New Jersey State Parks offer a variety of interpetive programs, hikes, bike, canoe and kayak trips at different parks throughout the season. Visit the calendar online online, sign up to receive events via email or contact the specific park of interest for their most current schedule. Event updates are also posted on the State Parks facebook page.
new jersey state parks app
New Jersey's official State Parks app by Pocket Ranger is available free from the App Store or Google Play.
new jersey state environmental education directory
Visit the SEEDS (State Environmental Education Directory) website for an online catalog of resources available through the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Field trips and outreach programs for schools, groups, families and organizations are available.
One Earth So Green and Round!
Call Kathy 973-975-8559, Email: email@example.com. Presenting songs that are wonderfully creative, and teach children and remind adults about our precious environment and its diverse inhabitants such as: In Alaska, I Am Snake, We Study Frogs, Think About the Ocean, Why Do Turtles Cross the Road? and Chameleon. Program promotes recycling and awareness of our precious animal habitats (solo with guitar and mix of background tracks.)
Camden Children’s Garden
3 Riverside Dr., Camden, 856-365-8733. Spring-fall: Wed.-Sun. 10-5. Closed Jan.-late March. Admission $8, under 3 free. Modest fee for train ride and carousel.
Four-acre interactive garden includes a butterfly garden, railroad garden, dinosaur garden, maze, picnic garden, treehouse, amphitheater, carousel and storybook gardens. Visitors can enter the Butterfly House to observe 200 Monarch and Swallowtail butterflies in a lush tropical environment. School programs; girl scout workshops; party packages; gift shop; weekend festivals include seasonal crafts, games and activities.
Sprouts & Seedlings, monthly nature workshops for ages 2-5 with adult. 10-11:30. $12. Register online or call 856-365-8733 for info.
Dino Day & Bug Bonanza, 1-4pm.
Brunch with Bunny, 10-2:30pm.
Earth & Arbor Day, 1-4pm.
Beautiful Butterflies, Birds & Cinco de Mayo Festival, 1-4pm.
Fit & Fun Festival, 1-4pm.
Strawberry Surprise & Art in Nature Festival, 1-4pm.
Plaza de Aibonito, Puerto Rico Festival, 1-4
Cora Hartshorn Arboretum & Bird Sanctuary
324 Forest Dr. S., Short Hills, 973-376-3587. Stone House Education Center: Mon.-Fri. 9-4:30, Sat. 9-4, Sun. 10-4. Summer: Mon.-Fri. 8-4, closed Sat. Grounds open daylight hours year round (no dogs). 16 acres of woodland with 3 miles of walking trails. Adult programs, day trips and hikes; parent/child, youth and family nature programs; after-school clubs; summer and vacation camps; scouting programs; birthday parties; school field trips and classroom programs for grades K-5.
Turtle Tots, drop off program for ages 3-5.
Arboretum Sprouts, education program for ages 1-2 with caregiver.
Guided Hikes, for families.
1112 Duke Parkway West, Hillsborough, 908-722-3700. Nov. 6-March 12: Thurs.-Tues. 8:30-4:30. April-Oct.: Thurs.-Tues. 8:30-6, closed Wed. Free admission. Note: Parking areas are closed temporarily when full (most likely to happen on Sundays and holidays during nice weather). Parking updates are posted on twitter @dfparking. Off peak hours are early morning or later in the afternoon.
2,740 acre estate and wildlife sanctuary was developed by tobacco and hydropower magnate James Buchanan Duke beginning in 1893. The estate is now a learning center and model of environmental stewardship. The New Jersey Audubon Society, Raritan Piedmont Wildlife Habitat Partnership, and the Rutgers University School of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Office of Continuing Education offer environmental programs for adults, families, children, educators and professionals.
Stop in the LEED Platinum Orientation Center, housed in the 1906 Farm Barn, for displays, interactive exhibits, maps, entrance tickets and refreshments. Borrow an Eco-kit with binoculars, compass, note pad and field guide. Then board the tram (10-5 April 1-Dec. 1) to explore the core of the property across Duke Parkway West including the orchid conservatory, Great Meadow, old foundation of the planned Duke family mansion and over 18 miles of trails.
Agriculture programs; horticulture classes; community garden; nature programs for adults and children; Rutgers Environmental Stewards program; self-guided bike and walking tours are offered. Some bikes are available to borrow on a first-come, first-serve basis. Bike helmets are required for all cyclists. Children's series include Junior Ornithologists, Junior Naturalists and Junior Entomologists. Consult website for current schedule and registration.
GeoTrail, bring your GPS to find 11 caches located on the property.
Hike or Bike, over 18 miles of trails. Four miles of paved paths are wheelchair accessible and stroller friendly.
Field Guide to Duke Farms, available to borrow at the Orientation Center, read online or print from home.
Self-Guided Family Activity Sheets, available to download from website before you arrive.
Community Garden, plots awarded through lottery to people who live and/or work in Somerset County. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bikeshare Service, 60 adult-sized bicycles are available first come first served, 9am-4:30pm, for $5 per ride, 2 hr. maximum.
Community Garden Snoop Tour, behind-the-scenes tours led by volunteer garden educators May-Sept. 10:30-11:30am. Free.
Farm to Table Market, local farmers market on Thursdays 3-8pm.
Junior Ornithologists, Junior Naturalists, Junior Entomologists, Junior Gardeners, registration open for four seasonal Mini-Series per year.
Nature Storytime for Sprouts, 90-min. nature themed monthly program for ages 3-6 with caregiver. Individual classes or series.
Essex County Environmental Center
West Essex Park, 621 Eagle Rock Ave., Roseland, 973-
228-8776. Trails open daily dawn to dusk. Environmental Center open Mon.-Fri. 9-5, Sat. 10-2, closed holidays. Situated in a wooded wetland habitat with access to the Passaic River, the environmental center serves as central headquarters for most of the environmental groups in Essex County including Master Gardeners, 4-H Club (973-353-1338 x103), Essex County Beekeepers Society, New Jersey Woodturners Association and New Jersey Audubon Society. Library; natural history and fine art exhibits; nature and horticulture programs for toddlers to adults; center-based and outreach programs; teacher workshops; scout programs; birthday parties; school vacation and summer nature camps.
Little Explorers Nature Program, class for ages 2-5 and their caregiver explores nature through stories, walks and crafts.
Nature and Outdoor Programs and Themed Clubs for ages 5-12 include outdoor discoveries, crafts, gardening, cooking, bugs, geology and green kids.
4-H Clubs & Environmental Clubs, a variety of special interest clubs for children in grades 1-8 include such topics as the environment, pets, bugs, cooking, stamps and Legos.
Hatfield Swamp Guided Hikes, are scheduled upon request for two or more adults. Free.
New Jersey Audubon Society Birding Field Trips, for beginners to experts, adults and ages 12 and older. Call 908-766-5787 for upcoming dates and to register.
Yoga Series for Adults, beginner to advanced.
Rutgers Essex County Master Gardeners Free Helpline, Mon.-Fri. 10-2, 973-228-2210.
Advance registration required, unless noted.
Spring Camp, grades 1-5. 12:30-4:30.
Earth Day, crafts, games, canoeing, hiking, eco-vendors' sale. 11-4. Free.
Wilderness Skills Summer Camp; Young Engineers Summer Camp; Nature Explorers Summer Camp, preK to grades 8.
353 E. Hanover Ave. (Rt. 511), Morris Township, 973-
326-7601. Haggerty Education Center: Mon.-Sun. 9-4:30. Grounds: 8am-dusk. Matilda's Cafe: Fri.-Sun. April-Oct.
Beautifully maintained estate known for its rose garden, lilac collection and ideal setting for informal picnics. Self-guided trail booklets and children's walking tour map available in the Mansion, headquarters for the Morris County Park Commission. Horticulture programs for adults, children, schools, scouts and home schooled students, 973-326-7603; indoor and outdoor dining at the Cottage garden.
Friends of Frelinghuysen Arboretum
Volunteer organization sponsors adult and children's programs, plant sales and other events. Advance registration required for all programs, 973-326-7603. For program information, call 973-631-5004.
Family Discovery Backpack provides materials, activities and games for families to explore the arboretum. $5, first-come, first serve basis.
Branching Out, spring and summer sessions for ages 5-13 to learn about gardening, botany, horticulture. Call 973-631-5004 for more information.
Seedlings, series introduces children ages 3-5 with adult to plants and nature through walks, stories and activities. $5 per session.
Home School Days, nature and horticulture programs for ages 6-12. 1-2:30pm. $8.
Scout Programs, workshops for all girl scout levels, cub scouts and boy scouts. 973-631-5004.
Junior Master Gardeners, school-year-long gardening and horticulture science program for grades 3-5. Call 973-631-5004 for information.
Garden Tours, first Sun. April-Oct. at 2pm. $3.
Family Photo Scavenger Hunt, grab a camera or phone for a scavenger hunt with a new theme each month. Take a photo of every item and receive a prize. Anytime 9-3:30 daily in summer, weekends year round. $10/family.
Mar Stick to the Trails.
Selected Adult & Teen Programs
Creating an Inviting Garden with Style, speaker Susan Cohan, APLD. 1-3pm. $18.
Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
Helen S. Fenske Visitor Center, 32 Pleasant Plains Rd., Harding Twp., 973-425-9510. North Gate bridge is open during visitor center hours. Daily 10-4. Stop in for trail maps, information and visit the interactive exhibits and Discovery Den for children, bookstore, library and gift shop. Friends of Great Swamp offers public and members-only programs, special events, group tours for schools, scouts, youth and adult organizations, and outreach speakers (908-647-1321). See listing under Hiking & More for additional info.
Junior Refuge Manager Activity Book is available at the Visitor Center or can be downloaded online under "Education & Outreach." Complete and earn a certificate and badge.
Nature Detective Trail, short loop path with 11 interpretive stops along the way, is designed especially for young children.
Refuge Readers, adult book group meets monthly on the third Fri. All are welcome.
Volunteer Opportunities, many opportunities available to help with invasive species control, garden work, staffing centers.
Refuge Work Days, volunteers needed to help with projects.
Second Sunday…with Friends, may include guest speakers, nature program, film, walk, 1:30-3:00pm. Registration not required. Visit website for scheduled activity.
Selected Family Events
Mar 23, 26
Spring Woodcock Walks, watch and listen to the elaborate mating displays of the American woodcock. 6:30-dusk.
Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center
247 Southern Blvd., Chatham Township, 973-635-6629. Visitor Center open daily 9-4:30. Interactive exhibit area and library. Pick up a self-guiding trail booklet for the two miles of trails and boardwalks leading through wooded and swamp habitats. Weekend family programs, environmental programs for toddlers to adults, guided trail walks, Baby & Me Hikes, scout and school programs, homeschool programs and teacher training workshops are offered.
Toddler Trek, morning walk and story for toddlers ages 2-3 with adult. 10-11am. $5/child, advance registration required.
Mar 20 Spring is Almost Here.
Awesome Animal Artists, indoor/outdoor after school art program for ages 5-9. Parents are welcome to participate. 4-5pm. $5.
Pre-K Walk, hour-long nature walk and craft for ages 4-5 with adult. 10-11am. $5, limited space, reservations open 2 weeks prior to event.
Mar 21 Peepers & Quackers.
Baby & Me Hikes, weekly hikes for parents, grandparents or caretakers and infant children to discover nature at different park locations. All babies must be in front- or backpack; no siblings or strollers. 9:30-11. $2, registration required
Mar 21, 28
Homeschool Adventures, monthly themed programs designed for homeschool families, all ages. 1-2:30pm. $8 per child 3 and over.
Outdoor Adventure Skills, monthly series for ages 10-15 to learn wilderness and survival skills.
Nature's Little Explorers, 6 week nature program for ages 2 and 3 with adult includes walks, activities and crafts. 10-10:45am. $55 for series.
Mar 16-Apr 20
Puddle Jumpers, 6 week series for ages 4 and 5 with adult includes walks, activities and crafts. 1-1:45pm. $55 per child.
Mar 16-Apr 20
Enviro-Literature, read and role play a classic environmental story, monthly program for ages 7-11. 4-5:30. $3 per child.
Mar 23 Henry Hikes to Fitchburg.
Weekend Family Walk, all ages. 10-11am. $2 per person ages 3 and up.
Selected Children & Family Events
Pre-registration required for most programs. Fees, if noted, apply for ages 3 and up.
Mar 22, 27
Frog Jamboree: Easy, spring peepers and wood frogs. All ages. 3:30-4:30. $3.
Frog Jamboree, all ages. 10-11. $3.
Hunterdon County Parks & Recreation
Office location: 1020 Rt. 31N, Lebanon Twp., 908-782-1158. Surrounding park headquarters are two miles of nature trails winding through display gardens including a children's garden and picnic area. Over 7,000 acres of public open space at parks and preserves are maintained throughout the county. Parks staff lead a wide selection of daytime and evening nature, sports, art and crafts programs for children, families, adults and school/community groups. Programs on nature, camping and outdoor skills are available to groups both on and off-site. Popular offerings include summer day camps, after-school nature programs, canoe trips, birding trips and walks and an annual free summer concert series.
Basketry, Art & Craft Workshops and Classes, for children and adults, beginner to advanced.
Adult Morning/Afternoon Bird Walks & Field Trips, open to interested birders at all levels of ability. See current schedule online.
River Trips, canoe/kayak trips with experienced leaders. Open to ages 8-adult.
Nature Club for Kids, seasonal children's series for ages 3-5 and grades K-3 includes hikes at Echo Hill or Mountain Farm and hands-on activities.
Tot Walks, one-hour nature program includes walk, story and craft for ages 2-3 with adult.
Art Together, art series for ages 2-4 with adult.
Home School Environmental Series and Kidz Art, home school programs.
Afterschool Program, drop-off nature program for grades 1-4.
Free Adult Recreation Walks, Wednesdays 9:30-11am at diferent park locations.
Apr 12, 19, May 3, 17, 31
Summer Camps for Grades K -12, weekly camp themes include nature, art, craft, theatre, music, garden, sports and canoe.
Fresh Air Flow: Outdoor Yoga Series, 4 week sessions for all ages, 6-7pm Deer Path Park.
Selected Family Events
Registration required for all programs, unless noted.
17th Annual Earth Day Celebration, carnival midway, 4-h animals, robotics club, pond paddle. 10:30-4.
Jun 29- Aug 17
41st Music Under the Stars Free Concert Series, 7-9pm Deer Path Park.
Kay Environmental Center
200 Pottersville Rd., Chester Twp., 973-635-6629. Former 400-acre estate is now Morris County parkland offering hiking trails through fields, forest and along the Black River. If you follow the red trail blazes to the river, a left before the bridge will take you to a beautiful hemlock gorge, short waterfalls and to the stone ruins of an old summer house and dam.
The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey
200 Pottersville Rd., Chester, 908-879-7262. Delaware Bayshores Office: 2350 Rt. 47, Delmont, 609-861-0600.
Headquartered in New Jersey at Kay Environmental Center, The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization whose mission is to protect ecologically important open spaces, primarily through acquisition. Field trips, programs and volunteer opportunities are available for members and the public. Special events and trips are planned at Kay Center and at Conservancy preserves in Warren, Sussex, Cumberland and Cape May Counties. Visit website for public events and field trips.
Horseshoe Crab & Shorebird Phenomenon, caravan through the Delaware Bayshores and see the ancient ritual between horseshoe crabs and the red knot, one of the longest distance migrants in the animal kingdom.
Kittatinny Valley State Park
Goodale Rd. (off Rt. 206N), Andover, 973-786-6445. Featuring glacial lakes, limestone outcroppings and access to the Paulinskill Valley and Sussex Branch rail trails, this State Park offers challenging mountain biking, easy family biking, hiking, fishing, boating and kayaking, 3 group campsites as well as cross country skiing and ice fishing in winter. Interpretive programs are scheduled year round, each weekend during the spring and summer, with less frequency during fall and winter. Visit website for current schedule.
Junior Naturalist Workbook & Program for ages 7-12. Stop by the park visitor center for info.
Geocaching, over 200 geocaches are waiting to be discovered in the park. To participate, create an account on the official Geocaching website. To learn about geocaching in New Jersey, visit the website for Northern New Jersey Cachers or attend a "Geocaching for Beginners" workshop offered monthly at the park.
Selected Children & Family Programs
Pre-registration required for all programs, 973-786-6445. Visit website link for times, fees and adult-only programs.
Mar 23, 30
L'il Tykes Spring Hike, ages 5 & under with adults. 11-12. No strollers or older siblings.
The Nature of Vernal Pools, adults & ages 9+. 11-noon.
Color Yourself Calm, teens & adults. 2-4pm.
Lakota Wolf Preserve
89 Mt. Pleasant Rd. (Rt. 80W, exit 4), Columbia, 877-733-9653. 60-75 minute wolf watch programs are presented twice every day except Monday. Fall & winter: 10:30 & 3. Summer: 10:30 & 4. Registration begins 1/2 hour before tour start times; an appointment is required for weekday watches and groups of 10 or more. In winter, call ahead to make sure weather permits opening. Adults $15, ages 2-11 $7, no credit cards. Enjoy a scenic walk to an observation area in the center of four packs of Tundra, Timber and Arctic wolves. Learn about them through informal talks with caretakers and direct observation.
Liberty State Park Interpretive Center
Morris Pesin Dr. (Exit 14B NJ Tnpk.), Jersey City, 201-915-3402 x109. Free. In addition to being a launching point to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Liberty State Park is a scenic natural area featuring bike/walking paths, a giant playground and an interpretive center with nature trail and exhibits, offering environmental programs, outreach programs and professional development workshops for educators. Also see listing under Historic Sites.
Hurricane Sandy Update
Interpretive Center remains closed due to Hurricane Sandy. Interpretive programs are being offered at other locations within the park. Call or visit website for scheduled events and reopening date.
Kayak Eco-Tours, adults and ages 16 and up explore the salt marsh and beach habitats from the water. Call to be placed on mailing list, 201-915-3409. Pre-registration required.
Selected Interpretive Events
Free, pre-registration required. ADA accessible.
Volunteer Nature Path Planting, adults, groups, families with children ages 6+. 10-noon.
Salt Marsh Clean-up, visit Friends of Liberty State Park website for info.
Earth Day 5K & Fair, Hudson County Improvement Authority.
Walk MS, National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
March for Babies, March of Dimes.
Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center
331 Georgia Tavern Rd. (GSP exit 98), Howell, 732-751-9453. Daily 10-4:30. Memorial Day to Labor Day: Sat.-Thurs. 10-5, Fri. 10-8:30. Visitors learn about the importance of water, wetlands ecology, wildlife and habitat protection through interactive exhibits, multi-media presentations and wildlife observation areas. Free nature programs are offered most weekends. School, scout and group programs available. Monmouth County Parks offers extensive programming for children, teens, parents & childrent and adults at parks throughout the county. Complete guides are published seasonally.
Sat & Sun
Free Nature Programs, most weekends. Call 732-751-9453 for info.
Safari Backpacks, all you need for a self-guided nature walk exploring Manasquan Reservoir. Free, deposit of NJ drivers license.
Meadowlands Environment Center
2 DeKorte Park Plaza (east end of Valley Brook Rd.), Lyndhurst, 201-777-2431; administrative office 201-460-1700. Trails open daily 8am-dusk. Environment Center open Mon. 9-4; Tues.-Fri. 9-2; closed Sat. & Sun. Interactive learning center and observatory, built to LEED standards, is situated in a portion of Richard W. DeKorte Park, an area of several hundred acres of reclaimed landfills and revitalized wetlands along the Hackensack River and an annual migratory stop for thousands of waterfowl and shorebirds. Barrier-free trails with bird and photo blinds; environmental and astronomy education programs; interactive exhibits trace the environmental history of the Meadowlands; nature walks; teacher development workshops; school programs; outreach programs; scout programs; gift shop. Visit website calendar for upcoming schedule of events.
From April-Oct. canoe and kayak rentals are available at Hackensack Riverkeeper Paddling Center in Laurel Hill County Park, Secaucus. Paddlers can explore the marshlands of the Sawmill Creek Wildlife Management Area. Guided paddles, bird walks, eco-cruises, river clean-up days and group outreach programs are offered. For info, call 201-968-0808 or visit website.
William D. McDowell Observatory, free open viewing Wed. evenings, weather permitting.
Guided Nature Walks with NJMC & the Bergen County Audubon Society, check Meadow Blog for dates. Free, registration recommended.
Eco-Cruises, Canoe & Kayak Rentals, Guided Paddles, visit Hackensack River Keeper website.
NJMC Canoe Tours, three-hour tour of salt marsh;
NJMC Pontoon Boat Tours, two-hour tour departs from River Barge Park, Carlstadt. Ages 10 and up. For schedule and info, call 201-460-4677 or visit website.
1st Sun, 3rd Tues
Bergen County Audubon Society Nature Walk, two-hour walks on the first Sunday of the month and third Tuesday of the month. Free. For info, 201-230-4983.
Merrill Creek Reservoir
34 Merrill Creek Rd. (Exit 4 Rt. 78W), Washington, NJ, 908-454-1213. Open daily daylight hours. Visitors Center: weekdays 8:30-4:30, weekends 10-4. 290-acre environmental preserve surrounds this reservoir that was developed by 7 electric utility companies to store water for release to the Delaware River during periods of low flow. A bald eagle nesting area can be observed from the Inlet/Outlet Tower parking lot off Fox Farm Rd. (take care not to disturb the eagles, walk or boat within 300 yards of the nesting area). Visitors Center features hands-on exhibits, dioramas and displays. Emphasis is on low-impact activities—hiking trails, wildlife observation blind, cross-country skiing. Swimming, camping and picnicking are prohibited. The stocked reservoir is popular for fishing and boating (canoes, sailboats and fishing boats, electric motors only). Naturalist-led environmental education programs are available for all organized non-profit groups, ages pre-K to adult.
New Jersey Audubon Society
Independent, membership-supported organization has the mission to foster environmental awareness and a conservation ethic among citizens, protect New Jersey's birds and other animals and plants, and promote preservation of New Jersey's natural habitats. The organization maintains stewardship of 34 sanctuaries and conducts adult, family and children's programs at seven staffed and partner facilities.
• Cape May Bird Observatory
Center for Research & Education: 600 Rt. 47 N., Cape May Court House, 609-861-0700.
Nature Center of Cape May: 1600 Delaware Ave., Cape May, 609-898-8848.
Northwood Center: 701 E. Lake Dr., Cape May Point, 609-884-2736.
• Duke Farms
80 Rt. 206S, Hillsborough, 908-837-9341 (NJAS partner site). See separate listing.
• Essex County Environmental Center
621 Eagle Rock Ave., Roseland, 973-228-8776 (NJAS partner site). See separate listing.
• Hawk Rise Sanctuary
End of Range Rd. (GPS 1811 Lower Rd.), Linden. Public programs are listed under Scherman-Hoffman Sanctuary.
• Lorrimer Sanctuary
790 Ewing Ave., Franklin Lakes, 201-891-2185.
• Plainsboro Preserve
80 Scotts Corner Rd., Cranbury, 609-897-9400. See separate listing.
• Scherman-Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary–headquarters
11 Hardscrabble Rd., Bernardsville, 908-766-5787. See separate listing.
• Wattles Stewardship Center
1024 Anderson Rd., Port Murray, 908-837-9571.
Selected Special Events
Harbor Safari Seining, Family Birding Cruise, Tidal Marsh Tour by Kayak, Beachcombing, Scavenger Hunt, Storywalk, and more. Contact Nature Center of Cape May for info.
New Weis Center for Education, Arts & Recreation
Former Weis Ecology Center, 150 Snake Den Rd., Ringwood, NJ. Grounds and parking lot close at dusk. The New Weis Center, with 24 miles of hiking trails and the undisturbed forest and rugged terrain of Norvin Green State Forest as its outdoor classroom, reopened in summer 2016. The developing schedule includes seasonal family activities, scout programs, guided hikes, theater productions, art exhibits, and school field trips.
Pequest Trout Hatchery & Natural Resource Education Center
Rt. 46 (Rt. 78 to Rt. 31N to Rt. 46E 2 miles), Oxford,
908-637-4125. Trails open daily dawn to dusk. Interpretive Center: April-Oct.: Daily 9-4; Nov.-March: Mon.-Fri. 9-4 and for special events. Free.
700,000 brook, brown and rainbow trout are raised here annually to stock over 200 public waters. The Egg Room is in operation from mid-Sept. through early Oct. The Nursery Area is in use from late Sept.-mid-May. Self-guided tours, videos, exhibit hall, 3.9 miles of hiking trails and picnic grounds. Children and adult workshops related to wildlife and natural resources are offered select weekends spring to fall. Check website for monthly listings. Group programs.
Selected Family Events
Pequest Open House & Sportsmen's Flea Market, environmental and conservation exhibits, historical reenactors, wildlife artists, carvers, fishing for kids, archery ranges for ages 10+ and more. 10-4. Free.
80 Scotts Corner Rd., Cranbury, 609-897-9400. Tues.-Sat. 9-5, Sun. 12-5. Hiking trails open daily dawn to dusk. A joint effort of the Township of Plainsboro, County of Middlesex and New Jersey Audubon Society, the preserve includes a nature center with exhibits, reference library, nature store and over five miles of trails through mature beech woods, wet meadows, and along the shoreline of McCormack Lake. Family nature programs; field trips and programs for adults and teens; preschool programs; scout programs; school field trip and outreach; school vacation and summer camps for ages 6-12; birthday parties.
Nature Field Trips, for adults and teens, explore a natural area of New Jersey with an environmental educator.
The Flight Club, Thursday after school club for students in grade 6-9.
Kids & Critters Preschool Program, new topics each session for ages 2-4. 11-11:45am. $7.
Pine Barren Series, full-day field trips for adults and ages 12 and older & accompanying adult.
Bird Seed Sale Days, first weekend of the month.
Summer Naure Camps 9am-4pm for grades 1-9. Sign up for one week or the whole summer.
Selected Special Family Events
Pre-registration encouraged, 609-897-9400.
Thru Apr 7
Project Feeder Watch at Plainsboro Preserve, beginner and seasoned birders are invited to be a FeederWatcher, 1 hr. at a time. 12-2pm.
Saturday Family Adventures
Saturdays from 2-3:30pm. Perfect for young naturalists and their families ages 6 to adult. $7, $5 members, unless noted. Pre-registration is required, 609-427-3052.
Wake Up Your Backyard Habitat. Learn how to prepare your yard, the advantages of native plants, and planting choices that will attract butterflies and other wildlife. Information about having your yard certified as a Backyard Habitat will also be available.
124 Boonton Ave. (Boonton Ave. & Mars Ct.), Montville, 973-334-3130. Park open year round dawn to dusk. Visitors Center Wed.-Sun. 10-4:30. Call for winter hours. Trail guide available at Visitors Center for wooded trails to Tripod Rock, a 180-ton boulder balanced atop three smaller rocks, Bear Rock, and to the top of Pyramid Mountain for outstanding views of the New York City skyline. Nature programs; guided hikes; preschool walks; homeschool and school programs; scout badge programs; birthday parties.
All programs require advance registration.
Baby & Me Hikes, seasonally for parents, grandparents or caretakers and infant children to discover nature. All babies must be in front- or backpack; no registration. 9:30-11. $2.
Mar 21, 28
Nature Tots & Tykes, ages 2-5 with an adult learn about nature with stories, games and crafts on a new topic each month. 10-11am. $5.
Family Science Day, hands-on activity stations for all ages with adult. 1-3pm. $8 for ages 5+; $5 for ages 3 and 4.
Mar 28 Frogs & Toads!
After School Hike, nature topics and activities for ages 5 and up. 3:30-4:30pm. $3.
Nature's Little Explorers, 6-week nature program for parent and toddlers age 2-3. 10-10:45. $55.
Mar 15-Apr 19
Awesome Animal Artists, for ages 5-9. Monthly indoor/outdoor program features a different animal each session. 4-5pm. $5.
Puddle Jumpers, for ages 4-5. 6-week nature series for ages 4-5 with adult. 1-1:45. $55.
Mar 15-Apr 19
Snowshoe Sundays, guided snowshoeing for ages 10 & up 1:30pm on select Sundays. Adult and children sized snow shoe rentals available for one day rental and use on site.
Advance registration required, 973-334-3130. Fees are for ages 3 and up, unless noted.
Mar 25, 27
Frog Jamboree: Easy, all ages. 1:30-3. March 27 3:30-4:30. $3.
Roaring Falls Hike: Moderate, ages 16+. 1-3:30.
Butterfly Bonanza, bug safari, pollinator parade at 2pm, live music, crafts, games. 12-4pm.
The Raptor Trust
1452 White Bridge Rd., Millington, 908-647-2353. Education Center, 908-647-1091. Open year round 7 days during daylight hours from 9am. Suggested donation $2. Avian rehabilitation center supplies care, diet and housing for distressed wild birds with the goal of returning healthy, self-sufficient birds to the wild. Outdoor display area for unreleasable hawks, eagles, falcons and owls is open to the public. Group outreach, on-site programs, and telephone advisory service for wild bird related problems; gift shop.
Reeves Reed Arboretum
165 Hobart Ave., Summit, 908-273-8787. Grounds open daily daylight hours. Wisner House: open Tues.-Fri. 9-4. Stackhouse Education Center: open Tues.-Fri. 9-5, Sat. 9-1 from March-Nov. Free admission, non-member suggested donation $5.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the arboretum is a serene place for a walk through woodlands, formal gardens, perennial, rose, daylily, herb and daffodil gardens. Picnics and dogwalking are prohibited. Summer camps for ages 4-18; children, adult and family workshops and special events; group tours; scout programs; nature birthday parties; summer concert series; site rentals. Teens are welcome to volunteer. Garden shop.
Discovery Saturdays, Education Center is open 9am-1pm most Saturdays Mar.-Nov. for hands-on activities tailored for children ages 4-10 accompanied by an adult. $5 per child, drop in; free for members. Borrow a backpack to explore outdoors.
Free Saturday Tours, 10:30am and 1:30pm Saturdays from May through Oct.
Daffodils, see over 40,000 in bloom.
Butterfly Garden in bloom.
Summer Camps, ages 4-18.
Selected Children & Family Events
Registration required, unless noted. Rates quoted are for non-members, members receive discounts.
Nocturnal Neighbors: Salamanders, night hike, activities, stories, s'mores for families with children ages 5+. 7-9pm. $10.
Daffodil Day, family-friendly spring celebration. 11-4. $10, $25 max./family. No registration.
Nocturnal Neighbors: Migrating Birds, night hike, activities, stories, s'mores for families with children ages 5+. 7-9pm. $10.
Rizzo's Wildlife World
1 Gold Mine Rd., Roxbury, 973-586-0444. Tues.-Sun. 10-6, call to confirm open hours. Admission $10, 2 and under free. Families learn about conservation and habitat preservation at indoor nature center housing New Jersey native North American wood turtles, Northern pine snakes and other reptiles, amphibians and mammals in naturalistic habitats. School, scout, camp programs; birthday parties.
11 Hardscrabble Rd., Bernardsville, 908-766-5787. Trails open 7 days to 5pm, Hoffman building open Tues.-Sat. 9-5, Sun. noon-5. 276-acre wildlife sanctuary belongs to the New Jersey Audubon Society. The Hoffman Center for Conservation and Environmental Education features an environmental learning center, observation deck, exhibits, book and gift shop. 3.2 miles of trails lead through woodland, field and floodplain habitats. Patriot's Path can be reached from the Scherman parking lot. Birding field trips; adult and family programs; summer natural history day camp for ages 4-grade 6; overnight camps for grades 6-10; teacher workshops; digital photography workshops; birthday parties. School, scout and group programs by reservation; teacher programs; outreach lectures and slide programs available for club meetings and special events.
Adult birding trips; wildlife & environmental workshops & lectures; nature-infused yoga; Friday & Saturday morning walks, 8am; digital photography workshops. See website for schedule.
Birdseed for sale, buy locally grown birdseed, mixes and suet.
Geocache Trail, bring your GPS for a two-hour trail walk through fields, woodlands and along the Passaic River.
Fri & Sat
Morning Walks, 8-9am, Fri. and Sat. mornings. Free.
Summer Camps, day camps for preschoolers to grade 6; overnight camps for grades 6-10.
Hawk Rise Sanctuary Urban Oasis Programs
End of Range Rd. (GPS 1811 Lower Rd.), Linden, 908-766-5787. Visit website for calendar of events.
Schiff Nature Preserve
339 Pleasant Valley Rd., Mendham, 973-543-6004. Schiff Natural Lands Trust, a nonprofit corporation, owns and operates the 423-acre Schiff Nature Preserve as public open space. Ten miles of trails are open daylight hours for hiking, biking, horseback riding or nature study. Ongoing programs include nature programs for children and adults; homeschooler program; summer day camps; scout programs; school field trips; birthday parties; and environmental book club, yoga, and fitness hikes for adults.
Hike Mendham, visit Hike Mendham website for local hiking trail maps.
Homeschooler Trimester, monthly program each season for grades K-6.
Environmental Book Club, adults only. Free.
Summer Nature Programs, week-long adventures for ages 5-13.
Selected Children & Family Programs
Girl Scout Badge Day: Hiking, 1-2:30pm. $5.
Tree Time for Tykes
Story, walk and craft program for ages 2-4 with adult. Adult/child pair $15, member pairs $10.
Somerset County Park Commission Environmental Education Center
190 Lord Stirling Rd., Basking Ridge, 908-766-2489. Trails open dawn to dusk. Education Center open daily 9am-5pm. No admission. Home to a host of classes, lectures, walks, and other environmental education programs. 430 acres bordering the Great Swamp and Passaic River feature 8.5 miles of walking trails with 8,000 ft. boardwalk and special boardwalk for individuals with disabilities, bird blind and frog ponds. Year-round nature and discovery programs are offered for children ages infant–5 with parent, preschoolers–age 12, families and adults; canoe and kayak trips; field trips; summer camps; teacher workshops; outreach to Somerset County schools; cross country skiing in winter. For a full listing of programs for toddlers through adults, call 908-766-2489 or access website.
Family Nature Walks, hour-long naturalist-led interpretive walk for all ages, no registration necessary (not designed for organized groups). 12-1pm selected Sun., 10:30-11:30am selected Sat. Free.
Mar 26, Apr 15, 23, May 13, 21, 27
Saturday Bird Walks, bird walk series for all ages in fall and spring. 6-8am, pre-registration not required. Free.
May 13, 20, 27
Tot Trek, stroller walk for ages infant-5 with parent. 10:30-11:30 monthly spring to fall. Free.
Apr 11, May 16
Parent & Child Nature Programs, infants to age 5 with adult explore nature through themed walks, crafts and stories.
Camera Naturalists Photo Club, dedicated to art of nature and scenic photography. Meetings generally 2nd Thurs. of the month, 7:30-9:30pm.
Adult Field Trips, Workshops & Hikes, consult website link for calendar.
School Year Programs
Visit online link for complete schedule of programs for children, teens, families and adults.
Homeschool Offerings, environmental education programs for ages 7-12 offered once a month.
Wild Kids, series for infants to age 5 with parent. 10:30-11:30.
Mar 19-Apr 9; May 7-28
The Young Explorers Club, series for ages infant to 5 with parent. 10:30-11:30am.
Apr 3-24; May 1-22
KinderNats, after school series for ages 5-7.
Apr 3-24; May 1-22
Tues or Thurs
Tree House Gang, 4-week series for ages 3-5 features new theme each month. 12:45-3:15.
Apr 4-25, Apr 6-27
May 2-30; May 4-25
The Green Team, ages 12-15 contribute their talents to special events and educational projects. 1-4pm. Free.
Apr 1, 29, May 13, 27
Story Hour, ages infant-5 with parent. 10:30-11:30am. Free.
Mar 25, Apr 1, May 13
River Rats, themed monthly series for ages 5-8. 10:30-11:30am. $36 for 4-session series.
Mar 25; Apr 1-29
Mar 18-Apr 23
Bernards Township Community Art Show.
Apr 29-May 28
A Closer Look: Patterns in Nature & the Micro-cosmic World.
Selected Family Events
Registration required for all programs, unless noted. Visit online link for full schedule of programs.
Mar 24, 26, 31
Woodcock Watch, look and listen for the fanciful flight of the American Woodcock. All ages. 6:30-8pm. $9.
Apr 5, 15
Bluebird Walk, all ages. 10:30-noon. $9.
Ben's Birding Basics, intro to New Jersey's birds, ages 8+ with adult. 1:30-3. Free.
Salamander Adventure, all ages. 1-2:30pm. $9.
Secrets in Somerset County–Bluebell Magic, wildflowers of Duke Island Park. 3:30-4:30pm. Free.
World Series of Birding, day-long birding team. 5am-9pm. $15. Meetings prior: Jan. 14, Feb. 11, Mar. 18, Apr. 8.
Selected Special Events
Project E.A.R.T.H., scavenger hunt for all ages. 12-4:30pm. Free. Live reptile program by Rizzo's Reptiles 3:45-4:30pm.
Selected Family Presentations
Pollinators in Peril: Natives to the Rescue!, John Black, President of the N.J. Native Plant Society. 2-3pm. $7.
Somerset County Park Commission
Junior Ranger Program
Colonial Park, Franklin Twp.; Duke Island Park, Old York Rd., Bridgewater, 908-231-0802, x21. Junior Ranger activity book is available for ages 6-12 to learn about the environment and its inhabitants. After completion, a Park Ranger will review work, present an official Junior Ranger badge and send info about special Junior Ranger programs and events.
Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association
31 Titus Mill Rd., Pennington, 609-737-7592. Reserve open dawn to dusk. Nature Center open Mon.-Fri. 9-5, Sat. 10-4. Butterfly House open dawn to dusk daily June-Oct. Member supported non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of the natural environment drained by Stony Brook and the Millstone River offers education programs for children, adults and families, summer camp, high school academy, teacher workshops, school, scout and group on-site and outreach programs. The 930-acre reserve features 10 miles of hiking trails, pond, open-air Butterfly House, and LEED Platinum Watershed Center which houses exhibit halls with hands-on activities, laboratory, computer learning center, classrooms and nature shop. Birthday parties.
Geocaching, use a GPS-enabled device to locate 12 permanent geocaches.
Nature, Conservation & Art Classes for Children & Adults, preschool series and school-age series for ages 6-10. Register for individual classes or entire series.
Watershed Academy, week-long environmental investigation for motivated high school students grades 10-12. 609-737-3735 x17.
Free Sunday Film Series, every first Sunday at 1pm. Free.
Watershed Nature Camp, ages 5-16.
Selected Children & Family Events
Registration required, 609-737-7592. Visit website link for adult education courses.
Watershed Nature Camp Open House #1, summer programs for ages 5-16. 1-3pm. Feb 28 6:30-8pm. Free.
Tenafly Nature Center
313 Hudson Ave., Tenafly, 201-568-6093. Visitors Center open weekdays 9-5, weekends 11-4. Trails open dawn to dusk. Free admission. 400-acre nature preserve features seven miles of trails, pond, backyard wildlife habitat and a visitors center with live animals, interactive displays and library. Afterschool programs, parent/child programs, weekend family programs, scout and school programs, homeschool programs, seasonal activities, adult programs, professional development, birthday parties and vacation day camps are offered.
Adventures in Reading StoryWalk Outdoor Exhibit, read a nature-themed story while walking in the woods. A new story is posted each season.
Guided Nature Walks, seasonal topics and activities the first Sun. of the month. All ages, no strollers. Sun. 3-4 (Sept. and Oct. 3:30-4:30).
Seasonal Scavenger Hunt, for adults and children ages 4 & up on the 2nd Sat. Arrive between 2 & 3. $5, $30 family max.
Nature Story Time, for families with children 3-7 yrs. old on the third Sat. of the month. 11:30-12:15. $5, members free.
Knee-High Naturalists, 8-week themed nature exploration for ages 11⁄2-3 with adult includes discovery stations, songs, & outdoor activities. Sign up for series or single session.
Apr 19-Jun 7 Wednesdays 10-10:45am.
Afternoon Explorers, series for 4-7 yr. olds and Forest Explorers, series for 8-12 yr. olds. Sign up for series or single session.
Home Ecologists Home School Program, series or single sessions on the 1st and 3rd Monday during the school year for families with children 5-10 years old. Home school groups can schedule a private class.
Mar 13 & 27 Sap to Syrup.
Apr 10 & 24 Spring to Life!
May 8 & 22 April Showers to May Flowers.
Jun 5 & 19 Metamorphis Mania.
Summer Nature Day Camps, weekly nature and science themes, preK to 8th grade. CIT program for ages 14-18.
Selected Family Events
Register online for events.
Maple Sugaring, all ages. 12:30-1:30, 2-3, 3:30-4:30.
6th Annual Lost Brook Trail Race, 5 or 10 miles. 9-11am.
Pancake Brunch & Maple Sugaring, all ages. One-hour tours depart every 30 min. between 10:30-12. Walk-in accepted as space allows.
Camouflaged Egg Hunt, golden eggs have special surprise. Bring your own basket. All ages, no strollers. 11-12, 1-2, 3-4pm.
Spring Break Camp, pre-K-grade 5.
Frogs! Hop to It for Earth Day, adults & children age 4+.
Mother's Day Walk, all ages. 10-12.
Shellabration Time – Come On!, World Turtle Day. All ages.
Bats for Beginners, adults & families with ages 4+. 7-8:30pm.
Bergen County Audubon Nature & Birding Walk, beginners welcome. 9-11. Free.
Canoe Day, short family hikes, live animals, canoe ride, crafts for all ages. 11-2.
Father's Day Walk, all ages. 1-3.
Jun 26-Sep 1
Summer Nature Day Camp, weekly programs
Natural Sweethearts, live animals & craft for for ages 4-grade 8.
Watchung Reservation, Coles Ave. & New Providence Rd., Mountainside, 908-789-3670. Visitor Center: Daily 12-5pm. Free. Located within the 2000-acre Watchung Reservation with 13+ miles of marked trails, the Trailside Museum and Visitor Center features many hands-on exhibits, ideal for for young children, and taxidermy exhibits of local wildlife. Live reptiles and fish live in ponds at the base of a 34-foot-tall beech tree inside the Visitor Center. Interactive exhibits explain local plants, geology, Lenape Native American history and conservation. Weekly nature and exploration programs for children include adult/child interactive programs for toddlers and ages 3-4, drop-off programs for ages 4-6, after-school programs for grades 1-5, weekend family programs and summer day camps for preschoolers to grade 9. Scout badge and group programs; outreach programs; birthday parties; adult programs, too. Visit website for new programs and self-guided trail guides.
Mastedon Exhibit, see remains of a 6-ton creature from 25,000+ years ago discovered in Lenape Park in Cranford.
Self-Guided Geology & History Trails, download trail guides online at geo-trail and trails-map.
Saturday Outdoor Adventures, 45-min. weekly themed hike and nature-related talks for families with children of all ages most Sat. during the school year.
Children, Family & Adult Workshops–Toddler Time, Two of Us, Small Fry Days, afterschool grade school programs, Saturday Outdoor Adventures for families, adult workshops, teacher training. Visit website link for current schedule.
Sat & Sun
Story Time, entertaining stories of the season 3pm Sat. Donations appreciated.
Summer Camps, for preschool-grade 9 (online registration begins in March), Friday Family Programs, Tuesday Evening Programs, Wednesday Matinees for ages 4+ (no registration), family campfires and beginner overnight campouts.
Wednesday Matinees, kid-friendly entertainment 1:30pm on Wed. afternoons for ages 4 and up with adult. Tickets go on sale at 1pm on day of show.
Selected Special Events
Visit website link for complete program schedule.
Wild Earth Fest and Touch-A-Truck, Trailside Nature & Science Center and the Loop area in Watchung Reservation.
Master Gardeners Garden Fair.
National Trails Day.
Jun 23, 28, Jul 12, 19, 26, Aug 2, 9, 16, 23
Summer Arts Festival, outdoor concert series. The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra kicks off the series on Friday, June 23, 7:30pm, at Echo Lake Park in Mountainside.
Jul 11, 18, 25 Aug 1, 8
Family Fun & Flix, movies and family activities in Union County Parks.
Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge
4 Sawmill Rd, Medford, NJ 08055, 856-983-3329. Nature Center: Mon.-Fri. 9-5, Sat. & Sun. 10-4. Adults $5, ages 4-12 $3, 3 and under free. A 171-acre wildlife refuge, wildlife rehabilitation hospital and nature center is dedicated to the preservation of New Jersey's wildlife and habitats through education, conservation and rehabilitation. Hiking trails explore uplands and wetlands surrounding Cedar Run Lake. An outdoor wildlife area houses over 60 residents including hawks, owls, fox, and more. School and scout programs, naturalist hikes, homeschool classes, preschool programs, summer camps and birthday parties are offered. Visit website for a schedule of events.
Mommy & Me Pre-K Programs, ages 2-5.
Apr 4, May 2
Homeschool Classes, for ages 3-14.
Apr 11-12, May 9-10, Jun 13-14
Walk on the Wild Side, themed family-friendly walks begin at 1:30pm. Pre-register.
Apr 9, May 14, Jun 11
Selected Family Events
Most programs require advance registration.
Amazing Animal Adaptations, all ages. 1-2pm.
Night Hike, ages 8+. 7-8:30pm.
Apr 14, 17
Day-Off Adventures, hikes games, live animals, crafts for grades K-6. 9am-3pm.
Raptor Egg Hunt, ages 3-12. Programs at 11am & 2pm.
Mystery of the Jersey Devil, all ages. 1pm.
Happy Mother's Day!, moms free admission with paid child's admission. 10am-4pm.
International Migratory Bird Day: Hunters of the Sky, all ages. Programs at 11am & 2pm.
Survival Skills, ages 8-15. 1-3pm.
Night Hike, ages 8+. 8-9:30pm.
Happy Father's Day!, free admission for dads with paid child's admission, Hunters of the Sky program at 12 & 2, birdhouse craft. 10am-4pm.