Imagine walking into a 19th-century village frozen in time, taking a train ride on the vintage Pine Creek Railroad, or discovering a secret path through the trees—you’ll find this and much more at Allaire State Park in the Monmouth County town of Farmingdale. It’s at the top of our favorite places to go as a family because every time we visit, a different experience awaits. Sometimes we’ll take our bikes on the trails, a glimpse into the past at historic Allaire Village, or just go to chill with nature. And each time we visit, we see it in a new light, especially during each season and when there are holiday events and festivals in the park. Want to know more about what makes Allaire State Park so unique? Scroll down for why we love going here and why you will too. Find more parks to visit on our list of NJ parks to explore too. (featured photo taken at Allaire State Park)
Allaire State Park: Choose your own day-trip adventure
Explore a 19th-century iron-making village
Allaire’s historic 19th-century iron-making village (formerly known as Howell Works) produced crude and cast iron in the early to mid-1800s and was a thriving industrial community with a population of 400. Today you can go into the recreated village, which includes a general store, blacksmith shop, carpenter’s shop, foreman’s house, and a church. We visit here frequently because they often have historical demonstrations at the blacksmith shop or in the carpenter’s shop, giving you a glimpse of what they created back in the 19th century. My kids remark on how life might have been back then, and you feel like you have stepped back in time with this piece of living history. Make sure to stop by the Allaire Visitor Center and Museum (former row houses for the workers) for more information about the past and the living history events.
Take a ride on the rails
The Pine Creek Railroad was established in the 1950s, and it is an ideal example of how rail travel looked at the height of the steam era in the United States. Today, the NJ Museum of Transportation manages the diesel, narrow-gauge railway, and it’s one of the oldest operating ones in the country. My kids love taking the 15-minute ride to enjoy the scenery and see history in action. Trains typically run every half hour on weekends (check ahead to see if special events are happening), and tickets are available at the ticket booth. Also, keep on the lookout for special train events—there’s a Haunted Halloween event for older kids, and you can also do a birthday party with a ride on the train for your little conductor. You can find the most up-to-date information on the New Jersey Museum of Transportation’s Facebook page.
Hit the trails
The trails throughout Allaire State Park appeal to everyone, whether you are walking, riding, or on horseback. The park includes the Edgar Felix bikeway, the first segment of the 55-mile Capital to Coast trail spanning from Trenton to the beach town of Manasquan. The trail transitions from the woods to farmland to the path that meanders over the Garden State Parkway—it’s definitely a unique experience to bike right over rush hour traffic and my family’s favorite trail.
Activities and festivals
Throughout the year, Allaire boasts many activities for the whole family. There is a History Kids Club where kids can brush up on their state and colonial history, an antique car show, craft shows, and much more. In the Fall, get ready for the cooler weather with the Fall Apple Festival, the Fall Craft Show, and an 1830s All Hallow’s Eve Celebration, culminating with the beautiful holiday events, a family favorite. In the summer, Allaire hosts arts and crafts festivals, antique shows, and flea markets. You can check what’s happening with Allaire’s 2023 Calendar of Events.
What to know before you go
Allaire State Park has camping, picnic areas, fishing, and hunting areas available. Many people also enjoy bird and wildlife viewing at Allaire or freshwater fishing since the Manasquan River zig-zags through the park. The village, Pine Creek Train Station, and many trails are near the main entrance and parking area. And if you’re going, plan to pack a picnic and snacks along with everything else you may need for the day, whether you hike, bike, or explore the village, since there aren’t any places to purchase food (unless it’s part of a special event).
Allaire State Park
4265 Atlantic Avenue, Farmingdale, NJ 07727
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