Home Best of Guides A List of Fun Outdoor Activities in New Jersey

A List of Fun Outdoor Activities in New Jersey

by Yarleen Hernandez
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Grab your walking shoes and get ready for all of the exciting outdoor activities we’ve rounded up for you to do during any season in New Jersey. Art enthusiasts, nature lovers, and adrenaline junkies rejoice — there really is truly something for everyone to enjoy, including kids. Below you’ll find our ultimate guide (updated regularly) of outdoor activities to do in New Jersey.

Cultural/Historic Activities

Turtle Back Zoo | 560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange

turtleback zoo

There’s so much to do at the Turtle Back Zoo. From a year-round black bear exhibit to pony rides, it’s the perfect place to spend a day. The zoo was founded in 1963 and is placed on 20 acres of the South Mountain Reservation part of the Essex County Park System which is the oldest county park system in the U.S. 

Grounds for Sculpture | 80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton Township

grounds for sculpture nj

(Photo credit: Grounds for Sculpture)

Visitors don’t have be a big art or sculpture to be mesmerized by Grounds for Sculpture. This 42-acre sculpture park and museum is absolutely breathtaking. You don’t want to miss an opportunity to take a stroll through the life-size sculptures and lush gardens. The sculptures are blended in with the landscape such that a visit at different times of the year gives the viewer a different perspective each time. Grounds for Sculpture is currently requiring everyone to buy tickets and reserve a time to visit in advance when planning their trip there.

New Jersey Botanical Garden | 2 Morris Road, Ringwood

Part of Ringwood State Park, the New Jersey Botanical Garden provides an assortment of activities for people of all ages. From a scavenger hunt, a family-friendly hike, a solar system walk, and of course, a tour of the featured gardens, you can spend hours enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Ringwood Manor | 1304 Sloatsburg Road, Ringwood

Ringwood Manor

(Photo credit: @ringwoodmanor)

A national historic landmark district, Ringwood Manor has historical structures, gardens, and landscapes on 528 acres. Prehistoric artifacts confirm Native American occupation on the site. The grounds are open seven days a week for exploring, but the interiors are closed due to the pandemic + a roof restoration project in effect.

Historic Smithville | Galloway Township

Historic Smithville

Located in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, Smithville has an incredibly rich history dating back to the American Revolutionary War and beyond. Smithville is the perfect place to find charming boutiques, shops, a vintage carousel, a train, as well as charming eateries. 

Weehawken Dueling Grounds | 773 Boulevard East, Hamilton Park, Weehawken

alexander hamilton weehawken

If you’re a fan of the Broadway musical Hamilton or just simply love history, take a trip to Weehawken to visit the dueling grounds where Alexander Hamilton was fatally shot by Aaron Burr. Back in the 1800s, “dueling” was the primary way for men to settle their differences, and the Dueling Grounds was the place where it happened. The NYC skyline views are also unmatched.

Read More: 17 Historical Places to Visit in North Jersey

Sports Activities

Topgolf | 1013 US-1, Edison

topgolf nj

(Photo credit: Topgolf)

Topgolf is all about the experience, boasting three levels of bays – the designated space for each group. The driving range offers a wide selection of games that utilize microchipped golf balls and showcases each shot on the monitor in your bay. If you’re not into golf, there are other activities such as billiards and more. Make sure to reserve a bay, grab some friends, order some food and drinks, and hit a few.

Mountain Creek | 200 NJ-94, Vernon Township

Mountain Creek

(Photo credit: Mountain Creek)

You don’t have to wait for the snow to fall to enjoy some fun on the ice. Learn how to ski + snowboard at Mountain Creek, which has over 167 skiable acres, fifty trails of mountain biking, a farm, zoo, and more. The resort has everything from bunny slopes to black diamond-level trails, long groomers, and night skiing. Mountain Creek also features snow tubing and zip-line tours over the mountain-top lake. The cozy resort includes a hot tub + pool and is only about an hour away from Hudson County. 

FlyNYON | 78 John Miller Way, Kearny

FlyNYON

Based out of Kearny, the team at FlyNYON is a helicopter tour company that has flown over 450,000 passengers since opening in 2012. The flight takes guests 1,500 feet up in the air, giving them panoramic views of New York’s best landmarks and incredible picture opportunities hovering over Manhattan’s skyscrapers. Flights are available with the doors closed or opened. At FlyNYON, safety is the number one priority. The FlyNYON team makes sure each passenger feels secure and comfortable before, during, and after the flight.

Hiking Trails

Appalachian National Scenic Trail | 1480 NJ-23, Sussex

Completed in 1937, this footpath spans more than 2,100 miles and crosses through 14 states on the east coast. Avid hikers in New Jersey can test their skills with 72 miles running through the northwestern part of the state. The trail is open year-round from Maine to Georgia.

Eagle Rock Reservation Conservancy | Eagle Rock Avenue and Prospect Avenue, West Orange

eagle rock conservation

In an elevated land area in West Orange, George Washington and his troops once strategized how to win our country’s independence during the Revolutionary War. The location made a perfect overlook spot and allowed the U.S. troops to spy over British camps. Years later, the land gained the nickname “Eagle Rock Park” as a large boulder atop the reservation was a popular perch for eagles. Fast forward to 1903. The park was a backdrop for the first-ever motion picture, The Great Train Robbery, filmed by Thomas Edison. Eagle Rock Park was later developed in the early 1900s, and in 1911, construction finished on the building atop the land. It was built in the “casino” style, meaning the first floor was an open-air room. Now, the building is home to the Highlawn Pavilion, a popular venue, and a restaurant. 

Giant Stairs | Shore Trail, Closter

Just 19 miles from Hoboken, Giant Stairs offers another nearby hiking destination different from the rest of the trails on this list. Boulders that once fell from the Palisades now line this hiking trail and provide a challenging rock scramble to visitors. The full trail is just over four miles long, of which one mile is over boulders. Hike along steep cliff drop-offs while looking over the Hudson River

Palisades Interstate Park/Fort Lee Historic Park | Hudson Terrace, Fort Lee

palisades park

The closest hike on the list, and easiest to get to from Hudson County, is Palisades Interstate Park/Fort Lee Historic Park which lies just north of Hoboken on the Hudson River. The park has about 30 miles of trails, ranging from leisurely riverside walks to challenging rock scrambles. Enter the park south of the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee. To get there, embark on a 10-mile bike ride along the Hudson River waterfront, which starts as far south as Bayonne and continues up to the GW bridge, catch the 158 bus, or drive. Head to the park’s website for information on different trails, and to download a full map of the park. 

Watchung Reservation | Historic Trail, Mountainside

Head southwest into New Jersey to find Watchung Reservation, a 2,000-acre preserve in the northern part of Union County. The park was designed by the Olmsted brothers, the same architects who designed New York’s Central Park. Embark on the six-mile history trail to discover various sites of historic interest in the reservation. Visit ucnj.org/wrht in advance to virtually explore the trail and prepare yourself for the sites and animal life you might encounter on your hike. If you’re looking for more activities, the reservation also offers horseback riding, biking, and a science center, as well as a deserted village that has been empty since the early 1920s.

See more: Museums to Visit in North Jersey

National Parks

Cheesequake State Park | 300 Gordon Road, Matawan

cheesequake state park new- ersey

With five walking/hiking trails and campgrounds for fall camping, this park is the perfect place for camping, boating, canoeing, and more. Its location between two ecosystems enables the park to boast marshes, fields, a swamp, a hardwood forest, and Pine Barrens — a unique combo of beautiful features. 

Ellis Island | Ellis Island, Jersey City

ellis island

(Photo credit: Ellis Island)

This famous national park was once an active immigration center that saw over 12 million immigrants coming to America in search of a better life. Ellis Island was the greeting point for millions of men, women, and children traveling to the U.S. for freedom and shelter. Audio tours are available to enhance the visitor experience. The National Immigration Museum is limiting capacity and advanced tickets are recommended. 

Hopatcong State Park | 6 Lakeside Boulevard, Landing

Hopatcong State Park is nine miles long, and its focal point, Lake Hopatcong, is a popular New Jersey destination for fishing, boating, and swimming. On land first inhabited by Native Americans far before history was written, the park is historic by way of how early settlers on the land used it. The park was originally developed for practical purposes – to support the Morris Canal waterway that acted as a primary source of transportation for zinc, coal, and iron across NJ in the mid-late 1800s. When the NJ railroads began development, the waterway (and thus the energy from Lake Hopatcong that fueled the waterway) was less needed. Now, Hopatcong Park is a beautiful place to spend the day. There is a historical museum at the park that highlights the lake’s history, the Morris Canal, and Native American history. 

Liberty State Park | 200 Morris Pesin Drive, Jersey City

liberty state park

Liberty State Park has something for everyone, all year round. From the incredible views of the Statue of Liberty, Manhattan + Jersey City, to walking tours, this JC gem has a variety of things for you to enjoy. The park is now offering the Winter Waterfowl Walk where visitors can learn about the migrating winter waterfowl in a guided walk, or enjoy a Winter Hike to Caven Point where visitors can take a three-mile round trip hike along the Hudson River waterfront. The Liberty Science Center is a necessary stop if you have time to spare and are looking to warm up + venture off the trails in search of something more academically-inclined. 

Sandy Hook Gateway National Recreation Area | 26 Hudson Road, Highlands

Encompassing Sandy Hook, NJ, and Jamaica Bay, NY this park covers 27,000 acres of beaches, wildlife, and outdoor recreation space. Join the more than 9 million annual visitors in exploring historic structures and cultural landscapes. With such a high influx of visitors, Sandy Hook is the 4th most visited national park in the country and is easily accessible by car, ferry, bus, or train.

Farms/Preserves

Alstede Farms | 1 Alstede Farms Lane, Chester

alstede farms new jersey

Despite the cold weather days, there is still plenty to do at Alstede Farms. Take a Cider mill tour or visit the farm animals — even during the winter months. The wine tasting room is open, as well as the farm shop where you can purchase pies, fruits, veggies + more. Seniors can go between 8:30AM-9:00AM to have the farm to themselves.

Humor Me Farm | 50 Clinton Road, Newfoundland

If you love alpacas, you’ll enjoy taking a trip to Humor Me Farm where you can get your fix of the fluffy animals. The farm is currently offering farm tours on an appointment-only basis, which can be easily scheduled right from the Facebook page. Grab your herd and become immersed in the everyday farmwork of owning alpacas. 

Lakota Wolf Preserve | 89 Mount Pleasant Road, Columbia

lakota wolves

If you’re looking to escape into the wilderness and have a love of animals, the Lakota Wolf Preserve is the perfect place for you. A privately-owned, 10-acre wolf preserve and photography center in Columbia, New Jersey — the location makes for an excellent day trip, and it’s a little under an hour and a half away from Hoboken. Wolves, bobcats, lynxes, and foxes can all be found at this magical place.

Stony Hill Farms | 15 North Road, Chester

Stony Farms is a northern New Jersey farm offering a broad catalog of products including produce, meat, and home-cooked-baked goods, + plants. Stony Hill is currently offering curbside pickup only on select farm market items Monday through Saturday 10:30AM-5:00PM as a convenience to customers. All bakery items are made to order — it’s recommended you order before 10:00AM if you would like a same-day pick-up. Order here

Wightman Farms | 1111 Mount Kemble Avenue, Morristown

Grab a cup of hot chocolate and fresh apple cider donuts at Wightman Farms open seven days a week. Founded in 1922, the farm has provided fresh fruits and veggies locally in NJ since its inception. The farm’s market is open year-round, and there is also no-contact curbside pick-up available. 

Wineries

Cape May Winery + Vineyard | 711 Townbank Road, Cape May

cape may winery vineyard

(Photo credit: Cape May Winery + Vineyard)

The winery + vineyard is located against the beautiful backdrop of Cape May’s beach town. There are a few different options — an educational wine tasting and daily wine offerings, which feature different bottles of wine by the glass. The winery also has a tapas kitchen with food available to snack on while drinking.

Four Sisters Winery | 783 County Route 519, Belvidere

four sisters winery

Four Sisters Winery is popular for the unique and robust wines as well as the barefoot grape stomping. The winery also features wine, apple picking, and music festivals. This award-winning winery is an outdoor venue with tented decks and has different wine tastings available for $5 with no cover charge. The bistro menu is also available as are wines by the glass or bottle.

Heritage Winery | 480 Mullica Hills Road, Mullica Hills

heritage winery new jersey

Heritage Winery selection is top of the line and very diverse. Reservations can be placed online. The food menu offers delicious small tapas Mondays through Fridays and includes a hand-rolled pepperoni and cheese bread, asiago spinach dip, baked brie, and cheese boards. Wine by the bottle and wine by the glass or wine tasting flights are the perfect way to relax and enjoy. 

Laurita Winery | 85 Archertown Road, New Egypt

laurita winery

The vineyards seem to go on for miles and miles at Laurita Winery. The primary focus of the harvest is to grow grapes that are accepted worldwide, with some of the first planted in 1998. The winery is open on weekdays and weekends. Mondays and Tuesdays feature a credit back special where the reservation fee is credited back to your purchase. Wednesdays are girls’ nights — or afternoons — with $15 wine flights available. On the weekends, different events and food trucks line the property, offering a great selection of bites to eat. Reservations are required.

Make Wine with Us | 21 Curie Avenue, Wallington

Make Wine with Us introduces guests to the wine-making process through hands-on sessions. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur, or completely new to the vino game, Make Wine with Us is perfect for all expertise levels. From selecting the right grapes, all the way to bottling the wine, the winery provides the perfect setting to learn in small groups. Contact Make Wine with Us to learn more.   

Pour and Pedal | Multiple locations

If you’re looking to take advantage of a warm day, Pour and Pedal is the place to go. This unique winery allows you to taste the incredible wine while bike riding along the countryside. Contact the winery for more info. The locations can be found here.

Renault Winery Resort + Golf | 72 North Bremen Avenue, Egg Harbor City

Renault Winery Resort Golf

(Photo credit: Renault Winery Resort + Golf)

Renault is a great place if you’re looking to be in the Atlantic City area. Taste a variety of wines, while also enjoying a game of golf. This location is a New Jersey State Historical site and is one of the oldest continuously operated wineries in the U.S.

Tomasello Winery | 1 Alstede Farms Lane, Chester

tomasello winery

Tomasello Winery has been in the family for over three generations and was founded 90 years ago. With more than 70 acres, there are over thirty different varieties of wine to try including French hybrids, classic vinifera, and some newer kinds like Shiraz, Sangiovese, and Petit Verdot to name a few. The winery also hosts weddings every year and has an expansive dining menu.  

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