Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Manalapan, NJ

  • Published 2022/09/16

A bustling area in New Jersey’s Monmouth County, Manalapan Township offers you a taste of history and exciting local attractions to enjoy.

The township’s name, Manalapan, was derived from the Lenape language, which means “good land to settle upon” or “land of good bread.”

Tourists will enjoy historical sites, local restaurants, and family-friendly amusement spots at Manalapan.

Its local celebrations, like the annual Manalapan Under the Stars and the Fall Festival, boast of the township’s local hospitality and community spirit.

Here are the best things you can do in Manalapan, New Jersey:

Tour the Historic Monmouth Battlefield State Park

A building at Monmouth Battlefield State Park

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Monmouth Battlefield State Park is a famous historical attraction in the township.

The 1,500-acre park opened to the public in 1978, during the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Monmouth.

It was the site where 30,000 British and Continental Army clashed during combat in 1778, one of the largest and longest Revolutionary War battles in history.

Footbridge at Monmouth Battlefield State Park

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You’ll find the fields and forest park on State Route 331.

Drop by the refurbished Revolutionary War farmhouse and Visitor Center.

Stroll along the impressive rural landscape with green hedgerows, rolling hills, and nearby farmland.

Canon displayed on the grounds of Monmouth Battlefield State Park

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You’ll enjoy the tranquil view while walking the trails, horseback riding, biking, or picnicking.

In addition, you’ll encounter wildlife like red-tailed hawks, red foxes, and songbirds in the woodlands and marsh areas.

Monmouth Battlefield State Park has over 25 miles of varying interconnecting trails where you can follow the paths Revolutionary War soldiers once trekked.

Landscape of Monmouth Battlefield State Park

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Enjoy Sports Activities at the Manalapan Recreation Center

Located on County Road, the Manalapan Recreation Centerprovides a venue for various outdoor sports activities.

The center spans 162 acres of excellent recreational facilities managed by the Manalapan Parks and Recreation.

Go for a run at the fitness trail or score goals on the football fields.

Shoot some hoops at the basketball courts or practice your tennis swings on the court.

You’ll also enjoy many other sports like handball, baseball, softball, soccer, street hockey, sand volleyball, bocce, and disc golf.

Little ones can enjoy active play at the tot lots and the small water park.

If you just want to relax, you can buy snacks at the concession and stay at the picnic area.

Bring your family to the Manalapan Recreation Center for sports activities.

Play Rounds of Golf at Knob Hill Golf Club

Knob Hill Golf Club is a semi-private golf club at Shinnecock Drive, offering the public and its members an exceptional golfing experience.

The course is the first among Mark McCumber’s designs in the Northeast region.

Open all year round, Knob Hill Golf Club provides you with lush fairways and enough course challenges for hours of great golf games.

You can book Golf Outings for your charity fund or private events.

After a round of golf, you can relax and enjoy gourmet specialties for lunch and dinner at Sycamore Grille.

Dine at the cozy restaurant with a view of the old Sycamore tree at the backdrop, or enjoy dining al fresco at the outdoor patio overlooking the golf course.

Enjoy an array of delicious soups, starters, and salads, or try their delectable flatbreads, tasty sandwiches, gourmet burgers, and appetizing entrées.

Knob Hill Golf Club is also available for special occasions like weddings, parties, banquets, and corporate events.

Visit the Craig House

Daytime view of the Craig House

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You can find the old Craig House in Monmouth Battlefield State Park on State Route 331.

The farm area has one of the three 18th-century farmhouses remaining on the battlefield and the restored Craig residence.

The original one-and-a-half-story historic home was designed with a Dutch frame, with the earlier portions started by Samuel Craig in 1746.

Extensions were made in the 1770s with a two-story Georgian-style addition by John Craig, Jr.

The Craig family fled at the start of the war but returned after the heavy encounter at the site and continued their farming livelihood until the 1940s.

Exterior of the Craig House

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The house was sold and eventually run down until the State of New Jersey acquired the property in 1965.

With the joint effort of the Friends of Monmouth Battlefield, the house and barn structures were restored.

Today, you’ll see the historic house and the English-framed barn, which are now part of the Monmouth Battlefield State Park.

Visit the Craig House and relive past events.

Facade of the Craig House

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Savor Tasty Meals at Ruocco’s Restaurant

If you’re craving some Italian fare, Ruocco’s Restaurant will surely satisfy your palate.

You’ll find this restaurant at the Design Center Plaza, on Route 9 South.

The family-owned and operated business serves traditional Italian American cuisine with recipes passed down from generations.

You’ll enjoy sumptuous meals, all freshly made and cooked by the restaurant’s sous chefs.

You can order their four-course Family Style Dinner package if you’re dining with family.

Have a taste of delicious appetizers like baked clams, Italian eggrolls, and the Panelle Plate.

Enjoy pasta servings of penne vodka, linguine white clams, and Pappardelle Bolognese, or try their hearty entrées like parmigiana, Francese, and honey-roasted salmon.

Of course, there’s always room for desserts like toasted almond cake, tiramisu, and Tartufo.

Ruocco’s Restaurant is a great place to dine, with great food and a relaxing ambiance.

Strike Some Pins at Knob Hill Country Lanes

For classic bowling fun with your family and friends, you can head off to Knob Hill Country Lanes.

Showcase your bowling skills and join the bowling leagues open for various ages and categories.

Otherwise, you can play at the Fun League Bowling and strike the pins for fun.

You can also catch exciting Cosmic Bowling with lights and music to enjoy with your games.

The bowling also offers venues for children’s birthday parties, fundraising, and private and corporate events.

You can find Knob Hill Country Lanes at Route 33.

Drop by the Monmouth County Library

Exterior of the Monmouth County Library

Freeholdman12, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Monmouth County Library is located on Symmes Drive in downtown Manalapan.

It’s also the headquarters for the county’s libraries.

Aside from the library’s wide selection of books and resources, you can also check the Monmouth County Historical Room and view its local exhibits.

You can also catch free featured films at the Movie Matinee Indoor programs.

The Monmouth County Library also provides services like Library Equal Access Program, public internet computers, tablets, mobile printing, and photocopy services.

Get Artistic at Pinot’s Palette

If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind celebration or simply want to enjoy a time of art and wine with friends, tryout Pinot’s Palette.

This sip and paint studio is located in the Galleria of Manalapan.

They offer an open public session available for up to 45 people.

You can also book private parties and enjoy the evening with beer, wine, and of course, letting out your artistic side.

Feel free to bring your choice of beverages and snacks to the studio.

They’ll provide you with painting supplies, paper goods, aprons, and wine glasses.

Visit Pinot’s Palette for a unique experience!

Grab Roasted Brews at Rook Coffee

Located on Route 9 South Manalapan, Rook Coffee is your stop for great specialty coffee.

The shop started in 2010 and now has several branches across New Jersey, offering nothing but simplicity, quality, and a good coffee experience.

Drop by the shop to purchase different coffee varieties from New Orleans style, Sumatra, Bali, Decaf, and South American blends like Colombia, Guatemala, and Costa Rica coffee.

Hang out at the shop and order any hot or cold coffee beverages on their menu.

Rook Coffee also offers cool merchandise like tumblers, shirts, caps, mugs, hoodies, and other items you can take home as tokens.

Pick Fresh Crops at Happy Day Farm

Fun slide at Happy Day Farm

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Happy Day Farm offers unique experiences that everyone in the family will enjoy.

The 130-acre farm is owned and managed by Tim Stockel and is located on Iron Ore Road.

Operating since 2012, the farm was a product of Stockel’s passion for agriculture and business, which only started with a 7-acre pumpkin patch on his property.

The farm expanded from hosting autumn celebrations with families and friends to holding Fall Festivals.

Taka a visit during summer and enjoy sunflower and zinnia picking.

Little ones will also enjoy feeding the goats and chickens on the farm.

You’ll have lots of fun activities and attractions during the fall season, like the corn maze, zoo, horse-shaped swings, pig races, slides, tractor rides, and pedal carts.

Happy Day Farm also features lavender, raspberry, and blueberry picking.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Experience the Relaxing Outdoors at Lake Topanemus Park

The waters of Lake Topanemus Park

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The 71-acre Lake Topanemus Park lies 10 minutes from Manalapan and offers a beautiful and relaxing nature location.

Owned and operated by the Freehold Borough, it was formerly a site of Forman’s Mills during the 1800s.

The suburban park is famous for its stunning lake views running on McGellairds Brook.

You can enjoy activities here, like freshwater fishing, canoeing, and paddle boating.

People at Lake Topanemus Park

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You’ll also find scenic nature trails, a playground for your little ones, outdoor exercise equipment, and open fields to run and play.

Go birdwatching, spot some wildlife roaming in the area, or explore the natural surroundings lined with trees and flowers.

Enjoy the tranquil nature setting at Lake Topanemus Park.

Enjoy Wine Tasting at Tomasello Winery

Tomasello Winery, located between Highway 33 and Wemrock Road in Freehold, is just 10 minutes from Manalapan.

The Tomasello family business has been around since the 1930s, when berry farmer Frank Tomasello cultivated his knack for growing grapes and winemaking.

The first wines he produced were named in honor of his wife’s maiden name, including the Ranier Red, Ranier White, and the Ranier Rosé.

Today, the winery grows over 30 grape and local fruit varieties and produces about 50 wine selections, including Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.

Their vineyard is in Hammonton, but you can try their collection of savory wines at the Tasting Room in Freehold.

Book for the Signature Wine Tasting, which includes five wine samples, or the Riedel, which consists of six wines and a Riedel Degustazione wine glass.

Enjoy local wines at Tomasello Winery!

Watch Speeding Cars at the Old Bridge Township Raceway Park

Ten minutes from Manalapan, Old Bridge Township Raceway Park is an auto racing venue initially known as Madison Township Raceway Park.

It was founded by Vincent and Louis Napoliello in 1965.

It now offers dragstrips, motocross tracks, a road course and autocross track, and a go-kart racing track.

The raceway park is also ranked among the country’s top five tracks.

You can watch exciting car show events, races, motocross, and mud runs all year round.

The venue also opened the Time Trials, where anyone can practice for car or bike races.

Old Bridge Township Raceway Park is a frequent venue for big concert events.

Discover Important Facts at the Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County

Exterior of the Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County

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The Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth Countywasestablished to promote public awareness of the Jewish heritage in the county.

You’ll find this museum in Freehold, 10 minutes from Manalapan.

Explore the current exhibits and publications, and see the programs that highlight the rich, unique history of the Jewish community in Monmouth.

Learn about their significant contributions and diverse culture that helped shape the county area.

Discover and appreciate historical facts and events at the Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County.

Have a Great Amusement Experience iPlay America

For loads of fun games and entertainment, head to iPlay America in Freehold, 10 minutes from Manalapan.

The four-acre indoor amusement park is the largest in the state and offers various attractions, from virtual reality games to arcades and boardwalk games.

Try the Topgolf Swing Suite with game simulators, lounge seating, high-definition TVs, and full-service on food and beverages.

Play laser tags at the two-level arena, shoot foam balls at Ballocity or play video game simulations at the XD Dark Ride.

Have endless fun with amusement rides like the iPA Speedway, Freedom Rider, Skyscraper, Crazy Cabs, and more.

After hours of fun, you can find several spots to eat, like the Game Time Bar & Grill, Sonny’s, Broadway Sweets, and more food options at the Park Concessions.

Enjoy with your family at iPlay America!

Final Thoughts

Manalapan offers plenty of family-friendly attractions and activities you can enjoy together.

Take a tour of its historic sites, and you’ll have a great learning experience here.

The township also reflects its unique features with local restaurants, shops, and recreation sites.

Have a memorable stay and enjoy the best things to do in Manalapan, New Jersey.

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