New Jersey may be a small state, but we offer an incredible variety of outdoor activities in every season. From beaches to mountains, our mix of terrain is ideal for lovers of nature, exploration and adventure alike. With endless opportunities, deciding where to start can be difficult. Here are my picks:
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Hike High Point
High Point, in Montague, is the highest point in New Jersey. At 1,802 feet, you'll get spectacular views from the top. There are also other outdoor activities to enjoy, including boating, fishing and swimming.
2. Hit The Slopes At Mountain Creek
"Get out and play" is the motto of this four season resort in Vernon. Though most popular as a ski and snowboarding destination, Mountain Creek offers a water park, mountain biking, ziplining, dining and more. It's definitely a must-visit. This spectacular photo was shot just recently from Vernon Peak.
3. Hop Aboard The AJ Meerwald
Based out of Bivalve, this ship docks throughout the state. A restored 1928 Delaware Bay oyster schooner, the boat now serves as a floating classroom. Passengers learn all about sailing and the local environment, and can enjoy themed trips with hands on demonstrations.
4. Paddle The Pine Barrens
New Jersey's 1.1-million-acre Pine Barrens are the largest tract of open space on the Mid-Atlantic Seaboard. There are many ways to enjoy this unique habitat, but I'd head to Micks Pine Barrens Canoe & Kayak Rental (in Chatsworth) for an effortless trip. Rent a boat of your choosing and select a route, trips range from 2-5 hours. You'll be picked up and dropped off, so no hauling equipment.
5. Pick Your Own...
We're from the Garden State, so a farm just had to be on this list. Alstede Farms in Chester is open year-round and offers and abundance of pick your own opportunities. Fruits and vegetables currently in season include: peaches, peppers, eggplant, green beans, sweet corn, squash, cucumbers, blueberries, blackberries, tomatoes, raspberries and apples. Enjoy a special peach harvest festival this weekend. Other great options include Battleview Orchards in Freehold and Sparacio Farms in Bridgeton (only offers pick your own strawberries, but they're some of the best!).
6. Zipline At The Zoo
Tree to Tree Adventure Course is the Cape May Zoo's newest attraction. It offers ziplining, swinging bridges and various obstacles among the trees, safe and suitable for all skill levels. Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange also offers a similar experience, for adventure fans in the North Jersey area.
7. Parasail In Point Pleasant
Parasailing offers just the right amount of thrill, and is a perfect shorefront activity. Point Pleasant Parasail will take you high in the sky, providing great views and a wonderful experience for all ages.
8. The Wetlands Institute
This Stone Harbor sanctuary is a fantastic place for bird watching and offers an abundance of activities that outdoor lovers will enjoy. Self-guided tours during the fall and winter are always fun, but I'd highly recommend a naturalist-led program in the spring or summer. Choose from back bay boat rides, paddle boarding, interaction with animals and more.
9. Round Valley Recreation Area
Home to the deepest lake in New Jersey (offering swimming, boating, fishing and diving), this wonderful recreation area is also paradise for picnickers and provides a true wilderness camping experience with sites that can only be reached by boat or hike.
10. Take A Trail Ride
There's just something about riding a horse which makes any trail more fun. Legends Riding Stable in Vernon offers trail rides year-round on their nearly 350 acres of scenic Sussex County land. Ideal for older children and adults of all skill levels, be sure to bring cash. Visit Monday - Thursday before 11 a.m. for a weekday special. If you're located in South or Central New Jersey, Washington Stables in Old Bridge is another amazing option.
11. See The Great Swamp
This National Wildlife Refuge in Morris County is protected by the U.S. Government, as it is an “exceptional example of the natural history of the United States.” It was the very first wilderness area to be managed by the Department of the Interior. You'll find 7,768 acres of varied habitats, home to 244 species of birds, along with wild foxes and many other animals. Be sure to bring your camera.
12. Maple Sugaring
I tend to think of this as more of a Vermont thing, but there are plenty of places to enjoy Maple Sugaring here in Jersey. Parks regularly run programs in January & February, offering interactive demonstrations. Events have previously been held at the Tenafly Nature Center (Tenafly), Howell Living History Farm (Lambertville) and Rancocas Nature Center in Westampton. Keep your eyes peeled for local listings after the new year, it makes for a unique, family friendly outdoor experience.
Have you tried any of these activities? What’s your favorite outdoor adventure in New Jersey? For more outdoor fun in the Garden State, see my previous post:
20 Epic Outdoorsy Things In New Jersey Anyone Can Do.