Whether the official beach season is in full stride or cooler temperatures take over, the Atlantic City area is still a place where nature still rules and
opportunities are abundant to enjoy the outdoors in a seaside setting.
Atlantic County Park System operates 17 parks and facilities, encompassing thousands of acres of land with camping, hiking, boating and hunting available.
Birch Grove Park & Family Campground, located in Northfield, has over 50 campsites nestled in 271 heavily wooded acres. The park offers fresh water fishing lakes, nature and fitness trails, as well as a seasonal food stand.
(609) 641-3778; www.cityofnorthfield.org/mainpages/birchgrove.asp
Cape May Bird Observatory in Cape May Point offers educational and entertaining programs for bird enthusiasts throughout the year. The Cape May Fall and Spring Festivals bring thousands of visitors to Cape May annually to celebrate the magic of migration.
(609) 884-2736; www.njaudubon.org/centers/cape-may-bird-observatory
Cape May County Park & Zoo in nearby Cape May Courthouse is a scenic 50-minute drive from Atlantic City. With over 200 acres of natural wooded areas and open space, the park and zoo features more than 550 inhabitants representing 250 species. Admission is free, donations are welcome.
(609) 465-5271; www.cmczoo.com
Cohanzick Zoo in Bridgeton is New Jersey's first zoo is home to 100 animals representing more than 45 different species from around the world. Open year-round, admission is free and donations are welcomed. (856) 453-1658; www.cohanzickzoo.org
The Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, just across the bay from Atlantic City, protects more than 47,000 acres of Southern New Jersey coastal habitats and wetlands. The refuge’s location makes it an important link in the vast network of national wildlife refuges administered nationwide by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. There are nature trails, a wildlife drive and environmental education opportunities. Open daily from sunrise to sunset.
(609) 652-1665; www.fws.gov/refuge/edwin_b_forsythe
Once the site of an 1800s glassworks and a WWI munitions plant, Estell Manor Park, located in Mays Landing, features environmental and wildlife displays, live animals, hiking trails, picnic and camping areas, fishing and boating, as well as a softball and soccer field.
(609) 645-5960; www.atlantic-county.org/parks/estell-manor-park.asp
A quaint park where you can ride your bike, relax by the pool or sit by the pond and watch the duck swim by, Holly Acres RV Park in Egg Harbor City offers a peaceful camping experience with exceptional amenities, all while still being close to area attractions.
Owned and operated since 1968, Holly Shores Camping Resort in Cape May offers 300 large, full hook-up campsites, as well as over 40 deluxe rentals, safari glamping tents and tiny houses. Amenities include free WiFi, cable, playgrounds, lush dog park, heated pool, bike and kayak rentals, game room and a nature trail to the adjacent fishing lakes.
Lake Lenape Park East and Lake Lenape Park West are located in Hamilton Township and together encompass nearly 2,000 acres of land. Each park offers a variety of activities and facilities with its own entrance and access points.
Port Republic Wildlife Management Area occupies four large parcels strewn around the small, colonial seafaring town of Port Republic where hiking, fishing, bird watching and hunting are welcome. A mixture of habitats from pine/oak uplands to cedar/maple swamp sand salt marsh typifies what can be found around the small coastal rivers of southern New Jersey.
Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary is a nationally recognized bird sanctuary and nature preserve. Hundreds of species of shore birds are there for the public to watch and enjoy. Guests can also take a guided tour or visit the gardens.
(609) 368-5102; www.stoneharborbirdsanctuary.com
The Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor sits on 6,000 acres of coastal wetlands that surround it as a living laboratory. It features a saltwater aquarium and a terrapin station, as well as a variety of educational programs.
(609) 368-1211; www.wetlandsinstitute.org
Wharton State Forest is the largest single tract of land within the New Jersey State Park System. Throughout Wharton are rivers and streams for canoeing, hiking trails, miles of unpaved roads for mountain biking and horseback riding and numerous lakes, ponds and fields ideal for wildlife observation.
609) 561-0024; www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/wharton.html
Winding River Campground offers a long list of camping amenities including a heated swimming pool, playground, fishing pond, as well as canoe, kayak and tube rentals. Located in Mays Landing, the campground is open May 1st through October 15th.