New Jersey’s Best Ways To Reconnect With Nature

This summer, enjoy a greater appreciation for the natural world by spending time in the uplifting outdoors. Stretch under the open sky, from woodsy wonderland to white-sand beach, rolling hills to river valleys to thousands of freshwater lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. New Jersey offers an impressive array of places to relax, play and luxuriate in scenic vistas. No matter which direction you wander, we recommend first looking up the latest, local updates, permissible activities and current availability, hours and official guidelines.

Experience the Garden State’s Green Spaces

New Jersey holds acres-upon-acres of glorious havens, open for activities that may include hiking, biking, fishing, horseback riding, boating and kayaking. Dotting the entire map: numerous city and county parks and dozens of National Park Service units and state parks, forests, recreation areas, marinas and historic sites managed by NJ Parks & Forestry.
You might be surprised at what you find—and where you find them—even way up above and tucked away in metropolitan communities. Climb 1,803 feet above sea level to NJ’s peak at High Point State Park (Sussex), for a closer peek at High Point Monument and a spectacular, three-state panoramic view. Or, just minutes from midtown Manhattan, Palisades Interstate Park (Alpine) spans 2,500 acres of Hudson River shorefront, woodlands and cliffs, over 30 miles of hiking trails and more.
Explore the Fascinating Pinelands
Truly a state, national and global treasure, the New Jersey Pinelands comprise an incredible 1.1 million acres and most of the Pine Barrens, New Jersey’s unique ecosystem. It’s part of the Pinelands National Reserve, the largest forested area on the Eastern Seaboard between Maine and the Florida Everglades, and a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve.
Across multiple counties, this fascinating region provides refuge for rare wildlife and plants and promises a variety of scenery, habitats and species. Start from 14 “gateways”, a diverse assortment of county and state parks, forests and preserves. Hike the 50-mile Batona Trail—short for “BAck TO Nature”—linking Brendan T. Byrne, Wharton and Bass River State Forests.
Road trip more your speed? Travel the Pine Barrens Scenic Byway, featuring 130 miles of roadways, or the nearly 300-mile New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail.
Hike the Amazing Appalachian Trail
Traversing 2,180+ miles from Maine to Georgia, the famous Appalachian Trail (also known as “the A.T.") is the world’s longest hiking-only footpath. New Jersey boasts a 72-mile section, open for day hikes this summer. 
The terrain ranges from flat and gentle to rocky, steep pitches, stretching through Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (Hardwick Township), High Point State Park (Sussex), Stokes State Forest (Branchville), Wawayanda State Park (Hewitt) and Worthington State Forest (Columbia).
Escape to the Jersey Shore
Some of New Jersey’s ultimate outdoor fun goes on “Down the Shore.” Discover 130 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline, beautiful bays and over 60 designated beaches, ideal for activities that may include swimming, surfing, boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing—and of course, lounging.
Our Shore Regions (Shore, Greater Atlantic City and Southern Shore) hold uniquely fabulous destinations, each with its own personality. Stroll the boardwalks in towns such as Seaside Heights, Point Pleasant Beach, Ocean City, Atlantic City and Wildwood. Cruise around on bike paths.
Spy historic sites, like the centuries-old lighthouse and fort at Sandy Hook (Highlands) and the second-tallest lighthouse in the US at Barnegat Light (prime for spotting birds and marine mammals, too!). Delight in Cape May's colorful, Victorian splendor.
Embark on an Animal Kingdom Expedition
In New Jersey, you’re apt to spot some animals in your travels. Thanks to its geographic position and habitat diversity, nearly 400 species of vertebrate wildlife and 470 species of fish can reside here.
The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge protects 7,800 acres in Morris County, a vital mosaic of habitats like grasslands, brushlands, mature forest, forested wetlands, marsh, ponds and streams. Trek trails, on the lookout for birds, river otter, fox, deer, muskrat, turtles, frogs—and wildflowers. Observe our fine feathered friends from Cape May Bird Observatory trails, too (Cape May Point).
For a guaranteed way to scope some animals, tour Lakota Wolf Preserve (Columbia), home to wolves, bobcats, foxes and lynx. At Six Flags Wild Safari Drive-Thru Adventure (Jackson), take a nearly hour-long, exotic safari right in your own vehicle, watching for elephants, rhinos, tigers, giraffes and lions.
Get even more ideas, plus dining and accommodations for your next New Jersey day trip, long weekend or vacation, at Download a free NJ travel guide or sign up for e-news from New Jersey Travel & Tourism to help with your planning.