Lakewood/Shore Area Edition:
By Miriam Fried
I grew up in Montreal. For most of the Tri-State Jewish community, that automatically puts me into the tiny out-of-town community category. However, Montreal is actually the most beautiful, action-packed city I’ve ever been to and I have only the fondest memories of exploring our city.
I had a very simple childhood. My father was (is!!) in Kollel and we didn’t have much. Yet everyone knew us as THE fun family. My mother made every effort to get us out of the house, to enjoy our beautiful city and world. She didn’t mind taking 8 kids on the metro (subway) to go see some cultural fair downtown or go to the mobbed museums when it was free every first Tuesday of the month. Neighbors and friends were always tagging along and we always love looking at the pics and rehashing those wonderful memories that are so clear in my mind after all these years. That is the childhood I remember. And that is what I strive to do for my kids.
Now living in Lakewood, my friends and neighbors also know me as THE fun mom (usually). I’m the one they ask for recommendations for things to do with the kids, or to come along with us. And I love it. The kids love it. We make such wonderful memories and it makes my mama heart soar. I’m still used to the simple lifestyle I grew up with, trying to make the most of the free/low cost activities our beautiful area has to offer.
Below are some of our faves and a few tricks I’ve learned these past 6 years of outings with my kids. Keep in mind my kids are young (6 and 3) and these activities are age-appropriate for them (but older kids can definitely enjoy).
Our Favorite Parks
1) Riverwood Park
Pros: large fun equipment, shaded seating for parents, rubber ground, bathrooms, also has some trails, fields
2) Allaire State Park
4265 Atlantic Ave, Wall Township, NJ 07727
Pros: Historic village (check schedule for opening hours), fields, scenery, small playground, fun train ride
3) Pine Park
Pros: Good playground equipment, fun bike/walking trails, picnic tables, grills allowed, Cholov Yisroel ice cream truck comes around
4) Ocean County Park
700 Ocean Ave, Lakewood, NJ 08701
Pros: Pond with geese, large fish, and snapping turtles, beautiful shaded bike/walking trails, picnic tables, coal grills allowed.
5) Windward Beach Park
265 Princeton Ave, Brick, NJ 08724
Pros: Brand new, original and educational playground equipment, rubber floor, bathrooms
6) Dorbrook Playground
353 County Road 537, Colts Neck, NJ 07722
Pros: Beautiful, very large, unique and well maintained equipment, rubber floors, bathrooms, bike/walking trails, sports fields, sand area – bring sand toys
7) Manasquan Reservoir
Pros: Beautiful, peaceful and shaded walking/bike trails. Trails are not flat nor paved and can be difficult at times for beginners but worth it. Bike and bike trailer rentals (including helmets) available from B3 Bicycles 732-987-6267. There are also kayak and rowboat rentals as well as fishing and nice playground.
Our Favorite Beaches
Pros: Closest beach to Lakewood. Purchase season pass beach badge near the Public Works Dept on Downer Ave ($20/adult, free for kids). Free 2 hour parking on side streets (easy to find). Walk to beach is on a boardwalk rather than hot sand. Very clean, quiet, and water is shallow. No bathrooms. No lifeguards.
2) Windward Beach
Pros: This is not the ocean, it is the bay. Perfect for younger kids as there are no large waves. Guarded beach. Grassy area with picnic tables – perfect for quick dinner at the beach (also see park #5).
3) Island Beach State Park
Pros: Most economical for large families. Entrance fee is per vehicle, not per person. ($50 season pass). Beaches are unguarded and empty.
Cons: Far walk from parking lot to ocean – difficult for younger kids
1) Dorbrook Spray-grounds
Pros: Brand new equipment, bring along pails/buckets – kids love it. Bathrooms, some kosher refreshments available for purchase. (also see park #6)
2) Jackson Spray Park
Have never been but heard decent reviews.
Fruit and Vegetable Picking
1) Eastmont Orchards
169 County Road 537, Colts Neck, NJ 07722.
Peach picking in from July-Sept. Apples from Sept-Mid Oct
Make sure to check out the food market store Delicious Orchards nearby – very high end fruit market with lots of original products and lots of free fruit tasting.
2) Hallocks U-Pick Farm
38 Fischer Rd, New Egypt, NJ 08533
Big variety of berries and veggies to pick – call for availability
Petting Zoo / Farms:
1) Atlantic Farms
1506 Atlantic Ave, Manasquan, NJ 08736
Small petting/feeding farm, flower picking
2) Sweet Dreams Farm
Call for opening hours. Jewish-owned farm – extremely gentle therapy animals – perfect for kids to overcome fear of animals. Highlight: dog walking
3) Historic Longstreet Farm
732-946-3758 – 44 Longstreet Rd, Holmdel, NJ 07733
Small working farm. Highlight: kids can milk cows (call for schedule). FREE; donation suggested.
4) Popcorn Zoo
1 Humane Way, Forked River, NJ 08731
5) Cape May Zoo
707 Route 9 North, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
1) Camden Aquarium
I find this aquarium to be worth its price tag. Give yourself a full day to be able to see all the exhibits. I do not feel Jenkinson’s Aquarium is worth the price or the hassle of finding parking at the beach at this time of year.
Every Thursday at dark (around 8:45 PM) at Jenkinson’s Boardwalk – give yourself enough time to find parking and walk to the beach.
2) NJ Festival of Ballooning
July 28-30 – Hot Air balloons (one of the top 100 festivals in North America). Buy reduced price tickets on their website www.balloonfestival.com or check Groupon.
Do you know your neighborhood well? Share your favorite in entertainment locations with us – email firstname.lastname@example.org
About Miriam Fried:
Miriam Fried is a mother of 2 (soon to be 3) adorable kids. She recently had the privilege to become a self-employed SAHM and is grateful to have more time to do the things she loves, especially creating great memories with my family, whether at home or out of the house.