Tired of going to the same museums over and over again with the kids? If you’re looking for something to do that’s a little different, check out one of these unique museums for a totally new (and educational) experience.
If you like rocks, crystals and artifacts
Then try: Franklin Mineral Museum
32 Evans St., Franklin
Why we love it: Have you ever picked up a really cool looking rock and wondered what it was? At the Franklin Mineral Museum, you can check out thousands of displays filled with minerals and rocks. From fluorescent minerals, which look like glow-in-the-dark rocks, to fossil rooms and American Indian artifacts, the Franklin Museum is perfect for your mini geologists.
If you like trains, geography and model building
Then try: Northlandz
495 US Highway 202, Flemington
Why we love it: Holding the Guinness World Record for the largest model railroad, this miniature wonderland features an outdoor train, which goes through tunnels and along the woods. After your ride, peruse a collection of miniature exhibits, which feature life-like depictions of actual places—including amusement parks, towns, city skylines and even the Himalayas and Rocky Mountains—using tiny models.
If you like dinosaurs and science
Then try: Field Station: Dinosaurs
Overpeck County Park
40 Fort Lee Rd., Leonia
Why we love it: Dinosaur lovers can spend the day exploring trails featuring more than 30 life-like giants that peep through trees and roar as you pass. The realistic engineering behind these extinct creatures will fool your mini archaeologists, especially during the interactive live shows that’ll include audience participation.
If you like marines, oceans and shipwrecks
Then try: New Jersey Maritime Museum
428 Dock Rd., Beach Haven
Why we love it: This hidden gem showcases old marine uniforms, scuba diving equipment and a database filled with stories of marine shipwrecks dating back decades. Take a trip through history by reading rare documents of communication between marines, then view hundreds of unique lighthouse postcards collected over the years.
If you like: music, history and instruments
Then try: GRAMMY Museum Experience
165 Mulberry St., Newark
Why we love it: Who doesn’t love belting music in the car? Whether you’re reminiscing with an 80s jam or rocking out to the “Frozen” soundtrack for the hundredth time, nothing unites family like music. Here, your family has a chance to learn about music history and how iconic songs rocketed up the charts. The kids can also create their own music and sing their hearts out, plus visit the Whitney Houston exhibit and take a look at her musical life.
If you like: The Garden State
Then try: The New Jersey State Museum
205 West State St., Trenton
Why we love it: We don’t need to tell you why NJ is the best state, but it’s pretty cool to get a first-hand look at some of the things the Garden State has to offer, like historical and interactive exhibits. Animal lovers can learn about NJ’s native crocodiles, while history buffs can view the Civil War Flag Collection of NJ.
If you like: toy cars and Matchbox toys
Then try: Matchbox Road Museum
15 Pearl St., Newfield
Why we love it: What started out as a hobby for Everett Marshall III turned into a museum filled with thousands of matchbox cars. If you consider yourself a collector, then you’re sure to be impressed by the tiny cars lining the museum walls, plus check out some collectibles available for sale.
If you like: culture, science and outer space
Then try: Newark Museum
49 Washington St., Newark
Why we love it: If your family loves to stargaze or if you have kids who like to hear the stories behind the names of stars, then you’ll want to check out the planetarium where you can see constellations and galaxies. Let the kids get messy with paint and clay as they make their own space-inspired creations with different materials. Parents can attend lectures or workshops as well.
If you like: baseball and history
Then try: Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center
8 Yogi Berra Dr., Little Falls
Why we love it: Odds are, your baseball lovers have heard of Yogi Berra. Berra’s legacy is more than just his records and stats—once upon a time he was the child of Italian immigrants. This exhibit includes baseball portraits of some of the sport’s greats, vintage mitts and bats, plus the whole family can practice their pitches.
If you like: war history
Then try: Battleship New Jersey
62 Battleship Place, Camden
Why we love it: Take a visit to the nation’s most decorated battleship and you’ll see why: you’ll be able to partake in engaging activities and experience exhibits from the battleship’s past, both of which will ultimately provide you with a close-up look at America’s military history. Kids will love climbing into a 16” gun turret and stretching out on the bunks like real sailors.
If you like: interactive exhibits, science and technology
Then try: Liberty Science Center
222 Jersey City Blvd., Jersey City
Why we love it: Exhibits made out of LEGOs?! Sign us up. Kids can make their own creations out of these colorful bricks in the hands-on play zone. There’s also a Touch Tunnel where they can use their senses to make it through the other end. Kids can climb, crawl and create their way through a variety of hands-on exhibits and events.
If you like: pinball and arcades
Then try: The Silverball Museum Arcade
1000 Ocean Ave., Asbury Park
Why we love it: Got a gamer in the family? They’ll love this spot with pinball machines from every year since 1950 and unlimited play options.
If you like: imagination, creativity and interactive exhibits
Then try: Imagine That
4 Vreeland Rd., Florham Park
Why we love it: This is one of the few museums in the area that is specifically catered to young children. Your little ones will have the chance to make music and play instruments in the music room, make up dances with friends, get artsy in the craft room and watch a puppet show.
If you like: planes and cars
Then try: The Aviation Hall of Fame and Museum of New Jersey
400 Fred Wehran Dr., Teterboro
Why we love it: You can view real-life aircrafts, trucks, helicopters and check out exhibits all celebrating flight. They have open cockpit weekends when you can climb inside and kids ages 8-15 can sign up for their dare-to-fly program and learn basic aeronautics by building gliders.
If you like: seashells
Then try: The Discovery Seashell Museum
2721 Asbury Ave., Ocean City
Why we love it: Walked the beach all day and found nothing but broken clam shells? With thousands of shell species on exhibit at this South Jersey spot, you can see some of the rarest shells, and learn which ones to keep an eye out for on the Shore. There’s also a fun gift shop.
If you like: rocks and gems
Then try: Sterling Hill Mining Museum
30 Plant St., Ogdensburg
Why we love it: As the former Sterling Hill zinc mine (the last operating mine in NJ), there’s a ton of history here. Walk through a 1,300-foot underground mine that includes naturally occurring glow-in-the-dark rainbow zinc, visible under UV lights. Then head out into the field to find six different kinds of rocks in a treasure hunt.
If you like: animals and the environment
Then try: Wetlands Institute and Museum
1075 Stone Harbor Blvd., Stone Harbor
Why we love it: The Wetlands Institute promotes conservation of coastal ecosystems through different activities. There is an aquarium, terrapin station, observation towers, a marsh walk and different monthly events, such as the Turtle Fest, Crabulous Crab Day and Fall Migration Festival!
If you like: trains
Then try: Whippany Railway Museum
1 Railroad Plaza, Whippany
Why we love it: This museum is a must-visit for any train lover, with historic trains on display and fun train excursions, like a pumpkin festival in October, Santa Claus specials all throughout November and December and an Easter Bunny ride in April.
If you like: surfing
Then try: Tuckerton Seaport & Baymen’s Museum
120 West Main St. #1, Tuckerton
Why we love it: Some of their tours involve hands-on trips into the water. What’s cooler than that? They also have a surf simulator, wooden boat carving (for an additional fee) and exhibits that cover the origin of surfing.
If you like: animals and antique cars
Then try: Space Farms Zoo and Museum
218 County Rd. 519, Sussex
Why we love it: This off-the-beaten path zoo is home to many record-setting animals, including Goliath, the largest bear in the world from 1967–’91. This private collection of North American wildlife is the largest in the world. Plus, check out the eskimo exhibit, antique cars, doll museum and blacksmith shop.