It’s undeniable: one of the easiest ways to save money on your New Jersey trip is to take advantage of free attractions. From wooded parks and hiking trails to sunny beaches and boardwalks, there are plenty of free outdoor things to do in New Jersey, but there are lots of other activities that won’t cost a penny either. The next time you visit New Jersey, try this roundup of free attractions. (And if you work up an appetite on your outing, check out our “dine nearby” suggestions!)
Cape May County Park & Zoo
707 Route 9 N., Cape May Court House, NJ
Explore more than 200 acres of lush country gardens at this county park, or bring the whole family to the Cape May County Zoo, a free attraction featuring more than 550 animals, representing over 250 species. You can find lions, snow leopards and bears (plus much more!) at this exciting kid-friendly destination.
Dine nearby: Head to Nino's Family Restaurant, a BYOB eatery less than two miles from the Park & Zoo. Dig in to tasty Italian dishes like clams casino, fried ravioli, eggplant parmigiana and gnocchi Bolognese.
New Jersey State Museum
Head to our state’s capital and explore the New Jersey State Museum, where you’ll see more than 12,000 works of fine art, as well as a collection of over 2 million prehistoric and historic specimens and more than 13,000 artifacts documenting New Jersey’s history. Admission to the museum is free, but there is a fee for the on-site planetarium.
Dine nearby: Can you guess what’s on the menu at 1911 Smoke House BBQ? Get your fill of smoked wings, pulled pork, brisket, ribs and more at this spot, less than a mile from the museum.
354 Stockton St., Princeton, NJ
Explore the stately halls of historic Drumthwacket, which is not only a museum but the official residence of the governor of New Jersey. The land was once owned by William Penn, and the mansion itself dates back to the early 1800s, when Charles Smith Olden, a state senator and then governor, lived in the residence. Be sure to make a reservation in advance for the free guided tour. Free parking is also available.
Dine nearby: For gastropub fare, check out Yankee Doodle Tap Room, just over a mile from Drumthwacket. Order a pint of one of the 19 craft beers on tap and pair it with menu items like pork belly burnt ends, the wagyu burger or veggie tikka masala.
Heritage Glass Museum
25 E. High St., Glassboro, NJ
From antique glassworker tools and hand-blown glass to vintage bottles and paperweights, the Heritage Glass Museum in Glassboro features more than 200 years of South Jersey glass, and it won’t cost you anything to visit.
Dine nearby: Around the corner from the museum is highly-rated Angelo's Glassboro Diner, where you can enjoy classic Jersey diner fare.
Howell Living History Farm
70 Woodens Lane, Lambertville, NJ
Visit this early 1900s horse-powered farm for a glimpse into a bygone era. Admission is free to the Howell Living History Farm in Lambertville, but activities such as summer camp, corn maze trips and hayrides require an additional cost.
Dine nearby: Just a few miles away from the farm, pop into Under the Moon Cafe for dishes like artichoke rice balls, short rib grilled cheese and ahi tuna.
The Center for Contemporary Art
2020 Burnt Mills Rd., Bedminster Township, NJ
Featuring a variety of contemporary art exhibits by emerging, established and underrepresented artists in a range of media, The Center for Contemporary Art is a thought-provoking destination for visual arts. Admission is free (although there is a suggested donation of $5), and classes for a fee are also available.
Dine nearby: Delicious pizza and other Italian dishes can be found less than a mile away at Rocco's Pizza.
Twin Lights Historic Site
2 Light House Rd., Highlands, NJ
Officially known as Navesink Light Station, this National Historic Landmark is most commonly known as Twin Lights, due to its dual, nonidentical light towers (one flashing and one fixed), situated 200 feet above sea level. Explore the castle-like structures of this iconic landmark, and take in breathtaking views from the bluffs. While you're here, make sure to check out the photographs and relics on display in the museum.
Dine nearby: Just a quarter-mile drive away is Off the Hook Restaurant & Bar, serving up American fare—like burgers, baby back ribs and clam chowder—with a side of water views.
All Sports Museum of South Jersey
8 Richie Kates Sr. Way, Bridgeton
Sports lovers will find plenty of variety at the All Sports Museum of South Jersey, where men and women of all sports are recognized. Peruse rare memorabilia such as trophies, medals and cups, as well as the Phillie Phanatic’s shoes, a Golden Glove Award from Hall of Fame legend Willie Mays and much more.
Dine nearby: Head to De Olde Towne Restaurant, a family-friendly eatery with dishes like lobster ravioli, NY strip steak and chicken saltimbocca.
Presby Memorial Iris Gardens
474 Upper Mountain Ave., Montclair, NJ
Walking paths lattice across 7.5 acres of breathtaking botanical gardens at the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens, where more than 14,000 plants representing more than 3,000 differently named iris varieties are on display. Blooming season is typically mid-May to early June, so be sure to catch the peak of this natural beauty. Admission is free, but donations are greatly appreciated.
Dine nearby: For a sweet treat after your visit to the gardens, check out Applegate Farm for delicious homemade ice cream. Looking for something more savory? Head to Egan and Sons, a gastropub with tasty Irish and American fare.
Empty Sky, 9/11 Memorial
Liberty State Park, 1 Audrey Zapp Drive, Jersey City, NJ
A dramatic tribute to those that lost their lives at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, "Empty Sky" features twin stainless steel walls that are 210 feet long, 30 feet high and include the engraved names of those who perished in the attacks. This memorial is located in Liberty State Park, an urban oasis where visitors can see the Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in the distance. The memorial and park are free of charge to all visitors.
Dine nearby: A short drive away is Pinwheel Garden, a chic Asian fusion restaurant serving up Instagram-worthy dishes like mac and cheese dumplings, bourbon bacon fried rice and coconut curry udon noodles.
We recommend checking the websites and social media channels of your destination before you head out, so you have all the need-to-know information. And get more ideas for things to do in New Jersey by signing up for our e-newsletter or downloading a free official travel guide.