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The Ultimate Guide to New Jersey Nature Centers

New Jersey Nature Centers are special places that teach people to appreciate the world around them. They make us care about our environment more as we learn about how everything is interconnected and more details about the plants, animals, and habitats that we often take for granted. 

New Jersey Nature Centers

New Jersey nature centers offer programs and events for people of all ages and are often open at other times for people to visit and get a chance to enjoy their trails and exhibits. When people look at cheap places to go with their kids in New Jersey most people think of libraries or parks but many do not realize that many nature centers in New Jersey are free or inexpensive to visit. They are a great way to teach the kid about the outdoors and find educational programming as well that is also often at a low cost. 

Nature centers are also a great place for children, tweens, and teens to attend summer camps, do field trips and earn Scout badges. Even though many are free to visit there are different ways to support them including attending their paid programs, getting memberships, giving donations, volunteering, and more. 

In college, I did an internship as a Stream Keeper with Patty Thompson at the Lower Merion Conservancy and also did a group presentation for Ecology about the Effects of the Lower Merion Retention Pond on an aquatic environment. I learned how much work people did there behind the scenes and how this helped to impact the community around them. 

After my internship, I realized that places like this were vital in helping people keep an interest in their environment. I started going to other places such as nature centers, wildlife refuge centers, preserves, forest resource centers, and more after that and have not stopped. There are so nature-focused places in New Jersey that all have interesting new information for me to learn. 

NJ nature centers are also a great place to go if you are homeschooling your kids or just trying to teach them more about the world around them. My son and daughter have gone to numerous classes at different centers including the Watershed Institute, the Rancocas Nature Center, the Palmyra Cove Nature Center, the Tulpehaking Nature Center, and the Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge. 

New Jersey nature centers have taught my children about lots of topics such as nocturnal and crepuscular animals, bird identification, butterfly and frog life cycles, and many more. Some of these lessons included other interesting activities such as catching frogs in a creek, gardening, composting, crafts using natural materials, catching fish from the Delaware River, and more. Last year we also had my son’s birthday party at the Rancocas Nature Center. Everyone loved the party and it included many engaging activities such as petting a turtle, finding frogs, a storybook walk and watering the children’s garden. Many other nature centers offer birthday parties as well. 

Read on to see all the New Jersey Nature Centers we could learn about. They are listed by county within North, South, and Central Jersey.

Twelve Reasons to Visit a New Jersey Nature Center

Why enjoy a New Jersey Nature Center? Here are a some of our reasons to visit a nature center:

  • They are a great place to exercise together as a family (my young kids can now hike 2 miles after hiking on trails near many nature centers). Trails are often well maintained and staff can help you determine which trail will best suit your hiking needs. 
  • They are a way to create new memories and maybe even gain a new interest (we have gained interest in learning about beekeeping, birding, maple sugaring, tree identification, and animal tracks). 
  • Visitors are kept engaged by informational signs or other features such as fairy houses, wildlife enclosures, boardwalks, and other things. Visitors can also do things themselves while on trails such as nature scavenger hunts or map reading. 
  • There is always a new place to explore or adventure to be had.
  • There are numerous events and programs at the nature centers which include hikes, storytime, crafts, and bird watching just to name a few.
  • They are open all year long so they will stop you from hearing “I’m bored” from your kids. 
  • They teach you about habitats, flora, fauna, insects, aquatic wildlife, and other things that are nearby.
  • They are an awesome place for some science homeschooling classes with knowledgeable staff, educational exhibits, interactive educational programs, and more. 
  • They are free or inexpensive to visit. 
  • Visiting them is a great way to find people who love their jobs.  At all the ones we have visited we have found the staff to be very helpful, engaged in their work and able to answer lots of questions. Many of the staff at the various centers do a lot of volunteering as well to help keep them running and community outreach by going to schools and community events. 
  • They are a place to earn badges for Scouts. Be sure to contact one near you to find out if they have any upcoming events to help earn badges or if they run programs for troops. If you are becoming an Eagle Scout be sure to contact them as well since many of these love to have Eagle Scout projects done on their property.  
  • They are a good place for older kids and adults who like to find places to volunteer since most of them are often looking for volunteers to help them with various projects such as helping to collect data, clear away a trail, revitalize a section, and more. 

Tips for Visiting a Nature Center in New Jersey

  • Wear appropriate footwear. (Assess the terrain before going and plan accordingly. If it has rained recently expect trails to be more muddy and slippery.)
  • Call to double check hours before going and any other pertinent information. Many of them have hours that change slightly with the seasons. (Places might not allow food, be accessible, allow pets, or have restrooms on the property.) Even if they are closed many times the trails or other things may still be open. 
  • For those with very young children, bring a baby carrier. If going with a toddler, assess trails beforehand to see if your toddler would be able to walk them. While most allow strollers they may be difficult to push and I have personally found using baby carriers or having my kids walk is often much easier. 
  • Be prepared for ticks. To find out how to protect yourself from them, remove them, clothing to wear, and more visit the website here: NJDEP Division of Fish & Wildlife – Longhorned (and Other) Ticks In New Jersey (state.nj.us)
  • For centers that allow picnicking and food to be brought, bring your own food in. For any nature center, we have visited we often spend way more time than we had planned since it is always exhibiting to see the exhibits, wander the trails, talk to staff with questions, and more. Some are also further away from nearby places to eat. 
  • Remember to carry in – carry out anything you bring. Many do not have trash cans since they are trying to keep trash out of their habitats, away from wildlife and so that it does not attract bears. 
  • For places that allow dogs please remember to pick up after them. 
  • If planning on hiking while you are there (which I highly recommend) bring along things for younger kids to do such as magnifying glasses, nature scavenger hunts, and binoculars. Older kids may be interested in things such as playing Pokemon Go or geocaching while they are there. Always ask at the center where they recommend you take your hike since staff can often tell you about features you may enjoy such as sensory trails, nature playgrounds, and more. 
  • If visiting either the Tulpehaking Nature Center or the Camden County Environmental Center be sure to check out the new game Aqua Marooned that can be obtained for free. More details can be found here: Aqua Marooned! — Lenapehoking ~ Watershed (lenapehoking-watershed-art.com). Even though this is geared towards older kids, my younger children enjoyed it on our hike in Cherry Hill. There is a main card set and expansion packs that can be collected at various locations. 
  • Keep a backup destination in mind as some centers have limited parking. Our list has the centers organized by county and by North, Central, and South Jersey so it should be easy to find another one nearby. 
  • If you love various outdoor pursuits such as birding, photography, canoeing, horseback riding, or biking there are different nature centers that offer many of these activities and more so be sure to check which can be done ahead of time. 

Nature Centers in North Jersey

Bergen County Nature Centers

Closter Nature Center in Closter

Closter Nature Center is located at 154 Ruckman Road Closter, NJ 07624. 

The Closter Nature Center is a great hideaway from the bustle of North Jersey. It offers lots of educational programming such as a summer program for kids, preschool programs, after-school programs, and more. There are lots of walking trails over the 136 acres of wetlands and forest. Since trails can often be muddy it is recommended to wear old shoes or rain boots. There are informational signs along the trails. The nature center itself is the log cabin near the pond. 

6 Things you can do at the Closter Nature Center

  • Walk the 3 miles of trails. 
  • Take an After school class for PreK through High School. 
  • Attend a family event such as the Pond Celebration on June 4th or the Soup Supper. 
  • Attend a Nature Fun Friday event with your toddler. 
  • Sign up for their Summer program for PreK through 8th-grade children.
  • Attend a bird walk or another program for adults. 

How much is admission at Closter Nature Center?

  • Admission to the Closter Nature Center is free.

When is the nature center open?

  • The trails are open from dawn to dusk. The cabin is open during times of activities and classes. 

Upcoming events

Are the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • This nature center is not accessible. 

Walking and hiking trails

  • There are over 3 miles of trails. View the trail map. There is a QR code on the door on the nature center to view the trail map.

5 more things to know before visiting the Closter Nature Center

  • Strollers are allowed but they may be hard to use. 
  • There are restrooms at the back side of the cabin that are open when the center is open. 
  • Food and drink are allowed on the property. It is carry in/carry out.  There are some picnic tables and benches. 
  • Parking is in a small parking lot with space for ten vehicles. 
  • Dogs are allowed as long as they remain on a leash. 
  • View the nature center brochure.  

Learn more at their website, call 201-750-2778 or email admin@closternaturecenter.org.

Demarest Nature Center in Demarest

Demarest Nature Center is located at 90 Park Street Demarest, NJ 07627. Get directions.

The Demarest Nature Center is on a site that includes a wooded area and a bridge. There is a plethora of wildlife that may be seen frequenting the area. The area used to formerly be a dump that was reclaimed as open space. There is no nature center building at this site. 

3 Things you can do at the Demarest Nature Center

How much is admission at Demarest Nature Center?

  • Admission to the Demarest Nature Center is free.

When is the nature center open?

  • It is open from dawn to dusk every day of the year. 

Upcoming events

Are the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The nature center is not accessible. 

Walking and hiking trails

5 more things to know before visiting the Demarest Nature Center

  • Strollers are allowed but they may be difficult to push in many areas. 
  • There are no restrooms on the property. Wakelee Field baseball fields are nearby that have some public restrooms that are sometimes open. 
  • Food and drink are allowed on the property.
  • The main parking area is next to the Wakelee Field playground. 
  • Pets are allowed at the Demarest Nature Center as long as they remain on a leash. 

Learn more at their website or email info@demarestnaturecenter.org

Flat Rock Brook Nature Center in Englewood

Flat Rock Brook Nature Center is located at 443 Van Nostrand Avenue Englewood, NJ 07631.  Since gps can take you to the wrong address view this pdf first. Get directions here.

The Flat Rock Brook Nature Center is surrounded by native habitat gardens, hiking trails, a playground and a picnic area. Butterflies are commonly seen in the late Spring until the early Fall. There is also a raptor aviary that houses Josephine the great horned owl, Ramona and Jones the red-tailed hawks, Titus the kestrel and Tilly the screech owl. 

The Nature Center itself has animal ambassadors and an indoor exhibit of Flat Rock Brook’s various habitats as well as a reading nook. Outside there are bird feeders and a patio with benches, picnic benches and a retractable awning. 

6 Things you can do at the Flat Rock Brook Nature Center 

  • Go to the picnic area and playground. 
  • Identify trees in the forest. 
  • See butterflies in the native habitat gardens. 
  • Visit the raptor aviary.
  • Hike the trails.
  • Attend an educational program. 

How much is admission at Flat Rock Brook Nature Center?

  • Admission to the Flat Rock Brook Nature Center is free. 

When is the nature center open?

  • The Nature Center is open from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays. It is open from 1 to 5 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Hiking trails are open from dawn to dusk. 

Are the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The Nature Center is accessible. The Boardwalk Trail is currently closed for renovations but when it is open that is accessible as well. The other trails are not accessible. 

Walking and hiking trails

7 more things to know before visiting the Flat Rock Brook Nature Center: 

  • Strollers are allowed. 
  • There are port-a-johns in the Nature Center parking lot on weekdays. These are open from 9 am to 5 pm. Jones Road restrooms are closed for the season. Nature Center restrooms are open on the weekends from 1 to 5 pm. 
  • Food and drink are allowed on the property. There are picnic tables. 
  • Parking is at Jones Road at the picnic table entrance. 
  • Pets are not allowed at Flat Rock Brook Nature Center. 
  • Bikes and fishing are not allowed. 
  • Hand sanitizer stations are on the deer enclosure gates. 
  • Naturalists recommend the apps Animal Help Now, Audubon Bird Guide, BirdNET, eBird, iNaturalist, Merlin Bird ID, NJ Invasives, PlantSnap, Seek by iNaturalist and RaptorID. 

Learn more at their website or call 201 567-1265. 

Lorrimer Sanctuary in Franklin Lakes

The Lorrimer Sanctuary is located at 790 Ewing Avenue Franklin Lakes, NJ 07417. 

The center has exhibits, a gift shop, displays, a lecture room and a winter bird-feeding station. There are trails throughout the 14 acres of land as well as pavilions and picnic tables. 

4 Things you can do at the Lorrimer Sanctuary: 

  • Visit the nature center. 
  • Hike the trails. 
  • Go on a Spring Migration Bird Walk or Wildflower Walk. 
  • Attend Nature Explorers. 

How much is admission at Lorrimer Sanctuary Center?

  • Admission at Lorrimer Sanctuary Center is free. 

When is the nature center open?

  • The Sanctuary and gift shop open from 10 am to 4 pm on Wednesday through Saturday. 

Upcoming events

Is the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The nature center is not accessible. 

5 more things to know before visiting the Lorrimer Sanctuary

  • Strollers are allowed. They would only be easy to push on one of the trails. 
  • There are restrooms on the property within the center that are open during the hours that it is open. 
  • Food and drink are allowed on the property. 
  • Parking is in a parking lot. 
  • Pets are allowed on a leash but only on the Great Lawn. They are not allowed in the deer fenced in area or on the trails. 

Learn more at their website or call 908-396-6568. 

Ridgefield Nature Center in Ridgefield

Ridgefield Nature Center is located at Shaler Blvd at Ray Avenue Ridgefield, NJ 07660. 

The Ridgefield Nature Center is part of 5.4 acres of mostly undisturbed woods. The Trinity Spring is also located here, which used to be a source for the Great Bear spring bottling plant. There are various birds that can be seen here such as kinglets, hawks, robins and woodpeckers. 

1 Thing you can do at the Ridgefield Nature Center

  • Hike up the hiking path that leads to the top of the manmade hill that is located to the right of the entrance. 

How much is admission at Ridgefield Nature Center?

  • Admission at the Ridgefield Nature Center is free. 

When is the nature center open?

  • It is currently closed due to damage from recent storms. Once it is reopened it will be open from 8 am to noon on Saturday. There are guided tours by appointment. 

Are the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The nature center is not accessible. 

5 more things to know before visiting the Ridgefield Nature Center

  • Strollers would not be able to be used here. 
  • There are no restrooms on the property. 
  • Food and drink are not allowed on the property.
  • Parking is available on the street. 
  • Pets are not allowed at the garden name.

Learn more at their website or call 201-943-5342.  

Tenafly Nature Center in Tenafly

Tenafly Nature Center is located at 313 Hudson Avenue Tenafly, NJ 07670. 

The Tenafly Nature Center is part of a Bergen County Nature Preserve. There are numerous things to see in the approximately 400 wooded acres that encircle Pfiser’s Pond. There is a small natural history museum in the John A. Redfield Building. 

11 Things you can do at the Tenafly Nature Center

  • Visit the Butterfly House. 
  • Attend an event such as a campfire, scavenger hunt or forest bathing. 
  • Attend Forest Preschool or a Nature Enrichment program. 
  • Attend a School Break Day Camp or Summer Camp. 
  • Hike the trails. Also try geocaching, letterboxing, Pokemon Go or Wizards Unite as you hike. 
  • Go on the Bellflower Faerie Trail. 
  • See the Frog and Salamander Pond. 
  • Visit the Nature Playscape.
  • See the Birds of Prey Aviary. 
  • Become a Junior Naturalist. There is a new guidebook available for $5 each season. 
  • Try snowshoeing or cross country skiing in the winter. 

How much is admission at Tenafly Nature Center?

  • Admission to the Tenafly Nature Center is $2 per person or $10 per family for non-members. 

When is the nature center open?

  • The Visitor’s Center is open from 9:30 to 4:30 pm daily. May be closed to the public during major holidays and programs. Trails are open daily one hour after sunrise and up to one hour before sunset. 

Upcoming events

Walking and hiking trails

Are the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • There are only some areas that are accessible. 

6 more things to know before visiting the Tenafly Nature Center

  • Strollers are allowed. There are some areas that may be difficult to navigate with a stroller. 
  • There is an open composting restroom. 
  • Food and drink are allowed. There is a white picnic table area for small groups. This is the only area where picnicking is allowed. 
  • Parking may fill up so arrive early, go on weekdays or at less busy times. 
  • Pets are not allowed at the Tenafly Nature Center. 
  • Masks are required to enter the visitor’s center. 

Learn more at their website or call 201-568-6093. 

James A McFaul Environmental Center in Wyckoff

James A McFaul Environmental Center is located at 150 Crescent Avenue Wyckoff, NJ 07481. 

This environmental center is located at the former site of an 81 acre pig farm. It is now a wildlife sanctuary. This now consists of nature exhibits, gardens, a sanctuary and nature trails. There is a boardwalk and wildlife to be seen. The museum has various animal exhibits, an observatory, a library and natural history and science exhibits. 

4 Things you can do at the James A McFaul Environmental Center 

  • See the animals that reside here. 
  • Walk the nature trail. 
  • Go to the top of the two story observatory. 
  • Visit the gazebo, herb and rhododendron garden. 

How much is admission at James A McFaul Environmental Center?

  • Admission at James A McFaul Environmental Center admission is free. 

When is the nature center open?

  • Currently, it is open from 8 am to 6:45 pm on weekdays. The hours are 8:30 am to 6:45 pm on weekends and holidays. It is open from 8:30 pm to 6:45 pm on weekends. These hours can change with the seasons. In winter months it closes at 5:15. It is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Upcoming events

Are the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The boardwalk is accessible and the museum is wheelchair accessible. The nature trail and the 2 story observatory are not accessible. There are paved walkways near the animals. 

6 more things to know before visiting the McFaul Environmental Center

  • Strollers are allowed but they are not allowed on the carpet inside of the museum. 
  • There are restrooms in the museum which are open when it is open. There are also porta potties on the property as well. 
  • Food and drink are allowed on the property but not inside of the building. There is a picnic area and a pavilion. 
  • Parking is in 3 parking areas and there is a lot near the picnic area. 
  • Pets are not allowed here since this is a wildlife sanctuary. 
  • View the center brochure.

Learn more at their website or call 201-891-5571. 

Essex County Nature Centers

Essex County Environmental Center in Roseland

Essex County Environmental Center is located at 621-B Eagle Rock Avenue Roseland, NJ 07068. 

This environmental center has lots of hands-on activities. It is in the Essex County West Essex Park. There is a wooded wetland here as well. 

7 Things you can do at the Essex County Environmental Center

  • Visit the rain or butterfly garden.
  • Hike the trails. 
  • Do a Lenape Learning Program. 
  • Attend a Tot or Pre-K Little Explorer Program. 
  • Join a Nature-themed After School Club. 
  • Attend a public program here. 
  • Enter a Photography or Sustainable Homes Gingerbread Contest. 

How much is admission at Essex County Environmental Center?

  • Admission to the Essex County Environmental Center and trails is free. Some of the scheduled programs have a fee. 

When is the nature center open?

  • The center is open from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday. It is also open from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday. It is not open on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. 

Upcoming events

Are the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The Center is accessible. 

Walking and hiking trails

5 more things to know before visiting the Essex County Environmental Center

  • Strollers are allowed.
  • There are restrooms on the property. They are inside and there are portajohn’s available as well. 
  • Food and drink are allowed on the property.
  • Parking is in 2 parking lots. 
  • Dogs are allowed on a leash. Only service animals are allowed inside of the building. 

Learn more at their website or call 973-228-8776.

Cora Hartshorn Bird Sanctuary in Short Hills

Cora Hartshorn Bird Sanctuary is located at 324 Forest Drive South Short Hills, NJ 07078. 

The Stone House has animal exhibits and a collection of live animals. There is a network of trails throughout which you may see over 150 species of birds. The property has 16.5 acres of woodlands with many native wildflowers. There are over 40 species of trees on the property. 

5 Things you can do at the Cora Hartshorn Bird Sanctuary

  • Hike the trails and see the native wildflowers and hill overlook. 
  • Do an Arboretum Sprouts (18 months to 3 years old) or Turtle Tots Class (drop off for ages 3 to 5). 
  • Enroll in summer camp. 
  • Do a native plant hike with your family. 
  • Receive FrogWatch training. 

How much is admission at Cora Hartshorn Bird Sanctuary?

  • Admission to the Bird Sanctuary is free. Donations are appreciated. 

When is the nature center open?

  • Trails are open daily from dawn to dusk. Go through gates behind the building and on the creek trail behind Chatham Road. Be sure to close the gates behind you. The building is open from 9 am to 4 pm daily. Fall and winter hours are 9 am to 4:30 pm on Monday to Friday. Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. 

Upcoming events

Are the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The building is accessible but it is currently closed. The arboretum is not accessible.

Walking and hiking trails

5 more things to know before visiting Cora Hartshorn Bird Arboretum

  • Strollers are allowed.
  • There are restrooms on the property but they are currently not open since the building is closed. 
  • Food and drink are allowed on the property. Make sure to take your trash with you. 
  • Parking is not within a lot. People should park on the street on the same side as the arboretum.  Read the parking rules
  • Pets are not allowed at the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum. 

Learn more at their website or call 973-376-3587.

Hudson County Nature Centers

At this time we are not aware of any nature centers in Hudson County.

Morris County Nature Centers

Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area in Boonton

Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area is located at 472 Boonton Avenue Montville Township, NJ 07045. 

The Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area is 1,675 acres of different terrains as well as trails and a Visitor’s Center. The center tells you about life of the Lenape and early settlers. It also shows visitors how the Wisconsin Glacier shaped this area. 

kids at Pyramid Mountain National Historic Area in Boonton nj

3 Things you can do at the Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area

  • Visit Tripod Rock. 
  • See the waterfalls. 
  • See the Manhattan skyline. 

How much is admission at Pyramid Mountain Natural History Area

  • Admission to the Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area is free. 

When is the nature center open?

  • Visitor’s center is currently closed. Trails are currently open daily from sunrise to sunset. 

Walking and hiking trails

family standing on hiking trail of Pyramid Mountain National Historic Area in Boonton, NJ

3 more things to know before visiting the Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area

Learn more at their website or call (973) 334-3130.

Great Swamp Conservation Management Area in Harding Township

Great Swamp Conservation Management Area is located at 1 Tiger Lily Lane Harding Township, NJ 07976.

There is a 73 acre conservation management area here that is open for students from schools as well as the general public. This area can be hiked and there are also events held occasionally throughout the year. 

Stephanie explains the tree cookie and parts of the tree at Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center
Stephanie explains the tree cookie and parts of the tree at Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center

5 Things you can do at the Great Swamp Conservation Management Area

How much is admission at Great Swamp Conservation Management Area?

  • Admission is free. 

When is the nature center open?

  • Open daily from dawn to dusk. 

Upcoming events

Are the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The trails are only partially accessible in the boardwalk areas. 

Walking and hiking trails

7 more things to know before visiting the Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center

  • Strollers are allowed but they may be hard to push in some areas. 
  • There is one porta potty that is there most of the year. 
  • Food and drinks are allowed on the property. 
  • Parking is at the end of a cul de sac. This is a residential area. 
  • Pets are allowed as long as waste is carried out and they remain on a leash. They are also not allowed at certain times during hunting season. 
  • They are on eBird at GreatSwampCMA.
  • Wear proper shoes as trails may be wet, muddy or slippery. 
  • Read our post about things to find at Great Swamp.

Learn more at their website or call 973-538-3500. 

Kay Environmental Center in Chester – not open to the public

Kay Environmental Center is located at 200 Pottersville Rd Chester, NJ 07930. 

Learn more at their website or call 908-879-5100. 

Bamboo Brook Outdoor Education Center in Far Hills 

Bamboo Brook Outdoor Education Center is located at 300 Longview Road Far Hills, NJ 07931.

This is a botanical garden and public park that consists of 670 acres. 

1 Thing you can do at the Bamboo Brook Outdoor Education Center

  • Hike the trails. 

When is the nature center open?

  • The Willowwood Arboretum and Bamboo Brook are open daily from 8 am until dusk. It is open year round for every season. 

Walking and hiking trails

Learn more at their website or call 908-879-5100.

Schiff Nature Preserve in Mendham

Schiff Nature Preserve is located at 339 Pleasant Valley Rd Mendham, NJ 07945. 

The Schiff Nature Preserve is 768 acres of preserved land as well as a nature center. The nature center has some exhibits of taxidermy and others about the history of the Preserve. There are also 12 miles of marked trails for hiking. 

 2 Things you can do at the Schiff Nature Preserve

How much is admission at Schiff Nature Preserve?

  • Admission at the Schiff Nature Preserve is free. 

When is the nature center open?

  • The Nature Center is usually open from Tuesday to Friday between 10 am to 3 pm. Call to verify before going. 

Upcoming events

Are the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The Schiff Nature Center is not accessible. 

Walking and hiking trails

5 more things to know before visiting the Schiff Nature Preserve

  • Strollers are allowed. 
  • There is a regular restroom in the Nature Center. There is also a latrine on the intersection of the purple and white trail. 
  • Food and drink are allowed on the property. All trash must be carried out. 
  • Parking is in a parking lot at the Nature Center. 
  • Dogs are allowed on a leash on marked trails as long as their waste is also carried out. 

Learn more at their website or call 973-543-6004. 

The Raptor Trust in Millington

The Raptor Trust is located at 1390 White Bridge Rd Basking Ridge, NJ 07920. 

There is an education center that is currently open by appointment only that features raptor eggs, nests and more. The trust is also home to 50 birds. There is also a medical and rehab center on site as well. 

2 Things you can do at the Raptor Trust

  • Visit the raptors. 
  • Make an appointment to get a tour and see the education center. 

How much is admission at the Raptor Trust?

  • Admission is free but donations are encouraged. 

When is the nature center open?

  • The Raptor Trust is open from 9 am to 4 pm daily. The education center is currently open by appointment only. Contact them to make an appointment before going.  

Upcoming events

Are the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The paths are gravel so they are not very accessible. 

6 more things to know before visiting the Raptor Trust

  • Strollers are allowed.
  • There are restrooms located off of the Education Center back deck and open to TRT visitors. 
  • Food and drink are allowed on the property. Picnic tables are available near the Education Center. 
  • There is a parking lot.
  • Pets are not allowed at the Raptor Trust. 
  • Masks are required indoors. 

Learn more at their website or call 908-647-1091.

Passaic County Nature Centers

At this time we are not aware of any nature centers in Passaic County.

Sussex County Nature Centers

At this time we are not aware of any nature centers in Sussex County.

Union County Nature Centers

Trailside Nature and Science Center in Mountainside

Trailside Nature and Science Center is located at 452 New Providence Road Mountainside, NJ 07092. 

The Trailside Nature and Science Center is on a 2,065 acre preserve within the Watchung Reservation. The Center itself has a beech tree and lots of exhibits. There is also a library, children’s discovery room and auditorium. There are over 13 miles of trails. There are interesting features on the short Sensory Trail such as a gazebo, musical things and raised garden beds. 

Trailside Nature Center, Mountainside NJ
Trailside Nature Center, Mountainside NJ

4 Things you can do at the Trailside Nature and Science Center

  • Hike the Trails. 
  • Visit the Nature and Science Center. 
  • Attend a Toddler Time or Back to Nature Program. 
  • Go on a Moonlight Walk or a Senior Nature Walk. 
Crank up a dial to hear an audio recording at the Trailside Nature Center.

How much is admission to the Trailside Nature and Science Center?

  • Admission to the Trailside Nature Center is free. 

When is the nature center open?

  • It is open from 10 am to 4 pm Tuesday through Sunday. It is closed on Mondays. It is also closed on Easter, July,  Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Upcoming events

Are the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • Trailside Nature Center is accessible. 
life-sized wigwam Lenapi native american tent
Lenapi teepee at Trailside Nature and Science Center

6 more things to know before visiting the Trailside Nature & Science Center

  • Strollers are allowed. 
  • There are restrooms on the property that are also accessible. 
  • Food and drink are allowed only outside of the Nature Center. 
  • Parking is onsite at a free lot.  
  • Pets are not allowed aside from service animals. 
  • There are lots of worksheets on their website that can be printed out. 
  • View our guide, Explore Trailside Nature and Science Center with Kids ~ Jersey Family Fun.

Learn more at their website or call 908-789-3670.

Warren County Nature Centers

Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center in Oxford

Pequest Trout Hatchery is located at 605 Pequest Rd Oxford, NJ 07863. 

There is a Natural Resource Education Center and a Trout Hatchery. 

2 Things You Can Do at the Pequest Trout Hatchery 

  • Learn about trout. 
  • Hike the trails. 

When is the nature center open?

  • The Pequest Building is closed. WMA is open for Passive Recreation. Trails are open daily from dawn to dusk. 

Walking and hiking trails

Learn more at their website

Merrill Creek Reservoir in Washington

Merrill Creek Reservoir is located at 34 Merrill Creek Rd Washington, NJ 07882. 

There is a 650 acre reservoir. Around this there is a 290 acre Environmental Preserve and 2000 acres of woods. 

When is the nature center open?

  • All trails are open. The Visitor’s Center is closed. 

Learn more at their website or call 908-454-1213.

Nature Centers in Central New Jersey

Hunterdon County Nature Centers

Whittemore — Community, Culture & Conservation, Tewksbury

Whittemore is located at 7 Rockaway Rd Oldwick, NJ 08858. 

There is a 180 acre preserve along with Whittemore House, Whittemore Meadows and 11 miles of trails. This was the former estate for Helen Whittemore. The house is now a multipurpose house where there are various things held such as yoga, pilates, children’s classes, oil painting, offices and more. It is a cultural and educational facility. 

6 Things You Can Do at Whittemore

  • Walk through the sculpture garden.
  • Attend an art show or garden concert. 
  • Take a wellness class. 
  • Walk on the geocaching trail. View the geocaching brochure
  • Attend a lecture. 
  • Learn about food foraging or attend a pop-up dinner or fundraising dinner. 

How much is admission at Whittemore?

  • Admission to Whittemore is free but many programs have a fee. 

When is the nature center open?

  • Trails are open from dawn to dusk every day of the week. The house is open when there are programs. It is open when classes are in session.   

Upcoming events

Are the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • Not all areas are accessible. 

Walking and hiking trails

5 more things to know before visiting the Whittemore CCC

  • Strollers are allowed. 
  • There are 2 porta potties on the property. 
  • Food and drinks are allowed on the property but all trash must be taken away. 
  • Parking is in a parking lot. 
  • Pets are allowed on a leash. They can be off of their leash in Whittemore Meadows. 

Learn more at their website or call 908-439-1201. 

Mercer County Nature Centers

Lawrence Nature Center in Lawrence

Lawrence Nature Center is located at 481 Drexel Ave Lawrence Township,NJ  08648.

The Lawrence Nature Center adjoins the 36 acre Drexel Woods in Lawrenceville. The nature center was the former home of Carl and Lucille Rink. There are no displays inside of the nature center but there are plans to make changes to it in the future. There are many birds that have been seen at the trails next to the Nature Center and there is a butterfly garden. During the summer there are programs such as nature camps and evening events for families. 

2 Things you can do at the Lawrence Nature Center

  • Hike the trails. 
  • Attend a Summer Program at the Nature Center. 

How much is admission at Lawrence Nature Center?

  • Admission at the Nature Center is free. 

When is the nature center open?

  • The trails are open from dawn to dusk. 

Upcoming events

  • Events will be done through the Lawrenceville Recreation Department. 

Walking and hiking trails

4 more things to know before visiting the Lawrence Nature Center

  • Strollers are allowed. 
  • There are no restrooms on the property. 
  • Food and drinks are allowed on the property. There are picnic tables. 
  • Parking is on the driveway and on the street. There are plans to update this in the future. 

Learn more at their website or call 609-844-7065.

Tulpehaking Nature Center in Trenton, NJ

Tulpehaking Nature Center is located at 157 Westcott Ave Trenton, NJ 08610. 

The Tulpehaking Nature Center is a great place to take young children. There is a small gazebo outside of the front and a small path through the small garden that my kids have loved walking through and relaxing in each time we visit. . Inside my kids enjoyed the room with lots of nature related educational toys such as wooden log construction sets, themed puzzles and puppets. The room has small chairs for kids that are carved out of logs and on the side of the room there is often a craft or things to look at under microscopes. Many of these things have still remained as it has now transformed into a Beaver reading room. My kids have enjoyed their storytimes in the past. In other rooms there are a few educational displays and some taxidermied animals as well as some live animals such as turtles. Tulpehaking is a Lenape word meaning Land of the Turtle. Turtles can often be seen sunning themselves on logs in the park during the spring. They offer some programs throughout the year and there are also some trails that have water views. If you drive or walk further along the road after the parking lot near the center you will find a picnic area and canoe launch area. It is also a part of the Lenapehoking Watershed which means that it is a part of the new Aqua Marooned card game. 

4 Things you can do at the Tulpehaking Nature Center

  • Visit the beaver room. 
  • Have a picnic outside of the nature center. 
  • Hike the trails to see the turtles at the Spring Lake area of Roebling Park. 
  • Get a pack of Aqua Marooned cards and an expansion pack here to use along your hike.  

How much is admission at Tulpehaking Nature Center?

  • Admission at the Tulpehaking Nature Center is free. 

When is the nature center open?

  • It is open from Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. Call 609-888-3218 for more information. 

Upcoming events

Walking and hiking trails

3 more things to know before visiting the Tulpehaking Nature Center

  • There are restrooms on the property. 
  • Food and drink are allowed outside of the nature center. 
  • Parking is in a gravel parking lot nearby. 

Learn more at their website, call 609-888-3218, or email natureprograms@mercercounty.org. Another helpful website is Mercer County Park Commission | Tulpehaking Nature Center (mercercountyparks.org)

Stonybrook Millstone Watershed in Pennington

Stonybrook Millstone Watershed is located at 31 Titus Mill Rd Pennington, NJ 08534.

The Watershed Institute has over 10 miles of hiking trails including woods, water, meadows, boardwalks and more. There is also a Butterfly House on the property. Our family really enjoyed their H20Quest programs. Registrants take a hike around the property while visiting different stations to find clues in order for you to figure out the answers to different questions. At the end participants celebrate by having a marshmallow by a campfire. 

5 Things you can do at Stonybrook Millstone Watershed

How much is admission at Stonybrook Millstone Watershed?

  • Admission is free but many events and programs require a fee. 

When is the nature center open?

  • The Watershed is open daily with free admission from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays and 10 am to 4 pm on weekends. The hiking trails are open from dawn to dusk. 

Upcoming events

Is the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The Watershed Institute building is accessible and there is a half mile boardwalk that is accessible as well. 

Walking and hiking trails

5 more things to know before visiting the Watershed Institute

  • Strollers are allowed.
  • There are restrooms on the property inside of the Watershed Center. 
  • Food and drink are allowed on the property on the picnic tables in the center grounds. 
  • Parking is in a parking lot. 
  • Pets are allowed on a leash on the property but not in the Butterfly House. 

Learn more at their website or call 609-737-3735.

Washington Crossing State Park Nature Center in Titusville

Washington Crossing State Park Nature Center is located at 355 Washington Crossing-Pennington Rd Titusville, NJ 08560. 

Washington Crossing State Park is home to a visitor’s center, nature center and Johnson’s Ferry House. It is the site of Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware river on Christmas night in 1776. This is reenacted yearly. The nature’s center itself has animals as well as preserved wildlife, light board identification games, nature charts, a honey hive and a computer learning station. 

5 Things you can do at the Washington Crossing State Park Nature Center

  • Attend a program at the Nature Center. 
  • Go to the Visitor’s Center Museum to see artifacts from the American Revolution. 
  • Visit the John W. H. Simpson Observatory on Friday nights. 
  • Try cross country skiing, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking or snowshoeing in the park. 
  • Have a picnic. 

How much is admission at Washington Crossing State Park Nature Center?

  • It is $5 for NJ Residents and $7 for Out of State Residents. The cost is per vehicle and will be there from Memorial Day to Labor Day. 

When is the nature center open? 

  • The gate of the park is open from 8 am to 6 pm. The Nature Center is open from 12 to 4 pm on Saturday and Sunday. The Visitor Center is open from 9 to 11:30 am Tuesday through Sunday and 12:30 to 4 pm. There are tours available at the Johnson Ferry House from Thursday to Saturday at 11 am, 2 pm and 3 pm. The Observatory is open on Friday nights from 8:30 pm to 11 pm from April through October. 

Upcoming events

  • To find out about events at the nature center call the number 609-737-0609.

Is the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • Trails are not ADA accessible. Facilities are partially accessible. Call 609-737-0623 for further information. 

Walking and hiking trails

5 more things to know before visiting the Washington Crossing State Park Nature Center

  • Strollers are allowed. 
  • There are restrooms on the property.
  • Food and drink are allowed on the property. There are two picnic areas. There is also playground equipment at the Knox Grove picnic area. 
  • Parking is in multiple locations around the park such as near the Nature Center and Visitor’s Center. 
  • Pets are allowed on the trails but must be on a leash. 

Learn more at their website or call 609-737-0623.

Middlesex County Nature Centers

Plainsboro Preserve, Cranbury

Plainsboro Preserve is located at 80 Scotts Corner Rd Plainsboro, NJ 08536. 

Plainsboro Preserve has more than 1,000 acres of open space and the 50 acre McCormack Lake. There is also the Rush Holt Environmental Education Center. This has an outdoor education classroom, workshops and more. The Preserve is the site of numerous great programs throughout the year. The fall is an especially picturesque time to visit and see all the trees with changing fall leaf colors and reflections on the lake. There are over 150 species of birds that can be seen here. 

Plainsboro Preserve in Plainsboro NJ

3 Things you can do at Plainsboro Preserve

  • Hike the trails. 
  • Register for a program such as the Little Ones Nature Series, Nature Journaling, or the Walking Club. 
  • Do some bird watching. 
Plainsboro Preserve in Plainsboro NJ

How much is admission at Plainsboro Preserve?

  • Admission at Plainsboro Preserve is free but there is a cost for many of its programs. 

When is the nature center open?

  • The Preserve is open at 7 am to 7 pm daily for its trails. 

Upcoming events

Are the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The Plainsboro Preserve is accessible. 

Walking and hiking trails

Plainsboro Preserve in Plainsboro NJ

5 more things to know before visiting Plainsboro Preserve

  • Strollers are allowed.
  • There are restrooms on the property.
  • No picnicking is allowed on the property. 
  • Parking is in a parking lot. 
  • Pets are not allowed at the Plainsboro Preserve. 

Learn more at their website or call 609-799-0909 ext. 1719. 

Monmouth County Nature Centers

Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center in Howell

Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center is located at 311 Windeler Rd Howell, NJ 07731. 

This area has 1208 acres which include land as well as water. There is a 5 mile trail outside of the property and a 1 mile nature trail. There is a Visitor’s Center that has a tackle and bait shop as well as a viewing room with a fireplace that faces the reservoir. There are places for people to boat or fish along the water, rentals and pontoon boat tours.  The Environmental Center is focused on teaching people about wetlands ecology with exhibits and there are wildlife education areas as well as a camera focused on the bald eagle’s nest. There are outdoor picnic tables and umbrellas are also put out in the summer. There are multiple garden beds. 

6 Things you can do at Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center

  • Rent a kayak or rowboat from April 1st through October 31st. 
  • Go on a pontoon boat tour. 
  • Go on a playground
  • Go ice-skating in the winter, ice-fishing or ice-boating in the winter. 
  • Hike the trails. 
  • Go fishing to try and catch a bass, muskie, catfish or panfish. Anglers over 16 need to purchase a state license. 

How much is admission at Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center?

  • Admission at the Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center is free. 

When is the nature center open?

  • The trails are open from 6 am to 8:30 pm. The Visitor’s Center is open from 6 am to 6 pm. The Environmental Center is open from 6 am to 4 pm. 

Upcoming events

Is the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The Visitor’s Center and Environmental Center are accessible. 

Walking and hiking trails

5 more things to know before visiting the Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center

  • Strollers are allowed. 
  • There are restrooms in both of the buildings. The porta john’s are accessible on the trails. 
  • Food and drinks are allowed on the property. There are picnic areas. 
  • Parking is in a few different parking lots. 
  • Pets are/are not allowed at the garden name.

Learn more at their website or call 732-751-9453.

Huber Woods Environmental Center in Middletown

Huber Woods Environmental Center is located at 25 Brown’s Dock Rd Locust, NJ 07760.

The Huber Woods Environmental Center has 390 acres of preserved open space. There is also a reptile house and over 8.5 miles of trails. The Center itself has a puppet theater, Forest room and exhibits on topics such as the Lenape. 

2 Things you can do at Huber Woods Environmental Center

  • Visit the Reptile House. 
  • Hike the trails. 
  • Take your kids to the environmental center. 

How much is admission at Huber Woods Environmental Center?

  • Admission at Huber Woods Park is free. 

When is the nature center open?

  • Huber Woods Park is open from 7 am to dusk daily. 

Is the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The environmental center is accessible. 

Walking and hiking trails

6 more things to know before visiting the Huber Woods Environmental Center

  • Strollers are allowed.
  • There are restrooms on the property. 
  • Food and drink are allowed outdoors. There are picnic tables. 
  • Parking is in a lot near the Environmental Center. 
  • Smoking is not allowed. 

Learn more in the Huber Woods Park Brochure or call 732-872-2670.

Somerset County Nature Centers

Somerset County Environmental Center in Basking Ridge

Somerset County Environmental Center is located at 190 Lord Stirling Rd Basking Ridge, NJ 07920. 

The Somerset County Environmental Education Center has numerous things including art exhibits upstairs, a permanent exhibit downstairs about the Great Swamp Experience and more. There are numerous ponds around the property where turtles and frogs can be seen basking in the sun on warmer days. There are also 9.5 miles of trails located here. 

3 Things you can do at the Sussex County Environmental Center

  • Register for an upcoming program. 
  • Identify butterflies that are seen with this Butterfly Companion guide
  • Visit their latest temporary exhibit and the permanent exhibit at the Environmental Education Center. 

How much is admission at Sussex County Environmental Center?

  • Admission at the Somerset County Environmental Education Center is free. There is a fee to register for programs. These are open to the public. 

When is the nature center open?

  • The Environmental Education Center is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily. The trails are open from sunrise to sunset. 

Upcoming events

Is the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The Center is accessible. One of the loops is also a boardwalk. 

Walking and hiking trails

6 more things to know before visiting the Somerset County Environmental Education Center

  • Strollers are allowed. They may be tough to push in some areas. 
  • There are restrooms on the property. They are also accessible. The men and women’s restrooms include changing tables. 
  • Food and drinks are allowed on the property. There are picnic tables. There is a carry in, carry out policy. 
  • Parking is in a parking lot. 
  • Pets are not allowed at the environmental center. 
  • Bikes are not allowed. 

Learn more at their website or call 908-722-1200 Ext. 5002. 

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary in Bernardsville

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary is located at 11 Hardscrabble Road Bernardsville, NJ 07924. 

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary has 276 acres of different habitats and over 200 species of different wildlife. There is also the Hoffman Center for Conservation and Environmental Education that has offices, a tree-top level observation deck, exhibits, a bookstore and a bird-feeding station. Frogs can also be seen at the vernal pond. 

3 Things you can do at the Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary

When is the nature center open?

  • It is open from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm on Friday and Saturday and 12 to 5 pm on Sunday. It is closed on holidays.

Upcoming events

Walking and hiking trails

3 more things to know before visiting the Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary

  • There are restrooms on the property. 
  • There is no picnicking on the property. 
  • Pets are not allowed at the Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary. 

Learn more at the Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary website or call 908-396-7409.

Duke Farms in Hillsborough

Duke Farms is located at 1112 Dukes Parkway West Hillsborough, NJ 08844. 

Duke Farms is a place that people can viisit any time of the year. They offer many different programs for adults, kids and families. There are 18 miles of well maintained trails and there are over 1000 acres to explore. Many of the trails are easy to navigate with a stroller. My daughter loved exploring the paths with her friends when she was two.  There are various places that you must visit while you are there such as the beautiful orchid range built in the form of a palm house, the lake system of seven lakes and the Great Falls tiered waterfall. There is also a Coach Barn and the Farm Barn which houses the Orientation Center. 

4 Things you can do at Duke Farms

  • See the orchids. 
  • See the Great Falls tiered waterfall. 
  • Hike the trails. 
  • Register for a program. 

How much is admission at Duke Farms?

  • Admission at Duke Farms is free. 

When is the nature center open?

  • Trails are open. Free entry passes are required on Saturdays from April through November. Duke Farms is open on Tuesdays to Saturdays from 8:30 am to 6 pm. Reserve a Saturday entry pass.
  • Duke’s Farm is also closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. The Orientation Center and the Cafe are currently closed. The Great Falls tiered waterfall goes off at 10 am, noon, 2 and 4 pm except from November 1st to April 1st. 

Upcoming events

Are the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • Many of the trails are wheelchair accessible. 

Walking and hiking trails

7 more things to know before visiting Duke Farms

  • Strollers are allowed.
  • Restrooms are at the Farm Barn and there are composting toilets on Oak Way and West Way as well. 
  • Food and drink are allowed on the property. There is also a Farm-to-Table Cafe. 
  • Parking is full when parking spots are filled in the parking lot. This can happen on nice weather days so be sure to have a backup destination in mind. 
  • Pets are not allowed at Duke Farms.
  • Download the app before you go for an interactive map.
  • Print the family activities guide.

Learn more at their website or call 908-722-3700.

Nature Centers in South Jersey

Atlantic County Nature Centers

Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Galloway

Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge is located at 800 Great Creek Rd Oceanville, NJ 08231. 

This wildlife refuge is mostly wetlands and it is a key part of the flight path of the migration of many birds. There is an 8 mile wildlife drive that has a boardwalk, trail network and two wildlife observation towers. This refuge covers over 28,000 acres along the NJ coast. 

family hike At Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge
family hike At Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge

5 Things you can do at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge 

  • See how many species of wildlife that you can find. View more details at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge
  • There is a non-motorized boat launch at Lily Lake and motorized boat access at Scotts Landing boat launch. 
  • See the views from an observation tower. 
  • Drive along the Wildlife Drive.
  • Try shell fishing. 

How much is admission at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge?

  • There is an entrance fee for the Wildlife Drive and trails at the refuge headquarters. The fee is $4 for a car or motorcycle or $2 for a bike or hiker.
  • An annual pass to the refuge is $12.
  • Read more details about the fees.

When is the nature center open?

  • The refuge is open from sunrise to sunset. The Visitor Information Center is open from 10 am to 2 pm on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. 

Is the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The Akers Woodland, Leeds Eco-Trail and the Cedar Bonnet Island Trail are accessible. 

Walking and hiking trails

7 more things to know before visiting Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge 

  • Strollers are allowed but they may be difficult to push on some trails. .
  • There are restrooms on the property.
  • Food and drink are allowed to be brought outdoors. There is a small area to eat. 
  • There is a small parking lot. 
  • Dogs are allowed on a leash and only on designated pet walking trails. 
  • Virtually drive the Wildlife Auto Drive at Forsythe or Cedar Bonnet Island
  • Bikes are only permitted on the Wildlife Drive and Cedar Bonnet Island Trail. They are not allowed on hiking trails. 

Learn more at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge | U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website or call 609-652-1665. 

Estell Manor – Warren E. Fox Nature Center in Mays Landing

Warren E. Fox Nature Center is located at 109 Boulevard Route 50 Mays Landing, NJ 08330. 

This is the Atlantic County headquarters for environmental education and an information office as well. There is an auditorium, offices and indoor exhibits such as those of insect and plant displays, historic information, a live animal display area and more. Don’t forget to see the winter vulture roost near the entrance of the park. It is located in Estell Manor Park which is adjacent to the Great Egg Harbor River. There are 30 miles of trails. 

The nature center at Estell Manor
The nature center at Estell Manor

5 Things You Can Do at the Warren E. Fox Nature Center

  • Visit the indoor exhibits. 
  • Get your passport to the National Parks stamp for the Pinelands National Reserve and the Great Egg Harbor Scenic and Recreation River. 
  • Do some birding. View the Estell Manor Park/Warren E. Fox Nature Center bird guide
  • Try cross country skiing on the trails in the winter. 
  • See the wood frogs at the small pond off the main trail behind the Nature Center. 

How much is admission at Warren E. Fox Nature Center?

  • Admission to the Warren E. Fox Nature Center is free. 

When is the nature center open?

  • Open daily from 7:30 to a half hour after sunset. The nature center itself is open from 8 am to 4 pm daily. Gates are located at dusk. 

Is the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The center itself is accessible. The swamp trail is ADA accessible and there is a recently paved purple heart trail. 

Upcoming events

Walking and hiking trails

Estell Manor bear Estell Manor Nature Center
Estell Manor Nature Center

6 more things to know before visiting Warren E. Fox Nature Center

  • Strollers are allowed. 
  • There are restrooms on the property.
  • Food and drinks are allowed on the property. There are 2 picnic areas, grills and a playground. 
  • Parking is in a parking lot. 
  • Pets are allowed. 
  • There are bike rentals available that are first come first serve. 

Learn more at their Warren E. Fox Nature Center website or call 609-625-1897.

Burlington County Nature Centers

Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Preserve in Medford

Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge is located at 4 Sawmill Rd Medford, NJ 08055. 

Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge is an amazing place to take your children. It is a 171 acre wildlife refuge and animal rehabilitation hospital. My daughter did her first hike completely on her own here at 18 months old. There are numerous classes and family events offered throughout the year. There are multiple trails, a natural playground and sandpit for kids to play in, picnicking area, storybook walks, animals to see in outdoor enclosures and more. The trails are well maintained and the staff is very friendly and helpful with any questions you may have. The nature center itself has an indoor play area, room to see reptiles, an exhibit room, a gift shop and restrooms. So far our favorite storybook walk was the one with the book The Mitten and our favorite classes were You and Me Preschool classes about Fairy Houses and Frogs. For those who have never visited before it is easy to spend an entire day here. 

Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge Summer Camp in South Jersey
Photo credit Woodford Cedar Run

7 Things You Can Do at the Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge 

  • Sign up for You and Me Preschool, Knee High Naturalists program or Homeschool Classes. There are also After School programs and programs for Scouts. 
  • Try a Raptor Photography Event, Kid Photography Class or a Night Hike.
  • Attend a special event such as National Get Outdoors Day, Autumn with the Animals, Trick or Treating at the Refuge and more. 
  • Rent a nature pack at the Nature Center for your hike (free for members). 
  • Have a picnic and play on the natural playground. 
  • Visit the outdoor Wildlife housing area. 
  • Go on a storybook walk. 
Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge in Medford, NJ

How much is admission at Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge?

  • Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for kids and free for those under 3. It is $2 for those with an EBT card. Be sure to check in first at the Visitor’s Center when you visit. The Burlington County Library System offers a free museum pass to visit here. Most events have a fee and require preregistration. 

When is the nature center open?

  • The Nature Center is open from 10 am to 4 pm every day of the week. 

Upcoming events

Is the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The Center itself is accessible and parts of the property are accessible. 
Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge in Medford, NJ

5 more things to know before visiting the Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge

  • Strollers are allowed.
  • There are restrooms on the property. 
  • Food and drink are allowed on the property. There is an area for picnicking near the parking lot. 
  • Parking is in 2 parking lots. 
  • Pets are not allowed at the Wildlife Refuge. 

Learn more at the Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge | Nature Center, Trails & Wildlife Rehabilitation website or call 856-983-3329 ext. 108.

Rancocas Nature Center in Mt Holly

Rancocas Nature Center is located at 794 Rancocas Rd Westampton, NJ 08060. 

The Rancocas Nature Center is a great place to get a membership if you reside in Burlington County. There are a variety of programs offered for all ages such as Family Treks on the Trails, Hump Week Hikes, Night hikes, and more. There are also numerous special events during the year. Two of our family’s favorites are SantaQuest and their Maple Sugaring Event. The kids also enjoy visiting the Children’s Garden to see what is growing, visiting their Music Wall, and visiting the Dragonfly Pond to search for frogs. The nature center itself has live animals to see, a small gift shop and some educational information. There are picnic tables located nearby in the shade. The center is a nonprofit organization that is on 210 acres of the Rancocas State Park. It has 3 miles of hiking trails. There are interesting things along the trails such as vernal ponds, deer and boardwalks. This has been a great spot to take my kids to events that correspond with our homeschool lessons. 

Teen with a turtle at the Rancocas Nature Center
Rancocas Nature Center

8 Things you can do at the Rancocas Nature Center

  • Visit the sensory activity area that includes things such as a giant music wall and tree stumps to walk on. 
  • Visit the pollinator-wildlife and monarch waystation garden. 
  • Visit the children’s garden and butterfly house located next to the Nature Center. 
  • Hike the trails. There are also programs for doing this with others and sometimes they have storybook walks along the trails. 
  • Play Pokemon Go as you walk. 
  • Register for fun events such as the SantaQuest, Maple Sugaring Event or Fall Fun Days. 
  • Go birding. Review the New Jersey Audubon bird guide for the Rancocas Nature Center
  • Have a birthday party here. 
Rancocas Nature Center in Westampton, NJ

How much is admission at Rancocas Nature Center?

When is the nature center open?

  • Trails are open from dawn to dusk daily. The Visitor’s Center is open from noon to 4 pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. 

Upcoming events

Is the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • There is a ramp in front of the nature center. 

Walking and hiking trails

Rancocas-Nature-Center-Dragonfly-Pond-with-frog

5 more things to know before visiting the Rancocas Nature Center

  • Strollers are allowed but they can be difficult to push in some areas. 
  • There are restrooms on the property within the Nature Center when it is open. 
  • Food and drink are allowed on the property. 
  • Parking is in a front and back gravel parking lot. 
  • No pets are allowed at the Rancocas Nature Center. 
  • View an overview and map of the Rancocas State Park.

Learn more at the The Rancocas Nature Center website or call 609-261-2495. 

Palmyra Cove Nature Center in Palmyra

Palmyra Cove Nature Center is located at 1300 Route 73 North Palmyra, NJ 08065. The 73 entrance to the Nature Cove is permanently closed and visitors can only use the Templeton Blvd entrance now. 

Palmyra Cove is a 250 acre park adjoining the Delaware River. It is home to numerous turkey vultures, deer, frogs and more. Be sure to look out for falcons! They have falcon cameras set up to view their nesting boxes on the Tacony-Palmyra bridge and the Burlington-Bristol bridge as well that can be viewed online. My kids loved their Cove Caterpillars programs they used to hold a few years ago where they did hikes, made bird feeders, bird identification, looked at fish and more. It is a great place to hike since it is easy with young children and a lot of wildlife can be seen. They also enjoy the beach area. The Environmental STEM center has multiple interactive exhibits that tell kids about different things such as the earth topography, birds and more. 

Palmyra Nature Cove
Light up Trail Display at Palmyra Cove Nature Park

5 Things you can do at the Palmyra Cove Nature Center

baby deer at Palmyra Cove Nature Center in North Palmyra, NJ

How much is admission at Palmyra Cove Nature Center?

  • Admission is free. 

When is the nature center open?

  • The Environmental STEM Center is open from 9 am to 4 pm on Mondays to Fridays. The Outdoor Nature Park is open from dawn to dusk. 

Is the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The Environmental STEM Center is handicap accessible but the park is not. 

Upcoming events

Walking and hiking trails

Display at Palmyra Cove Nature Park

5 more things to know before visiting the Palmyra Cove Nature Center

  • Strollers are allowed. 
  • There are restrooms on the property within the building when it is open. 
  • Food and drink are allowed on the property. There are some areas where you can picnic near the building. 
  • Parking is in a lot in front of the building. 
  • Pets are not allowed at the Palmyra Cove Nature Center. 

Learn more at the Palmyra Cove/Institute website or call 856-829-1900 ext. 1264. 

Camden County Nature Centers

Camden County Environmental Center in Cherry Hill

Camden County Environmental Center is located at 1301 Park Boulevard Cherry Hill, NJ 08002. 

The nature center adjoins some of the county offices. Inside people can obtain a pack of Aqua Marooned and an expansion pack for their kids which are great to take along on your hike and also a great way to help you learn some facts about what you are seeing. The 1.8 mile Cooper River Wildlife Walk is behind the center. Along this walk, there are lots of informational signs about local wildlife, many birds and some small stone sculptures and picnic tables. There are some parts of the trail that get very muddy and there are also a lot of geese. 

Coopers Wildlife Walk Camden Environmental Center in Cherry Hill, NJ

2 Things you can do at the Camden County Environmental Center

Camden County Environmental Center in Cherry Hill, NJ

When is the nature center open?

  • Verify it is open before going. This is currently unknown as it was recently undergoing renovations. Call the Camden County Parks Department for more information before planning a visit. 

Upcoming events

  • Camden County programs through their Parks Department are only open to Camden County residents for registration. 

Walking and hiking trails

Camden County nature Center Trail in Cherry Hill, NJ

4 more things to know before visiting the Camden County Environmental Center

  • Strollers are allowed but the trail is not paved so they could be difficult to push. 
  • There are restrooms on the property. There are portapotties on the trail and restrooms in the center when it is open. 
  • Food and drinks are allowed outside. There are picnic tables behind the center and along the trail as well. 
  • Parking is in a parking lot adjacent to the building.

Learn more at the Camden County Environmental Center website.

Cape May County Nature Centers

Cape May Bird Observatory Northwood Location in Cape May Point

Cape May Bird Observatory is located at 701 East Lake Drive Cape May Point, NJ 08212. 

Songbirds can often be seen. The best seasons for bird watching are in the spring and the fall during their migration routes. Brief description of Nature Center It is part of the longest running monarch migration study in North America. Many visitors enjoy walking near Lily Lake. There is information about Cape May Point, a retail and gift shop and a trail with a water feature. 

2 Things you can do at the Cape May Bird Observatory

  • Go birding. Some of the best birding is actually along the road right next to the parking. 
  • See the monarchs. There are regular demonstrations at the hawkwatch pavilion as part of the Cape May Monarch Monitoring Project.

How much is admission at Cape May Bird Observatory?

  • Admission to the Cape May Bird Observatory is free. 

When is the nature center open?

  • It is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. 

Upcoming events

Is the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The Nature Center is not accessible. 

Walking and hiking trails

  • The Ryan Dewitt Memorial Trail has native plants, pollinators, and birdfeeders. 

5 more things to know before visiting Cape May Bird Observatory

  • Strollers are allowed. 
  • There are restrooms on the property. 
  • Food and drink are allowed on the property and there are benches. 
  • Parking is in front of the center along a strip on East Lake Drive. 
  • Pets are not allowed at the Cape May Bird Observatory. 

Learn more at the Cape May Bird Observatory website or call 609-400-3868.

Nature Center of Cape May in Cape May

Nature Center of Cape May is located at 1600 Delaware Avenue Cape May, NJ 08204. 

There is a nature center campus which includes the Trucksess Welcome Center, indoor observation lounge, 3 story tower with an observation platform, gardens, classrooms, and more. The nature center has natural history programs. There is a nature nook that is like a please touch museum. There are turtles, snakes, chinchillas and an aquatics lab. There is a caterpillar and monarch wings for kids to climb on. 

3 Things you can do at the Nature Center of Cape May

  • Go to the top of the tower.
  • Sign up for the Nature Day camp in July and August. 
  • Attend a family program, Cape Island Ocean Festival, the Monarch Festival or another event. 

How much is admission at Nature Center of Cape May?

  • Admission at the Nature Center is free. 

When is the nature center open?

  • Hours are seasonal. It is currently open from 10 to 4 on Monday to Saturday. Verify hours before going.  

Upcoming events

Is the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • There are ramps to access the education hall and welcome center but the 2nd floor is not accessible. 

Walking and hiking trails

  • There is a short meadow trail that has access to Cape May Harbor. 

5 more things to know before visiting the Cape May Nature Center

  • Strollers are allowed. 
  • There are restrooms on the property. 
  • Food and drink are allowed on the property. There are picnic tables. 
  • There is street parking. 
  • Pets are allowed at the nature center. 

Learn more at the Nature Center of Cape May website or call 609-427-3045.

Cape May Point State Park in Cape May

Cape May Point State Park is located at 303 County Highway 629 Cape May, NJ 08204. 

The state park has 244 acres that are close to historic Cape May. There are also 3 hiking trails. It is known for its lighthouse and WWII gun battery and fire control tower. 

3 Things you can do at Cape May Point State Park

  • Try beach walking. 
  • Go birding, especially during the spring and fall. 
  • Visit the lighthouse or fire control tower. 
Cape May Point State Park visitor center

How much is admission at Cape May Point State Park?

  • Admission to the State Park is free. There is a fee to climb to the top of the lighthouse. 

When is the nature center open?

  • The state park is open from 8 am to 8 pm daily. 

Upcoming events

Is the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The red trail is a half mile long and it is accessible. Contact the park office for further information on accessibility.

Walking and hiking trails

Hermit crabs at Cape May Point State Park visitor center

5 more things to know before visiting the Cape May Point State Park Nature Center. 

  • There are restrooms on the property. 
  • Food and drink are allowed on the property. There are pavilions and picnic tables. 
  • Pets must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet. They cannot be on the beach from April 1st to September 15th and they are not allowed on the trails. 
  • Read our guide to Visiting Cape May Point State Park ~ Jersey Family Fun

Learn more at the Cape May Point State Park website or call 609-884-2159.

The Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor

The Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor is located at 1075 Stone Harbor Blvd Stone Harbor, NJ 08247. 

The Wetlands Institute has various things to see such as a terrapin exhibit and aquarium. They are involved in monarch, terrapin and horseshoe crab conservation as well as marsh restoration with the Seven Mile Island Innovation Lab. They have great programming around the year for kids and other programs for adults and families as well. 

6 Things you can do at The Wetlands Institute

  • Do some of the activities that are free with admission. Learn more about activities at The Wetlands Institute
  • Attend an event such as the Spring Shorebird and Horseshoe Crab Festival, Crabulous Crab Day , the Summer Celebration or the Fall Migration Festival. 
  • Do some birding. It is one of the top birding destinations in North America in the fall. 
  • Register for one of their monthly Homeschool Lessons on the third Thursday of each month.
  • Register for their Summer Nature Program for kids ages 5 to 13. 
  • Watch their osprey nest cam.
Wetlands Osprey Nest at Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor NJ
Wetlands Osprey Nest at Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor NJ

How much is admission at Wetlands Institute?

  • There is a fee for admission to the Wetlands Institute. It is $8 for adults, $6 for kids and kids 2 and under as well as members are free. The grounds are free. 

When is the nature center open?

  • The Stone Harbor building is open from 9:30 to 4:30 from mid May to mid September. It is also open for some of the fall and winter but the hours and days open change seasonally. Be sure to verify hours before your visit. The gift shop is open from 9:30 to 4:30 on the weekends. 

Upcoming events

Is the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The institute is accessible. 

Walking and hiking trails

  • There is a quarter mile trail to the boat dock.
Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor, NJ baby turtles

6 more things to know before visiting the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor

  • Strollers are allowed. 
  • There are restrooms on the property. 
  • Food and drink are allowed on the property. There are picnic tables. 
  • There is off street parking and there is a lot off of the Boulevard as well as overflow parking. 
  • Pets are not allowed at the Wetlands Institute. 
  • See a map of the institute

Learn more at The Wetlands Institute website or call 609-368-1211.

Cumberland County Nature Centers

There are no nature centers in Cumberland County that we currently know about. 

Gloucester County Nature Centers

Scotland Run Park Nature Center in Clayton

Scotland Run Park Nature Center is located at 980 E. Academy Street Clayton, NJ 08312.

There are numerous live animals that can be seen at the Nature Center such as a box turtle, painted turtle, corn snake, Northern green frog, green tree frog, spotted salamander, Eastern Fence lizard,  fish, and invertebrates like crayfish. There are also nonliving exhibits, taxidermied animals, and an insect exhibit with preserved moss and butterflies. The park itself offers a playground, picnic areas, trails, canoe and kayak rentals, play structures, a lake, and more. 

Scotland Run Park Nature Center in Clayton

4 Things you can do at the Scotland Run Park Nature Center

  • Register for Nature at Night, Bird Walks, Discover Walks or Nature tots. 
  • Visit the live animals or animal exhibits. 
  • There are often programs for canoe and kayaks within the park during the spring and summer on the county website. 
  • Canoes and kayaks are available at the Scotland Run Park beach on Saturdays and Sundays from June 18th through September 5th. 
  • Enroll in a nature camp. 
Scotland Run Park Nature Center in Clayton, NJ

How much is admission at Scotland Run Park Nature Center?

  • Admission at the Scotland Run Park Nature Center is free. 

When is the nature center open?

  • The nature center is open from 1 to 4 on Thursdays, 1 to 4 on Fridays and 10 to 3 on Saturday and Sunday. The website should be visited for special hours and events. The park is open from sunrise to sunset every day except for Christmas and New Year’s Day. 

Upcoming events

Is the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The Nature Center is accessible. There is also an accessible fishing pier at the boat launch area. 

Walking and hiking trails

  • A middle of Scotland Run Park and trails in either direction open sunup to sundown 
Scotland Run Park Nature Center in Clayton

5 more things to know before visiting Scotland Run Park

  • Strollers are allowed. 
  • There are restrooms on the property. 
  • Food and drink are allowed on the property. There are picnic tables and a pavilion. 
  • Parking is at a lot adjacent to the center. Across the street from this is the playground and Wilson Lake. 
  • Pets are not allowed at Scotland Run Park. 

Learn more at the Scotland Run Park website or call 856-881-0845.

Ocean County Nature Centers

Forest Resource Education Center in Jackson

Forest Resource Education Center is located at 495 Don Conner Rd Jackson, NJ 08527. 

The Forest Resource Education Center is a truly amazing place that is designed like a beautiful lodge with interesting displays.There are 8 miles of trails and it truly feels remote. We had gone for their Fall Forestry Festival and it was great with things such as wood carving, maple sugaring information, macroinvertebrate presentations, hay rides, a controlled burn of the forest and more. 

5 Things you can do at the Forest Resource Education Center

  • Attend their Fall Forestry Festival.
  • Hike their self-guided trails and learn to identify plants. 
  • Bring a bike for their bike trails. 
  • See the pond, sawmill, nursery and sugar shack. 
  • Bring your horse to go horseback riding in designated areas. 

How much is admission at the Forest Resource Education Center?

  • Admission to the Forest Resource Education Center is free. 

When is the nature center open?

  • The grounds are open from dawn to dusk. The interpretive center is open from 8:30 am to 4 pm from Monday to Friday. 

Upcoming events

Walking and hiking trails

  • View the trail map. The interpretive center has booklets for the ABC arboretum, Sensory Awareness, Swamp Life and Discovery Trail in order to help you walk on the self-guided trails. They tell you spots along the trail to stop and identify various plants and trees. 

5 more things to know before visiting the Forest Resource Education Center

  • There are restrooms on the property. 
  • Food and drink are allowed. There are some picnicking areas. 
  • Parking is in a dirt parking lot. 
  • Pets are only permitted in certain areas. Where they are permitted they must remain on a leash. 
  • View the Forest Resource Education Center interactive map

Learn more at the Forest Resource Education Center website or call 732-928-2360.

Jakes Branch Nature Center in Beachwood 

Jakes Branch County Park is located at 1100 Double Trouble Rd Beachwood, NJ 08722. 

The Jakes Branch County Park has a nature center which has lots of great things to see such as a tower from which visitors can see the Forked River Mountains as well as Lakehurst. There is a fire ecology display. The center itself has live animals and teaches visitors about Pinelands ecology. The park itself has a playtrail with things such as a climbing apparatus that is nature themed and more than 8 miles of nature trails as well. There is a tot lot, playground and multiple types of sports fields as well. 

3 Things You Can Do at Jakes Branch Nature Center

  • Visit the live animals and exhibits. 
  • Hike the nearby discovery play trail.
  • Climb to the top of the observation tower. 
Jakes Branch County Park Nature Center
Inside the nature center at Jakes Branch County Park Nature

How much is admission at Jakes Branch Nature Center?

  • Admission to the park is free. 

When is the nature center open?

  • The nature center is open from 10 am to 4 pm. The park is open from dawn to dusk.  

Upcoming events

Is the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • The nature center and restrooms are accessible. 

Walking and hiking trails

Jakes Branch County Park
There are many hands on activities at Jakes Branch County Park.

5 more things to know before visiting Jakes Branch County Park Nature Center

  • Strollers are allowed. 
  • There are restrooms on the property. 
  • Food and drinks are allowed on the property. There are picnic groves. 
  • Parking is in parking lots. 
  • Pets are allowed on a leash. 
  • Read our guide to the Jakes Branch County Park Nature Center

Learn more at the Ocean County Parks website or call 732-281-2750. 

Cloverdale farm cranberry bog with visitor’s center

Cloverdale Farm Cranberry bog with Visitor’s Center is located at 34 Cloverdale Rd Barnegat, NJ 08005. 

The farm has a 1.4 mile self-guided nature trail on its 90 acres. This was a cranberry and tree farm. The bogs also have wildflowers and many birds. The visitor’s center has some informational exhibits. 

2 Things you can do at the Cloverdale Farm Cranberry bog with Visitor’s Center

  • Do some photography. 
  • Bring your skis to try some cross country skiing. 

When is the nature center open?

  • The Visitor’s Center is open from 10 am to 4 pm on Friday to Sunday.

Walking and hiking trails

2 more things to know before visiting Cloverdale Farm Cranberry bog

  • There are restrooms on the property. 
  • Food and drink are allowed. There are picnic areas. 

Learn more at the Ocean County Parks website or call 609-687-1861. 

Lighthouse Center for Natural Research in Ocean Twp

Lighthouse Center for Natural Research is located at 7th Street & Navajo Drive in Waretown, NJ 08758. 

The Lighthouse Center for Natural Research is situated on top of 198 acres of various coastal habitats in New Jersey. These are right next to the Barnegat Bay. The center itself holds interactive programs. 

1 Thing You Can Do at the Lighthouse Center for Natural Research 

  • Register for a program. 

Upcoming events

Walking and hiking trails

3 more things to know before visiting the Lighthouse Center for Natural Research

  • This is a carry-in, carry-out facility. 
  • Programs run rain or shine. If severe weather occurs, they may occur indoors. 
  • Weather at the center is often either breezy or windy. 

Learn more at the Lighthouse Center for Natural Resource Education website or call 609-698-8003. 

Island Beach State Park Nature Center in Seaside Park

Island Beach State Park Nature Center has the closest GPS address near the entrance of 2401 Central Ave Seaside Park, NJ 08752.  The Nature Center is located 7 miles south of the park entrance on the oceanside. 

Island Beach State Park is a National Park in New Jersey that is one everyone should visit. I have fond memories of going with my friend’s family as a kid. It is a barrier island that stretches in between the Atlantic Ocean and the Barnegat Bay. Driving through it really feels like you are somewhere more remote. There are 8 trails that are each about a mile and also have exhibits along the way. 

The Interpretive Center and Nature Center are near the Johnny Allen’s Cove self-guided Trail. This Interpretive Center talks about some of the history of the park, has an osprey camera and other maritime related exhibits. The Nature Center has live animals, displays and more. 

5 Things you can do at Island Beach State Park Nature and Interpretive Centers

  • Try surf fishing, wind boarding, shell collecting, swimming, wildlife viewing or beach walking while you are there. 
  • Hike one of the many trails or go to the beach. 
  • Bring your horse for horseback riding from October 1st through April 30th on the southern 6 miles of the park. There are daily limits and reservations are required.  
  • Try birding. Visit the Spizzle Creek Bird Observation Blind between parking areas 19 and 20. 
  • Take your kayak, canoe or SUP to the Area 15 or 21 launch site. 
Island Beach State Park Nature Center pretend cabin

How much is admission at Island Beach State Park Nature and Interpretive Centers?

  • There are entrance fees to get into the park for each vehicle from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The cost is $6 for weekdays, $10 for weekends, $10 for holidays, $5 for motorcycles, $3 to walk in at Fisherman’s Walkway or $0 for walk-ins and people on bicycles. 

When is the nature center open?

  • Hours are currently TBA for the Interpretive and Nature Centers. Call before going to verify the Nature and/or Interpretive Center will be open. The main gate of the state park opens at 8 am and closes at dusk. Park management also considers the park full once the parking spaces are full and do not let in more people so consider other options as well if going on a summer weekend or on a holiday. 

Upcoming events

Is the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • There is an ADA boardwalk called Fisherman’s Walkway Bay and Tices Shoal that go from the bay to the ocean in the recreation area of Island Beach State Park. Facilities are partially accessible. Contact the park office for more information. 

Walking and hiking trails

Island Beach State Park nature center library

5 more things to know before visiting the Interpretive or Nature Center at Island Beach State Park

  • There are restrooms in the state park. 
  • Parking is at multiple parking lots and areas on the island. 
  • Dogs are allowed in the park on a leash with a maximum length of 6 feet. They are not allowed on the Spizzle Creek Bird Blind Trail or the swimming beach. 
  • Get directions to Island Beach Nature Center
  • Swimming is allocated to 1 mile within the park. Get more details.

Learn more at the Island Beach State Park website, call 732-793-1315, or email info@islandbeachnatureprograms.org. Another helpful website is the New Jersey State Park Service

Cooper Environmental Center in Toms River 

Cooper Environmental Center is located at 1170 Cattus Island Boulevard Toms River, NJ 08753.

Cooper Environmental Center is a great place to visit with children. They have a butterfly garden, bird viewing window, and beehive. Exhibits inside the 5,000 square foot building include an osprey nest, interactive bird watching touch screens, an underground and aboveground environment and more. There are also live animals including reptiles.  It is a part of Cattus Island Park which is 530 acres and also has 7 miles of trails. There are cameras that view the turtles and the osprey. 

5 Things you can do at the Cooper Environmental Center 

  • Visit the butterfly garden, especially from mid-May to October. View the butterflies and native plants guide.  
  • Get a free loaner bike and discovery backpack and ride to the sandy beach via the main trail. 
  • Go on a free nature walk at 2 pm on the weekends. 
  • Borrow a Discovery Backpack to explore the island. 
Cattus Island Park turtle and frog statue

How much is admission at Cooper Environmental Center?

  • Admission at the Cooper Environmental Center is free. 

When is the nature center open?

  • The Environmental Center is open from 8:30 am to 4 pm on Monday to Friday and from 10 am to to 4 pm on Saturday and Sunday. The park is open from dawn to dusk. 

Upcoming events

Is the nature center and grounds accessible?

  • There is a 1,000-foot wheelchair ADA accessible boardwalk. The Environmental Center is accessible. 

Walking and hiking trails

Cattus Island Park treehouse playground

7 more things to know before visiting the Cooper Environmental Center

Learn more at the Ocean County Parks website or call 732-270-6960.

Salem County Nature Centers

At this time we are not aware of any nature centers in Salem County.

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