We recently had a rare day with no sports obligations so we took advantage by exploring the Grounds for Sculpture park in Hamilton, New Jersey. I had never visited before but heard great things, and it definitely lived up to the hype and turned out to be a really fun day for everyone from picky, eye-rolling kids, to high-brow grandparents.
As you may know, I usually persuade my culture-averse boys to do something new by offering a tasty meal as part of the deal. The park has two restaurants– one is an upscale cafeteria that has some healthy options, the other looked like a fancy restaurant– despite its name: Rat’s, (really?)– set on a small lake. We didn’t eat there because it’s crowded on the weekends and pricey with kids, but it looked very pretty and I liked many options on the gourmet French menu.
There’s not much around Hamilton, but I found a famous breakfast place in Princeton that fit the bill. PJ’s Pancake House is in the heart of Princeton on Nassau Street, about 15 minutes from the Grounds for Sculpture.
We ordered eggs, pancakes, waffles, and French toast and every plate was delicious. The mound of bacon and sausage links were also popular with the kids.
It has old-school diner atmosphere, the service is quick, and the prices are very reasonable for such yummy food.
It’s the kind of place where the berries are fresh and the syrup was probably tapped in Vermont the day before.
So with bellies stuffed, we had the energy to walk the 42-acre park. It’s the former site of the New Jersey State Fairgrounds so there’s lots of room to run and most of the sculptures are touchable, if not climbable. Many were larger recreations of art by the masters, like this version of Manet’s “Olympia.”
The outdoor museum features contemporary sculptures of many sizes, but the ones that get the most attention are enormous….
making art accessible and engaging…. even to those who assume it will be boring.
We spent about an hour and a half wandering through the park, which is full of surprises.
In addition to the sculptures, there are beautiful gardens and a lake, and plenty of shady places to stop and rest.
It was a successful outing all around. It’s a perfect destination for family days when you have many age groups to please.
I like it because my kids are getting some culture without even realizing it…
…and they like it because they have the freedom to run free and use their loudest outside voices.
What are some of your favorite family day activities? Tell me in the comments. Summer vacation is just days away and I need ideas!