Van Vleck House and Gardens, nestled within the charming NJ suburb of Montclair, is by far one of our favorite places to visit. It’s serene, lush, and ripe with educational opportunities for littles. All of the trees and flowers are intentionally selected to support wildlife – chipmunks, butterflies, bees, birds, and squirrels – and spotting an abundance of creatures is always a big hit with my little animal enthusiasts. Labeled flora teaches youngsters the differences in plant species and we’ve already learned how to self-identify so many.
There are free self-guided activities geared towards preschoolers on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (we’ve played garden bingo and done insect and bird safaris) and we’ve learned about recycling and composting, how bees make honey, and the differences between moths and butterflies.
I usually prefer stroller-friendly places, but this small garden is easy for me to manage both kiddos without lugging a stroller around. We play follow the leader down cool little trails that wind through shaded tree canopies, butterfly gardens and gorgeous flowers and just love spending time in this magical oasis.
The Park Mama Tips:
- Ditch the stroller and baby wear or walk instead. This garden is small and while it’s mostly flat, there are some steps and narrow trails that would make strollers a bit tricky.
- The bathroom is closed due to COVID and there are no porta potties, but Brookdale Park and Rose Garden is a 5 minute drive away and has an open and clean restroom.
- There’s a small parking lot at Van Vleck – we like to visit in the AM when it’s empty and then head over to Brookdale Park and Rose Garden for a scooter ride, soccer game, and picnic before heading home.
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