Allaire State Park and Historic Village
Farmingdale (Monmouth County)
Village: 732-919-3500; Park: 732-938-2371
Size of park: 3,200 acres
To say there’s something for everyone at Allaire State Park is an understatement—there’s plenty for everyone. Located in a wooded area about five miles west of Spring Lake and Sea Girt (and fifteen miles east of the Jackson Outlets and Six Flags), Allaire is part history, part hiking, part recreation, part family fun. It’s perhaps best known for its historic village, which features live demonstrations of early nineteenth-century trades, including blacksmiths, carpenters, quilters, and tinsmiths. (Volunteers dress the part.) The historic chapel on the edge of the village is also a major attraction, hosting about 100 weddings a season.
The park itself has plenty of open space to explore and play. There’s a large playground just off the main parking lot, plus several picnic tables and charcoal grills. (Carry-in, carry-out policy applies.) Three easy hiking trails (read: walking trails), range from 1/2 mile to 4 1/2 miles, and run alongside frog-filled creeks. Another system, with trails ranging from 2.2 to 4.8 miles long, is trickier and used mostly by mountain bikers and the occasional horseback rider. The Manasquan River winds through the park, attracting fishermen hoping to land a nice fat trout. (Licenses are required for those over 16 years old.)
The camping area is located just down the road from the main park facilities. Sites are predominantly wooded and shady; they fill up on summer weekends, but October is an ideal time to pitch a tent. A central building houses bathrooms and showers. Shelters (small cabins) and yurts (permanent tents built on platforms) are also available for rent.
Another favorite attraction is the Pine Creek Railroad, an antique steam train that circles the perimeter of the park. It’s located just off the large parking lot; convenient and fairly clean restroom facilities are nearby.
Fall special events include a flea market (October 9), a Sleepy Hollow presentation (October 8 and 9), an 1830s-style Halloween celebration, including costume parade (October 10), and a haunted hayride (October 15, 16, 22, and 23). Entry to the park is free after Labor Day, but there are fees for some of the historic buildings.