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 that leads to dinosaurs—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 since we can do something different every time we visit. Sometimes we’ll take our bikes on the trails, glimpse into the past at historic Allaire Village, or just go to chill with nature. And our experience always changes with the seasons, especially during holiday events and festivals in the park. Want to know more to do? Scroll down for the reasons why we love going here and why you will too.
Become an NJMOM Insider! For all the best things to do with your family around New Jersey, be sure to sign up for our weekly newsletter delivered right to your inbox each week, and don’t forget to tag your photos #NJMOM and @njmom for a chance to be featured on our social media.
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 demonstrations at the blacksmith shop or the carpenter’s shop. 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 history and find out about the living history events, antique shows, flea markets, and arts and crafts shows.
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—we enjoy the scenery and seeing history in action. Trains run every half hour on weekends only, and you need to purchase tickets online ahead of time. Also, keep on the lookout for special train events—there’s an Easter Bunny train ride in the spring, and you can also do a birthday party with a ride on the train for your little conductor too. You can find the most up-to-date information on the New Jersey Museum of Transportation 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, which is 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 my family’s favorite part, where the path meanders over the Garden State Parkway—it’s definitely a unique experience to bike right over rush hour traffic.
Uncover a secret Dinosaur trail
Did you know that there is a secret path leading to a magical spot full of dinosaurs? Sit in one of the tiny huts or continue on the path to see the T-Rex, triceratops, and even a pterodactyl feeding her baby. Your imaginations will run wild in this particular part of the forest that started as an art project and morphed into sculptures formed from tree branches and sticks. My kids always want to go here when we visit— it’s really fun to walk down the path to find prehistoric surprises at the end. If you plan to see this part of the park, keep in mind the dinosaur trail is in a separate part away from the village. Check out this map, which will help you locate the dinos.
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, the Allaire Music Jamboree, and so much more. In the Fall, get ready for the cooler weather with the Apple & Fall Festival, the Fall Craft Show, and an 1830s All Hallow’s Eve Celebration, culminating with the beautiful Christmas Lantern Tours, a family favorite. You can check what’s happening with Allaire’s 2021 Calendar of Events.
What to know before you go
Allaire State Park is open daily from 8 AM to 8 PM, and the entrance fees are $5 for New Jersey residents and $7 for non-New Jersey residents. Camping, picnic areas, fishing, and hunting areas are available. Many people also enjoy bird and wildlife viewing at Allaire or freshwater fishing since the Manasquan River meanders through the park. The village, Pine Creek Train Station, and many of the trails are located near the main entrance and parking area. The Dinosaur Trail is in a different location from the main entrance, and we find it’s easier to drive to rather than walk. 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