With the arrival of sunny days and warmer weather, New Jersey residents can start to enjoy the outdoors. Our state offers many unique attractionsfrom sculpture gardens with rich greenery to historic open-air museumswhere families can venture out for a day trip. Many of these places also capture the unique history of our state.

If you’re looking for something interesting to do for an upcoming weekend, here are 5 fun outdoor activities in and around northern New Jersey:

1. Spend a Day on Essex County Waterfront, West Orange

The Waterfront is an outdoor favorite in Essex County. Located on the Orange Reservoir, the strip is flanked by a 1.7-mile walking path, a shaded picnic area, and the Children’s Regatta Playground, known for its boat-themed play equipment. Residents enjoy popular pastimes such as lounging in Adirondack chairs along the water or joining the local fishing derby. Paddle boating is available seasonally, and the Waterfront is next to the Turtle Back Zoo, Mini Golf Safari, and Treetop Adventure Course. It’s easy to check what’s on the schedule with their online calendar.

2. Roam the Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton

Grounds for Sculpture offers another unique outdoor experience. The contemporary museum showcases nearly 300 sculptures and art pieces displayed across 42 acres. Visitors can peruse various works tucked away in indoor or outdoor exhibitions throughout the property. They can also take a leisurely stroll through the gardens, recline in chairs along the pond, or picnic on the green. On a warm day, peacocks and other wildlife can be spotted on the grounds. Grounds for Sculpture is also home to an excellent restaurant, Rat’s, which is reservation only.

3, Visit Greenwood Gardens, Short Hills

Greenwood Gardens, a former private estate located in Short Hills, displays many of the original cascades, grottoes, and rustic stone summer houses from its inception in the 1920s. The grounds were part of a preservation project supported by the Garden Conservancy and now serve as a public garden. Visitors are attracted to the elegant design of the property, especially the hand-wrought, iron-grill entrance gate with metalwork birds of paradise, parakeets, vines, and ferns. The Gardens are currently open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through November 7. Visitors can also participate in new expert tours during Summer 2021 that range from the historical expansion of the gardens to bee life.

4. Tour Kip’s Castle Park, Montclair and Verona

Visitors to Kip’s Castle Park can spend a day exploring the vaulted ceilings and ornate features of a castle in the heart of northern New Jersey. Initially constructed in the early twentieth century by Frederic Ellsworth Kip and his wife Charlotte, the four-story private residence replicates a medieval Norman castle. The estate became part of the Essex County park system in 2007, and residents can enjoy self-guided tours on the first floor of the castle. Kip’s Castle Park also boasts 11 acres that span across Verona and Montclair townships. Seasonal programming includes candlelit tours and movies out on the green.

5. Explore the Environmental Center, Roseland

The Environmental Center, run by Essex County, offers an array of interactive activities geared towards nature appreciation. In the surrounding area, residents can find themed learning gardens, nature trails, and habitats formed along the Passaic River. The center itself incorporates environmentally-friendly features like recycled building materials, energy-saving technologies, and a “green roof” for storm-water management. Popular summer programs include the Butterfly Tent Safari and Youth Garden Club. You can find all of the upcoming programs on their calendar

Are you interested in learning more about our northern New Jersey communities? I would love to assist you. Contact Victoria Carter at (973) 220-3050 or email victoria@victoriacarter.com.

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In the image: Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton

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