NJ is called the Garden State for a reason, and its 30 state parks are a big reason why. We’ve highlighted some of our faves for every kind of kid. Visit New Jersey’s official site for more info on all of the following locations.
For the History Buff
Peek into Allaire State Park’s museum and Allaire Village, formerly known as the Howell Works, to see exhibits dating back to the 19th-century bog iron industry and historic buildings including a general store, blacksmith’s shop and carpenter’s shop.
4265 Atlantic Ave., Wall; 732-938-2371
COURTESY OF LIBERTY STATE PARK FACEBOOK PAGE
In addition to kayak eco tours, this state park offers Empty Sky, a memorial featuring twin brushed stainless steel walls, engraved with the names of the 749 people from NJ who lose their lives on September 11th. Shuttle buses are temporarily unavailable to park visitors, and the Nature Interpretive Center Building is closed due to damage from Superstorm Sandy.
200 Morris Pesin Drive, Jersey City; 201-915-3403
This 2,928-acre park focuses on the history of the Monmouth Campaign of 1778. Take a driving or walking tour of the battlefield, then hear a program about General Charles Lee or the role of black troops in the 18th-century battle. Along with the natural landmark, peek into the Craig House, a farmhouse from the 1800s that was the home of John and Ann Craig during the Battle of Monmouth.
16 Business Rte. 33, Manalapan; 732-462-0756
This spot has plenty of special features for the kiddos to explore, like the Princeton Battlefield, the Clarke House Museum, Offspring, Mercer Oak and the Ionic Colonnade. The Clarke House is closed for the season, please call for more information.
500 Mercer Rd., Princeton; 609-737-0623
COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON CROSSING STATE PARK FACEBOOK PAGE
This historic park features an 18th-century gambrel roof farmhouse and a museum with more than 700 military-related artifacts from the 18th century, in addition to their hiking trails and wildlife habitats. If the kiddos love theatre, visit the Downtown Performing Arts Center of Lambertville, for periodical shows at their an open air theatre.
355 Washington Crossing Pennington Rd., Titusville; 609-737-0623
For the Beach Bum
Swing by Old Barney for summer walking trails, fishing spots and a picnic area. Scale the lighthouse, an iconic landmark on LBI for over 150 years. The lighthouse climbing fee is $3 for ages 12 and up, $1 for ages 6-11 and free for children 5 and under from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
208 Broadway, Barnegat Light; 609-494-2016
PHOTO COURTESY OF SUSAN KRYSIAK/COURTESY OF MAC
Meander around ponds, coastal dunes, marshes and forest habitats along this beachy state park. Ditch the trails and run up the 157-foot high Cape May staple, one of New Jersey’s 11 unique lighthouses. Admission to the lighthouse is $8 per adults, $5 for kids ages 3-12 and free for kids ages 2 and under.
Lighthouse Ave., Cape May Point; 609-884-5404
Enjoy miles of white sandy beaches home to local wildlife. Entrance fees are charged per vehicle ($6 on weekdays for NJ residents, $10 on weekends for NJ residents) so you can bring the whole fam. If you’re missing the beach a little extra today, watch the waves live from the comfort of your home with their OBA1 Beach Cam.
S Bayview Ave. & 24th Ave., Seaside Park; 800-852-7899
For the Nature Lover
With more than 14 miles of marked trails, there’s something for the beginners and expert hikers in your fam alike. Go for a horseback ride or try your hand at fishing at one of their many lakes and ponds. Campsites are open for families from April 1 through October 31, too.
Waterloo Rd., Stanhope; 908-852-3790
This state park features plenty of hiking trails and beautiful tree-lined paths. Stop in the Nature Center for exhibits about local wildlife and their habitats. Entrance fees are $5 per vehicle for NJ residents on weekdays and $10 per vehicle on weekends and holidays.
300 Gordon Rd., Matawan; 732-566-2161
Camp at Island Bull’s Recreation area for boating, fishing and more outdoor activities. Rent a canoe from the Griggstown or Princeton Canoe rental stations, for hours of water-filled fun. According to the park’s website, a dredging project is planned for the Delaware and Raritan Canal from Kingston to Amwell Rd. at East Millstone.
2185 Daniel Bray Hwy. (Rte. 29), Stockton; 609-397-2949
Along with miles of lush hiking trails and designated picnic areas with charcoal grills, visitors can fish year-round at Black River or hunt in over 620 acres of designated area. While dogs are allowed on leashes, no bikes are permitted on any trail.
119 Hacklebarney Rd., Long Valley; 908-638-8572
COURTESY OF HIGH POINT STATE PARK FACEBOOK PAGE
Visit the High Point Monument, a 220-foot obelisk built in the early 20th century, during select times throughout the year, staff and weather permitting. Entrance fees are charged per vehicle ($5 on weekdays, $10 on weekends and holidays for NJ residents) from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
1480 NJ-23, Sussex; 973-875-4800
Stretching from Bergen to Warren County, the Morris Canal was an engineering landmark that transported coal, iron ore, manufactured goods and agricultural produce. With fishing, picnic areas and plenty of hiking trails, you’ll never be bored at the Hopatcong State Park. Entrance fees are $6 per NJ resident vehicle on weekdays and $10 per NJ resident vehicle on weekends and holidays.
260 Lakeside Blvd, Landing; 973-398-7010
The kids will be jumping for Jenny Jump State Forest, which includes 21,000 year-old glaciers from the Wisconsin Ice Age. Hunting, fishing, boating, canoeing and picnic areas are also available for nature lovers of all ages. Be wary of black bears! Educational brochures are available at the park office.
330 State Park Rd, Hope; 908-459-4366
Hike along interior woodlands and rocky vistas with trails ranging from one to six miles. Bring along the mountain bikes or in the winter, try your hand at cross country skiing. Designated areas for open for hunting, too.
253 Skyline Dr., Oakland; 973-962-7031
As one of the few parks open for Wilderness Camping, Round Valley features three marked trails and a fourth unmarked water trail. Munch on a snack at one of three picnic areas or take a dip at their designated swimming areas (when lifeguards are on duty). Waterfowl may be hunted at the recreation area on a seasonal basis.
1220 Stanton Lebanon Rd, Lebanon; 908-236-6355
At Voorhees State Park, there’s more than just hiking available for wilderness explorers. Grills and picnic areas can be reserved for a $125 fee for NJ residents. Campgrounds open annually from April 1 through October 31, for $20 per night for NJ residents.
251 County Rd. Route 513, Glen Gardner; 908-638-8572
More NJ State Parks
Abram S. Hewitt State Forest – West Milford Township
Atsion Recreation Area – Shamong Township
Bass River State Forest – Tuckerton
Belleplain State Forest – Woodbine
Brendan T. Byrne State Forest – New Lisbon
Corson’s Inlet State Park – Ocean City
Double Trouble State Park – Bayville
Senator Frank S. Farley State Marina – Atlantic City
Farny State Park – Rockaway Township
Forked River State Marina – Forked River
Fortescue State Marina – Fortescue
Fort Mott State Park – Pennsville
Hacklebarney State Park – Long Valley
Kittatinny Valley State Park – Andover Township
Leonardo State Marina – Leonardo
Liberty Landing Marina – Jersey City
Long Pond Ironworks State Park – Ringwood
Norvin Green State Forest – Ringwood
Parvin State Park – Pittsgrove Township
Penn State Forest – Chatsworth
Rancocas State Park – Hainesport
Ringwood State Park – Ringwood
Spruce Run Recreation Area – Clinton
Stephens State Park – Hackettstown
Stokes State Park – Sandyston
Swartswood State Park – Swartswood
Warren Grove Recreation Area – Barnegat
Washington Rock State Park – Green Brook Township
Wawayanda State Park – Hewitt
Wharton State Forest – Hammonton
Worthington State Forest – Columbia