The Jersey Shore is the ultimate summer destination and everyone has a favorite town. Asbury Park is eclectic, with a vintage pinball museum, paranormal bookstore, and an amazing music scene. Seaside can get wild and crazy while Point Pleasant is perfect for family fun, complete with amusement parks and an aquarium. Cape May is another favorite, overflowing with Victorian charm. These are all obvious picks for a warm weather getaway, so I’m going in a different direction…north.
Ringwood is a Passaic County town that's overflowing with natural beauty.
A total of 28 square miles, it is home to around 12,000 residents. This qualifies as rural in New Jersey. The New York times once referred to it as "an oasis within commuting distance." We absolutely agree! It's an escape from the hustle and bustle, and it has so much to offer. Today, I'll feature a few of Ringwood's best destinations. Many (the first four) are located on the grounds of gorgeous Ringwood State Park!
This historic estate was built in 1807 and was formerly home to several well-known ironmasters. Open for tours, it now operates as a museum. You'll find a diverse collection of artifacts donated by previous owners including furniture, firearms, fine arts, taxidermy, sculpture, maps, and more. The grounds include a blacksmith shop, carriage and dairy barns, and former employee housing.
In addition to the manor and grounds tours, you'll want to check out their special events. Visit on August 5th for a WWI military encampment, lectures on the Women's Emergency Services, chemical weapons used in WWI, an on-going medical nursing display, uniform exhibitions, arms demonstrations, and more. A variety of military impressions covering the time period 1914-1919 will be presented!
A real life castle that's open to the public, Skylands Manor is a popular wedding venue. It also operates as a bed and breakfast, offering a mix of luxurious and budget friendly options. If you don't feel like dropping dough, check out one of their guided tours on select Sundays - they're $7 or less, depending on age.
New Jersey Botanical Garden
The New Jersey Botanical Garden includes 96 acres of specialty gardens surrounded by 1000 acres of woodlands. You're invited to wander and explore the miles of marked trails. Visit on August 12th for a butterfly walk.
This 74-acre spring fed lake is a perfect spot for cooling off on a hot day. Swimming is allowed, along with boating, canoeing, and fishing. Boat rentals are available.
Split between Ringwood and West Milford, this man-made lake is a popular kayaking and fishing spot. It is known for its trophy size muskellunge, walleye, bass and trout.
Highlands Natural Pool
Another summertime swimming destination, this is an Olympic-sized, stream-fed freshwater swimming pool. The pool is open to the public and memberships are available to all; day passes can be purchased at the entrance. The pool area offers picnic tables, a snack bar, sand volleyball, ping pong, board games, and more.
Norvin Green State Forest
While only a small part of Norvin Green is in Ringwood, you do have the opportunity to access some incredible hiking trails. The views from Wyanokie High Point are incredible and the hike is manageable (though there is a significant vertical gain). You'll also find fantastic trails in Sterling Forest (which connects to New York).
While Ringwood isn't known as a dining destination, you can find a good meal when you're in town. The mouthwatering pie pictured above is from Ringwood Pizza, which also offers a diverse menu of Italian dishes. Skyline Pizza is another favorite, with fresh mozzarella made on the premises. Goldberg's has some of the best bagels (along with sandwiches) and Brady's at the Reservoir is a perfect pick for Taco Tuesdays.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Ringwood? For more summer fun in New Jersey, check out
this delicious milkshake trail.