Sandy Hook Gateway National Recreation Area: Day Trip Ideas in NJ

A Perfect Educational Environment For Those Who Homeschool, Hikers, Naturalists, Bikers, Birders, & For Those Interested In A Great Excursion

An Ideal Day Trip Idea For All Seasons Including Spring Break!

I am forever keeping a “bucket list” of places to take my kids – –who are growing up much too fast– – either during summer vacation or during the many breaks we get within the school year. I adore visiting environmental centers or nature centers with my family since they usually offer so much to do – with trails, learning about the animals and environment but I also find myself being drawn to water. Most of these types of places usually have some Pokémon Go Stops and gyms that we like to play while adventuring out. This is simply a gorgeous place to bring your family, for some good old fashioned family fun!

Travel Hack: research interesting places if your kids aren’t too keen on the whole walking in the forest adventure idea – that is why I like environmental centers because it usually includes animals and better Pokémon Poke Stops.

Sandy Hook, NJ

After so many years of hitting the beach at Sandy Hook to swim in the ocean for the day, (also called the Atlantic Highlands) I finally took my own advice this past Spring Break to explore the rest of the island with so many trails, and so much to do! Birding, camping, biking, swimming and camping all happen here at this National Park. Here you can swim in the ocean and then simply cross the street to fish in the bay. There is a 9.4 mile out-and-back trail you might want to consider biking. It is free to enter except between Memorial Day and Labor Day – then they charge a fee to park per car load. I believe it is around $15 for the day.

Alongside historic structures and outdoor recreation you will find wildlife, beaches and cultural landscape. Included as you drive down this scenic beach pathway you will find historic Fort Hancock which provided coastal defense for the New York Harbor from 1895-1974. The Sandy Hook Lighthouse is here inside Fort Hancock – which should be open to tour during the spring and summer (always check the website before heading over). This is a park that is called the gateway from the ocean into the New York Harbor.

We started out by pulling into designated parking areas to walk along paths that proceed out towards the water. These were nature trails / view-only type pathways. There are designated swimming beaches – you must look for the signage. Our first walking passage we saw so many small crabs, ducks and fish. Since this is an ocean park you will find an abundance of aquatic animals and sea life. We pulled in and out of some random trails until we came into Fort Hancock. Here we ate lunch we brought with us. *Make sure you bring food – we didn’t see any places to purchase food – I think the beach pavilions may have food during the summer but I am not sure of that because we have always brought our own food with us when visiting here! There are many picnic tables located around this particular areas and so much history to investigate.

This National Park has an old jail on property in Fort Hancock which is a sight to be seen. Located not far from the giant cannon, we found some seals basking in the sun out on the rocks! They were a wonderful sight to be seen! I believe they are called harbor seals. There are signs that say you might find them along some of the beaches but do not approach them.

You can find more information regarding the Sandy Hook National Gateway Recreation Area in the All Trails App.

Seals at Sandy Hook

For the luxury travel moms out there… there are some amazing seafood restaurants surrounding the area. Travel Hack: just type in seafood waterfront restaurant in your iphone maps to search nearby restaurants to find the perfect dining experience.

There is so much to do here I really cannot wait to return and do some more exploring!

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