Take a tour of New Jersey’s most family-friendly summer destinations

BY Brenda Flanagan, Senior Correspondent |

Jersey’s a summer playground, and families in the know head down the shore to Ocean City, a beach with bumper-to-bumper baby buggies, plastic toys and sandy kids. Harrison Hrevatis is here with his mom, Gemma.

“It’s like, doesn’t everyone know that Ocean City, New Jersey is the place to go for families?” Gemma said.

Ocean City’s 8 miles of sandy strand, with lifeguards and a bustling boardwalk, spells family. But the special sauce that draws families here: there’s no sauce.

“It’s dry. No alcohol, so you know that nothing bad’s going to happen,” said Galloway township resident, Jasmine Weissman, who was relaxing in the shade with her 20-week-old baby.

You can feed the kids along a bustling boardwalk, entertain them on a ride at Wonderland and take them to spacious bathroom where even the men’s room has a changing table. A daily beach badge is $5.

Travel about twenty minutes north along the Garden State Parkway and you’ll find yourself in Storybook Land.

Ask kids at this nursery-rhyme theme park for pint-sized patrons what’s your favorite ride? Usually, it’s Bubbles.

“I don’t have to worry about the safety here. It’s characters that she recognizes from stories that she knows, and it’s really great,” said Ocean City resident Trish Fraser.

Story Book Land opened in 1955 and was hand built on 5 shady acres in Egg Harbor Township by a house painter from Vineland.

“He just wanted to create a family-friendly place for people on their way down to the shore to stop, stretch their legs, relax,” said operations manger Jessica Fricano.

“The kids is enjoying it so far, and it’s a nice park, quiet, lots of shade,” said Joe Johnson who’s from Woodstown.

Families can bring their own snacks. Tickets purchased online cost $24.50, and kids under two are free.

If somersaulting at dizzying speeds is your special thing, Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson has still got the coasters that’ll make your hair stand on end. Literally.

“It was fun. You know, like the scary type of fun that gets you going like, ‘I want to go again,'” explained Bronx native, Kiana Anderson. 

It’s perfect for families with teens seeking thrills. The park rotates and updates its selections. This season, it debuted a brand-new 7 story super hero ride called Cyborg Cyber Spin.

“You’re pivoting and flipping. It’s very chaotic and super fun,” said Six Flags Great Adventure communications manager, Kristin Fitzgerald.

But the park’s also got a ride for gaming hotshots. Riders on Justice League Battle for Metropolis each get a virtual laser gun for plugging bad guys on a trip featuring 3D graphics and a running score.

“It’s interactive. They get to participate, so it’s a lot of fun,” said Kim Corleone of Parlin.

You can score a ticket that includes the safari ride for $55 online.

Speaking of interactive, a new exhibit appropriately called Grossology that just opened at the Liberty Science Center. It’s designed to teach kids all about those body functions that horrify adults to most kids’ delight.

Probably the summer’s biggest attraction is the Dino Dig. The center buries bones in a big sandbox and shows kids how paleontologists on a real dig use brushes to uncover fossils. They learn that the velociraptors from Jurassic Park were actually about the size of a German Shepherd.

“When you see them in the movies, they’re big and massive and really intimidating predators. But if you take a look at our fossil here, it’s not all that big,” said Chelsey Hack, exhibition leader for wildlife conservation at Liberty Science Center.

Dino Dig runs through Sept. 3 and Grossology until Sept. 23, when most families start planning to send their kids back to school.