Too Good to be True? Playgrounds, Museum, Trails, Pond, Deserted Village – All in ONE PLACE & FREE!!


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All the above in one place? Free? It does sound too good to be true, you say.

Why not read on, and judge for yourself then!

Being that today is on the cooler side, let’s start indoors with the Trailside Nature & Science Center:

A 4,500 square ft, 2 floor building with lots of enjoyable exhibits,

attractions, a nature library, and more!

Features include a a Native American Indian home,

a masterful taxidermy forest exhibit,

showcasing many of the animals found on the reservation.

Like foxes…

raccoons, birds and more.

Don’t miss the opportunity to see a cross section  of the largest cut tree trunk you’ll likely ever see – compare it to the adjacent doorways for an idea of the size. Anyone want to count the rings?

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There’s also an incredible nighttime theater – showing the animals surrounding you at night – really a terrific experience.

Stop at the minerals exhibit for your rock-collecting boys,

the bird nest and bird egg identification exhibit for your budding ornithologists.

the live turtles for your budding zoological professors,

…and an extinct animal exhibit for your Paleontologists-in-training.

GFT TIP: When reading exhibits about “millions of years old” bones, we’ve always told our kids two things: As Torah Jews, we know exactly how old the world is…

So how do “millions of years old” dinosaur bones fit into the picture?

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  1. We heard from Rabbi Mintz, founder of Oorah that Hashem created a mature world, with everything in it. Adam was not born as a baby needing to grow up – he was created as a fully grown man – and animals as well were not created as babies but as mature adults. Hashem could just as well have simply created the world with the “ancient” bones in it

  2. One reason most of the animals were destroyed by the mabbul was because they were interbreeding with other species, and that could have easily created strange creatures, i.e. dinosaurs. With a flood in the entire world so major that it covered even the tallest mountains, anything to do with carbon dating, and where  and in which earth layers bones are found could not possibly be correctly dated by scientists today, after such an upheaval. (Ever heard about fish fossils being found atop mountains?)

Back to our great trip – Moving on – let’s head outdoors:

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With an extensive trail system, the park is beautiful even when covered in snow in the Winter, with obvious beauty in the Spring, Fall and Summer seasons as well.

Many trails are bike-able for the (soon to be!) experienced. Keep an eye out for horseback riders who also share the trails and get the right of way to bikes.

(click the map above to enlarge and print)

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The trails lead to exciting place to see, like the old Drake Farm house,

a deserted village for you to explore,

Seeley’s Pond, and more!

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Top it all off with some terrific playgrounds for the kids, and you have a FREE trip worthy of the best!!

The Loop Playground is shown in the pictures above and below:

and the Main Playground  – both are within reasonable walking distance of the Indoor Nature Center we mentioned earlier.

If you take Route 78 to get there, particularly in the summer, check out this unique bridge over the Highway there the wooded reservation crosses the highway via this interesting “land bridge.”

OK, you say – tell me more and how do we get there?

Name: Watchung Reservation & Trailside Nature Center

Hours: (as of 2-5-17) Daily 12-5

Website for information

GPS Address: 452 New Providence Rd. Mountainside, NJ 07092

(Click address above for directions in Google Maps)

Phone: (908) 789-3670

Located in: Mountainside, NJ – Not too far from anywhereGREAT option for Mid-WINTER Break!

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Distance from Lakewood: Approx 55 min

Distance from Elizabeth / Highland Park / Edison:  Approx 25-30 min

Distance from Passaic / Clifton / Fairlawn / North Bergen / Teaneck / West Orange: Approx 25-30 min

Distance from Monsey / Brooklyn / Queens: 50-60 min (more with traffic).

Tried & Tested: YES!

Worth traveling an hour for? We’d give this one a resounding YES!

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4 Comments

  1. Hershy Farkas February 5, 2017
  2. Chanie Rapoport February 6, 2017
  3. Therowners February 6, 2017
  4. CJ April 7, 2017

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