WEST ORANGE, NJ - The exciting opening of the new Nautical Playground and Walkway in West Orange is already a hit at South Mountain Recreation Complex. West Orange, however, boasts a plethora of parks and playgrounds that may be some of the best kept secrets in town and can offer families hours of  enjoyable recreation opportunities.

TAP Into West Orange visited our local parks to familiarize residents with their locations and features. Each park comes with its own quirks and specialties and is sure to entertain. The parks are free to the public.

In no particular order:

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Degnan Park (Alisa Drive)

This popular park located near West Orange High School contains a playground facility, basketball court, softball field, and open grass field. Also on site is Vincent’s Pond, as well as Katz Community Center.

Minish Park (Lancaster Terrace)

Found in the Englishtown section of town off Mount Pleasant Avenue, Minish Park has a playground that is perfect for small children. Equipped with a soccer and baseball field, Minish Park is great for local residents.

O’Connor Park (Ralph Road)

By Mount Pleasant Elementary School, this 27 acre park has just about everything to offer. O’Connor is a picturesque park with a rest area near a peaceful pond, pathways to walk through, and two separate playground areas. Also in O’Connor are multiple soccer and baseball fields, tennis courts, a floor hockey arena, and a wall ball court.

Boland Park (Dogwood Road)

Off Northfield Avenue, this small playground is perfect for children. With a baseball field and basketball court, this cute little park is a perfect addition to a wonderful neighborhood.

Ridgeway Park (Ridgeway Avenue)

Ridgeway Park is the newest addition to the West Orange Park system.  The passive park is perfect for walking, biking, and picnics. Located next to the historic Augustinian Monastery, Ridgeway park is quite possibly one of the most serene areas in West Orange.

Stagg Field (St. Cloud Avenue)

Right behind St. Cloud Elementary is Stagg Field, a large park with much to offer. Two enjoyable playground areas keep the young ones amused, while the various sports fields (including a two open grass fields, a baseball field, basketball courts, and tennis courts) make the older children come back.

Club Boulevard Park (Club Boulevard)

This small, friendly park is located directly adjacent to Roosevelt Middle School. This dinosaur-themed playground is sure to amuse budding archaeolgists and features a cool tunnel.

Jenkin’s Park (Rose Terrace)

Jenkin’s Park can be found behind the Valley Road Fire Headquarters and includes a playground perfect for little kids. The nearby fire station left its imprint on this theme park, including a small “fire truck” for children to play in.

Lafayette Park (Park Avenue)

This park, right on Main Street, has a baseball field as well as a playground area. This park is great for nearby residents and is a fun place to play for kids.

Byrne Park (Liberty Street)

Located off Washington Street is Byrne Park, a small but cute addition to the neighborhood. With a wonderful playground, this park sure is fun!

Colgate Park (Franklin Avenue)

By the Ginny Duenkel Pool is Colgate Park, a fantastic place to play sports or have fun at the playground. With a large soccer field, baseball field, horsesshoe pit, and courts to play soccer on, Colgate truly is a gem.

Lichtenstein Field (Valley Way)

Found behind the Board of Education at the corner of Eagle Rock Avenue and Valley Way, is Lichtenstein Field, a charming little playground for youngsters that also has a small baseball field.

Crystal Lake (Prospect Avenue-Boland Drive)

The Oscar Schindler Performing Arts Center is located by the gorgeous Crystal Lake. Stroll the path around the lake and enjoy the historic beauty the lake provides.

In addition to the parks listed above, every elementary school has a playground that is open to the public. Playgrounds are located at Redwood, Mt. Pleasant (including a workout course), Hazel, Pleasantdale, Washington, St. Cloud, and Gregory; all three middle schools have grass fields and baseball fields; and West Orange High School has tennis courts, three turf fields, a baseball field, and a track, perfect for running and walking.

A few caveats: Fishing permits are required to fish at West Orange parks; so check with the Rec Department on obtaining one. Most parks close at dusk, so be sure to check with the Rec Department as to specific closures at each park. Also, there may be limits on activities and access depending on sporting events or school hours.

With all the parks and playgrounds in town, West Orange can provide hours of free recreation for families. Go the Rec website at http://westorange.org/Facilities.aspx or call 973-325-4150 for information on any of the local parks and playgrounds.

Watch the township video of the parks at: .