Grounds For Sculpture in New Jersey is a perfect day trip destination for residents of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The name sounds intriguing, but what is it? It as a museum, sculpture garden and arboretum spread across 42 landscaped acres in Hamilton, New Jersey. A place when famous paintings were transformed into bigger than life sculptures inviting you to step into the scene. A place where you can enjoy a small version of Monet’s gardens in addition to nearly 300 contemporary sculptures hidden among nature and waiting for you to be discovered. And you can take it all in without crowds, thanks to the garden’s strict limit on the number of daily visitors. If that sounds like an interesting day trip for you, read on to learn how to visit this one of a kind New Jersey’s attractions.
GROUNDS FOR SCULPTURE IN NEW JERSEY – A PERFECT DAY TRIP FROM NEW JERSEY, NEW YORK, AND PENNSYLVANIA
A friend recommended Grounds For Sculpture to me and I happily jumped on the idea. It was a two and half hour drive from my house and Pennsylvania, but so worth it! The grounds are relatively easy to reach, not far from the highway. I have my tickets reserved for the first entry of the day. There were some people there at the entrance but after that, hardly anyone around. At no point, I felt it was crowded even though the weather was fabulous. I found Grounds For Sculpture to be a perfect destination for an outing with friends, family, out-of-town guests, or a just day to yourself.
If you are excited to see the huge sculpture of Marilyn Monroe, it is not there anymore!
Location of Grounds For Sculpture
Situated outside of Trenton, NJ, and just over the state line from Pennsylvania, the garden draws its visitors from all neighboring states as a perfect day trip destination.
History of Grounds For Sculpture in New Jersey
“Grounds For Sculpture was founded by artist and philanthropist Seward Johnson. It opened in 1992 on the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds and was a natural extension of its predecessor, The Johnson Atelier. Hundreds of artists studied and produced work at the Atelier, and Johnson saw the potential of the neighboring bygone fairgrounds as a place where artwork could be sited within the landscape, and visitors could delight in discovering contemporary sculpture. ” Read more about the garden’s history here.
Grounds For Sculpture – Mission
“Grounds For Sculpture combines art and beckoning spaces to welcome, surprise, and engage all visitors in the artist’s act of invention.” It is a public not-for-profit organization governed by a Board of Trustees who oversee the successful operation of the sculpture park and museum. It relies on the support of visitors, art patrons, donations, and grants to offer its rich programs and activities each year.
Admission to Grounds For Sculpture
You need timed tickets to visit the park. They are available in person, or online a month in advance, and cover self-guided general admission and a tour if you are interested in one. They are issued for a specific date and entry time of your choosing. During warm months, the tickets are most likely to sold out so do not risk driving there hoping to get in. The number of visitors is strictly monitored to avoid overcrowding. Parking is free.
Adults $18 In-Person • $10 Online
Seniors (65+) $15 In-Person • $10 Online
Active military/veteran $15 In-Person • $10 Online
Students (6-17 with student id) $10 In-Person • $10 Online
Children 5 & under – Free
How much time do you need to see Grounds For Sculpture
Although I spent an entire day in the garden, I still missed many attractions I planned to see. Remember, there are 42 acres to explore there! I suggest repeated visits if you live nearby.
Why is Grounds For Sculpture a perfect day trip from New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania
- Grounds For Sculpture is easy to reach, just minutes off the highway
- with no parking fees and a low cost of entry tickets, a day trip to Grounds For Sculpture is inexpensive even for large families
- if you are an art lover, you will love everything about the gardens
- a small but beautiful version of Monet’s gardens is there to enjoy (see real Monet’s Gardens in Giverny, France)
- heaven for modern art enthusiasts with 270 sculptures by renowned and emerging contemporary artists
- interactive Grounds For Sculpture Art Collection that allows you to pick what art pieces you want to see and where to find them
- sculptures by Seaward Johnson, who turned world-famous paintings into sculptures
- you do not have to be an art lover to love the garden, each family member will find something interesting there
- kids like looking for hidden sculptures, pretending to be one of them, chasing peacocks, having icecream, and running around in a safe environment
- you can get a break from the ordinary among art and nature without crowds and rushing, there are many benches throughout the park to rest and take in the scenery
- flower lovers will enjoy roses, wildflowers, lotus in the water gardens, and thousands of native and exotic trees and flowers
- a feel of a magic garden when surprises await at every corner with endless separate environments that serve the various types of art
- a fabulous destination for photographers
- for visitors with limited mobility, 45-minute tours of the grounds with one of the accessibility assistants are available. Make advance reservations by calling (609) 586-0616
- various types of dining await at the garden to suit every budget (but no outside food is allowed)
How to add more fun to your visit
Speaking about having fun, I have always loved to dress up and Grounds For Sculpture allowed me to do it. And let me tell you, I truly enjoyed it even at my mature age. I brought many outfits with the intention to fit the scenes of the gardens. Without people around, I was able to change easily and pose for the pictures. Of course, I could not do it alone. It is always a good idea to visit the garden with a person who does not mind to get silly, and even volunteers to pose in some of the scenes!
Dining options at Grounds for Sculpture
Plan to dine at Rats restaurant to complete your day trip to Grounds For Sculpture in New Jersey. This upscale French cuisine restaurant is facing the pond and offers delicious food. Make an advance reservation to secure sitting. Call 609 -584-7800.
Van Gogh Cafe
In addition to Rats, you can enjoy another French-inspired cafe and bakery. Offerings include fresh-made salads, sandwiches, pastries, lattés, and a picture-perfect décor.
The Peacock Cafe
Furthermore, the Peacock Cafe is perfect for leisure or lunch on the go. Its menu includes hearty soups, sandwiches, salads, snacks, and beverages, including beer and wine. Kids’ menu and gluten-free options available.
I particularly enjoyed this charming oasis in the heart of the garden with light snacks and beverages available, including beer and wine. Open seasonally.
Order a picnic to go
Besides formal dining, you can picnic in the park with a pre-ordered basket. Call (609) 890-6015 for more information.
More details about dining in Grounds For Sculpture in New Jersey can be found here.
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