12 Family-Friendly Museums Worth Visiting

From minerals to history to music and more, these New Jersey museums have plenty to offer.

Illustration by Katy Dockrill

Franklin Mineral Museum
32 Evans Street, Franklin
More than 90 different fluorescent minerals were discovered in the Franklin area, most of which are on display here. But the real fun is outside in the Buckwheat Dump, where amateur stonecutters can dig for rare minerals, including the same fluorescents on display in the museum. Ultraviolet lamps are used to check the discoveries and determine what samples to take home. Open daily April-November (also weekends in March); admission ranges from $5 to $24 for an all-encompassing adventure package.—AE
973-827-3481.

Grammy Museum Experience
Prudential Center, Newark
We’re thrilled that the Recording Academy—the folks who present the Grammy Awards—chose Newark for their latest satellite museum. It amply recognizes Brick City’s musical heritage. And it’s a fun place to visit before a concert or hockey game at the Rock. Through interactive exhibits, you can explore the history of the Grammys, take drum lessons with Max Weinberg or rap along with Wyclef Jean. Jersey-related artifacts include Count Basie’s captain’s hat, Whitney Houston’s gowns and a 1975 note from Bruce Springsteen to his “landlordess” promising that the rent check is in the mail.—KS
973-757-6600.

Heritage Glass Museum
25 High Street E, Glassboro
The volunteer-run museum explores the local history of the industry that gave Glassboro its name. Artifacts include the Heston Bottle, made in 1784 at the original Stanger Brothers Glass Works. Other exhibits reveal functional uses of glass (milk bottles, Mason jars, canes) and artistic creations (paperweights made by the renowned Mantua resident Paul Stankard). Hours: Wednesday, noon-3 pm; Saturday, 11 am-2 pm; fourth Sunday of the month 1-4 pm. —TW
856-881-7468.

Imagine That
4 Vreeland Road, Florham Park
The idea is to encourage children to use their imaginations. New among the 50 exhibits are a Lionel train layout and a medieval castle with knights and dragons. The color wheel, sand table and music room involve sensory lights and sound. The museum was undergoing renovations at deadline and is due to reopen January 13. Admission: $15.99 for children, $6.99 for adults—CG

Matchbox Road Museum
15 Pearl Street, Newfield
More than 55,000 miniature cars, trucks and other vehicles from the Matchbox line are featured in the 2,100-square-foot museum. Then Newfield mayor Everett Marshall, who bought his first Matchbox vehicles in 1957, started the museum in 1992 to showcase his collection. From the Corvette to the Toyota Prius, the vehicles testify to the evolution of automotive design. Other cars offer a slice of pop-culture history with tie-ins to hit movies (Rocky and National Lampoon’s Animal House) and TV series (Magnum, P.I.). Open by appointment.—TW
856-697-6900 or e-mail Marshall at [email protected].

Monmouth Museum
765 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft
Each of the sunny galleries of this small museum on the leafy campus of Brookdale Community College is designed to engage a different age—from the Wonder Wing for preschoolers, through the children’s wing for elementary school kids, to the contemporary art galleries. For kids, the pirate ship, tree house and dinosaur bones promise year-round fun.—KC
732-747-2266.

Morris Museum
6 Normandy Heights Road, Morristown
The museum hosts morning Tot Tours for kids ages 2-5 and monthly Family Fun Days with themes like chocolate and Dr. Seuss. The facility’s Bickford Theatre also has frequent child-friendly fare. New exhibits include a large model train set and a collection of vintage toys. Special programs, lectures and studio art classes are also available. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $10 adults; $7 children 3-18.—CG

Newark Museum
49 Washington Street
Families can pick up booklets and backpacks with maps and tools at the front desk before exploring exhibits in the Garden State’s largest museum. On Saturdays at 2 pm, children of all ages learn about the museum’s collections through storytelling, music, dance and drawing programs. On Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4 pm, kids get creative with clay, paint and found materials during the MakerSPACE program. The constellation-curious travel through the solar system at the Alice & Leonard Dreyfuss Planetarium. Open Wednesday-Sunday, noon-5 pm.—JK

New Jersey State Museum
205 West State Street, Trenton
With fine art, archaeology and New Jersey cultural and natural history collections, there’s plenty to see here. Free, kid-friendly pamphlets pose questions to help young visitors engage with the displays. In the Discovery Den, families encounter nature through touchable specimens, games, books, puppets and costumes. The NANO exhibit is an interactive display with magnets, foam construction pieces and technology. On the third Saturday of each month, kids can participate in the Small Explorers program, a free story time and arts-and-crafts series. Upcoming themes include animal hibernation (January), African-American artists (February), dinosaurs (March) and space (April). There’s also a planetarium with a variety of programs, including laser shows.—JK

Sterling Hill Mining Museum
30 Plant Street, Ogdensburg
It’s a balmy 56 degrees all year 80 feet below ground. Sterling Hill leads subterranean tours of shafts and tunnels that were first mined for zinc more than 200 years ago. The literal highlight of the tour is the Rainbow Tunnel, which glows with fluorescent minerals and gems. If spelunking is not your thing, the museum displays more than 10,000 items, including historic mining equipment and minerals from around the globe. Mine tours cost $12; $9 for children 4-12. Open daily, April-October; weekends, November-March. —AE
973-209-7212.

Stone Museum
608 Spotswood Englishtown Road, Monroe
A stone museum is a small part of this 47-acre wonderland, which began as a showcase of landscaping ideas. Today it is a veritable theme park of fantasy outdoorscapes, with hundreds of displays of stone products set around a lake with waterfalls, islands with gazebos and cupolas, stone seating and zen designs. There are four wedding sites, three huge dinosaurs made of auto parts and an elaborate playland for physically challenged children and adults. Finally, there’s that eponymous museum featuring a collection of minerals recently donated by Monmouth University. Oddly, there’s also a Cobra helicopter and an M-60 tank. Closed for the winter; reopens in April (depending on the weather).—JS
732-521-2232.

Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center
8 Quarry Drive, Little Falls
Though small, it induces big smiles. On the campus of Montclair State University, the museum tracks the extraordinary career of its colorful namesake—and more. The well-curated exhibits also document New York baseball, the art of catching, baseball during wartime (Berra was a D-Day veteran) and big-league integration. Among the literal gems on display are the dozens of World Series rings won by New York Yankee teams through the decades. Watch for special events featuring big names from the world of sports.—KS
973-655-2378.

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