10 Autumn Adventures for New Jersey Families

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Parents and caregivers, here's a smart guide for handling all of those fall school holidays. Just plan a New Jersey adventure that will get everybody moving, thinking and having fun. Download this list of 10 attractions, and get going! (P.S. You don't have to tell them it's educational!)

1. Hunt for Cretaceous Fossils

Can you say "Cretaceous"? Learn about this period of the Mesozoic era (145 to 65 million years ago) at Poricy Park Nature Center in Middletown while you search for fossils in the streambed. Be sure to wear old clothes and shoes—and bring a container or bag for your treasures. Because the stream is always exposing new specimens, you can take home up to five fossils!

2. Meet a Life-Sized Dino

Travel back to prehistoric times to see over 30 life-sized animatronic dinosaurs at Field Station: Dinosaurs, located at Overpeck County Park in Leonia. Add a little extra mystery to your family's experience with "Dinosaurs After Dark." The dinosaurs look a little more Jurassic Park than The Land Before Time when lit by flashlights, but the evening ends on a lighter note, thanks to a sing-a-long, campfire and roasted marshmallows.

3. Drive a Backhoe

Graduates of Bob the Builder will "dig" this attraction. Diggerland USA in West Berlin is a construction-themed amusement park where children can drive, ride and operate heavy equipment. Really! If your child is 42 inches tall, he or she can operate a digger. At 48 inches tall, kids can drive a backhoe or all terrain ARCO. Diggerland will be open on NJEA days, but closes for the season on November 26.

4. Swing through the Trees, Tarzan Style

Take your children to the ultimate P.E. class: Tree to Tree Adventure Park in Cape May Court House. The park's color-coded courses are designed to be progressively more difficult. You'll challenge both mind and body as you have a blast on zip lines, nets, Tarzan swings and other fun obstacles. Warm up your vocal cords for that Tarzan yell!

5. Marvel at Weird Stuff

Kids always like looking at unusual things, and the Odditorium at Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum in Atlantic City has some bizarre doozies, like real shrunken heads. Pair a visit with a stroll on the boardwalk for a great outing on a sunny fall day.

6. Navigate a Very Dark Tunnel

Liberty Science Center in Jersey City is a sure bet for family "edutainment." There are plenty of interactive exhibits to explore. Test your senses in the Touch Tunnel, an 80-foot, crawl-through, pitch-black tunnel. It's a popular experience, so line up early. If your kids would rather climb than crawl, check out the Infinity Climber, the world's first suspended climbing play space of its kind.

7. Watch a 3-D Feeding Frenzy

With sharks, stingrays, piranha, penguins, hippos and more, Adventure Aquarium on the Camden waterfront is always a family favorite—plus it's open daily! Entry to the 3-D theater is now included in the general admission price. That's a good reason to go see "Coastal Predators: A 3-D Experience," billed as an "underwater Armageddon." (Younger children will prefer the less-frightening "Splash and Bubbles: 3-D Undersea Adventure," based on the PBS KIDS series.)

8. Hear the Pack Howl

Arh-wooo! If you're lucky, you'll hear that primal call when you join a "wolf watch" at Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia. The preserve is home to four wolf packs, plus bobcats and foxes. You can watch them play and interact from the observation area. If you're planning on a weekday visit, be sure to make a reservation in advance.

9. Be a Garden State Farmhand

See what farm life was like 100 years ago at Howell Living History Farm in Lambertville, where kids can help make cider, husk corn or hop aboard an old-fashioned hayride. For more farm adventures, go to Historic Longstreet Farm in Holmdel. Help the staff milk a cow!

10. Go Whale & Dolphin Watching

Marine biology comes alive when you and your family join the naturalists from the Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center on an interactive eco-tour to search for humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins and more.

Find more fall family outings at visitnj.org where you can also download a free NJ travel guide or sign up for e-news from New Jersey Travel and Tourism.