Duke Farms
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Philadelphia (AMC Books)
Address:1112 Duke Parkway West, Hillsborough, NJ
Hours:8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Tuesday
Fee: Free (donations accepted)

dukefarms.org, 908-722-3700

Bathrooms: At the orientation center and throughout the park in solar-powered composting toilets
Water/Snacks: Water fountain and a café with child-friendly snacks at the orientation center

At orientation center; dukefarms.org (click on Visit)

On foot or by bike, tour 1,000 acres of waterfalls, lakes, statues, winding roads, wildlife habitats, and farmland.

Duke Farms
Photo by: Susan Charkes

Duke Farms is a private park that is open to the public for the purpose of promoting environmental awareness and stewardship. Once the private estate of tobacco magnate J.B. Duke, today its farmland, woods, waterfalls, gardens, and lakes invite visitors of all ages and abilities to an extraordinary outdoor destination.

Almost 1,000 acres of Duke Farms is open to the public. More than 18 miles of pedestrian trails and 12 miles of bike paths, including 4 miles of paved, stroller-friendly, wheelchair-accessible paths, are on the property.

Begin at the orientation center in the Farm Barn, where you can learn about the park’s history and mission through interactive exhibits. You’ll find out how the facility generates its own power with a solar array, and uses constructed wetlands to purify wastewater. For a small fee, kids can borrow an Eco-Kit: a canvas shoulder bag with binoculars, a compass, note pad, and field guide to help identify plants and animals. Duke Farms offers something for all ages and abilities to enjoy. The walking trails vary from gravel, wood-chipped, or mown grass; bike trails are paved or gravel. Trails wind through the bucolic setting, offering plenty of opportunities to observe wildlife, or take in the scenery. The solar-powered Great Waterfall at Vista Lake is programmed to flow for 10 minutes a day beginning at 12:30 p.m.

In addition to the trails, for those unable (or too tired) to walk, a motorized tram stops at selected areas. In winter, you can use your cross-country skis and snowshoes on the grounds.

Kids can use self-guided activity sheets (on the website or at the orientation center). Bring a GPS to explore the 11-station geocaching course. Duke Farms also conducts numerous family programs about nature and the environment throughout the year. Check the website or call ahead for details.

Remember: No pets are permitted on the grounds, and they may not be left in your vehicle. Duke Farms restricts activities to marked trails. Visitors are discouraged from any activity that can disturb nature. Carry out any trash.

Plan B:

Also at Duke, explore the marble sculpture garden in the ruins of the Hay Barn, the 1917 conservatory filled with native New Jersey plants.

Where to Eat Nearby:

On NJ 206, you will find places to eat, but Duke Farms is the perfect spot for a picnic.


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