Thursday, October 11, 2018

Thompson Park Day is Coming!

Celebrate the changing of the seasons at this year’s Thompson Park Day! This Monmouth County Park System tradition offers everything an autumn event should: pumpkin painting, arts & crafts, kids' races, entertainment and much more! Best of all, it’s a chance for families to acquaint themselves with the year round charms of Thompson Park, a perfect place to for hiking, running, canoeing and other outdoor activities. All are invited to attend this family-friendly tradition and to stroll through the sights, sounds and smells of autumn. Held from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday, October 14 at Thompson Park, 805 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft, Thompson Park Day is the quintessential fall event! 


Canoeing: Grab a paddle and hit the water in one of our canoes. Thompson Park's Marlu Lake is the perfect place to enjoy a paddle. All equipment is provided; canoeing will be weather permitting. (free)

Pumpkin Painting: Pumpkin painting is a great way to get into the Halloween spirit! This activity is great for all ages and simple enough for even the youngest in the family. (Two tickets are required for this activity.)

Pie Eating Contests: Bring your competitive spirit and your appetite! Adults and children chow down on delicious pumpkin pies while the stopwatch runs. Will you win the contest or even set a Thompson Park Day record?

Strut Your Mutt:
Think you have the cutest or spookiest dog in Monmouth County? Here's your chance to prove it. The Friends of the Parks' annual Strut Your Mutt Canine Halloween costume contest has become a popular event for dog owners to show off their creative talents, celebrate their pets, and share in the fun with other dog owners! The four-legged competitors are judged in
categories for funniest, scariest, prettiest, most original, and best canine/human combo. (Registration and fee of $15 required.)

Scarecrow Contest: Make the season extra special by building your own scarecrow! The Park System provides the framework and stuffing; you supply the face, outer covering (clothes, etc.), and imagination. Prizes will be awarded and the scarecrow is yours to take home. (Registration and fee of $12 required.)

But these are only a few of the fun activities you can enjoy. We'll also have Zany Zombies, archery, rides, the climbing wall, a photo booth, Golfzilla (weather dependent), mini golf, nature activities, grab & go ceramics, and so much more. Some activities may require purchase of tickets and/or a wristband. Check our website for full details. 

Theatre Barn Stage Entertainment

Kids on the Block Puppet Show is scheduled from 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m., this educational puppet show helps children learn about disabilities, as well as broader themes of friendship, community-building, the importance of expressing feelings, and celebrating differences.

The “It’s the Wolf!” Puppet Show at 1:15 p.m. is an interactive puppet production. Straw, sticks, bricks, and a huffing and puffing Big Bad Wolf bring hilarity and mayhem in this adaptation of the classic story, The Three Little Pigs.

The Curse of the Silver Pearl Swashbuckling Spooktacular at 2:45 p.m. is a pirate variety magic show starring Boot Buckle Bob pirate extraordinaire and offers skull juggling, plank walking hilarity, egg tossing vanishes, music and plenty of audience participation and laughs! Arghhhh you ready?

The Little Rockers Band from 4:15-5 p.m. brings a fun, fresh way to introduce your children to music. The Little Rockers Band is a popular local group that introduces music in a variety of ways.

To learn more about Thompson Park Day or other Park System activities, please visit or call the Park System at 732-842-4000. For persons with hearing impairment, the Park System TTY/TDD number is 711. The Monmouth County Park System, created in 1960 by the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, is Monmouth County’s Open Space, Parks, and Recreation agency.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Explore & Discover Your Park System Trails

When you hear the word “trail” what comes to mind? Is it a winding dirt path under towering trees, or a wide paved path alongside a winding river or pond?

The National Recreation and Park Association conducted a survey among 1,005 adult Americans, and 36% stated they use a trail for hiking, running or walking. That’s one in three Americans visiting their local parks with friends, family members or pets to destress.

Monmouth County is truly a great place to live, being recognized as having one of the most beautiful park systems throughout New Jersey. As residents, we cherish our trails as the perfect balance between land and sea. These trails offer simple strolls along ocean, forest and river views, while others take you over isolated valleys. Some are easy and moderate flat paths, and others are more difficult taking you up and down hills; you pick your path!

Whether you’re running, walking or biking, Park System trails are ideal places to learn about and practice healthy lifestyles; connect with nature, history and culture; and relax in a setting removed from the noise and distractions of daily life. More importantly, spending time outdoors grants future generations the gift of learning to appreciate and enjoy nature. Being on trails allows children to step away from screens and get outdoors to use their imagination. Above all, it becomes a fun way for families to get fresh air, exercise and explore the great outdoors together.

Choosing a trail can be the most overwhelming part of getting outdoors. The Monmouth County Park System has over 16,000 acres of land and 139 miles of trails. That’s a lot of area to cover! It's important to find a trail that is best suited to your age and level of fitness. Here are some of the most popular trails in Monmouth County that inspire us to get out and discover:
  • If you haven’t been to Hartshorne Woods Park, you’re missing out on the best hiking and biking trails near the shore! A true Monmouth County favorite, Hartshorne Woods is a hilly, forested 787-acre site with over 14 miles of extensive trails for all levels, some of which offer amazing views of the Navesink River. 
  • Holmdel Park has a reputation as it is the site of a variety of cross country meets. The shady woods and rolling hills are the perfect setting for exploring over nine miles of trails. Be forewarned of “The Bowl” which has become infamous throughout the running community. While on this section of the trail, one first descends down around this long hill. Then, after the last turn, one travels up a steep 150-foot incline. It's the perfect challenge for the seasoned runner.
  • Tatum Park features over six miles of trails through rolling hills and open fields where you're sure to spot a variety of species of birds. Run or walk through the winding paths that take you through the oak forest and meadows of tulip trees. 
  • The scenic Manasquan Reservoir is popular for its five mile loop trail offering excellent views of wetlands, wooded forests and wildflower meadows. The area is home to 200 species of birds, including a Bald Eagle nesting pair. A favorite for all ages, the trail is wide and flat enough for strollers, bicyclists and horseback riders. 
  • The beautiful 988-acre, family-oriented Shark River Park has become a staple through the seasons. Nine miles of trails pass through several habitats, including a coastal river and floodplain, gravel-capped sandy hills, a cedar swamp, and several sphagnum bogs. 
But these are only a few of the trails that will get you discovering the outdoors. Learn about all the Monmouth County Park System trails so you can get out an explore all year round.

Now that we’ve shared some of our best trails with you, we’d love to hear from you! Tell us about your favorite trails and share photos with us of your adventures on our Facebook page. We'll see you in the parks!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Family Fun in the Parks

August is Family Fun Month and your Monmouth County Park System has plenty of activities that will guarantee a great time for the whole family. The month of August typically signifies the last few weeks of summer before kids return to school. But in between the back to school shopping, families must take the time to enjoy what’s left of summer days (and nights).

It is universally known that parents encourage behaviors in their children. According to a PBS article, “Children are watching their parents’ every move, mirroring their every action; if parents are sedentary, there is a good chance their children will be too.” The article goes on to state: “However, parents who eat healthily and exercise with their children on a regular basis are teaching them many valuable lessons.”

August is the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors at any of your Monmouth County parks! The temperatures are still toasty, the days are long, and the kids are ready to enjoy nature as much as they can before going back to school. So what is there for families to do when they want to break free from their routines? Go for a hike, have a picnic at the park, spend the afternoon kayaking, or ride your bikes through new scenery. Enjoy the beautiful summer weather while it lasts and go outdoors for some fresh air. You can even pick an activity and start a new family tradition. It doesn’t matter if your time together is extravagant or simple; it's all about spending quality time together and making lasting family memories. If you’re a selfie taker, use the hashtags #FamilyFunMonth and #MonmouthCountyParks to encourage others to join in the fun!

Check out these family activities that will help you celebrate Family Fun Month:

Superb Summer Saunter on Friday, August 10 from 10-11:30 a.m. With summer rearing to go, our parks are teeming with all sorts of animal and plant life. At the Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center, engage your curiosity as you get some fresh air and explore the open trails with a Park System Naturalist  as your guide to teach you about the plants and critters you see along the way.

Starry Night Hike on Saturday, August 25 from 8-9 p.m. On a clear night at Freneau Woods Park get out your telescope and do a little family stargazing! Don’t have a telescope? No problem! Join our Park System Naturalists as you hike the forests, meadows and trails looking for constellations, cloud formations, moon phases, and maybe even a shooting star. You may even hear some bumps in the night, but have no’s probably just a howling coyote, hooting owl, or other nocturnal critter.

Open Shoot Archery on Sunday, August 26 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Take a shot at archery at the Thompson Park Activity Barn! Stop in during open shoot archery to improve your archery skills at our indoor range. This is not an instructional clinic and NOT designed for beginners. Open to ages 10 and up; under 18 with adult. Cost is $10 per person, cash or check only. Questions? Call 732-842-4000, ext. 4312.

Kayak Tours of Swimming River on Tuesday, August 21 from 6-7 p.m. and Wednesday, August 22 from 7-8 p.m. for ages 12 and up (under 18 with adult) at Swimming River Park. Paddle your way down Swimming River during these nature kayak tours. Novice paddlers are welcome. All equipment is provided; both single and tandem kayaks will be available. Program is limited to 12 participants; first come, first served. Cost is $20 per person, cash or check only.

Boat Tours of the Manasquan Reservoir are both fun and educational as well as a great way for families to explore local nature. These 45-minute tours are led by Park System Naturalists and offer a terrific view of the local wildlife, which may include turtles, herons, egrets and our resident Bald Eagles. Tours take place on weekends through September 3 at 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. as well as on Wednesdays through August 29 at 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Life jackets are required. The cost is $6 per adult and $4 per child 12 and under. Please note that tours are both weather and water level dependent. To confirm boat tour schedule, call 732-751-9453. Boats and kayaks are also available to rent at the Manasquan Reservoir for those who wish to explore on their own.

Safari Backpacks: The Park System offers Safari Backpacks at several of locations: Deep Cut Gardens, Middletown; Huber Woods Environmental Center, Middletown; and Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center, Howell. Backpacks contain all your family will need to fill your self-guidance nature walk with adventure and exploration. Safari Backpacks are perfect for exploring the parks in a brand new way.

We look forward to your visit as you explore the parks together this August!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Healthy Living with Golf

If you’re looking for a golf course to play a round with friends or simply work on your drive, you’ve definitely got plenty of options to choose from in Monmouth County. With six public courses made available through your Monmouth County Park System, you could spend more time trying to decide on a course than actually playing! Each year more than 200,000 rounds are played on our courses. Our facilities can accommodate golfers of all skill levels, so whether you’re a beginner, amateur, expert, or somewhere in between, Monmouth County courses provide something for everyone. We offer five championship 18-hole courses, two 18-hole executive courses, a 9-hole, par 3 course, and three warm-up ranges. Learn about them all by clicking here.
"Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated. It satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening - and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind ever invented." - Arnold Palmer
But did you also know that studies show golf could be one of the healthiest activities you can do? There are so many health benefits to playing golf that it would fill the pages of a book versus the limits of this blog post! From a health perspective, golf is the perfect form of exercise, providing a diverse workout and helping to lay the foundations for a more active life. There are numerous ways in which you can keep fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, it just so happens that regularly engaging in a round of golf can offer the same benefits as other forms of exercise! To be good at most sports like football, tennis, basketball, baseball, swimming or athletics, you have to be very strong, fast or physically fit. Not for golf. Golfers come in all shapes and sizes, from youths to seniors. Moreover, it is a low-impact sport that further demonstrates a wide variety of mental and physical health benefits for people of all ages. 

Unlike other intense sports, golf is a game that fosters conversation. In much the same vein, it becomes a great way to spend time with friends and provide opportunities to meet new people. Golf can even be the best form of Ecotherapy, otherwise known as "green exercise" which emphasizes the importance of combining exercise with an outdoor activity. Basking in nature on an 18-hole course provides health benefits for both mind and body. So grab your clubs and play some golf. Your body will thank you!

Various studies have highlighted some ways that heading out for 18 holes can make you healthier:
  • Mental Alertness - Golf is as much a mental game as it is a physical game. The required concentration as you set up your next shot and maintain good form, visualize yourself succeeding, and plot out your strategy sends blood rushing to your brain just as much as walking the course. Golf teaches problem solving and keeps the mind sharp. Clive Ballard, Director of Research at the Alzheimer’s Society, says: “Whether it is going for a jog or walking the golf course, keeping physically active is a great way to keep your heart and your brain healthy. By keeping active you make sure your brain has a good, strong blood supply, which is essential to help it function better now and in the future.” 
  • Provides Stress Relief and Boosts Mood - Aside from the physical benefits, being out and about in a setting as beautiful as a golf course with plenty of fresh air is believed to be able to improve your mental well-being, as well as benefit those suffering with stress or anxiety. A study conducted by the University of Essex found that the pleasure of walking in fresh air with an added mental challenge releases endorphins, the natural mood-enhancing chemicals in your brain, which make you feel happy and relaxed. 
  • Increases Life Expectancy - Want to live your longest, healthiest life? Golf could be the key to longevity. According to the Golf & Health Project, supported by the World Golf Foundation, golf can be expected to decrease the risk of more than 40 chronic diseases, like type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and colon and breast cancer. 
  • Improves Vitamin D Intake - Vitamin D is an important nutrient that your body is able to synthesize naturally when it’s exposed to sufficient levels of sunlight. Fortunately, the sun is an excellent (and free!) source of vitamin D. During the summer and fall months, playing a round of golf may be an excellent means of ensuring your body can produce sufficient amounts of vitamin D. It has been shown to reduce your risk of cancer, help your bones maintain appropriate calcium levels, boost your immune system, boost your mood, prevent or reduce chronic diseases, and much more. 
  • Weight Loss - Golf is a form of exercise that contributes to healthy weight loss. You’ve probably heard health professionals mention that 10,000 steps per day is the golden number to achieve weight-loss. Berkeley Wellness reported findings from a study that indicated a full 18-hole round easily exceeds the recommendation. Players who choose to ride in a golf buggy rather than walking, or wish to play a shortened round of 9-holes, will still expend more calories than a strenuous, lengthy gym workout!
Not currently a golfer but interested in learning to play? Be sure to check out the Park System's golf lessons available for all levels. 

We'll see you on the greens!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Monmouth County Fair is Coming!

The highlight of the summer has arrived! Organized and presented by the Monmouth County Park System in cooperation with the Monmouth County 4-H, the 44th annual Monmouth County Fair returns to East Freehold Showgrounds on Wednesday-Sunday, July 25-29. Whether it’s a family tradition or your first time visiting, this five-day event offers fun for all ages with musical entertainment, a variety of food vendors, rides, home and garden competitions and exhibits, and so much more!


Sure to delight thrill seekers of all ages! This year's rides are once again provided by Reithoffer
Shows. Two rides areas will be available, one for smaller children's rides and another for the thrill seekers in your family. Wristbands can be purchased every night at a cost of $25 on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, and $30 on Friday and Saturday. Single ride tickets will also be available for purchase. Ride wristbands are also available for early-bird purchase on the Reithoffer Shows website for $25; early-bird sales end on July 24. There will also be a variety of fun carnival-style games you can play as well! 


Entertainment has always been a big part of the Fair and this year’s performers promise to deliver! Each day is filled with fun and excitement! There will be plenty of returning favorites that are always a hit with families, such as Bwana Jim’s Wildlife Show where you can catch a glimpse at wild animals such as snakes, alligators, hawks, owls, turtles and more. Be sure to check out Mutts Gone Nuts, featuring everyone’s favorite four-legged pets showcasing their skills, their personalities, and their senses of humor as they complete tricks and jumps. Hell on Wheels BMX Stunt Show also returns this year with an exhilarating performance that's sure to fill spectators with excitement. Other fun and exciting events include Wheel of Destiny, Robinson's Racing Pigs, and Hilby the Skinny German Juggle Boy.

And don’t forget our musical entertainment! The Moroccan Sheepherders kick things off on Wednesday night, performing a mix of classic rock covers and original music at 8:15 p.m. & 9:30 p.m. On Thursday night, vibe out with The Chuck Lambert Band at 8:30 p.m. & 9:30 p.m. Friday night, be inspired by the young and talented group Musicians on a Mission at 8:30 p.m. & 9:30 p.m. with a performance that brings awareness and funds for local charitable organizations through planned musical events that showcase New Jersey performers. There are a lot of cover bands out there, but there’s only one that can kick off a Saturday night like the Jimmy Buffet & Friends Tribute Band, scheduled to perform at 8:15 p.m. & 9:30 p.m. Come experience the ViRAGO Music Celtic Trio as they bring the Fair to a close on Sunday with their mix of ethnic melodies and rhythms with original songs at 12 p.m. & 1:45 p.m. 

Vendors & Exhibits

There are plenty of vendors and exhibits to visit during the Monmouth County Fair as well! From shopping to eating, you’ll find a variety of booths. There are over 25 food vendors if you need a bite to eat, so don’t worry there will be plenty to choose from, including our first ever vegan vendor! Be sure to support local Monmouth County businesses at the Made in Monmouth tent where you’ll find an assortment of products made in Monmouth County that may include unique household and decorative items, jewelry, specialty foods and pet accessories. At the Grown in Monmouth booth you’ll learn about this new and exciting program designed to help retain and grow the County’s Agricultural industry. Other highlights include a variety of Monmouth County 4-H exhibits and events such as animal shows, contests, demonstrations and entertainment. The Home & Garden Tent features entries in a variety of competitions from photography to painting, fruits and vegetables to baking, plus daily demonstrations that may spark your interest in learning something new. If you’re a history buff, stop by the Living History Tent and learn about the county’s rich agricultural environment through hands-on activities and demonstrations. 

The Monmouth County Fair is open from 5-11 p.m. on Wednesday-Friday, July 25-27; 3-11 p.m. on Saturday, July 28; and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday, July 29. Admission is $8 per person; children 12 and under are free. For more information about the Fair, visit, or call 732-842-4000, ext. 4312.