If you’re looking for outdoor adventures to do with your kiddos during the current COVID-19 pandemic and you live in the Monmouth or Ocean Counties in NJ, this post is perfect for you!
Moms…my kids will be on Spring Break this coming week. I’m petrified…
Since March 13, our four children have been out of school, under “quarantine” due to COVID-19. We’ve followed the rules and remain socially distant (thus we are all on each others’ last nerve!)
Between homeschooling our three school-aged kiddos and entertaining an active toddler, our days have remained relatively structured. But with Spring Break coming up…we’ll lose that structure (both a relief and scary at the same time!).
A Whole Lot Of Nothing
The kids will have 9 days of Spring Break. This brings a welcomed pause to the school work (yes!). But this also means a hellava lot of unstructured nothing-ness.
During this pandemic, there will be no playdates, museums, aquariums, movie theaters, or restaurants to venture to. This freaks me out! What on earth am I going to do with 4 kids for 9 straight days?
I don’t do well being “stuck” at home. The kids bicker, they become bored, and the wrestling matches begin.
So for the past week or so, I’ve been doing some heavy planning for how we can keep entertained without losing our minds.
Aside from spending lots of time in our yard with our favorite outdoor toys, we will have one big “adventure” per day. My goals for these adventures are for them to last several hours, allow the kids to expend tons of energy, and give us some much appreciated fresh air!
The adventures will all take place outdoors (away from other people) and will include hiking, biking, walking, and exploring.
Our weather is predicting some rain, so I’m prepared with our rain gear and umbrellas…because this family cannot and will not be stuck indoors!
Adventure Bucket List
Some of these adventures we’ve been on before. Some will be new to us.
For now, I’ll share information on those we’ve experience in the past. Others, I’ll add to this post as we do them throughout the week.
Adventure 1: Shark River Park
Last week was our first time adventuring to Monmouth County Park System’s Shark River Park. There’s over 9 miles of hiking trails and I was super impressed with the upkeep.
We ventured on a relatively easy, 2 mile trail, named Hidden Creek. It was easy enough for our 4 year old, yet our older kids (6, 9, and 11) still enjoyed it. There were bridges, streams, and a large open field where the kids played tag.
To get to the trails, we parked at 1101 School House Road in Shark River. From the parking lot, we walked across School House Road. The trails were nicely labeled – and we veered to the left to follow “Hidden Creak” trail.
I look forward to venturing through this park again this week – likely trying out a different trail!
Adventure 2: The Beach
We’ll pick a warm, low wind day and pack a picnic and head to the beach. Obviously too cold to play in the water, but we’ll bring our beach toys and chairs to keep us entertained.
There’s something about the sounds of the ocean, collecting shells, and digging in the sand that encourages peaceful play for hours!
We typically head to Sea Girt Beach. But there’s plenty of other beautiful beaches along our shores. I’ve heard the beaches in Ocean County are currently closed – so for the time being, stick to Monmouth County Beaches.
Adventure 3: Dinosaur Adventure In Allaire Park
This is a recent discovery for our family. Deep in the woods (LOL! Its actually only 1/4 of a mile on an easy breezy trail), at Allaire State Park in Wall, you will find the coolest life-size dinosaurs constructed out of lose sticks and animal bones.
These amazing structures were created by a local woman and are just awesome!
To find the dinosaurs, don’t go to the main Allaire Park where a majority of the trails are located (we made this mistake initially).
Park at the Group Camping located at 4001 Squankum-Allenwood Road. As you walk through the entrance, you’ll follow the pink trail (marked on a tree by a single “paint brush swipe” of pink paint). If you don’t see the pink marking – just follow the trail on the right.
About 1/4 mile in, you’ll see really cool teepees (also constructed from lose branches). A little further along, you’ll notice a very steep bike trail on your right.
When facing the bike trail, turn around and look into the woods – about 50 yards in, you’ll spot the dinosaurs! Although they are large, they are easy to miss as they blend in with the pine trees.
Adventure 4: Turkey Swamp Park
Another fun adventure we look forward to embarking on again this week is Turkey Swamp Park in Freehold.
This park is awesome for walking, hiking, or biking (we even saw people horseback riding). There’s also a beautiful lake for fishing.
We stuck to walking on a dirt road for most of our adventure. Next time I plan to bring our bikes as the road is nice and smooth.
We also ventured off onto a marked trail. We followed it about 30 minutes into the deep woods which was beautiful. The boys collected sticks that looked like “guns” (insert eye roll).
To get to Turkey Swamp Park, go to 200 Georgia Road in Freehold. When you enter, drive past the first set of parking lots and bare left until you see a final parking lot. This is the parking lot is closest to the trails and lake.
Updated to add today’s adventure (Monday, April 6) to the Manasquan Reservoir…
Adventure 5: Manasquan Reservoir
What a beautiful day it for an adventure to the Manasquan Reservoir in Howell.
The park remains open but due to COVID-19, the buildings and bathrooms are closed (however, they have Porta Potties available. BYO hand sanitizer!).
I haven’t been here in years and if there’s one thing this horrible COVID-19 virus is teaching me it’s that I really enjoy outdoor explorations with my family!
This particular spot includes over 1200 acres of land and water. The reservoir is awesome for fishing and boating.
There’s a 5 mile trail around the Reservoir that we ventured on. We took it about 1.5 miles in and then headed back.
There were other people on the trail – walkers, runners, and bikers. But they were scattered and when they passed everyone kept at a safe social distance.
We saw a snake (I freaked) and tons of turtles, and enjoyed playing by the water for a bit.
To get there, we drove to 311 Windeler Road in Howell. After parking, its easy to see where the trail begins. I’ll for sure give this adventure another try! Maybe even with bikes next time.
Other Planned Adventures
The other “adventures” we’re planning for this Spring Break are all new to us and I look forward to updating this post as we accomplish them. Some of my ideas include the following:
- Hooks Creek Lake, Cheesequake State Park
- Island Beach State Park (still unsure if open or closed due to COVID–19)
- Cattus Island Park (still unsure if open or closed due to COVID–19)
- Deep Cut Gardens, Middletown
- Bike ride and picnic on 7 mile bike path in Wall, NJ
I’ll keep updating this post as the week goes on!
I look forward to seeing some of you on the trails, paths, and beaches (from an appropriate social distance of course) during this next week!
I’d love to hear your recommendations for outdoor adventures in Monmouth and Ocean Counties! Please leave them in the comments!
Happy and Healthy Spring Break Mamas!