Newark’s Branch Brook Park is one of Essex County’s most beautiful locations, and it’s particularly breathtaking in the Spring when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. If you’re planning to visit the park with your family soon, there are a multitude of reasons to go, from the stunning scenery to the endless array of activities. Before you head out, check out our list of the Top 10 Reasons to Visit Branch Brook Park.
10. It’s Open Every Day of the Year
A lot of parks in the United States designate strict rules and regulations regarding visiting hours. Branch Brook Park, however, welcomes the public 365 days a year from Dawn until 10:00 pm, rain or shine. And admission to the park is always free.
9. The History
Branch Brook Park encompasses an extensive and impressive history. In 1896, it became the first county park to be opened for public use in the U.S. Prior to its public opening, the area had been used as an Army training ground for the North during the Civil War. During both World War I and World War II, the park was also used as a tent city for the U.S. Army for training exercises and recruiting. Branch Brook Park was eventually placed on both the New Jersey and the National Registers of Historic Places in 1980 and 1981, respectively.
8. Easy Accessibility
One of Branch Brook’s major highlights is its accessibility. Conveniently located minutes from downtown Newark, this county park garners visitors from all over the state every day of the week. It’s a quick trip up (or down) the Garden State Parkway, and some travelers even prefer to take the Newark Light Rail. Should you decide to drive, it is relatively easy to find parking in the area.
7. The Cherry Blossoms
The famous cherry blossoms of Branch Brook Park have been a chief selling point for years. And rightly so–the park possesses the largest number of cherry blossoms in the country, and during the springtime it’s like walking through a David Lloyd Glover painting when visiting this visually stunning park. Even the scent of the cherry blossoms alone is enough to put you in a comforting trance.
6. The Prettiest 10K in the Country
At approximately 10:00 am on April 10, Branch Brook Park will be hosting the annual Essex County Cherry Blossom 10K Run, perhaps the most beautiful 10K run in the country. All who race in the 10K run will get to tour Branch Brook Park’s most stunning areas, traveling past bridges and placid bodies of water, surely making the 6.2 miles fly by. Online registration is available for the run, and the first 500 registrants will receive a commemorative Cherry Blossom 10K Run long-sleeve shirt.
5. It’s in the Middle of All the Action
There is a ton to do at Branch Brook Park, plenty to keep you busy all day long. But if you are visiting Newark from out of town, you’ll be happy to know that the park is located in the middle of all of Newark’s great hot spots. It’s just minutes from downtown, and very close to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the Newark Museum, the Prudential Arena and the Newark Library. Branch Brook Park is also surrounded by some of the area’s best restaurants, from fast-food joints to culturally diverse eateries.
4. The Historic Tours
Though guided park tours are only offered seasonally, guests can still enjoy the Historic Cell Phone Tours all year long. This spring, Guided Historic Park Tours will be offered between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm from April 17 through April 23. The 45-minute tours depart from the Welcome Center on the hour. With the Historic Cell Phone Tours, however, you can follow an informative trip of the park by dialing 973-433-9047 at any time.
3. The Unparalleled Scenery
Over 4,000 blooming cherry trees are enough to make any visitor interested in returning every spring, but Branch Brook Park encompasses so much more throughout its 360 acres of land. Guests can venture past a number of historic sites, like the Prudential Lions, the Octagon Shelter, all of the park’s unique bridges, and the peaceful lakes, ponds, and streams that flow naturally throughout the property.
2. The Endless Activities
You’ll never run out of things to do at Branch Brook Park. Between their roller rink, baseball and softball fields, bocce and tennis courts, and dozens of paths and lanes, you and your children will stay busy and have a blast outside for hours. Make sure to visit the newly-opened playground, designed with a cherry blossom theme, and boasting friendly lions for children to climb.
1. The Cherry Blossom Festival
In addition to the Cherry Blossom 10K Run, Branch Brook Park offers a number of events during its Cherry Blossom Festival, which runs from Saturday, April 9 through Sunday, April 24. The festival kicks off on April 9 with the Cherry Blossom Challenge Bike Race from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm. On April 16, the park will be hosting the Essex County One-Mile Fun Run for children, as well as the totally free Essex County Family Day from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. The festival culminates with the highly anticipated Bloomfest, taking place on April 24 from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. People from all over the state pack the park for a day of fun, including cultural demonstrations, children’s activities, live music and delicious food.
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