Quarantine is rough, but it doesn’t have to be.

I was just about to go crazy when Governor Murphy closed NJ parks – so I am really glad he and his team decided to reopen them earlier this month. I have been to almost every park in a drivable distance – and boy… they are beautiful!

Double Trouble State Park in Bayville (Ocean County):

This one is a favorite of mine. The Double Trouble village was one of the first company towns established in the state back in the early 1900s. The village provided lumber, cranberries, and blueberries before it became a historical park in the late 1970s.

The park is absolutely beautiful and is filled with different trails you can take lined with signs that tell you about the historical significance of the park. If you’re a photographer, you would love Double Trouble.

Cattus Island Park in Toms River (Ocean County):

If you’re trying to get 10,000 steps in – this is the park for you.

Photo by Justin Louis

Cattus Island is one of those places where you get a whiff of what it is like to live at one of the most beautiful places in New Jersey. Established in the mid-1970s, the 530-acre park is known for pristine wildlife. You can see anything from snakes and box turtles to deer and beavers. Not to mention all of the really awesome birds you can see flying above (Egrets are BEAUTIFUL).

The park was somewhat renovated after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. A few different trails were added, and signs were put up to explain what you were looking at. At the end of the main trail, you will hit a beach connected to the Barnegat Bay. There are a slew of private drop offs on the trail that you can enjoy alone or with three or four people, too.

The Cooper Environmental Center is an educational facility that teaches you about the different animals you can see at Cattus Island and in New Jersey. Because of the pandemic, they have been doing periodic Facebook Live videos on different animals.

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Thompson Park in Lincroft (Monmouth County):

I made it a point to visit this park after Murphy lifted the order two weeks ago. If I could sum up this park in one word: BEAUTIFUL.

Established in 1968, much of the park was donated by Geraldine Livingston Thompson who used to live in the modern-day visitor center. From trails to dog parks, to tennis courts and fishing areas, this is one of the most recreational friendly parks in New Jersey.

There are about 14 miles of trails at this park, 4.9 of which are paved. There is a picnic facility and off-leash dog area for your furry friend to run around and play with other pups. In the summer, you are able to rent a canoe or kayak and row on Marlu Lake.

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