Looking to do a bit of exploring while outside and getting some fresh air? Let’s visit the Cross Estate Gardens in Bernardsville!
I have a photo album on my phone titled “Things to Do” where I put screenshots of places I want to visit and things I want to do. That way, when we find ourselves with down time and are looking for something fun, I have a handy index of places to sift through to save time. And this is exactly how I found myself on the grounds of the Cross Estate Gardens in Bernardsville recently.
We’ve lived here for 19 years (the longest I’ve lived anywhere!), and we never knew this place existed … and it’s only 15 miles away! So many undiscovered treasures literally right in your own backyard, and it was the perfect afternoon escape when I found myself needing a little time outdoors.
Part of the Morristown National Park system, it’s super easy to find. I literally just put “Cross Estate Gardens” into Waze and found it with no issues.
The property boasts both formal and native gardens (although, of course, there isn’t much in the way of “gardens” in the winter) and is currently open from 8-5 (8-8 in the summer) and has free parking and no entrance fee.
Lovingly maintained by volunteers, this is one of those places that would be wonderful to visit every season so you can see the various scenes play out in the gardens.
The house on the property was originally built in 1905 as a country escape, and the estate also features a carriage house, water tower, and gate house. In 1975, 162 acres of the property, including the main buildings, became part of the Morristown National Historical Park, which would provide protection for the neighboring 18th century New Jersey Brigade Revolutionary War encampment area. Unfortunately money was not immediately available for the garden’s maintenance, and the property fell into disrepair.
Two years later, a former resident from the area, pulled volunteers together to begin the arduous task of revitalizing the property, and that volunteer effort, in a much larger group, continues to this day, with weekly meetings to plan and share gardening tips.
Given the pandemic has likely left us all a bit stir-crazy, if you’re looking for places to explore (particularly where the kids can pretty safely roam free), consider paying a visit to the Cross Estate property. I can’t wait to go back in the Spring when things start blooming and greening up a bit!
Hungry for more tranquil places to visit in New Jersey?
The Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit is another favorite, as well as the Laurelwood Arboretum.
The Grounds for Sculpture property is a great place to spend a few hours, and the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else.
An old friend introduced me to the Van Vleck House & Garden and I can’t wait to go back.
The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms is another local favorite.
And for more day trips and fun places to visit, check out this Pinterest board.