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.


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 2024 festivities run from April 6-14 and feature a bike race (Saturday, April 6), 10K run (Sunday, April 7), a one-mile run and family day (Saturday, April 13) and Bloomfest (Sunday, April 14). —Julie Gordon


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 a weekend of non-stop outdoor entertainment on May 18-19, May 25-26, June 1-2 and June 8-9. At this rain-or-shine affair in a wooded area, experience jousting, sword fighting, aerial acrobatics, music and more. —JL


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—opened last spring after almost two centuries. —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 Friday, March 29 (weather permitting), 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 Saturday, April 20) and Salt Marsh Safari (starting in mid-May) offer two-hour, narrated daytime and sunset eco-cruises providing such intimate encounters. —BL


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 Saturday, April 6, 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

Photo: 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 Days Gardens. The first New Jersey garden this year is open on Saturday, April 13 in a two-acre garden in Nutley. Next up are gardens in Essex and Somerset counties on Saturday, May 4. There are three in Bergen County on Saturday, May 18. —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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