Home Features Family The Best Public Gardens and Arboretums in New Jersey

The Best Public Gardens and Arboretums in New Jersey

The latest update for NJ’s Best Public Gardens and Arboretums was written by Lindsay Podolak.

Do you know why New Jersey is called “The Garden State?” It’s because we’re home to many gorgeous nature centers, public gardens, and arboretums. Whether you’re looking for unique gardening ideas or just a quiet stroll among the flowers, these public gardens are a great (not to mention gorgeous) way to spend an afternoon.

During the COVID-19 Crisis, safety guidelines and restrictions may be in place for public gardens and other outdoor trails. With this in mind, we are including specific updates for each place on our list. Just look for the “Current COVID-19 restrictions” section of each listing.

Quick Click Guide: Select an NJ Region below to find the best public garden or arboretum near you.
| North Jersey | Central Jersey | Jersey Shore | South Jersey |


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North Jersey

arboretum with large trees


Cora Hartshorn Arboretum & Bird Sanctuary

Location: 324 Forest Drive South, Short Hills
Details: Families flock to the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum to enjoy all that nature has to offer. The arboretum features a wide variety of native wildflowers and is also home to multiple species of ferns and trees. Cora Hartshorn also offers a natural amphitheater created by glaciers. In addition, this spot is popular with birds in the spring and fall; making it the perfect place to do a little bird watching. They also offer classes and events for all ages. The trails and grounds are open year-round during daylight hours, and admission is free.
Why I like it: The “Citizen Science” program allows visitors to play the role of scientist and collect valuable data. This actually helps the staff plan future conservation needs.
More info: Click here to visit their website or you can click here to call.

Current COVID-19 restrictions: The building plans to reopen on September 7. Until then, trails and grounds are open from dawn to dusk on weekends and after 4:00 pm on weekdays; this gives the summer campers ample space during the day.


Greenwood Gardens

Location: 274 Old Short Hills Road, Short Hills
Details: Formerly a private estate, Greenwood Gardens is a 28-acre public garden in the Essex County Park System’s South Mountain Reservation. Moreover, Greenwood is a contemporary garden in the Arts & Crafts and Classical garden design. Step back in time at this beautiful oasis while exploring garden terraces, grottoes, moss-covered paths and wildflower meadows. Greenwood Gardens offers a variety of nature walks and workshops, as well as outdoor yoga. The garden is open Wednesdays through Fridays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, beginning in early May. Admission is $10.
Why I like it: Greenwood asks to silence cell phones on the grounds so visitors can enjoy a relaxing, tech-free experience.
More info: Click here to visit the website or you can click here to call.

Current COVID-19 restrictions: Greenwood Gardens plans to reopen in September after renovations are complete.


New Jersey State Botanical Garden

Location: 2 Morris Road, Ringwood
Details: Visit New Jersey State Botanical Garden to discover the boundless beauty of the Garden State. The Skylands property consists of 96 acres of botanical gardens, surrounded by 1,000 acres of woodlands. The grounds offer wildflower and lilac gardens, a magnolia walk, and a crabapple allée. Free garden tours are also available on Sunday afternoons from May through October. In addition, they offer Children’s tours and scavenger hunts on select dates. The Garden is open daily year-round, but hours change by season. (8:00 am to 8:00 pm during spring, summer, and fall, then 8:00 am to 6:00 pm during winter.) Admission is free, however a parking fee applies on summer weekends.
Why I like it: Interested in a scenic hike? There are miles of trails for you to explore.
More info: Click here to visit the website or you can click here to call.

Current COVID-19 restrictions: Visiting hours are currently 8:00 am to 6:00 pm daily and all buildings remain closed; with the exception of the public restrooms in the Carriage House.


Central Jersey

large white mansion surrounded by garden


Morven Museum & Garden

Location: 55 Stockton Street, Princeton
Details: Situated on 5 beautiful acres, the museum showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Garden State through exhibitions and events. Meanwhile, the beautiful gardens surrounding the mansion are the perfect place to enjoy the beauty of nature. Featuring elms and catalpa trees, the grounds strive to recreate the landscape of the past 200 years. Tulips and daffodils begin blooming in April, followed by irises and peonies in May. Throughout the summer, Phlox and summer annuals fill the garden with bright colors. Morven Museum & Garden is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, admission is $10.
Why I like it: After strolling the gardens, check out the museum for historical collections, fine arts, and seasonal exhibits.
More info: Click here to visit the website or you can click here to call.

Current COVID-19 restrictions: Starting July 9, Morven will open daily from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm to members only; then from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm for the general public. They require face masks and social distancing at all times, both indoors and during outdoor tours.


Reeves-Reed Arboretum

Location: 165 Hobart Avenue, Summit
Details: There’s always something blooming at the Reed-Reeves Arboretum. The 13.5-acre property consists of historic and contemporary gardens, as well as plenty of woodland trails. The Arboretum offers something for everyone, including gardening programs for kids and adults, art exhibits, and bird watching. The Reeves-Reed Arboretum is open November through March from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, then April through October from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. Admission is free but donations are welcome.
Why I like it: “Discovery Saturdays” are fun for the whole family. Borrow an Arboretum backpack loaded with binoculars, a magnifying glass and everything you need to enjoy a themed adventure!
More info: Click here to visit the website or you can click here to call.

Current COVID-19 restrictions: The Reeves-Reed grounds are open daily from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm, but all buildings remain closed. In addition, all programs are cancelled until further notice.


Sayen House & Gardens

Location: 155 Hughes Drive, Hamilton
Details: Located in historic Hamilton Square, Sayen House & Gardens is a nature lover’s dream. This 30-acre parcel of land was purchased by Frederick Sayen, an avid gardener and world traveler, in 1912. Afterward, he built a small home and surrounded it with flowers and plants from around the world. The collection includes plant species from England, China, and Japan, many of which are still flourishing today. When spring arrives, the garden comes alive with more than 250,000 flowering bulbs, as well as heirloom azaleas and rhododendrons. Sayen Gardens is open year-round from dawn to dusk, and admission is free.
Why I like it: Unlike many of NJ’s public gardens, Sayen House & Gardens allows leashed dogs. Now Fido can bask in the beauty of the grounds with you!
More info: Click here to visit the website or you can click here to call.

Current COVID-19 restrictions: The outdoor gardens are open as normal from dawn to dusk. However, you must call to book the Sayen House in advance if you want to go inside.


Willowwood Arboretum

Location: 14 Longview Road, Far Hills
Details: Once a private residence, the 130 acres of Willowwood Arboretum are now part of the Morris County Parks System. The grounds feature over 2,100 native and exotic plants, including daffodils, cherries, magnolias, and lilacs, as well as flowering dogwood and crabapple trees. Visitors can stroll through the numerous gardens, including Bee Meadow, Huckleberry Field, and Cottage Garden. From April through October, self-paced cell phone tours of the garden areas and buildings are available. Willowwood is open daily from 8:00 am to dusk, and admission is free.
Why I like it: You may think of spring and summer as ideal times to visit a garden, but Willowwood is still breathtaking in the winter months; Their Ornamentals Collection includes evergreen and deciduous plants.
More info: Click here to visit the website or you can click here to call.

Current COVID-19 restrictions: Willowwood is not yet open for 2020 and does not have a reopening date.


Jersey Shore

path through large flower garden


David C. Shaw Arboretum

Location: Holmdel Park, 44 Longstreet Road, Holmdel
Details: Twenty-two acres inside Holmdel Park make up the David C. Shaw Arboretum. The name comes from Monmouth County Shade Tree Commission superintendent David C. Shaw, who served from 1963 to 2002. The arboretum introduces Monmouth County residents to different trees, shrubs, and woody plants that can also enhance their home landscapes. The grounds are free for all to enjoy daily from 7:00 am until dusk.
Why I like it: The park has over 10 miles of trails to hike after your trip to the arboretum.
More info: Click here to visit the website or click here to call.

Current COVID-19 restrictions: This spot requires face coverings while using any public buildings, such as park restrooms.


Deep Cut Gardens

Location: 152 Red Hill Road, Middletown
Details: Deep Cut Gardens is the perfect destination for the avid home gardener. The park’s 54 acres consist of gardens and greenhouses that feature both cultivated and native plants and trees. The park also offers seasonal walking tours, led by horticulture experts. Gardening workshops are available, as well as free activities for the entire family. The park is open daily from 8:00 am until dusk, and admission is free.
Why I like it: Children will have loads of fun searching for the hidden “Deep Cut Rocks” or visiting the fairy garden.
More info: Click here to visit the website or you can click here to call.

Current COVID-19 restrictions: Certain park facilities remain closed, but all parks are open. For buildings that are open, they require face coverings at all times.


Linwood Arboretum

Location: 1410 Wabash Avenue, Linwood
Details: This small, hidden gem came to be after the town of Linwood voted to turn an unused tract of land (formerly an electrical substation site) into an arboretum. A grant from the Open Spaces program plus many hours of volunteer work later, and the Linwood Arboretum was born. Plants on the premises include redbuds, hollies, maidenhair trees, and dawn redwoods. The grounds are open everyday and admission is free.
Why I like it: When selecting which plants to cultivate, the arboretum placed special emphasis on those that would thrive in the fall and winter months, making this a great outing for a cold weather day.
More info: Click here to visit the website or you can click here to call.

Current COVID-19 restrictions: The grounds are open 24/7, but they encourage masks and social distancing at all times.


The Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary Gardens

Location: 1075 Stone Harbor Boulevard, Stone Harbor
Details: The Wildflower Meadow and public gardens at the Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary are the design of Dr. Lenore Tedesco of the Wetlands Institute. Three trails (Heron Overlook Path, Meadow Walk Path, and Egret Espy Path) and the surrounding gardens are open year-round. In addition, the Holly Path closes from March 1 to October 1 to allow Night Herons to roost and nest.
Why I like it: A map of the Wildflower Meadow as well as a list of all the growing plant species can be found online.
More info: Click here to visit the website or click here to call.

Current COVID-19 restrictions: You must social distance and wear a face mask when visiting the Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary.


South Jersey

fairy and house on display


Barton Arboretum and Nature Preserve

Location: 1 Medford Leas Way, Medford
Details: Barton Arboretum is on the grounds of adult residential center Medford Leas; but they welcome public visitors seven days a week, from dawn to dusk, all year round at no charge! Stop in to the Community Building and pick up a map for a self-guided walk through the property. In the gardens you will find butterflies, birds, bunnies, and more.
Why I like it: The arboretum can host your club’s meeting and provide a program about the history of the grounds at no charge.
More info: Click here to visit the website or you can click here to call.

Current COVID-19 restrictions: The walkways and trails are no longer open to public visitors; but they remain open for residents and staff to enjoy.


Camden Children’s Garden

Location: 3 Riverside Drive, Camden
Details: The Camden Children’s Garden is a four-acre public garden for children and families. This little oasis, adjacent to the Adventure Aquarium, provides horticultural experiences for imaginative play. Young visitors will love a visit to the Butterfly House, the Dinosaur Garden, and the Tree House. There are even rides for the younger kids, including a carousel and train. Starting in mid-March, the garden is open Thursdays and Fridays from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm; then on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. General admission is $9 per person, but Camden residents pay only $6 with a valid ID.
Why I like it: In the summer months, kids can make a splash at the Water Spray Ground; this fun splash pad is sure to keep children cool in the hot sun.
More info: Click here to visit the website or you can click here to call.

Current COVID-19 restrictions: The Camden Children’s Garden is now open Fridays from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The Butterfly House is closed, but the splash pad is open. Visitors must wear masks and maintain safe social distance from those not in their party. Since the facility is not fully operational, general admission is now only $6 per person (children under 2 are free).


Rancocas Nature Center

Location: 794 Rancocas Road, Westampton
Details: Sitting on a 210-acre section of Rancocas State Park, the Rancocas Nature Center is a true treat; you can peruse the various habitats of the southern part of the state, including meadows, wetlands, and forests. Of course, there are also three miles of hiking trails to enjoy, plus a Nature Store and Nature Museum. There is no cost to enter, however, they suggest a $2 per person donation be made via Paypal. Please note they do not allow dogs and bikes on the trails the center maintains, but they can roam the rest of the park.
Why I like it: The center is always bustling with programs for the community; for instance, they host many educational programs, summer camps, and more.
More info: Click here to visit the website or click here to call.

Current COVID-19 restrictions: The Visitors Center is not yet open, but the trails are accessible from dawn to dusk. Hikers should wear protective masks and maintain social distancing at all times.


Palmyra Cove Nature Park

Location: 1335 Route 73 South, Palmyra
Details: This 250-acre “urban oasis” public garden lets you observe and interact with the habitats along the Delaware River. For example, you’ll find award-winning nectar gardens that attract, bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds; as well as wetlands, woodlands, a creek, and a freshwater tidal cove. The property is also home to the Institute for Earth Observations, where teachers and students alike can learn and collaborate. They always need volunteers, so it’s a great way to help preserve this corner of the Earth.
Why I like it: Check the website to find out how you can become a citizen scientist; you’ll get to collect helpful data for NASA right from your own home!
More info: Click here to visit the website or click here to call (Ext. 1264).

Current COVID-19 restrictions: The outdoor park is open, but they ask visitors to wear masks and practice social distancing. All buildings and restrooms on the property remain closed.


Hero (Top) Feature Image: © tomikk / Adobe Stock
Additional Images: ©
Greenwood Gardens / Facebook
Morven Museum & Gardens / Facebook
Deep Cut Gardens / Facebook
Camden Children’s Garden / Facebook

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