Continuing on my 2019 summer mission to visit as many New Jersey State Parks as possible, I found my opportunity to visit the Liberty State Park this past July. My oldest was selected to attend the Teen Leadership Summit at the Community Foodbank of New Jersey. While some might have seen that as an unneccessary drive to make two days in a row, I welcomed it. I wanted him to have that experience and the drive both days gave his brothers and I to check out family attractions in North Jersey.
We visited a lot over those two days and you can read about it on our site (Reeves-Reed Arborterum, Kip’s Castle, Trailside Nature & Science Center, Loop Playground) Each location was a treasure in itself, but there’s something to be said for Liberty State Park. There’s nothing like it in all of New Jersey.
While Liberty State Park’s most majestic attraction may be the Statue of Liberty that sits in the New York Harbor, you would be doing yourself and your kids a disservice to overlook what else this North Jersey New Jersey State Park offers. Admission is free so there’s no reason not to check out as much as you can. Within this 1212 acre park are magnificent views of the New York City Manhattan skyline, wide open trails, trains, amazing playgrounds, and a new soon-to-be-open nature and science center.
Enjoy our review of Liberty State Park and then make sure to sign up for one of our Jersey Family Fun newsletters or save this link, because we’re not done exploring NJ State Parks. There are more to explore and share with you.
Click over to visit more New Jersey State Parks and Forests.
Consider this your Mom’s Guide to Visiting Liberty State Park with Kids
Get to know Liberty State Park
Liberty State Park is the only New Jersey State Park in Hudson County. It sits right on the tip of the county and overlooks the New York Harbor. It’s where history meets the modern day with buildings and signage that speak to its past and new up-to-date playgrounds and a science center that encourages kids to stay and play and learn.
The park itself is mostly rectangular with the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway that runs along three sides of it giving guests views of the Morris Canal Big Basin, Hudson River, Upper New York Bay, and the Caven Point Beach.
What’s the address for Liberty State Park?
Because Liberty State Park offers so many things to do there are multiple addresses you are going to want to know. All the main locations are connected by walking paths and roadways. You can easily park at one lot and walk to the various park attractions or drive between them.
If you are like most visitors you’ll come in via Phillips Street. Make sure you turn right onto Audrey Zapp Drive. If you go straight you could find yourself getting lost. On our first visit to Liberty State Park I might have done a few laps around the area before figuring it out. You can then continue to 1 Audrey Zapp Drive to get to the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal CRRNJ or make a left onto Freedom Way. At the end of Freedom Way you can turn left onto Morris Pesin Drive to the to the park office.
Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal
1 Audrey Zapp Drive
Jersey City, NJ
200 Morris Pesin Drive
Jersey City, NJ
When is Liberty State Park open?
The Liberty State Park is open 6 am to 10 pm daily. However, the park office, certain buildings, and the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, may run on a different schedule. For the opening day of the Nature Interpretive and Science Center and schedule call (201) 915-3409. For information about the ferry service call (877) 523-9849.
Here are the hours as listed on their website as of August 4, 2019.
- Park office: Open daily from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm; closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day
- CRRNJ Terminal Hours of Operation:
- May 26 through Sept 4, 7:30 am to 5:00 pm
- Sept 5 through October 9, 7:30 am to 4:30 pm
- October 10 through December 31, 7:30 am to 4:00 pm
- The CRRNJ Terminal is closed Christmas Day, December 25.
- Nature Interpretive Center remains closed for remodeling (due to damage from Hurricane Sandy), but we have been told it’s just days away from completion and should be open in late August/September.
How much does it cost to enter?
Admission to Liberty State Park is free. There is a charge to ride the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Ferry service from Liberty State Park to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is available throughout the year. For rates and boat schedules, please call 1 877 LADY TIX (877-523-9849).
Where can I park?
Liberty State Park offers several parking lots where there is no charge for parking. There is one lot that charges a fee. This is intended for those guests who intend to ride the ferry OR spend more than 2 hours in the parking lots near the terminal. Don’t make the mistake we did. If you are only going to look around the CRRNJ Terminal and the New Jersey Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial and will only be 2 hours or less drive PAST the paid parking lot and into the smaller North Field parking lot.
You only need the paid parking lot if you will be taking the ferry. Visitors are also welcome to use any of the other free parking lots and then walk down to the ferry service to avoid paying for parking.
Are there restrooms?
Yes. Restrooms were available at the park office building, the nature and science center, the larger playground and the CRRNJ Terminal. Both traditional restrooms and port-a-potties were available.
Can I camp at Liberty State Park?
There are no campgrounds at Liberty State Park.
What is there to do at Liberty State Park with kids?
Allow yourself a few hours or more to explore Liberty State Park. From the railroad terminal to the two DIFFERENT playground areas, from the soon-to-be-opened nature centers to the views from the Hudson River Walkway there is to much to see, do, and explore.
Learn more about this New Jersey state park at their Visitor Center/Park Office
There’s not a lot to see at the visitor center, but we found the park rangers incredibly helpful. Not only did they provide us with maps and help answer our questions, but they also hooked up my boys with some Liberty State Park swag. They do not offer any kind of park ranger badge.
While at the park office make sure you step out back, towards the water, to enjoy these attractions
- A playground
- A picnic grove
- Viewfinders (there is a wheelchair accessible one). The viewfinders run on quarters.
- U.S. Flag Paza
- Liberation Monument
- Concession stand (We did not see this open during our visit.)
Nature and Science Center/ Nature Interpretive Center
Coming soon the Liberty State Park nature and science center will open again. We understand, from park rangers, that it was damaged during Hurricane Sandy. The building is set to open again in late August or early September.
Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal (CRRNJ)
At the end of the park, opposite the park office end, sits the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal. In the past, this served thousands of the immigrants that came in through Ellis Island. They would come here before taking trains to other parts of New Jersey or elsewhere where they would settle and start their new lives. Completed in 1889, it’s now one of the main focul points of Liberty State Park and a site to be seen. Inside is the magnifence of an old fashioned railroad station like we are used to seeing in movies. Outside we can see where trains used to travel and signage that reveals how riders found their way.
Guests can see historical exhibits and artifacts inside the building, learn about upcoming events, and purchase ferry tickets.
New Jersey Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial
Outside to the side of the CRRNJ Terminal is a New Jersey 9/11 memorial. It’s said the towers of the memorial were created to represent the towers we lost in New York.
“The brushed stainless steel twin walls are 210 feet long, the width of each side of the World Trade Center Towers. They rise 30 feet, standing parallel to each other with a 12-foot wide paved path of bluestone between them. Like the World Trade Center, the stainless steel reflects the constantly changing light of day. The memorial invites visitors to literally and metaphorically look toward the empty sky in memory and look forward as a community.” – Liberty State Park website
Along the sides of the memorial walls are the names of the 749 people that lived in or had ties to New Jersey that lost their lives. The names are placed randomly on the twin brushed stainless steel walls. Individuals’ names (4 inches tall) are within reach and engraved deep enough for hand rubbing.
Grove of Remembrance
Along the Morris Canal Big Basin is the Grove of Remembrance, a quiet place of reflection after the 9/11 tragedy. The trees serve as a living memorial of those who lost their lives that day.
Take the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island upclose.
- There is no fee to enter the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island, but there is a fee to ride the ferry and for parking over 2 hours. UPDATE: We visited the Statue of Liberty over Columbus Day weekend. If you’d like to plan a trip of your own to visit Lady Liberty click over to read our guide to visiting the Statue of Liberty with kids.
Enjoy these Liberty State Park Events for Kids
This New Jersey State Park offers nature programs yearround. To learn more visit their latest newsletter.
Are there playgrounds at the Liberty State Park?
Liberty State Park offers two playground areas. The first playground is adjacent to the park office, near a picnic grove, and on the South Lawn. It’s the smaller of two playground areas, but still offers lots of fun with it’s nature-themed treehouse, slides, and more.
The second playground area has multiple playground structures. It’s located off of parking lot 7. We were so impressed by this play area that we did a Facebook Live video from there and will soon blog about it for our New Jersey Parks & Playground series. My boys referred to part of it as a ninja course because the equipment was like something you would see on one of those obstacle-course shows. There was a large, modern, handicap-accessible blue and white structure with all kinds of activity stations. And in another area was a treehouse nature-themed playground where it looked like animals had been carved from wood. Watch our tour in the video below. This playground is definitely worth stopping for and driving to North Jersey for.
Can you swim at Liberty State Park?
There is no swimming permitted at Liberty State Park.
Is there a place to kayak or go canoeing?
We did see visitors kayaking, sailboating, and paddleboarding in the Harbor near the Caven Point Beach end. There is a parking lot with boat ramp access at that end.
Fishing is also permitted at jetties between the boat ramp and the South Lawn and at spots along the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway.
Does Liberty State Park have hiking trails?
While Liberty State Park doesn’t offer your traditional hiking trails, there are still plenty of trails to be explored. You could, in fact, park at the first lot, and then walk through Liberty State Park enjoying all it has to offer. Or park at different lots and explore the area adjacent to that before driving to explore the other areas. On our visit, we had on again off again rain so we chose to explore as much as we could at each spot and then drove to the next one.
What’s great about the trails at Liberty State Park is they are all wide and open. The ones we noticed and walked were all paved, easy for parents with strollers or those in wheelchairs. There is a sixty-acre natural area that consists mostly of salt marsh. Nature trails and observation points complement this wildlife habitat. We didn’t get a chance to explore that area due to the weather.
A few things to note about the trails. We didn’t find much signage along the trails. It was a little discouraging at first because we weren’t 100% sure how much the park had to offer. So we weren’t sure what to look for or where to look for it. It was the first playground that caught our attention. It wasn’t until we made our way to the park office that we realized all the attractions the park offers. A park ranger hooked us up with a trail map and that was a huge help.
The main trails run from one end of the park to the other, as does the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway. Other trails loop and twist a little. I recommend starting at the park office. Let the kids enjoy the first playground. Then, walk along the water or trails, with the promise of an even larger more exciting playground halfway along your walk. Stop for lunch at that playground before continuing your walk to see the trains at the CRRNJ Terminal.
Husdon River Waterfront Walkway
This beautiful walkway runs along the Hudson River and outer edges of Liberty State Park. The waterfront promenade provides great views of Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Manhattan Skyline, wildlife, and the Statue of Liberty. One thing to keep in mind, the view from the promenade of the Statue of Liberty is of her side and backside.
There is also signage along the promenade pointing out to visitors what to look for and helping them learn more about the history of the area and the animals that call it home.
Can I ride a bike on the trails?
Yes, bikes are allowed on the trails. It’s unclear if they are allowed on the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway.
Are there winter activities available?
- Yes, some trails are designated as allowing cross country skiing.
- Sledding, ice skating, ice fishing, ice boating, and snowmobiling are not allowed.
More important information about visiting Liberty State Park with kids
- There are picnic tables available for guests.
- Grills for barbecuing are available for guest use.
- There are concession stands to sell food, but we did not see any open during our visit.
- Pets are permitted but must stay on a leash.
Stop by the park office to pick up a New Jersey State Parks Pass. For $50 the pass covers parking/admission to all NJ State Parks for the year. You can buy yours at the park office or click over to buy yours online from the NJDEP.
Where oh where should we go next?
To see more of our Liberty State Park photos visit our Facebook album. (coming soon).
For more information about Liberty State Park please visit the NJ Division of Parks & Forestry website. Click over to read more about our experiences at New Jersey State Parks or see our listing of NJ State Parks.