Friday, August 25, 2017

Special Rooms at Huber Woods Environmental Center

The Environmental Center at Huber Woods Park has a lot to offer park visitors. You can stop in to learn about and explore the building itself, which was once home to the Huber family, or enjoy family-fun in special activity rooms.

The Forest Room is painted to resemble many layers of life in the forest, from birds in the treetops to the underground tunnels of moles. Challenge yourself to find all the painted animals (ask the docent for a copy of the forest room wall guide). There are books, puzzles, toys and costumes for kids; live toads and turtles in tanks along the walls; and a large bay window for bird-watching.
The Lenape Room features exhibits dedicated to the history, life and culture of the Lenape, a Native American tribe which lived in areas of Monmouth County. There are activities such as basket weaving, a junior archaeologist's station, a revolving maize game, and a place to listen to recordings of Native American musicians and dancers. When the kids need a quiet moment to relax, the Lenape room has a small alcove painted to resemble the inside of an Indian longhouse. Here, you can sit and read one of the many books about Native Americans that are shelved throughout the room.

Looking to explore the park on your visit as well? As the docent to borrow one of our Safari Backpacks. Each backpack contains all you need to make your self-guided nature walk filled with adventure and exploration. Backpacks offer themes for Pre-K, Forest, or Meadow. Use of the backpack is free, but you must leave a valid NJ drivers license with the docent.

The Huber Woods Environmental Center is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekends. For more details about the facility, visit our website.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Picturesque Views and Plentiful Fish

The fishing pier pictured above is located at the Monmouth County Park System's Bayshore Waterfront Park in Port Monmouth, which is only a 20 minute drive up Highway 36 from Sandy Hook. Many visitors to this picturesque park located along Sandy Hook Bay come to fish, relax and take in the panoramic view of the New York City skyline. Here are a few interesting facts you may not know:
  • The pier was rebuilt in 2013 following Hurricane Sandy. Formerly 300 feet, it now reaches almost 500 feet into Raritan Bay.
  • Anglers catch striped bass in the spring and fall. In the summer, bluefish and summer flounder are common.
  • Bait cutting platforms are available and there are cutouts along the pier for handicap access. 
  • During the day you can see directly across the bay to Manhattan. On your left, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge connects Staten Island to the city. On your right is Sandy Hook. At night, the skyline is spectacularly lit, reflecting beautifully off the water.
  • The pier allows access to both sides of the beach and is open all year round during park hours (7 a.m. to dusk; see our website for exact hours). 
Anglers age 16 and up, be sure to register online with the NJ Saltwater Angler Registry (free), and please adhere to posted catch and size limits.

For more information about Bayshore Waterfront Park, visit us online

Friday, August 4, 2017

Visit the Huber Woods Reptile House Before Renovations Begin

The Monmouth County Park System has more than 40 parks for the public to enjoy, yet Huber Woods Park in Middletown is the only one with a reptile house. Visitors can get an up close view of our resident snakes, turtles, frogs and more, all native to Monmouth County. Here’s an introduction to some of our reptilian and amphibian friends on display.
    Eastern Box Turtle
  • Eastern box turtles have hinged shells so they can pull their bodies into their shells and close them completely as protection from predators such as foxes, birds, raccoons and other mammals. Next time you visit the reptile house, look for our Eastern box turtle ‘Scooter’.
  • Corn snakes (also called rat snakes) and king snakes are non-venomous constrictors that like to eat rodents, birds, lizards and eggs. In the wild, corn and king snakes can be found in grassy fields, forests and barns. 
  • Green Frog
  • Amphibious green frogs spend most of their lives in water, such as freshwater streams, brooks, ponds and swamps. Although they will come to relax upon the shore every now and then, they prefer a nice swim. Our green frog at Huber Woods is always splashing around!
The Reptile House at Huber Woods Park is free and open to the public from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekdays and until 5 p.m. on weekends. Be sure to visit soon, renovation is scheduled to begin in September which will close the building for approximately 6-8 months. (During that time, visitors may wish to visit the live reptiles and amphibians on display at the Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center in Howell).

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Here Comes the Fair!

Whether it's a family tradition or your first time visiting, the Monmouth County Fair is filled with fun for every age. Held on Wednesday-Sunday, July 26-30 at East Freehold Showgrounds in Freehold, this is a highly anticipated County event. With thrilling rides, exciting entertainment, delicious food, and more, you won't want to miss this annual agricultural Fair.

Thrilling Rides
This year's rides are once again provided by Reithoffer Shows. Two rides areas will once again be available, one for smaller children's rides and another for the thrill seekers in your family. This year wristbands will be available 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 website for $25 each.

There's so much to experience when you visit the Monmouth County Fair. Returning Fair favorites include Robinson's Racing Pigs, Bwana Jim Wildlife Show, Mutts Gone Nuts and Hell on Wheels - BMX Stunt Show. Newcomers World of Wonders & Escape Explosions will bring the thrills of sword swallowing, knife throwing, fire eaters, escape artists and more.

Local Artist Nicole Atkins
And you certainly don't want to miss the musical entertainment hitting our Main Stage. The Moroccan Sheepherders kick things off on Wednesday night, performing a mix of classic rock covers and original music at 8:15 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. On Thursday night experience the indie folk band Jackson Pines, led by singer-songwriter Joe Makoviecki, at 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. The young musicians from Lakehouse Music Acadmeny will astound as they hit the stage on Friday at 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Saturday night will get your feet moving as local artist Nicole Atkins brings a blend of orchestrated pop and modern indie-rock at 8:15 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. And The Chuck Lambert Band will bring the Fair to a close on Sunday with their eclectic blues sounds at 12 p.m. and 1:45 p.m.

FFA Farm Stand Featuring Jersey Fresh Produce
From shopping to eating, there are plenty of vendors to visit during the Monmouth County Fair. Some of this year's vendors include Country Candles, Kitchen Magic, Pete Airbrush, Scentsy, Tastefully Simple, The Tooth Fairy, and so many more. Be sure not to miss the Made in Monmouth booth where you'll find a variety of goods while supporting local Monmouth County businesses. And if you're craving Jersey Fresh fruits and veggies, be sure to stop by the FFA Farm Stand to purchase some of the freshest, local produce in the area. Plus, if you need a bite to eat, there will be more than 25 food vendors to choose from, including Empanada Guy, Delicious Orchards, Sweet Carolina BBQ, Tasty Trolley, and Freehold Jersey Freeze.

So Much More
Home & Garden Competitions & Exhibits
There are countless things to see and do while visiting this year's Monmouth County Fair. 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, and so more, plus daily demonstrations that may spark your interest in learning something new.

The Monmouth County Park System tent will feature a "Land Escapes" theme while the Living History Tent will transport you to the late 1800s with butter making demonstrations, cow milking demonstrations, music from yesteryear and more.

The only way to experience all the excitement is to join us in the fun. The Fair gates will be open from 5-11 p.m. on Wednesday-Friday, July 26-28; 3-11 p.m. on Saturday, July 29; and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday, July 30. Cost to enter is $8 per person; children 12 and under enter for free.

For more information on the Monmouth County Fair, visit our website.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Pergola "Echo" at Deep Cut Gardens

Beneath the Pergola at Deep Cut Gardens
At the far end of Deep Cut Garden’s parterre (rose garden) stands an elegant pergola. Pergolas, like gazebos, are outdoor structures used for entertainment or leisure. They are typically square or rectangular, although the one at Deep Cut is round. 

Built in 1935 by then-owner Vito Genovese, the pergola and parterre are fashioned in a style evocative of Genovese’s native Italy. Both are constructed out of local peanut stone.

The atypical shape and local stone make this pergola a special place in our parks, but it has another unique feature: an echo! If you stand in the center of the pergola, directly underneath where the crossbeams of the roof meet, you can hear an echo of your voice. You may have to adjust your feet if your first attempt is unsuccessful. Only when you are perfectly positioned in the center of the pergola will this trick work. But here’s the catch: No one else in the pergola will be able to hear the echo. Next time you visit the park with a friend or a group, try it for yourself.

For more information about beautiful Deep Cut Gardens, located on Red Hill Road in Middletown, visit our website

Deep Cut Gardens in Middletown

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Discover What Lives in Sandy Hook Bay

School is almost out, and if you're looking for something fun and educational to do with your children this summer, don't miss Summer Seining at beautiful Bayshore Waterfront Park, Port Monmouth. This popular, free program is led by the Park System's Naturalist staff and offers an hour of discovery on the shores of Sandy Hook Bay. Summer Seining is available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. from Monday, June 19 through Friday, August 25 (weather permitting).

Our Naturalists will venture out into water, pulling a long seine net along the edge of the Sandy Hook Bay. As they return to shore, a variety of fish, crabs and other sea creatures are scooped into the net for our awaiting visitors to get a peek of. The critters are gently placed in small tanks for observing, and then released back into the Bay. 

Please note the following:
  • Closed-toe shoes are required to participate.
  • The program will not run during inclement weather.
  • Parents or guardians are required to stay with and supervise their children at all times.
  • No swimming is allowed during the event.
  • This program is designed for individuals and families. If you have a group that is interested in take part in a seining program, please call 732-872-7369.
At the program's end, we hope you'll stick around and enjoy the gorgeous shores of Bayshore Waterfront Park. This is a perfect spot to enjoy the picturesque views of the New York City skyline as well. You may even want to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the beach or at one of our picnic tables. Please remember that this is not a guarded beach, so swimming is not recommended.

Check out a few more photos of the fun experienced during last year's Summer Seining sessions...

Friday, March 10, 2017

Are You Thinking About Spring?

The weather the last few weeks has been up and down, making some of us craving for spring to arrive (and stay!). When spring arrives, it blossoms in your Monmouth County parks, but not only with the picturesque scenery of flowers and trees. The hustle and bustle of springtime in the parks can't be beat with visitors heading outdoors and an array of special events and programs on the horizon.

So as we deal with the possibility of more snow on the horizon, let's take a moment to think spring and start planning for some fun. Here's some of what you can look forward to in your Monmouth County parks this spring:
  • Spring Craft Show on Saturday, April 22 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at Tatum Park, Middletown. This is the perfect chance to get Mom something special for Mother's Day, find a unique gift for a friend, or a beautiful trinket for yourself. 
  • Great Spring Perennial Plant Swap at Deep Cut Gardens, Middletown. An awesome event for home gardeners! Bring plants in one-quart, one-gallon or two-gallon containers and take home the same size and number of plants. Herb and vegetable seedlings may be exchanged as well. All plants must be labeled and invasive plants will not be accepted. Plants can be dropped off from 8:30-10 a.m. to allow for plant inspection; then the swap will run from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. for participants to choose their new plants.
  • Earth Day Celebration from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, April 22. Earth Day means all around the county! You can discover cool coastal animals at Bayshore Waterfront Park, Port Monmouth; enjoy the gardens at Deep Cut Gardens, Middletown; meet snakes and reptiles at Huber Woods Environmental Center, Middletown; take a nature walk, meet live reptiles and amphibians or do a craft at the Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center, Howell; or make a fun craft that celebrates environmental awareness and Mother Earth at the Thompson Park Visitor Center, Lincroft.
  • Wool Days on Saturday & Sunday, April 29 & 30, from 12-3 p.m. at Historic Longstreet Farm, Holmdel. This weekend our farm staff will be shearing the sheep. There will also be sheep herding demonstrations by Gene Sheninger, spinning and weaving activities, and wagon rides to the Monmouth County Historical Association's Holmes Hendrickson house.
  • Creative Arts & Music Festival on Saturday, May 6 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at Thompson Park, Lincroft. Spend the day browsing local artwork and enjoying great music. Food vendors will be on hand to quench your appetite.
  • Walnford Day on Sunday, May 21 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Historic Walnford, Upper Freehold. If you've never taken a trip out to Walnford, this is the perfect day to do it! The whole family can take a step back in time to participate in hands-on historical activities, view woodworking and blacksmith demonstrations, see the working gristmill in action, explore the 1773 Waln House, play games and much more. 
These are just some of the fantastic events happening in your Monmouth County parks this spring. There are many more activities for you to enjoy; check out our Calendar of Events

Plus, don't miss out on the hundreds of programs we're offering. Brand new programs like A Painting a Day, Food Fusion: Mixing International Flavors, Gaelic Football, On the Trails Spring 2017, Roller Derby Fit and so many more! Don't miss out on all the affordable and fun programs currently available! Plus, you can even start planning your kids' summer fun! Our summer camps and swim lessons are available for registration too! Visit our Registration page for more information on spring and summer camp programs.

See you in the parks!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Start 2017 Off in the Parks!

The start of a new year is often a time for making resolutions to better your life. This could mean getting in shape, taking up a new hobby, or spending more time together as a family. At the Monmouth County Park System, we've got you covered with all of these goals! Check out these ideas...

Getting in Shape

Whether you're looking to lose a few pounds, tone your body, or just get more active, the Park System offers a wide variety of programs to get you where you want to be.

  • Basic Belly Dance - Offered on Thursday nights from January 12-March 16, this fitness class teaches the fluid movements of Middle Eastern dance that are fun while improving flexibility, coordination and strength. Pre-registration and fee are required. 
  • Pilates Mat Workout - Offered on various dates starting this month, this class focuses on your abdominals, lower back, hips and thighs to help strengthen and lengthen muscles, improve posture and flexibility, and work on your deep abdominals. Both morning and evening sessions are available. Pre-registration and fee are required.
  • Zumba Toning - Join this dance fitness party that will torch those calories with strength-training dances that are exciting and fun. Offered on Tuesday mornings, January 10-February 28, this is the perfect class to get you moving for a total body workout. Pre-registration and fee required.
  • A wide variety of fitness classes are offered throughout the year in the parks. Click here for a full listing of what is currently available and keep an eye out for our spring volume of the Parks & Programs Guide, being released Friday, February 3, for even more added programs.

Start a New Hobby

The Park System offers so much to choose from when it comes to learning something new. From getting in touch with your artistic side, to learning how to cook new recipes, or discovering a culture in a different way, there's something for everyone!
  • Calligraphy - Offered on Wednesday afternoons from January 11-March 1, this step-by-step introduction the the beautiful art of calligraphy will give you the basics to get you started in creating your own invitations, greeting cards, posters and more. Pre-registration and fee required.
  • Looking to learn new recipes beyond your everyday repertoire? Our cooking classes will have you delving into a variety of new and fun foods. Upcoming programs include Cooking for One (or Two), Chocolate is for Lovers, and Super Bowl Appetizers. For a full list of upcoming culinary programs, click here.
  • Ceili Irish Dance for Adults - Get ready to kick your heels up as you delve into the culture of Irish step-dancing during this fun program that will teach you steps such as the reel and the jig. You'll also learn some basic Irish terms and a background into Ireland's Gaelic history during this program held on Friday nights from January 27-April 7.
  • For more upcoming classes that will introduce you to something new, check out our website

Spend More Time as a Family

There are plenty of things you can do together in the parks no matter what your age or budget. 
  • When the temperatures are more mild, heading out to the parks is free. You can have some fun on one of our playgrounds, take a walk or bike ride on any of our numerous trails, or take a walk back in time at Historic Longstreet Farm in Holmdel or Historic Walnford in Upper Freehold. 
  • A bit of a chill in the air? Stay warm and explore one of our environmental centers! At the Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center, Howell, you'll learn about wetlands ecology and wildlife and habitat protection through interactive exhibits. At the Huber Woods Environmental Center, Middletown, you'll get a glimpse at local Native American history as well as reptiles and amphibians. Entry into our environmental centers is free.
  • Be sure to check our This Weekend in the Parks page each week to see what fun events or drop-in programs are available to keep you active and exploring.
  • There are a wide variety of parent & child programs available for registration through the Park System. From arts & crafts to culinary arts, nature to playgroups and much more, there's plenty to have you and your child enjoying fun times together. Check out the programs coming up by clicking here

These are just some of the things you can do to start your new year off right. For more ideas on what you can do in the parks this year, visit us online at