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The Biggest List of FREE Things to Do With Kids Near Me and You in New Jersey

New Jersey, known as the Garden State, offers an abundance of exciting and diverse attractions for families to enjoy. While some activities may come with costly admission fee, there are also plenty of fantastic free things to do near me and you in New Jersey that provide endless opportunities for exploration and family fun.

The abundance of free NJ activities was part of the motivation behind creating Jersey Family Fun. I was always looking for free activities near me to do with my 3 little boys. I’d find out about free craft workshops at A.C. Moore, free building workshops at Home Depot, story times at the library, and more. I was always surprised that most of these free events were not advertised online, and there certainly wasn’t one source for families to find them. That’s why, in 2010, I created Jersey Family Fun. I wanted a resource for NJ families to always be able to find free and cheap things to do with their kids.

Thirteen years later, we’re still going strong and still sharing all the free things to do in New Jersey. Whether you’re a local NJ resident or planning a visit to the area, this guide highlights a variety of cost-free experiences and activities that will help families create unforgettable memories.

The Biggest List of FREE Things to Do With Kids Near Me and You in New Jersey

Free Attractions in New Jersey

Splash it up at free NJ Beaches

With over 130 miles of beaches and community lakes, New Jersey offers plenty of free beaches where no tags are required and no admission fee is charged. Enjoy sun-soaked beach days, build sandcastles, take refreshing dips in the water, or relaxing walks along the water. Many beaches have playgrounds, picnic areas, and designated swimming areas, ensuring a fun-filled day for the entire family.

In New Jersey, we even have several beaches that offer free activities during the summer months giving you more ways to have MORE fun on your visit.

Municipal Beach Park in Somers Point, Atlantic County Parks and Playgrounds
Municipal Beach Park in Somers Point

Wander Through NJ State Parks and Forests

One thing I really love about New Jersey is just how many state parks and forests we have. They offer families not just the chance to immerse themselves in the state’s beautiful landscapes but also to go camping, swimming, hiking, birdwatching, picnicking, and more.

New Jersey State Parks and Forests

Visit places like Liberty State Park, where you can enjoy stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, or explore the expansive forests and trails of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Exploring NJ State Parks and Forests on a regular basis would give you so many opportunities for free things to do in New Jersey as almost all of them are free between Labor Day and Memorial Day, and many are free during the summer too.

If you make visiting the state parks part of your family memories, like we have, you must do two things. First, visit our Guide to NJ State Parks to help you learn more about each state park. TWO, get our Family Travel Journal for NJ State Parks and Forests. It’s a really helpful tool to make sure your kids record the memories you’ve made while visiting each state park. No more forgetting all the things they’ve done with you or places you went.

New Jersey state parks and forests travel journal front and back cover

Discover NJ Museums and Cultural Centers with Free Admission

Several museums and cultural institutions in New Jersey offer free admission or special discounted days. Visit this guide to free NJ museums.

Since we know our readers are looking for free museums near New Jersey we also created these resources.

Free Admission to Adventure Aquarium for Little Kids

Sharks and jellyfish, sting rays and penguins, there’s so much to love at Adventure Aquarium, but one of our favorite things is the Pre-K Kid’s Adventure Pass. This pass allows for little kids to get free admission to Adventure Aquarium in Camden New Jersey.

Adventure Aquarium Pre-K Adventure Pass image with girl watching turtle

Registration usually opens in September and runs through till October 30 or the supply has been exhausted. Visit Adventure Aquarium Pre-Kid’s Adventure Pass to learn more.

See Animals for Free

We love the Cape May County Park and Zoo and Cohanzick Zoo, but they aren’t the only places to see animals that don’t charge admission. In our guide to The Best Places to See Animals for Free in New Jersey, we introduce you to farms, nature centers, and wildlife refuges where you can also visit with animals at no charge.

With horse at Funny Farm Animal Rescue in Mays Landing New Jersey

Free Activities in New Jersey

When considering free things to do don’t just think about what attractions are free in New Jersey. Think about the free NJ activities too. Bowling and crafting were some of my kids’ favorite activities growing up.

Free Bowling for Kids in New Jersey

Rolling that ball down the alley is a longtime favorite of little and big kids. Rediscover the fun you can have with a family bowling day! While mostly a free summer activity for kids we have listed the free bowling for kids here because many bowling alleys offer free bowling from May through October. Click over to read more about Free Bowling for Kids in New Jersey.

kid bowling in Kids Bowl Free program

Free Make & Take Building Projects and Crafts

Home Depot Kids Workshops

Kids get to build and paint a wooden masterpiece! Projects are seasonally themed. Click over to see the upcoming schedule of Free Monthly Kids Home Depot Workshops.

Home Depot Kids Workshops

Lowe’s DIY Kids Workshop

Bring your mini-DIYer into Lowe’s once a month to create a project as well. Most of these DIY workshops don’t conflict with the Home Depot Kids Workshops, so kids can build two projects a month. Click over to see the upcoming schedule of Lowe’s DIY Kids Workshop.

Lakeshore Learning Center

Weekly crafts at Lakeshore Learning Center are easy for little ones! Visit the Lakeshore Learning Center website for their current schedule.

More Free Arts & Crafts Classes

Michael’s, libraries, bookstores, community centers, and other small businesses can also be great locations to find out about free craft classes.

Cheap & FREE Activities For Kids in New Jersey

NJ Free Events

Throughout the year, New Jersey hosts a wide range of festivals and community events that are free to attend. From lively street fairs and farmers’ markets to music festivals and holiday celebrations, to outdoor summer concerts to free movies, these events provide ample entertainment for families of all ages. Keep an eye on our Calendar of Events and Weekend Events guide to stay informed about the upcoming free events in your area of New Jersey.

Free Festivals in New Jersey

Festivals can be so much fun. The carnival-like rides and games, live music, vendor tables, food trucks, and more. We try to pack our calendar as much as we can with free festivals that families can attend. There’s been so many that we’re now creating seasonal guides to NJ festivals. Take a look.

Free Movies in New Jersey

Sure you can watch a movie at home but it can be so much more enjoyable with friends and community members to watch it elsewhere. Plus it can be easier to arrange a meet-up at a community movie night versus hosting a movie night in your home. Free movies can be found at libraries, parks, community centers, and more.

Spring through fall, you can visit communities across our state for Outdoor Movies in New Jersey. Most of these outdoor movie nights run during the summer, but some do start as early as the spring and run late into the fall.

In addition to the free outdoor movies you can enjoy affordable family movie nights indoors, and not just during the summertime. Read our guide to NJ Cheap Movie Theaters and Cheap Movies for where to go for a cheap family movie night.

Free Concerts in New Jersey 

When summer comes, it’s outdoor music time! Parks and beaches across the state host so many concerts you could be at one every night. But the music doesn’t stop when the weather turns colder, so check out our link for year-round FREE concerts of all musical varieties! We are updating this all summer, so keep our Free Summer Concerts in New Jersey link bookmarked!

Free Library Events for Kids in New Jersey

Libraries are so much more than books and quiet spaces these days. Lego clubs, video game tournaments, story times and more happen at libraries across the state. Expand your mind and have fun while learning something new at the library!

We used to attempt to add ALL library events for kids to our Calendar. But there were so many that it got to be too much. We now focus on adding special library events. So check our calendar first for some free things to do but then also give your local library’s calendar a look. They will likely have a plethora of choices for everyone in your family.

Free things to do near me in New Jersey: making Halloween crafts at Galloway Library Halloween Party 2011
Making crafts

Outdoor Recreation Options in New Jersey

Hanging out at a free beach is fun, BUT there are more free outdoor things to do near me and you in New Jersey besides trips to the beach. Check out the ideas below for more free NJ outdoor activities.

New Jersey Free Fishing Days

Grab your pole and head to the fishing hole for free fishing in New Jersey! There are 2 designated free fishing days in New Jersey each year. The first is usually early in June and the second is later in October. Read our New Jersey Free Fishing Days for more details and participating locations.

National Parks Free Admission Days

Did you know there are 5 National Parks free admission days this year?

We break down the details and the schedule in our guide to National Parks Free Admission Days.

Do you know how NJ County Parks Rock?

One of the best things I learned during the pandemic years is just how awesome NJ County parks are. There are so many cheap and free activities to do at New Jersey County Parks with your kids. Not just kids, but our county parks offer activities for toddlers, kids, teens, and adults. Take a look at our – Over 100 Cheap and Free Things to do at New Jersey County Parks to learn more.


Admission is always free at NJ Parks and Playgrounds

New Jersey offers so many parks and playgrounds, perfect for outdoor fun with the family. We’ve been reviewing playgrounds since the beginning of our Jersey Family Fun days in 2010. During the summer of 2022, we visited 100 different playgrounds to create new and updated playground reviews for our readers. We were so impressed with the quality of playgrounds we found across our state.

Jake’s Place Playground in Delran NJ

Plan some day trips to find new playgrounds for your kids. Pack a picnic and enjoy a day at Jake’s Place in Delran and pretend to ‘ride’ the USS NJ. Visit the Colonial Park Playground in Somerset and explore the scenic trails, multiple playgrounds, and splash pad. Our explore any of the NJ Parks and Playgrounds we’ve featured to find a fun new playground near you. NJ parks often feature AMAZING playgrounds, walking paths, and sports facilities ensuring a fantastic day out without breaking the bank.


Visit our series on NJ Parks and Playgrounds for reviews of playgrounds across New Jersey or go to our The Best Inclusive & Accessible Playgrounds in New Jersey for a look at the most accessible and inclusive playgrounds in New Jersey.

FEATURES - 3 level enclosed tower At Heritage Park Playground in Asbury NJ
Heritage Park Playground in Asbury NJ

What free things to do will you do?

New Jersey is a treasure trove of free things to do for families seeking adventure, culture, and family fun. Whether you prefer exploring a free playdate on the beach, immersing yourself and the kids in nature, engaging in hands-on classes and workshops or exploring a local museum, there are countless options for cost-free activities and entertainment.

By taking advantage of these free things to do near me and you, New Jersey families and families visiting New Jersey can create lasting memories and make the most of what our beautiful state has to offer, without busting the family budget. So, grab your kids and teens, embark on an unforgettable journey, and discover the wonders of the Garden State without spending a dime.

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