MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ - Beautiful beaches and seaside fun are synonymous with NJ. There is no denying the appeal of shoreline attractions, but that is not all this beautiful state has to offer! Monmouth County is home to one of the most esteemed Park Systems in the country, with over thirty lovely parks to explore that attract visitors from all over the tri-state! Here are a few to enjoy nearby:
Deep Cut Gardens Park, Middletown - Deep Cut Gardens Park has an exciting history. It was once the home of a notorious Italian gangster, Vito Genovese, who purchased the house on the property from its original owner in 1935. Genovese hired a gardener to make the massive property resemble his homeland of Naples, Italy - thus creating the gorgeous horticultural attraction it is today. Deep Cut hosts thousands of visitors during the spring and summer months when the flowers on this property are in full bloom. This park is ideal for a leisurely walk, observing nature and photography.
The artfully planted rose garden, which blossoms in early June, is a significant tourist attraction. While it is undoubtedly breathtaking during that time of year, it is still a beautiful sight to behold after the flowers have faded. The large greenhouse on the property is stunning and can be enjoyed year-round. There is also a koi pond and a bonsai garden, both of which are cared for by park volunteers. A vegetable garden on the property has a “gnome hunt” for children, a fun incentive for little ones - and adults - to explore the garden and see how vegetables grow. Be aware that the vegetables growing there are not for the taking! The garden is an educational experience so everyone can see what a squash, pepper, or cucumber looks like in their natural state - please do not pick. A stroll down the rolling property leads to a natural pond that is home to turtles and frogs and is often dotted with gorgeous dragonflies. A bench near this pond is practically begging you to sit and be soothed by the sounds of frogs bellowing and birds chirping.
Deep Cut Gardens Park is located at 152 Red Hill Road in Middletown, NJ.
Tatum Park, Middletown - Tatum can be accessed from one of two entrances, one of which is on Red Hill Road, directly across from Deep Cut Gardens. The other entry, on Holland Road, is next to the historic home that once belonged to Charles Tatum. Tatum was a glassmaker from New York City who purchased the property to build a summer home. The Tatum house is now an activity center for the park. The trails in this park wind through woods and open fields and meadows. It’s an ideal space for hikers, runners, mountain cyclists, horseback riding. Check the park’s website for more details on which trails allow equestrians and cyclists. Tatum offers a popular soft floored playground enjoyed by hundreds of children every year.
Tatum Park is located at 151 Red Hill Road and 144 Holland Road in Middletown, NJ.
Holmdel Park & Longstreet Farm, is a large, family-friendly park with a lot to offer. Long Street Farm is home to chickens, sheep, cows, pigs, a peacock, and three amiable barn cats that is a delight for children and adults alike. On weekends volunteers work on the farm in periodic dress, giving a sense of what life looked like on this property in the 1890s. Longstreet farm offers a wide range of cultural and agricultural activities, all of which can be found on their website. Longstreet Farm is only one of many attractions to the massive Holmdel Park, which has a beautiful arboretum, outdoor picnic areas, miles of hiking trails, tennis courts, fishing, and in the cold months, sledding and ice skating. One unique feature to their paths is the designated Fitness Trail, which has trail markers along the way. Runners and walkers can stop and do stretches and exercises, as directed by detailed signs at each of these areas. Holmdel Park has much to offer. It is an excellent option for those looking to take a leisurely stroll, an intense hike, a cross country run, or an all-out picnic in the park, complete with grilling areas. Open meadows, wooded pathways, and the large man-made pond usually dotted with fishermen make this park a unique gem in the heart of Monmouth County.
Located at 44 Longstreet Road, Holmdel NJ.
Thompson Park, Lincroft - Thompson Park was once Brookdale Farm, a farm that bred, raised, and trained racehorses. It was donated to Middletown Township for use as a county park in 1968. The original home on the property - built in 1896 - burned down in a fire in 2006. A new building erected in its place is the exact style of the structure that once stood there. This building is now the park’s visitor center, which holds a variety of Creative Arts classes. It is also available to rent for special events, as is the outdoor picnic area on the property. Thompson park borders Marlu Lake, where canoe rentals are available. In light of COVID-19, canoeing is offered on select weekends only - see the park’s website for more details. There are also beautiful, wooded hiking trails that run alongside Swimming River Reservoir, and offer gorgeous views of Middletown’s natural beauty. In colder months, cross country skiing is a popular activity here. The park’s trail map, available online, outlines the routes for both skiers and hikers. A unique feature at Thompson is the dog park, of which there is only a handful in Monmouth County. There are separate areas for larger and smaller dogs, so your four-legged companion can play safely. Thompson is also great place for a bike ride. The paved trail that loops throughout is ideal for riding, whether you want to get a workout or just feel the wind in our hair.
Thompson Park is located at 805 Newman Springs Road in Lincroft, NJ
Dorbrook Recreation Area, Colts Neck NJ - Doorbrook recreation area hosts plenty of active things to do for the family. An athletic field, basketball courts, an in-line skating rink, a playground, and a spray park accessible to children of all abilities. Use of the spray park is by reservation only during the pandemic, so be sure to plan ahead! Over two miles of paved trails are perfect for walking, jogging, or a bike ride. Conveniently, a bike repair station is available next to the basketball courts, so your bike ride doesn’t get cut short by an unexpected flat tire!
Doorbrook Recreation Area is located at 353 route 537, Colts Neck NJ
For all Monmouth County Parks, you can see directions, park hours, and more at www.monmouthcountyparks.com