If you’ve been to your neighborhood playground so many times that the monkey bars have lost their thrill, it’s time for a change. Next time your kids are in the mood for some swinging and sliding, pile ’em in the car and head to one of these amazing playgrounds—they’re worth the trip!
Here are six of our favorites:
Community Playground of Montville
127 Changebridge Rd., Montville
Play farmer all day at this park devoted to tractors and barns. There’s even a really tall slide made to look like a big grain silo that’s great for pretend play. If you sit in the elevated gazebo in the center of the play space, you can keep an eye on the big kids as they run around. In warmer months, pack a dinner and stay for an evening concert or movie at the amphitheater.
Don’t Miss: This playground is particularly great for toddlers and preschoolers with a big section devoted to age-appropriate climbing walls and slides.
700 Garretson Rd. (near Municipal Complex), Bridgewater
Channel your inner Tarzan at this spacious playground filled with giant, one-of-a-kind climbing structures like big wooden cars, planes and ships—all built by local volunteers out of wood and tires. The fenced area for tinier tots lets little kids play on the big jungle gyms without getting lost, and the mini obstacle course filled with balance beams and rubberized wobbly bridges will keep the big kids happy. Daredevils of all ages can careen down the zip line over and over.
Don’t Miss: Check out the tire swing—it’s part climbing-structure, part wiggly thrill ride and big enough for the whole family pile on.
100 Town Square Pl., Jersey City
The playground here takes advantage of its urban setting, offering jaw-dropping, unobstructed views of the NYC skyline. This is a neighborhood with a lot of recent construction, and the playground is new and modern, too, blending into its surroundings with a silver and dark blue color scheme. Kids will ignore the view and have a blast climbing up the funky cargo nets and riding the carousel (open on weekends) before dashing off to cool down in the big splash area which opened Memorial Day weekend.
Don’t Miss: The beach! There’s an actual beachfront here where kids can bring their beach toys and dip their toes in the sand. It’s not quite the Jersey Shore (since there’s no ocean to play in), but it’s a great nearby alternative. And with the spray ground just steps away, they can still get wet.
Overpeck County Park
199 Challenger Rd., Ridgefield Park
Beautiful Overpeck County Park (spread out over four towns) includes five miles of walking paths, several fields, fishing spots and even kayaking spots—but by far our favorite hangout is the playground in the Ridgefield Park section. We love that it has a ton of climbing walls (which means no waiting), plus shaky bridges and wobbly tables to surf on. There are also so many twisting ladders and spinning monkey bars that after all that play, you’ll be grateful for the shady gazebo area.
Don’t Miss: The massive spider web climbing structure, which soars up to 15 feet high (and has a trampoline in the middle!). Should anyone tumble, the mulch-covered ground below protects against bumpy landings.
Regatta Playground (closed for six weeks starting March 11)
Cherry Ln., West Orange
Regatta is one of our very favorites, nestled in the giant South Mountain Reservation complex right near Turtle Back Zoo and the swan-boat-filled Orange reservoir. The play area takes inspiration from its waterside location with an enormous ship centerpiece, complete with huge “rock” outcroppings that make for excellent climbing. There’s a mini boat for toddlers, a dragonfly seesaw, mushroom obstacle courses, cushy surfaces all around to prevent scrapes and plenty of nautical-inspired Adirondack chairs perfect for parent lounging. Face masks are required here.
Don’t Miss: We love the massive boat structure (named “Lion’s Pride after the Essex County mascot) which features telescopes, climbing walls and slides.
Van Saun County Park
216 Forest Ave., Paramus
Three separate play structures, a cute zoo, pony rides for the kids, a huge carousel, beautiful, shady walking paths and a fabulous train ride (which gets an awesome haunted makeover in the fall) are all reasons to plan a day-long visit. Inside the playground, there’s a newly built toddler area with a sweet animal theme (we love the little owls and pine trees that decorate it), plus tall climbing towers, wobbly balance beams, slides and rock walls galore. Plus, most of the playgrounds here are ADA accessible, which means kids of all abilities can play.
Don’t Miss: Check out the marsh-themed splash pad where kids can cool off before getting right back to play.
Here are other unique options around the state:
Berry Lane Park
Garfield Ave., Jersey City
Do you have a budding skater? If so, this is your place. Berry Lane Park includes a skate park that is partially funded by a grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation. With half-pipes, curbs, ramps, A-frames and more, this concrete skate park and pavilion is the perfect place for your kids to unleash their own inner Tony Hawk. If skating isn’t their thing, be sure to check out what else Berry Lane Park has to offer, including a playground, splash pad, soccer field, and tennis courts!
Branch Brook Park
Lake St. and Park Ave., Newark
Yup, this is the same spot that’s famous for its annual Cherry Blossom Festival. Think lawns, playing fields and lakes, plus a nature-themed playground. Be sure to go in the spring to see the pink flowers in full bloom.
Near 659 Madison Hill Rd., Clark
This fenced-in playground has a spongy ground that’s great for boo-boo prevention, and is also next door to tennis courts, a huge rock climbing wall and a great skating area with lots of ramps. If skating isn’t for your family, take a stroll on the half-mile walking path around the freshwater wetland. Also be sure to check out Caitlin Nelson Park which is new, on Westfield Ave.
78 Eyland Ave., Succasunna
This spot’s rocket ship and sea vessel will definitely be a hit with your astronaut-in-training or pirate-to-be, but it’s the beautiful murals and painted peepholes that really set this fenced-in playground apart from the rest.
Ponderosa Farm Park
1600 Cooper Rd., Scotch Plains
This playground and splash park duo is the perfect way to spend a hot summer day. The farm-themed playground will be sure to entertain older kids with a rock-climbing wall, rope tower, tunnels, slides and more! There is also a separate play area for younger kids and toddlers at an easier-to-reach level, filled with lots of fun things to do. If the kids get hot playing on the playground, they can simply run over to the motion-controlled spray area (open starting on Memorial Day weekend) to cool off!
Henry Hudson Dr., Fort Lee
While your kids are busy climbing tall towers and scooting down slides, you’ll be amazed by the incredible view. This Palisades Interstate Park playground sits right next to the Hudson River, just a short ride from the George Washington Bridge. Just be sure the little ones “go” before leaving the house as the bathrooms are currently closed. Travel tip: There’s a super scenic spot filled with urban art right under the bridge, so if you drive through on your way to the park, don’t forget the camera!
Bloomfield and Lakeside Aves., Verona
This crowd fave opened newly renovated last spring with tons of bright colors and mod designs. Now there’s ouch-proof rubberized grounds, unique climbing structures and spider web walks on a hill, slides and sitting areas.
Bloomfield Ave. and Conger St., Bloomfield
This inclusive playground is perfect for kids of all ages and needs! Located in the corner of Essex County Park, it was designed to meet the needs of children with physical and developmental disabilities and allow everyone to easily play together, regardless of their abilities. With wheelchair-friendly surfaces and ramps, all-access swings, a seated merry-go-round, instruments and more, this colorful playground screams fun! It even includes a tent with misting water so that the kids can cool down on a hot day, and plenty of tables for lunch or a snack in the covered gazebo nearby. Be sure to bring the whole family: preschool-aged kids will love the fairy house and older kids will enjoy trying to scale the sky-high tower!
Dorbrook Recreation Area
353 County Rd 537, Colts Neck
Perfect for people of all different abilities, Dorbrook Recreation will ensure fun for everyone! This park’s sprayground has high and low water troughs, “raining leaves,” and tons of sprayers for lots of fun in the sun. This park also includes Challenger Place, which is a playground meant to create a space for children of all abilities to play together. Challenger Place features Braille signs and is wheelchair-accessible, and it recently gained an addition – the Lion’s Sensory Den. This is designed for blind or visually impaired children, and it offers drums and other instruments, a large spinning globe, and a water misting column. Make sure to visit the website if you are interested in coming, because reservations are required for admission.
Fort Medford Playground
Gravelly Hollow Rd., Medford
Part of Bob Meyer Memorial Park, Ford Medford sports old-school teepees, forts and other Native American-inspired structures. One of the main highlights? A big sandbox. The athletic fields here will open for recreation beginning in July 2021.
500 Pemberton Browns Mills Rd., Pemberton
Little royals can feel like kings and queens at this castle-themed playground. There are see-saws, slides, baby swings and more.
663 Fox Farm Rd., Asbury
This spot is split into two play areas: one for kids ages 2-5 and a second for kids ages 5-12. Take a peek at the butterfly garden, explore the barn-themed toddler area with your little one (there’s even a size-appropriate climbing wall!), walk the wobbly planks and more.
Belmar Marina, Rte. 35, Belmar
This transportation-themed playground lets kids take their imaginations to the max. They can conduct the train or pilot a plane, then hit the tennis courts next door. Bring a picnic lunch for the crew, or even use the nearby grills. Bonus: They just installed a new picnic pavilion in February 2020.
Old Bridge Waterfront Park
1 Laurence Pwky., Laurence Harbor
This park has two playground options: one on Laurence Harbor with boardwalk access and place to eat, and Pirate’s Cove at Cliffwood Beach, a new playground on Raritan Bay that has walking paths, a gazebo, a kayak launch and most notably, a big pirate ship play structure. Best part? It’s all on a free beach. All Middlesex County Parks are open from sunrise to sunset with social distancing requirements.
Guests are strongly encouraged to wear a mask. The Parks Administration Building is currently closed to the public.
Perrineville Rd., Jamesburg
Thompson has all the playground staples, but it’s also home to a mini zoo! Stop by the fenced-in wildlife area to visit the deer and feed the ducks (note: The NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife strongly discourages feeding wild deer). Face coverings are required if social distancing cannot be maintained.
Ocean Ave., Long Branch
You’ll see a lot of blue and green at this marine-influenced shoreside hub. Take on the monkey bars, ride the tire-like sitting swing (it can fit more than one kid!) and snap a pic with the dolphin statue. The new Skateplex feature has opened and bikes and scooters are allowed on it. Helmets must be worn at the Skateplex by those under age 17.
ACUA Environmental Park
6700 Delilah Rd., Egg Harbor Twp.
Calling all nature lovers! This playground is made entirely from recycled materials, like old jet skis and speed boats, plastic tubes and recycled bottles. Explore the sandbox, soar down the hill slide, walk along the Poetry Trail, sniff your way through the community garden and more. You can even book a tour of the park on their website.
Field of Dreams
1000 Morton Ave., Absecon
Famous for hosting the South Jersey Field of Dreams, a baseball league for special needs youth, this playground boasts handicapped-accessible attractions like swings and a rocker, rubber turf under the jungle gym and a fenced play area. Did we mention there’s an awesome mini golf course? Be sure to go during a sporting event when a volunteer is manning the course; if not, bring your own equipment to play. Be sure to bring a mask.
James G. Atkinson Memorial Park
138 Bethel Mill Rd., Sewell
This park boasts two playgrounds, one of which is fenced-in for little ones and has a roaring dinosaur theme. Swing, slide, climb and more, or hit one of the nature trails nearby. Best part? There’s a bathroom!
Pine Cone Zone
1513 Elwood Rd., Mullica Twp.
This playground’s made up of mostly wood, so it has a fort-like feel. Lots of high structures make this a prime playground to play hide and seek. Break for snack at the pavilion. This playground is open while under construction!
26th St. and Brigantine Ave., Brigantine
Think shark rockers, a bridge, tunnels, tire swings and more ocean-themed attractions. You can even run right into the belly of the park’s namesake predator. Bring soccer or baseball gear to play in the adjacent fields. Face coverings are not required but are strongly recommended; social distancing must be observed. Reservations are being accepted for pavilion rental/use (call 609-625-8219).
Which playgrounds do you love? Let us know any great ones we missed in the comments.
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