The Best Local Parks near Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex Counties

If spring hasn't already sprung, it's certainly coming. And not a minute too soon since winter in the time of COVID-19 meant more cabin fever than usual for many. With the cold-weather doldrums and a potential lack of indoor activities to get the blood pumping, you aren't alone if you've slacked on your workouts or been less mobile than normal.

To help families, couples and individuals get out and soak up some of the spring and summer sun, we've gathered a list of some of the best parks in the area. Find options below for green spaces, playgrounds and other outdoor options in or near Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties.

Parks in Monmouth County

Bayshore Waterfront Park

  • Where: 719 Port Monmouth Road, Port Monmouth
  • Standout features: Get access to miles of beach and a fishing pier for whiling away sunny afternoons. The park also features views of the iconic NYC skyline and an activity center that often hosts free or low-cost indoor and outdoor events.
  • Link for more information.

Big Brook Park

  • Where: 521 Route 520, Marlboro
  • Standout features: This park has plenty of greenspace and paths to support picnickers, hikers and bicycle enthusiasts. It's also a favorite place to hunt for fossils.
  • Link for more information.

Clayton Park

  • Where: 161 Emley's Hill Road, (Imlaystown) Upper Freehold
  • Standout features: Enjoy hiking trails for hiking and cycling as well as an area for equestrian enthusiasts. This park also boasts an activity center with planned events, so check the park's calendar for more information.
  • Link for more information.

Crosswicks Creek Park

  • Where: County Route 537, Upper Freehold
  • Standout features: If you want to enjoy some watersports, check out this park, which offers options for canoeing and fishing as well as trails for hiking.
  • Link for more information.

Deep Cut Gardens

  • Where: 152 Red Hill Road, Middletown
  • Standout features: This park, which houses numerous gardens and greenhouses, also offers walking tours for people who want to learn more about botanical life. Browse the landscapes on your own to enjoy the spring colors or plan ahead for an educational experience.
  • Link for more information.

Dorbrook Recreation Area

  • Where: 353 Route 537, Colts Neck
  • Standout features: If you're looking for a comprehensive outdoor play space, this might be it. The park’s recreation area houses a playground, tennis and basketball courts, inline skating rink and swimming pool. You can also play pickleball and explore numerous paved trails.
  • Link for more information.

Fisherman's Cove Conservation Area

  • Where: 383 Third Avenue, Manasquan
  • Standout features: Get your beach fix at this park, where you can walk or sunbathe on the shore or enjoy some salt-water fishing.
  • Link for more information.

Hartshorne Woods Park

  • Where: 1402 Portland Road, Highlands
  • Standout features: If you're looking for a place to kick back for an entire weekend, this park allows visitors to camp. It also has horseback riding, hiking and cross-country ski trails as well as some good fishing spots.
  • Link for more information.

Holmdel Park

  • Where: 44 Longstreet Road, Holmdel
  • Standout features: Visit two historic sites at this park: the Longstreet Farm and Holmes-Hendrickson House. The area also has plenty of picnic tables, a playground, tennis courts and a few places to fish.
  • Link for more information.

Historic Walnford

  • Where: 62 Walnford Road, Upper Freehold
  • Standout features: This unique park is a history site that features a family home, a carriage house and outbuildings to view. It also has a gristmill, and you can take guided tours if you plan ahead.
  • Link for more information.

Wolf Hill Recreation Area 

  • Where: 3 Crescent Place, Oceanport
  • Standout features: Disc golfers may want to give this park a visit, as it has a full 18-hole course to play through. It also has softball fields and an off-leash dog area for those who need to give their furry friends some exercise.
  • Link for more information.

Parks in Ocean County

Beaver Dam Creek County Park

  • Where: 3430 Bridge Avenue, Point Pleasant
  • Standout features: Explore a boardwalk that makes it easy to walk through the tidal wetlands, and then, relax a while as the kids unleash excess energy on the playground. This park also has courts and fields for basketball, soccer, softball, pickleball and tennis.
  • Link for more information.

Cattus Island County Park

  • Where: 1170 Cattus Island Boulevard, Toms River
  • Standout features: Plan a morning or afternoon at this park if you're interested in nature or wildlife. A scenic boardwalk, nature trails and bird-watching areas enhance your outdoor experience, and a picnic area and playground make this park a good choice for families.
  • Link for more information.

Eno's Pond County Park

  • Where: 330 East Lacey Road, Lacey Township
  • Standout features: A playground and picnic area with grills makes this a good spot for an outdoor lunch, and conservation areas with observation decks let you learn more about the environment and nature in NJ.
  • Link for more information.

Gull Island County Park and Conservation Area

  • Where: 419 Broadway, Point Pleasant Beach
  • Standout features: Learn about or enjoy nature and wetlands in this conservation area, which allows both fishing and crabbing. Picnic tables are available for those who want to make a day of it and have lunch in the park.
  • Link for more information.

Jakes Branch County Park

  • Where: 1100 Double Trouble Road, Beachwood
  • Standout features: There's plenty to do at this park. Run and play in softball and soccer fields, team up on basketball, pickleball or tennis courts, or let the kids jump and climb on the playground. Biking, hiking, walking and discovery trails provide more options for exercise and exploring nature.
  • Link for more information.

Mantoloking Bridge Fishing Pier

  • Where: 30 Mantoloking Road, Brick
  • Standout features: Fish or crab off the pier and take advantage of convenient stations for cutting bait or cleaning your catch. A picnic area provides a space to kick back and enjoy a snack between casts, and a car-top boat launch lets water enthusiasts launch kayaks and other craft.
  • Link for more information.

Ocean County Park

  • Where: 659 Ocean Ave. (Route 88), Lakewood
  • Standout features: This park features an 18-hole golf course on top of traditional amenities such as picnic areas and playgrounds. Want to wander without striving for par? Trails are available for both walking and biking, and guests can enjoy swimming and fishing as well.
  • Link for more information.

Wells Mills County Park

  • Where: 905 Wells Mills Road (Route 532), Waretown
  • Standout features: Rent a canoe or bring your own to explore the water at this park, which also boasts a nature center and hiking trails. Bike trails, fishing opportunities, playgrounds and picnic areas are also on offer at this location.
  • Link for more information.

Parks in Middlesex County

Donaldson Park

  • Where: 526 S 2nd Ave, Highland Park
  • Standout features: Kids and adults can explore the pond at this park, potentially seeing wildlife. A boat ramp and off-leash dog area add versatility to the activities here, and you'll also find areas for soccer, baseball and tennis as well as a playground.
  • Link for more information.

Fords Park

  • Where: King Georges Rd, Woodbridge
  • Standout features: Bike paths, walkways and a playground to run around on are staples at this park, which also features a pond, tennis and basketball courts and a baseball field. What truly set it apart from other locations are the park’s street hockey rinks.
  • Link for more information.

Johnson Park

  • Where: Johnson Park Rd, Piscataway
  • Standout features: Three playgrounds, two ponds and the East Jersey Old Town Village are just the beginning of the amenities you can explore at this park. It also houses multiple courts and fields for a variety of ball games and features seven total picnic groves. Some of the picnic areas are reservable, so plan ahead if you want to host an event at the park or ensure you have somewhere to eat lunch.
  • Link for more information.

Joseph Medwick Park

  • Where: Pauline Street, Carteret
  • Standout features: Teams love this park because it has both natural and synthetic fields for little league, soccer and football. Other reasons to stop at this place one sunny day include its open play area, two playgrounds and multiple picnic areas.
  • Link for more information.

Roosevelt Park

  • Where: 51 Parsonage Rd, Edison
  • Standout features: If a slew of tennis and basketball courts and three playgrounds weren't enough reason to show up to this park, the family skating rink might do it for you. An outdoor theater also means you can catch plays in the park here, and there's access to lake fishing.
  • Link for more information.

Thompson Park

  • Where: Thompson Drive and Lakeview Ave, Monroe Township
  • Standout features: If you want to play tennis, basketball, handball, baseball, softball, soccer or beach volleyball, this park has you covered. It also boasts an animal haven, fishing area, hiking trails, picnic groves and three playgrounds.
  • Link for more information.

This is far from an exhaustive list of the parks and green spaces in the area. Whether you're looking for something in your own neighborhood or are willing to drive a bit to explore, you can find a park that works for you. Check out the county parks and recreation listings to find out more.