Looking for summer bucket list ideas for fun family outings this summer in New Jersey? Check out my 10 favorite summertime activities below.
As a baseball momma (my son has been playing baseball since he was old enough to hold a ball and bat!) and wife of a major baseball and Yankees’ fan, we spend a lot of time at the ballpark! Besides sitting on the sidelines watching my son play, my family always catches a few major and minor league games each summer. New Jersey has several professional teams that offer affordable family fun close to home. Here are a few of the ballparks I’ve enjoyed visiting with my family.
The Somerset Patriots offers opportunities to watch professional baseball with great entertainment throughout the game for the entire family! We love the fireworks show scheduled after some games.
Located on the campus of Montclair State University, the New Jersey Jackals professional baseball team also offers family fun and great games for baseball fans of all ages. The stadium has a very intimate feel, which is especially nice if you have children who get overwhelmed by crowds found in larger stadiums. Adjacent to the stadium is The Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center, which is a wonderful place to visit for all baseball fans. Exhibits include a collection of photographs and artifacts that document the inspirational life of the winningest player in baseball history, Yogi Berra. For romantics like me, you will enjoy reading the love letters Yogi wrote to his wife while he was on the road playing baseball. There is also an interactive exhibit and much, much more.
Many New Jersey towns host free outdoor evening concerts. If you live in the Westfield area, don’t miss The Sweet Sounds Downtown Music Festival. Sponsored by the Downtown Westfield Corporation (DWC), the festival takes place every Tuesday evening during July and August, from 7pm to 9pm.
For a list of other local outdoor concerts, you might enjoy Summer Music and Movies for Families in New Jersey.
Summer is the perfect time for pick-your-own strawberries (June), cherries (June), blueberries (July), and peaches (August). If you’ve read my favorite farms to pick apples, you already know I love u-pick farms. Maybe it’s because I’m obsessed with Jersey-grown produce (you’ll see me at the Scotch Plains Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning in Summer!
There are so many wonderful farms in New Jersey that offer pick-your own fields. I’ve made it a mission to visit as many of them as I can convince my husband and son to try. Many of them have other kid friendly activities onsite to add to the experience.
Terhune Orchards in Princeton has pick-your-own crops, various festivals, a barnyard of animals and more to enjoy. Having grown up in Princeton and spent a summer during high school working at the farm store, I have always loved this family friendly farm. They also have a winery featuring wine made with farm-fresh ingredients.
Sandy Hook is my favorite beaches for bike riding, seeing beautiful sunsets, and evening picnics with my family. While the beaches can be especially crowded during the day in summer, my family and I like to go in the early evening. Sometimes we’ll set up our blanket on the bay side, which is usually much quieter and also gives nice views of the setting sun.
Sandy Hook is also a great place to enjoy an afternoon bike ride with your family and soak in the sun and sea breezes. An added benefit is no entry fee if you are just going to ride bikes.
Besides New Jersey’s beautiful beaches, did you know the State boasts 11 lighthouses along the Atlantic Ocean? My family visits Cape May regularly and our trip is never complete until we’ve climbed the Cape May Lighthouse and taken in the scenic ocean view.
Cape May Lighthouse iPhone photo
If you’re already at Sandy Hook for a bike ride, you can climb the Sandy Hook Lighthouse and on a clear day see the New York City skyline. Another favorite of mine that brings back fond childhood memories is Barnegat Lighthouse at LBI. But there are many others I’ve yet to explore; I may need to start adding some of them to future bucket lists! Here’s a list of New Jersey Lighthouses. If you visit one, take a photo and tag me on social media and tell me what you liked about it!
As a New Jersey native, it never quite feels like summer until I’ve visited the beach and boardwalk. Although now a days, I prefer quieter family beaches over crowded boardwalks, I sometimes miss watching my son ride the train for the tenth time at Jenkenson’s Boardwalk in Point Pleasant now that he’s a teen! Feeling adventurous? Check out the sky-high rope obstacle course at Jenkinson’s Adventure Lookout Ropes Course.
Turtle Back Zoo is the perfect place for an outdoor family adventure. The zoo’s newest addition resembles the African Savannah and houses giraffes, whistling ducks, and ostriches. They also host free movies and a beautiful butterfly exhibit.
I love hiking and New Jersey has lots of opportunities for easy to moderate hikes with kids of all ages throughout Union, Morris, Somerset and many other counties. If you haven’t already visited the South Mountain Fairy Trail in Millburn, be sure to check it out. Read about a sibling princess session I shot there and see some photos of the miniature fairy homes sprinkled throughout the trails. You might enjoy reading Family Friendly Hiking and Walking Trails in NJ.
Paddle boat rides are lots of fun, and a good workout for the adults pedaling!! Just be sure to bring water and wear sunglasses as it sure can get hot when you’re in the middle of the pond pedaling away! My favorite places to go for paddle boats are the Waterfront in West Orange and Verona Park in Verona. If you go to West Orange, you can make a day of it. My son loved the Children’s Regatta Playground when he was little. There is also a Reservoir Walking Path.
Of course there are so many more fun things to do during summer in New Jersey. It’s hard to stop at only ten! I’d love to hear your summer bucket list plans! Be sure to comment below with your favorite things to do and places to visit this summer. I’m always looking for new ideas!
Summer is also a great time to take family photos! Unlike fall, summer tends to be a more relaxed time for many families. Kids are out of school, and may be involved in fewer activities, which makes scheduling a session easier. An added bonus of a summer photo session is you’ll be able to get your holiday cards done early!
Want to learn more about outdoor lifestyle family sessions? You might enjoy Three Things to Love about Lifestyle Photography.
Are you ready to book your lifestyle family session? I’d love to connect! Get in touch with me here.
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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.
In 2022, Debbie was awarded a Master Photographer Certification by the National Association of Professional Child Photographers (NAPCP) for demonstrating excellence in the craft of child and family photography.
She photographs outdoors and in homes throughout Scotch Plains, Fanwood, 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.