Visit a Garden this Summer!

I grew up in Pennsylvania with lots of land, play space and gardens around me always.. that’s why I definitely miss all of the above while living the apartment lifestyle in Jersey City. Gardens are a great way to spark creativity in children. The colors, the animals, the birds… the space to just ‘be’ are all very important. Here is a list of very impressive gardens and outdoor spaces you might want to try out this May.

Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

990 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225

By far, my favorite green space in New York City. Amazing views, meticulous gardens, and spaces that are so quiet you really can’t believe the city is outside its walls! A somewhat quick trip from Jersey City… just take the WTC train and transfer to the subway in lower Manhattan. BBG is very kid friendly and there is a great cafe and gift shop for the family’s enjoyment as well. Find out more here: http://www.bbg.org/

Liberty State Park

200 Morris Pesin Drive, Jersey City, NJ 07305

Located minutes from downtown Jersey City and Newport, Liberty State Park is an amazing getaway for kids. You can fly a kite, have a picnic, or walk by the marshlands. I always see cool birds and animals there while visiting 😉 Best part is…. it’s free! Visit LSP online: http://www.libertystatepark.org/

Van Vorst Park

257-287 Montgomery St, Jersey City, NJ 07302

This one you probably know already… but what you might not know is Van Vorst Park is mainly the result of the hard work and dedication of one volunteer who tirelessly tends to the flowers and plants. {Read more about him in the Spring edition of JCI Magazine}. A beautiful garden right under our nose, VVP is a great place to take the kids. Let them sketch the many flowers or take digital pics of the roses this June. http://www.vvpa.org/

Longwood Gardens

1001 Longwood Rd, Kennett Square, PA 19348

Ok, this one is a real distance from NJ but worth it. It’s an amazing estate not that far from my parent’s home in Pennsylvania, but if you don’t mind taking a road trip, it’s worth the time. Longwood Gardens pretty much blows other public green spaces out of the water. There are huge greenhouses, an impressive pond, light and water shows, tree houses for kids and gardens, gardens, gardens! Kids will love it and surely be inspired – guaranteed! http://www.longwoodgardens.org/

Pier C Park

340 Sinatra Dr, Hoboken, NJ 07030

Pier C Park is a beautifully crafted oasis is fit for children and adults alike! With the Manhattan skyline in clear site, your little ones can enjoy playgrounds with a modern twist and an area for water related fun making it an amazing park to visit! The promenade is a beautiful grassy area perfect for picnics and throwing or kicking around a ball.

Branch Brook Park

 Lake St & Park Avenue, Newark, NJ 07104

Branch Brook Park is distinguished by being the first county park to be opened for public use in the United States. With over 5,300 cherry trees, it’s the pinkest park in New Jersey! Every year, the park holds it’s Cherry Blossom Festival which is made up of live performances and attractions fit for the entire family. You don’t have to wait for the blossoms to bloom to enjoy the park! There’s also a roller skating rink fit for private parties or open skating!

Wave Hill

West 249th Street and Independence Avenue Bronx, NY 10471-2899

Wave Hill is a 28-acre public garden and cultural center in the Bronx with a mission to celebrate the artistry and legacy of its gardens and landscapes, to preserve its magnificent views and to explore human connections to the natural world! They offer educational and artistic programs for the family to enjoy. The park features over 10 gardens to explore!

Moms, I hope you have been enjoying my weekly column about crafting and promoting creativity in your children. Please add your comments below each week, I would really love and appreciate it to hear them. Also, if there’s anything project or kid related art topic you’d like me to cover – let me know!!

Ashley Lucas is a local illustrator and crafts designer based in Jersey City, NJ. She is the author and illustrator of various children’s books and has contributed to such popular sites as eHow and ModernMom. Her specialties in include holiday crafting and making art ‘cute’ for young children! Ashley designs murals for kids rooms in Jersey City, and offers kid friendly artwork and decor to the community through her business ‘Lady Lucas’.