We recently visited the New Jersey Botanical Gardens in Ringwood, NJ. I was informed by one of the gardeners, that we visited at the end of what is considered the best of the season and post-Hurrican Irene, and it was still exceptionally beautiful.
Parking and entrance was free. They usually charge on weekends and holidays, Memorial Day through Labor Day. Bring your picnic lunch and you're only out for gas. The grounds are expansive, but easily walkable. There was lots to look at and many things were labeled for easy identification.
I don't bug the boys to come look at signs or read what is posted, but I often find them doing it anyway. On trips like this, I take the stance that more is 'caught' than 'taught'. You never know when a reference to something will come up and they will have learned it or seen it here.
Picnicking is usually not permitted, but since it was practically empty, coupled with the fact that I usually view rules as loose suggestions, we spread our blanket in front of this 'memory' bench and had a nice afternoon siesta.
The website lists the times that certain gardens are in bloom. I see more than one trip coming our way next season. In proximity, it is close to The Highlands Natural Pool, which has been on my 'go to' list for two years - and will be added for a third attempt.
Who wants to make a day of it with me next year?