steel pierNothing screams summer at the Jersey Shore quite like zeppoli and a Ferris wheel ride at the boardwalk. For those looking to get sprayed, spun, or shaken, there’s that, too.

One of our down-the-shore survey questions asked about favorite amusement parks, water parks, zoos, and aquariums. These are the top family-friendly recommendations.

Amusement Parks

  • Casino Pier has a pirate-themed roller coaster, rooftop mini golf, a log flume, and a sky ride that takes you down the beach and boardwalk— and offers a peek at MTV’s Jersey Shore house; Seaside Heights (north Ocean County).
  • Fantasy Island Amusement Park is small but sweet, with rides that cater to a younger crowd; Beach Haven (south Ocean County).
  • Funtown Pier has many of the classics like swings and bumper cars, as well as a mini free fall and five-point trampolines where kids can practice their flips safely; Seaside Park (north Ocean County).
  • Gillian’s Wonderland Pier has dozens of rides, including dune buggies, fire engines, one of the largest Ferris wheels on the east coast, many indoor rides, and glow-in-the-dark mini golf; Ocean City (Cape May County).
  • Jenkinson’s Boardwalk has two small roller coasters, pirate-themed mini golf, a carousel, an aquarium, boardwalk games, and a train ride that circles the park—great for the little ones. The fishing game guarantees your child a small prize; Point Pleasant Beach (north Ocean County). 
  • Keansburg Amusement Park has dozens of rides for kids of all ages, including a supervised kids’ go-kart track for ages 5-9. There are boardwalk games starting at 10 cents, and the best zeppoli around; Keansburg (Monmouth County). 
  • Morey’s Piers has three piers of rides. Mariner’s Landing has traditional rides, like teacups, kiddie swings, airplanes, and the Crazy Bus. Surfside Pier has kiddie boats, a train, and new this summer: a Happy Feet ride. Adventure Pier has thrill rides for school-aged kids—but fewer for the younger ones here; Wildwood (Cape May County).
  • Playland’s Castaway Cove has a few dozen rides, including junior antique cars, a mini log flume ride, a train ride that winds through the park, and an old-fashioned Super Slide; Ocean City (Cape May County).
  • Steel Pier (shown above) has all the classics: Tilt-a-Whirl, bumper cars, a Ferris wheel, and an old double-decker carousel the kids will love. There’s also a rock climbing wall, and helicopter rides for the daring; Atlantic City (Atlantic County).
  • Storybook Land is old-fashioned, and all the rides are fairy tale-themed. The rides here are a big hit with toddlers and preschoolers, especially the J&J Railroad and dragon roller coaster; Egg Harbor (Atlantic County).

sea life museum-marine stranding centerAquariums & Zoos

  • Atlantic City Aquarium is a small aquarium with eight tanks, animal feedings, and touch tanks. Don’t miss the ocean oddities; Atlantic City (Atlantic County).
  • Cape May County Park & Zoo has more than 300 species of mammals, birds, and reptiles. Kids will love the lions, bears, and giraffes. Best part: it’s free! Cape May Court House (Cape May County).
  • Jenkinson’s Aquarium has sharks and seals; try to visit during a feeding. The penguin exhibit was recently renovated; Point Pleasant (north Ocean County).
  • Popcorn Park Zoo is a seven-acre zoo and refuge for abandoned and sick animals. Animals vary at any given time, but the zoo has housed elephants, lions, and monkeys; Forked River (south Ocean County).
  • Sea Life Museum-Marine Stranding Center (shown) is a rescue facility that cares for sick and injured marine animals, such as whales, dolphins, seals, and sea turtles. Visitors are not allowed to view the live animals, but you can see some of them through the glass doors of the pool house and on the monitors in the museum; Brigantine (Atlantic County).

Water Parks

  • Breakwater Beach (shown) has a lazy river double tube ride for kids afraid to go down on their own, and plenty of lounge chairs with views of the large kiddie splash area; Seaside Heights (north Ocean County).breakwater beach
  • Gillian’s Island has a lazy river, a double tube slide, an eight-story body slide, as well as a separate kids’ splash area. The Skypond Journey is always a big hit; Ocean City (Cape May County).
  • Morey’s Piers have two water parks, Raging Waters and Ocean Oasis, both of which are great for all ages, and have separate kiddie play areas. There is a brand new lazy river adventure at Raging Waters; Wildwood (Cape May County). 
  • Runaway Rapids is great for school-aged kids. There are 18 slides and a kiddie lagoon. Don’t miss the Volcanic Revenge uphill water coaster; Keansburg (Monmouth County).
  • Thundering Surf has a water play area, lazy river, and several water slides. Kids can try boogie-board riding on the Flow Rider surf simulator; Beach Haven (south Ocean County).

Steel Pier photo courtesy of the Atlantic Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Anything we're missing? What are your favorite Jersey shore amusements?