Overhead view of the surrounding countryside

Best Picnic Areas in New Jersey

May 7, 2018


People don’t always know just how lucky they are to live in New Jersey.

Between the wineries and breweries, the private and public beaches in the area, orchards to go apple picking in, world-class public golf courses, and a huge number of parks in the area, there is plenty to do in New Jersey. More importantly, residents of Applewood, a CRCC in Freehold, New Jersey, are in the perfect location to explore the state. Not only are there many things to do and see in Freehold, New Jersey, but Applewood itself is located only a quick 30-minute drive to some of the best picnic areas in the whole of the state. If you’re interested in renting a group picnic area to visit with friends or family or a more private experience, then this post is for you. Read on for information about some of the best picnic areas in New Jersey!

Mercer County Park

Much has changed since the land for Mercer County Park was first purchased in the late 1960s, largely from farms at the time. Located mostly in West Windsor in Mercer County, New Jersey, the Richard J. Coffee Mercer County Park is a sprawling recreational park, encompassing over 2,500 acres. The park itself extends into Hamilton and Lawrence and is home to the Mercer Lake, which is also utilized by the US Olympic Rowing team as their training center. The Mercer County park is open year-round with 17 different athletic fields for soccer, football, lacrosse, Frisbee, and more. Along with fields for sports, the Mercer County Park also offers hiking and mountain biking, as well as fishing and boating, and plenty of opportunities to go bird watching. Feel free to bring your dogs too! This county park even features a dog park for both large and small dogs.

Mercer County Park also offers several different picnic options, including 5 different areas to set up for picnics. All picnic areas have the necessary essential amenities, including electrical boxes, water fountains, children’s play areas, grills, restrooms with handicap accessibility, and in most cases fields to play softball or baseball nearby. Of the 5 picnic areas at Mercer County Park, currently 2 are under construction, so we recommend calling ahead of time to reserve your picnic space.

Allaire State Park

Allaire State Park, located in Howell and Wall Township in Monmouth County, New Jersey, is a beautiful 3,205-acre state park that is operated and maintained by the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry. The Allaire State Park is also a part of the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route and was named for the founder of Howell Works iron company, on the same site, James P. Allaire. Howell Works was also the inspiration for the parks signature feature — the Allaire Village. This historic village is run by a non-profit organization that is independent of the park, and it celebrates the formerly prosperous 19th-century industrial town that once produced pig and cast iron from the naturally occurring surrounding bog iron deposits. The Allaire Village that remains is home to a number of restored buildings, including a blacksmith shop, general store, carpenter’s shop, manager’s house, foreman’s house, and even a church. In fact, one of the old workers’ row house buildings have even been recreated and now serve as a free Visitors Center & Museum.

In addition to the Allaire Village, which is a fantastic retreat for the day, the Allaire State Park also features picnic facilities with charcoal grills, tables, restrooms, and even sanitary facilities that are available all year round in the developed sections of the park. While enjoying a day picnicking, avid fishers can also enjoy access to the Manasquan River, which flows throughout the park. This is a freshwater body of water and requires a fishing license for those interested.

Cheesequake State Park

Cheesequake State park in Old Bridge, Middlesex County, in New Jersey, is a 1,274-acre state park with a huge diversity of flora and fauna. The parks lowlands are primarily made up of freshwater and saltwater marshes, as well as a tidal estuary near the Raritan Bay, making for some excellent fishing for trout, largemouth bass, catfish, and sunfish in the freshwater lake near Hooks Creek where recreational fishing is allowed. Cheesequake State Park also offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, boating, and more.

Cheesequake State Park isn’t just great for experiencing the outdoors. It’s also a wonderful place for a picnic. The park offers two reservable picnic areas, each with playfields and playground equipment. Farny Point, the larger of the two areas, has a capacity of up to 150 people and provides shelter on site. The smaller picnic area, Spring Hill, only holds a capacity of 100 people. Reservations are required in both areas for group picnicking, or groups of 20 or more people. Fees for reservations are $50 per day from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day and $75 per day from Labor Day to the Friday before Memorial Day.

Holmdel Park

Holmdel Park, one of the closest state parks to Applewood, is found in the Holmdel Township in New Jersey, which is actually part of the Monmouth County Park System. Holmdel was initially established in 1962 but was expanded first in 2011 with an additional 227 acres, and a second time in August 2017 when another 71 acres were donated. At Holmdel State Park you can expect to find a number of activities that are sure to keep you busy. Between fishing, tennis courts, playgrounds, hiking trails, and individual and group picnic areas, there is a lot to do and see here. The park is also open year-round, which means that in the winter ice skating and sledding are open to the public, though only when conditions are deemed safe enough.

Holmdel Park offers two unique picnic shelters for visitors to enjoy– Forest Edge & Hill Top. Both of these include a 30’ by 50’ picnic shelter, as well as a group grill. They are also both ADA accessible and have a max capacity of 125 individuals.

Thompson Park

Found in Lincroft, New Jersey, Thompson Park is a 667-acre park that was established in 1968. The first 215 acres of this state park was first donated from the estate of Geraldine Livingston Thompson, which is also where the park takes its name from. Thompson Park also serves as the headquarters for the Monmouth County Park system, which is housed in the famed 19th-century horse estate “Brookdale Farm”. In addition to the horse estate, the park has a number of historic buildings that have been restored and offered a glimpse into the past. The park even carries on the belief held by Mrs. Thompson that “Children have to feel the ground beneath them and go out into the woods and see the trees and birds”. With that belief held central, Thompson Park offers visitors a variety of ways to enjoy the grounds, with 14 miles of multiple use trails, a playground, tennis courts, a lake for fishing and boating, as well as a Creative Arts Center and an off-leash dog area.

For picnics, Thompson Park offers two different seasonal options for large group reservations. The first is a large 30’ x 50’ frame tent with group grill that has a maximum capacity of 125 people. This can be rented for $195 for county residents on Monday-Friday, though the price rises to $280 for non-residents. On weekends and holidays, the fee is $258 for residents and $376 for non-residents. Old Orchard Picnic shelter, the second option available to picnickers, is a large ADA accessible picnic shelter that holds a maximum of 125 individuals. Fees for this shelter are $225 Monday-Friday for residents and $370 for non-residents. On weekends and holidays, the price rises to $345 for residents and $494 for non-residents. Both of these shelters have access to the rest of the amenities available throughout the park.

Go Picnicking in New Jersey!

New Jersey is home to dozens of beautiful places for a picnic, both for large parties and small groups that just want to get away for the day. At Applewood, we have seen the benefits of getting out into nature and staying active, and picnics are a great way to enjoy nature and the company of your loved ones. So what are you waiting for? Get out there!

Have we missed your favorite picnic ground? Contact us today and let us know!