Van Saun Park in Paramus NJ is truly a Bergen County Jewel. This County Park seems to get better every year. It has everything from walking along a pond to a small but very cool zoo. In between there is so much more. Picnic tables, ball fields, tennis courts, a big playground for children, dog park, pony rides, historic walking path and even a train ride.
Because Van Saun Park is filled with so much, we’re going to take all of this one at a time. Let’s begin with the park itself.
Location & Basic Facts
Van Saun Park is 146 acres so it’s big. It’s centrally located in Paramus with 2 entrances – one off of Forest Ave just above Howland Ave (be careful to stay in the right lane because the entrance is poorly marked) and the other off Contnental Ave immediately west of Dartmouth Court.
Go to the map of the park to see where everything is located. You’ll notice that there’s plenty of parking. No matter where you park, from one end to the other it’s not more than a 20 minute walk. Parking and the recreational areas are mostly free.
Throughout the park are picnic tables, barbecue areas and just nice places for a walk.
The children’s playground is quite extensive. There are all sorts of things to challenge a child from toddlers to older kids. Extremely well designed, this playground runs the gammet from swings to climbing towers.
No matter the age, there is something here for a child. They even have an ADA approved handicapped section at the north east corner of the playground.
As a result, handicapped children have an appropriate setting that’s part of the non-handicapped activities. Isn’t that great? This is Harmony Playground and it has elevated sprinklers so wheelchair bound kids can have some very special fun.
Don’t forget to bring water because I’m not sure that public fountains are allowed due to Covid restrictions. You can also call the Bergen County Department of Parks at 201-336-7275 to check on this. They ask that social distancing be observed (I really don’t know how this will happen with children in a playground) and outdoors masks are not required.
Pony rides are now back and the children are delighted. This is not an adult ride. Because of safety for pony, there is a weight limit of 90 pounds. Also, to give the ponies a rest, there’s a break mid day.
This was a rather touch and go situation a few years ago. A big thank you goes to The Friends of the Bergen County Zoo for bringing the pony rides back for good. For all the details and how to order tickets, just go to the Pony Rides section on their website. Pony rides are across from the soccer field.
Miniature Train Ride
This has to be one of the most popular park attractions. Imagine the fun it is for the younger set and adults enjoy it too. The miniature train ride is open daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day Weekend. While they say it runs from 10 – 5, I wouldn’t get there past 4:30 pm to be safe.
It still runs after Labor Day and before Memorial Day but at a reduced schedule. To be safe at these times, call ahead since a lot of the staff (college students) are gone in the off peak season. Tickets are only $2 per person. This is located next to the zoo. Admittedly this picture I took isn’t great but it gives you an idea of what to expect. Van Saun Park’s miniature train ride is fun!
Old Fashioned Carousel
Here’s another very popular attraction – the Millenium Carousel. Tickets are $2 per person and like the train, this operates daily during the peak season with 1 exception. It’s closed on Tuesday mornings for weekly maintenance. You’ll find the carousel in between the tennis courts and the playground.
Dogs and their owners had a happy surprise about 3 years ago. Van Saun Park added a dog park. There is a big dog and a small dog section. You need to bring water and waste bags. The ground is gravel and there are a few places to sit. However, whenever I brought my dog, Mickey, here I wasn’t really sitting much at all. Dog parks are also social gatherings for people too. You’ll find the dog park next to Parking Lot P4.
Bergen County Zoological Park (aka Bergen County Zoo)
The Bergen County Zoo has an impressive variety of animals. This is one of the highlights of Van Saun Park. It has a sliding scale of ticket prices that you purchase at the zoo entrance. The most adults pay is $4 for residents and $8 for non residents.
The zoo grows every year in the number of animals it displays and in the programs it has. Even past Labor Day you’ll find an exciting event: The zoo transforms itself into a spooky Halloween adventure which sells out quickly.
You can visit the zoo daily from May through October when it’s open 10-5. Get there by 4 at the latest so you have enough time to enjoy it. The rest of the year admission is free. I’d call ahead to be sure once the weather turns wintry and to check on hours. For a list of animals, go to the MyBergen.com article on the zoo.
There are a few other things to mention but these are truly the highlights for a daily visit to Van Saun Park. This is also a great walking park plus you’ll see people just hanging out, having a barbecue, playing soccer or badminton or board games. This park is always busy no matter the time of year. It’s not hard to see why I call this a Bergen County Jewel.