There are many interesting places in New Jersey to visit and experience the outdoors. One of the most fascinating places is the Trailside Nature & Science Center located in the Watchung Reservation of Union County. This beautiful facility is surrounded by nature trails where you walk through the forests and see birds and animals in their natural setting.
The large visitor center is filled with many exhibits on the natural and geological history of the Watchung Mountains. There are many dioramas and hands-on exhibits including a section on recycling which explains why it is important to dispose of plastic garbage properly. On the main floor, there are “real” stuffed animals on display including a snowy owl, an American bald eagle, and a Virginia opossum. Viewable from all three floors, the middle of the visitor center has a large tree and a mountain stream with live turtles and fish.
For the younger children, there is a discovery room where you can hold nature in your hands or step into a flourescent mineral room. Kids can look at animals through microscopes, research a school report in the library, visit the planetarium, or see a film in the theatre. The center continuously holds workshops, programs and camps for adults and children of all ages.
After a fun day of enjoying nature, you can visit the gift shop where you can purchase a toy animal or book on fossils. The Trailside Nature Center is located at 452 New Providence Road, Mountainside, NJ. Throughout the year, there are many special events, demonstrations and courses offered such as Viewing the Sun Safely, arts and crafts shows, and holiday programs. For more information, please visit www.ucnj.org/trailside