NEW JERSEY - Thanks to social media, it's possible to keep up with friends and family that are spending spring break in cool places like Cancun and Disney. However, don't let Facebook and Instagram posts cause a wave of depression and despair. Many others can't venture far from home either due to work, high school sports or financial reasons. Yet, that doesn't mean that spring break fun can't be had. Thankfully, New Jersey is home to a boat load of family-friendly day trip ideas.
Rainy day? Not a problem. There's plenty of indoor stuff to do in the Garden State when the weather doesn't cooperate. Here's a small sampling:
- Movies are a great way to spend a rainy or blustery afternoon. The hot one for kids this week is Disney's "Zootopia."
- The Jenkinson's Aquarium in Point Pleasant is the perfect spot for little ones. It the weather cooperates enjoy a stroll along the boardwalk afterwards. The Adventure Aquarium in Camden is a better choice for families with varying ages since there's something for everyone.
- Explore the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. This is an awesome place for a day trip. Liberty State Park, with ferries to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, is nearby as well. Check the Statue of Liberty website for availability.
- Get artsy with a visit to the Zimmerli Art Museum on the campus of Rutgers Univeristy in New Brunswick or the Princeton University Art Museum.
A lighthouse excursion is a fun way to spend a day and works rain or shine. New Jersey has several to choose from.
When a glorious spring day presents itself, grab the kids and head out for a hike, bike ride or to explore a state park. Remember, the beach is free this time of year too. While the water is chilly, there's still plenty to do on the sand. Some great shore towns with entertaining downtowns that are hopping year-round are Asbury Park, Ocean Grove, Spring Lake, Bradley Beach and Cape May.
Hikers and bikers will love exploring the Delaware and Raritan Canal Trail. This is 70 miles of New Jersey scenery at its finest. Pack a lunch and wander. Princeton, Griggstown and Rocky Hill are picture perfect spots to pick up the trail and have small inlets for parking as well.
The Gateway National Recreation Area in the Highlands is another awesome destination for outdoor lovers. When summer comes, it's swamped. In the spring, it is a haven for fishermen, bikers, bird-watchers, runners, walkers and beach-goers. Leave time to climb the Sandy Hook Lighthouse and check out Fort Hancock.
New Jersey is also home to some wonderful downtowns with quaint shops and yummy eateries. Pick a new one to discover. While the list really is too large to narrow, Montclair, Morristown, Red Bank, Lambertville, Princeton and Cranbury will definitely delight.
Animal lovers may want to spend a little time at the Cape May Zoo. It's free. They only ask for a small donation before entering the adjacent park. The Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange is another ideal day trip destination as is the Popcorn Park Zoo in Lacey Township.
Staycation? Who says they have to be boring? Don't let spring break pass by without venturing out to at least one Garden State gem. Happy spring!