Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Bergen County, NJ

  • Published 2023/04/09

Situated in New Jersey’s Gateway Region is Bergen County.

As the state’s most populous county, its inner suburbs are some of the most developed parts of the New York metropolitan area.

It borders the Hudson River and is connected to Manhattan by the George Washington Bridge.

The Lenape Nation first inhabited the area, whose ancestors moved to the mountains to avoid Dutch and English colonizers.

Descendants of the tribe are mainly located in the northwest part of the county and are officially recognized by the state.

It wasn’t until 1675 that the European settlement in the area, including its surrounding plantations, was recognized as Bergen County.

Here are the best things to do in Bergen County, New Jersey.

Bring Your Kids to Van Saun County Park

A ferris wheel at Van Saun County Park

John Arehart /

Located on Forest Ave, Paramus, is the 130-acre Van Saun County Park.

The park houses the Bergen County Zoo, an 18-acre facility that features wildlife from North, South, and Central America and exhibits about the Great Plains.

It also has an 1860s farmyard and a walk-through aviary open daily from May to October.

Playground at Van Saun County Park

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The zoo opened its doors in 1960, quickly expanding in the following years, with the famous Van Saun Park Miniature Railroad built in 1963.

The railroad features three Iron Horse S-24 two-foot narrow-gauge trains that snake around the zoo, allowing riders to see its animal attractions.

A train at Van Saun County Park

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Spend the Day at the Saddle River County Park

A duck pond at Saddle River County Park

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Located on Saddle River Road, Saddle Brook is the 596-acre Saddle River County Park.

It encompasses the village of Ridgewood and the township of Rochelle Park and extends to the borough of Glen Rock.

The park is divided into five areas: the Glen Rock Area, Wild Duck Pond, Otto Pehle Area, Dunkerhook Area, and Rochelle Park Area.

The Wild Duck Pond is a favorite spot of the Canada geese, while the Dunkerhook Area contains a small waterfall.

Saddle River County Park also has 6.8 miles of paved trails and several off-road trails for mountain biking and hiking.

Come Face to Face with Sharks at the New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium

The New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium is on American Dream Way, Suite A, East Rutherford.

The facility boasts of an under-the-sea experience through themed exhibits with creature encounters.

The underwater tunnel takes you 15 feet deep, with sections fashioned after iconic Manhattan landmarks, including the Empire State Building.

This giant aquarium has schools of tropical fish, stingrays, sharks, and more.

At the Tiny Giants Touchpool, you’ll have the chance to interact with rock pool creatures such as starfishes and anemones.

New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium’s Sharks Fish Avenue is the “fishified” version of Fifth Avenue, with window displays featuring the Porcupine Pufferfish and many more.

Go Fishing at the Ramapo Valley County Reservation

The waters of Ramapo Valley County Reservation

Andrew Tuttle /

Located on Ramapo Valley Road, Mahwah is the Ramapo Valley County Reservation.

The 4,000-acre nature preserve borders the Ringwood State Park and the Ramapo Mountain State Forest, offering plenty of hiking opportunities for hikers.

Within the park are sections of the Ramapo River stocked with bass, catfish, batfish, perch, and trout.

Nature scene at Ramapo Valley County Reservation

quiggyt4 /

It’s catch-and-release only, and a valid fishing license is required for anyone 14 or older.

Ramapo Valley County Reservation’s trail system connects to the trail networks of its neighboring state park and forest, offering miles of unpaved tracks.

Wooden footbridge at Ramapo Valley County Reservation

quiggyt4 /

Join the Maple Sugaring Program at Tenafly Nature Center

A road at Tenafly Nature Center

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Located on Hudson Avenue, Tenafly is the Tenafly Nature Center.

The non-profit Tenafly Nature Center Association established the 400-acre wooded nature preserve.

It promotes environmental education and preservation and provides recreation opportunities to nature lovers.

It sits atop the Palisades, offering breathtaking nature trails and containing several streams and Pfister’s Pond.

Tenafly Nature Center hosts events and programs that promote nature preservation among visitors, including the seasonal Maple Sugaring classes.

From February through March every year, Maple Sugaring teaches participants all things maple, from identifying maple trees to making maple syrup.

Catch Comedy Night at Absalom

Located on Degraw Avenue, Teaneck is hookah lounge Absalom.

The bar boasts an extensive menu of hookah or shisha flavors and a friendly atmosphere.

Absalom also serves handcrafted cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks that you can enjoy with your shisha.

Their hookah flavors include Fruit Explosion, a fruit punch blend, and Havana 1959, a tropical fruit blend.

However, patrons keep returning for the comedy and open mic nights, where local acts show off their talents.

Absalom also hosts occasional painting and yoga classes for interested customers.

See Rare Aircraft at the Aviation Hall of Fame

An aircraft in front of the Aviation Hall of Fame

Ad Meskens, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Fred Wehran Drive, Teterboro, is the Aviation Hall of Fame.

Founded in 1927, the museum showcases the aviation and space heritage of New Jersey through artifacts, photographs, space equipment, and rare aircraft models on display.

It was established by Pat Reilly and Donald G. Borg and was initially housed in a radio tower at Teterboro Airport until it moved to another building in 1985.

It relocated to a bigger facility in 1997, where it’s been ever since.

The Aviation Hall of Fame exhibit includes rare aircraft models, including the single-rotor, single-engine Bell 47 and airliner Martin 2-0-2.

A section of the museum is dedicated to important aviation and space industry figures inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Dine like Royalty at the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament

Exterior of the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament

JHVEPhoto /

Located on Polito Avenue, Lyndhurst is Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament.

The dinner theater is a four-course, utensil-free meal served medieval-style in an 11th-century castle.

The package includes a tournament show, where knights battle it in various contests, including jousting, hand-to-hand combat, horsemanship, and falconry.

After the show, you can explore the castle and enter the Hall of Arms, where suits of armor are displayed and giant candelabras hang from the ceilings.

There’s also the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament Souvenir Gift Shop, where you can buy flags, swords, shields, and t-shirts to remind you of your visit to the castle.

Play Arcade Games and Enjoy Good Food at Humdingers

Located on East Midland Avenue, Paramus is the entertainment hotspot, Humdingers.

The facility boasts fun arcade games, hit-cam batting cages, a laser maze, and a high-tech 12-lane bowling alley.

Arcade games include classics like Skee-Ball, Pac-Man, Step ManiaX, Super Shot, and cutting-edge Overtake VR.

The Hit-Cam Batting Cages have cameras so you can see how you can improve your swing.

At the Bowling Boutique, you can have an interactive bowling experience on the Spark-equipped lanes, which offer exciting games and fun scoring graphics.

Bring out your inner Neo and see if you can go from one side of the field to another without triggering the laser beams.

The best part is that Humdingers also offers excellent food choices you can munch on after a whole day of playing.

Ride the Rock Bottom Plunge at the Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park

Signage of Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park

John Arehart /

Located on American Dream Way, East Rutherford is the Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park.

The indoor theme park has rides and attractions based on Nickelodeon’s famous franchises, including Spongebob Squarepants, Blue’s Clues, and Dora the Explorer.

The Dream Wheel is one of the most popular rides, offering scenic views of the Manhattan skyline with its 27 climate-controlled gondolas.

LEGOLAND is an interactive park section where kids aged three to ten can use LEGO pieces to build anything in their imagination.

Another famous ride at the Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park is the SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge, a Euro-Fighter-style coaster 74.5 feet tall with a 97-degree beyond vertical drop.

Spot Wild Deer at the Flat Rock Brook Nature Center

A stream at Flat Rock Brook Nature Center

Jim.henderson, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Van Nostrand Avenue, Englewood, is the 150-acre Flat Rock Brook Nature Center.

The nature preserve sits on the western slope of the Palisades, covering a vast natural woodland comprising portions of the Palisades Forest.

Established in 1973 as a citizen’s initiative, the Flat Rock Brook Nature Center aims to conserve the area’s natural riches and promote environmental education.

The preserve protects the region’s flora and fauna, providing a natural sanctuary to rare wildlife species that can’t be found elsewhere.

It offers 3.6 miles of mixed-use trails with hiking, mountain biking, and wildlife viewing opportunities.

The trail leads to a stream, wetlands, ponds, woodlands, and wildflower meadows.

You can spot wild deer, chipmunks, and various birds along the hike.

Go Kayaking at the Overpeck County Park

Located on Fort Lee Road, Leonia is the 805-acre Overpeck County Park.

The park surrounds Overpeck Creek and encompasses portions of Ridgefield Park, Palisades Park, Leonia, and Teaneck.

The area was previously inhabited by Ashkineshacky Native Americans and was the site of their bath festivals.

In the 1950s, plans to build the park started, which was completed in the 1970s after the local government of Teaneck donated 350 acres of land.

Overpeck County Park has five major regions: Henry Hoebel Area, South Area, Palisades Park Area, Ridgefield Park Area, and Teaneck Creek Park Area.

Several boat launches are in the park so that you can kayak across Overpeck Creek.

Catch a Show at the Bergen Performing Arts Center

Exterior of Bergen Performing Arts Center

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The Bergen Performing Arts Center is on North Van Brunt Street, Englewood.

The not-for-profit theater aims to make performing arts accessible to people from all walks of life.

It serves as a creative home for local artists and mentors who would like to share their talents with the people of Bergen County.

The theater opened its doors in 1926 as the Englewood Plaza movie theater until 1973.

The building remained empty until 1976, when organist John Harms took over its management and produced musical shows to revive the theater’s former glory.

Today, the Bergen Performing Arts Center is a favorite concert venue, hosting musical acts like Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, and Tony Bennett.

The Center also has its own performing arts school, allowing students to perform on its stage and across the country.

Live Out Your Skiing Dreams at Big SNOW American Dream

Signage of Big SNOW American Dream

John Arehart /

Located on American Dream Way, East Rutherford is Big SNOW American Dream.

The indoor skiing and snowboarding facility is the first in North America, built within the American Dream shopping complex.

It features a four-acre skiable area covered with a two-foot-thick layer of snow that reached 5,500 tons.

It’s open all year round and features three main trails: the Lil’ Dipper for beginners, the Switchback for intermediate skiers, and the Northern Lights for advanced skiers.

Its slopes are 1,000 feet long, with altitudes reaching 160 feet.

Big SNOW American Dream has four lifts serving its trails: two carpet lifts do the Lil’ Dipper, while a platter surface lift and a chairlift help both the Switchback and Northern Lights trails.

Explore the Trails of the J. A. McFaul Environmental Center

Located on Crescent Avenue, Wyckoff is the J. A. McFaul Environmental Center.

The wildlife sanctuary contains a pond, garden trails, picnic grounds, and animal shelters for indoor and outdoor experiences.

Outdoors is a network of well-maintained trails around a duck pond where swans, turtles, and other wildlife swim freely.

A gazebo surrounded by flowerbeds overlooks the duck pond and provides an excellent viewing platform for observers.

Along the trail is a two-story observation deck that will give you unobstructed views of the park.

Inside the J. A. McFaul Environmental Center are artifacts, photos, and taxidermies of the native flora and fauna.

Final Thoughts

Bergen County is every adventure-seeker’s dream destination.

From nature adventures to fun theme park rides, visiting this region will keep your adrenaline going.

With its proximity to Manhattan, you’ll be surprised it’s maintained its rural charm despite the rapid development in its neighboring areas.

So, if you’re looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, try the best things to do in Bergen County, New Jersey.

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