April Staycation Ideas in New Jersey — Cherry Blossoms, Penguins, Canal Paths, Fighter Jets and More

Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum

“April is the cruelest month,” T.S. Eliot wrote nearly 100 years ago. Clearly he foresaw our decidedly non-springlike April of 2018. For those who cannot escape to warmer climes, don’t despair! There’s plenty to do and enjoy in New Jersey with the kids, even in April.

Enjoy the Cherry Blossoms

Skip the trip to Washington D.C. (Newark actually boasts the largest cherry blossom collection in the United States) and savor the stunning scenery ride in your own backyard.Throughout the month of April, visitors can enjoy the gorgeous grounds of Branch Brook Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the famed landscape architect and designer of Manhattan’s Central Park, as well as an array of activities that includes concerts, a bike race (April 7), and a 10K (April 8). Keep an eye on the webcam to see when the trees are blooming!

More information here. 

The Cherry Blossom Festival get underway in Branch Brook Park April 7.

Visit a Museum

While you wait for those cherry blossoms to bloom, try something indoors. New Jersey has scads of world-class art museums — from Newark Museum to Morris Museum to Grounds for Sculpture and more — and many are free or offer special pricing for kids and families. See our list here.

New Jersey also has many specialty museums that won’t seem stuffy to kids — such as the Liberty Science Center (catch the end of Conservation Week April 7 and 8), the Whippany Railway Museum, the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum, the Aviation Hall of Fame & Museum, the Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park, and the Battleship New Jersey Museum & Memorial.

Learn Some History

The whole family will enjoy seeing where electricity was harnessed and filmmaking transformed at Thomas Edison Historic Park in West Orange — the site of Edison’s actual laboratories. Conversely, your musical theater kids who have memorized the entire score of “Hamilton” will enjoy visiting where Washington, Hamilton and the Continental Army headquartered during the winters of 1779 and ’80 at Morristown National Historic Park.

Go Downashore

The ocean may be too chilly to dip you toes in, but there’s plenty to enjoy down the shore, from Jenkinson’s Aquarium to Belmar’s latest donut shop to Asbury Park’s new cat café.

Meanwhile, the Cape May Lighthouse is open Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Climb all 199 steps — then head into town for food and rest and the Cape May Film Festival.

Catsbury Park Cafe & Lounge Cafe Area, Photo Courtesy of Catsbury Park Cafe

Visit the Mountains

Time for skiing may be over, but the hills are alive — with biking, trail hiking, golf and more. Check out the activities at Mountain Creek Resort here. Looking for a hike closer to NYC (and a smaller mountain)? Check out the South Mountain Reservation trail map here.

Visit an Escape Room

Escape rooms, in which players must solve riddles or piece together clues within a specified time frame, are popping up all over the Garden State. Read our roundup here.

Some “escape” more easily than others.
Courtesy of Bane Haunted House

Go Skydiving Indoors

iFly Indoor Skydiving will open its first New Jersey location in Paramus on Friday, April 13. Inside the 5,200-square-foot complex where the dream of floating through space becomes a reality, guests “ages 3 to 103” can enjoy the simulation of true freefall conditions inside a vertical wind tunnel. Read more here. 

Learn to fly at iFly Indoor Skydiving.

Take a Walk on a Canal Path

The Delaware and Raritan Canal Watch group is offering a walk off the beaten path – a 2.6-mile-long section of the towpath that runs alongside of the canal in the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park. The nonprofit group, which helps to promote and preserve the state park, has arranged for a walking tour on April 14 at 10 a.m. that starts at the turning basin on Alexander Road in Princeton and ends at the bridge tender’s house in Port Mercer in Lawrence Township. More information here. 

Shop a Farmers Market — Indoors

Millburn will host its first ever INDOOR Farmers Market on Saturday, April 7. Meanwhile, Duke Farms is hosting its final Farm to Table Winter Market on Sunday, April 8.

Visit an Aquarium

Jenkinson’s Aquarium in Pt. Pleasant Beach focuses on education and conservation. Exhibits include Atlantic sharks, Pacific sharks, coral reefs, penguins, and seals give you the opportunity to get up close to animals from around the globe. Another attraction, the touch tank, allows visitors to touch live animals ranging from a sea star to a sting ray.

Adventure Aquarium in Camden is just minutes from downtown Philadelphia on the Camden Waterfront and features more than 8,500 aquatic species, the largest collection of sharks on the East Coast, hippos, Little Blue penguins and the longest Shark Bridge in the world, plus a suspension bridge just inches over Shark Realm.

Bring Your Dog

Wherever you go in New Jersey, there are a plethora of accommodations that welcome pets in towns and cities throughout the Garden State. Here’s our list of pet-friendly shore hotels; here’s our list of accommodations across the state.

Have a great idea for staycationing with the kids that we missed? Email us at editor@newjerseynext.com.