As we head into a second summer of this dreaded pandemic, many families are starting to go stir crazy (or maybe the kids are going stir crazy and the parents are just going.. well, crazy.) Many have canceled another year of vacations. Others are looking for activities to keep their loved ones busy and out of the house. Those of us living in New Jersey, or the surrounding tri-state area, may not realize the various attractions at our disposal right in our own backyard. Here are some of the top places to visit in Northern NJ this summer.
High Point State Park and Monument
While the monument itself remains closed indefinitely, the park is open for visitors. The base of the monument allows for a view from 1803 feet above sea level. The panoramic visual exhibits 3 different states (NY, PA, and of course, NJ), farm land, and beautiful mountains. The park offers a beach for swimming, picnicking, fishing, camping, and trails for hiking.
If you have little ones, this is the perfect place to let them get out all that quarantined energy they’ve pent up. Imagine a weekend getaway for the family out in the beautiful wilderness, perfect for those outdoor enthusiasts. Bring your favorite barbecuing games, and set up a fun day or weekend.
For pricing and scheduling information visit the parks website
Many might not realize, but New Jersey has some of the best hiking for all age groups on the East Coast. One of the most traveled is a section of the Appalachian Trail appropriately named “The Boardwalk.” This piece of the AT includes a raised platform through the marsh of Vernon, NJ. This is a great hike for beginners, kids, and even Grandma and Grandpa.
The Boardwalk trail leads to one of NJ’s most gorgeous lookouts. Pinwheel or the “Stairway to Heaven Trail” is a more for the advanced explorer.
Another fan favorite for hiking in the area are the Rail Trails. With multiple entrance points, this multi-purpose trail is also perfect for all hiking levels, especially families and kids. They are also well-known for their Geo-Caching finds.
The Rail Trails are flat, and offer a great place for biking, sight-seeing, and getting outside with the family.
Space Farms Zoo and Museum
With over 100 acres, 500 animals, and various antiques in their museums, Space Farms has been a staple attraction of Northern NJ for decades. Schools field trip here, and families gather during the warmer months to feed the deer and experience all the animals the zoo has to offer. This family-owned business attracts many during their May-October season. It is home to the late Goliath, the Guinness World Record holding bear (photo on the right) weighed 2000 lbs and stood 12 feet tall.
The zoo is stroller friendly, and the little ones will love the attractions. Tucked back in the woods of Sussex County, this hidden gem is perfect for family outings, especially those looking to avoid crowds.
Mountain Creek Waterpark
The formally infamous Action Park, has had a few face lifts and additions making it a highly sought-out experience for travelers. Tourists flock from all over to enjoy the rides, the hotels, and surrounding attractions. The waterpark makes the perfect day or weekend trip. It has everything from a lazy river, to a tide pool, cliff jumping, slides and rides. You’re guaranteed to find something for the whole family to enjoy. If you have a toddler that loves the water, they’ll especially love the Spray ground for fun, interactive play.
New Jersey Stags Football Game
Who doesn’t like a good All-American Football game? The New Jersey Stags are an adult semi-pro team based out of Newton, NJ. Saturday nights in the summer you can find a home game at the Newton High School. Grab some friends, pack a cooler, and support the teams of a local organization on another family-oriented fun night for only $10 a ticket at the door. While some activities may not be completely up and running yet, don’t let that stop you from being able to enjoy a game in a family-friendly atmosphere.
So, next time the kids start running amuck on your patience and you decide to attempt planning some fun things to do this summer, remember to set aside a few weekends and squeeze in a game, a hike, or a trip to the waterpark!
Contributor: Randi Freeland