While there are plenty of fun things to do in the Garden State, if you are living on a budget actually doing those things can be hard. Check out our list of the free attractions in NJ and find something new and exciting to do this weekend!
Tons of free events! If you love the environment and you want to learn more about it, visit the Warren E. Fox Nature Center in Mays Landing, NJ. It is the main station for environmental education in Atlantic County and an awesome free place to bring the kids for an afternoon of fun. Built in 1984, the facility was named after an environmentalist who put in thousands of hours to help state residents understand, and explore, the NJ Pinelands.
This establishment offers some of the coolest free events in the area, such as guitar lessons, Wii game nights, resume building workshops, introduction to e-mail classes, tutoring, movie nights, yoga classes, toddler story time and much more. The Nature Center even offers some things you would not expect such as support groups, mommy and me classes, piano lessons and free rabies clinics. They are open weekdays 8 am - 4:30 pm and weekends and holidays from 8 am - 4 pm. Call 609-625-1897 for more information about the Warren E. Fox Nature Center.
Hospital guided tours available for ages 13 and older! Experience the same things immigrants did as they came to a land of hope and freedom through Ellis Island. You can take self-guided tours throughout the grounds, audio tours, watch free films and much more. Take a moment and search the wall of ancestors to find your family members information! You can even search over 22 million passenger records from those who arrived between 1892 and 1924.
Guided tours are available for the hospital complex, where you can visit infectious and contagious disease wards, the laundry room, kitchen, staff housing, autopsy room and other living quarters. Hospital tours are available for visitors ages 13 and older, for an additional fee. Ferry hours vary, so please call ahead before planning your next adventure. Ellis Island is open every day except December 25th and tickets are needed for ferry rides. Security screening is mandatory when visiting Ellis Island.
Learn about your ancestors that gave you the chance at freedom!
The first ever animal park in NJ! Located on about 15 acres of land, the Cohanzick Zoo was the first zoo ever opened in New Jersey. They house a variety of different animals such as red foxes, peacocks, a black bear, a porcupine, white tiger and a wallaby! A cool thing that kids will love to see is the feeding of the tiger, an event that occurs every day at 2 pm. They will love seeing their favorite animals and you will love that the Cohanzick Zoo offers educational programs and admission to the zoo is free!
The zoo is open daily from 9 am - 5 pm in the spring and summer and 9 am - 4 pm in the winter and during times of severe weather, the zoo may close. The staff is knowledgeable about all of the animals on the property and always happy to speak with you and answer any questions you may have about an exhibit, program or event.
Lots of friendly animals! At the Howell Living History Farm you and your children will be given the chance to see and learn about various farm animals. With over 250 years of being in operation, this farm is known to leave you with an outstanding impression of how life was in the past. From teaching you about the farming time period between 1890 and 1910 to the wild arrange of animals, you will certainly leave with a better understanding of farm life. Some of the animals you will be given the chance to see on the premises are pigs, rams, horses, a cat, ducks, geese, barn swallows, oxen, roosters, hens and Maggie, the cattle dog. In addition to the fun exploration of animal life, you are welcome to eat lunch at the farm on Saturdays between 11 am and 3 pm, among animals and the knowledgeable staff. Take part in the various special events they offer, whether they be educational programs for the kids or fun activities inspired by the season or upcoming holiday.
Admission and parking are always free at this NJ attraction. You can call ahead to schedule your class trip, summer camp, internship or simply to inquire about hours and tours. While many people prefer to visit this attraction in the spring or summer, the Howell Living History Farm is open throughout the year.
Statue of Liberty National Monument, New York, NY 10004
New York City
Learn about Lady Liberty! Possibly the most famous man made statue in the entire country, the Statue of Liberty stands proud on New Jersey property in the New York Harbor. When you visit this free attraction, you will learn about an important part of American history, immigration and the historical events that led to the placement of Lady Liberty on NJ soil. The original torch, an item which makes the Statue of Liberty so well-known, is on display in the lobby for visitors to examine.
You will be able to take a breath, relax and look at the statue, a figure which represents hope and freedom to foreigners coming to America, as you walk Liberty Island. Liberty Island is open every day except December 25th and you can make a reservation to walk up to the crown. From the crown you can gaze upon the beautiful view from 25 windows. Tickets are needed for ferry rides and a security screening is mandatory when visiting Liberty Island. Enjoy a free, educational day trip in New Jersey.
See relics of wars in this free NJ museum! Come on down to the New Jersey Naval Museum, home to the USS LING 297! As one of the coolest free attractions in the Garden State, this war museum offers the best collection of war boats you can find in the North. Other interesting items they have on display include a torpedo, a Mark V diving suit and even a SEAL delivery vehicle! Everything war related can be found at this free attraction and the staff is always happy to answer questions.
Two undeniably cool exhibits on display feature a submarine and prizes awarded to the United States during World War II! Not only can you spend the day at this museum, but you can also host a birthday party there. Kids will absolutely love exploring the museum and learning about history with their friends. For more information and the hours of operation, call 201-342-3268.
Fun and free beach in New Jersey! Pack up your towel, bathing suit and sunscreen and get ready to head down to the beautiful beaches in Atlantic City, New Jersey. This popular town, best known for their casinos, restaurants and entertainment, also has great beaches where people can relax and have fun in the sun.
Atlantic City is also home to a family friendly boardwalk where children can play games and grab a quick bite to eat. In addition to these awesome attractions, Atlantic City has made it a point to allow visitors who enjoy water sports to do what they love, in a designated area for safety of course. Surfers are free to ride waves near Raleigh, Delaware or New Hampshire avenues, while kayakers and windsurfers can enjoy themselves near Jackson Avenue. Everyone, whether they are 5 or 85, can have a good time and enjoy themselves in this well-known town!
1170 Cattus Island Boulevard, Toms River, NJ 08753
Central Shore Region NJ
Spacious 500 acres of fun in Central NJ! Ocean County, the heart of the Jersey Shore, is home to a cute and quiet county Park, Cattus Island. This outdoor 530 acre natural wonderland has multiple free adventures for you and your family to take. With all adventures taking place outside, bring the family and try a little bit of everything. The park offers year-round activities such as bird watching, walks through the wetlands, events at their conservation area, programs at their environmental education site, crabbing, cross-country skiing, fishing, several acres of nature trails, scenic overlooks, several acres for hiking and biking, numerous picnic areas and playgrounds for the little ones. While here, be sure to visit the beautiful Butterfly Garden, the only one in Ocean County! Visit their website for a complete list of events taking place throughout the year to plan your next outdoor adventure.
This free attraction is suitable for everyone in the family and with 500 acres of land everyone who visits is sure to have fun in the nature of New Jersey. The park is open every day from dusk until dawn. For more information please call 1-877-627-2757.
Over 10,000 kinds of seashells! Uncover some cool shells and other wonders of the sea at the Discovery Seashell Museum in Ocean City, NJ. Visitors are invited to take self-guided tours and explore the museum's selection of over 10,000 seashells of all different shapes and sizes. In addition to the thousands of shells collected from around the world, you will find fifteen different types of coral, carved shells and air plants that will leave you wanting to know more about the natural treasures in the sea.
When you visit Discovery Seashell Museum you will be introduced to many oceanic marvels that you never knew existed. From air plants that grow without soil to uniquely colored shells and coral, you will find it all at this Southern NJ free attraction. Come out and see the "freak shows" of the shell world along with the rarest and weirdest shells from around the world, found in the "Glory of India Cone," or the "Siamese Twin Helmet." They are open Monday - Saturday 10am-8pm and Sunday 12-6pm.
320 foot tall lighthouses in NJ! Double the amount, double the fun! Twin Lighthouses located in Highlands, New Jersey is the perfect amount of historical entertainment and fun. Originally built in 1828, Twin Lights became the second light station to help navigate ships in the New York Harbor area. With two beacons standing at a whopping 320 feet tall, this was said to "Spark a scientific revolution in America."
Later in 1893, the Twin Lighthouses was the first official location to publicly recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Guided tours for groups or even just a day trip are still given all the time. Today, it acts as an awesome historical site in NJ that is free and open to the public. For hours please call ahead before planning a visit. If you become a member for a small fee, you will receive even more information and benefits. Donations are also welcomed, but not mandatory.
Visit a New Jersey animal refuge for free! Those who love spending time at the beach may not only love sun bathing or swimming in the ocean, they may also love the animals that live under water! If you are a lover of wildlife, visit The Sea Life Museum Marine Stranding Center in Brigantine, NJ. They are a non-profit organization created to help preserve marine wildlife that washes up on the Jersey Shore. The Center is also a gateway for the largest wildlife refuge in the country!
Throughout the years they have collectively responded to over 3,900 calls of whales, dolphins, seals, sea turtles and countless other animals stranded on beaches along the Jersey Shore coastline. In addition to seeing and learning about the rescues this center has done, you can be a part of the solution and adopt a seal for only $25! For directions and hours of operation please call 609-266-0538.
Oldest house in Atlantic County! Located at Shore Road and Golf Street in Somers Point, NJ, Somers Mansion is the oldest house in the area. Built in 1725 by Richard Somers, the son of the famous John Somers, a man who made major contributions to the transformational history of New Jersey, this mansion is now treasured as one of Atlantic County's biggest historical gifts. Much like John Somers was a keeper of the roads, Somers Mansion is now a keeper of information and teaches visitors about the area.
The mansion is a three story, brick finished home with patterned laying brick and is a demonstration of how houses looked in the past. It is essentially history frozen in time, exhibiting many unique collections of antique quilts, old furniture and lots of memorabilia of local NJ significance. The mansion is open in the summer, Tuesday 7-9pm, Thursday 10-12pm, and Saturday 10-1pm. History frozen in time!
Burt Avenue Recreation Center, Bridgeton, NJ 08302
Seememorabilia from famous NJ athletes! The Bridgeton Hall of Fame All Sports Museum is a free attraction in Southern NJ and houses tons of mesmerizing memorabilia native to the region. You are always welcome to come and visit their array of awesome exhibits with a little bit of everything. At this museum you can find photos and equipment, scrapbooks and even a trophy room that displays medals and cups won by former sports players!
At Bridgeton Hall of Fame All Sports Museum you will see all types of famous memorabilia originally owned by famous athletes from New Jersey. Memorabilia belonging to athletes such as Willie Mays, Rocky Graziano, Harvey Johnson, Jack Gross, John Borican and many other athletes from all sports imaginable can be found at this museum. While you may be required to pay a nominal charge for parking, entrance into the museum is free.
Romantic day trips! If you are a fan of the wilderness, then you should adventure out to Batsto Village in the historic Pinelands of New Jersey for a free and fun afternoon. Administered and protected by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Parks & Forestry, this village is a great place to go if you want to spend the afternoon with family and friends. They offer visitors natural beauty, history and a slew of free attractions that are appropriate for the whole family.
Make your trip to Batsto Village one that lasts the whole day and take in everything this village has to offer. You can take self-guided tours, join the car clubs, bike, hike and even take guided mansion tours! With the beauty of the Pinelands surrounding you as you adventure through this area, you are sure to relax and find peace with both nature and the stress of your everyday life. Family friendly events!
Cultural exhibits at a free art museum! Located in the heart of the Princeton University's campus, this is one of, if not the best free art museum in New Jersey. Exhibiting over 92,000 works in a variety of different styles, you will instantly be brought back in time, maybe even all the way to the 1750s. Collections at this free attraction are eclectic and range from modern photography to a collection of African, American, Islamic and even Asian art!
Everyone in the family, even young children and those in wheelchairs can enjoy the exhibits at the Princeton University Art Museum because the building is both stroller and wheelchair accessible. The museum is open to the public Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with tours conducted every Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm. While admission into the art museum is always free, donations are greatly appreciated.
Free museum in Northeast NJ! The Fort Lee Museum is located in beautiful Bergen County, NJ. This attraction is more than just a museum, it is also a landmark. This historical location has self-guided tours where you can walk the exhibits and learn all about Fort Lee. Their exhibits show off some legendary artists and works of art that will leave you speechless. They even have cool events that allow you to see people in period clothing and learn history in a much more exciting way.
Also, The Fort Lee Museum is equipped with beautiful outdoor scenery and an impressive statue of soldiers and canons so you and your children can see a visual of life during war. The Museum is open Saturday and Sunday from 12pm - 4pm or you can call 201-592-3580 and make an appointment.
Historic guided tour, perfect for the family! Catch a wave down to the Jersey Shore and visit the Sea Girt Lighthouse! You are welcomed to the beautiful and tranquil Sea Girt, New Jersey, a shore town with breathtaking lighthouse. The Sea Girt Lighthouse opened for daily operation on December 10, 1896 and ensured the safety of ships traveling between the 40 mile gap of the Twin Lights Lighthouse (Navasink), and the Barnegat Bay Lighthouse.
This NJ lighthouse stands 44 feet tall and can be seen up to 15 miles off shore. Its once utilization of a historic Fresnel lens makes this lighthouse a sight see. In 1921, the station became the first ever to feature a radio beacon on land so communication with ships became possible. Tours are conducted year round by appointment and donations are always accepted, but not mandatory. Call 732-974-0514 to schedule your tour today! Stands 44 feet tall!
Learn about one of the most important NJ landmarks! The heart and soul of the state is through the governor and now you can see how past governors lived when you visit Drumthwacket. See the timeline of New Jersey's governors from beginning to end and learn about the history of the state's operation. Tours focus on the architecture and history of the property with the added bonus of discussing the antiques and fine arts collected over the years. This free attraction in Princeton, NJ even has a second building on the premises, The Olden House, which shows you the kitchen past governors used. After the tour of the mansion is complete you can go for a walk through the gardens on the land. You can either make a reservation or, if you are in groups less than 20 people, a tour begins every Wednesday at 1pm. Always call before planning your trip to ensure your party is able to take part in that day's tour.
Go online to make your reservation today! Limited spots available!
"Rainbow on the Hill" If you love nature and flowers this free attraction is for you! The Presby Memorial Iris Gardens are located in beautiful Essex County. On 7 1/2 acres of breathtaking mountainside, they have arrangements of over 3,000 varieties of irises and over 100,000 flowers that bloom throughout the season.
Some examples of Irises shown are Hall of Fame-Present, Heirloom Irises from the 1500s to the early 1900s and Antique Historic Tall Bearded Irises from the 1940s - 1950s. They even have an exhibit where they show you hybrid Irises! This free Upper Montclair attraction has often been called the "rainbow on the hill" because as you approach the property, you are blinded by endless rows of colors. Presby Memorial Iris Gardens is open from dawn until dusk everyday unless otherwise stated on their website. For more information call 973-783-5974.
25 East. High Street (High & Center Street), Glassboro, NJ 08028
Awesome glass museum in Glassboro! If you are taking a trip to the Southern shore, stop by the Heritage Glass Museum in Glassboro, NJ. Experience over 200 years of glass all native to New Jersey. From the rarest types of glass to the coolest glass you have ever seen, this museum has it all. The staff will teach you about the history of the material and how some glasses are native to the state while others are not. In addition, they will demonstrate how, when certain glass is exposed to light, it can create beautiful colors.
They have a little bit of everything for New Jersey art and glass lovers and with samples of Whitney Glass, Heston Bottles, paperweights, fruit jars, flasks, mercury glass, hand-blown glass and so much more, you will certainly leave this free attraction with more knowledge about glass. The museum is open every Saturday, Wednesday and the fourth Sunday of every month. For more information about hours and exhibits, call 856-881-7468.