Living in Bridgewater Township, New Jersey, your family is within a few hours of awesome museums, theaters, science centers, and galleries in Philadelphia and New York City. But you don’t have to go that far or spend all that much to entertain and educate your family. That’s why Crème de la Crème of Bridgewater has put together this list of the seven best educational destinations near our hometown.
Raritan Valley Community College Planetarium
Image via Flickr by European Southern Observatory Licensed CC BY 2.0
Head over to Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) in nearby Branchburg Township for a spectacular and educational show at the school’s planetarium. The RVCC planetarium offers multiple shows every month for less than the cost of a movie ticket. You can bring the kids to watch a Magic Tree House story come to life on a giant screen, sing along to old and current hits at a laser concert show, and hunt for constellations with the help of astronomy experts. The planetarium even hosts a sensory-friendly show that explores the stars, Moon, and planets.
Shows are about 45 to 60 minutes long, and you can purchase tickets for two back-to-back shows for just $18 per person. You can make reserve and purchase tickets online or by emailing the RVCC planetarium.
United States Golf Association Museum and Library
If you have sports fans in the family, then consider a quick trip to the USGA Museum in nearby Bernards Township. This museum has the largest collection of golf artifacts in the country, and you learn more about the players and events that shaped American golf. You’ll can view over 2,000 historic trophies, uniforms, equipment, and other memorabilia in the museum as well as thousands more artifacts, more than 750,000 photographs, and 200,000 hours of footage across the decades in the library archives.
Some of the permanent exhibits cover events and topics like the 1913 U.S. Open, the Great Depression’s impact on the game, women’s golf achievements, and renowned golf pros Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods. You should also check out the fantastic photography on display and the museum’s interactive experience on Pynes Putting Course.
Drake House Museum
Visit the historic Drake House, built in 1746 in nearby Plainfield. This house is linked to some fantastic American history since it was a meeting location for George Washington and his officers during the Revolution. What’s more, the Drake family also played a significant role in the war as soldiers. After being in the Drake family for generations, it was purchased and renovated by banking president John S. Harberger in the mid-1860s.
Now, the house is a museum that features well-preserved rooms full of Victorian furnishings, portraits, and artifacts so your family can explore this era in history. You will also find the Tree of Life Quilt, which dates back to Revolutionary War times, a document written by the houses first owner, Isaac Drake, depicting the freeing of slaves, and multiple paintings.
In nearby Chester Township is Willowwood Arboretum, an outdoor recreation area with more than a dozen beautiful and historic landscaped gardens and lots of history. As you tour the many gardens, you’ll come across a few historic structures on the property, including the Tubbs’ Residence, an old stone barn known as the Myers Center, the Propogation House and greenhouse, and the Stone Cottage. Some of these facilities are open for private events, but if you take the self-guided cellphone tour, you can see images of the insides and even old photos before restorations.
You can also visit for one of the arboretum’s special events, like the spring bloom tours where you can learn more about the plant species that live here, plant sales, special guest lecturers, and holiday gatherings.
Fosterfields Living Historical Farm
Head to Fosterfields Living Historical Farm for an open-air museum experience that transports you back in time to the early 20th century, thanks to costumed docents, live demonstrations, and tours of historic buildings on the property. You can meet farm animals, participate in farming activities like gathering eggs,take a wagon ride, tour the on-site historic house called The Willows, and chat with the costumed guides to learn more about life on the farm. In addition, you can visit the farm on special event days to explore other facets of history and celebrate your favorite seasonal holidays.
This park is open from May to October.
Liberty Science Center
Take day trip to Jersey City to visit the Liberty Science Center (LSC), one of the coolest educational destinations in the area. This facility is home to a diverse collection of kid-friendly exhibits explore science, history, and art through exhibits featuring a climbing wall and ropes adventure course, a wacky play structure, a paleontology dig site, lots of cool puzzles, and many more fun, hands-on activities. The LSC has even hosted temporary exhibits with your kids’ favorite shows, games, and movies, like a Paw Patrol-themed play center and an interactive Minecraft exhibit.
The LSC also has a fantastic planetarium and a 3D theater that host documentary-style films and live shows on a variety of topics, like space, the ocean, different species of animals. You can even catch an astronomy show featuring Sesame Street characters and cool laser shows that play your kids’ favorite songs.
Franklin Mineral Museum
Take a different day trip to Franklin to enjoy the Franklin Mineral Museum with the aspiring geologists and rock lovers in your family. This museum has thousands of minerals, rocks, fossils, and other artifacts through which you can learn more about the planet’s unique designs. You can check out the local minerals found in the state of New Jersey and discover the colorful minerals found all over the globe. See how some of these rocks glow in the Fluorescent Room. And don’t forget to explore the ancient fossils, Native American artifacts, and replica mine exhibit, too!
So there you have it, seven cool educational destinations around Bridgewater Township, New Jersey. Did we miss any of your family’s favorite edutainment spots in the area? If so, contact us to let us know. We’ll be happy to add it to our list!