Best of NJ: Recreation

From golf balls to rock walls, all of these NJ recreation hotspots are good fun for everyone.

Amusement Ride
There is nothing like the clickity-clack of a wooden roller coaster to get your heart racing and your palms sweating. And the El Toro at Great Adventure in Jackson is the beast (well, the bull actually) of wooden coasters, with the country’s steepest single drop (a gut-wrenching 76 degrees). Hold on tight (and get ready to scream) as you prepare to descend nearly nineteen stories at speeds up to 70 miles per hour on this unmatched thrill ride (Rte 537, 732-928-1821,

Thanks to a group of Rutgers rock climbers and the non-profit Access Fund, Sourland Mountain Reservation in Somerset County has been cleaned out for bouldering enthusiasts. Clamber over rocks up to 20-feet high without the use of a harness, rope, or gear. Or just watch the action from Sourland’s winding, multi-use trails (Hillsborough and Montgomery townships).

Miniature Golf
A miniature golf course that is more reminiscent of a country club than an amusement park. That’s the goal at Pine Creek Miniature Golf in Ringoes. The two courses are laid out within 28 acres of trees, flowers, ponds, gazebos, fountains, and waterfalls. There’s a beautiful tudor-style clubhouse with an outdoor patio for refreshments and ice cream. Tip: Bring a camera. Because of the many butterfly-friendly bushes, there’s always a chance to get a shot of butterflies flitting by. Open year-round (394 Rte 31, 609-466-3803,

Outdoor Skatepark
Sayreville Skatepark boasts one of the state’s three outdoor cement bowls, with 11,000 square feet of smooth transitions, tabletops, boxes, rails, and rollers. A few pushes down the street is the conveniently located New Jersey Skateshop, which makes an all-day skate session more than feasible should you need extra bearings or a new deck (Kennedy Park, Sayreville).

Rock Wall
Rockville Climbing Center, located in Hamilton within a renovated warehouse that resembles a movie backlot, surrounds you with desert-colored walls of all degrees of climbing difficulty. For those with acrophobia, there’s a comfortable central seating area where you can watch your favorite climber. The venue is popular with all ages and skill levels. Tip: Print the waiver from the website and fill it out ahead of time to speed up the registration process (200 Whitehead Rd, 609-631-ROCK,

Trail Builders
Members of the Jersey Off Road Biking Association (JORBA), along with local volunteer hikers, equestrians, cyclists, and trail runners, have been building and maintaining the Garden State’s trails for more than a decade. Several key individuals—Frank Harms, Bob and Karen Workman, and Art and Ellen White—have dedicated an overabundance of their time to hauling rocks, plotting sustainable trail flow, and digging dirt in the sacred woods of Ringwood, Allaire, Allamuchy, and Jungle Habitat, to name a few. Volunteers are always needed to maintain their creations, so check out the JORBA calendar, grab a shovel, and get digging (

Click on any of the following for more Best of Jersey articles:

Best of NJ: Food and Drink

Best of NJ: Retail

Best of NJ: People

Best of NJ: Places

Click on the links below to read more detailed profiles of fellow Jerseyans who have exceeded expectations, acted heroically, realized their ambitions and accomplished feats worthy of our reverence and esteem; as well as some hidden treasure destination spots more than worth a day trip to visit:

The Phenom: 16-year-old tennis phenom Kristie Ahn, from Upper Saddle River, is poised to take the world of professional tennis by storm.

Heroes of the Hudson: When Flight 1549 hit the water, New Jersey’s well-trained ferryboat captains prevented tragedy.

These Buds Are For You: Cherry Blossoms aboun in Branch Brook Park in Essex County.

Sister of Invention: Georgetown University sophomore Catherine Cook created a yearbook for the digital generation.

Heavy Medalists: NJ’s Olympic and Paralymic stars are winners in every way.

On the Fly: Ken Lockwood Gorge offers rustic trout fishing not too far off the beaten path.

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