A beautiful public property to tour, the Van Vleck House & Gardens in Montclair truly celebrates anyone with a green thumb.
Mother’s Day was definitely all about basking in the great outdoors. We started with a 1.41 mile hike through the Bonsal Wildlife Preserves (spoiler alert: we saw no wildlife), and with the humidity, it was a sauna-like steam bath, but fun (and good exercise to boot!). After that, we did a picnic in a small, quiet park, and then visited the Van Vleck House and Gardens in Montclair. A six acre, now public property, it originally started as a private home 140 years ago when the Van Vleck family wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of the city in favor of something more along the lines of a “country estate.” Over the years, there have been three different generations of the family staying on the property, and in various buildings, but since 1993, the heirs of the family gifted the estate to The Montclair Foundation. Since then, volunteers have meticulously maintained the property, and the private gardens have been open to the public 365 days a year. The house itself has been reserved for educational purposes, retreats, and special events.
There are a number of different gardens that you can walk through (you can see a full map here), but the highlight is the gorgeous Chinese Wisteria that winds its way around the perimeter of the building, which was originally planted by Howard Van Vleck in 1939. Many people brought lawn chairs and picnics to just sit and enjoy the grounds.
Admission is free to the public, and the property is open every day for touring from dawn until dusk; the estate is supported through gifts, fundraisers, and donations. There is plenty of on-street parking available, and they have a few small lots as well. They have a number of events throughout the year, so if you are close enough to visit, be sure to keep an eye on their calendar page, and you can also check their “bloom” list to see what is flourishing.
21 Van Vleck Street
Montclair, NJ 07042
Hungry for more New Jersey outdoor adventures?
The Reeves-Reed Arboretum is a quiet little escape that is just beautiful this time of year.
Grounds for Sculpture was our original destination, but we’ll be saving it for another time. It’s a huge piece of property with art around every corner. Perfect for kids and grown-ups alike.
The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms is another local favorite, and they have a current LivingSocial deal for admission.
And for more day trips and fun places to visit, check out this Pinterest board.