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New Jersey's 5 Best Parks

New Jersey has fresh and inviting outdoor areas to partake in activities like hiking or kayaking on one of the many lakes or rivers or simply to relax and enjoy the scenery. By Emily Tamburri.

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Liberty State Park
(credit:Liberty State Park)

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of Jersey City lies Liberty State Park, a bright spot of greenery in the busy city. This location has numerous recreational amenities, such as ferry rides to the Statue of Liberty, picnic areas and playgrounds for families as well as an interpretive center exhibiting the natural history and ecology of the Hudson River Estuary. Miles of walkways lend themselves to a simple stroll for bird watching or getting in shape through the par course. Permits are available for boat launches to go fishing or crabbing on the Hudson, or, take out your kayak for an up close view of the New York City Skyline.

Grounds for Sculpture
(credit:Grounds for Sculpture)

The grounds for sculpture park offers over 250 contemporary whimsical sculptures throughout the 42 acre property and rotating indoor exhibitions featuring different artists from around the country. Guided tours help visitors understand and experience each sculpture in its most exquisite form, and gain a true understanding of artistic interpretation. A day trip to this park is complete with an award winning on-site restaurant and a gallery and museum which offer shopping as unique as the sculptures themselves.

Allaire State Park
(credit: Allaire State Park)

The various trails for hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders alike wind through large areas of the park featuring over 200 species of wild flowers, trees, shrubs and other plants, as well as a variety of migrating bird species. Make a weekend trip out of the Allaire State Park visit! It has over forty five campsites, yurts and shelters to be reserved for your stay. The Manasquan River, which winds its way through the park is great,
tranquil spot for fishing and canoeing with rentals available throughout the season. A portion of the park is reserved for deer hunting, making Allaire State Park an all inclusive destination for families who like to experience all types of outdoor activities.

Island Beach State Park
(credit: Island Beach State Park)

This narrow 10 mile stretch of undeveloped barrier island ecosystems is one of the last of it's kind on the north Atlantic coast. The well preserved park is home to highly productive tidal marshes, creeks, ponds, and open water for maritime plant observation and beach heather. This area is known for it's excellent surf fishing of striped bass and bluefish, as well as many other salt water fishing finds. Scuba divers are welcome along 2.5 miles of ocean beach just north of Barnegat Inlet to view aquatic life and plants and vegetation.

If you are an experienced hiker and looking for new trails, Ramapo Mountain State Forest offers eight trails with at a high difficulty level and range anywhere from one to six miles long. The rocky trails present an opportunity for beginners to hike the inner woodlands as well however; Ramapo Mountain has a few easy trails that are perfect to wind down and relax. Mountain bikers, horseback riders and hikers alike will enjoy the 120 acre clearwater mountain lake, ponds, streams and marshes that provide the ideal habitat for birds and other wildlife.

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