Exploring Central New Jersey and Beyond on a Budget


Last year I shared a list of some free and almost free things to do in New Jersey.  This year I’m back with some more budget friendly ways you can enjoy Central New Jersey and the surrounding areas.

Don’t live in New Jersey?  No worries.  Come back tomorrow and I’ll be sharing links to other articles with free or cheap things to do all across the U.S.

Enjoy Concerts in the Park


Many of the towns and cities in New Jersey have free concerts during the summer months. Bring your lawn chairs and picnic baskets and enjoy a variety of musical performances. Here are a few:

Somerset County Park Commission Summer Concert Series

It would not be summer without music in the park! Bring lawn chairs and picnic baskets and enjoy a variety of musical performances. For further information on the concerts, please call 908 722-1200.  Individuals with hearing and speech impairments may call the Relay Service at 711.  Over the weekends, in case of threat of inclement weather please call 908 722-1200 ext. 7. Concerts at Duke Island Park bandshell, Old York Rd., Bridgewater.

Somerville Friday Night Concert Series
Every Friday night through Labor Day Weekend it is a party on Main Street – come stroll, shop, dine in the outdoor cafes and view hundreds of classic cars.  Plus, groove to classic oldies with the DJ on the lawn of the United Reform Church.

Warren Recreation
MUSIC UNDER THE STARS June 7, 21, 28; July 5; Sept. 6, 13. Thursdays 7-8:30pm, Place: Municipal Court Yard. Rain place: Susie B Boyce Court House or Pavilion.

CONCERT SERIES July 14, 21, 26 & Aug. 2Thurs. 7-9 pm, Place: Municipal Complex front parking lot –Rain place: WHRHS.

Woodbridge Summer Concert Series 2012
Woodbridge Township is Proud to Present the Mayor’s Summer Concert Series
2012 – On the Lawn & Under the Stars at Woodbridge High School – 1 Samuel Lupo Place, Woodbridge, NJ 07095

All concerts start at 7:30PM. Please remember to bring a lawn chair or
blanket (seating will not be provided).

Enjoy Movies and Plays in the Park


Many of the towns and cities in New Jersey have free movies and plays during the summer months. Bring your lawn chairs and picnic baskets and enjoy a variety of musical performances. Here are a few:

Friday Nights at the Drive-In Movies

Join us at Duke Island Park for a bit of nostalgia, as we present our 2012 Drive-in Movie series on Friday evenings in July. Wear your pajamas, bring your teddy bears, lawn chairs and blankets as we enjoy Mr. Popper’s Penguins (PG) on July 13, Rio (G) on July 20, and We Bought A Zoo (PG) on July 27. Movies begin at 8:30pm and are shown on a big screen. Popcorn and refreshments will be available. Don’t forget your bug spray!

Duke Island Park in Bridgewater  – Old York Road, Bridgewater, NJ • 908 722-7779

Hoboken Movies Under the Stars 2012

These FREE Outdoor Movie Screenings take place at Pier A Park, overlooking the beautiful Manhattan Skyline, located on First St. and Frank Sinatra Drive
in Hoboken.

Movies begin at 9:00 pm in June and July and around at 8:15 pm in August, unless otherwise noted below. For the best seating, come early and bring a blanket or comfortable low-back chair. You may bring a picnic, but alcohol consumption is not permitted and subject to a fine.

Schedules are subject to change. In case of heavy rain, film presentation will be canceled. Canceled films will be rescheduled on Aug. 15 and Aug. 22 beginning at 9:30pm following the regularly scheduled film at 8:15pm. Check back for updates.

For further information call Geri Fallo (201) 420-2207, Division of Cultural Affairs.

Hoboken Theatre in the Park

The City of Hoboken will be offering a wide range of theatrical productions this summer, working in conjunction with several local theatre companies of Hudson County. These Outdoor Performances will take place at the Sinatra Park Amphitheater located on Sinatra Drive btw 4th & 5th Streets.

Warren Recreation Outdoor Movies

You may also like:  Go Camping in an RV Rental at Lake George RV Park

Aug. 9, 16, 23, 30- time 8pm. Place: Library field-46 Mountain Blvd., Warren, 908-753-8000. Rain place: Susie B. Boyce Court House or Pavilion

Stephen J. Capestro Theater, Rt. 1S (1 block south of Menlo Park Mall), Edison, 732-548-2884.

All Summer Performances Begin at 8:30 p.m.
No Performances on Sunday
Adults – $7.00, Senior Citizens – $5.00,
Children 12 and Under Free
Our shows play every night of the week at 8:30, except for Sundays

Visit a Museum


Atlantic City Historical Museum

The Atlantic City Historical Museum is committed to preserving the rich history of this one-of-a-kind seaside resort. It is open daily (check for major holidays) from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M., and is free to the public. Check parking signs in the lot across from the museum for current parking restrictions. The museum is wheelchair accessible.

For more information, call (609) 347-5839.

Whippany Railway Museum

Railroad memorabilia, exhibits, large operating Lionel train layout and picnic grounds round out the Whippany Railway Museum, which offers annual train rides with Santa and the Easter Bunny.On six summer weekends from May to September, you and your family can ride in a real railroad caboose for a 45-minute round trip for an additional fee.

1 Railroad Plaza Route 10 West and Whippany Road, Whippany (973) 887-8177 Hours: Sundays noon to 4 p.m. Admission: Adults, $1; children under 12, $.50.

Duke Farms Living Habitats

Duke Farms is a great place to enjoy nature and, along the way, become more aware of issues and solutions that impact the health of our ecosystem. Admission to Duke Farms is free. Some events and programs require a fee and advance registration, see the Calendar for details.

Family Fun Ideas

Kids Blocks Spelling Fun As Symbol for Enjoyment And Playing

Hoboken Family Fun Nights

FREE Outdoor Performances in Hoboken NJ offer fun for the whole family.

When: Tuesday evenings at 7pm

Where: Shipyard Park, located at 13th Street & McFeeley Drive.
Organizer: Geri Fallo (201) 420-2207

Play Mini Golf

Somerset County Park Commission Putting Course

This one-and-a-half-acre 18-hole putting course offers players mini-gardens, natural landscaping features, and greens from 25-75 feet long. Park also features playground, picnic area, paddleboats and nature trail.

Colonial Park, off Mettlers Rd., Franklin Twp., 732-873-8585. Memorial Day-Labor Day: Daily 10-10. Apr. & May/Sept. & Oct.: weekends 12-8. Adults $6.50, children/srs. $5, 10 or more $5.

Have Fun at Local Playgrounds

There are tons of great playgrounds in Central New Jersey.  One of our favorites is Kidstreet which is a one-acre community-planned and built playground located behind the Bridgewater Township Municipal Building on Garretson Road. Read my review of the Kidstreet Playground to learn more.

Visit a Zoo

There are many zoos in New Jersey.  The zoos listed below are either free, or have an entrance fee of $10 or less. Visit their websites for rates and directions.

Hike the Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is a non-governmental, independently managed recreation facility of the national park system and is the nation’s longest marked hiking trail at 2,180 miles. It traverses 14 states from Maine’s Mount Katahdin to Georgia’s Springer Mountain over scenic, wooded, pastoral and rugged terrain.

The New Jersey stretch of the Appalachian Trail is approximately 72 miles long.

This NJ Appalachian Trail hike will take you over boardwalks, train tracks and a suspension bridge; through a hardwood forest, fields of wildflowers, a cow pasture, and a boulder field, before steeply climbing the “Stairway to Heaven” to what is considered to be one of the best viewpoints in NJ: Pinwheel Vista.

Well that’s it for this year’s edition of free and almost free things to do in New Jersey.  Do you know of any additional cool places in NJ that are free or almost free? Feel free to share!


__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

About the author


Diane is a New Jersey-based writer and blogger. She is a wife and the mom of a 13-year old boy. Through her blog, she wants to inspire moms to find Zen in their lives while offering practical tips and other valuable information to help families deal with everyday issues. Contact her at dianenassy@gmail.com

Exploring Central New Jersey and Beyond on a Budget

by Diane time to read: 5 min