Spring Break Staycation in New Jersey — Cherry Blossoms, Jazz and Daffodils

“April is the cruelest month,” T.S. Eliot wrote nearly 100 years ago — and spring break without anything planned can be even crueler!

But if you lack the time or money to escape to the tropics, don’t worry: there’s plenty to do and enjoy in New Jersey with the kids indoors and outside, even in April.

Enjoy the Cherry Blossoms at Newark’s Branch Brook Park

Newark boasts the largest cherry blossom collection in the United States, so you can savor the stunning scenery in your own backyard. Throughout 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 during the Cherry Blossom Festival April 6-14.  Keep an eye on the webcam to see when the trees are blooming!

Afterwards, grab a bite at the classic old-school Italian joint The Bellmont Tavern.

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 (check out their Sherlock Holmes exhibit), the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum, the Aviation Hall of Fame & Museum, and the Battleship New Jersey Museum & Memorial.

Celebrate spring break at Liberty Hall museum in Union on April 18 with a fun filled day of activities, crafts, and games. A town crier will get the day started and make this day your favorite day of Spring Break. Reservations required.

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.

If all that history gives you an appetite, head over to Jimmy Buff’s for a dog and some fries.

Visit Montclair for the Day — and Night

Montclair, a thriving city community located at the foot of the First Watchung Mountain, offers something intriguing for nearly every visitor. From live music and gorgeous gardens to an array of dining options and fine art, you may find that you’ll need more than just a few days to enjoy it all. Check out our Weekend Getaway article here.

Go Down the Shore

The ocean may be too chilly for a dip, but there’s always plenty to enjoy down the shore (and without the crowds), from Jenkinson’s Aquarium to Belmar’s latest donut shop to Asbury Park’s 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 Spring Exit Zero Jazz Festival April 12-14 — all ages welcome!

Speaking of cats: if you’re a feline-loving family, you can’t miss the 2nd Annual Catsbury Park Cat Convention in Asbury Park April 13 and 14. Celebrity Cats, adoptable felines, DJs, games, activities, art, vendors, presentations, seminars, comedians, contests, tattoos, tasty vegetarian food, and more will be on hand at this fundraising event.

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

Visit the Mountains

Time for skiing may be coming to a close, 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.

Stroll Through a Lovely Garden

The Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit has loads of fun and educational activities for the whole family. Check out “Let’s Get Growing for Kids: Get Digging, Get Dirty! on April 6, and don’t miss the famous Daffodil Day on April 14. More information and registration here.

Courtesy of Reeves Reed Arboretum

Hop Aboard the Easter Bunny Express

Celebrate the return of Spring with a fun themed train ride through northern New Jersey with the Whippany Easter Bunny train ride, a 45-minute round-trip ride along the historic Whippanong Trail. Info and tickets here.

Or wind along the Delaware River with the Delaware River Excursions Easter Bunny train ride. More info and tickets here.

Go Head-to-Head with a Shark 

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.