essential oil roller or dried for a bug repellent.

46. If your ideal day is relaxing in nature, you can do some yoga poses on your own, sign up for a full moon meditation – which is held on the beach during the warmer months – or try forest bathing (where you immerse all your senses while walking through the woods).

47. You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream no matter the time of year.

STAFF PHOTO

48. Diggerland lets kids ride and drive to their heart’s content at this awesome construction theme park.

49. Let the kids burn off their energy at an inflatable obstacle course, where they can jump and scream and laugh all day. Or go the more traditional route with ground-level obstacle courses, plus ziplines high up toward the sky. You’ll have fun watching your kids have fun!

50. Take a day trip to the Wildwoods and go crabbing, take a bike ride, lay at the beach or check out the schedule at the convention center.

51. Visit one of the state’s wineries or breweries, which generally offer a tour of the grounds and let you sit outside to sip and relax. Many are kid friendly but call before you go.

HOWELL FARM / SAWMILLING

52. Collect sheep from the pasture and eggs in the henhouse at Howell Living History Farm. Learn about blacksmithing and more at their weekly events.

53. Have breakfast at The Chicken or the Egg on Long Beach Island, then have a ball at Fantasy Island Amusement Park. Visit Island Beach State Park to fish or swim, then treat yourself to a sundae at Ship Bottom Ice Cream.

54. Fly a kite. Whether you have your own, or you take a trip to the beach for one of the state’s kite festivals, you’ll feel light as air.

55. All of these activities will surely make you hungry! Even though the pandemic is over, many restaurants continue to offer outdoor dining even in the winter (thank you, heated lamps). There are some fantastic restaurants that have views of the NYC skyline.

56. Try your hand – and feet – at railbiking. There are two- and four-seat bikes you sit on like a chair and pedal at a leisurely pace on tracks while you take in all the nature and historic scenery.

57. Try forest bathing, which is a way to immerse your senses in nature. Don’t let the name fool you: you stay fully clothed as you take a walk through the woods. You look for natural elements, listen to the birds and wind, smell the crisp air, feel the ground beneath your feet and then taste some freshly brewed tea. It’s a way to connect with nature while relaxing and meditating.

58. For the adrenaline junkies, Mountain Creek Resort is the place to be for its bike park or zip tours. You can speed your way through the trails – or over them – in a high-speed adventure. In the winter, head to the mountain for skiing or snowtubing.

MERCER COUNTY PARK COMMISSION / Ropes Course

59. Go to new heights at the Ropes Course at Mercer County Park in West Windsor. Kids and adults 12 and older can move through 12 “challenges” or elements, including the Zigzag, Swinging Logs, and the Postman’s Walk. You’ll need to balance, focus and work as a team. The course is open through mid-November.

60. Take a historical walking tour. For example, explore the grounds of Princeton University.

61. Or go on a food tour. There are great foodie towns in our state, and some companies offer tours where you can sample the best of the best.

62. Go back to prehistoric times and see life-sized dinos. Field Station: Dinosaurs is open from Memorial Day weekend through November, plus special nighttime hours will be announced for the fall.

 

Read More:
50 Things to Do Indoors in NJ
Protect and Celebrate Nature in New Jersey