The perfect afternoon: A warm day and a cool breeze, your family is at a safe, woodsy park with a playground and lots of grass to run around on, a picnic lunch filled with all the favorites, a bag of sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and toys, the birds are chirping… and nobody is crying yet! The only thing better would be two perfectly spaced trees to hang a hammock from and a wine-truck that comes by like the ice cream ones do. {We all have our dreams, right?}

Here’s a list of the best NJ parks to bring your kids to, that have all of that to offer and more! (and there’s an AWESOME FREEBIE at the end for you and the family as well!)

Central NJ Parks

Mercer County Park in Hamilton, NJ

This park is the largest park in the state and has so much to offer! Multiple playgrounds and swing sets, paved paths to walk and ride bikes on, dirt paths through the woods to hike on, a lake to picnic near or fish in, tons of fields to run around in, and the ice cream truck comes by on occasion!

Allaire State Park in Farmingdale, NJ

A very large park with tons of things to do! There are a variety of picnic areas, and even a concession area, trails to walk on, a lake for fishing and canoeing/kayaking, there’s even an old railway that still runs and gives rides to kids. 

Colonial Park in Somerset, NJ

When I lived in Manville, this was my favorite park to go to – it’s full of things to do! Besides the many sports fields, there are playgrounds and picnic areas/pavilions, a rose and a perennial garden, many hiking and biking trails. It even connects right onto the D&R Canal Pathway which makes for a beautiful little walk or bike ride. It even has a mini golf course and a pond that you can paddle boat in!


Veterans Park in Hamilton, NJ

The states largest playground can be found here, how cool is that?! There is also a lake and walking/bike paths to use, picnic areas, fields and more. At the entrances are memorials to veterans and displays of jet fighters, helicopters and tanks. Every time I need to get out and take a walk through nature to relax a little, I usually end up here. 

Northern NJ Parks

High Point State Park in Sussex, NJ

This park is nestled in the highest mountain peak in New Jersey and is known for the High Point State Monument which has beautiful overlooks. The park below has a lake with a beach and swimming access, a couple playgrounds and some hiking trails. Picnic tables can be found scattered throughout the park and into the woods. It’s an absolutely beautiful atmosphere and tons of fun for a kid – I know because this is where I grew up! 🙂

Saddle River County Park in Saddle River, NJ

This park is lots of fun! When I go it’s always to the Dunkerhook Area which has an awesome playground and tons of grass to run around on in addition to plenty of picnic tables and a paved pathway to walk or ride bikes on. If you go far enough down the paved path it will lead you to a river and pretty waterfall! I’ve done a few photo sessions here and it’s absolutely gorgeous at any season! 


Verona Park in Verona, NJ

I’ve done a few photo shoots at this park and it never disappoints. It features a beautiful lake to walk around, a couple playgrounds and picnic areas, and lots of grass to run around on. It is well landscaped with beautiful blooming trees in the spring. It’s a beautiful place to bring the family. Of all the parks listed though, this one has the trickiest parking situation so make sure to get there early!

Family Fun Freebie – Scavenger Hunt

I truly believe it’s never too early to get kids outside enjoying nature and all that our NJ parks have to offer. There is so much to see, do and appreciate in the world around us!

I took a couple hours and created these scavenger hunts that can be used at our local NJ parks – they will help your child observe the world around them, appreciate nature, and bring the family together for a fun activity. I hope you enjoy them! I had a lot of fun making these with you in mind. 🙂

I made 4 varieties for different age groups, ages 2-8. Right Click + Save them onto your computer to be able to print them out! Make sure when you’re out with your family using these that you take lots of pictures and don’t forget to hashtag #hpalecekphotography on instagram so I can see what you’re up to! 

Suggested Age 2-4

Suggested Age 3-6

Suggested Age 4-7

Suggested Age 6-8

I plan to make more posts like this in the future! Where else would you like a scavenger hunt for? The beach? The yard? Let me know in the comments below!