When boredom strikes, there’s always the question: “What should I do today?” Luckily, there’s always something to do in New Jersey, whether it’s going down the Shore with friends, heading to an aquarium, picking fruits at a farm, or going to a museum. Here’s a list of the three best day trips within every NJ county to get you started.
Lucy the Elephant
Standing tall along the coast of Margate is a 65-foot, 140-year-old national landmark that’s not the average attraction. Her name is Lucy the Elephant, and she’s one of the oldest remaining examples of zoomorphic architecture in the U.S. In 1881, a real estate developer named James Lafferty built Lucy as an attraction for potential buyers. By the 1960s, Lucy had survived countless storms, fires, and floods and was on the verge of disappearing due to neglect. In 1970, the Save Lucy Committee had raised enough money to prevent it from being torn down and moved the attraction two blocks away to a city-owned site.
Lucy is now restored to her former glory and is a staple of the county. It is even considered the greater Atlantic City region’s most popular non-gaming attraction.
Atlantic City Boardwalk
When you think of Atlantic City, you probably think of the plethora of casinos scattered across the area, but let’s not forget about one of the most popular attractions, the Atlantic City Boardwalk. There are a multitude of attractions, including the iconic Steel Pier, delicious salt water taffy shops, the Atlantic City historical museum and more.
And, of course, with a boardwalk comes a beach. Make an entire day out of your visit, and relax on the sand. You can even try out kayaking, surfing, fishing and other activities.
“228 steps – one amazing journey,” says the Absecon Lighthouse’s website – and they’re right. If you’re in Atlantic City, you have to visit the tallest lighthouse in NJ and one of the oldest lighthouses in the U.S. There’s even a museum, a gift shop, a replica of the former Lightkeeper’s dwelling, and an exhibit about the original oil house.
The lighthouse is open Thursday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the last climb is half an hour before closing.
Bergen County Zoo
Paramus is home to the Bergen County Zoo, and it’s fun for the entire family. There is an abundance of different animals to see, including cougars, sloths, bald eagles, monkeys, and much more. Besides the animals, there’s a train, a carousel and a gift shop. The zoo’s newest exhibits introduce visitors to mountain lions, prairie dogs, budgies, chickens, and even red wolves.
The zoo is open every day from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m and tickets can be purchased here.
Palisades Interstate Park
At 12 miles long and a half-mile wide, spanning 2,500 acres of the Hudson River is the Palisades Interstate Park. You can hike and bike over the 30 miles of trails that span in difficulty, relax at a picnic table to eat and enjoy the views, kayak and canoe on the Hudson River, fish, and more.
The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
After years of anticipation, American Dream in East Rutherford is open for business and is a mall experience unlike any other in NJ. It contains over three million square feet that are packed with activities for any age. You can cool off at the DreamWorks Water Park, have fun with some of TV’s greatest cartoon characters at the Nickelodeon Universe Theme park, challenge yourself to escape the mirror maze, play mini-golf under the black lights, and–of course–shop!
Hours may vary based on attraction.
Nothing screams “summer” quite like amusement and water parks. This summer, check out The Funplex located in Mount Laurel. This park features indoor and outdoor fun: there’s a rollercoaster, water rides, laser tag, bumper cars, go-karts, an arcade, bowling, and miniature golf, among other attractions. If you’re a frequent attendee, make sure to look into memberships.
The Funplex waterpark is open from Wednesday through Sunday and hours vary based on attraction.
New Jersey Pinelands
The Pinelands National Reserve was established in 1978 and sits on 1.1 million acres of land, containing 22 percent of NJ’s land area. There are forests to explore, blueberry fields and cranberry bogs to search through, and scenic rivers. There is even a Pinelands Education Exhibit where spectators can learn about the dense area. You can learn about all of the animals, plants, and forestry in the area.
Located within the South Central Pinelands is the Batsto Village, where spectators can take a step back in time to 1766. The village has been preserved to look how it looked before the U.S. was even established as a country. There is a blacksmith, a mansion, an iron furnace, a general store, mills, a farm, and other vintage attractions. They also have a visitor center where you can learn about the history of the village. If you want to take something home, you can also visit the museum shop.
Batsto Village is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Check out the ocean’s most interesting sea creatures at Camden’s adventure aquarium. This aquarium was voted number seven in the nation by USA Today, so it is sure to be packed with fun. There is plenty to do, including the Shark Realm, where you can walk through a tunnel and over top of the shark tank. There are even touch tanks where you can feel exotic aquatic life. The aquarium also has special events that you can attend, so check those out before you go.
The Adventure Aquarium is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. Advance tickets are required to attend.
Battleship New Jersey
Visit “America’s most decorated battleship” at the Battleship New Jersey’s Museum and Memorial in Camden. This battleship survived World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and conflicts in the Middle East. The ship even fought in the two largest naval battles during WWII. The museum inside the ship features a tour route where you can witness artifacts throughout its history. You can sit in the chair where admirals commanded the ships, visit the former sailors’ bunks, and even learn how projectiles were fired near the gun turret.
The battleship is open daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and you can purchase tickets online.
Sahara Sam’s Waterpark
Sahara Sam’s of West Berlin is an indoor and outdoor waterpark and is fun for the entire family. The facility spans over 68,000 square feet and features historically and geographically titled water rides. There’s a leisure pool, double water slides for racing, a lazy river, and even a body surf simulation, among others. The outdoor waterpark has more to enjoy, like a wave pool.
Online ticket purchases are required. The park is open Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The outdoor park is only open on weekends.
Cape May County
Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Waterparks
If you’re down the Shore, head to Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Waterparks to add to your Cape May excursion. There are three amusement piers: the Surfside Amusement Pier, the Mariner’s Amusement Pier, and the Adventure Amusement Pier. Each pier features unique rides ranging from suitable for children to sky-scraping roller coasters. There are also two water parks, the Ocean Oasis Water Park and Beach Club and the Raging Waters Water Park. The Oasis serves as a more relaxed experience while the Raging park will “make your heart race.”
You can view the parks’ schedules for varying hours.
Cape May Lighthouse
If you’ve been to Cape May, you have to know about the Cape May Lighthouse. Construction of the lighthouse began in 1857 and it was first lit in 1859. The lighthouse opened to the public in 1988, and since then, over two and a half million people have completed the climb. Other than climbing the lighthouse, you can visit the Visitors’ Orientation Center to learn about the structure’s history and the Museum Shop for souvenirs.
The Cape May Lighthouse is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cape May National Wildlife Refuge
The Cape May National Wildlife Refuge is home to a lot of wildlife including 317 bird species, 55 reptile and amphibian species, and 42 mammal species, among various aquatic life. This location is crucial in the protection of said species and makes for a great place to view NJ’s wildlife. On Saturdays, the refuge offers nature walks at the Two Mile Beach Unit as well as other programs throughout the year. There are also trails to walk through at your own leisure, habitats for educational purposes, plenty of scenic views for your photography needs, and even areas to hunt and fish in if you have the proper licenses. There are five trails to choose from that vary in difficulty and length, so there is an opportunity for people of all hiking skill levels.
New Jersey Motorsports Park
Experience speed at the New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) in Millville. Whether you want to get it on the action or be a spectator, there’s plenty for you to enjoy. There are on-track events like Championship Cups, the Road to Indy, exotic car driving opportunities, and more. If you want to learn to race cars or motorcycles, there are even classes you can take.
You can purchase tickets for all of the events on MJMP’s website.
Palace of Depression
The name might not sound appealing, but the Palace of Depression located at 265 South Mill Road in Vineland is a must-see sight. During the Great Depression in 1929, a New York stock trader named George Daynor lost his entire fortune. Daynor allegedly was led by an angel to a 112-mile hike to Vineland, where he was told to use the mud and unwanted scraps in the area to build the palace. The project was completed in 1932 and became an oddity of NJ. The house featured a gigantic outdoor fireplace, a shell-covered door, 18 spires, and more odd architecture. In 1969, the palace was torn down. Nearly 50 years later, it was reconstructed and visitors can see a recreation of the strange dwelling.
Update: The Palace of Depression announced they will be closed for the next upcoming months due to renovations.
Museum of American Glass
Witness over 20,000 pieces of American glass craftsmanship at the Museum of American Glass in Millville. Inside the museum, each room was created to match the style and time period of the glass displayed in it. The pieces are displayed in chronological order dating back to 1739 to the present day. You can even take guided tours if you want to learn more about the history of each piece.
The museum is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Turtle Back Zoo
Discover exotic animals from around the world at the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange. There’s plenty of exhibits and interactive tours to take part in, whether you want to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the penguin habitat or touch sea creatures in a touch tank. The animals at this zoo span from all parts of the globe, like monkeys from Asia or giraffes from Africa. You can even venture in a group or plan a birthday party.
The zoo is open every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets cost $17 for adults and $14 for children ages two through 12. Senior citizens and children under two are free.
South Mountain Reservation
The South Mountain Reservation in West Orange has some amazing views of New Jersey and New York. The reservation spans 2,112 acres in Essex County and features hiking trails, parks, ponds, the Rahway River, and other scenic views. There’s even a dog park that is the perfect place to bring your furry friend and a Wildflower Sculpture Park where you can view sculptures from various artists.
The reservation is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Thomas Edison National Historical Park
Take a step into the past and visit the home and laboratories of one of America’s greatest inventors at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange. You can go on a cell phone guided tour of the Laboratory Complex Courtyard and learn what each building was used for and stories about Edison. At the museum, there are collections of Edison-related material such as archives and personal items.
The historical park is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Red Bank Battlefield Park
Visit the site of a Revolutionary War Battle at the Red Bank Battlefield Park. During the war, this battle was a success for the American troops. The historic landmark park is located on the Delaware River, where you can learn about the history of the park, picnic, play at the children’s playground, and even enjoy the colonial herb garden. One Sunday per month, there are special programs focusing on the park’s history that you can attend, varying in topics like clothing production in the 1700s to why the battle was relevant to American history.
The park is open every day from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Bridgeport Motorsports Park
Watch dirt track racers at the Bridgeport Motorsports Park, a.k.a. the “Kingdom of Speed,” in Logan Township. There are races featuring different automotives including DIRT modifieds, Street Stocks, and 602 sportsmen. The park also occasionally features special events where you can meet drivers before and after each race. Check out their 2021 schedule to find the event perfect for you.
Hill Creek Farms
There are plenty of delicious treats for you to try at Hill Creek Farms has plenty of delicious experiences for you to try. Hill Creek offers an agricultural tourism outing where you can get fresh fruits like apples, Asian pears, plums, and nectarines. There’s also a tented area to relax in, places to take photos, and activities for children like the Gem Mining Co. There is also a market where you can purchase snacks and baked goods like apple pies, cakes, and apple cider.
The farm is open Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Reservations can be made for Saturday and Sunday time slots on their website.
Liberty Science Center
The Liberty Science Center in Jersey City hosts an enormous amount of exhibits and activities for children and families. In the 300,000-square foot center, there are 12 exhibition halls, a 3D theater, aquariums, live animal collections, the Western Hemisphere’s largest planetarium, and more. The center is constantly updating with new events and shows to attend. Currently, you can go to the T. Rex Experience, the Planets Tonight Show, and a “Hot Wheels” Race to Win event, among others.
The Liberty Science Center is open Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Liberty State Park
Located on the coast of NJ, facing the New York City skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island, Liberty State Park has some great views. The park features the Liberty Walk that connects two picnic and playground areas, a two-mile promenade, a Nature Center to visit, and views of the Hudson River. There is also the Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial honoring the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001 where their names are etched into stainless steel walls.
Liberty State Park is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Witness and learn about where over 12 million immigrants stepped foot into the U.S. at Ellis Island. Inside is The National Immigration Museum where you can see what the immigrant experience was like, filled with records, photos, and heirlooms. There is also a Family History Center where you can discover your family’s ancestry and how they got to the country. There is even a wall that lists 775,000 names of immigrants, and you can purchase a slot for a family member’s name if they went through the island.
Round Valley State Park
Whether you’re looking for scenic views or somewhere to sunbathe, Round Valley State Park is the place to check out. This reservoir features the second-deepest lake in NJ that covers 2,350 acres, and there’s much more than that. You can enjoy a beach area on the west side of the lake, camp in the wilderness on the east side, hike along trails, go fishing (with a proper license, of course), kayak, boat, and much more.
The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Red Mill Museum Village
If you’ve seen pictures of Hunterdon County, you’ve probably seen a photo of the iconic Red Mill located in Clinton. The mill was built over 200 years ago, where it was once used to process woll. Around the mill are other historical locations, like a schoolhouse, a log cabin, and even a blacksmith shop. The Red Mill Museum Village offers tours, or you can walk around it at your own leisure.
Admission to the museum costs $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12. Senior citizens, children under six, and military members and their families are free. The museum is open Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 6 p.m.
Hunterdon Art Museum
The Hunterdon Art Museum in Clinton has exhibits and programs for all to enjoy. The museum displays contemporary art from emerging and well-renowned artists. There are guided tours available to attend that last between 45 to 60 minutes. Current exhibitions include “‘As Her Mind Collapsed, I Was Awakened’: The Rugs of Ann Clark,” “Crossroads: Book Artists’ Impassioned Responses to Immigration, Human Rights and Our Environment,” “and Print+” If you like interactivity, there are also over 300 classes offered every year for every age that vary in content.
The museum is open to the general public on Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Fridays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Immunocompromised visitors can attend on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Tickets cost $7 for adults and $5 for senior citizens. Military members, students, and children 12 and under get in for free.
Grounds for Sculpture
The Grounds for Sculpture of Hamilton Township offer 42 acres of art and gardens. The grounds house about 300 contemporary sculptures outside and temporary, indoor exhibitions from upcoming artists. The gardens feature a meadow of flowers, a pond, reflecting pools, and other parts of nature. You can even dine at Rat’s Restaurant, enjoy one of their many cafés, or bring your own food for a picnic in the park. There are also daily events at the grounds spanning from wellness walks to even tai chi.
The Grounds for Sculpture are open from Thursday to Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Albert Einstein House
See the home of one of the greatest scientists of all time at the Albert Einstein House located at 112 Mercer Street in Princeton. Einstein lived in this house from 1936 to his death in 1955 and is where he discovered much of his work in physics. It is reported that he asked his step-daughter, Margot, to not make his house into a museum while on his deathbed, which is exactly what happened. The location is not a museum, rather a National Historic Landmark. Though visitors cannot go inside of the building, it is still a scenic drive-by location.
Washington Crossing State Park
We all know the story and we’ve all seen the painting: the one where General George Washington and his troops crossed the icy Delaware River on Christmas Night of 1776. At the appropriately named Washington Crossing State Park, you can see exactly where the troops landed at Johnson’s Ferry to take on the British in Trenton. Inside the park, there is a visitor center museum where you can learn more about the Revolutionary War and the relevance of Washington’s crossing. There’s more here than just history, though; you can hike along trails, camp, picnic, fish and hunt, and view nature and the Delaware River.
The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission costs $5 for NJ residents and $7 for non-NJ residents.
Cheesequake State Park
Cheesequake State Park is a unique location of NJ, where two different ecosystems combine. The southern, saltwater and freshwater marshes meet with the northern Pine Barrens and create a beautiful scenery that you need to see. Though this is not a large park compared to others in the state, it is one of a kind. While visiting, you can go swimming and enjoy the beaches, canoe and kayak, go boating, hike through the trails, and even camp.
The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets cost $5 for NJ residents and $10 for non-NJ residents on weekdays. During weekends and holidays, the entry fee is $10 for NJ residents and $20 for non-NJ residents.
Witness and interact with animals from five continents at SeaQuest in Woodbridge. Though it may sound like an aquarium because of its name, the location actually houses a wide variety of land animals, sea creatures, and reptiles. Here, you can snorkel with stingrays, interact with sloths and otters, have a rejuvenating spa session with fish, and experience other animal exhibits. And, kids, you may even meet a mermaid.
SeaQuest is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Purchase tickets through their website.
Crystal Springs Family Waterpark
Cool off from the summer heat at Crystal Springs Family Waterpark in East Brunswick. There’s a lot to enjoy here, from water slides to a lazy river, pools and other water park rides. If you want to relax, there are plenty of chairs to lounge on. If you want to picnic, you can even head to one of the designated areas with tables and grills.
Crystal Springs is open on weekends from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. until June 27. Starting June 28, the park will be open under the same hours. Purchase tickets in advance on their website.
NJ’s largest indoor amusement park, iPlay America, is packed with fun. The Freehold location is described as a Jersey Shore boardwalk brought indoors. Here, you can ride go-karts, play laser tag, hit the arcade, and more. You can even test your skills at the Topgolf Swing Suite. There are plenty of places to eat here, too, that are boardwalk-inspired.
View their hours and book their various passes and tickets on their website.
Allaire State Park
At Allaire State Park in Howell and Wall Township, you can experience a village from the 1800s. The area was known to be an iron-making town, situated along the Manasquan River. The village offers a look into the historic, industrial community and its preserved buildings, including a general store and blacksmith. The park also offers hiking trails, a museum, wildlife viewing, picnic areas, and more.
Allaire State Park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission costs $5 for NJ residents and $7 for non-NJ residents.
Happy Day Farm
Happy Day Farm in Manalapan is the perfect spot to pick fruit, view beautiful flowers, and maybe even take some photos. Throughout the summer, various fruits and flowers will be available. Raspberry picking and lavender viewing will be available on opening day, blueberry picking is set to open in late June, and sunflower and zinnia picking will begin on July 4 weekend. In the fall, there is a harvest where you can pick pumpkins, go through a corn maze, and enjoy the events at the celebration.
Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge sits on 7,768 acres of habitats, spanning a wide variety of flowers and animals from foxes to fish. While there, you can go to the visitor center to learn more about the refuge, take photos of the gorgeous wildlife, and even take a guided tour.
The refuge is open daily from sunrise to sunset.
The Frelinghuysen Arboretum
View some of the most beautiful botany Morris Township has to offer at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum. The 127-acre facility offers a place to learn, relax, and explore trees, plants, gardens, and meadows. You can even learn more about the location at the on-site museum and living collection. There is also a Colonial-style mansion, places to picnic on the Great Lawn, a Rose Garden Arbor that’s a perfect place to take pictures, and a Carriage House.
The arboretum is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Fosterfields Living Historical Farm
Have you ever wanted to learn what farming and life was like 100 years ago? If so, head out to the Fosterfields Living Historical Farm in Morris Township. At this 1920s location, you can view animals, visit the farmhouse, and even talk to the period-dressed workers to learn more about the farm. There is also a Transportation Exhibit where you can view antique cars and other automotives. Make sure to stop by the Visitors’ Center if you want to see the latest exhibit.
Advance registration is required. The farm is open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with multiple ticket times per day.
Six Flags Great Adventure
If you want to visit one of the best amusement parks within NJ, it’s worth adding Six Flags Great Adventure to your list of local day trips. There is plenty to do at this park, like partake in the iconic drive-thru safari, meet “Looney Tunes” characters, go on rollercoasters, and play games. You have to check out the all-new “Jersey Devil” rollercoaster that opens June 13–it is the world’s tallest, longest, and fastest single rail coaster.
Located on the Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk is the Jenkinson’s Aquarium, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. There’s plenty of animals and habitats to see, like seals, penguins, local fish, sharks, and even coral reefs. There are also opportunities to book events, like penguin and sloth encounters or even adopting an animal.
Robert J. Novins Planetarium
Experience the universe at your fingertips at the Robert J. Novins Planetarium at Ocean County College (OCC). The planetarium offers programs for all ages varying in topic. You can attend a laser light show, watch a full-dome movie, or witness a sky show. The planetarium also offers special events for varying ages, like “Wonders of the Seasonal Sky,” “The Little Star that Could,” “Laser Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon” and more.
You can purchase tickets at the box office Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets cost $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and kids, and $8 for OCC students and staff.
New Jersey Botanical Garden
This 1,119-acre estate in Ringwood offers beautiful scenery, plants and wildlife, historical buildings, and much to explore. At the New Jersey Botanical Garden, there are many gardens to look through including the lilac, perennial, annual, and wildflower gardens. There are a plethora of plants to see, too, like shooting stars, primroses, Japanese andromeda, and more. Make sure to take a hike through the park, as it has much to offer. Members of the garden are currently working on restoring the pump house, which is a late-1800s building at the entrance of the venue.
The garden is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Rack N Roll Family Fun Center
You have to check out Rack N Roll in Passaic if you’re a fan of video games. The entertainment center is designed for both children and adults of all ages, with over 100 video games to try. You can rack up points at the games that can be redeemed for prizes, too. There are also children’s rides and other attractions to enjoy. Make sure to check out their billiards section at the back of the center.
Rack N Roll is open Monday through Thursday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Paterson Great Falls
Witness the beauty of waterfalls at the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park. At the park, you can learn about America’s first planned industrial city which is situated around the falls on the Passaic River. There is plenty to explore here, and you can even cross over bridges to get different views of the falls. You can also take a guided tour to learn more about the area and how its affected America.
Riverview Beach Park
If you’re looking for somewhere to walk around, picnic, and enjoy nature, Riverview Beach Park in Pennsville is for you. At this Delaware River destination, it is the perfect place to view the many beauties that the state has to offer. From bird watching to hiking along the paths, there is plenty to do. Make sure to watch the sky, as summers are known to host the Peregrine Falcon, which often nests near the Delaware Memorial Bridge on the northside of the park.
Enjoy the oldest-running rodeo in the country at Cowtown Rodeo in Pilesgrove. Since 1929, Cowtown Rodeo has been hosting old West-themed events for all to enjoy. The rodeo offers many events like bull riding, darrel racing, team roping, bareback riding, and more. You can view their full calendar of events online.
The rodeo is open every Saturday night; gates open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $25 for adults 13 and over, $10 for children ages three to 12, and are free for children under two.
Fort Mott State Park
Fort Mott was created after the Civil War as a form of defense for the Delaware River. Now, it has been converted into a state park, as after World War I, the technology in it was deemed obsolete. Visitors can explore the fort’s equipment and find signs with descriptions of its use and relevance. Since the fort is on the river, it is also the perfect place to picnic and walk along the waterfront.
The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sourland Mountain Preserve
The 6,300-acre Sourland Mountain Preserve in Hillsborough provides scenic views and trails to explore. There, you can hike and bike along trails, horseback ride, and watch birds and other wildlife. The preserve is known to host nesting birds such as the Carolina Chickadees and Summer Tanager, among other birds.
Washington Rock State Park
As a lookout point for General George Washington during the Revolutionary War, Washington Rock State Park has been etched in history. At the park, you can see where exactly Washington used the vantage point to guide his troops to an appropriate attack on the British. There are also trails to explore, park benches to picnic, and amazing views of the area.
The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset.
With over 1,000 acres to explore, Duke Farms in Hillsborough offers a great place to appreciate nature. Here, you can take classes about conservation and climate change, walk and bike around the area, and purchase food from and eat at a local farm-sourced café. There’s also plenty of places to photograph, so make sure to bring your phone or camera.
Duke Farms is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Mountain Creek Resort
Mountain Creek Resort is more than just a waterpark. It’s a place where you can zipline, go biking, golfing, and enjoy an aerial adventure. The bike park has trails for beginners and professionals alike. The waterpark offers tubing, waterslides, and other rides. Make sure to check out their event calendar for more fun coming up.
The resort is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
High Point State Park
At the highest point in the state, you’re going to want to see these views. High Point State Park is 1,803 feet above sea level and features views of NJ, NY, and PA. The summit features a monument dedicated to the state’s veterans. There are also plenty of trails to explore, picnic grounds, beaches, and campgrounds. Make sure to bring something to take photos of, because you’re going to want to preserve the views.
The park is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets cost $5 on weekdays and $10 on weekends for NJ residents. Tickets cost $10 on weekdays and $20 on weekends for non-NJ residents.
Space Farms Zoo and Museum
There are over 500 wild animals to view and nine museum buildings to explore at Space Farms Zoo and Museum in Wantage. Animals include big cats, bears, monkeys, sheep, deer, kangaroos, and plenty more. Each museum features antiques, like old automobiles, horse-drawn carriages, and a firearms collection. The zoo section also hosts a playground for children, a pizza restaurant, and a picnic area.
Space Farms is open Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $20.50 for adults over 13, $17 for children ages 3 to 12, and $19 for seniors over 65.
The Watchung Reservation has beautiful views and a lot to offer. You can explore the trailside nature and science center, a deserted village, pass by Lake Surprise, and much more. The History Trail is a popular, six-mile hike that highlights some of the reservation’s most notable spots, marking where each location is.
Hawk Rise Sanctuary
Inside the city of Linden is the Hawk Rise Sanctuary, a place where visitors can discover plant and animal species. There are multiple trails to choose from and places to study nature. The sanctuary is situated in the middle of an industrial area, so it makes for a nice surprise once you enter. Make sure to check out the information at the entrance so you can see what animals and other wildlife to expect.
The sanctuary is open daily from sunrise to sunset.
Liberty Hall Museum
Located on the Kean University campus, Liberty Hall Museum is filled with American history. The museum is a revolutionary-era mansion that used to host guests including George and Martha Washington, Herbert Hoover, Alexander Hamilton, and more famous figures. In the museum, you can enjoy sites of Victorian-era fashion, explore the gardens, traverse through a maze, and view other memorabilia from American history.
The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets cost $14 for adults, $12 for Kean University alumni, and $10 for children, senior citizens, and students.
Lakota Wolf Preserve
Learn about and witness various types of wolves at the Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia. At the preserve, you will witness four different packs of wolves in the observation area. There are also tours where you can learn about wolves’ behaviors and habits. In addition, there are bobcats, lynx, and foxes that live at the preserve, too.
To schedule a tour, go to the Lakota Wolf Preserve’s website.
Land of Make Believe
Head to Hope, NJ with the family to the Land of Make Believe. There is much to offer at this amusement and water park, including rides, games, water slides, a lazy river, concession stands, shows, and more. Located in the park is also part of a historical site, where the legend of Jenny Jump took place. There’s also a farm to visit, a train to ride, and even a World War II airplane cockpit to enter.
Starting June 19, the park will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets cost $31.89 for adults and children ages three to 18, and $28.14 for senior citizens.
Merrill Creek Reservoir
Merrill Creek Reservoir in Washington is a serene area to hike and explore. The reservoir is 650 acres and is surrounded by over 2,000 acres of woods, fields, and other environmental preserves. Merrill Creek is used as an access for extra water for the Delaware River in case of excess evaporation. On the site, you can find a visitor center to learn about the animals and forestry around the reservation. Fishing and boating are allowed with the proper licenses, too. There are also plenty of hiking trails varying in difficulty that you will want to explore.
Merrill Creek is open from sunrise to sunset.
Which of these day trips is within your NJ county? Let us know in the comments below.
Main image by Bruce Emmerling