The Jersey Shore isn’t the only place to find sand and sun fun in New Jersey. For a watering hole to cool off in the dog days of summer, our guest blogger Kristin Wald has a great alternative:
Searching for the perfect outdoor sun and sand spot to enjoy swimming, grilling, playing, and all-around summer fun? Consider Round Valley Recreation Area in Lebanon, NJ. It’s a fantastic Day Trip option for families, and just about an hour away from the Montclair, NJ area.
This NJ State Park centers around the crystal clear waters of the deepest lake in New Jersey, surrounded by a fabulous sandy beach with lifeguards. It has changing rooms, restrooms, a snack bar, and two playgrounds. There are extensive shady areas for picnicking and grilling here, too.
The over 2,000 acre, 55 billion gallon reservoir swimming area reaches 180 feet deep. The lake is occasionally tested for healthy bacteria levels, and the lifeguards are vigilant and enthusiastic. A bonus for kids: The lake is stocked with trout, and a favorite pastime for children is wading around in the swimming area net-fishing. Others just wait patiently for the tiny fish to nibble on toes. (And of course you can fish with a rod and reel, too, but not in the swimming areas, and a valid fishing license is required.) For families with children who have a low tolerance for an ick-factor, they’ll be happy to know that, according to my son, the lake floor is walkable and not “gooey” at all.
If you are lucky enough to be able to get away during the week, an almost empty beach will greet you and you can enjoy the beach and not-too-cold water in quiet and relaxation. Sunny weekends create a bustling beach scene with families building sand castles, swinging in the playgrounds, and swimming in the calm water. Even at its most crowded though, you’ll still find open space for spreading out and sand play.
Families can also take a break from the beach by hiking one of the three marked trails here, knowing that cooling off in the lake is the reward of return. For those who want an extended stay, there are opportunities to camp out. Make sure to check locations for camping; some sites can be on the more challenging side to access.
Round Valley Recreation Area
1220 Lebanon Stanton Road, Lebanon, NJ
Open 8 am to 8 pm, Memorial Day through Labor Day
New Jersey residents pay $5 per car on weekdays and $10 per car on weekends. Higher fees apply for out-of-state residents.
Where to Eat
- Want to start your day out with a hearty meal? We highly recommend the Flemington-Raritan Diner on Route 31 in Flemington, NJ. Great cinnamon raisin French toast!
- Bring a picnic! There are three picnic areas within the recreation area at Round Valley where you will find tables and grills, restrooms, and playgrounds. (Note: This is a carry in/carry out park, and you will receive a trash bag upon entry. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.)