3 affordable, outdoor party venues in South Jersey

I became a mother in the middle of a pandemic, and my son didn’t get to see much of our family and friends in his first few months of life. So, as his 1st birthday neared, I wanted to find a way to celebrate with everyone — safely. Though he’s a November baby, this meant rolling the dice with the weather in New Jersey at that time of year and booking an outdoor event. We rented a pavilion at the Cape May County Park & Zoo, and though it was a bit windy, it worked out for us, and we decided to do the same thing for his 2nd birthday, but at a different venue — the Red Bank Battlefield in National Park.

Whether you are celebrating a little one’s birthday or you just need a place to hold an event outside without investing a lot of money, you should check out your local county park. Many have pavilions for rent with electric and grills that are close to bathrooms and playgrounds. For around $100 or so, you get access to a covered, outdoor space to get together with family and friends, and you don’t have to worry about mopping the floors when everybody leaves.

Here are three options that fit that bill in southern New Jersey. Have another one you think I should add? Drop me a line.

Red Bank Battlefield Park

We took my son here a few times to use the playground and walk through the park, and we enjoyed the area so much, we decided to hold his second birthday in one of the pavilions. The Red Bank Battlefield Park runs along the Delaware River, and you can watch planes landing and taking off from Philadelphia International Airport from the shoreline.

The park has bathrooms, pavilions you can rent for $150 for the morning or afternoon, and two playgrounds with swings: one for 2 to 5 and one for 5 and older. It’s also a historical site where they recently found the remains of Hessian soldiers from the Revolutionary War. So, really, there’s something for everyone.

Estell Manor Park

I attended my niece’s party here recently. It was the first time I had been to the park, and it was cold (she’s also a November baby), but we still had a great time. Near the pavilions, which you can reserve, there are two, large playgrounds with swings, bathrooms and a large area for kids to run around.

You can reserve the pavilions online for $35 for the day.

Cape May County Park & Zoo

I grew up a few miles from the zoo, so I visited often when I was a child. If you haven’t been to this amazing — and free — attraction in Cape May County, you should go even if you aren’t planning a party. But if you are, you can rent one of 13 pavilions available on the zoo grounds. The nearby amenities differ slightly depending on what pavilion you pick, but there are a few near bathrooms and large playgrounds with swings for toddlers and bigger kids. Pavilions cost $80 to $130 for the day, depending on the pavilion and the number of people you expect.

You can also book a petting pen or other animal activities for parties.


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