New Jersey is spectacular during any season, but it really shines during the summer – our fields are flowering and our shore towns come alive! With warm weather on the way, it’s time to start planning your summer adventures now. These are great places to start!
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Enjoy a FREE movie under the stars.
What better way to spend a summer night? Towns that typically offer free movies include: Atlantic City, Ridgewood, Westwood, Pemberton, Collingswood, Sea Isle City, Stone Harbor, Montclair, West Orange, Hoboken, Princeton, Red Bank, Spring Lake, Bernards Township and Asbury Park, among others. Check your town's website to see if free outdoor shows will be airing near you.
2. Or, take in a free outdoor concert.
Starring both bigger bands and local acts, towns that typically offer free concerts include: Old Tappan, Cherry Hill, Bloomfield, Hoboken, Flemington, Freehold, Long Branch, Boonton, Little Falls, Mountainside and many more!
3. Visit Keansburg Amusement Park & Runaway Rapids.
Great Adventure gets all the attention, but Keansburg is a more affordable option that offers lots of fun. Get amusement park/water park combo tickets for just $23.45 per person when purchased in multiples of two on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
4. Go Strawberry picking!
May and June are prime strawberry picking months. Head to one of our many farms like Alstede Farms, Battleview Orchards, or Terhune Orchards.
5. Head to Oceanfest in Long Branch.
The biggest 4th of July celebration in New Jersey, Oceanfest offers something for everyone. You'll find fireworks, food, crafts, music, live entertainment and more.
6. Visit Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton.
One of the most magical places in the state, you'll find indoor and outdoor exhibits, exceptional dining, and peacocks wandering the grounds.
7. Climb inside Lucy in Margate City.
A New Jersey staple, enjoy a favorite quirky local attraction this summer.
8. Take a trip to Hoboken for City Of Water Day.
City Of Water Day is the largest harbor festival in the area, and will be held this summer on July 16th. The free festival is family friendly and offers contests, live music, boat tours, kayaking, children's activities and more!
9. Ride the Asbury Park Pedal Boats.
The swans are back on Wesley Lake, but now as pedal boats. You'll also find dragons, flamingos, and other creatures to enjoy.
10. Explore all of Asbury Park while you're at it!
A top travel destination, there is so much to do and see here. You'll find the Stone Pony, Wonder Bar, Asbury Lanes and The Silverball Arcade Museum, along with great shopping and dining options on the boardwalk.
11. Embrace the call of the wild at one of our zoos.
Cohanzick Zoo in Bridgeton (pictured) was New Jersey's very first zoo, and admission is free. Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange was ranked the number one zoo in New Jersey and Van Saun Park (Bergen County Zoo) in Paramus sits on an area once traveled by George Washington. Cape May County Zoo in Cape May Court House is another free zoo that features more than 550 animals.
12. Mini golf, mini golf, and more mini golf.
New Jersey has great indoor options, but during the summer, it's always fun to enjoy the outdoors. Top picks include Pirate Island Golf (pictured) with 3 Jersey Shore locations, Willowbrook Golf Center in Wayne (which also offers a driving range), and Swingtime in Howell. Swingtime offers two courses, batting cages, and an arcade.
13. Bask in the glory of our beautiful state parks.
There are over 3 dozen to choose from and everyone has a favorite. Mine are: Allaire, High Point, Hopatcong (pictured), Island Beach, Liberty State, Ringwood and Wharton.
14. Get wild at the International Kite Festival in Wildwood.
A unique experience that's free to spectators, you can't beat the beach location.
15. Dive into nature at the Plainsboro Preserve.
The environmental education center offers an indoor tree house and "under the pond" room, live animals, and a variety of exhibits. You can also enjoy several hiking trails and special events like geocaching walks and nature talks.
16. Splash around at Tomahawk Lake in Sparta.
This classic summer spot has been in business for over 60 years. You'll find water slides, a white sand beach, boating (including paddle boats and bumper boats), volleyball, mini golf, ping pong, picnic tables, and an outdoor beer garden.
17. Have a two-for-one adventure at Hereford Inlet in North Wildwood.
Guests get to enjoy both a historic lighthouse AND gorgeous gardens. The gardens have won several awards and are a popular place to spot birds and butterflies.
18. Travel through time at Whitesbog Village in Browns Mills.
Whitesbog Village is where the Highbush Blueberry was first cultivated, and is home to five historic buildings. The restored Barrel Storage Warehouse houses the Whitesbog Agricultural Museum. A great way to celebrate the Garden State? Head to Whitesbog's annual Blueberry Festival. Held on June 25th and 26th, visitors will enjoy live music, a pie eating contest, crafters, wagon tours, living history actors, and blueberry picking.
Which of these events or attractions are you most excited for? What else would you add to your New Jersey summer bucket list?