The words idyllic, rural, and laid-back perfectly describe Howell, a Monmouth County, New Jersey township.
It’s the largest municipality in the county, but most of it is forests, rivers, and other natural features.
However, Howell has a sizable population, mostly commuters who travel to nearby cities like New York.
You have plenty of reasons to start a life in Howell: a state park, a large reservoir, many brooks and streams, and plenty of artificial attractions.
The town is a well-kept little secret you should visit on your next getaway.
Here are the best things to do in Howell, New Jersey:
Visit the Wetlands of Manasquan Reservoir
Nestled at the heart of Howell Township is the scenic Manasquan Reservoir, one of the favorite destinations in Monmouth County.
This 1,204-acre Manasquan Reservoir is a water source for nearby municipalities and a recreational park attracting millions of visitors annually.
You’ll marvel at this undisturbed and serene slice of paradise, with plenty of attractions and things to do.
Around the lake, you’ll enjoy exploring the trails that bring you to secret wetlands or clearings with exceptional views.
You’ll also find great spots to camp, take photoshoots, and commune with nature.
There’s the Environmental Center, where you can learn more about the wildlife in the park and the region's history.
Boating, paddling, and kayaking are permitted on the lake, so prepare for some arm workouts if you want to explore the water.
Score a Hole-in-One at Howell Park Golf Course
The magnificent Howell Park Golf Course is one of the most famous golf courses in the township.
Since it’s a public course, anyone can visit and play a few rounds—no need to schedule tee times!
The par 72, 18-hole course has a great layout, well-maintained fairways, and many hazards that demand good putting and course management skills.
No wonder Howell Park Golf Course has earned recognition as one of the top 50 public golf courses in New Jersey and the US.
Whether a beginner golfing enthusiast or a seasoned professional, you’ll have a grand time playing here.
Add the Howell Park Golf Course to your itinerary!
Explore the Trails in Bear Swamp Natural Area
The 900-acre Bear Swamp Natural Area is smaller than Allaire State Park and Manasquan Reservoir.
But it’s still a big outdoor attraction that both visitors and locals enjoy.
This destination is right across Allaire State Park, punctuated by two bodies of water, Bear Swamp Brook and Finch Brook.
True to its name, Bear Swamp Natural Area has wetland habitats accessible via the trails crisscrossing the forests.
These sections are relatively easy to reach since most terrain is flat.
This characteristic also made the place great for horseback riding.
So keep an ear out for thundering hooves as you explore the well-beaten paths!
You should also look for curious wildlife, including frogs and turtles, avian species, and small mammals that thrive near the water.
Spend the day at the Bear Swamp Natural Area!
Let the Kids Get Active at ClimbZone
ClimbZone is one of the country’s beloved family recreation franchises; they have a branch in rural Howell.
Their establishment in the township has become one of the top spots for families who want adventures but can’t go outside.
ClimbZone mainly offers—you guessed it—climbing experiences for any age group or physical ability.
The Howell branch has almost 70 different climbing walls for kids.
Each has its unique theme, most of which were painted by hand.
Aside from the climbing walls, there are rope courses, a soft play section for toddlers, virtual reality simulators, and an arcade!
There are so many things to do for the whole family, so add the attraction to your itinerary.
See Ironworks at Allaire State Park
The grand Allaire State Park is divided between Howell and Wall townships and spans 3,205 acres.
The historic Allaire State Park contains several other attractions: the Allaire Village, 19th-century ironworks, and several natural features.
Allaire Village is the best-known location in the state park.
It is a living history museum that showcases ironmaking and how it shaped New Jersey’s industrial prowess in the 19th century.
Catch the village's live shows, special events, musical concerts, and other fun activities.
Don’t forget to ride the steam train along Pine Creek Railroad, the perfect route to explore most of Allaire State Park.
You’ll find plenty of peaceful campgrounds, wooden animal sculptures, majestic clearings, and other natural attractions.
The Manasquan River is the most prominent, offering fishing and kayaking opportunities.
Bond with the Family at Swingtime
You can play mini golf at Swingtime if you feel intimidated by the vast distance on golf courses.
This attraction is one of the local favorites in Howell, a family fun center open from early spring to late fall.
The reason for this schedule is the water features of the two 18-hole courses: waterfalls and rivers.
However, they freeze over during winter.
For the rest of the year, these water features add another level of beauty and challenge to players, serving as hazards and attractions.
Aside from mini golf, Swingtime has arcades, batting cages, and a snack bar where you can get snacks and refreshments.
They have everything for a fun afternoon with the family or friend group, so add them to your itinerary.
Learn Flower Arrangments at the Herbary - Bear Creek Farm
The gorgeous Herbary - Bear Creek Farm along Lakewood Farmingdale road is more than just your regular garden center.
Founded in 2001, this place serves as a source for gardening needs, an events venue, and an outdoor attraction for those who love nature and the “cottagecore” aesthetic.
The 15-acre property has all the hallmarks of a fairytale destination: sculpted bushes, gazebos, floral trails, and even a serene koi pond.
You’ll find all sorts of well-maintained plants in the greenhouse, and you’re welcome to buy as many as you like!
Inside the barn, you can join scheduled workshop classes.
You’ll learn to make many things: wreaths, home decor, bouquets, floral designs, etc.
Drop by the in-house cafe for sandwiches and warm beverages if you want a snack after exploring the Herbary - Bear Creek Farm.
Shop for Seasonal Veggies at Howell Farmer’s Market
Stop by the Howell Farmer's Market if you’re looking for a place to snag some fresh produce before leaving the township.
This gathering of local producers and farmers is courtesy of the Howell Farmer’s Market Association, which happens from May to October.
It’s also open on Sundays, with many vendors offering seasonal vegetables, fresh fruits, and high-quality root crops.
In addition, other sellers offer local products, such as baked goods, homemade goods, handicrafts, and bedding plants.
Visit the grounds outside Livingston County Courthouse in downtown Howell.
Talk to the vendors for secret recipes, tips for finding the freshest produce, and even additional attractions in Howell that only the long-time locals would know about.
Other Things to Do Nearby
After exploring the wonders of Howell, check out these other attractions within the vicinity.
Enjoy the Sun and Sand at Belmar Beach
If you want to feel the sand and sea breeze, head to Belmar Beach in Belmar, New Jersey.
It’s just 20 minutes from Howell, so it would only take a quick drive toward the beach!
The expansive Belmar Beach is the 7th cleanest in New Jersey, and it has plenty of spaces and facilities where the whole family can relax and play.
You’ll find beach playgrounds, chairs and decks for relaxing, and beach volleyball courts.
On the water, you can go jetskiing and surfing.
You can also charter a boat and go fishing in the Atlantic for a few hours or the entire afternoon.
Spend the Day at the Cruz Golf Country Club
On the northern edges of the Allaire State Park lies another destination for golfing enthusiasts, the Cruz Golf Country Club in Farmingdale.
You can reach this golf course after an 11-minute drive from Howell.
The picturesque sporting facility is very much like Howell Park Golf Course.
You don’t need to book a tee time to come and play!
The 18-hole course has a great layout that makes for excellent gameplay and incredible shots!
In addition, the course has well-kept fairways, well-placed hazards, and lots of greenery that elevate the golfing experience.
Whether an enthusiastic beginner or a seasoned pro, you’ll have fun testing your skills on the course.
Aside from that, the Cruz Golf Country Club has other facilities like pools, tennis courts, and a soccer field.
So if you want to try other activities, you’ll have plenty of options during your visit.
Discover Treasures at Collingwood Auction & Flea Market
If you love bargains and discounted items, visit Collingwood Auction & Flea Market in Farmingdale, 14 minutes from Howell.
This attraction is conveniently placed in the central area of New Jersey.
It’s no surprise that people from all over come to explore the numerous stalls and discover rare finds.
Within the 25-acre area, you’ll see 500 outdoor merchants and a building containing another 100 vendors.
Peruse their displays and see what they have in store: occasional furniture, housewares, home decor, jewelry, clothing, and antiques.
There are also perishables like baked goods, homemade dishes, fresh fruits and vegetables, jams, and jellies.
Just be patient in your search and ready for a lot of walking at the Collingwood Auction & Flea Market.
Get a Workout at Howell Ice Arena
The township has its share of frozen-over bodies of water during winter.
However, if you want to skate in the summer, visit the Howell Ice Arena in Farmingdale, New Jersey, nine minutes from Howell.
While it’s part of the larger Howell Athletic Complex, this attraction is more well-known among the locals and visitors.
It serves as a family recreational complex offering excellent activities.
All year, the venue holds public skating sessions where you can test your skills on the ice and endurance.
There are also open hockey matches occasionally, so pick your team and cheer for a goal!
If you want your kids to learn the basics of figure skating, you can sign up for lessons and enjoy the experience at Howell Ice Arena.
Feel the Thrill at Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure is one of the most well-known and most-visited attractions in this region of the US.
Located in Jackson Township, this attraction is just 19 minutes away from Howell.
It’s home to 14 world-class roller coasters and even a Safari ride!
There are plenty of attractions for the whole family, such as Ferris wheels, Enchanted Teacups, and sky rides.
If you don’t want the heights or the break-neck speeds, you can watch entertaining and interactive shows that usually change according to the season or holiday.
While witnessing the stunning displays, munch on the snacks offered by the many food stalls and restaurants within Six Flags Great Adventure.
Feel the Magic of Calgo Gardens
The main reason why Calgo Gardens was established is to provide landscaping and gardening services and products to Howell citizens.
However, that hasn’t stopped the business from evolving into a favorite attraction!
That’s because the destination has many qualities that give it a whimsical and fantastic feel.
It has brightly painted decor, imaginative installations, pathways lined with lush bushes, and unusual architectural elements.
The standout attraction is the Barn, which contains an eclectic array of gifts and wares.
You’ll discover handmade pottery, wind chimes, kinetic sculptures, playful birdhouses, and many other beautiful finds.
Browse the overflowing shelves and tables, and feel like you’re stepping into a fairytale!
If you want the perfect souvenir from your trip, stop by the Calgo Gardens in Freehold, New Jersey, ten minutes from Howell.
Aim for the Bullseye at Bury the Hatchet Freehold
If you want to test your accuracy or throw your frustrations into a wooden board, head to Bury the Hatchet Freehold.
It’s located in Freehold, just 14 minutes from Howell.
Bury the Hatchet Freehold has become one of the top attractions in the municipality.
This place is where locals can have fun and get relief from stress at the same time.
Nothing is as satisfying as hearing the “Thunk!” whenever the ax gets lodged deep into the wooden targets.
So try it with friends and channel your frustrations in every throw!
Large and pristine Howell boasts many natural attractions like state parks, reservoirs, streams and brooks, and scenic wetlands.
However, it also has flea markets, golf courses, an ice arena, and a farmers market featuring the town's best.
This place has a little bit of everything for everyone; give these best things to do in Howell, New Jersey a try!