As one of the 13 original colonies, the Garden State is chock-full of fascinating parks, museums and historical sites sure to keep your kids entertained and interested.
Morristown National Historical Park
This sprawling park features three different sites that were important during the American Revolutionary War, including the Ford Mansion, which housed George Washington and his army during the coldest winter New Jersey has ever seen. With their Junior Ranger program, your child can go on a museum scavenger hunt, complete crossword puzzles and participate in other fun games to eventually earn a shiny Junior Ranger badge to show off to their friends!
More info here: nps.gov/morr
Who needs Niagara Falls when we’ve got our own falls right in our backyard? Paterson was America’s first planned industrial city and the Great Falls were important in powering it. Today, they’re a great place to explore nature right in the heart of a city. You can register your family for a guided tour or let your child become a Junior Ranger here, too! The area was recently taken over by the National Park Service, so its beautiful walking areas have been kept clean and ready for pedestrians.
More info here: nps.gov/pagr
Old Barracks Museum in Trenton
This site was built in 1758 to house troops during the French and Indian War, but it’s still bustling with activity hundreds of years later. They even offer a summer camp where your child can step back in time and recreate camp life on the grounds, complete with food, gear, crafts and music!
More info here: barracks.org
Let your kids see for miles after climbing the 228 steps of New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse. Built in 1857, the lighthouse is still popular thanks to its amazing views of the shoreline. Just make sure they’re not afraid of heights!
More info here: abseconlighthouse.org
Let your little sailor explore this 1940s-era ship through a series of interactive and hands-on exhibits. If a tour isn’t enough time, you can spend a night aboard and experience sleeping in the bunks!
More info here: battleshipnewjersey.org
Let your kids follow in the footsteps of immigrants that came to America 100 years ago. It’s a great way to teach some personal family history. The museum opened an exhibit designed for kids in 2012 and also has a Junior Ranger program, which is sure to make your child an expert on all things Ellis Island.
More info here: nps.gov/elis
Fosterfields Living Historical Farm
This spot is a preserved, working farm that uses tools, techniques and materials from the mid-1800s. Here, kids can experience demonstrations of butter churning, sheep shearing and potato and corn planting. Just beware: your child will most likely end up begging to take home a furry farm friend!
More info here: morrisparks.net/~morrispa/index.php/parks/fosterfields
One of the most iconic (and strange) landmarks in New Jersey is a six-story elephant named Lucy built back in 1881. She’s been a restaurant, hotel and tavern, but today Lucy welcomes visitors to climb inside for great ocean views. This novelty structure is a must-see for Jersey residents.
More info here: lucytheelephant.org
As one of NJ’s oldest and most scenic parks, there is plenty to do. Visit the iconic war veterans memorial monument at the top, or spend the day picnicking, fishing, swimming or hiking.
More info here: state.nj.us
Kids can step back in time and learn from costumed guides all about life in colonial times at the oldest surviving schoolhouse in the state. (It was built in 1759!)
More info here: colonialdamesnj.org/museums/
Like Fosterfields, Howell is a living history farm, meaning it works just as it did between 1890 and 1910. Howell has plenty of activities for kids looking to get their hands dirty, including gathering honey, watering the orchard and weighing pigs, not to mention arts and crafts and sing-a-longs.
More info here: howellfarm.org
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