Van Vleck House & Gardens: Montclair, NJ

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Sap flowing in high volume is called a ___.” Put your maple syrup knowledge to the test on this fun self-guided trivia tour at Van Vleck House & Gardens just 30 minutes away from Hoboken. A dozen or so visits later, Van Vleck House & Gardens remains one of our favorite NJ finds. It’s small. Perfect for little legs. It’s educational. Trees and flowers are labeled, and the team does a great job of offering free seasonally appropriate scavenger hunts for preschoolers.

If you’re looking for more, there are a range of virtual and onsite children’s programming options for 3-11 year olds – from gardening and backyard birding to themed outdoor adventures. Birthday coming up? Check out these educational birthday parties for 4+ year olds.

We visit weekday mornings mostly, and 9 out of 10 times we enjoy this magical oasis all to ourselves. While it was still partially snow covered on our last visit a few days ago, the sunshine welcomed us warmly and a chorus of birds sweetly cheered Spring’s near arrival from the treetops. My 2.5 year old and 4.5 year old have memorized every path and over the summer particularly enjoyed stopping to smell the flowers, examining rocks, and counting their favorite furry friends: chipmunks. We look forward to visiting again and again, especially when the garden is in full bloom!

Good Eats Nearby:

  • Hungry? Check out Hot Bagels Abroad (1 min away). If bagels aren’t your thing, there’s also a pizzeria and the highly rated Stuffed Grass-Fed Burgers next door (all accessible from the same parking lot). We pick up a couple of bagels to go and head over to Brookdale Park (5 mins away) to picnic, play ball, and scooter.

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 is a 5 minute drive away and has porta potties. Their restroom is also currently closed.
  • There’s a small parking lot and street parking is also available.

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Published by TheParkMama

Hi, I'm Janet, a city dwelling nature lover and mama bear of toddler and preschool aged explorers. We love discovering uncrowded green spaces within a short drive of Hoboken, NJ that are little kid-friendly - from botanical gardens and nature preserves to arboretums and parks - there's something magical about adventuring together.

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