From gorgeous gardens and farms and beaches to historical sites, Monmouth County, New Jersey is one of the state's crowning jewels.
I've always been impressed by the great outdoors and its hospitality that no matter how busy its people are, you'll always get a smile wherever you go.
The county is an oasis for outdoor recreation, shopping, dining, and entertainment, which have drawn many people to live and work in the county.
For this reason, I was in awe learning that its population has increased to 643,615 as of the 2020 census.
This only means that the county has continued to grow its progressive economy over the years, which is why I made sure to pay a visit sometime in the summer with my family.
The county had its humble beginnings in 1683 with Freehold Borough as its county seat.
There have been three different accounts as to how it got its name Monmouth, but all I know is that it's a gem in the hood.
To make your trip easier, here's a round-up of the best things to do in Monmouth County, New Jersey.
Learn about the Military History at the Monmouth Battlefield State Park in Manalapan
The battle in the meadows, wood lots, hills, and farm fields made a significant impact on the state's military history, which made it to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.
Lots of historical exhibits will make you feel how it feels like on the historic day of June 28, 1778.
Before you check out the battlefield, see the short 15-minute clip detailing this historical event at the visitor center.
It will make you realize that freedom is not free.
The Monmouth Battlefield State Park also has a picnic area if you're bringing one.
It's also beautiful here when the cherry and apple trees blossom.
Take a Day Trip to Gateway National Recreation Area in Highlands
One of my favorite spots during my visit to the county is Gateway National Recreation Area, which extends from Sandy Hook, New Jersey to Breezy Point, NYC.
Its cultural landscapes, historic structures, green areas, and beaches impressed me and I didn't even want to leave.
Take time to enjoy scenic strolls, and since I went here in the summer, the beach was filled.
But I heard that it's also gorgeous here in the fall and spring.
You'll get to see migratory birds, ducks, geese, foxes, and deer, and you can also see the seals at the harbor.
Whether you're hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, windsurfing, camping, or swimming, Gateway National Recreation Area is a hub for outdoor recreation.
It was established in 1972 with a total area of 26,607 acres.
Get Caffeinated at Kava Coffee House in Howell
Sip a hot, delicious, and fresh cup of your favorite coffee at Kava Coffee House to start your day in Monmouth County.
Its warm atmosphere and relaxed ambiance will make you feel calm and comfortable, especially its cozy interiors mixed with warm smiles from the staff.
From the moment you step in, the aroma will fill your nostrils, which makes you feel at ease inside its exposed brick walls and dark wood tables.
It offers an extensive menu to cater to everyone's taste buds, and the coffee is extraordinary!
Its cappuccino was topnotch, which was one of my favorites at the coffee shop, but you should also try other offerings like its delicious iced frappuccino, or hot espresso.
If you like pairing your coffee with breakfast eats or pastries, Kava Coffee House in Howell offers delicious waffles, fettuccini alfredo, and more.
It's also amazing that it's Kosher!
Enjoy a Good Read at Monmouth County Library in Manalapan
It features comfortable reading nooks and a great selection of books and digital resources for reading, research, and study.
Adults, kids, and teens have their own corners at the library, which I dig because the adult section features amazing books by bestselling authors.
Monmouth County Library also hosts many special events and programs for all ages.
There's also a room available for those who are going there to study.
Spend a Day at Holmdel Park in Holmdel
Nothing beats the outdoors and if you were to experience a good one, head to Holmdel Park.
The 664-acre features historic sites and offers fun and exciting activities to do year-round, including fishing, picnicking, and hiking, as well as sledding and ice-skating in the winter.
It also features ten miles of trails, which I did enjoy with my friends.
Hiking here is fun, and will get you closer to nature.
The historic Longstreet Farm is also nestled in the park, which is a living farm that recreates how agricultural life was in the 1890s.
The park is also home to the 20-acre David C. Shaw Arboretum, also known as Holmdel Arboretum, which boasts almost 3,000 species of plants and trees.
Seeing all these amazing features at Holmdel Park will make you want to stay longer than a day!
Get Your Mind and Body Active at Amazing Escape Room In Freehold
Can you escape a room filled with mysteries to solve in just 60 minutes?
Because I did it with my family at Amazing Escape Room the first day we got to Freehold to try more adventures in the county.
There are six escape rooms to choose from, but The Great Train Heist is popular among guests, so we did that.
You'll have your assigned game master to help you out with anything.
We also did the axe-throwing at Amazing Escape Room, which was extra!
Step into Paradise at Deep Cut Gardens in Middletown
The 54-acre property features greenhouses and gorgeous gardens, where you can find native plants, hundreds of bushes, more than 50 varieties of roses, and more.
The little ones also loved the Koi Pond, which is a popular spot for weddings.
Deep Cut Gardens will comfort you with its relaxing atmosphere, especially when you hear the birds sing to your ears.
My time here was a complete relaxation—away from the big city's buzzing life.
Have a Family Day Out at iPlay America in Freehold
Here's another great spot to bring your family out in the summer and take advantage of its family-friendly activities.
At iPlay America, your whole family, especially the little ones will get to enjoy the rides, go-karts, arcade games, laser tag, and a whole lot of fun.
We let the little kids ride the bumper cars and play arcade, while we enjoyed laser tag and top golf.
Also, if you get the Summer Season Pass at iPlay America, you'll have unlimited rides!
How cool is that though?
Buy Unique Gifts and Souvenirs at Keyport Funhouse Boutique & Gift Shop in Keyport
I'm always on the lookout for cute souvenirs whenever I travel, and Keyport Funhouse Boutique & Gift Shop is a gem in the neck of the woods.
I love its great selection of handmade items like jewelry, mugs, sweaters, beanies, and many more.
There are also handpainted bags, home decor, upcycled furniture, and a section specially dedicated to "Him," which I find cute and interesting.
I did buy some cute handmade earrings for my girlfriends and mom, as well as a mug for my dad.
So, if you're in the area, drop by Keyport Funhouse Boutique & Gift Shop and try not to giggle because it will!
Take Down Some Pins at Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park
Featuring vintage, custom, and a pin-setting system, I'm certain you'll enjoy taking down pins here like we did with my family.
Its four bowling lanes give a retro feel, which I dig.
Asbury Lanes is also a concert venue and the bowling alley is closed during these events, which is why you may need to check first with them before going.
While bowling, try its extensive menu with an amazing offering for vegans, as well as its special drinks to enjoy.
Enjoy Flower and Fruit Picking at Happy Day Farm in Manalapan
Staying true to its name, Happy Day Farm gives you cheerful vibes and a happy day when you're in the area.
The 130-acre farm offers sunflowers, zinnias, blueberries, raspberries, and lavender picking, which we all enjoyed during our visit.
It's a fun activity with your family and friends, especially if you have kids in tow.
Also, if you visit Manalapan in the fall, you get to enjoy the farm's Fall Festival, which features family-friendly activities like a corn maze, pedal carts, a zoo, and more.
Tim Stockel started Happy Day Farm with only 70 acres and planted pumpkins.
He later added 60 more acres and planted flowers and fruits, which are all enjoyed by many visitors in the hood.
Buy Fresh Produce at Delicious Orchards in Colts Neck
Locally-produced fruits and vegetables are found at Delicious Orchards; a 60,000-square-foot retail market featuring fresh baked goods and homemade eats.
I love its gift baskets, flowers, coffees, teas, meat, cheese, and many more.
But the cherry on top is its famous apple cider donuts, which are made from scratch with fresh ingredients and are locally sourced.
Also, don't miss out on its delicious freshly-baked pies, which many customers are raving about.
I tried both the donut and a blueberry pie, and they're heaven!
Delicious Orchards is worth the drive if you love fresh produce and homemade food.
Catch Live Performances at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank
When we drove down here, we had a chance to watch a stage play that rivals Broadway, and it was impressive!
On other days, the theater hosts live music by touring musicians.
It's amazing to know that big musicians like Bruce Springsteen, Counting Crows, Tony Bennett, and James Brown have also graced the theater.
Jon Bon Jovi has also organized charity concerts at the Count Basie Center for the Arts.
Go Axe-Throwing at Stumpy’s Hatchet House in Eatontown
Since we all wanted extraordinary adventures, we went axe-throwing here at one of its eight throwing pits with the help of one of its instructors for safety measures.
But what I like here the most is we got to bring our own booze—only beer and wine are allowed.
You can have up to five people to play for an hour or two.
Stumpy’s Hatchet House was a fun experience, especially since we were at its headquarters!
Stroll the Historic Asbury Park Boardwalk in Asbury Park
With a vibrant nightlife, amazing food, and wonderful entertainment, Asbury Park Boardwalk is one of the county's crowning jewels.
This charming 19th-century waterfront pathway beams with fun, art, and live music, especially during the summer season.
The weather was great when we visited here, which was great to appreciate the murals along the way.
We dropped by one of the seafood restaurants and it was one of the tastiest lobster bisque soups I've ever tried!
There's live music and bonfires in the summer, and the nightlife was extraordinary!
So, whether you're traveling solo, with couples, with friends, or with families, Asbury Park Boardwalk is not to be missed.
While Monmouth County beams with rich history and culture, it's inarguably an oasis of fun and entertainment, and the great outdoors is amazing.
It's one of the best spots in the U.S. that I've been to, and I can't wait to come back already.
So, pack your bags, hit this list off, and make it grand at Monmouth County, New Jersey!