Summer Fun June 23, 2023

Summer Fun for Staycationers of all Ages

Staying close to home this Summer? From toddlers to seniors, there’s plenty to do for every member of the family within your local park system. While most parks provide walking trails and picnic areas, if you dig a little deeper you might be surprised at the array of activities that help foster an appreciation of the great outdoors while creating family memories.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Trot around the reservation on horseback:

Saddle up and enjoy the beauty of 2,000 acres of forest preserve from the vantage of horseback. With 26 miles of bridal paths throughout the reservation, the county’s Watchung Stables has been providing riding lessons and skill-building opportunities for horse lovers since 1933.

  • Bike part of the East Coast Greenway:

For serious cyclists or laidback cruisers, the 2-mile paved path at Nomahegan Park is an easy course for cyclists of all ages and part of the East Coast Greenway so you never know who you’ll meet along the way.

(Secret tip: There’s an amazing grilled cheese lunch spot if you continue through to Kenilworth on the other side of Lenape Park 😉 )

  • Be a nature detective and learn about the history of Brightwood:

Become a Nature Detective with the Friends of Brightwood Park and explore many woodland creatures and plants. You can also learn about the African American history in this area when it was known as “The Big Woods.”

  • Try your hand at archery in Oak Ridge:

Unleash your inner archer at Oak Ridge Park, home to the county’s first and only public archery range. Sign up for an ID card with safety course and then you’re ready to go. Great way to develop hand-eye coordination.

  • Cast a rod and reel and catch a trout at Echo Lake:

The State Division of Fish and Wildlife stocks the lake each season for anglers to be able to cast close to home. Echo Lake Park also has a fitness trail, multi-use path, dog park, boating and playground area.

  • Interact with state-of-the-art nature and science exhibits:

Stop by the Trailside Nature and Science Center and engage in interactive exhibits including a hollow log to crawl through to observe live fish & turtles, a geological history experience with minerals, and a 34-foot Beech Tree exhibit. There’s also family evening programs and nature walks for seniors.

  •  Pedal away the hours on the lake at Warinanco:

Rent a pedal boat and enjoy a serene day on the water taking in the flora and fauna around the lake. Afterwards stop by the snackbar at the boathouse for some refreshments. Boats seat up to 4 people.


So whether you’re a meticulous planner or prefer spontaneous adventures, gather your loved ones and lace up your shoes to enjoy these remarkable outdoor spaces. If you need more ideas, here’s a link to all of Union County’s 36 parks Happy Summer!