Friends and family from out of state are always marveling at all the stuff there is to do here, and that’s because New Jersey is filled with so many one-of-a-kind attractions you just don’t get anywhere else.
Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson is the only Six Flags with a Safari experience next door (now even better with the return of the drive-thru experience). Great Adventure also has record breaking rides like Kingda Ka (the tallest roller coaster in the world) and the Jersey Devil (the tallest, fastest and longest single rail coaster in the world). And then there are boardwalk spots like Jenkinson’s in Point Pleasant and Morey’s Piers in Wildwood that deliver fun and thrills, right by the ocean. Just across the border in Pennsylvania, you can visit Sesame Place, one of only two in the US, or head north into New York to spend the day at the largest LEGOLAND in the world.
If you want something different, visit the country’s only Diggerland in Berlin. This amusement park chain from the UK has rides based on construction equipment and even lets kids operate real machines. We’ve also got two state fairs, one with an agricultural focus in Augusta and another big one at the Meadowlands, plus the New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning which fills the Readington area with brightly colored hot-air balloons every summer.
There are exceptional spots for the animal lovers in your family, too. The Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange has stepped up its game in the last few years with giraffes and an adventure obstacle course. The Cape May Zoo is also terrific, and has plenty of interesting mammals to learn about, but is also, amazingly, always free. It’s a true NJ miracle! And don’t forget about Adventure Aquarium in Camden. This gigantic space has huge shark tanks and hands-on experiences to make a day checking out sea creatures really special.
If you love nature, the Garden State has it in spades. With hundreds of farms to explore, there’s almost always something in bloom (you can even go maple sugaring in the winter). Terhune Orchards in Lawrence Township, Alstede Farms in Chester and Heaven Hill Farm in Vernon Township all have local in-season food and almost always have special weekend themed fun for the kids. And there are spring delights like the tulip fields at Holland Ridge Farms in Cream Ridge, daffodils at Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit and cherry blossoms in Newark’s Branch Brook Park. Bright sunflowers at the Sussex County Sunflower Maze in Sandyston are always an end of summer highlight.
We’re so lucky to have the ocean, mountains, lakes, forests and everything in between. Go camping or hiking at the Delaware Water Gap, wander around Barnegat Light on LBI or go skiing and snow tubing at Mountain Creek in Vernon. Head to Gateway National Recreation Area (more commonly known as Sandy Hook) for beaches and biking. If you’re looking for more scenic spots to ride, check page 58. Make sure to add Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, the largest waterfall in our area, to your Garden State bucket list. Our state has so much history, from the spot where George Washington crossed the Delaware in Hopewell Township to the Morristown National Historical Park where Washington stayed the winter.
There are so many more entertaining places for your littles. American Dream is home to the Toys “R” Us’ flagship store, two stories of fun with toys, games and occasional visits from Geoffrey! Lucy the Elephant is a six-story Jersey Shore landmark in Margate built in 1881. Once renovations are finished this summer, guests can again go inside and get a unique view of this distinctive attraction. And Liberty Science Center in Jersey City has the largest planetarium in the Western hemisphere. With epic shows and movies, LSC is a really cool place to explore with changing themed exhibits like Minecraft and Paw Patrol plus the Infinity Climber, a suspended jungle gym, and so much more.