If you’re looking to get your family off their screens and out into nature, here is a list of some of Playground Talk’s favorite gardens, trails and nature centers in the area. Keep in mind that many of these places are open year-round, so be sure to check their websites often for updated schedules of the many fun classes and events that these places offer for kids and adults of all ages.
FLAT ROCK BROOK NATURE CENTER Englewood, NJ
Offers a variety of educational programs, group hikes, picnic areas and self-guiding trails.
GROUNDS FOR SCULPTURE Hamilton, NJ
Stroll the park and discover the over 270 works of art on display. Events include children and adult workshops, concerts, tours and more. There are a few options for picnicking and dining, and if you are looking for something on the fancy side, Rat’s Restaurant is regarded by many as one of the best places to dine in NJ.
HUDSON HIGHLANDS NATURE MUSEUM Cornwall, NY
Tons of great programs to choose from for children who are in search of some fun outdoor adventures. From mid-April thru mid-November, you can visit Grasshopper Grove, where kids can explore nature in an open-ended, hands-on outdoor play space.
JAMES A. MCFAUL ENVIRONMENTAL CENTER Wyckoff,NJ
Nature exhibits, winding paths, woodland gardens, animal shelters and a covered picnic pavilion make this a wonderful place to spend a few hours.
MOHONK MOUNTAIN HOUSE New Paltz, NY
This beautiful spa/resort allows those who only want to visit for the day to purchase day hiking passes to use on the impressive 85 miles of trails. Whether you are in search of a stroll on a carriage road or are interested in trying a more challenging rock scramble, Mohonk has something for everyone and boasts absolutely beautiful surroundings.
NJ BOTANICAL GARDENS Ringwood, NJ
Explore the gardens, take a family nature walk or take a tour of Skylands Manor. Be sure to check out the calendar for their summer concert listings and other special events.
NY BOTANICAL GARDENS Bronx, NY
Every season brings something new and exciting to see. Revel in the impressive Chihuly exhibit, delight in the Winter Holiday Train Show, sign up for a class or concert, or simply stroll the gardens and enjoy a picnic.
RAMAPO RESERVATION Mahwah, NJ
While there are some challenging hikes offered here, this is a perfect spot to take younger kids if you’re searching for a spot for a first-time hiking experience. Fishing and tent camping is available with permits.
TENAFLY NATURE CENTER Tenafly, NJ
There are many wonderful seasonal programs to choose from throughout the year. Kid-friendly guided hikes, scavenger hunts, nature story times, StoryWalks, and so much more.
THIELKE ARBORETUM Glen Rock, NJ
A small gem that makes for a perfect morning or afternoon outing. If you have young kids, plan to visit during one of the StoryWalks offered throughout the year. Pack a picnic, and then head over to the gated playground next door for some more outdoor fun.