Growing up in NJ's Monmouth County, I visited Allaire State Park frequently with my family as a child. Those day trips were filled with playground time, train rides, and old-fashioned candy purchased at the village’s general store. Now I take my own kids there, just like my parents took me.
Allaire is easily accessible from the Garden State Parkway, close to the Jersey Shore, and bursting with outdoor fun like family-friendly hiking, bike riding, picnicking, and camping. But what sets this 3,000-acre New Jersey state park apart from other bucolic green spaces are its historic village and working steam train. Read on for the highlights.
Be sure to check out our post on great day trips to New Jersey state parks and more in our Guide to Playgrounds & Parks in New Jersey.
Please note that the park's dinosaur sculpture exhibit has closed due to vandalism.
Hiking and Biking at Allaire State Park
Allaire State Park boasts 20 miles of multi-use trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and dog walking. The simplest walking path for families is the 2.5-mile green loop. There are several other paths, color-coded for various levels of difficulty. The Manasquan River flows through the park, providing canoeing and fishing opportunities. Take in natural beauty on your journey with over 200 species of wildflowers, trees, and plants, as well as habitat for birds and other wildlife. Dogs are welcome on the trails but not inside the buildings.
Camping at Allaire State Park
If you’re a camping family, check out the tent and trailer sites which are open April through December for a fee. There are 45 tent and trailer sites with fire rings and picnic tables. The trailer sanitary station is open April through October. There are also 10 cabin-like shelters with wood stoves and two sets of double bunk beds. Each site includes a fire ring and picnic table. Reservations can be made online.
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Watch demonstrations in the park's historic village. Photo courtesy of the Historic Village at Allaire.
Historic Village at Allaire State Park
Take a trip back in time to 19th-century New Jersey with a visit to the Historic Village at Allaire, situated within the park. Established as an iron-making town in the early 1800s, the restored village features a working bakery with delicious goodies, a carriage house, a chapel, a carpenter shop, a blacksmith shop, and more—all with tours and re-enactments by costumed docents.
In addition, visitors can participate in historic games, chores, and crafts. My kids were particularly intrigued by the old-fashioned toy and game demonstrations at the carriage house. And no trip to the village is complete without a stop at the general store, where you'll find candy, books, vintage-style toys, handmade souvenirs, and all sorts of other collectibles.
Tours of the village are available Wednesday through Sunday. Fees may apply to some village activities.
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Take a ride on the Pine Creek Railroad. Photo courtesy of flickr4jazz/cc by nc nd 2.0
Train Rides at Allaire State Park
All aboard the Pine Creek Railroad, an antique steam train that loops around the park and is operated by the NJ Museum of Transportation. Established in 1952, it holds the distinction of being the oldest continuously-operated steam preservation railroad in the country. The train operates on weekends for a nominal fee. Don’t miss special holiday rides, including the Easter Express, the Haunted Express, and the Christmas Express. You can even host a birthday party on the train.
The lush grounds of Allaire are a perfect spot for a picnic. Picnic tables and barbeque facilities are scattered throughout the park. Treat yourself to goodies from the village bakery for dessert. On special occasions, food trucks are sometimes available in the parking lot.
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Get fresh apple cider straight from the press. Photo courtesy of the Historic Village at Allaire.
Events at Allaire State Park
Allaire Village hosts a variety of family-friendly events throughout the year, including workshops in weaving, blacksmithing, and more. Seasonal and historical festivities include 19th Century Easter Celebration, 19th Century Baseball, seasonal flea markets, Ducky Derby, Allaire Music Fest, Independence Day Celebration Weekend, Fall Apple Fest, 19th Century Thanksgiving Celebration, 1830s All Hallow's Eve Celebration, Haunted Allaire, Christmas Lantern Tours, and Christmas at Allaire.
The carpenter shop is one of several historical buildings in Allaire Village. Photo by Meagan Newhart
Hours and Admission at Allaire State Park
The park is open daily year-round, while the Village's hours vary by season. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, there is normally a fee per car at the park, however, New Jersey state park entrance fees are suspended for the 2023 season. A separate admission applies to the historical buildings. Special events at the Village may require an additional fee. See the website for admission details.
Turn your Allaire day trip into a weekend excursion with stopovers at neighboring Point Pleasant Beach or Asbury Park. Other nearby attractions include Delicious Orchards and Jersey Shore Pirates.
This post was originally published in 2015 and has been updated since.