A major attraction in Old Bridge Township is Cheesequake State Park, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2015. Uniquely located in the middle of the urban north and the suburban south, the park lies in a transitional zone between two different ecosystems. This 386-acre park is made up of open fields, saltwater and freshwater marshes, a white cedar swamp, pine barons and a northeastern hardwood forest. This state park is a terrific example of vegetation change from a costal salt marsh habitat to upland forests, which can be observed from the various trails running through the park.
The natural area displays a diversity of plant species and community characteristics of both north and south New Jersey. Visitors can take advantage of the five designated trails for hiking and mountain biking, 50-plus campsites, several picnic areas, water activities on the six-acre Hooks Creek Lake, as well as the Interpretive Center. The center features wildlife historical exhibits, information on Native Americans and early colonization in the area and even programs that cover the three different habitats discovered in Cheesequake State Park.
Old Bridge Township is home to the state’s premier and most famous motor sports park, the Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. Stretching over 500 acres, the raceway hosts a variety of both motor sports and non-motor sport events during the season from late February through late November. The raceway hosts the NHRA Championship Drag Races, Family Fun Thrill Shows, AMA Motocross and many other action-packed events. For more information, call (732) 446-7800 or visit www.etownraceway.com.
Monmouth Battlefield State Park, in neighboring Manalapan, is just a quick trip down U.S. Route 9. This park is a preservation of a splendid rural 18th century landscape of fields, orchards, woods and wetlands encompassing miles of hiking and horseback riding trails, picnic areas, a restored Revolutionary War farmhouse and a Visitors Center. The center stands on top of Combos Hill, which was once commanded by the Continental Army Artillery. Inside is an interpretive display area, including artifacts recovered from the battlefield.
The Gateway National Recreation Area, along the coast in Sandy Hook, straddles New York and New Jersey, and is composed of three units, including the popular Sandy Hook barrier peninsula in New Jersey. Just 40 miles from Old Bridge Township and accessible via NJ Route 36 South, this 1,665-acre destination features a seven-mile stretch of beach, a pristine holly forest and attractions such as Fort Hancock, the Sandy Hook Proving Ground and the Sandy Hook Lighthouse – America’s oldest operating lighthouse.
A little further south is the Freehold Raceway. This great location is for those looking to place bets on live and simulcast standard-bred harness races. The raceway is recognized as the oldest and fastest daytime half-mile harness racing track in the U.S.
Monmouth Raceway Park, located in nearby Oceanport, has been a shore tradition since 1870. Three buildings have carried the name Monmouth Park in the last 139 years. Due to the high caliber of its racing, Monmouth Park achieved distinction as the “Newmarket of America” – a reference to the famed racecourse in England. The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority purchased Monmouth Park in 1986 and many of the historic, century-old stakes races were reinstated, with the Monmouth Cup, inaugurated in 1884, renamed the Philip H. Iselin Handicap.
Between May and September, concert-goers can enjoy the sounds of various musicians and bands at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel. Only 10 miles south of Old Bridge Township, the modern outdoor amphitheater consists of 7,000 seats and an encompassing grassy area that accommodates more than 10,000 guests.
Other major attractions reachable from Old Bridge Township include Six Flags Great Adventure and Wild Safari in Jackson, the largest Six Flags in the country; the Meadowlands Sports Complex in Rutherford, which features the IZOD Center, hosting big-name performers year-round; the Meadowlands Racetrack; MetLife Stadium; Newark’s Prudential Center; and all the draws of downtown New York City, just 36 miles from Old Bridge.