Editor’s Note: Dana K. sends us this sprawling park in East Brunswick. What an awesome find! If you visit, make sure you check out the hidden butterfly sanctuary. For her submission she receives a family day pass (2 adults, 2 children) to Asbury Splash Park. If you’d like to be a roving reporter and get free passes to cool places, check out our promotion here!
Name of Park or Playground: Great Oak Park
How many stars would you give this park on a scale of 1-5? 5
Town: East Brunswick
Street Address: 254 Rues Lane, East Brunswick, NJ 08816
Great Oak Park in East Brunswick (Middlesex County) is a small family park with a lot to offer. There are several picnic tables and a small gazebo which can be used for small gatherings and parties. There is a walking path that goes around and through the main areas of the park. It is perfect for walking with strollers and is also great for kids on bicycles who can ride and yet never be out of sight of parents on the playground with smaller children. The playground area has two structures. The smaller one is rated for kids 2-5 and the larger one is for 5-12 year olds. These structures are new and in excellent condition. There are also two sets of swings, with regular and infant seats. There is one large swing with a 5-point harness designed for children with disabilities.
Great Oak Park is named after the giant oak at its center, but the park itself is an arboretum. The trees populating the park were planted to represent every letter of the alphabet. Their genus names range from Acer (Maple) to Zelkova Serrata, a Japanese native. In 2010, a local boy scout troop completed an Eagle Project at the park, creating plaques that display the genus and common names of each of the trees. For the botanically minded, this alphabetical treasure hunt makes for a very fun afternoon.
The real prize of Great Oak Park is hidden behind the trees. If you walk to the back end of the park, you will find the entrance to The East Brunswick Butterfly Park. This butterfly sanctuary is the first municipal park in New Jersey dedicated to butterfly conservation. It consists of 11 acres with a 1,000 foot cinder trail, a 1,000 foot woodland trail and a 400 foot meadow trail. These trails are all child friendly. I have walked them numerous times with my 3 year old with no trouble. They are not stroller friendly though and in the spring they can sometimes be a bit muddy. But don’t let that stop you. This is a must-see section of the park, even if it isn’t butterfly season.
Great Oak Park is a small neighborhood park that really has something for everyone. If you’re in the area, it’s your go-to park. But for non-locals, it’s definitely worth a drive if you’re a tree buff or a butterfly fan.
Tell us about the playground equipment:
Name of Manufacturer: (Optional) – Unknown
Recommended Ages: Large structure for 5-12 year olds and a pre-school structure for 2-5 year olds
Climbing: Rock wall and ladders on playground structures
Playthings: Tic-tac-toe, animal identification, alphabet and number recognition (all in braille!)
Slides: Toddler slides and tall slides both straight and twisty.
Swings: 8 swings total. 4 infant seats, 3 regular swings and one 5-point harness swing.
Other: Bouncy Bridge