Springtime Sun and Weather Beckons us to Spend Time Outside

Something incredible happens when sunny days become a more regular occurrence, daylight sticks around a bit later and temperatures begin to rise. Not only do you become more energized and alert, but the world around you does as well. It beckons you to come outside!


As you see the flowers begin to bloom and grow, it can be enticing to spend more time amongst them. In fact, there are some beautiful gardens in our area that are perfect for a stroll, picnic or learning experience.

More than 250,000 flowering bulbs come to life in spring at Hamilton’s Sayen House & Gardens. With free admittance every day from dawn till dusk, there is ample opportunity to take in the azaleas and rhododendrons in bloom. Much of the collection of flowers that Frederick Sayen planted in the early 1900s are still on the property today. These include species you likely won’t see anywhere else nearby, as they come from around the world. To plan ahead or guide your day, set your phone up with this map. And make sure to mark your calendars for the Annual Azalea Festival on Mother’s Day!

Just north of our area are two other phenomenal gardens. In North Brunswick you can visit Rutgers Gardens year-round, to take in what it describes as a “living museum” as you enjoy the gardens and plant collections. For the next couple of months, you can explore on your own from 8am-5pm, any day except Mondays. Be sure to use this map and enjoy. Come May, if you want to learn while you look, you can also take advantage of a tour. Group tours are offered for a small fee of $10 (May-Nov), and they will be available on Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons.

You can also head over to Somerset to check out Colonial Park Gardens. There you will encounter their award-winning Rose Garden and an arboretum that is nationally accredited. If you or someone you visit with is visually or physically impaired, a fragrance and sensory garden creates a deeper experience with plantings you can touch and smell. The perennial garden, once just home to lilacs, is now where you will see daffodils, daphnes and pinks come to life in spring. A little later in the season other flowers will join them, such as lilies, irises and roses. You can use this map to find all that Colonial Park Gardens offers.


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In addition to flowers, our area is home to some amazing natural habitats for animals. Want to go birdwatching? Princeton has one of the best spots in the state!

Rogers Wildlife Refuge, bordering Institute for Advanced Study woods, is an area that has seen more than 190 species of birds over the years.

If you head over there soon, you might see the warblers migrating back to New Jersey. Usually by April first they start passing through. The property is vast, and over 90 species of birds use it as a nesting ground. Here is a list of the birds that have been seen in the refuge, as of 2005 – the list hasn’t been updated since, but it can still be a big help today. If you want a better understanding of the lay of the land, you can also utilize these maps.

Nearby in Lawrence Township, birding is also popular in the Pole Farm section of Mercer Meadows. Warblers can be seen there in the spring, too. In total, 221 bird species have been spotted there, seasonally. Observation platforms with posted signage can help you to identify some of what is flying by. This area also has an interesting history, formerly owned by AT&T and used for a shortwave radio station, where tall timber poles held up the wires around the property.

Along the Delaware River, from Trenton south to Bordentown you can also see birds at the Abbott Marshlands. 245 species of birds have been spotted there. Click to see a full list here. With over 3,000 acres of open space, you will find some different varieties of birds than the previous sites due to the waterways and ponds that make up the marshlands. You may even see owls up in the trees! If you are new to birdwatching, a Beginner Birdwatching class is offered at Abbot Marshlands every other Saturday.


Credit: Six Flags Great Adventure

If your family wants a break from nature, and instead prefers more of a concrete landscape, area theme parks are opening up for the season!

Want to strap into a “first-of-its-kind” roller coaster in North America? Six Flags Great Adventure opens for the season in Jackson on March 16th, and that’s when you can try out The Flash: Vertical Velocity Roller Coaster. This “suspended spiraling impulse coaster” sends you to a 185-foot-tall spike, then whisks you into a corkscrew and backwards up 185-feet again. In 45-seconds you will cover 2,700 feet of track! Six Flags will also debut upgrades to Big Wheel and its Log Flume. New this year you can also experience an overnight resort offering glamping, while nestled in its 350-acre wild safari.

The only amusement park in the United States that is construction themed is Diggerland, in West Berlin, and it is also opening up this weekend on March 16th. New this year is a display of emergency vehicles kids can climb and play on. There’s also a new opportunity to control a giant forestry claw! You will have to wait until May 18th for the waterpark area to open.

If rides are your thing, the outdoor experience at The Funplex in Mt. Laurel is set to open on March 30th. Funcoaster, their drop tower, and seven other active experiences will be available with the Splashplex water park opening Memorial Day weekend.

Prefer heading to the shore for fun? Jenkinsons Boardwalk at Point Pleasant Beach and Casino Pier at Seaside Heights both open on March 23rd. And you can plan ahead for a fun season of rides and games! On March 29, 30 and 31st, Jenkinsons will be offering its big Easter sale, giving you the opportunity to get amusement cards, game packages and more at greatly reduced prices! A similar sale is offered those dates for Casino Pier.


Credit: Friends of Princeton Open Space

If you like to work with your hands, there’s a great opportunity for you to do so. After enduring fall and then winter, sometimes these great outdoor escapes need a little help to get back into shape. Friends of Princeton Open Space is gathering for a Spring Cleanup of Mountain Lakes in Princeton. You can sign-up for one of two sessions on March 23rd to help remove invasive plants, shrubs and vines to allow what’s there to breathe and create space for new plantings to come.

Whether you prefer to actively enjoy spring’s arrival or do so in a more passive way, we hope this gives you some new things to try out. Better yet, perhaps it reignites an old passion. Either way, get out and enjoy. Happy Spring!

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