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.
This past weekend it was a trip to Willowwood Arboretum.
We actually wanted to make it a combo trip. Willowwood Arboretum and Hacklebarney State Park are back to back next to each other. Willowwood is part of Morris County Park System, and is open daily to visitors. Hacklebarney is a state park. Both are free to get into. Willowwood has a little donation box in the parking lot if you would like to contribute something.
First we headed to Willowwood. After entering through the gate we drive through an open field, which made me worry about it being too sunny to hike there. Turns out that I was worried for no reason. When we got to the parking lot it was shady and really cool.
There are several hiking trails. One that is short, about a mile, then you have about 7 miles, and 9 miles. We opted out to explore the garden space. Overall I think we walked about 2 miles, but you could do more or less there, depending on what you feel like.
The garden space is glorious! It has so much to offer to the visitor, and is amazing to experience with all your senses. We were there on a Saturday, and only ran into one other family walking through it. The gardens aren’t huge, so you can cover all of the garden grounds in one visit. The land surrounding the garden space is quite big. We didn’t even venture out into the sunny fields, preferring to stay in the cool shade of the garden.
I know I said that already, but the gardens are just so beautiful and really feel like the amount of plant species they have there are quite diverse. The garden had several ponds, lots of ferns, a variety of trees, little passageways, a bamboo forest. Just amazing on all counts. It is a good place to bring little kids, it’s not big or busy enough to lose sight of them (within reasonable distance of course), and they can explore nature in its full glory.
I, personally, have had many favorite spots in this garden. The bamboo forest was really nice:
All the little ponds were pretty:
The house, the greenhouses, the barn, and all the historical information were amazing:
The grounds surrounding the garden were just beautiful:
My favorite part was the little flower garden behind the house. It had so many butterflies everywhere, and hummingbirds. Oh, the hummingbirds. I have never seen that many hummingbirds in one spot. It was really amazing to see. We sat and watched them all flutter about for quite some time. Just fantastic.
We never made it to Hacklebarney. Willowwood Arboretum has so much to offer to it’s visitors, and we enjoyed ourselves there tremendously. It took a piece of my heart, and now I must go back there again!
We will make it to Hacklebarney sometime soon. In the meantime check out all the visitor info for WILLOWWOOD ARBORETUM, there is quite a lot there.