From nature centers, villages, zoos, beaches, to gardens, walks and hikes, here are out of the box ideas to get you outside.
We’ve listed 22 outdoor activities that will connect you closer with nature. Best of all, these are free! Make it a day trip. *** As with any such information, please always call the establishment before visiting in the event the below information has been updated or canceled since our date of publishing.
1. BATSTO VILLAGE
Historic community offering guided tours of how life used to be in the 18th century. Tour the gristmill, blacksmith, post office, general store, post office, cottages, farm, glass-making, iron furnace, the nature center and so much more daily from 9am to 4pm. Sawmill demonstrations occur on the weekends at 1:30pm, 2pm and 2:30pm starting end of May. Mansion tours do have an additional cost of $3 for anyone over 12 years old. Special events are also held here such as a guided hike on April 15th at 10:30am and an Earth Day Celebration on April 22nd & 23rd from noon to 4pm. 31 Batsto Rd, Hammonton, NJ 08037
2. BAYSHORE WATERFRONT PARK
227-acre park perfect for walking, bird-watching, admiring coastal marine life and fishing every day from 7am to 8pm. Also home to the Waterfront Park Activity Center, dating back to the 1700s, this building is open on Sundays from 1pm – 4pm, April through October and offers free shows and educational programs like Seashell Sunday on May 19th from 1pm-2pm. 719 Port Monmouth Rd, Port Monmouth, NJ 07758
3. CAPE MAY COUNTY PARK & ZOO
Free admission to tour the zoo and see over 250 animal species. Here you will also find a playground, fishing pond, tree aerial obstacle course, hiking trails, and lots of places to enjoy a picnic lunch. Hours are 10am to 4:30pm daily. 707 US 9, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
4. CONHANZICK ZOO
New Jersey’s first zoo housing over 45 species of animals at no cost. Enjoy strolling through the zoo admiring the animals and then a home-packed lunch in their designated picnic areas. Hours are daily from 9am to 4pm. 45 Mayor Aitken Dr, Bridgeton, NJ 08302
5. HISTORIC WALNFORD
Visit the gristmill and farm buildings and enjoy a picturesque walk along Crosswicks Creek. Open April through November, on weekends, from 1pm to 4pm. Free admission. 62 Walnford Rd, Allentown, NJ 08501
6. MARINE MAMMAL STRANDING CENTER
Take a tour of this center dedicated to saving and healing our injured or stranded marine animals. With a mission of “Rescue, Rehabilitate, Release, Preserve”, you can view their great work first hand, Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. 3625 Atlantic Brigantine Blvd, Brigantine, NJ 08203
7. SEA GIRTH LIGHTHOUSE
Free guided tours of a once working lighthouse who’s beacon once illuminated 15 miles at sea for the safety of our past mariners are held on Sundays from 2pm to 4pm until mid-November. 9 Ocean Ave, Sea Girt, NJ 08750.
8. ABSECON LIGHTHOUSE
Visit the tallest lighthouse in New Jersey, and third tallest in the country, standing at 171 feet. Admission to the grounds and educational center are free, however, to tour the lighthouse ranges from $3-$8. Children under 4 and Active Duty Military are always free.
31 S Rhode Island Ave, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
9. BRIAR BUSH NATURE CENTER
Free for residents and only $3 for adults and $2 for children for everyone else, this nature center has a bird observatory, boundless nature trails, indoor museum with activities and a butterfly pavilion open from June to October. The regular hours are Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm, Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm. All trails are available from dusk to dawn. 1212 Edge Hill Rd, Abington, PA 19001
10. BROOKLYN BOTANIC GARDEN
From March through November stroll through the gardens for free every Friday from 8am to noon. Enjoy the beautiful floral collections and the park’s tranquility. 990 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225
11. CATTUS ISLAND COUNTY PARK
530-acre recreational area with 7-miles of walking trails and gorgeous, natural grounds for photography, hiking, playing, picnics and relaxing. This park also houses a children’s playground and educational center open weekdays 8:30am to 4pm and weekends 10am to 4pm. The grounds and trails are open daily from dawn until dusk. 1170 Cattus Island Blvd, Toms River, NJ 08753
12. CLAYTON PARK
450-acres of beautiful trails, hiking, cycling, horseback-riding and nature. Open sunrise to sunset. 161 Emley’s Hill Road, Upper Freehold, NJ 08526
13. DEEP CUT GARDENS
From 8am until dusk, enjoy 54-acres of beautiful flowers, plants and natural grounds, walking tours and horticultural education. 152 Red Hill Road, Middletown, NJ 07748
14. GREAT FALLS IN PATERSON
Beautiful, soothing 77-foot waterfall surrounded by a Historical National Park. Open every day from sunrise to sunset, you will be able to explore the grounds, admire the waterfall and partake in seasonal events and programs at no cost. 72 McBride Ave, Paterson, NJ 07522.
15. GROUNDS FOR SCULPTURE
42-acre sculpture park and museum where you can discover and enjoy nature and art together. Tickets are $10 online, however, you can get a free pass with the Library Pass Program from most local libraries. This will entitle you to everything the park has to offer including guided tours. 80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton Township, NJ 08619
16. MANASQUAN RESERVOIR ENVIRONMENTAL CENTER
Perfect access to the Manasquan River for boating, canoeing and fishing. Open around 7am and closes around dusk year-round. 331 Georgia Tavern Rd, Howell, NJ 07731
17. SAYEN HOUSE & GARDENS
Botanical gardens and municipal park for all nature lovers to enjoy and appreciate gorgeous gardens at no cost. Dogs are allowed on a leash and cyclists may ride with caution. 155 Hughes Dr, Hamilton Township, NJ 08690
18. UNION TRANSPORTATION TRAIL
Perfect for walkers, joggers, cyclists and horseback-riding, these trails are well-kept. Enjoy natural beauty as well as some remnants of an old railroad. Ranger Station at Crosswicks Creek Park.
19. WARREN E FOX NATURE CENTER
Nature preserve and education center happy to teach us all about our local fauna and flora. Open daily from 8am to 4pm for you to enjoy the surrounding trails, environmental programs and live animal area. 109 NJ-50, Mays Landing, NJ 08330
20. WEEHAWKEN WATERFRONT
Public park overlooking the Hudson River with playground, gardens, and beautiful views of NYC across the river to admire from the numerous benches along the walking path. 1 Port Imperial Blvd, Weehawken, NJ 07086
21. TWIN LIGHTS STATE HISTORIC SITE & MUSEUM
Explore this beautiful lighthouse built in 1862 situated 200 feet above the Navesink Highlands. Visit the museum and learn about its construction and use throughout history. Hours are Tuesdays through Sundays 10am to noon and 1pm to 4pm. Free Admission. Lighthouse Rd, Highlands, NJ 07732
22. LONGSTREET FARM
9-acre historical farm re-creating Monmouth County around the 1890s. Open daily from 10am to 4pm and then from Memorial Day to Labor Day 9am to 5pm free of charge. 44 Longstreet Rd., Holmdel, NJ 07733