If you’re from South Jersey, I’m sure you’ve figured out that there’s not much to do here.
Still, as long as one of your friends has a car, (or you don’t mind taking the train,) you do have options.
From my own experience, here are some places that teens should check out if they haven’t already. All are accessible from South Jersey. All have known been to cure boredom. All allow you to be outside.
Located: Millville, Cumberland County, NJ (Between Panther Rd. & Hance Bridge Rd.)
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact location of Menantico, as it’s seemingly hidden from sight off of any main roads. Whenever I went, whoever was driving would take a shortcut through the woods until we found the lake.
[Here are more helpful directions from nynjctbotany.org: South of Millville on Route 47 south; left turn onto Orange Street (heading through the Millville Industrial Park area); right onto Gordon Road, and right onto Reese Road. Park along the street and head south along the railroad tracks.]
Menantico is a cool place to hang out by night or by day. If you’re into fishing or swimming, this is the place to be (although while the water used to be freshwater, now it seems to be filled with crabs.) If you do go in the water, remember that it gets deep pretty fast, and you’re better off going in bare feet (the bottom is sand anyway.)
It’s also very hilly and great for those who like to go hiking, biking or wheeling. If it rained recently, be ready to get immersed in mud. For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend driving anything but a truck or SUV into this place.
At night, many kids have a bonfire and/or drink and listen to music. (Rebellious, I know.)
The lake itself is essentially a reservoir, elevated at 23 feet. It used to be the location for holly farming and sand mining until it started to harm the river. The name is derived from “Menantakh” or “covered swamp.”
2. FDR Park
Located: South Philadelphia, PA (Near Pattison Ave., I-95 and the Sports Complexes.)
FDR Park is a chill place to hang out and there’s tons to do. It’s also probably the coolest place in South Philly, in my opinion.
The park is essentially about 350 acres of natural landscapes and water. It’s an awesome place to lounge, relax, ride a bike, go running, picnic or go fishing. There are tennis courts, a golf course, baseball fields and a skate park as well. In addition, they have cool landmarks and buildings, like the park Boathouse or the American Swedish Historical Museum.
One of my favorite places to hang out is the gazebo, which juts out of the land onto the water for the perfect scenic view.
The skate park (located beneath I-95) is also a fun place if you ride bikes or skateboard (or have a boyfriend that does.) Skateboarders took refuge here after the city of Philadelphia kicked them out of their old hang-out spot in LOVE Park. The FDR skate park consists of 16,000 square feet of ramps, hips and bowls. In 2005, the skateboarding finals of the Gravity Games were hosted here.
3. Jersey Shore
Locations: Somers Point, Wildwood, Ocean City, Cape May, Sea Isle, Atlantic City
This may seem obvious, but the Jersey shore is always a good option.
While many hate it down the shore when it’s not summer, I personally love it because it’s not as crowded and I never usually go in the ocean anyway. Nonetheless, it’s of course an obvious choice in the summertime.
Most of the shore locations mentioned above are no more than two hours away, depending on where you’re coming from. While in some places it’s illegal, I also know of people who used to bring tents down and camp by the beach or sleep in their car, vs. having to drive back home at night.
It’s easy to avoid beach tags, and if you pack food and drinks, the only thing you’ll have to pay for is gas.
Instead of “driving around” aimlessly, which is such a popular activity for high school kids, I recommend actually driving somewhere, even if you’re not sure where you’re going. Hopefully, you’ll start with these three places mentioned above.