Friday, October 21, 2016

Get Ready to Fill Winter with Fun!

Autumn weather may just be sinking in, but winter is right around the corner. Here at the Monmouth County Park System we're working hard to plan tons of fun for when the temperature drops and the winter chill arrives. We want to be sure you to have plenty of opportunities to get out and enjoy the parks this winter, so don't miss the upcoming volume of our Parks & Programs Guide!

Formerly titled the Park System's "Program Directory", the Parks & Programs Guide offers hundreds of programs for you and your family to enjoy as well as information about various parks throughout Monmouth County. Available in most county parks starting on Friday, October 28, the winter volume offers programs such as:

  • Basic Shaolin Kung Fu
  • Bundled-Up Hikes
  • Computer Coding for Kids
  • Dancing Bears Music
  • Full Moon Beach Walk
  • Gingerbread Houses
  • Holiday Topiary Workshop
  • Keyboard Beginnings Music
  • KidFit Passport to Fitness
  • Ladies Winter Hiking Club
  • Not Your Grandma's Crochet
  • Outdoor Cross-Country Ski Clinics
  • Seal Watch New Jersey
  • We Can Cook
  • Zumba Fitness
  • And So Much More!!!
In the winter issue of our Parks & Programs Guide you'll also find information about winter fun you and your family can enjoy in the parks; general park information about locations such as Clayton Park, Fort Monmouth Recreation Center, Holmdel Park, and Thompson Park; and details about upcoming special events including WinterFest, the Creative Arts & Music Festival, and the E. Murray Todd Half Marathon.

Interested in signing up for our winter programs? Registration will begin at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, November 2. You may register online at; by phone by calling 732-842-4000, ext. 1, Monday-Friday between 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; by mail using the Registration Form at the back of the Guide; or in person by visiting Park System Headquarters within Thompson Park at 805 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft.

To join our mailing list to start receiving our program information by mail, call 732-842-4000, ext. 4312. For more information about the Monmouth County Park System and all we have to offer, visit us online at

Monday, October 3, 2016

Celebrate Autumn During Thompson Park Day

The season is changing, and with that the temperatures and falling and the leaves are slowly beginning to change color. Now that the kids are back in school, weekend activities are even more important to have fun as a family. Autumn is an amazing time of year to experience the outdoors and what your Monmouth County parks have to offer.

A Monmouth County Park System tradition, Thompson Park Day makes it easy enjoy the cooler autumn weather with fun and exciting activities planned within the beauty of Thompson Park, Lincroft. Held on Sunday, October 16 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., families will have the opportunity to find there way through our corn maze, try out square dancing, play FootGolf or disc golf, go on a wagon ride, paint a pumpkin, participate in a race, complete a craft, and so much more! *

The Strut Your Mutt Doggie Costume Contest, offered through Friends of the Parks, returns to this year's Thompson Park Day. Dress up  your four-legged friend as something fun, silly or scary. It's even more fun when the whole family dresses up for this fundraising contest. Prizes will be awarded for the funniest, scariest, pretties, most original and best canine/human combo. Cost to register is $10 and is available through October 7. Registration can also be done during the event and costs $15. For full details and an application, click here. Interested in sponsoring this fantastic event? Visit Friends of the Parks for details.

Another exciting contest will have the entire family getting creative. Our Scarecrow Contest asks families to use their imagination to create the best scarecrow. We provide the framework and stuffing, you provide the face, outer coverings (clothing, etc.), and imagination. Pre-registration guarantees a frame and is available until October 15 and costs $10. Day of registration will be available on a first come, first served basis and costs $12. For an application, click here.

Additional family fun includes:

  • Canoeing at Marlu Lake
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Zany Zombies
  • Dash for Cash
  • S.T.E.A.M. Fun
  • Pottery Demonstrations
  • Pie Eating Contests
  • Climbing Wall *
  • Archery *
  • Rolling Video Games *
Come out and enjoy all the fun autumn offers during Thompson Park Day. Admission and parking are free. For a full list of details on this year's event, visit us online. Questions? Call 732-842-4000, ext. 4312.

Some activities require a fee

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Say Farewell to Summer with the Wind & Sea Festival

Summer may be coming to an end, but your Monmouth County Park System is ready to extend the fun with this year's annual Wind & Sea Festival. Held on Saturday, September 17 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Bayshore Waterfront Park, Port Monmouth, the Wind & Sea Festival is a celebration of local shore-related fun.

Held along the calm and picturesque Sandy Hook Bay, the festival will offer plenty of family-friendly fun for all ages including:

  • Kayaking
  • Sailing
  • Stand-Up Paddle Boarding
  • Seining
  • Sand Casting
  • Fishing and Crabbing
  • Sand Castle Building
  • Shelling
  • Kite Flying
  • Disc Golf
  • Beach Volleyball
  • Hula Dancing
  • And so much more!

Local organizations will be on hand to offer information about who they are and what they do for our community, as well as answer any questions you may have. This is a great opportunity to learn about the Bayshore Regional Watershed Council, Clean Ocean Action, NY/NJ Baykeeper, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and many others.

New to the festival this year, visitors will be able to take advantage of some local shopping too! A variety Made in Monmouth vendors will be on hand selling their locally made items. Showcasing businesses strictly located in our beautiful county, Made in Monmouth has become a favorite tent at the ever popular Monmouth County Fair as well. You won't want to miss checking out their wares. 

Don't miss that chance to make the Wind & Sea Festival part of your goodbye to summer. Parking will be available at the Belford Ferry Terminal at 10 Harbor Way in Belford. From there, the Park System will provide shuttle buses to and from the event. And don't worry about bringing lunch, food vendors will be on site for you to purchase a delicious lunch or just a snack. 

For more information about this year's Wind & Sea Festival, visit us at

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Summer Bucket List

Summer is here and it's the perfect season to spend time together as a family, having fun and making memories you'll treasure for years to come. At the Monmouth County Park System we work hard to give local families a place to enjoy a variety of activities. Add the parks to your summer attractions with this summertime in the parks bucket list:

  1. Hit the beach! The Jersey shore is known to be a great place for summertime fun in the sun. Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park in Long Branch is the perfect sandy spot for the entire family. During the summer months, this 38-acre park offers a snack bar, sheltered eating areas, volleyball area, outdoor showers and changing areas, guarded swimming and designated areas for surfing. Plus, there's a universally accessible playground as well as a skateplex. For full details on summer park access fees, click here.
  2. Discover the creatures that live in Sandy Hook Bay during our free, drop-in Summer Seining. Held at two locations this summer, families get a hands-on glimpse at the fish, crabs and other critters that live near the edge of the bay. Seining takes place from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at Bayshore Waterfront Park through August 26. New this summer, you can also enjoy this popular free program at the Popamora Point section of the Henry Hudson Trail from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. on July 19, July 21, August 2, August 4, August 23 and August 25. 
  3. Experience the excitement of our annual Monmouth County Fair from July 27-31. The Fair features thrilling rides, animal shows & exhibits, entertainment, 4-H shows and exhibits, home & garden demonstrations and competitions, Park System displays, FFA Farm Stand, Made in Monmouth tent, musical acts, crafters and commercial vendors, delicious food and so much more! 
  4. Go on a self-guided nature adventure with our Safari Backpacks! Available at three Park System locations, this is a terrific way to explore the park. Safari Backpacks are available at the Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center, Huber Woods Environmental Center and Deep Cut Gardens. Safari Backpacks are free to use, but you must leave a valid NJ driver's license with the docent.
  5. Go for a paddle! Put on your life jacket, grab some paddles, and hit the water. Boats are available at three Park System locations. At the Manasquan Reservoir you can rent a rowboat or kayak through the summer, as well as sailboats (pre-registration required). Kayaks, canoes and paddleboats are available at Turkey Swamp Park. And on select weekends visitors can rent canoes at Thompson Park; upcoming weekends include July 16 & 17 and July 30 & 31. For full details and pricing, click here
  6. Explore the nature of Fisherman's Cove Conservation Area with a Park System Naturalist on Tuesdays at 11 a.m. through August 30. During Tidal Tuesdays, families will learn exciting things about nature and our coastal habitats through exciting free activities such as meeting creatures that live in the water or creating crafts from found materials. 
  7. Experience the world of golf as you try a variety of non-traditional golf activities at Bel-Aire Golf Course. From 4-7 p.m. on July 17 and August 19, enjoy free fun during Golf Fore Fun by playing FootGolf, Snag Golf, putting games and more!
  8. Summer is the perfect time of year to spot the various types of butterflies that frequent our area. Go on a free Butterfly Walk with a Park System Naturalist to identify the butterflies found in our many fields. Click here for upcoming dates, times and locations. 
  9. Spend a night under the stars while camping at Turkey Swamp Park. With 64 campsites and three cabins, Turkey Swamp is the perfect place to enjoy a staycation the whole family will love. Campground amenities include wooded campsites, electrical service, water service, modern restrooms, fire rings for charcoal cooking and campfires, picnic tables, playgrounds and more. Make your reservation by calling 732-462-7286 after 11 a.m. daily.
  10. Step back in time with a visit to our two historic sites. Historic Longstreet Farm, Holmdel, is a living historical farm that allows visitors to experience life as it was in rural Monmouth County during the 1890s. Historic Walnford, Upper Freehold, is the perfect place to appreciate over 200 years of social, industrial and agricultural history as its reflected through five generations of the Waln family.
  11. Earn nature patches with our Nature Adventures Patch Collectors program. Once registered, you'll receive monthly emails (or letters) informing you of which upcoming programs you can attend and the ways to earn the eight mini patches. For full details, click here
  12. Cool off by taking a swim at the Fort Monmouth Recreation Area's large outdoor swimming pool. Open Swim times are available throughout the summer for families to come and relax; check out the July calendar. Daily rates are $7 per person or $20 per family of up to four people. Season passes are also available (click here). 
  13. Experience the beauty and nature of the Manasquan Reservoir with a Park System Naturalist led Boat Tour where you might spot turtles, egrets, herons, ospreys and perhaps a bald eagle. Cost is $6 per adult and $4 per child (12 and under). Tours are available this summer on weekends and holidays at 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.; Wednesdays at 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.; and on the first Friday of August and September. For full details, click here
We hope you'll join us for these great activities in the parks this summer! Of course, this is a just a short list of so many things you can enjoy in your Monmouth County parks. Tell us what your favorite activity in the parks is in the comment section below.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The New Sport Growing in Popularity: FootGolf

A combination of golf and soccer, FootGolf is the new sport taking off with a bang in our area. This family-friendly sport is played with a regulation #5 soccer ball. Laid out on a traditional golf course, players aim for a large 21-inch cup, trying to make it into the cup in the least number of kicks possible. It takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete a 9-hole FootGolf course.

The basic rules of FootGolf largely correspond to those of a traditional game of golf:
  • Wear golf appropriate apparel at all times.
  • Your ball must be easy to identify.
  • Review the score card and wait your turn. Make sure your kick will not interfere with other players. 
  • Kick your ball from a position behind the tee markers.
  • The ball must be played in a single movement. It is against the rules to push the ball with the top or bottom of your foot.
  • Wait to play until the ball has completely come to rest.
  • Play the ball where it lies. You may not move the ball except if the ball obstructs another player's kick.
  • The player farthest from the hole is the first to kick.
  • If the ball enters a hazard, retrieve and replace the ball within two steps from the closest point from where the ball entered the hazard, receiving a one stroke penalty.
  • Only between holes may the ball be picked up and cleaned.
The Monmouth County Park System currently offers two FootGolf courses. A 9-hole course is located at Bel-Aire Golf Course in Wall and an 18-hole course is available at Pine Brook Golf Course in Manalapan. Play is available daily at Pine Brook after 12 p.m. and throughout the day at Bel-Aire. Weather permitting, Bel-Aire Golf Course remains open year round.

Rates are as follows:
  • Bel-Aire 9-Hole Course - $7 for ages 12 and under; $10 for ages 13 and up
  • Pine Brook 18-Hole Course - $9 for ages 12 and under; $12 for ages 13 and up
  • Ball rentals are $2.50 each at either course 

FootGolf Outings and Birthday Parties are available at both courses. The cost is $15 per person at Bel-Aire and $20 per person at Pine Brook. The fee includes ball rentals, tee time reservations, and use of the golf center activity room. For outings and birthday parties, please call 732-462-9224, ext. 1#.

For full details on our FootGolf courses, click here.