Lakewood is a bustling town in New Jersey’s Ocean County.
Once renowned for its bustling arts and music culture in the early 1900s, Lakewood has since transformed into one of New Jersey’s most popular residential towns.
With over 130,000 residents as of the 2020 census, Lakewood makes for a great visit if you want to enjoy a laid-back township experience in New Jersey.
Many of its popular attractions are managed by the state and are completely free to visit, which is a huge plus if you’re looking to save some money.
To get you started, here’s a list of the 15 free things to do in Lakewood, New Jersey.
Do a Campus Tour of Georgian Court University
George Court University (GCU) provides campus tours that take you to its other historic areas separate from its gardens.
While the campus tour is geared toward potential students and parents, it can also double as a historical tour because of the rich heritage found in GCU’s architecture.
In particular, the main mansion and the casino building of GCU are national landmarks registered in the National Register of Historical Places.
There’s a certain allure to seeing the unique architecture of the university, which goes way back to 1908 when it was founded.
One of the most beautiful architectural places in Lakewood, George Court University is a great addition to your itinerary.
Enjoy Lake Carasaljo at North Lake Park
As its name implies, Lakewood is famous for its multiple lakes scattered all over the township.
Lake Carasaljo is one of the biggest and is best enjoyed at North Lake Park along North Lake Drive.
One of the more scenic spots in town, North Lake Park offers various activities.
Boating activities like kayaking are allowed, or you can simply stroll along its gorgeous banks and take in the views.
It’s one of the best places to bring young children because of its playgrounds.
If you want to experience firsthand the beautiful lakes of the town, Lake Carasaljo at North Lake Park makes for a great start to your Lakewood itinerary.
Trek the Vast Lands of Ocean County Park
Ocean County Park is one of the most popular attractions in Lakewood, as it’s home to various free activities.
One of the most popular activities here is simply exploring its vicinity through its walking trails, as Ocean County Park is one of the biggest places in Lakewood.
You’ll see tons of trees and other plant life throughout this gorgeous park, a perfect opportunity for photography.
Other free activities include picnics and disc golf; there’s also a dedicated playground area for younger children near the picnic grounds.
While Ocean County Park doesn’t have access to the famous lakes of the town, it does have a few ponds and a mini lake called Lake Fishigan.
Found along Ocean Avenue, Ocean County Park is a must-see when visiting Lakewood.
Stroll along Sister Mary Grace Burns Arboretum
Recognized by the American Public Gardens Association, the Sister Mary Grace Burns Arboretum is one of the best free gardens in New Jersey.
Part of George Court University along the town’s Lakewood Avenue, this arboretum doubles as a historical landmark as well.
It comprises four historic gardens dating back to the 20th century, boasting different features.
The four gardens feature Japanese, Italian, and French parterre-style and a sunken garden that connects to Lake Carasaljo.
There are tons of sculptures and botanical nuggets of information for you to discover, so include Sister Mary Grace Burns Arboretum in your itinerary.
Discover the Town’s Roots at Lakewood Historical Museum
Lakewood Historical Museum is a free museum that showcases the rich past of the town.
The signature exhibit here is the miniature railroad display featuring fun little train dioramas that kids will love.
The museum is also packed with various documents, photographs, and other artifacts that depict the accomplishment of many renowned Lakewood locals.
Beyond these, the building of the Lakewood Historical Museum itself makes for a great photo souvenir, as it’s a historical building that dates back to the early 20th century.
You can visit Lakewood Historical Museum within the city’s Pine Park along Country Club Lane.
Break a Sweat at Pine Park
Pine Park is a sizable recreational area where you can do all sorts of activities like sports at no cost.
Plenty of sporting amenities are available here, particularly tennis courts, baseball fields, and handball courts.
Many jogging trails and playgrounds are also available at Pine Park, making it one of the best places to visit with the whole family.
It's also home to a small creek from the Metedeconk River, adding to the park's picturesque beauty.
Pine Park is located on Country Club Drive.
Have a Blast at the Carousel of Music Concert
Because Lakewood is a dense residential township, it’s no surprise that there are a lot of free activities here throughout the year.
One of the most popular annual events is the Carousel of Music Concert, held during the summer months of July and August.
This summer music festival is a must as it features one of the biggest local bands.
Some notable participants at the Carousel of Music Concert are the Lakewood Municipal Band and The Lakewood Jazz Ensemble, along with other local solo artists.
Go Fishing at Lake Shenandoah County Park
One of the biggest and most popular lakes in Lakewood is Shenandoah Lake, best accessed at Shenandoah County Park.
This sizable lake makes it one of the best places to fish, as the body of water teems with all sorts of fish.
Lake Shenandoah County Park is another scenic location in Lakewood, full of wetlands and wooded trails that make it a haven for landscape photography.
There are also plenty of other facilities here, such as soccer and boat rentals, but they come with a fee.
For a completely free itinerary, there’s no better way than just walking the trails and casting your fishing line.
Explore the Metedeconk Recreation Area
One of the best natural wonders in Lakewood is the Metedeconk Recreation Area, named after the Metedeconk River.
This river is renowned in New Jersey, as it also extends through the neighboring township of Brick.
There are several things you can do here, the most popular being wildlife observation and photography, as it’s home to a diverse range of animals.
Some of the most common species include river otters, beavers, waterfowls, and all sorts of other migratory birds.
Canoeing is also allowed by Ocean County during peak tides.
A must for the outdoor adventurer, you can access Lakewood’s Metedeconk Recreation Area along South Clover Street.
Visit the Lakewood Branch Ocean County Library
The Lakewood Branch Ocean County Library is a great place to do some work or have a quiet moment during your stay in the town.
It’s a quaint public library that offers all you need—computer access, charging stations, and a wide array of books for all ages.
There are also children’s books in Lakewood Branch Ocean County Library if you’re bringing your little one.
Run by a team of friendly and competent staff, Lakewood’s public library is a great addition to your itinerary.
You can visit it along Lexington Avenue, in the heart of the township.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Hike at Allaire State Park
Allaire State Park is one of the most expansive outdoor areas near Lakewood, just 15 minutes away by car.
Located in the township of Wall north of Lakewood, Allaire State Park features sprawling hiking trails that lead you to some of the densest wooded areas in New Jersey.
It’s a popular place to bring your bike, as you can cover more scenic ground by cycling along its trails.
Beyond that, Allaire State Park also has a historic village with plenty of exhibits, though it requires an entrance fee.
If you want a completely free itinerary, simply enjoying nature at this state park is a memorable experience on its own.
Go on a Tour with the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society
Only a 25-minute drive from Lakewood is the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society, found in the township of Manchester.
Navy Lakehurst Historical Society is a non-profit organization that provides free tours to the iconic Naval Air Station of Lakehurst, a borough that’s part of Manchester.
It’s one of the coolest free activities to do in Ocean County, as the volunteers will take you to various 1930s airship hangars, military facilities, and historical landmarks.
It’s highlighted by areas such as The Cathedral of The Air, The Historic Hangar One, and The Hindenburg Crash Site, where the disastrous 1937 airship accident occurred.
There’s a lot to unpack at this fantastic museum and naval air station, so book your walking tour in advance, as they do not allow walk-ins.
Enjoy the Sunsets at Mantoloking Bridge County Park
Mantoloking Bridge County Park is a public park in the neighboring town of Brick that’s only a 20-minute drive from the township proper of Lakewood.
In the far east by the Atlantic Ocean, Mantoloking Bridge County Park is a popular spot for anglers and crabbers.
You won’t have to do any of these to appreciate this gorgeous park, though, as its scenic appeal is enough to warrant a visit on a clear day.
You’ll get views of the Mantoloking Borough and its beautiful bridge—one of the best spots to watch the sunset in Ocean County.
A no-cost way to enjoy the Atlantic Ocean, Mantoloking Bridge County Park is a must during your stay in Lakewood.
Check Out Brick Reservoir
Brick Reservoir is another popular tourist destination in Brick that will only take you around 15 minutes to reach by car.
The beautiful reservoir is an excellent spot to relax or jog along its loop trails.
There are also gardens and gazebos here.
However, swimming or boating is not allowed in the area.
Open to the public with no entrance fees, Brick Reservoir is perfect if you’re looking for a free spot for a scenic afternoon.
Cycle through Shore Woods Bicycle Path
Shore Woods Bicycle Path is one of the best city cycling spots near Lakewood, also found in Brick, just 20 minutes away.
It’s a scenic path that lets you see the unique appeal of Brick Township because of its sprawling marshlands.
This experience is further enhanced thanks to the city’s efforts to put ecological information boards throughout the path, letting you learn about the rich flora and fauna of the town.
Much like Lakewood, Brick is also a great residential area, so you’ll also discover the lovely neighborhoods through Shorewoods Bicycle Path.
A must-try for the avid cyclist, this bicycle path is one of the best city pathways in Ocean County.
Lakewood is a bustling town that’s full of lively parks and recreational areas, many of which are free.
From the Metedeconk River to its sprawling lakes like Lake Carasaljo, there’s an abundance of free attractions in Lakewood that will please the outdoor adventure-seeker.
Even if you’re not into rigorous outdoor excursions, there are various other interesting spots, such as the Sister Mary Grace Burns Arboretum.
And to complete the experience, you get access to neighboring cities and townships in New Jersey that won’t take more than a 30-minute drive.
With a lot in store for you, these free things to do in Lakewood, New Jersey, are a great way to experience the state’s Ocean County.