Free and Almost Free Things To Do in New Jersey

Free and Almost Free Things To Do in New Jersey

Map of New Jersey CountiesThe summer travel season officially begins Memorial Day weekend but because of high gas prices and tighter budgets many families are being forced to rethink their vacation plans.  In an attempt to save money, many families are considering staying closer to home which would eliminate expensive airfare, baggage fees, and hotel fees. 

Are you looking for fun, free and low cost ideas that are close to home? New Jersey offers many attractions that fit the bill. I have compiled a list of free and low cost ideas of things to do in New Jersey.

Outdoor Activities

Alstede Farms

Alstede Farms offers many free activates. You can take a peek at many of their farm animals, check out the super cute bunnies at their bunny run or climb their giant hay pyramid. In the fall, they have a hay tunnel that kids can crawl through. They also offer free use of their picnic tables.

Atlantic City Boardwalk

Atlantic City Boardwalk

The Atlantic City Boardwalk is the perfect place to go for a stroll. Download their  Atlantic City Boardwalk Walking Tour and learn more about the heart soul and backbone of Atlantic City. It’s also a great place for bicycle riding.

Cape May County Park Zoo

Cape May County Park and Zoo
[Photo Credit]

The Cape May County Park Zoo is a medium sized zoo housed on 85 acres.  It is located in Cape May, NJ.  It features over 200 species including monkeys, tigers, bobcats, leopards, prairie dogs, raccoons, exotic birds and reptiles.  There is a picnic area on the premises as well as a playground.  Admission is free, however donations are greatly appreciated. 

Cattus Island Park


Native Reptile Display at the Cooper Environmental Center in Cattus Island County Park in Toms River, New Jersey, USA

Cattus Island County Park is housed on approximately 530 acres of land in Toms River, NJ.  It’s not a real island, however, it features walking trails, a butterfly garden, picnic areas, a playground and an environmental center. 

Cohanzick Zoo

The Cohanzick Zoo, which was established in 1934, is considered to be New Jersey’s first zoo.  It is somewhat small.  It sits on 15 acres of land and is home to approximately 100 animals. 

Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

The Great Swamp is not all swamp land.  Instead, it is a mix of meadows, marshes, and woods.  It is home to more that 200 different wildlife species.  It is a great destination for nature lovers and photographers.

Great Falls in Paterson


The great falls in Paterson is one of New Jerseys hidden wonders.  It’s not often you find waterfalls right in the midst of a city.  These 77-foot-high falls are the second highest falls in the Northeast. 

Historic Cold Spring Village

Historic Cold Spring Village is an early American open air living history museum, which features 26 historic buildings.  In this village, they portray the life of a rural South Jersey community of the Early American era. Historical guides dress up in period clothing and demonstrate different trades such as wood working and basket weaving.

 Howell Living History Farm

The Hopewell Living Farm is a real working farm that portrays how a farm would operate in the the early 1900’s.  The staff wear period clothing as they demonstrate how work on a farm was done in that era.  Admission is free, however there is a small fee for some activities. 

Johnson Park Zoo
Johnson park zoo is really a small petting farm housed within Johnson Park in Piscataway, NJ.  It is open daily from dusk until dawn and admission is Free.

Thompson Park Zoo
Thompson Park Zoo is another small petting farm/zoo.  It is housed within Thompson Park. It is open from sunrise until sunset, all year long and admission is free.

New Jersey Shore


The New Jersey Shore is a great place to go for a day trip.  While most of the beaches charge a fee, Wildwood, North Wildwood and Atlantic City are FREE!


Princeton University Art Museum


photo credit

The Princeton University Zoo is located on the campus of Princeton University.  They have a large collection that dates back 128 years.  Admission is free.

Aviation Hall of Fame & Museum of New Jersey

The Aviation Hall of Fame is a small museum that is jam packed with all types of air and space artifacts, including model airplanes.

Children’s Museum Currently Closed Due to Construction

The Children’s Museum in Egg Harbor Township is a small museum geared towards children ages 2-10 years of age.  They offer 14 hands-on and interactive exhibits including an automobile assembly line, fire station and construction site. 

Morris Museum

The Morris Museum is one of New Jersey’s oldest and museums.  It is the third largest museum in New Jersey.  It also houses the Bickford Theater, which offers a range of performances for people of all ages.

Garden State Discovery Museum

The Garden State Discovery Museum is a specifically geared for children as young as infants up to 10 years of age.  It is a hand-on interactive museum for infants to that offers fifteen exhibit areas. 

Admission: $7.95 for adults and children 12 months and over $6.95 for Seniors. All programs are free with admission unless otherwise noted. Family memberships are available.

Newark Museum

Newark Museum

The Newark Museum is the largest museum in New Jersey. It houses 80 art and science galleries, a planetarium and a mini-zoo. It boasts the largest holding of Tibetan art in the western hemisphere.

New Jersey State Museum

The New Jersey State Museum is comprised of four museums. Its features include Archaeology/Ethnology, Cultural History; Fine Art; and Natural History.  The museum also houses an 150 seat planetarium.

Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center

The Yogi Berra Museum, which is located on the campus of Montclair State University, pays tribute to Yoga Berra.  This is a great museum especially for Yankees fans, and all baseball fans in general.  One of the highlights of the facility is the theater.  The theatre was created to look like a baseball stadium, and features a movie that plays continuously. 

Heritage Glass Museum

The Heritage Glass Museum has taken on the task of preserving and promoting the legacy of South Jersey’s glass making history. 

21 Responses to Free and Almost Free Things To Do in New Jersey
  1. Bicultural Mama
    May 24, 2011 | 3:42 am

    Good info, I’ll forward this to my NJ friends.

    • Diane
      May 24, 2011 | 4:59 am

      Thanks. I’m sure they’ll find it helpful. I will also be posting links to staycation ideas all around the country.

  2. Tonya Scioli
    May 24, 2011 | 2:09 pm

    Great list! We love the Cohanzick and Cape May Zoos! And of course the shore! Glad to see they all made the list! (-:

    • Diane
      May 24, 2011 | 5:31 pm

      Glad you like the list. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Bethany
    May 24, 2011 | 2:51 pm

    The planetarium at Ocean County College recently reopened. Prices are ok. They have a Spring schedule up that runs through June 19; I’m not sure if they have Summer programs.

    • Diane
      May 24, 2011 | 5:30 pm

      Thank you for the info!

  4. D in NJ
    May 24, 2011 | 4:06 pm
    • Diane
      May 24, 2011 | 5:28 pm

      Thank you so much for adding to the list!

  5. Paula
    May 24, 2011 | 5:35 pm

    Hi! Fellow Year of the Staycation blogger here, checking out all the cool places in the US and wishing I had buckets of money to travel to all of them!!

    I have been to Atlantic City and agree with the Boardwalk… so much fun and there was a great little art museum we went to…it’s been 12 or so years ago, but really enjoyed it. Good times!

    • Diane
      May 24, 2011 | 5:37 pm

      Yes, the Atlantic city Boardwalk is always a lot of fun. I love to just go out there and people watch! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Eileen
    May 24, 2011 | 7:53 pm

    Good list but nothing really in northern/ northwestern NJ. Too far to drive to get to most of this list.

  7. Danielle B
    May 24, 2011 | 8:01 pm

    Don’t forget Six Flags/Great Adventure.

    • Diane
      May 24, 2011 | 8:38 pm

      Great Adventure is great, but it’s not free or almost free.

  8. Chris
    April 26, 2012 | 2:12 am

    Hey, It’s always nice to see what free things are available in other communities. My family and I are always looking for free or cheap things to do here in Madison.

    I thought our free zoo was unique but it’s cool that you also have a free zoo in New Jersey!
    Chris recently posted..Nine Things to Do For FreeMy Profile

  9. Bridget
    June 7, 2012 | 3:59 am

    Great list! Glad you included the Newark Museum. As a lifelong resident, we often take advantage of it, and the “suggested donation” is just that, a suggestion. You can walk in, as you can to any federally funded museum, and suggest your own donation, such as nothing (do this in NYC too).
    Went to Howell Living History Farm this past Saturday and it was wonderful! The kids had a blast and we spent not a dime.
    Bridget recently posted..Mary’s Sedative, ReduxMy Profile

    • Diane
      June 7, 2012 | 4:06 am

      Glad you liked the list. I’m always on the lookout for free and low cost activities here in NJ and NY. We haven’t been to Howell Farm yet but plan to visit this summer.

  10. Bridget
    June 7, 2012 | 4:04 am

    Oh, also, it’s not free, but not terrible either. The Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange is $10 for adults, $7 for kids and seniors, under 2 are free.
    Bridget recently posted..Mary’s Sedative, ReduxMy Profile

    • Diane
      June 7, 2012 | 4:08 am

      I just checked the Turtle Back Zoo’s website and see that they are offering free admission this Saturday! Woot!

  11. Ayub
    April 11, 2013 | 1:49 pm

    Thanks for the nice information.
    - Want to mention “Assunpink Lake” which is surrounded by a wildlife management area. Two other smaller lakes “Stone Tavern Lake” and “Rising Sun Lake” are nearby. Great location for fishing enthusiasts.
    - Another great place nearby is “Mercer County Park”, which has over 2,500 acres and contains a nice lake too.
    Lastly want to point out a small correction. Under the description of Princeton University Arts Museum you have written “Princeton University Zoo is located on the campus of Princeton University”.

  12. dawn
    June 12, 2014 | 1:51 am

    How about if you live in sussex nj up here there is not that much to do need more free stuff up this way

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