free in New Jersey

Rutgers Gardens, one of Central NJ’s free attractions. Credit: Rutgers Garden

Family Fun: Free in New Jersey

New Brunswick and its surrounding communities in central New Jersey offer six free things to do during an affordable family vacation.


The climate is typical of the northeast region – hot, humid summers, chilly winters, and moderate to considerable rainfall throughout the year.

Known for its ethnic heritage, New Brunswick was once home to a quarter of the state’s Hungarian population.  It now houses a plethora of fine arts attractions, including three theater companies and a geology museum, and is a hub for punk-rock music.  Its food options range from fine Italian and Middle Eastern dining to “The Grease Trucks,” a series of mobile vendors on the campus of Rutgers University specializing in high-cholesterol favorites.  Here is what you can do that is free in New Jersey.

1. Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum: Exhibits 50,000 pieces of art.  Specialties include Russian and Soviet art, 19th century French art, and 19th and 20th century American art.  Open Tuesday-Sunday.  Free for all on the first Sunday of each month.  Otherwise, children are admitted free and adults pay $3.   New Brunswick.

2. Dozens of Parks: The area’s 20 parks include 7,000 acres of baseball, football, and soccer fields, as well as ponds, playgrounds, boat ramps, and walking/hiking trails.

3. Rutgers Gardens: Provides information about public horticulture, the correlation between plants, human health and nutrition, and the roles plants perform in both manmade and natural landscapes.

free in New Jersey

Edison Tower

4. Walking Tour of New Brunswick: Explore historic buildings and landscaping in downtown New Brunswick, as well as several sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

5. Rutgers Historical Walking Tour: Discover the origins, traditions, and architectural points of interest connected with this historic American college.  Tours available by appointment – Fridays at 11:30 a.m. during the summer.

6. Edison Memorial Tower / Menlo Park Museum: Explore the state park, tower, and museum dedicated to the creativity and historical contributions of Thomas Edison.  Open Thursday-Sunday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.