I love summers at the Jersey Shore but fall has always been my favorite time to hit the beach. The crowds are gone, the weather cools down and most Shore spots are still open. There’s so much more to love about fall in the Garden State and many of the season’s most popular activities are easy to do while social distancing. Here are some active ways to spend a fall day with and without the kids:
Hensler Farms in Belvidere/New Jersey Division of Travel & Tourism
Try Something New at a Farm or Orchard
Pumpkin patches, corn mazes, hayrides and apple orchards are at the top of our fall to-do list every year. Apple-picking season usually starts in mid-September and goes through early October. Harvest festivals and special attractions will look different during the pandemic but are still happening. You can feed goats at Sun High Orchards in Randolph or wander through socially-distanced moonlight corn mazes and campfires at Von Thun’s Country Farm Market in Monmouth Junction.
Take in the Fall Colors on a Hike
From the Appalachian Trail to a casual nature walk, there are hundreds of hiking spots that offer spectacular views of the changing leaves. To reach the top of the state (literally), head to High Point State Park in Sussex, home to New Jersey’s highest elevation at 1,803 feet. On a clear fall day, you’ll be able to see 80 miles of rich fall colors made up of farmland and forests across three states. Hacklebarney State Park in Long Valley is another NJ treasure, known for its scenic hikes through a shaded hemlock ravine.
Hit the Golf Course
Golf has grown in popularity this summer since it’s a naturally socially-distanced activity. Pubic courses are an affordable option since they don’t require a gold club membership and many allow kids as young as 13 to golf so it’s a great activity to try with your teens and tweens. NJ is home to 150 public courses including: Hominy Hill Golf Course, one of Monmouth County Park System’s most popular courses; Ballyowen Golf Course at Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg; and Vineyard National Golf Course which is situated alongside South Jersey’s Renault Winery.
Plan a Day of Fishing
Fishing has also become a lot more popular during COVID since social distancing is easy. The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife stocks more than 15 large streams and rivers in northern and coastal areas during the second and third weeks of October to begin fall’s trout season. Top spots include South Branch Raritan River, Big Flatbrook, and the Manasquan River. For a mix of great trout fishing and amazing autumn colors, Allamuchy Mountain State Park in Byram is a must-see.
Go Mountain Biking Through a Scenic Trail
There’s no shortage of unpaved mountain trails at Wharton State Forest, the largest forest in the state in Atlantic, Burlington and Camden Counties. The 50-mile Batona Trail is the longest in the Pine Barrens and home to bald eagles, hawks, owls and more. In north Jersey, Ramapo Mountain State Forest offers miles of mountain biking for the experienced rider, including a tough 6-mile Cannonball Trail. If you’re looking for an easier ride, consider Monmouth County’s Henry Hudson Trail which runs through six Bayshore towns.
For more fall day trip ideas, head to VisitNJ.org.