With stunning city skyline views, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island in the backdrop, it’s easy to see why Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ, is one place you should put high on your list this summer. This 36-acre park is the perfect location for a weekend adventure—kids can scramble up monkey bars on the playground, explore wildlife sanctuaries on the trails, and release their inner scientists at the Liberty Science Center. Plus, you’ll all enjoy picnicking with sweeping views of NYC and learning about this park’s unique and storied history. Scroll down for 10 things to do and what to know before you visit. And if you are up for more, here are 34 NJ state parks to explore. (featured photo credit: iStock/felixmizioznikov)
10 cool spots to discover at Liberty State Park
Explore the Historic Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal
Stop by the Central Jersey Railroad of New Jersey Terminal to learn how New Jersey played a role in a formative time in our country. From 1892 through 1954, the Terminal stood with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island to unfold one of this nation’s most dramatic stories—the immigration of northern, southern, and eastern Europeans, among others, into the United States. After being greeted by the Statue of Liberty and processed at Ellis Island, these immigrants purchased tickets and boarded trains at the Terminal, taking them to their new homes throughout the United States. It is estimated that at the turn of the century, the Terminal accommodated between 30,000-50,000 people per day.
Catch waves on the Ferry to Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty
Want to see the city and NJ from a new perspective? A ferry ride tour may be an adventure for you. Docking at Liberty State Park, the ferries offer transportation across the Hudson to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island—one ferry ticket provides both islands access—with spectacular views. You’ll also learn about the history of each island with audio guides for free for all ages. And to make sure you’re getting the real deal, check out the preferred ferry company, Statue Cruises, to avoid overpriced or fake tickets. Tickets are free for children under 3, $12 for children 4-12, $24.50 for adults 13+, and $18 for seniors.
Have fun climbing and hanging with the whale with the NYC skyline all around you. Photo taken at Liberty State Park.
Get some energy out at the Liberty State Park playground
Where else can you take in the scenery of the Manhattan skyline all while the kids are playing? The stunning views make playing fun, and the connecting climbing structures with a fun sailing ship can entertain kids big and small. Plus, the location is close to other attractions, including Liberty Walk, a picnic area, and Interpretive Center, so you can map out the rest of your day accordingly.
How idyllic is this little setup at Liberty State Park? Spot the sparkling cider for kiddos to join too. Photo Credit: @delusciousfoods
Picnic on the lawn with views of NYC and The Statue Of Liberty
With tons of lawn space, Liberty State Park is the perfect backdrop for a cute picnic with the family and a mini-photo op. With groups of less than 20 people, there is no need to reserve a space, just pack your favorite lunch treats and find a spot–don’t forget the sparkling cider. Check out the rules for picnicking at nj.gov.
Bring your fishing poles and crab nets
It may not seem like it, but the park has some great spots for fishing and crabbing. The Upper New York Bay and Hudson River have excellent opportunities for your little ones to catch something, including bluefish, shad, striped bass, and blue claw crabs.
Hike the Hudson River Estuary Wildlife Trails
Adjacent to the Interpretive Center lies a 36-acre State Natural Area consisting mainly of salt marsh, one of the few remaining tidal marshes of the Hudson River Estuary. A self-guided nature path offers opportunities to observe and experience this unique wildlife habitat.
Play eye-spy along the Waterside Promenade
A variety of azaleas and rhododendrons frame the large reflecting pool filled with gorgeous, pink flowering lotus and lily pads at the Azalea Garden. In the spring, the double-flowering dogwood takes center stage, while in the fall, the Japanese maple is not to be missed. Your kids will love to see their mirrored image in the water below as they view the lily pads and lotus in the reflecting pool.
Take a class at the Liberty State Park Interpretive Center
Want to learn a little more about the nature reserve around you? The Interpretive Center is an excellent way for kids to learn more about the environment. The center features exhibits focusing on the natural history and ecology of the Hudson River Estuary and offers programs for school and community groups and the general public.
Unlock your inner scientist at Liberty Science Center
Want to make their eyes light up? Right within the park, Liberty Science Center is jam-packed with fun, interactive activities for all ages to inspire curiosity and wonder- you won’t hear “I’m bored!” Explore amazing things to do in 16 galleries, including a suspended climbing maze 35 feet above the floor, a pitch-black maze, exotic animals like piranhas and naked mole rats, and the biggest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere with an 89-foot diameter screen. With an ever-changing roster of exhibits, Liberty Science Center is a museum your kids will ask to see over and over again.
Reflect at the Empty Sky Memorial
Before starting your adventure, take a moment to visit the twin walls that give a clear-cut view toward Ground Zero at the Empty Sky Memorial. The length of each wall at the memorial is precisely equal to one side of the former World Trade Center Towers, as the wall’s height reflects the proportion of the former buildings sideways. Seven hundred and forty-nine New Jersey victims’ are named on the stainless steel walls and give any visitor pause looking at them.
Liberty State Park
200 Morris Pesin Drive
Jersey City, NJ 07305
What’s the first place you’re planning to hit at Liberty State Park when you visit?
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