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Hiking Trails Historic Landmarks Museums Quaint Towns Rivers and Lakes State Parks

Our Visit To The Waterloo Village

Our visit to The Waterloo Village was one of those in-the-middle-of-the-pandemic-most-things-are-still-closed field trips. The world was still recovering from the shock that Covid-19 brought to our lives. Most things were open for outdoor only, no gatherings, 6 feet apart activities. We headed over to The Waterloo Village because it was a place we have never explored before, it looked quiet, and pretty. We really just wanted to spend a day exploring something new, and not sitting at home.

The Waterloo Village was just what we needed. It was quiet, beautiful, with historical buildings scattered over winding paths. There was a lake, a dam, bridges, flowers. birds and trees to look out for. Once again, we were there with two teens, and they enjoyed themselves. We (boys included) made flower crowns, hiked, found remnants of a tow bridge, skipped rocks, found different species of birds and plants. We never found the recreation of the Native American village, however, so next time we’ll just have to look harder.

Currently, the village is an open air historical museum and is part of the Allamuchy Mountain State Park. It does have a history, and as with any such spots, it is always good to read about the history before going.

After we had our fill walking around the Waterloo Village, we drove off to visit High Point. On the way, we picked up a cup of coffee and lunch from the Holland American Bakery, which is always delicious.

As always, here are some photos:

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Beautiful Gardens Free Places To Visit Historic Landmarks

Our Visit To Deep Cut Gardens

Deep Cut Gardens is one of those great gems in the state of New Jersey. Located in Middletown NJ it is a fun spot to explore. First of all, it is free to visit. They offer some great programs for the public, especially for the gardeners out there. I especially am amazed by the seed exchange program. What a great idea! I, personally, love that they have a website where they list many species of plants that grow in the garden. You can see everything that is happening, as well as information for your visit here.

What I liked best about this spot is how much it had going on in a relatively small space. It was beautiful and clearly so well loved. The garden is also very accessible. There was about an hour and a half worth of walking about. The walks were easily accessible and can be done with the smallest of kids. Some of the spots are downright magical.

My friend and I were there with our two teens, and they enjoyed themselves. They liked the bonsai tree collection, and the cacti room; the thing they loved the most was the koi fish. In fact that’s where we spent the most time.

After the garden we headed down to Sandy Hook for some beach time.

The garden is free to explore. My advice is before you go, read up on the history of the garden. At some point it belonged to Vito Genovese, and has a cool and long history. Not unlike Duke Farms.

As always, here are a few photos of our visit:

That is it for our visit to Deep Cut Gardens.

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Free Places To Visit Historic Landmarks Museums National Parks

Our Visit To Washington DC

May 2018

This was quite the trip for our family. It has been a while since we planned something quite like this, and I have to tell you, next time, I need to do a way better job planning. The idea was to drive down to D.C., spend some time there, and then head over to Chincoteague Island to spend a few days there. We picked May, because it is off season, and everyone here was able to get away for a bit.

We headed out Friday late afternoon. The plan was that in order to avoid the rush hour traffic around D.C. we would drive to Longwood Gardens (which is about half way between us and D.C.) and spend a few hours watching the sunset there, then head back out to Washington closer to nighttime. It was the right call. Longwood Gardens was as beautiful as always.

Our Visit To Longwood Gardens

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Hiking Trails Historic Landmarks

Hiking The Columbia Trail

A friend suggested this hike, and off we went with a group of parents and kids. This was such an interesting hike to take. You walk past gnome and fairy houses, an iron forge, and abandoned house, a museum aptly titled “THE SOLITUDE MUSEUM”, and you end up at an awesomely huge dam.

Hiking The Columbia Trail

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Free Places To Visit Hiking Trails Historic Landmarks Nature and Science Centers Quaint Towns State Parks

Our Visit To Batsto Village

This spring we found ourselves in Hammonton NJ. From us this is quite a distance. We were there for an appointment to buy some blueberry bushes, but wound up getting there 2 hours early. What can I say, we needed something to do in the meantime. As we drove, I spotted the Batsto Village sign, I remember someone leaving an awesome comment on our Free NJ Destinations page about how awesome Batsto Village is, so we made a turn. I am so glad we did.

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Historic Landmarks Museums

Our Visit To Rutgers Geology Museum

This is not our first visit to the Rutgers Geology Museum, last one was about 6 years ago, and in the years since it has not changed much. It is still a wonderful place to stop at with your kids. We were visiting the wonderful Zimmerli Museum on the same morning (Zimmerli is right across the street from the Geology Museum).

Our Visit To Rutgers Geology Museum

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Hiking Trails Historic Landmarks Water Parks

Our Visit To Highlands Natural Pool

Another beautiful place from my bucket list checked off this summer! On our visit to Highlands Natural Pool, we enjoyed swimming in a pool made from stream fed waters that run off the mountains of the Norvin Green State Forest. My friend will swear to you that the water in the pool have magical healing qualities. That when you come to this place you will forget what is troubling you, and just enjoy where you are right now. When you dive into the water it envelops you in it’s wonderful velvety coolness.

When you get to the pool, you park a little distance away and take a stroll over a small stream filled with dragonflies. As you walk up to the pool, you will see hiking trails going off into the State Forest. I hear the hiking there is quite impressive.

Our Visit To Highlands Natural Pool

As you walk up to a pool, there is a row of restrooms on the left, a little concession stand on your right, and a few lovely people collecting the entrance fees. The fees that you can expect to pay are not significant, especially during the week.

Our Visit To Highlands Natural Pool

There are umbrellas, and chairs available inside. However, if you are coming in the afternoon, and especially if there is a class trip, expect to sit on your towel.  Considering that we were there under both of those circumstances, and were lucky to get a table. Running along the pool fence there is a beautiful butterfly garden.

Our Visit To Highlands Natural Pool

Our Visit To Highlands Natural Pool

This Olympic sized pool is subdivided into two sections. The first section has a zero entry incline, and is designed for the younger group of kids.  The parents and the kids all splash and cool off there. If my kids were young, I’d sit in that water all day with them. There are salamanders everywhere to be seen.

The second area is deeper, and is meant for those who passed the swimming test, or those who are over 18. My 10 year old came very close to passing the test, but at the end got too tired. Maybe next time. There will be a next time. Plenty of kids were there, swimming, diving off a diving board and having a great time!

Our Visit To Highlands Natural PoolWhile this swimming season is nearing it’s end, I do hope you will save this spot for your next summer.

The pool has a fantastic history to it. I hope you take the time and read about it. You can also find more information on their website: Highlands Natural Pool.

While you are visiting the Highlands Natural Pool, keep in mind that you are only 10 minutes from the NJ Botanical Garden, and I highly recommend you visit them as well.

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Beautiful Gardens Free Places To Visit Historic Landmarks

Our Visit To Van Vleck Gardens and Kip’s Castle

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!

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Historic Landmarks Museums National Parks Nature and Science Centers

Our Visit To The Thomas Edison National Historical Park

West Orange, NJ

October 2016

This October we have visited lots of awesome places. The only thing I was short on is time to write about them all. This is our visit to the Thomas Edison National Historic Park. It was a very interesting experience.
Our Visit To The Thomas Edison National Historical Park

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Beautiful Gardens Free Places To Visit Hiking Trails Historic Landmarks

Our Visit To Willowwood Arboretum

Again, I wrote this a few years ago. Since then we have gone back on many occasions to Willowwood Arboretum. It is a great spot for a quiet walk, and a bit of a meditative time. It never disappoints. The most recent time was the summer of 2019, it is as lush, green and peaceful as ever. We even managed to find a new hidden nook that we’ve never seen before. Here are a few photos:

Original Post

Recently, I have been noticing that our day trip, adventure going dynamic has changed around here.  With my older one going on to becoming a full fledged teenager, and my husband’s job not having days off like he used to, our family trips have been very rare.  During the school year it’s not noticeable: we are busy, and go on many day trips and adventures with our friends.  This is not the school year, it is the middle of summer, and many of our friends are away for the time being. 

This month I sharply felt the lack of adventurous trekking spirit in our lives.  Therefore, I have declared that one day during the weekend should be dedicated to exploring different places together.  Usually, that means that during the week we have to brainstorm and come up with a plan.  It has to be a place that won’t be crowded, and three times out of four it has to be free or inexpensive. 

Without a plan, our day often plops with people complaining about the choice options.  I took on the role of a day trip dictator and came up with a list.  From that list I pick off places to go to.  Sometimes it can be as simple as going hiking in our local forest, or a park with a nice walk around the lake.  Other times it’s a bit more complicated, with a trip to a garden or movies, or beach and a picnic.  It’s more about time together then entertainment, and so far we have had really good few trips, where we got to walk together and enjoy each others’ company.