Even though New Jersey has many metropolitan areas and suburbs, there are also lots of open spaces, wooded forests, and nature centers where you and your family can see wildlife. Whether the kids want to search for colorful bugs, look for deer and foxes, or learn more about the world around them, you and the youngsters will find what you’re looking for at these places to see wildlife in the Mount Laurel, New Jersey, area.

Rancocas Nature Center

The Rancocas Nature Center sits inside the boundaries of the 210-acre Rancocas State Park. When you visit the nature center, you’ll have 3 miles of trails to hike on that wander through meadows, forests, and wetlands. You’ll pass by a dragonfly pond, a frog pond, and a butterfly waystation where you’ll spot colorful butterflies in the spring and fall.

The kids will get a kick out of strolling through the children’s garden, playing in the sensory activity area, and learning about the importance of pollinators in the pollinator-wildlife garden. Volunteers at the Rancocas Nature Center provide educational programs all year long for preschool, elementary, and middle school kids, as well as special programs for adults.

After a busy and exciting day visiting the Rancocas Nature Center, head back to Mount Laurel and refuel the family by eating at any of these family-friendly restaurants in the Mount Laurel, New Jersey, area.

Location: 794 Rancocas Road in Westampton

Contact: 609-261-2495

Scotland Run Park

Pack binoculars and a picnic lunch for a full day looking for wildlife at the 1,000-acre Scotland Run Park. You’ll see various animals, reptiles, bugs, and birds in this large park. Scotland Run Park sits on the border of New Jersey’s Inner and Outer Coastal Plains, making this area an ideal home for local and migratory birds. 

For those wishing to cast their line in the water, canoeing or kayaking on the 80-acre Wilson Lake will give anglers access to the deeper waters. Boating toward the north end of the lake allows visitors a chance to look for beavers and aquatic insects.

During the spring, birders can look for warblers, bluebirds, and field sparrows. Summer brings hummingbirds, kingfishers, herons, and osprey to Scotland Run Park. In the fall, you’ll see the vibrant colors of the changing leaves, along with waxwings, hawks, and spotted sandpipers. Bundle up in the winter and come to the park to see diving ducks, pied-bill grebes, and bald eagles in the trees. Amenities at Scotland Run Park include a playground, restrooms, picnic areas, and interpretive displays that describe the local flora and fauna.

Location: 980 E. Academy St. in Clayton

Contact: 856-881-0845

Cohanzick Zoo

Spending the day at the Cohanzick Zoo allows you to see various wildlife. You’ll see animals from around the world like African serval cats, kangaroos from Australia, and mountain lions from North America.

The non-profit Cohanzick Zoological Society funds animal acquisitions, veterinary care, and equipment to keep the animals safely housed. While the zoo offers free admission to visitors, feel free to donate to help keep the Cohanzick Zoo running so kids can experience the wonders of wild animals now and in the future. The zoo is open year-round from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for select holidays or during inclement weather.

Location: 45 Mayor Aitken Drive at the Bridgeton City Park in Bridgeton

Contact: 856-453-1658

Plainsboro Preserve

You’ll experience untouched New Jersey nature when you visit the Plainsboro Preserve. This 1,000-acre undisturbed open space has nature trails, a 50-acre lake, and the Rush Holt Environmental Education Center. The center hosts educational programs, including natural history presentations, interpretive hikes, and slide and lecture programs. Plainsboro Preserve is the ideal place for an outdoor classroom where kids can learn about the natural New Jersey ecosystems while having the opportunity to see some of the local wildlife, some of which are rare or endangered.

Because Plainsboro Preserve has lots of wetlands, you may spot beavers, a variety of herons, turtles, frogs, and colorful water snakes. Keep your eyes open to look for birds such as ring-necked ducks, tundra swans, Canadian geese, hawks, and woodpeckers. Hikers will appreciate walking along the 5 miles of trails, some of which take you along the shoreline of McCormack Lake where you can see water birds hunting for a meal. The preserve does not allow fishing or dogs.

Location: 80 Scotts Corner Road in Cranbury

Contact: 609-799-4013

Boundary Creek Natural Resource Area

Boundary Creek Natural Resource Area is another great place to see wildlife and experience the natural scenery around Mount Laurel. Visitors to Boundary Creek Natural Resource Area have over 34 acres to explore, looking for birds and wildlife. This nature area has upland and lowland forest ecosystems, tidal wetlands, bubbling creeks, and open spaces.

You can walk along trails and elevated boardwalks to observation platforms that have exhibits describing the types of plants and animals you may see here. You’ll find many of the same seasonal birds, wildlife, reptiles, insects, and amphibians at Boundary Creek Natural Resource Area as you will in Scotland Run Park and Rancocas State Park.

After looking for wildlife, enjoy your picnic at the picnic tables. Boundary Creek Natural Resource Area has restrooms and drinking fountains for your convenience. In addition, enjoy the human sundial that shows different shadows throughout the year. Also, look for butterflies and hummingbirds in the garden near the stone pavilion and little pond. This nature area is open every day from 7 a.m. to dusk and is designed as a quiet area for passive recreation of bird and wildlife observation.

Location: 515 Creek Road in Moorestown

Contact: 609-265-5858

The Mount Laurel, New Jersey, area has so many amazing places to see wildlife. Which location is your favorite and why? What animals, birds, reptiles, or bugs did your kids see? If there is another place to see wildlife in our area, let our team at Crème de la Crème of Mount Laurel know. We always enjoy learning more about cool places to see wildlife.