New Jersey summers may focus on the Jersey Shore, but that’s not the only option for sunning, picnicking, and cooling off when the heat is on. The Garden State is home to many county and municipal lakes that are open to the public. One particularly kid-friendly lake is Sunrise Lake in Morris County, less than an hour’s drive from Montclair.
With plenty of free parking, including stroller/accessible paths to the beach, families can bring all the gear and supplies they need to make it a full day of beach and park time. Entrance fees are $6/$7 for adults (weekday/weekend) and $5/$6 for children ages 5-15 and Seniors 65+. Children 4 and under are free. Sunrise Lake is open summer Tuesdays through Sundays, but it also opens on Mondays if they fall on a holiday.
The facilities include restrooms, changing rooms, and showers as well as a deck with picnic tables for lunching away from the sand. The beach house has several benches in the shade for a break from the sun. There are grilling areas and more tables farther from the beach house, including a grassy area and a covered area. We saw families utilizing these with quite a full picnic spread!
While the water and the sand are probably enough to entertain children, there is also a water slide flume on a grassy hill (included in the entrance fee) that makes for all ages fun. For children 7 and older, a 5-minute swim proficiency test and $3 will get 30 minutes on the Wibit (pronounced Wih-bit, not Wee-bit, I discovered) for sliding and bouncing and jumping fun. Want to get in a workout before taking another dip in the lake? Rent a paddleboat for between $5-$7 to check out the other side of the lake where cyclists and geese use the space.
Sunrise Lake has attentive lifeguards who will give swim tests and answer questions in addition to their life-preserving duties. Several Adirondack-style chairs are set up on the beach and by the water for public use. The beach is clean, the water is welcoming, and there was a friendly, casual, and diverse clientele when we visited. Despite the parking lot filling up over the day, the beach never felt crowded.
Shallow and deep sections are separated by a rope line. Adults can swim in any area, but children must take a basic swim test with crawl or breast stroke to enter the deep area.
As a summer boon to families with very young children, Sunrise Lake opens every Tuesday just for children four years or younger and their parents or caretakers. For a discounted price of $3 (children 4 and younger are always free), caretakers can enjoy early morning beach time from 9 AM to 10:45 AM at Tiny Tot Tuesdays. Older siblings are asked to come after Sunrise Lake opens for regular business hours. For more information, call the Sunrise Lake Beach Club Office at 973-267-4351.
There is still one more Campout On The Beach day this summer for families who want to get the most out of Sunrise Lake. A bonfire, s’mores, and games are included. Pre-registration and pre-payment is necessary. See information here.
Sunrise Lake Beach Club is part of the Lewis Morris Park. Weekday hours are 10 AM – 5:30 PM (except for July Tuesdays, which begin at 11 AM). Weekend hours are 11 AM – 6:30 PM. Check with the website for changes and updates. For driving directions, use 270 Mendham Road, Morris, NJ 07962.
For an additional New Jersey Day Trip idea, check out this past post about Round Valley Recreation Area.