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11 Must-See Nature Centers and Botanical Gardens in Rockland County

11 Must-See Nature Centers and Botanical Gardens in Rockland County

These beautiful nature centers, gardens, and sanctuaries will give you and your family the relaxing and fun day outdoors you’ve been craving.

Spend the day outside with your kids and explore nature centers, botanical gardens, and sanctuaries in Rockland and Bergen counties. Read through this guide to find 11 arboretums, nature preserves, environmental centers, farms, and public gardens, all packed with fun nature activities for the whole family. Let your little ones loose to explore wooded trails, learn about exotic plants, and see beautiful flowers. Our comprehensive list includes updated hours, admission, and more.

RELATED: July 4 fireworks are happening in these Rockland towns!

Nature Centers & Botanical Gardens in Rockland County

1. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland Education Center

In-person events are cancelled, offices are closed to the public, and services are still running.
10 Patriot Hills Drive, Stony Point
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm
Admission: FREE tour of the gardens on the last Sunday of each month (April–October) at 1pm; prices vary for other educational programs.
The Master Gardener Volunteers of Rockland County design and maintain eight demonstration gardens at the CCE Rockland Education Center, including ferns, herbs, ornamental grasses, native plants, a cutting garden, and a container garden. Educational programs for children include 4-H youth development, gardening classes and workshops, and a horticulture lab. Horticulture lab is open, and you can drop off samples to have your plants identified. Click here for Green Gardener Certificate program.

2. Rockland Lake State Park

299 Rockland Lake Road, Valley Cottage (pool entrance: 153 Rockland Lake Road)
Hours: park: daily, dawn to dusk. Pool: Monday-Friday, 10am-5:45pm; Saturday-Sunday, 11am-6:45pm
Admission: FREE. Pool: $3. Parking: $8 from early April through late October.
Rockland Lake State Park’s lake is located on a ridge of Hook Mountain, above the west bank of the Hudson River. It is home to many species of fish, including largemouth and smallmouth bass, and birds such as eagles, water birds, and songbirds. The park has a 3.2-mile bicycle path. The pool will open on May 27 and be open weekends and holidays through Sept. 4 (also open weekdays, 10am-5:45pm, late June through late August). Pets are not permitted May through September 30. Pets are permitted on leash (maximum 60’) through March, but pets are not permitted on paved paths.

Nature Centers & Botanical Gardens in Bergen County, NJ

1. Closter Nature Center

The trails and parking lot are open.
154 Ruckman Road, Closter
[email protected]
Hours: Trails: daily, dawn to dusk; special events and classes may have a fee.
Admission: Free
The Closter Nature Center is a beautiful oasis in the middle of suburban Closter, New Jersey. With 136 acres of ponds, brooks, meadows and forests to explore, the center is open to all local residents, providing informative monthly lectures and nature walks for the general public, as well as school or scout groups. Click here for preschool and after-school program registration. Click here for a walking trail map.

2. Demarest Nature Center

90 Park St., Demarest
[email protected]
Hours: daily, dawn to dusk
Admission: Free; special events and classes may have a fee.
The Demarest Nature Center is open to all persons, residents and non-residents alike, every day of the year. In addition to preserving and protecting important open space in the midst of a large metropolitan area, the center seeks to educate young and old alike as to the beauty of nature and the importance of protecting our environment. Click here for upcoming events such as John Goodwin Nature Photo Contest or bird feeding for children or Nature Walk and Volunteer Day.

3. Flat Rock Brook Nature Center

Hiking trails are open.
443 Van Nostrand Ave., Englewood
Hours: Trails open from dawn until dusk.
Admission: Free
Flat Rock Brook Nature Center is a 150-acre preserve and education center on the western slope of the Palisades in Englewood, New Jersey. A 3.6 mile network of self-guiding trails leads to a cascading stream, wetlands, pond, wildflower meadows, quarry cliffs and woodlands. The diversity of the natural landscape allows visitors to observe a remarkable array of birds and other wildlife.


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4. Friends of the Hackensack River Greenway Through Teaneck

Trails are open.
Along the Hackensack River, Teaneck
Hours: daily, dawn to dusk
Admission: Free.
The Hackensack River Greenway through Teaneck provides a peaceful and quiet environment. It is intended for walking, jogging, observing nature or just sitting and relaxing. Access to the river provides an opportunity for young and old to learn about the ecology and history of the Hackensack River, its beauty, and the important role it plays in all our lives.

5. Lorrimer Sanctuary

Trails are open; buildings are closed.
790 Ewing Ave., Franklin Lakes
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 10am–4pm
Admission: Free. Fee applies to special programming.
Lorrimer Sanctuary was bequeathed to the New Jersey Audubon Society in 1956. There is a self-guiding trail system that winds through the 14 acres of land. Much of the acreage is second-growth woods (mostly oak, maple, ash, and beech); and small stands of planted evergreens. 

6. James A. McFaul Environmental Center

Building and trails are closed but the picnic pavilion, outdoor exhibits, and observatory overlooks are open with social distancing rules in place.
150 Crescent Ave., Wyckoff
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:45pm; Saturday-Sunday, 1-4:45pm
Admission: Free.
Part of the Bergen County Parks system, the site includes a waterfowl pond, bird shelters, a boardwalk, nature trail, memorial gazebo and natural science exhibits. The Environmental Center gardens include specialties such as flowering trees, Daffodil Hill, rhododendrons, ornamental grasses, the herb garden, a secret scented garden and various memorial plantings. A naturalized field area and woodland contain many plant species that provide food and shelter for a variety of wildlife species, including insects, birds and mammals.

7. Meadowlands Environmental Center: Richard W. DeKorte Park

Open and subject to strict social distancing guidelines.
2 De Korte Park Plaza Lyndhurst
Hours: 7am-7pm, daily
Admission: Free.
DeKorte Park features 3½ miles of walking paths, panoramic views of wetlands and waterways, and birds galore, all framed by the New York City skyline. The park, which was once slated to be a landfill, is the focal point of NJSEA activities. A series of colorful, interpretive signs highlight the park’s resources and the wildlife that inhabit its tidal waters, marshes, and uplands. These informational signs provide visitors with an understanding and appreciation of the Meadowlands’ unique and diverse urban ecosystem.

8. Teaneck Creek Conservancy

Due to restoration the park is closed at all entrance points except Fycke Lane.
20 Puffin Way, Teaneck
Hours: Dawn to dusk, daily
Admission: Free
Trek through this 46 acre park of forest and wetlands reclaimed and restored from environmental degradation and destruction. The park contains 1.3 miles of groomed trail as well as commissioned work of Eco-Art exhibitions throughout the year. TCC requests that you stay on the trails at all times, do not enter the creek or wetlands area, no motorized vehicles or bicycles allowed, smoking and alcohol are prohibited, and dogs must be on a leash at all times.

9. Tenafly Nature Center

Trails are open and social distancing rules are in effect.
313 Hudson Ave, Tenafly
Hours: Daily, one hour after sunrise until one hour prior to sunset; from 9am - 5pm daily, TNC has a 1-way policy for the Yellow, White, Red and Main trails.
Admission: $10 per family; $2 per person; free for members; additional fee for programs
Tenafly Nature Center provides sanctuary for visitors who desire to develop connection with their local surroundings. Visitors can take advantage of TNC's educational programs, access center resources or simply explore at their leisure. Trails are open for passive recreation only, including hiking, walking, running or jogging, and birding. The picnic area and white picnic tables (located near the upper Yellow Trail) are now available for use by families and small groups ONLY. No grills or cooking allowed.  

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