Free Family Attractions in Central Jersey

Free Family Attractions in Central Jersey

Sea Girt Light House

You don't have to break the bank to enjoy a day out with the family.
New Jersey is loaded with family attractions that are free
or come with very little cost.

While the family attractions listed below are mostly free, some request a small donation, or charge a small fee for additional shows, exhibits, or parking.

These attractions all have hours of operation, and/or special exhibits or programs that require an advance registration. Sometimes conditions require cancellations or changes of dates and times which are not reflected in the original schedule. Before planning a trip to visit one of the listed attractions with a special exhibit, it is suggested that you call ahead to confirm scheduling or for additional information.

Central Jersey Cheap & Free Family Attractions: Historic Parks & Sites

Allaire Village
Allaire State Park, 4263 Atlantic Avenue, Farmingdale NJ 07727, 732-919-3500
For more information, please visit their Website
Allaire State Park is best known for Allaire Village, a well-preserved early 19th-century ironmaking town with a general store, blacksmith shop, carpenter's shop, owner's house, foreman's house, church, and museum. A nonprofit corporation, sponsors more than 40 programs and events annually, including living history events, antique shows, arts and craft shows, and flea markets.

Craig House
Monmouth Battlefield State Park
347 Freehold-Englishtown Road, Manalapan NJ 07726, 732-462-9616
For more information, please visit their Website
During the Battle of Monmouth, this 18th-century farmhouse was the home of John and Ann Craig and their three children and was used as a hospital by the British forces in June of 1778.

Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park
Has multiple access points for exploring the park 609.924.5705
For more information, please visit their Website
Most of the old canal system remains intact today and is a reminder of the days when the delivery of freight depended upon a team of mules or steam tugboats. The Delaware and Raritan Canal was built in the 1830s to transport goods to industrial areas. As you walk on the towpath you will see 19th century mills and lock/bridge tender houses, along with hand-built spillways and stone-arched culverts. The D&R Canal State Park offers a variety of habitats within its 70-mile long corridor. With its wooden bridges and 19th century bridge tender houses, remnants of locks, cobblestone spillways and hand-built stone-arched culverts, the canal is a tremendous attraction for history lovers.

Edison Memorial Tower and Museum
37 Christie Street, Menlo Park 08817 (732) 549-3299
For more information, please visit their Website
The art deco memorial tower was constructed in 1937 as a tribute to Thomas Alva Edison. The tower marks the location of Edison's early experiments critical to the development of the electric light and other major inventions. The site includes a museum that focuses on Edison and his work.

Fort Hancock and Sandy Hook Proving Ground National Historic Landmark
128 South Hartshorne Drive, Highlands, NJ 07732 (718) 354-4606
For more information, please visit their Website
In 1764, the Colony of New York built Sandy Hook Light to assist navigation. Because the lighthouse helped ships sail safely to New York Harbor, the structure has always had inherent military value. As a result, a military presence quickly followed its construction and has remained more or less since the American Revolution After the War of 1812, recommendations were made to construct a large permanent fortification at the end of the Hook, but it wasn't until just before the Civil War began that work began. Over the next three years, a large wharf was constructed to receive new building supplies and materials and the fortification of the fort was laid out. In 1859, the U.S. Army began to construct the Fort at Sandy Hook

Updike Farmstead
354 Quaker Road, Princeton, NJ 08540 609-921-6748
For more information, please visit their Website
The Farmstead consists of a late 18th/early 19th century farmhouse, a large barn built in 1892, wagon shed, corn crib, three-bay garage, and garden sheds. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and lies within the Princeton Battlefield/Stony Brook Settlement Historic District. Benjamin Clarke, an early Stony Brook settler, first owned the land as part of a 1200-acre parcel he purchased in 1696. The Farmstead is along the route followed by Continental troops on their way to engage British soldiers at the neighboring Thomas Clarke farm at Princeton Battlefield.

Walnford House
Crosswicks Creek Park
62 Walnford Road, Upper Freehold, NJ 08501 609-259-6275
For more information, please visit their Website
At the heart of the Crosswicks Creek Park, the site showcases over 200 years of social, technological and environmental history through the Waln family. The historic district includes 36 acres of field, woodland and wetlands. Visit the large, elegant home built in 1774, the 19th century gristmill, and the farm buildings set in a beautiful landscape.

Central Jersey Cheap & Free Family Attractions: Museums

American Hungarian Museum
300 Somerset Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08903 732.846.5777
For more information, please visit their Website
They Collect, Conserve and Celebrate the contributions, traditions, stories, history, heritage and culture that American Hungarians have contributed to the American way of life since 1776.

Cranbury Museum
4 Park Place East, Cranbury, NJ 08512 (609) 655-2611
For more information, please visit their Website
A collection of all visual, oral, and written records of Cranbury's history. It also provides storage for artifacts and memorabilia not on current exhibit at the Museum, as well as the Society's textile collections. The Cranbury History Center is open to the public for research and use of the Society's records. It is primarily a research resource.

Hopewell Museum
28 East Broad St. Hopewell, NJ 08525 ( 609) 466-0103
For more information, please visit their Website
It's mission is to reserve and display what is most typical and interesting of village life in America from its colonial beginnings to the present. Most of its treasures have been drawn from homes in the surrounding area. Many of the outstanding items on display were used by the ancestors of today's residents. The history and traditions of a quiet industrious community and its people are presented in review.

National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey
National Guard Training Center, Sea Girt Avenue & Camp Drive, Sea Girt, NJ 08750 (732) 974-5966
For more information, please visit their Website
The mission of the Museum is to preserve and explain the military heritage of New Jersey and enhance public understanding of how armed conflicts and military institutions have shaped our state and national experience. The museum collects, preserves and displays artifacts, documents, and memorabilia that have specific historical significance to the Army National Guard, the Air National Guard, and the Naval Militia of New Jersey.

New Jersey Museum of Boating
1800 Bay Avenue (Corner Meadow Avenue), Point Pleasant, NJ 08742 (732) 606-7605
For more information, please visit their Website
It's mission is to celebrate our state's rich maritime history. They are committed to educating, preserving, interpreting, and presenting the boats built in New Jersey and the related marine equipment and materials traditionally used in the process.

New Jersey State Police Museum & Learning Center
1040 River Rd, Ewing Township, NJ 08628 (609) 882-2000
For more information, please visit their Website
The Museum provides an opportunity to learn about the nation's most diversified state law enforcement agency. Visitors learn the history of the State of New Jersey through the historic development of the State Police. Beginning with the State Grange era, through periods of population growth and economic changes, and how the New Jersey State Police have kept in step, meeting the changing needs of the citizens of the state.

Princeton University Art Museum
McCormick Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544 (609) 258-3788
For more information, please visit their Website
The collections numbering more than 100,000 objects, range chronologically from ancient to contemporary art and concentrate geographically on the Mediterranean regions, Western Europe, Asia, the United States, Latin America, and Africa.

Rutgers Geology Museum
Geology Hall, 2nd Floor, 85 Somerset Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901 (848) 932-7243
For more information, please visit their Website
Dedicated to educating the public through its exhibits, collections, public lectures, tours and other programs. They strive to provide a wide range of unique learning experiences that will enhance our visitors' understanding of the natural world.

Somerville Fire Department Museum
15 N. Doughty Avenue, Somerville, New Jersey 08876 (908) 526-7098
For more information, please visit their Website
Built in 1888 the firehouse has been restored and converted into a Museum and is now open to the public. The Museum is full of historical content ranging from photographs to uniforms to functioning apparatus. There is even a functioning alarm system that is demonstrated during planned tours and events. The first floor features an 1850 hand pumper and a horse drawn steam fire truck.

The Toms River Maritime Museum
North East Corner of Hooper Ave. and East Water Street, Toms River, NJ (732) 349-9209
For more information, please visit their Website
Their mission is to preserve and recreate when necessary, the unique history of those bygone days when schooners, catboats and special purpose small craft sailed New Jersey's coastal waters. The Barnegat Bay area and the interacostal waters of New Jersey have produced a number of significant boat types indigenous to the shallow estuaries and bays that provide haven for the feisty blue crab, the flat faces flounder, the elusive bay scallop, and the sweet cherrystone clam. New Jersey craft such as the Class "A" catboat, Barnegat Bay sneakbox, gunning skiff, and the Egg Harbor Melon Seed are part of the evolution of watercraft which include the Jersey sea skiff, numerous garveys, hay scows, and Sneakboxes that are such an important part of this area's history

Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University
71 Hamilton Street New Brunswick, NJ 08901 (848) 932-7237
For more information, please visit their Website
One of the largest and most distinguished university-based museums in the country. It collects, preserves, researches, and exhibits world-class works of art to provide the university community and diverse regional, national, international audiences with direct experience of the visual arts. Scholarly activities make art accessible through exhibitions, publications, and educational programs.

Central Jersey Cheap & Free Family Attractions: Lighthouses

Navesink Twin Lights
Lighthouse Road, Highlands, NJ 07732 (732) 872-1814
For more information, please visit their Website
is located 200 feet above sea level ioverlooking the Shrewsbury River, Sandy Hook, Raritan Bay, New York skyline and the Atlantic Ocean. The lighthouse is maintained as a museum for public viewing. The north light tower can be climbed to see the panoramic view of the New York Skyline and the southern end of New York Harbor.

The Sandy Hook Lighthouse
Sandy Hook, Gateway National Recreation Area, 128 South Hartshorne Drive, Highlands, NJ 07732. (732) 872-5970
For more information, please visit their Website
located on the the tip of Sandy Hook, NJ, at the entrance of New York Harbor, is the oldest working lighthouse in the country. The light is maintained by the United States Coast Guard and is lit 24 hours a day.

The Sea Girt lighthouse
9 Ocean Ave, (Corner Beacon Ave.) Sea Girt, NJ 08750 (732) 974-0514
For more information, please visit their Website
This was the last live-in lighthouse built in the United States. The lighthouse tower is attached to the building where the lighthouse keeper and his family lived. Guided tours and exhibits of rare photos and artifacts are on display, including a Fresnel lens, similar to the original fourth order lens used in the tower.

Central Jersey Cheap & Free Family Attractions: Beaches

Keansburg Beach
Monmouth County, 275 Beachway Avenue, Keansburg, NJ 07734 (732) 495-1400
For more information, please visit their Website
Part of the Keansburg Amusement Park complex. Overlooks the skyline of lower Manhattan. Beach does not have lifeguards.

Island Beach State Park
Ocean County, GPS Coordinates 39° 54' 18.98" N 74° 04' 53.15" W, Seaside Park, NJ 08752 (732) 793-0506
For more information, please visit their Website
Island Beach is one of New Jersey's last significant remnants of a barrier island ecosystem that once existed along much of the coast and is also one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier beaches on the north Atlantic coast.

The Sandy Hook
Monmouth County, Sandy Hook, Gateway National Recreation Area, 128 South Hartshorne Drive, Highlands, NJ 07732. (732) 872-5970
For more information, please visit their Website
The North Beach Observation Deck has tables and a view of the New York Harbor. Guardian Park has picnic tables, shelters and grills. Grilling is only permitted in Guardian Park.

Central Jersey Cheap & Free Family Attractions: Nature Centers

Cooper Environmental Center
Cattus Island County Park, 1170 Cattus Island Blvd, Toms River, NJ 08753
For more information, please visit their Website
Features hands-on educational displays such as, a live view osprey cam, habitat tree and tunnel, bird viewing area, children's activity corner and a spectacular collections of live reptiles and fish. The park also contains a beautiful Butterfly Garden where you can view native plants and pollinators.

Duke Farms

1112 Dukes Parkway West, Hillsborough, N.J. 08844 (908) 722-3700
For more information, please visit their Website
On over 1000 acres of land devoted to an ongoing exploration of native species, preservation and sustainability efforts, and of the area's natural beauty. Visitors cam a walk or bike ride through the landscape, a ttend a workshop, event or festival.

Forest Resource Education Center
495 Don Connor Blvd, Jackson, NJ 08527 (732) 928-2360
For more information, please visit their Website
They have an interpretive and maintain eight miles of self-guided trails with numerous learning stations with informational kiosks on environmental topics. The visitor, with the trail booklet as a guide, can stop at stations along the trail to look at features and identify plants. trees ABC Arboretum, Sensory Awareness , swamp life and
forest discovery.

Huber Woods Environmental Center
25 Brown's Dock Road, Locust (Middletown Twp.), NJ 07760 (732) 872-2670
For more information, please visit their Website
Visitors can get to experience and develop relationships with the natural world through exhibits and displays. Come explore its hands-on exhibit areas. While there, play Native American instruments while viewing and listening to recordings of American Indian musicians and dancers.

Jakes Branch County Park
1100 Double Trouble Rd, Beachwood, NJ 08722 (732) 281-2750
For more information, please visit their Website
"The Gateway to the Pines", this park offers both active and passive recreation opportunities. The Jakes Branch Nature Center highlights the beauty, history and natural surroundings of the Pine Barrens through informational exhibits, live animals and environmental programs. Breathtaking views of the surrounding Pine Barrens forest can be taken in from the observation deck perched 5-stories atop the nature center.

Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center
331 Georgia Tavern Road, Howell 07731 (732) 751-9453
For more information, please visit their Website
Provides experiences of learning and discovery related to wetlands ecology and wildlife and habitat protection. Through interactive exhibits, multi-media presentations, educational activities for schools and community groups, and wildlife observation areas, visitors gain an understanding of the importance of water in our world.

Palmyra Cove Nature Park
1335 Route 73 South, Palmyra, NJ (856) 829-1900
For more information, please visit their Website
A 250 acre urban oasis along a highly developed area on the Delaware River. Habitats include wetlands, woodlands, meadows, wild creek and river shoreline, and freshwater Tidal Cove.

Plainsboro Reserve
80 Scotts Corner Road Cranbury, NJ 08512 (609)-427-3052
For more information, please visit their Website
The Reserve has over five miles of trails meandering through mature beech woods, wet meadows, and the shoreline of scenic 50-acre McCormack Lake. Walk the floodplain of Devil's Brook in search of the more than 150 species of birds that call the preserve home during the year.

The Watershed Institute
31 Titus Mill Road Pennington, NJ 08534 (609) 737-3735
For more information, please visit their Website
The Watershed offers more than 300 education programs and events each year aimed at building environmental literacy, and awareness of environmental issues, . Environmental education has been one of the Watershed's core programs, since the 1980s. We believe that when people learn about nature, they are more likely to appreciate and care for it. Their Watershed Nature Camp inspires an appreciation of the wonders of nature for children from Kindergarten through 9th grade.

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