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Top 10 Free Family Outings in New Jersey
By: Dr. Gary Breslow, MD, FACS
duke farms
Oct 8, 2017

Looking for things to do with the kids this weekend? We asked everyone at work what their favorite free, family-friendly activities were in New Jersey. This is what what the staff at The Breslow Center in Paramus, New Jersey has to recommend.

Howell Living History Farm

howell farm

70 Woodens Lane
Lambertville, NJ 08530

Howell Farm has been in operation since the 1730s as a grain and dairy farm. Today, Howell Farm is preserved in the same state it was in between 1890-1910. The farm’s inhabitants perform reenactments and show off the technology that transformed farming life during the Industrial Revolution. The farm is also full of animals, including plow horses, chickens, pigs, barn cats, cows, geese, and a few dogs.

Somerset County Environmental Education Center

Somerset County Park

190 Lord Sterling Road
Basking Ridge, NJ 07920

Visitors to the Education Center have the opportunity to explore The Great Swamp Experience which consists of interactive exhibits highlighting historical and ecological information. Your children will be able to crawl inside a beaver lodge, and answer animal trivia. On selected Saturdays and Sundays, naturalists lead hour-long walks into the Great Swamp. Children will also learn about conservation as well as sustainability.

Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

32 Pleasant Plains Road
Harding Township, NJ 07920

Visit the History Hallway in the visitor’s center to see different habitats and even small animals. The Discovery Den has interactive displays and a video presentation on environmental stewardship. Finish off your visit outside by following the Nature Detective Trail where you can listen to wildlife sounds, inspect plants, and spot animals in their natural habitats.

Watchung Reservation

Watchung Reservation

452 New Providence Road
Mountainside, NJ 07920

The History Trail is 6 miles long and situated within a 2,000 acre preserve. Highlights of the trail include copper mine dating back to the 1600s, the Feltville Mill that was used as a printing house, a spring-fed pond, and even a deserted village ready to be explored. The trail is meant to begin and end at the Nature Center. This educational facility includes a museum as well as a Planetarium.

Duke Farms

duke farms

1112 Dukes Parkway West
Hillsborough, NJ 08844

Duke Farms is made up of 1000 acres of land devoted to the preservation of native species. The Farm Barn houses interactive exhibits that will allow you and your children to learn about land stewardship and sustainability efforts. Duke Farms also has a beautiful tropical orchid display which includes numerous orchid species. The site also has an outdoor sculpture gallery and a nearby waterfall.

Reeves-Reed Arboretum

wisner house

165 Hobart Avenue
Summit, NJ 07901

This freebie is one part garden, one part hiking trails, and one part art gallery. If you and your family visit during the spring, you will be able to experience roses, azaleas, and thousands of daffodils. The trails are wooded and secluded which makes spotting wildlife easier. The Wisner House, which holds the art and history exhibits, is only open Tuesdays through Friday.

New Jersey State Museum

New Jersey State Museum

205 West State Street
Trenton, NJ 08625

The New Jersey State Museum has three levels dedicated to natural history, fine art, archeology, and New Jersey history. The exhibits on the lower level change frequently so look online before going. The archaeology and ethnography section is this museum’s real gem with some 2 million specimens that document the entire span of human occupation of New Jersey from prehistory to the 19th century.

Rutgers Gardens

130 Log Cabin Road
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Rutgers Gardens is a 180 acre botanical garden that boasts such wonders as a bamboo forest, ornamental tree collection, rain garden, and a holly collection. Your family is encouraged to explore the entire grounds, read up on horticulture practices, and take pictures amid the blooms. The Community Youth Garden, in particular, provides a great opportunity for children to see just how easy it is to start their own fruit and vegetable garden at home.

Friar Mountain Model Railroad Museum

train museum

240 Demarest Road
Sparta Township, NJ 07871

The model train exhibits divided into two sections: the mountain and the history sections. The mountain track is 20 feet long with 8 trains that run the track. A Ferris wheel, carousel, and trestle bridge adorn the sides. The history section of the museum includes memorabilia about George Washington. The museum changes up its displays 5 times a year to coincide with major holidays and seasons.

Zimmerli Museum of Art

Zimmerli Art Museum

71 Hamilton Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Founded in 1966, this museum is one of the largest university-based museums in the country. With a collection of 60,000 objects from France, Russia, Europe, and America, this museum may require multiple visits. Be sure to check out the exhibits detailing their restoration processes.

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