Fun Things to Do Outside in New Jersey This Spring

Enjoy the beauty and fun of NJ's outdoors.

Grounds for Sculpture
Grounds for Sculpture Photo: Courtesy of Seward Johnson Atelier

The chill is subsiding, and New Jerseyans are ready to step out from the shadow of winter into the sunny embrace of spring. Here’s how to enjoy the outdoors all over the Garden State.

North Jersey

Visit an Oasis in the Meadowlands
Richard W. DeKorte Park (Lyndhurst)
In the heart of the industrial Meadowlands, within sight of the Turnpike and the Manhattan skyline, DeKorte Park is an unexpected oasis of marshlands and estuarial waters attracting hundreds of bird species, from herons to harriers. On the paths and boardwalks that undulate through the marsh, spring visitors can welcome back returning migrants like sandpipers and tree swallows. —Leslie Garisto Pfaff

Branch Brook Park cherry blossoms

See the beauty of the cherry blossoms at Branch Brook Park. Photo: Shutterstock/George Wirt

Bask in the Cherry Blossoms
Branch Brook Park (Newark, Belleville)  
While many people think Washington, DC, has the largest collection of cherry blossom trees in the United States, it’s actually Branch Brook Park. Each April, more than 5,000 trees bloom, creating a spectacular sight—and landing the Cherry Blossom Festival a place in New Jersey Monthly‘s Book of Records. The 2023 festivities run from April 1-16 and feature a bike race (April 1), 10K run (April 2), one-mile run (April 15), family day (April 15) and Bloomfest (April 16). —Julie Gordon

Central Jersey

Experience Larger-than-Life Art
Grounds for Sculpture (Hamilton Twp.) 
Grounds for Sculpture is a glorious place to experience spring in Jersey, with 42 acres of parkland punctuated by massive sculptures from artists including founder Seward Johnson. Enjoy the art and then picnic, or dine at the Grounds’ lovely, Monet-inspired Rat’s restaurant; just be sure to make a reservation. —JG

Holland Ridge Farms

Enjoy the beauty of tulips this spring at Holland Ridge Farms. Photo: Courtesy of Holland Ridge Farms

See NJ’s Biggest Tulip Display
Holland Ridge Farms (Cream Ridge)  
In mid-April, millions of tulips burst to life at Holland Ridge Farms. Stroll through fields of bright yellow, bubblegum pink and creamsicle orange. Have fun with photo props, and pick blooms to take home as temporary souvenirs from this 300-acre paradise. —Jacqueline Larcara

The New Jersey Renaissance Faire in Southampton Twp.

The New Jersey Renaissance Faire takes place rain or shine. Photo: Frank Burkhauser

Take a Trip Back in Time
Renaissance Faire (Southampton Twp.) 
Don period garb and head to the New Jersey Renaissance Faire for non-stop outdoor entertainment on May 20-21, May 27-28, and June 3-4. At this rain-or-shine affair in a wooded area, experience jousting, sword fighting, aerial acrobatics, music and more. —JL

South Jersey

An image of Point Breeze, Joseph Bonaparte's estate

In its heyday, Point Breeze, Joseph Bonaparte’s estate, was the center of social life in Bordentown. Photo courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago

Visit a Historic Estate
Scenic grounds that belonged to Joseph Bonaparte—Napoleon’s older brother and the ex-king of Naples and Spain—are set to open this spring after almost two centuries. Click here for the full scoop. —Fred B. Adelson

Go ‘Ice Swimming’ in Batsto
Washington Twp.
Granted, the ponds in Batsto are no longer covered by ice, but they are still damn cold. Search out the Ice Women of South Jersey on social media and join them for their chilly minutes-long soaks in some of the cleanest freshwater in the region. They say it’s good for inflammation, the mind and the soul. —VF

Walk the Bridge
Ben Franklin Bridge Walkway (Camden)  
The Benjamin Franklin Bridge Pedestrian Walkway offers a bird’s-eye view of the Delaware River and Camden and Philadelphia waterfronts. Bring binoculars to view ship traffic and river landmarks, including the Betsy Ross Bridge. A round-trip walk from Camden is nearly 3 miles and reaches an elevation of 165 feet. —Tom Wilk

Stay in a Cabin in the Pine Barrens
Bass River State Forest (Bass River Twp.) 
For just $75 per night, you get a cozy 1930s-era cabin on the shore of Lake Absegami deep in the Pine Barrens, complete with a fireplace, full kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping for six. Mosquito haters will love the screened-in porch. Not exactly roughing it. And that’s perfectly OK with us. —VF

Hike the Batona Trail
Burlington County 
Covering around 50 miles, the Batona Trail showcases the natural world of the Pinelands. The blazed trail is easy to follow and passes through the Wharton, Brendan T. Byrne and Bass River state forests. The trail can be hiked in segments and features relatively flat terrain. —TW

Spend a spring evening at this South Jersey gem. Photo: Courtesy of the Delsea Drive-In

See a Flick Outside
Delsea Drive-In (Vineland)
Travel back to the 1950s as you watch a double feature under the stars at the classic Delsea Drive-In Theatre in Vineland, open since 1949. Beginning in late May, trade in the couch for the car as you curl up with a bucket of popcorn on a cool spring night. Open through Labor Day. —JL

See Unusual Plants
Linwood Arboretum (Linwood)  
This triangular acre of rare and uncommon flowers, woody shrubs and trees offers visitors the chance to see plants they likely won’t find elsewhere in New Jersey. Home gardeners will appreciate that curators make a point of encouraging visitors to try growing some of these unusual plants. A bike path runs alongside. —Barbara Leap

An osprey flies in front of a pink moon

Spend a serene day observing feathered friends. Photo: Unsplash/Karo Kujanpaa

Go Birding by Boat
Stone Harbor, Cape May  
Shore birds like pelicans and herons are rarely seen up close except from small boats cruising salt marshes. Birding By Boat (starting April 15) and Salt Marsh Safari (starting in May) offer two-hour, narrated daytime and sunset eco-cruises providing such intimate encounters. —BL

Stars in dark, tree-lined sky

Keep your eyes peeled for a meteor shower at this astronomy event. Photo: Unsplash/Peter Brejassou

Reach for the Stars
Cape May Science Center (Cape May)  
On April 22 at 8 pm, bring a blanket or lawn chair and sit beneath the stars in the courtyard of the Cape May Point Science Center. Amateur astronomer Kevin Beare will present the first of a six-part astronomy program. With luck, you may see one of the oldest known meteor showers. —Monica Cardoza

Multiple Locations

Catch a Trout
Trout is some of the tastiest freshwater fish in the United States, and fortunately, New Jersey is home to plenty. The season opens in April, and all you need to do is stick a line in the water. Well, and be patient. Some of the best angling can be found in the Round Valley and Merrill Creek reservoirs. —Victor Fiorillo

Hop on a Boozy Beer Trail
With over 130 craft breweries and more bubbling up in New Jersey, thirsty patrons can enjoy beer trails running throughout the state. Don’t like beer? Jersey is also home to over 50 wineries and a handful of distilleries with options for imbibing al fresco. —Gary Phillips

Flower-filled garden

Shutterstock/Maria Evseyeva

Stroll Through Private Gardens
Every year, the Garden Conservancy invites private homeowners around the country to open their gardens to the public for a day or more during Open Garden Days. The first New Jersey garden this year is open on April 1 in Nutley—a strolling garden with thousands of early spring flowering bulbs. Next up is a naturalistic garden in Far Hills on April 29. There are three in Bergen County on May 13, just in time for Mother’s Day. —MC

Catch a Minor League Game
Jersey doesn’t have a Major League Baseball team, but there are plenty of minor league clubs—and their prices are a lot cheaper! Fans of the Yankees can see prospects play for the Somerset Patriots, while Phillies fanatics can enjoy a similar experience at a Jersey Shore BlueClaws game. Then there’s the New Jersey Jackals, who now call historic Hinchliffe Stadium home. Jersey’s other MiLB teams include the Trenton Thunder and Sussex County Miners. —GP

Visit a Secret Garden
When you live in the Garden State, checking out a garden or two has to be on your spring to-do list. Some of our favorite out-of-the-way spots are Avis Campbell Gardens in Montclair, the Gables in Beach Haven, and Cross Estate Gardens in Bernardsville. —JG

Take Your Pooch to the Shore
Pre-Memorial Day is a great time to bring your dog to the Shore, as many beaches, including those in Asbury Park, Brigantine and Ocean City, allow leashed dogs in the off-season. Check with individual beaches before heading out; rules vary. —JG

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