Day Trip to the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morristown, NJ

The Frelinghuysen Arboretum is the perfect place for a fall stroll. Photo by Ninna Moscato via Instagram
The Frelinghuysen Arboretum is the perfect place for a fall stroll. Photo by Ninna Moscato via Instagram
10/18/17 - By Kaylynn Chiarello Ebner

If you're planning the perfect family outing, Morris County's Frelinghuysen Arboretum may be just the memory-making trip you're looking for.

This Morristown gem is located minutes from the Morris Museum and Washington Headquarters Museum, and offers 128 beautiful acres to enjoy.


The Frelinghuysen Arboretum is ablaze with color in the fall. Photo by Katie Lee via Instagram

Starting Point: Haggerty Education Center

Make your first stop the Haggery Education Center (open daily 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.), where even the bathrooms are educational. Check out the 100+-year-old horse stables and a display of old saddles and reigns on your way to the modern and clean ladies' and men's rooms.

If you have kids that love a challenge, definitely consider stopping at the front desk for a scavenger hunt map ($10). Each month, there's a new theme and objects to find. Take photos of everything on the list and redeem at the desk for a small prize. Our recent visit involved taking about 10 pictures and collecting 10 leaves, which took my 4- and 6-year-old boys a leisurely two hours. 

Located right next to the Haggerty Education Center is the delightful Matilda's Cafe, which offers homemade baked goods, smoothies, cider, sandwiches, omelets, and other light fare. There are plenty of kid-friendly lunch choices like ham and cheese, PB&J, and mac and cheese. Grab a snack (open Saturdays and Sundays, April–October), and hit the trails!

The rose gardens boast several beautiful fountains. 

The Grounds

The Frelinghuysen Arboretum links together several gardens, meadows, and lawns on easy-to-walk trails and paths (many are stroller-friendly). We loved the clearly labeled flowers, shrubs, and trees, and the fact that there are tons of benches for taking a break. One of our favorite spots was the Rose Gardens, which not only had beautiful flowers and butterflies, but also several gorgeous fountains. Nearby is a huge gazebo with a large dining table and chairs—perfect for pictures or a water break. 

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Kids love following the spiral path in the rock garden. 

Immediately next to the gazebo is another favorite: a rock garden that forces visitors to walk in a twisting spiral pattern.

The arboretum is filled with gorgeous sights—and smells.

We also spent a good deal of time at the garden across from the education center, which invites visitors to rub and smell the leaves of fragrant plants like sage and geranium. Other fun sites are the Great Lawn (perfect for picnics) and the Carriage House. No matter the trail (or the season), the beauty of the grounds is breathtaking. 

Kids' Programs

One of the best parts of the Frelinghuysen Arboretum is their many kids' programs. Starting as early as age 2, little ones can enjoy storytime and garden walks that take place Wednesday mornings and afternoons. Sessions are broken into two age groups: 2–3 and 4–5.

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The arboretum hosts Fairy Day in the spring. Photo courtesy of the arboretum.

Also, be on the lookout for programs intended for older kids, such as centerpiece-making activities and December's Gingerbread Wonderland and Craft Show. There are also themed flower shows at various times of the year, as well as tours and gardening demos in the Potting Shed.

Register and pay online in advance.

Top photo by Ninna Moscato via Instagram. Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy of the author.

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