Allaire State Park: Where We Go To Find History, Trains And Trails

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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 Holiday

Allaire Village feels like you stepped back into Christmas past around the holidays. Photo Credit: @thehistoricvillageatallaire

Walk through historic holiday events

Allaire State Park shines at Christmas with beautiful trimmings and events that give a nod to history, offering a window into what Christmas looked like long ago. On weekends, Christmas at Allaire is when the village transforms into an enchanting place of holiday cheer with traditional carolers. Kids can visit with Santa and hop aboard The Santa Claus Express, which runs every weekend from now until December 17, 2023, on Saturdays and Sundays every half hour (tickets are available at the ticket office). Also, make sure to take a Holiday Stroll, a self-guided tour through the village; after the sun sets, candles and lights light up the village to give it a cozy glow. If you get a chance to sneak away from the littles, a festive date night idea is going on one of The Christmas Lantern Tours guided tours by candlelight, which feature historical Christmas customs (this tour is geared toward adults, and it has a VIP option, too; don’t forget to pre-purchase tickets for this one). 

Allaire State Park: Choose your own day-trip adventure

Allaire State Park

The Bakery was built in 1835 and supplied bread for the village since most homes did not have ovens to bake. Photo taken at Allaire Village

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.

AllaireStatePark

The Pine Creek Railroad takes you back to a special time in NJ history. Photo taken at the Pine Creek Railroad 

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. Don’t miss the Santa Claus Express on weekends. You can find the most up-to-date information on the New Jersey Museum of Transportation’s Facebook page.

Allaire State Parks

Trails at Allaire State Park meander through the woods, go near farmland, and include a bridge over the Garden State Parkway. Photo taken at Allaire State Park

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. 

Allaire State Park

When this General Store was built in 1835, it cost $7,000 and was one of the largest general stores in NJ at the time. Photo taken at Allaire Village

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.

Allaire State Park

The original row houses were constructed in 1832, and it cost about $1-$2 a month to rent a row home then. Photo taken at Allaire Village

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
(732) 938-2371

Visit Allaire State Park and Village through the website, Facebook, and Instagram.

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About Author

Melanie Bodner has always had a love for writing, but now she has a new love…being a mom. Before having her kids, Melanie was no stranger to writing or working with children. She wrote for a local newspaper as a reporter and taught English and Dance in a public school. Now Melanie enjoys spending time with her kids, doing yoga, writing and decorating her home. Check out her Instagram @burlapbythebeach.

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