With a new season and the Garden State blooming, now is prime time to take a spring family photo shoot in NJ—so gather up the kids (and your best-coordinating pastels) for a fresh, new photo of your crew. Whether you want an easy-breezy beach setting or snaps amid blooms in lush gardens, there are plenty of COVID-friendly, outdoor photographic options that will have your family looking pretty as a picture. Our 2021 roundup includes 12 picture-perfect locations in New Jersey for a bright spring photo shoot—cheesy smiles not included.
featured image via @kateystanley
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Here are 12 outdoor locations for a spring family photo shoot in NJ:
New Jersey Botanical Garden
With 96 acres of specialty gardens surrounded by 1,000 acres of woodlands, it’s safe to say you’ll find a picture-perfect moment somewhere in the New Jersey Botanical Garden. From the Annual Garden, which boasts plantings that change not only through the seasons but also from year to year; to the Lilac Garden, which has over a hundred varieties peaking in mid-May; to the Azalea Garden reflecting pool, which is flanked on both sides by colorful azaleas and rhododendrons—this photo location is a photographer’s dream. While we think spring is a glorious season to experience the Botanical Garden, it is open 365 days of the year, and admission is always free. Professional photography is welcome, and you can find that information here.
2 Morris Rd., Ringwood, NJ 07456
Grounds for Sculpture
Looking for a more artistic, whimsical family photoshoot this spring? Grounds for Sculpture is a magical place where art and nature are always at play. With more than 270 sculptures by artists—each one positioned on meticulously landscaped parkland full of thousands of exotic trees and flowers—you’ll find plenty of backdrops for a unique photo. The most famous statues might be the ones by Seward Johnson, but don’t take it from us – explore all 42 acres yourself. (You might even be photobombed by one of the many resident peacocks that roam the grounds.) Advanced timed tickets and member reservations are required to visit. Professional photography must be approved in advance, so be sure to check their policy here.
80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton, NJ 08619
Holland Ridge Farms
Fields filled with 2 million tulips just waiting for your littles to skip through in their spring best—Holland Ridge Farms is a springtime dream for family photos. Their Tulip Festival is almost in full bloom, the farms will be exploding in color, and it will make your pictures pop with all the #springfeels. The farm says it loves professional photographers and that they’re welcome to come snapshots in the field anytime between 9AM and 6PM daily, and no one will not be admitted after 5PM. Keep in mind, entrance fees vary, and the farms will open in mid-April.
86 Rues Rd, Cream Ridge, NJ 08514
Ocean City Beaches
Although many places along the shore are pretty, the pristine white sand beaches in Ocean City, NJ are second to none—with lots of “extras” that go beyond just surf and sand, you’ll be sure to capture more than just a pretty beach shot. From rock belts to beach grass along the water, you’ll add a unique perspective to the typical beach pictures. Inlet Beach at Corson’s Inlet State Park is an idyllic place to do a sunset or sunrise shoot away from the crowds. A hidden gem for a spring family photo shoots in NJ is at the end of Seaview Road—you’ll find a unique beach entrance with lots of green shrubs, dunes, and rock piles. Once you get down the walkway to the beach, there is a gorgeous open space with Longport Bridge in the background.
Ocean City, NJ 21842
Branch Brook Park Cherry Blossoms
Who knew Jersey was home to MORE cherry blossoms than Washington, D.C.? Branch Brook Park in Essex County has over 5,000 cherry blossom trees that ooze spring beauty. It’s the largest cherry blossom collection in the country, making it a super popular spot for springtime strolls with the fam. That canopy of fluffy pink blooms is a dreamy backdrop for any family photoshoot this time of year. Those pastel hues against a bright blue sky and the cutest smiles from your littles equal perfection every time. You can find information about filming and photography here. After you take your photos, you can take a cell phone tour of the grounds or sign up for their Cherry Blossom Virtual 10K on April 3rd through April 18th. If you want to see the blossoms, but can’t make the trip, take a peek at their Cherry Blossom webcam.
Park Avenue and Lake Street Newark, NJ 07104
If you are looking for beautiful, old buildings as the backdrop for your spring family shoot, the Monmouth University campus has you covered. Monmouth University has two historic buildings on its picturesque campus- Woodrow Wilson Hall has a neoclassical French design and has been the backdrop of many ads and television commercials. In contrast, Guggenheim Mansion has a gorgeous white stucco exterior and wide arches curving out from the buildings’ sides. If you want to get some beach shots as well, you’re in luck because the campus is only a few blocks away from the shore. At this time, special occasion photography is only open to Monmouth University alumni; more information can be found here.
400 Cedar Ave., Long Branch, NJ 07764
(732) 571- 3473
When it comes to taking family photos, you can’t go wrong anywhere in the beautiful Willowwood Arboretum, which has plenty of beautiful green space of gardens and meadows for photo ops. We’re partial to lilacs, which are at their blooming zenith in spring. Still, there are beautiful historic stone cottages and barns for a creative respite from the typical garden backdrop to stage a unique family photo. Follow the path to Long Meadow for sweeping views of the arboretum—you’re in luck because the meadow is surrounded by spring blooms like flowering dogwoods and colorful crabapples. Bear in mind that professional photographers must obtain a permit for photo sessions from the Morris County Park Commission. Don’t forget to check out this handy garden map and weekly bloom report to plan your spring photoshoot.
14 Longview Road, Far Hills, NJ 07931
Cape May Point State Park
The perfect mix of beach, grassy dunes, freshwater ponds, and forested trails is what you will get when you take your spring family photos at Cape May Point State Park. Go for a nautical vibe and capture your family on the boardwalk or in front of the famous Cape May Point Lighthouse. Head to nature trails surrounded by tall marsh reeds and trees, giving the illusion of green tunnels that open into ponds. With over 244 acres, you’re sure to find the perfect spot for a keepsake family photo.
305 Lighthouse Ave., Cape May Point, NJ 08212
City of Hoboken
Prefer big city vibes over town and country? For a New York City feel this side of the Hudson, head to Hoboken for hip, downtown family photos this spring. Though this small city is one square mile, it is packed with urban architecture, funky storefronts, waterfront parks, and of course, that stunning New York City skyline from the Hudson. Try snapping a family photo in front of the many charming brownstones and Victorian row houses around town, or check out the serpentine rock overlook at Castle Point Lookout on the campus of Stevens Institute of Technology. It’s the highest elevation in Hoboken and offers the best views of the Big Apple.
Hoboken, NJ 07030
Sayen House and Gardens
Located in the middle of historic Hamilton Square, Sayen House and Gardens offers nature’s perfect background for your family photos this spring. At the height of springtime, you will be surrounded by more than 250,000 heirloom azaleas, rhododendrons, and dogwoods. Sayen House, a bungalow-style home built in 1912, offers various appealing indoor shooting options—but don’t forget the house has to be booked for a photos-only permit fee. Sayen Gardens also has a pretty bridge, gazebos, walking trails, and fish ponds – the perfect sanctuary for fresh family portraits. Permits are not required for engagement or family photos, but permits are required for wedding ceremonies, and wedding photos and more information can be found here.
155 Hughes Dr., Hamilton, NJ 08690
Commercial and professional paid photography is not allowed at Duke Farms per their policy, but if you’re looking for less formal photo ops – maybe you’re the mom-tographer behind the lens, or you have a friend who will help take photos as a favor – Duke Farms is a picturesque place for a low-key shoot. With over 1,000 acres of private property, including charming, rustic buildings, wooded areas, and gardens, Duke Farms has you covered with a host of natural backgrounds for your photos. The farm prides itself on maintaining natural diversity throughout its land, so remember to extend courtesy to the quality of their habitats and structures.
1112 Dukes Parkway West, Hillsborough, NJ 08844
We’d be remiss if we didn’t even mention Spring Lake for spring family photos. Often considered the “Jewel of the Jersey Shore,” the borough of Spring Lake offers plenty of charming photo-worthy spots, as well as a 2-mile stretch of beach and boardwalk. Head to the sparkling lake in the center of town for spring photos or the quaint downtown area, which has lovely Victorian homes.
Spring Lake, NJ 07762
Tell us your favorite spots for a spring family photo shoot in NJ—did we miss any? We would love to hear more in the comments below.
More fun things to do this weekend:
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Gardens and Nature Centers in New Jersey
Aquariums in New Jersey
Museums in New Jersey
Lighthouses in New Jersey
Zoos in New Jersey
Strange NJ Attractions
50 Vineyards & Wineries in New Jersey