Monday, March 23, 2015

Walk Down the Aisle in a Park

Thompson Park, Lincroft
Every couple wants their wedding to be the picture of perfection. Gorgeous attire, great weather, happy guests, and of course the perfect wedding location. Did you know that some of the most picturesque wedding ceremony locations can be found right in your Monmouth County parks?

Many of your favorite park sites are available to host your romantic day. Looking for a wedding on the sands of the Jersey Shore? Perhaps surrounded by the serenity of a wooded backdrop? Or would you prefer the backdrop of a beautiful rose garden? There's no shortage of amazing park locations for you to celebrate your very special day. From the sandy shores of Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park to the garden backdrop of Deep Cut Gardens, the Park System wants to be a part of the wedding of your dreams. Already have your wedding location picked out? Park locations are also available to use for your wedding photograph sessions as well. For more information on make the parks part of your perfect day, call 732-842-4000, ext. 4382.

Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park, Long Branch
Are you currently planning your dream wedding? We want to make one couple's dreams come true this year during our "Say 'I Do' in the Parks" Facebook contest. All you have to do is submit a photo of you and your sweetheart within one of our Monmouth County parks and tell us a little about yourselves. Submissions are due by no later that 12 p.m. on Monday, April 13. Starting Tuesday, April 14, we'll let our Facebook followers choose the winner. The winning couple will receive the opportunity to host their wedding ceremony at one of our select county parks.
Last year's "Say 'I Do' in the Parks" winners

Have you enjoyed your wedding ceremony in one of our beautiful parks? Show everyone your perfect park wedding day by posting your photo on our Facebook page.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Final February Night Hike

It was February 27, the final Friday of the month and temperatures were unseasonably cold, in the 20s, with a fresh cover of snow and ice on the ground. Yet, a group of excited participants joined one of our Park System Naturalists for a lantern-lit night hike through the Rocky Point section of Hartshorne Woods Park, Highlands. The sky was clear, making it easy to spot numerous bright stars and planets. We told stories about plants and animals that call this park home. Best of all, the haunting hoot sound of a great horned owl could be heard not far from the group along the Bunker Loop trail. 

Nature walks are always popular with Park System visitors and are offered at different parks throughout the year. Check out some of our upcoming spring nature walk programs:

  • Nature Night Hike on April 3 at Holmdel Park, Holmdel, invites ages 8 and up (under 18 with adult) on a moonlit hike as we look and listen for the nocturnal animals that call the park home.
  • Evening Frog Walk on April 11 at the Manasquan Reservoir, Howell, is fun for all ages as we enjoy a nighttime hike with the sounds of frogs and other nocturnal animals around us.
  • Spring Nature Walk on April 13 at Holmdel Park, Holmdel, explores the beauty of springtime as we enjoy a little fresh air and exercise.
  • Sunset Wetland Walk: Mummichogs and Marsh Critters on April 24 at Bayshore Waterfront Park, Port Monmouth, brings ages 7 and up (under 18 with adult) on a guided adventure in the wetlands near Sandy Hook Bay to check out the marsh fish (mummichogs) and look for the many migrating and resident birds.
  • Half Day Hike and Paddle on April 25 at Huber Woods Park, Middletown. Adults will love this challenging experience that combines hiking and kayaking. We'll first walk a mile through the park to Claypit Creek while discussing the plants and animals that reside in the park. Then we'll use sit-on-top kayaks to paddle the Navesink River and observe birds and other critters that depend on our local waterways.
All of the above named programs required pre-registration, so be sure to reserve your spot soon! For additional upcoming nature programs, please check out our current Spring Program Directory. And be sure not to miss out on one of our excellent (and free!) Roving Park System Naturalist nature walks which bring you to different parks to explore nature. For a list of upcoming Roving Naturalist walks, click here.

For more information about any of the Park System's parks and programs, call us at 732-842-4000, ext. 4312, or send us an email.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Our Camp/Swim Program Directory is Here!

Make the Monmouth County Park System a part of your child's summer excitement! No matter what your child's interests are, there's sure to be a summer camp that will bring them friendship and memories for years to come. Filled to the brim with a wide variety of camps, this special edition Program Directory includes offerings of arts & crafts, equestrian, living history, horticulture, nature, science, odyssey adventures, performing arts and more! Looking to keep your child safe in the water? Be sure to check out our swim lessons which are available for many different age groups and skill levels.

Need to plan your child's summer activities around a busy schedule? Be sure to check out the Camp Calendar Index at the back of the book where you'll see the camps available for each week of the summer as well as which park locations and age groups they are available for. It's never been easier to find the right camps for your family!

Registration begins at 12 p.m. on Sunday, March 8. You may register:
  • Online (24/7)
  • By phone at 732-842-4000, ext. 1; phone registration will be available on March 8 from 12-2 p.m., after that you may register by phone Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
  • In person starting on March 9 at the Thompson Park Headquarters building, Newman Springs Road, Lincroft on Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
  • By mail using the Registration Form at the back of the Program Directory
Please Note: You may register family members ONLY.

Once registered for your selected camps, make sure to fill out the appropriate camp forms which can be found on our website under Activities -> Summer Camp Forms (available after registration begins).

Don't miss your chance to give your child a summer they'll remember for years to come! Check out the Camp/Swim Program Directory today! Want a copy mailed to your home? Be sure to call 732-842-4000, ext. 4312, or email

Monday, February 9, 2015

Spotlight: Manasquan Resevoir Environmental Center


The Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center (Georgia Tavern Road, Howell) is dedicated to providing experiences of learning and discovery related to wetlands ecology and wildlife and habitat protection. Through interactive exhibits, multi-media presentations, educational activities for schools and community groups, and wildlife observation areas, visitors gain an understanding of the importance of water in our world.

Designed to connect visitors with their natural world, the Environmental Center highlights the importance of water. One exhibit features fish found in the Reservoir outside. Another traces the journey of a raindrop as it travels through the watershed to the Manasquan River and, eventually, reaches the ocean. Some exhibits reveal what is not readily visible, such as nocturnal animals that call the Reservoir home. Another exhibit compares the effects of a town with unmanaged growth to one that has chosen to establish practices that protect the environment.

The Environmental Center offers free programs each weekend. Upcoming weekend drop-in programs include:
  • Great Backyard Bird Count on Saturday & Sunday, February 14 & 15: Join us as we participate in this great citizen scientist project with this self-directed program.  
  • Citizen Science on Saturday & Sunday, February 21 & 22: Discover projects that use the help of citizen scientists during this self-directed program.
  • Vernal Wetlands on Saturday & Sunday, February 28 & March 1: During this self-directed program visitors will learn about these special wetlands and the animals that live in them.  
  • Snake Meet and Greet on Saturday & Sunday, March 7 & 8 at 10:30 a.m.: Meet a live snake and learn about the ones that live at the reservoir.
  • Monarch Butterflies on Saturday, March 14 at 11 a.m. and Sunday, March 15 at 2 p.m.: Discover where monarch butterflies are on their migration back north.

This spring the Environmental Center will offer a variety of nature programs that are sure to open your eyes to the amazement in the nature that surrounds us. Here is just sampling of what's to come this spring:
  • Bald Eagle Walk at the Manasquan Reservoir: Ages 9 and up (under 18 with adult) will enjoy this unique opportunity to learn about bald eagles and to possibly get a glimpse of the pair nesting nearby.
  • Don't Give Up Duck: Parents will enjoy bringing their toddlers (ages 18 months-3 years) to enjoy a sweet story about Duck and all of her friends. Songs, games and a craft are sure to add to your child's delight.
  • Froggie Fun: You and your little one (age 3-6) will have fun with this exciting meet and greet with a few of our resident frogs. Children will also enjoy a game and craft.
  • Young Naturalists Book Club: Do you have a nature and book lover at home between the ages of 5-12? They'll love joining this program where they will read a book of their choice that goes along with each monthly theme and then bring it with them to discuss with other kids who enjoy nature. Each meeting will end with a snack and craft.
These are just some of the programs happening at the Environmental Center this spring. For a full listing of upcoming Park System programs, click here. Don't miss out! Registration for spring programs begins at 8 a.m. this Wednesday, February 11!

The Environmental Center is open daily from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; from Memorial Day through Labor Day summer hours are in effect and are from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Thursday and 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m. on Fridays. For additional information on this amazing and beautiful park facility, visit our Environmental Center page. Have a child's birthday coming up? The Environmental Center also offers fun and educational birthday party packages your child and his/her friends are sure to love!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Think Spring!

We know the temperatures are chilly and there are still chances of snow in the forecast, but we're starting to think warmer thoughts! The Park System's Spring Program Directory is coming! This 100 page brochure contains more than 500 programs offered this March, April and May, from arts & crafts to horticulture, equestrian to golf, sports & fitness to outdoor adventures and so much more!

Check out some of the NEW programs being offered:
  • Adult Programs
    • Active Adults Bike Club
    • Allergy Mom Does Italian 
    • Battleship of New Jersey Experience
    • Cherry Blossom Tour in NJ
    • Couponing 101
    • Golf 101
    • Landscaping for Resilience
    • Natural Beauty Care Workshop
    • PiYo
    • Smartphones in the Parks
    • Turning Simple Foods into Superfoods
  • Kids & Teens Programs
    • Around the World with Food 
    • Frozen Fun & Fitness
    • Fun with Music
    • Golf Summer Camp
    • STEAMworx Academy
    • Tots Golf
  • Family/Parent & Child Programs
    • Amphibians vs. Reptiles
    • Ceramic Seder Plate 
    • Family Trails Bike Ride
    • Literacy for Littles
    • Nature Babies
    • S*T*A*R Party
And those are just some of the brand new programs we have planned for spring. And of course don't forget the returning favorites that include Spring Senior Hikers, All Level Pottery Classes, Precious Metal Clay Basics, Photography Exploration in Our Parks, Hypertufa Workshop, Ladies Spring Adventures, Celebrate World Turtle Day, Earth Day Celebration, and so many more!

The Spring Program Directory will be available to the public on Friday, February 6. Be sure to get your copy (if you don't already receive it by mail) by visiting one of our many beautiful parks or by checking out our website. Registration for spring programs begins at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, February 11. Questions? Be sure to call us at 732-842-4000, ext. 4312, or email