When the weather is at its best, visiting one of the many NJ parks is a must. Heading to a park can be just the thing your family needs to breathe in some fresh air, see blooms, and sneak in a bit of fitness too. Whether you want to reach the Garden State’s highest point, explore a Revolutionary War historic park, or observe a freshwater marsh, there are plenty of unique parks and wide-open places you can go to enjoy a hike, try fishing or have a picnic. And for summer 2022, all entry into NJ state parks, forests, and recreation areas are free. Read on to find the top parks in NJ to visit now or later. (featured photo credit: istock/Ultima_Gaina)
18 NJ Parks to put on your bucket list
NJ Parks in Northern New Jersey
Branch Brook Park
Not only is Branch Brook the nation’s first park, but it is one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in NJ and home to one of the largest collections of cherry blossoms in the United States. If you can’t visit during the Cherry Blossom Festival in April, it’s still worth seeing for the wide-open spaces and pretty pond.
Park Avenue and Lake Street, Newark, NJ 07104
Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park
Discover over 70 miles of trails that stretch over three counties. The park’s segments include a trail from New Brunswick to Trenton, a canal towpath from Trenton to Bull’s Island, and a rail trail from Bull’s Island to Frenchtown.
Main Office: 145 Mapleton Road, Princeton, NJ 08540
Hackelbarney State Park
Anglers, hikers, and picnickers all take advantage of this beautiful park that was once a mined iron ore site. While you are there, see if you can find the rare and endangered plant species of the American ginseng, Virginia pennywort, and leatherwood.
119 Hacklebarney Road, Long Valley, NJ 07853
Wander throughout this park, and you’ll find plenty of scenic spots, including cherry blossom trees, oak trees, a bridge, and a gazebo. There’s also a Veterans of War Memorial site to honor local war heroes.
W Blackwell St & Park Heights Ave., Dover, NJ 07801
High Point State Park
While there are many trails and spots to discover here, what makes High Point so unique is the panoramic view of three states (NY, NJ, and PA) you see after climbing to the top of the High Point Monument. If you don’t want to climb, you can spend time fishing, camping, and taking in the sights all along the trails. The mailing address for this park doesn’t always work on GPS, so check the website for details.
1480 Route 23 Sussex, NJ 07461
Palisades Interstate Park
Explore twelve miles long and half a mile wide of 2,500 acres of the Hudson River shorefront, uplands, and cliffs minutes from midtown Manhattan. Go on a hike, launch your boat off a ramp, take a scenic riverside drive, or have a picnic in the park. The Palisades Interstate Park is a National Historic Landmark and has plenty of space to kick back in the outdoors.
There are several entrances in NJ; check the website for the closest location to you.
Paterson Great Falls Historical Park
Did you know NJ has a 77-feet high waterfall? On the Passaic River in the city of Paterson, there is a roaring waterfall, one of the largest in the United States. This waterfall played an essential role in the early industrial development of New Jersey and is a beautiful oasis in the city.
72 McBride Avenue Extension, Paterson, NJ 07501
This park in NJ dates back to 1917, featuring over 190 acres of trees and a lake. There’s a lot of wide-open space for littles to run around, and it also has a theater, playgrounds, playing fields, and a family skating rink.
151 Parsonage Road, Edison, NJ 08837
(732) 745- 3900
Washington Crossing State Park
An NJ gem, this park lets you see a part of history up close—it’s here where George Washington crossed the Delaware River and changed the Revolutionary War outcome. Besides the history, numerous trails, migratory wildlife birds, and more make this park a must-see.
355 Washington Crossing Pennington Road, Titusville, NJ 08560
Wawayanda State Park
Spend the day fishing, camping, and swimming at this park in New Jersey. You can also explore the Barrett Farm Historic Site, follow the Appalachian trail, or mountain bike through the scenic area with your family.
885 Warwick Turnpike, Hewitt, NJ 07421
NJ Parks in Central New Jersey
Allaire State Park
Kids will love hiking through the forest to find the Allaire dinosaur trail and discovering wooden dinos camouflaged within the surrounding trees or exploring the historic railway on the premises. The Historic Village at Allaire, a former iron-producing factory town known as the Howell Iron Works, Co., is also a must-see within the park.
4265 Atlantic Avenue, Wall Township, NJ 07727
Cattus Island County Park
This Ocean County park covers 530 acres and 7 miles of trails. Follow the main path to the beach, or enjoy the views of Barnegat Bay. Cattus Island is also home to the Cooper Environmental Center, including a live view osprey cam, habitat tree and tunnel, bird viewing area, and a children’s activity corner. There is even a Butterfly Garden to visit.
1170 Cattus Island Blvd., Toms River, NJ 08753
Island Beach State Park
Over 10 miles of a narrow barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and Barnegat Bay sits Island Beach State Park. It is one of New Jersey’s last remnants of a barrier island ecosystem and one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier beaches on the north Atlantic coast. The state’s largest osprey colony also calls the park home.
Route 35 South, Seaside Park, NJ 08752
Monmouth Battlefield State Park
One of the most significant battles of the American Revolution took place on the land that is now Monmouth Battlefield State Park. The hilly landscape is perfect for hiking, horseback riding, or a picnic.
16 Business Route 33, Manalapan, NJ 07726
NJ Parks in South Jersey
Barnegat Lighthouse State Park
The Barnegat Lighthouse is one of the most important “change of course” points for coastal vessels. This maritime site is on Long Beach Island’s northern tip and is part of the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail.
208 Broadway, Barnegat Light, NJ 08006
Bass River State Forest
New Jersey acquired this forest in 1905 for public recreation, water conservation, and wildlife and timber management, and was the first of its kind at the time. Stop by Lake Absegami for water activities, and don’t miss the trail that leads through the woods where an Atlantic white cedar bog is on site.
762 Stage Road, Tuckerton, NJ 08087
Cape May Point State Park
This is a state park with a constantly changing shoreline, dunes, freshwater coastal marsh and ponds, forested islands, and varied uplands and has trails throughout each of these habitats. Located on the southern tip of New Jersey, visitors come to see the Cape May lighthouse, but there’s much to explore here since this site is part of the NJ Coastal Heritage Trail.
Light House Avenue, Cape May Point, NJ 08212
Wharton State Forest
Did you know Wharton State Forest is the largest land area within the New Jersey State Park System? Explore the wildlife, take the trials, or go horseback riding at this state forest in New Jersey. While on the property, visit the former bog iron and glassmaking industrial center known as Batso Village.
31 Basto Road Hammonton, NJ 08037
What NJ parks have you been to?
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