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10 Places to Take the Kids Before They Go Back to School

The Land of Make Believe – Hope, NJ (lomb.com)

Although many families are getting ready for the kids to go back to school, there’s still time left to enjoy these last few weeks of summer. In fact, with so many local options between fun-filled boardwalks, zoos, aquariums, theme parks and more, the possibilities for last minute fun in the sun seem endless! So grab the kids and savor this summer at some of these great places in New Jersey with fun for the whole family.

1. NJ Beaches / Boardwalks

This one pretty much goes without saying. Support the shore during these final days of summer by hitting New Jersey’s beaches and boardwalks. Many NJ beach towns have made major comebacks since Hurricane Sandy and are filled with shops, food, water sports, games and rides and much more. If your family would rather spend a less action-packed day at the beach, check out some of these quiet beaches in New Jersey.

2. NJ Zoos

With New Jersey’s vast surroundings in New York City and Philadelphia, it’s easy to forget about the outstanding attractions that we have right here in our backyard. If you have animal lovers at home, New Jersey has you covered. In fact, you’ll save a bunch and the kids will have opportunities to get up close and personal with some of their favorite four-legged and exotic friends. We recommend Popcorn Park Zoo in Toms River, Cape May County Park & Zoo and Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange.

3. NJ Water Parks

If you haven’t heard, New Jersey has made some pretty huge developments in the area of local water parks over the last few years. In fact, the Jersey Shore is packed with places to take the kids for water adventures and relief from the heat. Places like Six Flags’ Hurricane Harbor, Breakwater Beach in Seaside Heights, Gillian’s Island Water Park and the beachfront water parks at Morey’s piers in Wildwood are just a few examples of exciting water parks for the whole family.

4. NJ Boat Rides

Kids love adventure. Take them out aboard one of New Jersey’s famous boat cruises, tours, or fun-filled adventure boats while the weather is still nice. We suggest heading to New York City via boat, rather than the same old boring (and stressful) car ride. If your kids love the water, check out the Jersey Shore Pirates, where kids can participate in a pirate ship adventure with a treasure map, water cannons, and pirates! Finally, don’t forget the Cape May Whale Watcher, with dolphin and whale watching trips that kids love!

5. NJ State / Local Parks

Sometimes some of the most fun family escapades occur as close as at your local parks. New Jersey is packed with lots of huge, picturesque state and local parks with picnic areas, biking and nature trails, lakes, playgrounds, sports fields and more! Discover all of New Jersey’s parks by visiting the Division of Forestry website .

6. NJ Amusements / Theme Parks

There’s no shortage of amusement rides in New Jersey. At the Shore, thrill-seekers and kids of all ages can delight in places like Point Pleasant, Ocean City, Seaside Heights, Wildwoods, Atlantic City and more. Plus, just a few miles away, we have the biggest theme park in America – Six Flags Great Adventure. Those who are looking for big thrills on a smaller scale, can discover great theme parks like Clementon Park, Storybook Land in Egg Harbor Township, Blackbeard’s Cave in Bayville, The Land of Make Believe in Hope and Bowcraft Amusement Park in Scotch Plains, just to name a few.

7. NJ Aquariums

While the kids have the time off, take them to one of New Jersey’s aquariums where they can discover the underwater world through some of the greatest tanks and hands-on exhibitions around. Among them all, kids love Camden’s Adventure Aquarium, Jenkinson’s Aquarium, and also the Liberty Science Center, where the aquarium is just part of the great attractions for kids!

8. NJ Gardens

Besides the obvious fact that we live in the “Garden State”, there are several parks and open areas with beautiful gardens where kids can observe, play, and participate in activities to learn about vegetation, flowers and agriculture. At the top of the list, we love the fun and interactive Camden Children’s Garden. We also recommend bringing the kids to the New Jersey State Botanical Gardens at Skylands (in Ringwood) and Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton.

9. NJ Nature & Wildlife Centers

Here in the Garden State you’ll find great marine and nature centers, bird observatories and recreational areas that offer tours, guides and other fun activities for kids of all ages. They’ll not only see great exhibitions, but kids can also learn hands-on about different species of birds, butterflies and other wildlife in their own environments. Check out our Jersey Shore Guide to Nature and Wildlife Centers, where you’ll discover various locations for fun, learning experiences for kids who enjoy nature!

10. NJ Ice Cream Shops

Let’s face it – kids LOVE ice cream! While the weather is still hot, take them out for a treat where they can enjoy a cone of their favorite flavors at one of the many delicious ice cream parlors in the state. Not sure where to go? Check out our list of the Best Ice Cream Shops at the Jersey Shore!

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