Never been camping before? We’ve got tips on how to get started. Once you’ve prepped, then comes picking a place to go. Do some research and planning to find the best places for your family, and make reservations if necessary. Start at the website for the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, Camping in NJ Parks. Or look into these local camping areas. Make a reservation for any of these parks at 1-855-607-3075 or at ReserveAmerica online.
4265 Atlantic Ave., Farmingdale
$20-25 campsites; $48-60 shelters; $100-200 group campsites
While camping here, you can visit Historic Allaire Village, which includes a blast from the past general store, blacksmith, carpenter and church. There are craft shows and markets year-round, plus living history events. Go for a hike on the trail network, see the Howell Works museum, canoe and more.
Mile Marker 1, Highway Rt. 72 E., Woodland Twp.
$20–25 campsites; $60-120 group campsites; $55-65/night cabins or $385-455 per week
Hunt, go picnicking, grill, mountain bike and, of course, hike. There are gorgeous views along these trails due to the lowland forests and swamps. These forests are part of the famous NJ Pine Barrens. Don’t miss out on a trip to Whitesbog Village, a cranberry and blueberry community under restoration.
300 Gordon Rd., Matawan
$20-25 campsites; $50-100 group campsites
Visit the nature center, hop in a canoe or go swimming and take a peek at the tadpoles beneath you! If you’re looking to break out your fishing pole, head to Hook’s Creek freshwater lake for largemouth bass, catfish, sunfish and trout.
Rt. 23, 7 miles north of Sussex
$20–25 campsites; $50-100 group campsites; $75-85/night cabin; $175-185/night group cabin
These trails are famous for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and horseback riding. Check out swamps, woods and wetlands with your family. Go for a dip in Lake Marcia, raft on the water or fish.
Exit 18 on I-78, Lebanon
$17-22 wilderness campsite; $50-100 group wilderness campsite
Do you love to scuba? Head to Round Valley Reservoir for some freshwater diving (must be certified). Swim with your crew, grill along the water, head to the playground and smack a volleyball around.
1/2 mile South on Rte. 619 near Newton, Swartswood
$20-25 campsites; $40-80 group campsites; $48-60 shelters
Fish for bass, sunfish, catfish and more on Little Swartswood and Swartswood Lakes. If you’d rather hunt, find some wild turkey, white-tailed deer or ring-necked pheasant in the wood surrounding County Rt. 619. Go swimming and boating, too; lifeguards are on duty from Memorial Day to labor Day.
251 County Rd. Rte. 513, Glen Gardner
$20-25 campsites; $100-200 group campsites; $48-60 shelters
Hook some bass and bluegill at one of the many small ponds around the park. While there’s no swimming here, Spruce Run Recreation Area lets Voorhees campers float around in their waters. If you have a space lover in your crew, head to the observatory hosted by the New Jersey Astronomical Association. There’s a 26-inch Cassegrain reflector, the largest public telescope in the state.