20 Best Things to Do in Bergen County, NJ

Bergen County, NJ

Embarking on a quest to uncover the best things to do in Bergen County, New Jersey?

In this comprehensive guide, we've melded insights from locals and travelers to present you with a mosaic of experiences that define this remarkable place. While we've highlighted some must-visit spots, it's imperative to understand that these recommendations are shaped by personal opinions and experiences.

There are countless other wonderful places awaiting your discovery. Our goal isn't just to point you to the well-trodden paths, but to inspire you to explore and truly immerse yourself in the city's essence.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Bruce Williams, Edgar Foster, Robin Sanchez, Randall Corona, Shirley Strickland, Ricardo Long and Marlee Hester.

Spend the Day at Van Saun County Park

A ferris wheel at Van Saun County Park
John Arehart / Shutterstock.com

It's been years since I first visited Van Saun County Park, and my fondness for it still hasn't faded.

As a child, I found joy in the simple pleasures it provided, and now, as an adult, I enjoy bringing my kids here.

The park offers many trails, tennis courts, and picnic areas; the kids especially love the playground, carousel, and zoo.

For instance, the carousel never fails to bring smiles to their faces.

The zoo is an affordable and fun outing for the whole family.

With tickets priced at just $8 for adults and $4 for children, it's a bargain for the enjoyment it provides.

We often spend more than an hour exploring the various animal exhibits.

Meanwhile, the park's entrance itself is a sight to behold. There are charging stations for electric vehicles, which are free to use.

Playground at Van Saun County Park
TMBLover at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The picnic area is a lovely spot for a mid-afternoon snack, and the kids love playing in the expansive playground.

We can enjoy nature, exercise, and, most importantly, make lasting memories together in Van Saun County Park.

So, if you're ever in the area, I strongly recommend you visit it!

A train at Van Saun County Park
TMBLover at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take a Stroll Through Saddle River County Park

A duck pond at Saddle River County Park
User:NHRHS2010, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Every day, I lace up my sneakers and walk the winding pathways of Saddle River County Park.

The park feels like a hidden gem, tucked away in my backyard, where I can enjoy the outdoors without straying too far from home.

I love the verdant beauty of this park, the gentle whispers of the leaves in the breeze, and the serenity of the ponds that dot the landscape.

I find a mesmerizing fountain in the middle of the lake incredibly soothing.

And if you time your visit right, you can witness the Cherry Blossom trees in full bloom – quite a sight to behold!

The park's sheer size makes every visit exciting.

It's so vast I haven't been able to explore it entirely yet, but that's on my bucket list!

I usually take a brisk power walk, but sometimes, I find myself lingering and soaking up the peaceful ambiance.

The park isn't overrun with cyclists, which adds to the tranquility.

Now, there are athletic fields, playgrounds, and, yes, even bathrooms.

Saddle River County Park is a refreshing escape from the urban bustle and a place I'm glad to call my local retreat.

So, if you're ever in the area, check it out!

Go Hiking at Ramapo Valley County Reservation

The waters of Ramapo Valley County Reservation
Andrew Tuttle / Shutterstock.com

My family and I find ourselves returning time and time to the Ramapo Valley County Reservation.

With its 3,313 acres of rugged trails and dog-friendly walking paths, it's truly a haven in our backyard.

One of our favorite family activities is hiking quickly around the lake.

The serene atmosphere and breathtaking views never fail to recharge us.

Moreover, the sight of the waterfall, a natural spectacle, never ceases to amaze us, no matter which season we visit.

I love jogging on the trails. It feels like a treasure hunt with every jog, discovering new paths and nuggets of natural beauty.

Nature scene at Ramapo Valley County Reservation
quiggyt4 / Shutterstock.com

For those of you looking for a more adventurous hike, the Yellow Loop Trail might be for you. Don't underestimate it, though.

I remember the first time I took the trail. Despite being only half a mile in, I was out of breath but had the time of my life.

We've also had some fun times with our remote-control car here.

The wide-open spaces and the large parking area make it a perfect spot for this.

Whether it's a family day out or a personal jogging and exploration, Ramapo Valley County Reservation has always provided a wonderful experience.

And, of course, nothing beats a post-hike picnic lunch to wrap up the day.

Its ample parking and public restrooms (including port-a-johns) make it a convenient and enjoyable location for everyone.

Wooden footbridge at Ramapo Valley County Reservation
quiggyt4 / Shutterstock.com

Spend an Evening at Absalom Studios

You know you've stumbled upon something special when you find a place like Absalom Studios, located right here in our city.

Spend an evening at Absalom, and you will feel like you've discovered a hidden gem in the heart of our bustling urban jungle.

The doors of Absalom beckon warmly, welcoming you into a relaxed and vibrant atmosphere.

If you're lucky enough, you might even have the place to yourself for a peaceful, unhurried Shisha session.

The hookah at Absalom is genuinely exceptional.

If you're an art-lover like myself, you'll be thrilled by their painting sessions - a liberating way to express your creativity.

Watching your masterpiece come to life as you enjoy the soothing rhythm of the hookah is simply incredible.

The unique blend of activities at Absalom - the painting, the hookah, the occasional dance class - sets it apart.

And once you've tried it, you'll understand why I, and many others in our city, keep coming back.

Enjoy an Afternoon at Tenafly Nature Center

A road at Tenafly Nature Center
Madhu Gopal / Shutterstock.com

There's something genuinely magical about strolling through the lush landscape of the Tenafly Nature Center.

Nestled in a sprawling 400-acre preserve, you can almost forget that you're in the heart of a bustling town, just a stone's throw away from the daily grind.

My favorite time to visit is mid-morning, just as the dew begins to lift from the leaves.

I often find myself picking out one of their guided hikes.

The trails are varied in difficulty, catering to young and seasoned explorers, making it an ideal location for family outings.

One of the unique charms of this nature preserve is the fairy trail. It's a bit fancy, tucked away in the heart of the woods.

The kids love hunting for the little fairy doors hidden among the trees.

Mid-summer, however, can be challenging due to the influx of mosquitoes. So, pack a good bug spray if you plan on visiting during that time.

It’s been a wonderful place to escape the world's chaos, even if for only a few hours.

The bird walks are another must-do. You find yourself immersed in the serene sounds of nature, a soothing balm in these turbulent times.

So, whether you want to reconnect with nature, keep the kids entertained, or seek peace, the Tenafly Nature Center is the perfect retreat.

Discover Nature at Flat Rock Brook Nature Center

A stream at Flat Rock Brook Nature Center
Jim.henderson, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

When you think you've explored every nook and corner of our town, you stumble upon a gem like Flat Rock Brook Nature Center.

This oasis has quickly become my favorite destination when I long for tranquility mixed with adventure.

As soon as you step into the center, you're greeted by a well-maintained area housing an array of small exhibits.

You can't miss the live tortoise and snake terrariums, which always fascinate kids and adults alike.

A few picnic tables are placed conveniently right outside the nature center, perfect for those sunny days when you want to enjoy a packed lunch amidst nature.

One of this center's most exciting features is the variety of trails.

Whether you're a veteran hiker or a casual walker, there's something for everyone.

The courses are accessible and kid-friendly, making them fun family outings.

Hiking these trails always makes me feel like a local explorer, discovering new sights and sounds with each visit.

One of my personal favorites at Flat Rock Brook is the pond. It's an aquatic wonderland teeming with tortoises, small fish, tadpoles, and frogs.

You could spend hours observing these little creatures in their natural habitat.

However, fishing is strictly prohibited to maintain the natural balance.

Birdwatchers, like myself, are in for a treat as well.

The trails offer sightings of various birds, making for a delightful experience.

And let's not forget the tiny owl at the center - a charming presence that has won over many hearts, including mine.

For a quick getaway from the city's hustle and bustle, Flat Rock Brook Nature Center provides a serene and pleasant escape.

It's a testament to the natural beauty that flourishes only a few miles from the city, offering a quiet and wooded retreat to locals and visitors alike.

Enjoy the Day at Ross Dock Picnic Area

The grounds of Ross Dock Picnic Area
SamuelJacobs702, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Each weekend, I find myself drawn to the tranquility of the waterfront at Ross Dock Picnic Area.

The vast open space, the stunning views of the city skyline, and the majestic sight of the George Washington Bridge never amaze me.

The plentiful parking and the numerous picnic tables and grills make it an ideal spot to host family gatherings or unwind with a good book.

Moreover, the best part is watching my children play in the playground and making the most of the boat ramp access.

Their little adventures make for unforgettable family memories.

But the park is not only about family picnics and children's laughter.

It's also about the walking trail that leads to the marina. Each stride on this trail is a step towards a new adventure.

Just a word of caution, though: the path can be rocky.

But then, what's an adventure without a little challenge, right?

However, the park's pet-friendly atmosphere is the real cherry on the cake.

My cat loves lounging about, basking in the sun, and watching the world go by.

However, the park could improve, especially regarding the restroom facilities.

The porta potties aren't the best, but they are part of the park experience.

So, if you're looking for a picnic spot with a beautiful view or a quiet morning stroll, I'd recommend the Ross Dock Picnic Area.

Just remember to respect nature and leave the place as clean as you find it.

Spend a Tranquil Retreat at J. A. McFaul Environmental Center

There's a secret oasis tucked away in Bergen County that has become my sanctuary when I need a break from the hustle and bustle of city life: the J. A. McFaul Environmental Center.

The first time I discovered this place, I was amazed by the captivating beauty of nature it offered.

Every time I step into this wildlife sanctuary, I am greeted by a picturesque pond surrounded by animal shelters, a patchwork of vibrant garden trails, and picnic sites perfect for a sunny afternoon.

The center features a small museum that manages to encapsulate the essence of our local environment in a way that intrigues and educates visitors about the wonders of nature.

In spring, the center transforms into a paradise adorned with flowering trees, casting various colors throughout the park.

The trails, both the easy gravel one and the boardwalk with a stairway lookout, offer tranquil walks that soothe the soul.

Moreover, the expansive lawn areas and countless benches are perfect for quiet reading or simply soaking up the tranquility.

The center enforces a no-dog policy to respect the wildlife in the sanctuary, so unfortunately, canine companions have to stay at home.

But the mesmerizing sight of deer strolling and the sound of geese splashing in the pond more than make up for it.

Remember not to feed the animals - they usually expect a treat when visitors come close!

The J. A. McFaul Environmental Center is more than just a wildlife sanctuary - it's a place of healing where the serenity of nature has provided comfort to many.

The trails offer the perfect incline for a gentle exercise session, while the seats and picnic tables provide spots for rest and contemplation.

Facilities are well thought out, with bathrooms available inside when the center is open and port-a-potties provided for convenience.

The center is free to enter, but donations to support its upkeep are always appreciated.

The J. A. McFaul Environmental Center is a hidden gem, a tranquil retreat that offers a soothing, natural escape for everyone.

Whether you're seeking a family outing, a quiet date with nature, or a peaceful spot for recovery, you'll find it here in Bergen County's best-kept secret.

Visit 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

Now and then, when the hustle and bustle of daily life gets too much, I find myself instinctively drawn toward the Aviation Hall of Fame.

This place is a veritable treasure trove of aircraft, models, and historical artifacts that instantly transport you to the golden era of aviation.

Walking through the doors, you're greeted by a nine-minute informative video that sets the stage for what awaits.

Fueled by the anticipation, I often find myself lost in the exhibits spread across two floors.

And there's an irresistible charm to the interactive aerodynamics area, bringing out the child in me every time.

But the highlight of the Hall of Fame for me is the outdoor display of planes.

Seeing these marvels up close, you can almost sense the countless stories each one has to tell.

It's an experience that invariably ignites a sense of wonder, regardless of how often I visit.

Whether you're young or old, an aviation enthusiast, or just a curious soul, the Aviation Hall of Fame is a place that promises learning, exploration, and, yes, a whole lot of fun.

And every time I walk out of those doors, I carry a renewed appreciation for the incredible world of aviation.

Enjoy a Knightly Feast at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament

Exterior of the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament
JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock.com

Imagine stepping back in time to an era of knights, queens, and castles right in the heart of our town.

That's precisely what you get when you visit Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament.

The atmosphere is electric, with actors fully immersing themselves in their roles - jousting, horsemanship, and even falconry.

This occurs against a magnificent castle-like space, transporting you to a different realm.

The story unfolds effortlessly, making it a fun and easy experience for everyone, especially kids.

Notably, the actors perform with such heart and enthusiasm it's impossible not to get swept up in the excitement.

The four-course meal, served without utensils in true medieval fashion, was an exciting experience.

All in all, Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament offers a unique, unforgettable experience right in the heart of our town.

It's like a history lesson, entertainment rolled into one grand evening.

Explore Overpeck County Park

A bridge at Overpeck County Park
FeldBum, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Overpeck County Park is my go-to place whenever I crave a slice of nature.

This expansive green space, which spans over 805 acres, is a haven of tranquility just a stone's throw away from my home.

Here's a local secret – the park features five miles of hiking trails perfect for a stroll or a vigorous run.

Once you're there, you'll appreciate the beauty in our backyard.

I must mention the sports fields and playgrounds.

From soccer to baseball, kiting, and even flying RC planes, you will not run out of activities to engage in.

If you're into equestrian activities, you'll be delighted to know that the park houses an Equestrian Center, too!

Whether you want to ride or appreciate these majestic creatures, it's quite an experience.

Overpeck County Park also offers blissful bird-watching excursions and kayaking opportunities.

I can't count the number of times I've lost myself in the beauty of the diverse bird species or the peacefulness of the calm waters during a kayaking adventure.

The park is dog-friendly, so my furry friends always have a grand time whenever we visit.

For those who prefer a more laid-back experience, there's nothing like a sunny afternoon picnic under the shade.

The park has numerous picnic spots and public restrooms that are well-maintained.

So, whether you're a nature enthusiast or a sports lover, Overpeck County Park has something for everyone.

As a local, I can confidently say that it provides an extraordinary scenic and recreational experience you'll remember for years.

Enjoy the Day at Humdingers

Have you ever had one of those days when you need a healthy dose of fun? That's when I head over to my favorite local spot, Humdingers.

This place has it all – batting cages for when I need to blow off some steam, bowling lanes to challenging my friends, and an arcade that takes me back to my teenage years.

The absolute joy of Humdingers is not just in the games, but it also lies in the details.

I still can't forget the time I tasted their ice water. Sounds ordinary, right? But trust me, it was anything but!

It had this refreshing quality that quenched my thirst and left me feeling rejuvenated.

And if you think that's odd, wait until you experience it yourself.

Humdingers is also an excellent place for family outings.

Oh, and did I mention the pizza? It's delicious!

So, if you're looking for a place that offers fun, comfort, and great food, Humdingers is the place to be.

Discover Nature at Palisades Interstate Park

People at Palisades Interstate Park
Atul Avijeet / Shutterstock.com

One of the great pleasures of living in this area is visiting the Palisades Interstate Park, a sprawling 2,500-acre riverfront gem nestled in the heart of our community.

This park is an outdoor enthusiast's paradise, offering 30 miles of hiking and ski trails perfect for anyone exploring the great outdoors.

From the moment you step foot in the park, you're greeted by the gentle rustle of leaves and the tranquil sounds of the river.

But there's more than just tranquility to this park. For the more adventurous souls, the park offers a range of activities.

I remember one day we’d taken on the Giant Steps trail, a grueling but rewarding 8.5-mile hike with the beautiful fall foliage in full bloom.

The park also offers a shore trail that provides breathtaking views of the river - a sight that never fails to inspire.

Binoculars at Palisades Interstate Park
quiggyt4 / Shutterstock.com

And if you have little ones in tow, the park's playgrounds are an excellent place for them to burn off some energy while you take a moment to soak in the beauty of the nature sanctuary.

No matter how often I visit, Palisades Interstate Park always offers something new and beautiful to discover.

Whether you're a local like me or a visitor from afar, this park is a must-visit, a haven of tranquility and adventure in our backyard.

Explore the Bergen County Zoo

Snowy owl at Bergen County Zoo
Marge Sudol / Shutterstock.com

Since I first set foot in the Bergen County Zoo, it's been a charming place to spend an afternoon, especially with kids.

It's not as big as the Bronx Zoo, but it has its share of delightful critters, including a spider monkey and an alligator exhibit that never fails to captivate the little ones.

A joyride on the train that leisurely circles the park is a must-do.

It's a hit among the younger ones and provides a unique and fun way to explore the grounds.

Another highlight is the whimsical carousel - an old-school charm that adds to the park's appeal.

The zoo isn't sprawling with food trucks, but a hotdog stand and an ice cream truck always hit the spot.

It's also a good idea to stock up on water, soda, and souvenirs from the general store located within the premises.

One of the major perks of Bergen County Zoo is the affordable access.

Geese at Bergen County Zoo
Marge Sudol / Shutterstock.com

For just $4.00, New Jersey residents get to ride the train, and the same amount covers the zoo entry.

Plus, kids under three get to enjoy everything for free!

The number of animals is somewhat limited compared to larger zoos, but the variety compensates for the quantity.

Meanwhile, the educational center is chock-full of impressive amphibians and reptiles, some of which are remarkably big, and it's always a fascinating learning experience.

The Bergen County Zoo provides a clean, enjoyable environment for a few hours of escape from the hustle and bustle.

Whether you love watching animals, enjoying train rides, or simply looking to spend quality time outdoors, it's a perfect spot to create beautiful memories.

Horse at Bergen County Zoo
Marge Sudol / Shutterstock.com

Explore the Richard W. DeKorte Park

Boardwalk at Richard W. DeKorte Park
Deepa2217 / Shutterstock.com

Being lucky to live near the lovely Richard W. DeKorte Park, tucked away in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, has been a true blessing for this nature enthusiast.

Having this peaceful sanctuary just a short drive away, I've spent countless hours discovering the park's unique features, including various wildlife, beautiful flora, and scenic trails.

The park's diverse landscape truly captures the heart of any nature lover.

Uninterrupted views of the New York City skyline juxtaposed with the tranquil solitude of the park create a unique picturesque setting that's rare to find.

Strolling along the winding trails, the melody of chirping birds, the hum of insects, and the gentle rustle of leaves from the nearby marshland create an orchestra of natural sounds that soothe the soul.

As an avid birdwatcher, I believe Richard W. DeKorte Park is my paradise.

With a wealth of species to be found, ranging from migratory birds to resident species, you could spend an entire day just bird-watching.

I often find myself glued to my binoculars, marveling at the beauty of these feathered creatures.

The park isn't just for the birds, though. It's also great for hiking, biking, and fishing.

Turtles at Richard W. DeKorte Park
Marge Sudol / Shutterstock.com

As a cycling enthusiast, I often take advantage of the well-kept trails for my weekend bike rides.

The trails take you through various landscapes, ensuring each ride is as exciting as the last.

And for those who enjoy fishing, the Hackensack River that flows nearby is a great spot to try your luck.

Every trip to Richard W. DeKorte Park feels like a mini-vacation, a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

It's a small piece of nature's paradise right here in the heart of New Jersey.

Whether you're an outdoor enthusiast like me or just looking for a serene place to unwind, this park is the perfect destination.

Birds at Richard W. DeKorte Park
Marge Sudol / Shutterstock.com

Go on Underwater Adventures at New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium

There's nothing like the thrill of exploring the underwater world in your backyard! You get that when you venture to the New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium.

Nestled inside the bustling American Dream Mall, this aquatic wonderland is like diving into a fairy-tale world of underwater adventure.

One of my favorite things about this place is the serene mornings when it's almost empty.

It allows you to study every exhibit leisurely and appreciate the beauty of the marine life.

What’s more? You can couple your visit with a shopping spree or a movie, making it the perfect day out.

Expect to be mesmerized by the variety of sea creatures.

Around ten different aquariums feature an array of underwater species, from elegant sting rays and sleek sharks to delicate jellies and whimsical sea horses.

My favorite is the sea turtle exhibit – something about these gentle creatures is simply captivating.

While the aquarium may not be the largest, it certainly doesn't disappoint. Each visit offers a discovery, a new creature to marvel at.

What’s more? The fun doesn't stop at the exhibits.

The playground and gift shop at the end of the tour are a bonus, especially if you’re visiting with kids.

So whether you are an ocean lover, a parent looking for a fun and educational experience for your kids, or simply searching for a unique way to spend a day, the New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium is worth a visit.

Spend a Day Out at Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park

Signage of Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park
John Arehart / Shutterstock.com

It's always an adventure when I decide to visit the Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park.

Firstly, let me tell you the tip for purchasing tickets online is a lifesaver. It's way more convenient than standing in long queues at the park.

As I walked in, I noticed the different sections, each having its pricing, which was a surprise.

Now, let's talk about food - it's pretty expensive, but it's a theme park. You're better off packing snacks from home to curb those sudden hunger pangs.

The thrill and energy are unmatched when it comes to the rides. I am an adrenaline junkie, so seeing so many high-thrill rides was heaven.

It's certainly an exhilarating experience.

Enjoy an Evening at the Bergen Performing Arts Center

Exterior of Bergen Performing Arts Center
BergenPAC, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Recently, I was gifted last-minute tickets to a Brian McKnight concert at Bergen Performing Arts Center.

There's plenty of parking space right in front of the venue, and if you arrive a bit early, you can enjoy a meal at the El Tango Restaurant, conveniently located next to the theater.

Inside the venue are two places where you can buy snacks and drinks. So, even if you skip dinner, you won't go hungry.

The cleanliness of the bathrooms was another plus point.

All in all, Bergen Performing Arts Center provides an intimate atmosphere that's perfect for live concerts.

I can easily see myself returning for more shows.

Enjoy the Day at Big SNOW American Dream

Signage of Big SNOW American Dream
John Arehart / Shutterstock.com

Let me tell you about when I took my family to Big SNOW American Dream, a fantastic indoor skiing park in our city.

I brought my family here for skiing, sledding, and snow play.

It's a great way to experience the thrill of winter sports without waiting for the snowfall.

My kids had an absolute blast! The sliding playground was a huge hit with them.

They loved the magic carpet, and the ski lane was just the right level of difficulty, somewhere between the green and blue streets at Hunter Mountain.

It's not very long or winding, but it's a solid, straight course that my kids found enjoyable.

We also gave Snow Play and Sledding a try.

Big SNOW American Dream is indeed a dream for winter sports enthusiasts.

Spend the Day at DreamWorks Water Park

Signage of DreamWorks Water Park
Adonis Page / Shutterstock.com

I've always felt a sense of wonder when stepping into DreamWorks Water Park.

The expansive indoor park blends the thrill of water adventures with the enchantment of DreamWorks' favorite characters.

When I arrive, I’m immediately drawn to the wave pool, a colossal spectacle that never fails to amuse adults and children.

Riding the artificial waves feels like being at the beach, without the hassle of sand getting in every nook and cranny.

What's more relaxing than floating around the lazy river? It offers a much-needed respite from the excitement of the wave pool.

While the park is spacious, sometimes it feels like the wave pool commands too much of the area.

More attractions would have been a pleasant addition. Still, there's plenty for the kids to do.

Movie-themed rides designed especially for the younger ones can keep them occupied all day.

The park is worth every penny.

It's a unique experience I recommend everyone try at least once.

I've been there multiple times and can say I'll be visiting again.

Final Thoughts

Bergen County, New Jersey, is truly a treasure trove of activities.

Whether you're an outdoorsy, a thrill-seeker, a history buff, or simply someone who enjoys exploring new places, Bergen County has something for everyone.

It's a place that I am proud to call home and am always excited to explore.

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