We are at that perfect time of year where it's warm enough to enjoy lots of time outdoors, but not too hot that it gets uncomfortable away from the beaches. And, did you know that we have a lot of nature destinations all within less than an hour drive? Read on for my Top 5 Jersey Shore Nature Destinations:

  • Cattus Island County Park
    Let's start with the closest - Cattus Island is literally right in the middle of Ocean County. In fact, a lot of us probably drive past it every single day without realizing. Right off of Fischer Blvd, Cattus Island County Park feels like a different world even though it's right next to one of the busiest roads in Toms River and is nestled among strip malls.
  • Allaire State Park

    Right up the road in Monmouth County, Allaire State Park has something for everyone. With a couple of huge, wide open fields, I love going there on nice weekends to fly my remote controlled helicopter. Between the full size steam train that kids will love, and the historic Allaire Village, everyone can find something to keep them occupied. We've even heard stories of unexplained things going on there, so you amateur ghost hunters have something to keep you busy, too!

  • Batsto Village
    If you want to go South instead of North, check out Batsto Village. Nestled in Burlington and Atlantic Counties' Wharton State Forest, Batsto is Allaire times three. It's another historic village, with a centerpiece mansion that you can take tours of (it's a good idea to call ahead and find out about tour times), and lots of hiking trails to enjoy.
  • Island Beach State Park
    Before the Summer crowds start to show up and the infamous "Island Beach is full" notices start being issued, now is the perfect time to visit our very own coastal state park.
  • Double Trouble State Park
    I'm actually a little ashamed of myself - I passed Double Trouble State Park every single day on my work commute for years and haven't been there once. But, I plan to change that soon, and so should you! Another "company town", Double Trouble is famous for the cranberry bogs of the former Double Trouble Company. There are also lots of hiking trails and boat launches in and around Double Trouble.

What are your favorite nature destinations nearby? Comment below and let us know!