Updated Spring 2023
Spring is in full swing which makes it a great time to plan some fun family outings. Need a little inspiration? Here are a few of my favorite fun things to do with kids in New Jersey in spring.
Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, in West Orange, is a favorite destination for families with young kids. Although my son is now a teen, I have such fond memories of visiting Turtle Back Zoo from the time he was a toddler through grade school. You’ll enjoy a leisurely walk through the stroller friendly park while your kids enjoy watching an amazing assortment of animals. If your kids are adventurous, they can touch the sting rays as they swim by! Special exhibits include a butterfly tent, bird aviary, African Adventure and more. Don’t miss the endangered species carousel and the zoo train. After the zoo, older kids and parents will enjoy the Mini Golf Safari or a meal on the veranda of McCloone’s Boathouse Restaurant, which sits on the banks of the reservoir and has great American food for the whole family.
Located in Mountainside in Watchung Reservation this enchanting indoor nature center offers something for kids and adults of all ages. Look in awe of a 34-foot tall (three-story) American beech tree, or wander into a walk-in wigwam. See the gem and mineral exhibits. Explore the Watchung Reservation Sensory Trail, a short loop with a central gazebo that features nature sounds, including bird and insect sounds. Kids can interact with a variety of hands-on musical components along the trail—including drums, Xylophone, wheels and balls. Or hike along the kid-friendly trails and stop by Loop Playground and relax while the kids play.
New Jersey offers so many great places for riding bikes. My family’s personal favorite place to ride bikes is Sandy Hook.
At Sandy Hook, you can ride your bike on a paved pathway, which runs from the entrance of Sandy Hook Gateway National Recreation Area to the ferry at Fort Hancock. Approximately eight miles long, you’ll enjoy a ride through scenic beaches, greenery, the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, and a fort.
Located in the heart of Jersey City, the Liberty State Park Pathway is perfect for all skill levels. Enjoy waterfront views of the NYC skyline, Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor, Ferry Boats, and Hudson River as you ride along the 3-mile paved bike trail.
Duke Farms in Hillsborough in Somerset County offers 18 miles of different surface bike trails through their natural preserves. There are also so many fun activities to do, including educational programs for kids, and a breathtaking tropical orchid display, not to be missed.
Dickerson Mine Preserve in Morris County offers 12 miles of marked and unmarked trails for biking and hiking. Lenape Park in Westfield and Nomahegan Park in Cranford also have family friendly bike paths.
Sometimes it’s fun to feel like a tourist in our own state and take a day trip to one of NJ’s charming towns. Among my favorites are my hometown–Princeton, as well as Montclair, Madison and Basking Ridge. My family and I also love Spring Lake and Cape May. Spring (and Winter) is especially beautiful in Princeton with blooming cherry and fruit trees speckled about the downtown and Princeton University Campus. Don’t miss the tulip display in April and the stunning rhododendron in May at Prospect Garden. Grab lunch at the Witherspoon Grill and yummy ice cream at Halo Pub.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that New Jersey boasts numerous gorgeous gardens, given its nickname as the Garden State. Among my favorites are the New Jersey Botanical Gardens, Greenwood Gardens in Summit, Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit, Sayen Gardens (Hamilton Township), Willowwood Arboretum (Far Hills), and Grounds for Sculpture.
Located in the middle of historic Hamilton Square, Sayen House and Gardens offers gardens and walking trails with more than 250,000 heirloom azaleas, rhododendrons, and dogwoods. Sayen Gardens also has a pretty bridge, gazebos, walking trails, and fish ponds.
Grounds for Sculpture has something for all ages. There’re almost 300 sculptures across the grounds. Nearly every corner of the grounds offers something special to explore: little bridges, a lotus pond, peacocks, a spray of mist, and much more. Wander along paved paths and take in the beautiful surroundings from pergolas and ponds to natural woodlands and bamboo groves. If you have young kids, be sure to bring a stroller or baby carrier.
Many local libraries offer free or discounted admission through the museum pass program.
I hope you enjoyed this list of fun things to do with kids in New Jersey this spring? I’d love to hear your favorite outdoor activities to enjoy in spring! Comment below or get in touch today!
Or, would you like to learn more about outdoor lifestyle family sessions? You might enjoy Three Things to Love about Lifestyle Photography.
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Winner of the Westfield Area Most Loved Family Photographer award by Hulafrog two years in a row, Debbie Camba Photography is a New Jersey Family Photographer based in Scotch Plains. She specializes in capturing candid and meaningful moments that reflect the love and wonder of childhood and family life.
Debbie photographs families outdoors and in homes throughout Scotch Plains, Westfield, Mountainside, Cranford, Summit, Madison and the surrounding area, including Basking Ridge and Bernardsville, as well as Morris County and Middlesex County. She is available in other locations upon request.
Debbie was awarded Master Photographer Certifications by the National Association of Professional Child Photographers (NAPCP) for demonstrating excellence in the craft of child and family photography.