Vacations are expensive. That’s just a fact of life! You’re paying for accommodations, food, transportation… even the beaches aren’t always free! But you can ease the strain on your bank account by making a few free attractions a part of your south Jersey vacation.
Atlantic City Historical Museum
Located on the historic Garden Pier, the Atlantic City Historical Museum features a permanent exhibit called “Atlantic City: Playground of the Nation” and ever-changing traveling exhibits. If you’re a fan of the Miss America pageant, make a visit to the Atlantic City Historical Museum and check out all the memorabilia. You’ll also see original sand art, vintage postcards, and a video on the history of the city.
Atlantic City Art Center
Take a tour of the three exhibition galleries at the Atlantic City Art Center on New Jersey Avenue and the Boardwalk in Atlantic City. Don’t skip the gift shop — it’s your chance to see fabulous handmade glass creations from historic Wheaton Village in Millville. The Art Center also hosts concerts, readings, and artist talks, and more.
Cape May County Park and Zoo
It’s all happening at the zoo… and it’s all free! The Park and Zoo are open every day, year round. More than one hundred species of animals reside in the Cape May Zoo’s acres of habitat. Take advantage of the recreational facilities at the Cape May Park — playgrounds, tennis and basketball courts, baseball fields, walking and bike trails, and picnic areas.
Discovery Seashell Museum
Be dazzled by the shells from around the world at the Discovery Shell Museum in Ocean City. More than ten thousand shells are on display in the Shell Yard, plus varieties of coral and the mysterious air plants that grow in shells without soil. Admire the carved shell art, and add to your shell collection at the gift shop. Only open part of the year, from Memorial Day Weekend until Christmas.
Hereford Inlet Lighthouse
Visit the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse in Anglesea, just outside of North Wildwood. Before you even reach the Lighthouse itself, take in the award winning cottage garden! Inside, the nautical museum will take you through the history of Hereford Inlet and its lighthouse.
Noyes Museum of Art
Not totally free, but free for kids under six any day and admission for whatever donation you care to make on Fridays. The Noyes Museum in Oceanville is the only fine art museum in southern Jersey. The permanent collection includes more than a thousand pieces of American folk art and crafts. The Noyes Museum also offers workshops, lectures, and activities for the kids (for a small fee).
Marine Mammal Stranding Center
A one dollar donation is requested, but not required to visit the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine. The museum features life sized replicas of animals that have been stranded in the New Jersey waters and a touchable display of marine mammal bones. Be sure to check out the thousand-gallon observation tank, if you happen to visit between May and September.
And if all else fails… a walk on the boardwalk in Atlantic City or Wildwood is free whenever you feel like taking a stroll!