If you’re looking for fun things to do in New Jersey, you’ve come to the right place! New Jersey has a ton of fun, cultural, and relaxing stuff to do – and I’m here to help you explore it all.
I’ve lived in and loved New Jersey for over 30 years, and I hope I will help you come to love it too! This article is loaded with some of my favorite things to do in New Jersey, including activities for all ages, activity levels, and interests.
Oh, and before we dive into my top attraction in New Jersey, be sure to bookmark my guide to the best places to stay in New Jersey (don’t book accommodations before reading it!) and the best places to visit in New Jersey.
Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!
Best Things to Do in New Jersey
Six Flags Great Adventure
Enjoy Thrilling Rides and Events
Located in central New Jersey, Six Flags is our most popular theme park in the Garden state. This Six Flags location is filled with thrilling rides, fun carnival games, great eateries, and so much more! But, beyond daring rollercoasters, the park also offers lots more to do – including kid-friendly sections for the youngest members of your family.
Six Flags also pulls out all the stops and throws parades as well as other events for holidays and special occasions. Around July 4th, they have post-sunset fireworks shows. Come October, the decor changes to spookier themes, and guests are invited to enjoy FrightFest.
Six Flags also has two other adjacent parks (separate admission required). There’s the drive-thru Wild Safari, as well as a water park, Hurricane Harbor. If you’re looking for an all-around fun day at a theme park, Six Flags Great Adventure is a great time!
👉 Pro Tip: Ticket prices vary by season because of the activities, rides, and events available. For example, during the Spring, Summer, and Fall, tickets run higher because you also have access to Hurricane Harbor. Make sure to buy your tickets online as it will save you time and money.
Liberty Science Center
Explore Their World
📍 Map It: 222 Jersey City Boulevard, Jersey City, NJ 07305| Phone: (201) 200-1000 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 4 pm Thursday & Friday, 10 am – 5 pm Saturday and Sunday, Closed Monday-Wednesday | Entrance: Adults $29.99, Ages 2 – 12 $25.99
Children and adults alike love Liberty Science Center. It’s full of immersive, interactive exhibits where kids can explore the many facets of the world around them. Some local favorites include the T-Rex Experience, Dinosaur Dig, and the Infinity Climber.
One of my favorite parts is the Hoberman Sphere, located on the ceiling in the main hallway. This mesmerizing sphere is one of the first things you notice as you walk in. Watch as it expands and contracts at random throughout your visit, and take the time to learn the history of its intricate design.
They even have the Wild Animal Exhibition which houses over 100 different animals! It’s definitely an attraction you’ll want to visit again and again.
👉 Pro Tip: This place is pretty big! Put on comfy shoes so that you can comfortably enjoy your visit – and chase after excitable kids.
Experience the Underwater World
📍 Map It: 1 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ 08103 | Phone: 1 (844) 474-3474 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 4 pm Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm Saturdays, 9:30am – 5pm Sundays | Entrance: Adults $26.99-$44.99, Ages 2 – 12 $18.99 – $34.99, Seniors $24.99-$42.99
Located in Southern, NJ, Adventure Aquarium takes you on an exciting journey into the aquatic world. Though it’s geared towards younger audiences, as an avid animal lover, I had a blast there as well!
One of the aquarium’s most notable features, is their touch tanks. These let you explore such animals as small sharks, stingrays, and starfish. You get to touch these beautiful animals as they gracefully swim past you. It was definitely my personal favorite.
In the Shark realm, they even have a shark tunnel that you can walk through. As you do, you see all the beautiful sharks and other sea life swimming right above your head. It’s truly a delight for all lovers of the aquatic world!
If you get hungry, there are a few vendors inside the cafeteria where you can purchase burgers and fries. There’s even a small cafe area should you need to refuel to keep up with younger ones.
It’s big enough so that you have plenty to do with the kiddos, but not so big that you’ll be overwhelmed.
👉 Pro Tip: Visit their website ahead of time to see what’s happening on the day you plan on going. There are so many opportunities to feed some of the animals, as well as see new exhibits, that you want to take advantage of whatever’s happening.
Turtle Back Zoo
Get into the Wild
Located in the city of West Orange, the Turtle Back Zoo is New Jersey’s answer to the ever-popular Bronx Zoo in New York.
Entrance is inexpensive, and it truly is one of the best zoos I’ve ever been to. As you walk in, you’re greeted by the zoo’s free-range peacocks that strut about everywhere you go.
I’ve been going since I was a child, and it’s never been a disappointment. It’s also one of the most affordable zoos – great if you’re vacationing on a budget.
One of my favorite things about this zoo is the little train that goes around it. You get a nice overview of many parts of the zoo, and it helps you decide on what you might want to explore next.
Land of Make Believe
Interactive Fun for Parents & Kids
With a name and location that both sounds straight out of a fairy tale, the Land of Make Believe in Hope, NJ is one-of-a-kind, fantastic fun for all. It’s also easily one of New Jersey’s most underrated amusement parks.
The Land of Make Believe has been around since I was a child, and I’ve always had great memories there. The park’s main goal is to encourage children and parents to interact and have fun with one another.
They’ve got typical amusement park rides, including a water park, and even a farm. Don’t forget to stop by the Land of Make Believe Maze – a fan favorite!
Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park
Witness unmatched beauty
If you’re anything like me and love the serene feeling you get when watching a waterfall, you’ll love Paterson Great Falls. When it comes to waterfront views, it doesn’t get any better than here. These falls almost make you forget you’re in New Jersey!
Unfortunately due to safety concerns, the footbridge over the Falls is closed. However, you can still take in the beauty of the park’s lush trees and scenery.
Interested in learning more about the Great Falls as well as the history of Paterson? On their website, there’s a form you can fill out to request a tour for you and those traveling with you. There a ranger will guide you through the wonders of this historical park. It’s definitely one of the best things to do in New Jersey!
If you like waterfalls, see my guide to the best New Jersey waterfalls.
New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC)
Catch a live show downtown
📍 Map It: 1 Center Street, Newark, NJ 07102 | Phone: (888) 466-5722 | Website | Hours: 10 am-6 pm Tuesday – Friday, 10 am-4 pm Saturday, Closed Sunday & Monday | Entrance: Ticket prices vary depending on the event you’re attending
Want to catch a show while you’re in the Garden State? Then NJPAC is where you want to be! NJPAC is like New Jersey’s version of NYC’s Broadway!
Located in bustling downtown Newark, at any given time, NJPAC is hosting several events and shows. It’s here that I attended my first piano concert. Even at 12 years old, I was thrilled, and I’m sure whatever event you attend, you will be too.
Plan and book ahead because NJPAC is among the most popular attractions in Newark. Shows can get sold out pretty quickly. They have shows from musical concerts, to dances, to everything else in between.
🚗 How to Get There: Parking in downtown Newark is scarce, and if you use a parking lot, it can get pricey. I recommend hopping an Uber for door-to-door service. You also have the option of the Light Rail, which stops just a couple of blocks down from the NJPAC.
The Escape Game @American Dream
Challenge your mind
If you’re into Escape Rooms, or just want to try one for the first time, you definitely want to pay a visit to The Escape Game!
While New Jersey has quite a few escape rooms to choose from, The Escape Game has a couple of features that stand out. For one, their escape rooms are some of the most unique I’ve seen. They really challenge your mind! Not only that, they’re full of surprises! Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, something new comes up. They take the difficulty level up a notch as they challenge your mind – but in a fun way!
The staff is amazing, helpful, and fun too! Even if you’re a seasoned pro at escape rooms, you definitely want to check them out.
👉 Pro Tip: First time doing an escape room? Make sure to check out the video on their site for first-timers (scroll down halfway to see it). Even experienced escapees will benefit from the tips. If you’re claustrophobic, no need to worry – there’s an exit button on the door if you absolutely need.
Atlantic City Boardwalk
Beachy Vibes and Shopping
The Atlantic City boardwalk and its many beaches are some of the most popular tourist attractions in New Jersey. People come from all over to take in the beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean as they enjoy a beach day and all the fun things to do in Atlantic City.
In addition, Atlantic City has a lot of shopping options, and options for outdoor recreation, right on the boardwalk. While there is also a beach, it’s not one of the best NJ has to offer, the thrill is in the shopping and the activities on the boardwalk.
🛎️ Need a Hotel? I highly recommend the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City. This beautiful hotel is convenient to the boardwalk and shopping and unparalleled in guest service.
Liberty State Park
Stunning Views of New York City
Liberty State Park is one of Jersey City’s most popular parks – and my personal favorite. It’s also very picturesque – in fact, I’ve even done a photoshoot here.
You get a beautiful view of the Hudson, as well as the New York City skyline. Once home to the World Trade Center, you can now see the Freedom Tower standing tall and proud. Lay down a blanket on the grass and have a picnic as you face the Statue of Liberty standing tall and proud.
The area is also rich in history and home to the Empty Sky Memorial. It’s a great place to relax and do some casual sightseeing.
👉 Pro Tip: Liberty State Park has many areas, most with waterfront views, and some with playgrounds for children. My favorite section is Flag Plaza, where I’ll take myself on picnics as well as sit on the benches and watch the tour boats go to and from Ellis Island.
Barnegat Lighthouse State Park
Indulge in Natural Beauty
If you love historical architecture, but still want to enjoy a day outdoors at the park, you’ll love it here. The Lighthouse is only open for about 4 hours on the weekends, so make sure to plan your visit accordingly.
At the top of the Barnegat Lighthouse, you can catch breathtaking views of Island Beach and Barnegat Bay. Not feeling up to the 217-step climb? No problem! There are cameras at the bottom that provide live views of the top.
When you’re not enjoying the Lighthouse views, you can take advantage of the park’s other activities. You can take a walk down the self-guided trail, go fishing, and even go bird-watching. Though most noted for the Lighthouse, this park is a nature lover’s paradise.
New Jersey Botanical Garden
A Floral Enthusiast’s Paradise
Looking for a relaxing walk on a beautiful Spring day? Come visit the fragrant, floral blooms at New Jersey’s Botanical Garden. They even feature hiking trails for the more adventurous and their outdoor pursuits. It’s also a great thing to do in New Jersey with children, as kids love running through the meadows, along the woodland paths (where they may encounter frogs and turtles).
Marvel at the beauty of nature as you observe the delicate flowers of the many gardens. Delight in the colors of the Lilac garden, or the aquatic environment of the Azalea garden on the reflecting pools.
Interested in some of the more historical aspects of the Botanical Gardens? Take in a tour of the Skylands Manor on the Manor House Tour.
👉 Pro Tip: Due to the delicate nature of the flowers and landscaping, The New Jersey Botanical Gardens is best suited for mature guests – unless, of course, you have children that are flower enthusiasts.
Cherry Blossom Festival
Indulge in beautiful pink & white blooms
Springtime means time for the Cherry Blossoms to do their annual bloom! Visitors come from all over to enjoy one of the most floral festivals New Jersey has to offer! Delight in the natural beauty of the cherry blossoms as they only bloom for a few weeks.
The event is free, but food vendors on-premises do charge. Enjoy live music, arts & crafts, and of course, the Cherry Blossoms.
The annual Cherry Blossom Festival, also known as Bloomfest, is held in Branch Brook Park in Newark, in the Welcome Center. It’s great fun for all ages and a perfect photoshoot opportunity!
👉 Pro Tip: Parking is available in the park, but can get full very quickly. Arrive early to get parking, or use a rideshare service.
Food Trucks Festival
A Fun Thing to Do When You’re Hungry
📍 Map It: Various Locations throughout New Jersey | Website | Hours: Vary
Food trucks are a popular attraction in New Jersey, so much so that events are held all over the state in honor of them. Click here to find out where the next one will pop up!
Food truck events feature cuisine from all over the world. You’ll enjoy anything from classic American food, to Asian food, to Latin Street Food – and everything in between! You’ll even find some food trucks with unique confections such as fried ice cream. It’s truly a foodie’s dream come true!
Hot Air Balloon Festival
See the New Jersey Sky Like You’ve Never Seen Before
📍 Map It: 39 Thor-Solberg Road, Whitehouse Station, NJ 08889 | Phone: (973) 882-5464 | Website | Hours: X am – X pm daily, Closed Mondays | Entrance: Adults $40, Children ages 4 – 12 $7.50, Children under 4 Free |
One of the most fun things to do in New Jersey is to enjoy the New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning! Even if you don’t play the lottery, you’ll enjoy this event filled with live entertainment, and of course, the balloons!
The Festival of Ballooning has something for everyone. Grab a bite to eat from one of the food vendors before you go watch the balloons take off. There’s also face painting for the kids. One year I even got to walk into a butterfly tent and feed butterflies – now that was an experience!
Museums & Culture
Battleship New Jersey
Learn about US History
This is another of New Jersey’s popular tourist attractions, especially for those interested in war history. Battleship New Jersey features the USS New Jersey, which is an Iowa-class ship.
Aboard the USS New Jersey, you’ll learn about the famous battleship’s rich history and its role in World War II. You’ll get to see exactly how his Navy ship operated, and there’s even an overnight experience.
Even if you’re not entirely into history, just the experience of getting on a battleship and learning how it works is exciting!
👉 Read Next: Fun Things to Do on Long Island
Newark Museum of Art
Indulge in Art from Different Eras
Featuring both historical and contemporary art, this is truly a must-see for fans of the art scene. They feature American art, as well as art from all over the world. One of the most popular art museums in New Jersey.
At different times during the year, they also offer educational programs for patrons of all ages. They give you the option of guided or self-guided tours.
👉 Pro Tip: Because of Covid, certain exhibits are temporarily closed to the public. Check ahead before your visit to get an idea of what’s available and what isn’t, as this frequently changes.
Sterling Hill Mining Museum
Delve into the World of Mining
📍 Map It: 30 Plant Street, Ogdensburg, NJ 07439 | Phone: (973) 209-7212 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 3 pm Saturdays & Sundays for Mineral Collecting | Entrance: Prices vary per tour, please call for more information|
The Sterling Hill Mining Museum takes you into the world of a miner. Various tours are available to take you through the different museums.
A popular tour involves the Warren Museum of Fluorescence. It’s filled with touchable displays designed to teach you about what exactly makes these minerals glow so beautifully.
Weather permitting, Museum goers can even go Sluicing. With this activity, patrons get a bag of sand pre-loaded with hidden treasures that they can sift out, just like actual miners do! This is definitely one of those places in NJ you don’t want to miss out on!
👉 Pro Tip: Tours and hours vary depending on the season you visit. Before visiting call ahead or visit their website for the most up-to-date information on activities and tours available.
Point Pleasant Beach
A Hip, Popular Beach
The Jersey shore remains one of the most popular New Jersey attractions. Jenkinson’s boardwalk is the most popular of all beaches in Point Pleasant.
I’ve spent many summers here, especially as a child. Going to the beach was always an event I looked forward to. Before we left, we always stopped at the ice cream shop and grabbed an orange/vanilla swirl cone – which I highly recommend!
👉 Pro Tip: During the summer, Point Pleasant Beach can get crowded. If you want a good spot, either go very early or later on in the afternoon when many beachgoers are headed home. There is a small fee for a beach badge while lifeguards are on duty (9 am to 5 pm during the summer). After they’re off-duty, beach access is free – but no swimming is allowed.
Asbury Park Beach
Great for a beach day
Yet another great stop on the Jersey shore to add to your list of things to do in New Jersey. Asbury Park Beach is fun-filled beach time, complete with a boardwalk that has carnival games, as well as great food.
Need a chair or umbrella? Not a problem! There are cash-only Beach Chair and Beach Umbrella rentals available for a nominal fee. So grab a chair, sit back, and enjoy the day.
Much like Point Pleasant Beach, Asbury Park beach requires a small fee for a beach badge while lifeguards are on duty (9 am to 5 pm during the summer). After they’re off-duty, beach access is free – but at your own risk.
👉 Want More Beaches? I have a whole article rounding up the 21 best beaches in New Jersey!
Food & Drink
Upscale Drinks & Light Fare
As many bars and restaurants as I’ve visited over the years, there’s always a special place in my heart for Papillon 25. One, Papillon is French for “butterfly” – and I love butterflies! Two, the experience here is truly unmatched.
They provide an elegant atmosphere with just the right amount of casual so you don’t feel like you have to be too fancy. The drinks are superb and the bar staff is second to none. The drinks aren’t the only spectacular thing. The food here is exquisite!
It may seem like a little out-of-the-way place, and maybe that’s why it’s still so epic – not many people know about it. But if you’re in the South Orange area, make sure you stop by. You won’t regret it!
👉 Pro Tip: Happy Hour is the best time to go. Papillon 25 hosts Happy Hour 1 pm – 10 pm Monday – Friday only, and features reduced-price cocktails and appetizers.
The Best Ice Cream Ever
Jersey Freeze makes some of the best, most creative ice cream confections anywhere. Move over Cold Stone! They come up with some of the most amazing and delicious creations.
Discovered on the way home from apple-picking one year, I saw this long line and thought hey why not. My daughter and I went in, and the menu was extensive! We got our ice cream, and sat down in their outdoor seating, and went to town!
They provide seasonal mixes like pumpkin pie complete with crust and real pumpkin, as well as Peppermint for the holiday season.
Right next door, in their separate restaurant, they serve up American fare such as burgers and fries. The burgers are awesome – but I come for the ice cream.
👉 Pro Tip: The restaurant side has different hours than the ice cream side, so if you’re looking to grab a bite to eat as well, check their website for the restaurant hours.
The Best Diner in the Garden State
So it may be a bit presumptuous to call it the best diner in all of New Jersey, but I have never been to a better one! Word has spread quickly too because everyone who goes knows it. It’s so popular, wait times can be crazy, especially on the weekends! Sunday mornings and afternoons are some of the busiest times.
Once you sit down though, you’ll realize why. Food comes in large portions and is absolutely amazing. I’ve never had a problem with my meal here. Top recommendation for dessert? Red velvet cheesecake! You get a huge slice and it’s absolute perfection.
👉 Read Next: The Best Places to Visit in New Jersey
Before you go, be sure to check out my guide to where to stay in New Jersey! It’s filled with lots of useful local tips and information.
Thrilling amusement parks, historical wonders, fun festivals, and relaxing at the Jersey Shore – all add up to a great Jersey vacation!
I hope this list of the best things to do in New Jersey helps you to discover the best of the Garden State.