Simple Pleasures: Lake Garrison

This South Jersey spot is an oasis of small family picnics and sleepy summer afternoons.

Photo by Matthew Wright

Lake Garrison, a 41-acre man-made body of water, has been attracting outdoorsy types since 1947. “People really enjoy the simplicity of this place,” says Joe Reggetto, Lake Garrison’s manager. “It’s an old-fashioned gathering spot for families to enjoy a summer afternoon. We see everything from small family picnics to church gatherings, family reunions and even the occasional baptism. It’s awesome.”

In addition to swimming, visitors can take advantage of canoe, rowboat and paddle boat rentals ($6 for a half hour, $40 for the day), more than 200 picnic tables with charcoal grills, an expansive playground and large athletic fields.

There’s also a nostalgic log-cabin snack shack offering burgers, hot dogs etc., as well as renting essentials like inner tubes, charcoal grills and inflatable pools. The shack also has an arcade room with a pool table.

According to Reggetto, Lake Garrison attracts 300 to 400 visitors every weekend from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The atmosphere is festive and lively. Swimmers leap from floating docks. Children splash in a long sprinkler pipe that juts into the lake. Music throbs from family gatherings.

Fishermen flock here, too. The lake, open to those who rent boats, is stocked every year with 5,000 fish, including pickerel, bass, catfish and sunfish.

Admission is $8 per person on the weekends and $6 per person on weekdays (children four and under get in free).

“People see this as a great alternative to driving down the Shore,” says Reggetto. “You can lay out in the sun, take a dip in the water and spend the afternoon just relaxing with your family.

“It’s an atmosphere that brings families back for generations.”

849 Buck Road, Monroeville (Gloucester County)

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