Our Visit To Van Vleck Gardens and Kip’s Castle

Montclair, NJ

June 2017

Our Visit To Van Vleck Gardens and Kip’s Castle

It was early morning on a Saturday that I yanked my husband out of bed and ran to the car before the kids or grandparents woke up. Taking a quick cup of coffee to go with us we dashed for the car.  The plan: to go ‘garden hopping’ first thing in the morning.

We drove to Montclair, and within about 2 hours visited the Presby Memorial Garden, Van Vleck House and Gardens and Kip’s Castle.  All three locations are about within a mile of each other, so it is easy to visit them all in the same trip.   One of the things I liked about these places is that they are so close together, and each one is just big enough to have fun exploring, but small enough to see all of it in one visit. This way, if I brought my grandmother up there, she would still have a great time without getting too tired.

First stop was Presby Memorial Iris Gardens. I have written about Presby Memorial Iris Gardens before. The trick with this place is about going there when the irises are in bloom: late May to early June.  We were there in the first week of June, and it was as beautiful as ever.

Right after the Iris Gardens we drove a few blocks back down the street and visited the Van Vleck Gardens. There is a nature center, and the historical house, which we didn’t stop at. The gardens are a beautiful and magic filled place. There is ample parking, and the grounds themselves are not very big. We walked around there for about 40 minutes, exploring every nook and cranny. The house is beautiful, and fun to explore on the outside. I think late spring was a good time to visit, as azaleas and wisteria were in bloom.  They also have all sorts of programs available to kids and adults. In fact, during our visit, there was a nice group of youngsters enjoying a program. Here are a few photos:

After visiting the Van Vleck house we headed over to Kip’s Castle. It is only about half a mile away by car. I saw a sign that there are tours of the castle Tuesday to Friday, 12 pm to 3 pm. Unfortunately we were there way too early to attend a tour (something I would like to do in the future). The castle itself is a pretty fun thing to see in the middle of New Jersey. The grounds were a nice place to explore and take a walk. Plus the views of NYC are magnificent.

I should mention that all three places were completely free. Presby Iris Gardens and Van Vleck both accept donations.

We enjoyed our garden hopping excursion so much that within the same week I returned. This time with my mom.  We did the same three places. We were greeted by a tiny baby deer that was hiding in the flowers and jumped out right at us. Good thing my camera was on and ready to go!