Van Saun County Park is a kid-friendly park that offers many different attractions the whole family will enjoy, such as the Bergen County Zoological Park that houses North and South American species, playgrounds, and pony rides. The park is also home many different courts and fields for sports activities, carousel rides, and much more. With so many fun attractions, it is very easy to spend a day or several days at Van Saun County Park.
Van Saun County Park has so much to offer families no matter your age. It is fun to see generations of Bergen County residents coming together for decades to enjoy everything Van Saun has to offer. The 23-acre park opened its gates in 1960 in Paramus, New Jersey, and has been a place for families to visit for decades. Between playing on one of the park’s many playgrounds, taking a train ride around the zoo, and playing a friendly game of tennis, Van Saun County Park is any kid’s sanctuary. I spent many days of my childhood at Van Saun County Park, and when I recently visited as an adult, I got the same excitement I did as a child when seeing the animals and wandering around. The fun atmosphere of Van Saun County Park has a tendency to bring out the kid in every adult—perfect on a warm summer day.
Children having fun playing on the playground at Van Saun Park
Bergen County Zoological Park
The Bergen County Zoological Park is home to many different animals that kids will love visiting, including alligators, spider monkeys, and two-toed sloths. The zoo offers a laid back atmosphere, and it was nice to simply take my time to explore and see all the different types of animals. If riding is more your speed, families are able to take a train ride that goes around the zoo. Kids will enjoy the excitement of being on the train while getting to see all the animals.
The park is very educational, providing background information and descriptions about the animals in each exhibit in a kid-friendly manner. Another must-see for kids is the Discovery Center at which kids can find caged lizards, snakes, turtles, and more. The center also has a billboard designed for kids to learn about how they can help the coral reef. The zoo also hosts special events featuring animals at the zoo that are fun and educational. Such events include Bear Awareness Day, World Rhino Day, and Sloth Day.
More amenities the zoo has to offer include picnic tables and a gift shop in which families can buy their kids stuffed animals, animal-themed T-shirts, and other animal merchandise.
Admission to the zoo, from May-November, is $4 for Bergen County residents ($8 non-residents); $2 for children ages 3-14 ($5 non-residents); $1 for seniors and those with disabilities ($2 non-residents); and free for children younger than 3 and active military. The zoo’s train runs mid-April through mid-November, Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm (last ride is at 4:45), however times may vary. Tickets are $1.50 for each passenger ages 6 months and older. An adult must accompany a child who is 42 inches tall or shorter.
Tips for Visiting the Bergen County Zoological Park:
- Supervise children and make sure they keep their hands outside of the cages.
- Wear comfortable clothing.
- Do not feed the animals since they all have special diets.
- Bring water.
- Make sure to bring appropriate ID (New Jersey’s driver’s license or Bergen County ID card) since those without proper ID are charged the non-resident rate.
- Bring cash or a credit card to enter the zoo.
- The best time to visit the zoo is during week either in the morning or later in the afternoon when it tends to be less busy.
Carousel and Pony Rides
No need for a visit to the carnival to ride a merry-go-round! Van Saun County Park is home to the Millennium Carousel, and tickets to ride are $1.50 (cash only) per person. It is open mid-April through mid-November, daily, 10am-5pm weather permitting (check website for changes). The animal-themed carousel is a must-see at Van Saun County Park and definitely something the kids will beg to ride multiple times.
Children will not only get the opportunity to visit the animals at the zoo, they can ride one, too! Pony rides, operated by Ironside Farms, at Van Saun County Park are available April-October, daily, 10am-5pm (weather permitting). Rides for children are $5 for one lap and $9 for two laps. Children 2 and younger must have a parent walk with them.
The pony rides at Van Saun County Park are operated by Ironside Farms.
The playground section at Van Saun County Park is every kid’s paradise since it features four separate jungle gyms to choose from in the same vicinity. It made me wish I were a kid again, able to slide down all the different slides and swing on the swings without getting nauseous. The playground also features a splash pad so kids can cool down on hot summer days. Don’t forget to pack a picnic lunch: The playground offers an assortment of picnic tables.
Van Saun County Park also offers a variety of sports fields. Visitors can use any of the fields as long as it is not being used for other purposes. The sporting facilities include a baseball field, a softball field, a tennis court, a basketball court, and paved pathways.
Visitors playing tennis on one of the various tennis courts that Van Saun Park has to offer
Tips for Visiting Van Saun County Park:
- Bring cash since most of the features that do cost money are cash only.
- Bring water, although there are vending machines throughout the premises.
- Wear comfortable clothes, and sneakers are highly recommended.
- Supervise children at all times.
- Bring hand sanitizer, especially if you are planning to picnic.
- Wear and pack sunscreen to reapply throughout the day.
- Bring a change of clothes or a towel if kids decide to use the splash pad.
Main image: The Millennium Carousel at Van Saun County Park
Photos by Amanda Marrone
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