Family Day Trip Ideas in New Jersey

There's nothing like a vacation for rejuvenating the spirit. Unfortunately, planning a full-scale vacation for the whole family isn't always feasible. Day trips, however, can offer the perks of a vacation without the planning headaches. Families lucky enough to be in New Jersey have a plethora of family day trip options.

Long Beach Island

Long Beach Island, a barrier island along the Atlantic coast in New Jersey, packs a lot onto an island that's only half a mile wide at its widest point 1. Even if it's too cold to spend time on one of the island's many beaches, your family can still find plenty to do here. You can go to the Barnegat Lighthouse State Park to visit the lighthouse, walk along a maritime trail, fish or bird watch 2. You can also take the kids to Fantasy Island Park, which has an arcade, rides, games and scheduled entertainment throughout the summer season like magic shows and illusionists.

Science Fun

Liberty Science Center in Jersey City has hands-on science exhibits for visitors of all ages as well as 3-D and IMAX movies 3. Here, your kids can learn about animals, energy, how to build skyscrapers, the Hudson River ecosystem and how to blow giant bubbles. Your family can also have fun on the outdoor obstacle course -- as long as the weather cooperates. Adventure Aquarium, located in Camden, is another fun family option, which boasts not only plenty of marine life exhibits, but two hippos as well 4. Your family can check out ghostly jellyfish, giant spider crabs, and even a giant octopus in the Jules Verne gallery -- and then visit with penguins and meet some sea turtles. Adults and kids ages 12 and up can also swim with the sharks, while the KidZone will delight the youngest members of the family with interactive activities specifically designed to promote learning through play.

Historical Recreations

It's hard to believe that you can visit Dodge City, Kansas during a day trip in New Jersey, but Wild West City makes it possible 15. Located in Netcong in the northwestern part of the state, Wild West City recreates the Dodge City of 1880 through historical buildings and exhibits and live entertainment 5. Your family can also go on a stagecoach ride, train ride and pony ride. Other activities include miniature golf and panning for gold. If your family prefers a more authentic New Jersey experience, you can visit Allaire Village in Farmingdale, in the southeastern part of the state 16. The village boasts buildings from the 1830s and historical interpreters who help visitors learn about life back then through games, stories and activities 6.

Amusement Parks

New Jersey has more than its fair share of amusement parks. Perhaps the most well known is Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, where there are rides for everyone from timid toddlers to thrill-seeking grandmas 4. Great Adventure also has a drive-through safari, sure to thrill the animal lovers in your family 4. Jenkinson's Boardwalk, along the Jersey Shore in Point Pleasant, also has rides for everyone 7. There are carousels and trains for the little ones as well as roller coasters for the more adventurous. When it's rainy or cold out, take you family to iPlay America, an indoor amusement park in Freehold with plenty of rides for all ages -- and laser tag, bowling, go-karts and an arcade, too 8.