For Active Tots
If your child is too young and squirmy to make it through a traditional museum setting, these playful places are the perfect solution.
Imagine That in Florham Park houses 20 unique interactive areas that encourage boundless play and imagination, including a three-level playscape, craft room and music room. Top Tip: Advance reservations are required for weekend visits. Purchase them on the museum's website here.
Kids 6 and under will have a whale of a time in the under-the-sea-themed interactive area housed in The Wonder Wing at Monmouth Museum in Lincroft. Insider Insight: Before diving into the fun, make sure to reserve your tickets here.
For Whimsical Wonderers
From creepy crawlies and mind-bending spaces to awe-inspiring fire and locomotive engines, curiosity-minded kids will be wowed by these specialty museums.
Known as The Bugseum of New Jersey, Insectropolis in Toms River is home to thousands of insects. Kids aren't sidelined as a fly on the wall either – they can crawl through a “mud tube” to see what it's like to be a termite.
For social media posts with the most, tweens and teens will flip for Tilt, A Tracy Lee Stum Museum at American Dream in East Rutherford. An immersive art experience, it offers 25 vivid displays that trick your brain with optical illusions. Advance ticket purchases are recommended – secure yours here.
Expect four-alarm fun at the Hoboken Fire Department Museum, where kids can climb aboard a circa 1932 blazing red Ahrens Fox fire engine, and grown-ups can find some surprise star power in a framed photo of fire captain Marty Sinatra with his famous son taken in 1947.
Have a locomotive lover in the family? They're sure to chug right on through the train-themed exhibits at Northlandz in Flemington or train their focus on a ride along a railway at the New Jersey Museum of Transportation in Wall, a true working museum open seasonally – see their website for details.
For Sports Fans
If the trunk of your SUV is filled with your kids' balls, bats and other gear 24/7, these museums honoring athletes and the sports they play are right up their alley.
All Sports Museum of Southern New Jersey in Bridgeton offers a collection of memorabilia from baseball, football, hockey and boxing pros hailing from the region. Think: Willie Mays' 1960 Rawlings Gold Glove Award, Mike Trout's (May 14, 2014) Triple Game Used Third Base and more.
If you'd like to sneak a little education into your sports-themed outing, the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center in Little Falls is for you. It features exhibitions that explore history, culture, science and society within the context of sports. Don't worry, active kids can also test their pitching speed and accuracy with PITCH!
For STEAM Whizzes
You definitely won't lose any steam bringing your science, technology, engineering, art or math-loving kid to any of these intellect-enriching museums.
Home to the biggest planetarium in America, Liberty Science Center in Jersey City boasts a deep collection of permanent and rotating exhibitions that celebrate science. Not to be missed: Dino Dig Adventure, Infinity Climber, Boom Time show, Dream Machine and more favorites.
5 to 12-year-olds get hands-on in Spark!Lab at Morris Museum, A Smithsonian Affiliate museum in Morristown, through a series of engineering and design challenges. Younger siblings (ages 1 to 4) can get in on the fun, too, in the Young Inventor Space.
Newark Museum of Art in Newark always has compelling art on view, but aspiring creators will most enjoy the events designed especially for toddlers, preschoolers and grade schoolers hosted by the museum.
On our radar: We are eagerly anticipating the opening of MOMI (Museum of Makers + Innovators) in Basking Ridge, which plans to be an inclusive gathering place featuring professionally designed indoor and outdoor exhibits “that are both educational and fun for all ages.”
For History Buffs
Whether your child is fascinated by ancient history, the early American period or innovations and inventions from the not-so-distant past, this quartet of museums is sure to pique their interest.
If it relates to natural history, archaeology and ethnography or cultural history, you can find it in a collection at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton. Just for kids: The Discovery Den play space and Small Explorers monthly event series.
From the time the building was constructed in 1758, the Old Barracks Museum in Trenton has been a military barracks, POW camp and army hospital. Today, it is open to the public to view a collection of militaria and art about 2,000 strong.
Did you know America's most decorated battleship is anchored right in the Delaware River at Camden? The Battleship New Jersey is a “floating museum” that welcomes visitors aboard for tours – where the whole family can navigate its narrow ladders and passageways just like its past crews did.
As home to more than two dozen museums and exhibits, the InfoAge Science and History Museum in Wall gives you more historic bang for the buck. Not to be missed is the Kid Zone, where the world of technological exhibits gives kiddos a fun, interactive experience.
As always, be sure to check out the museum's official website for need-to-know details before your arrival. Looking for even more outings with the kids? Download our free Official Travel Guide and sign up to receive our e-newsletter today for big ideas.