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27 New Jersey Outdoor Activities You Can NOW Do!

These are challenging times for parents and caregivers around New Jersey and the country. We are being told to stay at home or if we must go out we should keep ourselves and our kids away from others. No playdates! No going to the museum. No amusement parks! Don’t walk by a playground, that might be too tempting for kids! Are there any New Jersey outdoor activities you CAN do?

Kids want to play! Kids want to be active!

Parents and caregivers need help! A few weeks ago, we got that help through a new executive order and our state has started to respond.

Murphy also issued a new executive order that “authorizes all outdoor recreational and entertainment businesses that were previously closed to reopen, with the exceptions of amusement parks, water parks and arcades, which all involve large numbers of people coming into contact with high-touch surfaces.”

New Jersey Business Magazine, June 9, 2020

Now more than ever families are looking for things to do with their kids, outdoor activities in New Jersey. But who wants to keep a list of blog posts? Who wants to have to search each NJ outdoor activity to see if it’s open? And then there’s all the outdoorsy activities we don’t even know to look for.

We KNOW you need help finding outdoor activities in New Jersey for the kids to do that are fun and engaging. Moms, dads, grandparents, caregivers, we know you are going to need a break. It was a lot to have parents go from having their kids in school to having them home ALL DAY! Now, with most summer camps closed your kids are going to be home all day, every day, all summer.

We’re here to help.

27 New Jersey Outdoor Activities

A lot of these outdoor New Jersey attractions have indoor buildings. Even though those buildings might be closed right now, the grounds are still fum to explore with kids.

Walk through the zoo

As soon as I realized certain low risk outdoor activities would be allowed again, I thought of our zoos. I was hopeful they would be able to open. It took them a few days but some of the New Jersey Zoos are open to the public. Take a look at what you need to know to visit them at this time.

  • Cape May County Park & Zoo – The Cape May County Zoo is open daily from 10 am to 4:30 pm. Learn more about the Cape May County Zoo by visiting their website. Keep in mind, while admission is free donations are greatly appreciated, especially because they had to be closed for so many weeks. A few rules to keep in mind when visiting the Cape May County Zoo.
    • Everyone over the age of 2 years old is required to wear a face covering when visiting to protect each other and their susceptible animals!
    • Adhere to social distancing guidelines when visiting.
    • Don’t visit if you are feeling ill or running a fever.
    • The Reptile House and Aviary will remain closed at this time.
    • Admissions into the Zoo will be limited to maintain a light manageable crowd every day and to make sure everyone can distance themselves responsibly.
    • Playgrounds will be open and the Park is available for pavilion rentals and recreation.
A tiger at Cohanzick Zoo
A tiger at Cohanzick Zoo
  • Space Farm Zoo – Starting Monday June 22, 2020 Space Farm Zoo will be open 10 am – 5 pm, last entrance at 4 pm Sundays – Thursdays. Friday and Saturday will be drive through 10 am – 5 pm. Last time slot 4 pm. Guests must buy tickets on-line. Learn more about the Space Farms Drive Thru farm. Buy tickets here.
frog at playground at Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange NJ
  • Turtle Back Zoo – Turtle Back Zoo is not the zoo you remember from your childhood. It has been magnificently transformed in the last ten years. New exhibits and enhancements are made each year. You will find a wealth of nature and great teaching moments with respect to nature.
    • The Essex County Turtle Back Zoo reopened to the public on Thursday, June 18, 2020 with timed tickets only. The Zoo will be open daily from 10 am to 4:30 pm. Tickets are only valid for date and time specified. You have a 30-minute time frame to enter the Zoo after the time specified on your ticket. Learn more and reserve your tickets at their website. Read more about this North Jersey zoo in our review of Turtle Back Zoo.
  • Cohanzick Zoo -The Cohanzick Zoo is located at 45 Mayor Aitken Drive, Bridgeton. Admission is Free! It is open 10 AM – 3 PM Fall-Winter and 9 AM – 5 PM Spring and Summer. Check out New Jersey’s FIRST zoo! There are over 100 animals in 15 acres and lots of fun to be had.  Pack a lunch and enjoy a day out among the black bear, emu, donkey and more. Read more about this zoo in Southern New Jersey in our review of the Cohanzick Zoo or our articles about the Cohanzick Zoo.
  • Visit the Cohanzick Zoo website.
  • The Bergen County Zoo – The Bergen County Zoo is located at 216 Forest Avenue, Paramus. It is open every day, 10 AM – 4 PM. Adult admission is $8, children over 3 is $5. Reduced admission is available for Bergen County residents. Bergen County Zoo admission is free from November – April. The Bergen County Zoo is small but friendly! See birds, cows, snakes, lizards and more. The zoo offers a series of educational programs and public events as well.Read more about this zoo in Northern New Jersey in our review of Bergen County Zoo or our articles about Bergen County Zoo.
  • Visit the Bergen County Zoo website.

The Popcorn Park Zoo is still closed at this time.

Put put put a round of Mini Golf

What tourist town or beachy destination doesn’t have mini golf? When we walked into Ocean City the other day we found families enjoying a game of miniature golf, while maintaining their distance from others.

boy plays mini golf at the Jersey Shore, a great New Jersey outdoor activity

If you have a mini golf place in New Jersey you love give them a call or drive by, I’m sure they’d love to see you. Or venture out and try someplace new. I alway enjoy seeing the different themes and decor or mini golf courses. To cut down on the passage of germs bring exact change and your own pencils, golf balls, and score card. Bring wipes to clean off the golf putters before you get started.

Enjoy a dinner out at sunset at New Jersey restaurants

New Jersey restaurants have been given permission to open for outdoor dining. Everyone’s trying to get in on the action. From local mom and pop restaurants to popular restaurants on the boardwalk, there’s probably a restaurant near you that offers outdoor dining. Time it right and enjoy an outdoor meal with your family as the sun is setting.

outdoor dining at the Seaport Pier in Wildwood

Before you head out for outdoor dining in New Jersey, read this first, 13 Rules for Dining Outside in New Jersey.

Smell the roses at New Jersey Gardens

One of the New Jersey outdoor attractions we started enjoying more of last year were New Jersey gardens and arboretums. Botanical gardens and arboretums across New Jersey are a fun way to get outside in the fresh air and share in unique experiences with you family. 

a treehouse from the Hunterdon County arboretum
Hunterdon County Arboretum

There are quite a few gardens and arboretums around the state. New Jersey botanical gardens and arboretums, give families opportunities to get exercise as a family while also discovering new flowers and create new memories together. Every few weeks something different is blooming. 

A babbling brook at Reeves - Reed Arboretum
A babbling brook at Reeves – Reed Arboretum

Here’s a few of our favorite arboretums, you can find a full list here, New Jersey gardens and arboretums

  • Linwood arboretum – Completely outdoors at Belhaven & Wabash Avenues, open every day dusk to dawn, free admission.
  • Reeves – Reed Arboretum in Summit. The Reeves-Reed Arboretum is a hidden little spot that few realize is an untold treasure. Beautiful gardens in a relaxing setting make is a perfect place for a nature walk. Arboretum grounds will be open to the public 7 days a week from 1 pm to 7 pm; however all buildings are closed. I remember admission being free, but a donation of $5 per person was preferred.

Pick sunflowers

Sunflower picking season has begun! It’s one of my favorite times of year. All across New Jersey we have farms where you can pick sunflowers. Find one local to you in our list of New Jersey Sunflower Farms.

New Jersey sunflower farm

Go back in time at battlefields in New Jersey

Ever since we visited the battlefields of Fredericksburg Virginia, my youngest has been fascinated by battlefields. The cannons, forts, lookout towers capture his imagination and he can’t help but have a pretend battle with his brothers. In New Jersey, we have a few state parks with battefields.

  • Fort Mott State Park
  • Monmouth Battlefield State Park
  • Princeton Battlefield State Park
  • Washington Crossing State Park
Climbing walls of Battery Gregg at Fort Mott
Click to read about our visit to Fort Mott State Park.

Board a Battleship

The Battleship New Jersey reopened for limited, self-guided tours on June 15! The Battleship was granted approval by the State of New Jersey to open her decks for exterior tours. The Hit the Deck tour, which will launch at 10am each day with the last tour departing at 4 pm, and will be a self-guided tour.

battleship NJ beds
Check out the beds aboard the Battleship New Jersey.

Guests are encouraged to purchase tour tickets online at Tickets will be $15 per adult and $10 for children 12 and under, veterans and senior citizens. The tours will be limited to 10 people every 15 minutes. This will spread out guests along the tour route to make for a safer experience.

All guests touring the Battleship will be screened in the Visitors Center before redeeming tickets. All guests must wear a face covering and practice social distance of one fathom — six feet — in the Visitors Center and while touring the Battleship. Free parking is available!

USS Battleship New Jersey
The Battleship NJ on the Camden Waterfront.

Pick berries at a New Jersey farm

One of my favorite past-times is picking berries at New Jersey farms. Strawberry season is winding down. Soon it will be time to pick blueberries and blackberries. We’ll end the summer picking peaches. Then, as we roll into the fall, we’ll visit New Jersey farms for picking apples and pumpkins.

Two boys with a basket of strawberries picked from the Sahls Father Son Farm in Galloway, New Jersey
We love picking strawberries at the Sahl’s Father Son Farm

Spending an hour or so with your kids on a farm is a great outdoor activity and helps your kids appreciate where their food comes from. Make it better by coming home and baking up some yummy treats. Find a New Jersey farm near you by visiting our directory of New Jersey farms.

Shop a Farmers Market

Experiences at New Jersey farmer’s markets are going to look different this year. But whether you are looking for a farmers market with walk up service, a drive thru farmers market, or a farm-to-car experience you can get it in New Jersey.

Farmers' Market produce pic

Not only do farmers markets provide us a way to get fresh and healthy produce, that may be limited in grocery stores, but they also provide us a way to support New Jersey’s farmers. For a listing of farmer’s markets near you visit our listing of New Jersey Farmers Markets.

Find a waterfall

The most majestic waterfall in New Jersey has to be the one at Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park. I truly wish I loved closer because I would be there ALL THE TIME. Not only are the waterfalls at Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park truly majestic but they are also quite significant when it comes to waterfalls on the East Coast. The Paterson Great Falls are the second largest waterfall east of the Mississippi. How fortunate are we that they are ours to share in New Jersey?! Learn more about this and other waterfalls in our guide to New Jersey Hiking Trails with Waterfalls.

Paterson Great Falls National Park
Paterson Great Falls National Park

You can learn more about the Paterson Great Falls through TWO articles we’ve written: Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park & The Day With No Falls! and Earning Paterson Great Falls Junior Ranger Badges.

There are other waterfalls in New Jersey that you can learn about through this article on NJ Hiking.

Discover a castle

Last summer we discovered one of the most beautiful locations to visit in New Jersey, Kip’s Castle. The view of the castle is impressive. Originally referred to as “Kypsburg” it took over three years to build in the early 1900’s.  The County of Essex became it’s most recent owner in 2007 and integrated into it’s offerings of outdoor films and concerts. Under normal circumstances visitors are permitted to tour the first floor of the castle.

From the Essex County Park’s website, “Kip’s Castle is a magnificent 9,000 square foot mansion that replicates a medieval Norman castle. The estate spans eleven acres of land on the ridge of First Mountain, resting in both Montclair and Verona townships, and provides spectacular views of New York City.

Kip's Castle in Essex County New Jersey
The beautiful scenery makes a great backdrop for family photos.

Kip’s Castle is located at 22 Crestmont Road in Verona. The grounds at Kip’s Castle Park are open from dawn to dusk seven days a week. There is a small parking lot visitors can use while they tour the grounds. Admission is free.

Seek out diamonds

Diamonds can be found on the Sunset Beach of Cape May. This is one of those Cape May activities that I’ve heard about from friends but still need to do with my boys. It sounds so fun! Small pieces of quartz, rounded and smoothed through hundreds of years traveling down the Delaware River are underfoot on this Cape May beach. When polished, these quartz rocks look like diamonds-hence the name “Cape May Diamonds.” Hunting for diamonds is a tradition for many families that visit Cape May on vacation.

social distancing at the Jersey Shore beaches a father and child wade in the water

Dip your toes in the water at the beach

While we’re talking about diamonds on the beach, one of the most loved New Jersey outdoor activities is visiting the beach. As we approach the July 4th holiday almost all New Jersey beaches are staffed with lifeguards and open for swimming. Whether you want to visit the free beaches in Atlantic City and Wildwood or travel to another beach on the Jersey Shore you can learn more about beach tags, amenities, and more in our guide to New Jersey beaches.

Watch a movie under the stars

Over these last few weeks how we’ve watched movies with our families has definitely changed. Our movie theaters are closed. New releases have gone straight to TV. It’s definitely been different and I am missing the movie theater experience.

screen for drive in graduation

This summer, though, we have a whole new way to see movies in New Jersey because drive in movies are back! There are SEVEN ways to see New Jersey drive in movies this summer: our permanent drive in theater, pop up drive in theaters, and traditional but one night only township drive in movies. Learn more about each option in our article, New Jersey Drive In Movies ARE Back.

Drive thru a safari

Growing up the Six Flags Great Adventure Drive Thru Safari was pretty epic. It was something every family wanted to try at least once. We all had our stories of what it was like. Years later the Six Flags Great Adventure Drive Thru Safari would close and visitors enjoyed it as a perk with their Great Adventure admission ticket. It’s back though, for a limited time, while the regular amusement park is closed. Learn more in Six Flags Great Adventure Drive Thru Safari is OPEN.

Drive thru to see giraffes at the Great Adventure Safari
Photo credit Six Flags Great Adventure

Other New Jersey drive thru experiences include:

Pose with art

Did you know that Atlantic City has over 60 murals? I have traveled into Atlantic City quite often attending events and finding things to do in Atlantic City with kids and I can not believe I did not know that. I mean sure I knew there were a few Atlantic City murals, but I had no idea there were murals up and down nearly every street in Atlantic City.

A month into the pandemic, when most things were still closed, I was determined to get out of the house and find something to do with my boys. That’s when I discovered Atlantic City murals. I spent the next week creating a Self Guided Atlantic City Murals Tour than you can do by car or bike.

Hike at a New Jersey State Park

After sitting on a beach to watch the waves, hiking is my second all time favorite outdoor activity in New Jersey. We have so many hiking trails in New Jersey, but I usually prefer hiking at New Jersey State Parks. Not only are the trails usually marked out well, there’s also park rangers available should I run into a problem. Plus you don’t usually need to worry about where to park or use the bathroom.

boy on bridge of a hiking trail

Take a look at our 25 Things to Know About New Jersey State Parks to help you determine where to start hiking at first. Or visit our 70+ Places to Hike in New Jersey for even more hiking options.

Bike a new path

From the Jersey Shore boardwalks to the mountain bike trails, there are plenty of places to go bike riding in New Jersey.

teen on bike wearing helmet

One South Jersey bike path we have enjoyed as a family is the Somers Point Bike Path. It is part of a longer trail of 6.5 miles that extends from Somers Point through Linwood into Northfield and ends in Pleasantville. In Somers Point it starts at the Somers Point City Hall at 1 West New Jersey Avenue. Along the way the trail might be called different things, but one thing is for sure. This trail is definitely kid-friendly. The paths are wide enough for parents with a stroller to share it with bikers and joggers.

One of the many shaded areas to sit along the Somers Point Bike Path
Covered pavilion on Somers Point Bike Path

If you’re not local to Somers Point or planning to visit anytime soon plan a day out biking with these 10 great places to ride bikes in New Jersey from Visit New Jersey.

Strap on some skates or grab a skateboard

Yes, our traditional indoor roller skating rinks are closed, but we do have trails across New Jersey that allow for inline skating. We also have outdoor skateboarding parks open for skaters. Visit our 100+ Places to Skate in New Jersey for a listing of local places you can skate, roller blade, inline skate, or skateboard.

Kids inline skating in new jersey

Climb a New Jersey Lighthouse

New Jersey is home to 11 lighthouses. As a New Jersey mom of three boys, finding ways to help them burn energy has always been one of my top priorities. So, climbing New Jersey lighthouses with them not only gets them out and about, it also lets us experience the beauty of the New Jersey coastline as a family.

Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City
Absecon Lighthouse

Learn more about each of them in our 11 New Jersey Lighthouses to Explore with Kids. Keep in mind, even if the lighthouse is closed, you can still walk around the grounds of them to learn about their history and take in the magnificent structure.

Cruise for dolphins

There are certainly times when you can see dolphins off the coast of the Jersey Shore. However, the best way to guarantee you’ll see dolphins is through one of the dolphin cruises offered in New Jersey. Here’s a few we’ve experienced.

  • Atlantic City Dolphin Cruises
  • Cape May Whale Watcher and dolphin cruises
  • The Cape May Lewis Ferry, yes the ferry. While not promoted as a dolphin watching experience in New Jersey, we have seen dolphins every time we’ve sailed with the Cape May Lewis Ferry.
Things to do in Atlantic City - take an Atlantic City Dolphin Cruises
Looking out for dolphins with Atlantic City Dolphin Cruises

Journey Across a Bridge

We did this just the other day. We walked across the Ocean City Bridge and back. Have you ever done this? I’ve driven across this bridge probably a hundred times. Every time I do I say I’m going to walk across this bridge some day.

boy on Ocean City bridge

With the weather just perfect and my mind determined to walk somewhere I didn’t need to worry about ticks, my boys and I set about to walk the Ocean City bridge. At 2.5 miles each way it was just the right amount of challenge and distance for us.

two boys walking on the Ocean City Bridge pedestrian path

We walked a complete loop by parking at one of the fishing piers. We walked from their all the way into Ocean City, where we stopped for ice cream. Then, we turned around to come back, passing the fishing pier, and getting to the cement gazebo at the Somers Point end before turning around to head back to our parking spot. Click over for more details to Walk Across the Ocean City Bridge.

Go fishing

Have you tried fishing with your children yet? New Jersey is home to many excellent waterways, filled with varies species of freshwater fish. In addition to beaches and other fishing piers you may already know of you can read our New Jersey Free Fishing Day post for a listing of other lakes and ponds around New Jersey that allow fishing.

People fishing from the Ocean City bridge fishing pier
The Ocean City bridge offers a few spots, off the bridge, with fishing piers.

Slip and Slide at a New Jersey Water Park

Summer is the time for cooling off and what better way to do that than by slipping down a waterslide or splashing in the waves of a wave pool. All of your favorite outdoor waterparks in New Jersey are opening up.

If you want more details or need help finding a local outdoor New Jersey water park visit our guide to New Jersey Water Parks.

Here’s a few water parks we’ve blogged about before:

Funplex East Hanover offers a waterpark with multiple water slides in North Jersey
Funplex East Hanover offers a waterpark with multiple water slides in North Jersey

Test your luck

While New Jersey amusement parks, water parks, and arcades don’t have permission to open, boardwalk games do. Grab your singles and the kids and head down to your favorite boardwalk for some games and friendly competition between the members of your family.

boardwalk games at Morey's piers

Get scared on New Jersey roller coasters

That’s right! New Jersey amusement parks have been given the green light to open for the summer. Your experience will certainly look a little different. You’ll need to wear masks. Reservations may be required. But you can still count on having a fabulous time.

Casino Pier HYDRUS roller coaster Seaside Heights NJ
The Casino Pier HYDRUS roller coaster in Seaside Heights NJ

If you want more details or need help finding a local amusement park visit our guide to New Jersey Amusement Parks.

Seek out treasure with pirates

Pirates, sunken treasures, and adventures… who can resist? If you haven’t had a pirate adventure with your kids, you need to set sail with Jersey Shore Pirates. Bring your young pirates aboard the Sea Gypsy for a swashbuckling Pirate Adventure on the Metedeconk River. To maintain safety and social distancing they are limiting capacity for the cruises. Call (732) 899-6100 to learn more. Pirate cruises are offered 7 days a week beginning in July.

Pirate ship

Keep checking in with this post for new ideas. Every time I think I’ve listed all of the possible New Jersey outdoor activities, I think of a few more. I know this list will keep growing.

What outdoor activities and attractions in New Jersey would you add to this list?

Need more ideas for safe activities for kids in New Jersey?

Take a look at these articles on safe things to do in New Jersey with kids.

New Jersey Drive In Attractions

Want to get away for a safe vacation?

Click over to read about Amazing New Jersey Staycations to Try With Kids.

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Tuesday 23rd of June 2020

This is awesome! Perfect for moms and children. I truly want to thank you for thinking of us . #Cheers2Mums

Jennifer A.

Tuesday 23rd of June 2020

Awe thanks so much. I am glad you enjoyed it. - Jenn

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