My kids enjoying a warm-ish winter day at the beach.
On a warm winter weekend day, calls of "we should do something outside" echo through our house. After being inside almost all last week due to the frigid temperatures, we're suggesting to take advantage of the 50 degree Saturday to enjoy an excursion to Sandy Hook National Park. It's just over an hour drive, and offers abundant screen-free activities, even in the winter.
Have you ever wanted a whole beach to yourself? Visit in the off-season! Without the summer crowds the beach is a vast sandy expanse, and perfect for peaceful walks, shell collecting, playing catch or chasing a dog along the shore. Experiencing the beach on a warm winter day allows me to take in the natural sights and sounds without the distraction of people, umbrellas and the smell of sunblock. My five senses can focus on the sand, waves, birds and fresh, salty air.
In the winter at Sandy Hook you might even see seals sunning on the rocks, especially at Skeleton Hill Island.
Sandy Hook is a national park, so it's not commercialized. Natural beauty becomes the main attraction, with views uninterrupted by beach shops and restaurants (be sure to pack a lunch or snacks). You can check out the dramatic Atlantic surf, and then visit the bay side, marsh, and holly forest.
While waterscapes are the main attraction, exploring the lighthouse and hiking and biking trails can provide even more screen-free activities. You can also do a self guided walking tour of Fort Hancock, an old army base from the revolutionary war. The military base has both refurbished and old army buildings, plus garrisons and cannons.
When my kids were little they loved exploring Sandy Hook in the winter. Entry and parking are free in the off-season.
Sandy Hook Quick Facts
Drive Time from Montclair: 1 hour, 5 minutes Entry Fee & Parking: No charge in winter Pets: Allowed Sep.-Mar. oceanside and bayside Carry in / Carry out trash Winter Highlights: empty beach, ocean, bay and marshes, hiking and biking trails, lighthouse, Fort Hancock old Army base, Seals sunning on the rocks, a holly forest, bird watching, NYC views (on a clear day!)
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