Often times in our desire to see something new and beautiful we convince ourselves that a trip far away is the only way to do it. I have long been an advocate for finding beauty and adventure in our own backyard, which so many of us take for granted.
It was with this intention that we decided to venture out of our cozy New Jersey neighbor to explore what the surrounding communities had to offer. In the town of Hamilton, located on the 42-acres of what used to be the New Jersey State Fairgrounds, is an open-air museum called Grounds for Sculpture. The museum grounds feature both established and emerging artists and exhibits on rotation.
Visitors are encouraged to download their map (love the awareness) and are free to roam around for as long as they like.
What we loved the most about this museum is that we never knew what to expect. There are all these paths, some a bit more hidden than others, that lead to new scenery and artistic displays. I felt like a kid venturing through bushes and trails between trees and into wooded paths just to get a glimpse of what was on the other side.
If you are lucky to go on a perfect sunny day, it makes for extra motivation to lounge around and enjoy your pre-ordered picnic in the park.
Some of my favorite displays were the 3D rendering inspired by famous paintings like Edouard Manet’s Le Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe and Henri Rousseau’s “The Dream“.
If a picnic is not for you there are other food options, though by far the most popular and scenic is the outdoor seating at the Rat’s Restaurant. Reservations are required. To get there you have to walk over Monet’s Bridge, which on a spring or summer day actually feels like walking right into one of his paintings.
No dogs are allowed, and the tickets can be a bit pricy for a large family, but they also host classes and events, and the whole environment inspires and appeals to visitors of different ages. It is also fully accessible and the walk is very comfortable.
So next time you are in New Jersey or have a lazy day to spend in town, check them out! And if open-air museums are your thing, another favorite of ours is Storm King in New Windsor, NY.
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