Updated December 2013
You probably know New Jersey’s state parks are chock full of fun in the summer. But did you know they offer wintertime activities, too? Whether you’re desperate for fresh air or looking for activities that don’t involve freezing, you’ll find what you’re looking for in the state park system.
Kittatinny Valley State Park (973-786-6445) in Andover starts off 2014 with a New Year’s Day Hike. Kittatinny’s glacial lakes that are a must for any Ice Age-obsessed kid (or am I the only one with one of those?). Winter sights include people ice fishing, wild turkeys waddling, and, sometimes, a musher and his dogsled team! For indoor fun, visit on January 4 for the Winter Wonders program with nature-themed stories and crafts. For a mix of indoor and outdoor, there’s a program on owls on January 14, and a hot chocolate hike (middle-school-age and up) on January 18. Pre-register for all events.
Cheesequake State Park (732-566-2161) in Middlesex County operates a year-round interpretive center that features live animals as well as Native American historical displays and ecological exhibits that tell about the park’s unique habitat (it straddles two ecosystems). A good time to go is January 19, when there’ll be a Recycled Tree Craft program, during which kids can make “trees” out of bamboo and soda-can rings. Come back on January 26 for a Chicken Whittle demonstration, when the park naturalist will show kids (middle-school-age and up) how to whittle a tree branch into a rooster. Cheesequake also sponsors a children’s survival program on the January 12.
Don't miss snowshoeing, hot chocolate, and s'mores! —>
High Point State Park (973-875-4800) in Sussex is the highest (and coldest) place in New Jersey to take advantage of the great outdoors—if you dare! Consider a family snowshoe walk on January 5 or 19, or the sunset/moonrise hike on January 26 (ages 7 and up). Snowshoe rentals are limited, so register early (973-875-1471 or email them). And don’t miss High Point’s Winter Festival on January 26. Besides snowshoeing, there’ll be activities like ice-fishing demonstrations, cookie- and cupcake-decorating, and hot chocolate and s’mores by a fire.
Round Valley Recreation Area (908-236-6355) in Lebanon is known for its awesome sledding hill, so take the toboggans. You can enjoy a New Year’s hike here, as well as a Jack Frost Hike on January 13 (preregister for both) and a Bird Walk on January 20. Bring binoculars and a sense of adventure!
Renée Sagiv Riebling is a freelance writer from central New Jersey who is always on the lookout for new adventures with her family.