Family-Friendly and Fun: 5 Museums to See in Northern New Jersey, from Victoria Carter

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From Victoria Carter

Thomas Edison’s laboratory and residence, Glenmont, in West Orange, New Jersey

In the recent Planning & Progress Study conducted by The Harris Poll for Northwestern Mutual, responses about how Americans define success may surprise you. 

When asked, “Please select the 5 attributes that best fit your definition of success,” the number one category topping the list was Spending quality time with family. In fact, the survey made it clear that experiences were far more important to people than tangible wealth. If you agree, there is no better place to live and raise a family than in northern New Jersey. Besides offering easy access to New York City, vibrant communities, and abundant nature, the towns along northern New Jersey’s Midtown Direct line are home to a multitude of family-friendly activities, including some amazing museums. 

Here are five museums to see in northern New Jersey: 

 1. Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange, NJ

Glenmont is the former Thomas and Mina Edison estate. It is nestled in beautiful Llewellyn Park, a gated community in West Orange, New Jersey. Typically open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays excluding the winter season, visitors can see the largest collection of Thomas Edison historical artifacts, archives, and a natural history collection. There is a 20,000 square-foot laboratory complex that displays Edison’s numerous inventions, many of which launched the nation into the 20th century. 

In fact, there are over 300,000 items in the history collection in addition to plant specimens from the Glenmont Estate in the Natural History Collection. Families can visit Edison’s workshop, stop in at the music room to hear phonographs playing, and catch a glimpse of a replica of Black Maria, Edison’s rotating movie studio. The Estate is known for its educated and enthusiastic staff, and before arriving, visitors can head to the website and print out a Junior Ranger booklet for an even better kid-approved experience. Glenmont Estate is quite simply lovely to visit and a must-see destination.

2. The Newark Museum of Art in Newark, NJ

As the largest museum in the state of New Jersey, the Newark Museum of Art has something for everyone. Visitors can experience over 80 galleries dedicated to art and science, a mini zoo, a planetarium, a sculpture garden and a restored 1885 mansion known as the Ballantine House. Among its world-class collections, the museum boasts the largest collection of Tibetan art in the western hemisphere. Additionally, it incorporates dynamic and hands-on displays for families to explore. Whether kids test the efficacy of biofuels and other renewable energy sources in the EmPOWERED exhibit or embark on a virtual safari in the Dynamic Earth exhibit, they will have endless hours of fun. Families that visit often can even get a frequent visitor card, which includes a complimentary planetarium show after four visits. 

 3. Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ 

Well-known to the locals, the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey, houses a rich collection of history, science, and art that combine for an eclectic museum-going experience that is fun for the entire family. The second-largest museum in New Jersey and one of the oldest, Morris Museum has been in existence since 1913. 

The museum has a variety of collections and hosts events and performances. For example, within the exhibits, there is a lovely music box collection and automata or mechanical figures, which are delightful and interesting. Kids absolutely love the model train collection in the Morris Museum’s Model Railroad Gallery. Other can’t miss exhibits include Rocks and Minerals and Dinosaur Den. The newest exhibition is a Monarch Sanctuary, a full-scale mockup of a building façade system that doubles as a monarch butterfly meadow. 

When it comes to programming, there is a Children’s Theatre, Homeschool Discovery Adventures program, studio art classes and curated Special Programs for Families. 

One fun fact, the Morris Museum was featured on the TV show Mysteries at the Museum.

4. Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, NJ

Beginning in 1914, the Montclair Art Museum served as one of the country’s first museums dedicated to American art, especially Native American pieces. Montclair Art Museum’s collection contains more than 12,000 items, which include paintings, photographs, prints and sculptures by American artists living in the 18th century to the present. Visitors can also trace the cultural development of major American Indian tribes by observing a variety of art objects and artifacts. 

In addition, the museum offers a wide range of community-based and educational programming. For aspiring artists or professionals wishing to hone their skills, visitors can enroll in courses at the Yard School of Art, a leading regional art school. Families and kids can similarly channel their creative energy in the Vance Wall Art Education Center by participating in art activities and small group classes. 

5. Miller-Cory House Museum in Westfield, NJ

The Miller-Cory House Museum is a living history museum that recreates daily life on a New Jersey farm during colonial times. The site is recognized by both the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Guides in traditional costumes accompany visitors as they tour the early American farmhouse equipped with authentic period furnishings and artifacts. The museum also offers unique educational opportunities for local schools, scout troops, and other community groups. Visitors can enjoy a variety of interactive activities including open-hearth cooking demonstrations, seasonal crafts–like making sweet and spicy pomander balls–and the Showcase of 18th Century Skills. 


If you are interested in learning more about any of the beautiful communities or activities in New Jersey along the Midtown Direct train line or would be interested in a town tour, I would love to assist you. Contact Victoria Carter at (973) 220-3050 or email

Blog originally posted on on February 29, 2020.

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