Budget-Friendly Day Trips in South Jersey

These day trips are fun and light on your wallet.

The Cape May County Zoo is home to a variety of animals / Courtesy of Cape May County Tourism
The Cape May County Zoo is home to a variety of animals / Courtesy of Cape May County Tourism

Written by Brianna Gunter

Uncovering hidden local treasures doesn’t have to cost a king’s ransom. These wallet-friendly locales will give you a feeling of discovery on the cheap. The best part? These destinations are only a tank of gas (or less) away.


Cape May County Zoo 

707 N. Route 9

Cape May Court House

(609) 465-5271

Why Go? This nationally recognized zoo is considered one of the best in the country, and it is free for all ages.

Insider Tip: Food is not allowed inside, so be sure to have a meal before going or plan to eat afterwards.

Must Do: Don’t miss the flamingos. “Some of our Chilean flamingos came from Michael Jackson’s estate,” a spokeswoman from the Cape May County Department of Tourism said.

The Fine Print: The zoo is open year round, from 10 a.m. to 3:45 daily.


Edelman Planetarium

Science Hall, Rowan University

201 Mullica Hill Rd.


(856) 256-4389

Why Go? “Our shows are sometimes classified as ‘edutainment.' They're educational, teaching people about astronomy and space science, but they are also quite entertaining,” said director Keith Johnson. “There is nothing quite like a good planetarium show in any other venue.”

Insider Tip: Sunday shows are aimed more at adults, but children can enjoy them as well.

Must Do: Check out the planetarium’s website for special events and activities held throughout the year.

The Fine Print: At only $5 per person to get in, the planetarium appeals to most budgets. Rowan students, children and seniors over 62 get $2 off. Tickets for all shows go on sale 30 minutes before the scheduled start.


Plagido’s Winery 

570 N. 1st Rd.


(609) 567-4633

Why Go? New Jersey isn’t usually referred to as “wine country,” but places like Plagido’s Winery will have you thinking differently. This award-winning wine store and vineyard offers tastings without charging a hefty fee, and you get to keep your glass.

Insider Tip: Hammonton is known for its Italian restaurants—the kind of food that is the perfect complement for Plagido’s wine.

Must Do: Plagido’s speciality is sangria, but be sure to try any of the wines made from its signature white Marquis grape.

The Fine Print: The winery is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center

1501 Glasstown Rd.


(800) 998-4552 and (856) 825-6800

Why Go? Experience a variety of cultures at Wheaton Arts. It’s fun for all ages.

Insider Tip: Many special events have free admission, so be sure to check the center’s calendar.

Must Do: Check out the Museum of American Glass, a recognition of this area’s pioneering past as the cradle of the American glass industry. Make sure you catch a glass-blowing demonstration.

The Fine Print: Admission for adults is $10, $9 for seniors and $7 for students. Kids 5 and under are free. The center is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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