Home Lifestyle Fun Summer Road Trips Near Northern New Jersey

Fun Summer Road Trips Near Northern New Jersey

by Lisa Batitto
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Warm weather is finally here, and there’s no better way to enjoy it than by taking a day trip with your family, friends, or yourself. With so many wonderful destinations to explore not far from the Montclair and Northern New Jersey areas, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. From picturesque hiking trails and scenic drives to charming towns and historical sites, there’s no shortage of options for a fun-filled day trip. So pack a picnic, grab your camera, and check out our road trip round-up for destinations within a few hours’ drive from the Montclair and Essex County area.

Chester, NJ | Via I-80

tayors ice cream Chester

If you’re looking for a charming small-town experience, Chester is the place to visit. It’s filled with picturesque scenery and plenty of things to do, like marveling at the natural beauty of the 822-acre Elizabeth D. Kay Environmental Center. From exploring flower fields to trying out delicious food spots, you won’t run out of options during your visit. It’s about 39 miles from Montclair and should take approximately 50 minutes to get there.

The Ivy at Chatham

Frenchtown, NJ | Via I-78

You’ll love strolling along the Delaware River and exploring this town’s unique Victorian architecture. Remember to check out the shops and restaurants with great river views and walk along the historic Uhlerstown-Frenchtown Bridge. Afterward, grab a drink at Arties Bar + Grill, a local favorite. The ride will take you a little more than an hour, and you’ll travel about 60 miles each way.

Read More: A Hike + Winery Date In Rockland County, NY

Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park | 72 McBride Avenue Ext, Paterson, NJ


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This majestic waterfall is 77 feet high and 260 feet wide, with over two billion gallons of water rushing over it daily. You can learn about its formation by glaciers over 13,000 years ago, its significance to the Lenape Indians and Dutch Settlers, and how it played a major role in the birth of America’s Industrial Revolution. It will take you about 20 minutes and eight miles to get there from Montclair via the Garden State Parkway.

Grounds for Sculpture | 80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton Township, NJ

sculpture park

Photo Credit: Leonda Finke, Standing Figure from Women in the Sun, 1988, bronze, 70 in x 33 in x 18 in, Grounds For Sculpture, Gift of The Seward Johnson Atelier, © Artist’s Estate and Carlos Dorrien, Nine Muses, 1990- 97, stone: granite, 132 in x 240 in x 360 in, Grounds For Sculpture, Gift of The Seward Johnson Atelier, © Artist or Artist’s Estate

This not-for-profit sculpture park spans 42 acres and features over 270 contemporary sculptures by famous and up-and-coming artists. In addition to the impressive art, it includes indoor galleries with rotating exhibitions, educational opportunities, and plenty of fun family events. It’s about an hour and 15-minute drive on the Garden State Parkway from Montclair — you’ll travel 69 miles.


New Hope, PA + Lambertville, NJ | Via I-78


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Remember to stroll across state lines to experience both towns fully — Lambertville is in New Jersey, while New Hope is a short walk to Pennsylvania. You’ll find a vibrant array of colorful storefronts, delicious dining options, and bars that stay open late. This area is an excellent blend of small-town charm and artistic flair that will keep you entertained. Can’t decide where to start? Lambertville is known for its art galleries like Gallery Piquel, while people flock to New Hope for its oddities like the Van Saint Crybaby Bridge, where legend has it, you can hear ghosts. You’ll travel about an hour and 15 minutes to get to Lambertville, which is about 65 miles from Montclair.

See More: A New Jersey Getaway to Crystal Springs Resort + Spa in Hamburg

Ocean Grove, NJ | Via Garden State Parkway


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With one square mile of natural beauty at the Jersey Shore, you can enjoy pristine beaches, tree-lined streets, a serene boardwalk, and stunning parks. During summertime, the town is bustling with activities like arts and crafts shows, giant flea markets, guided historical walking tours, house tours, and performances by famous artists at the legendary Great Auditorium. If you think you’d like to make this your summer home, get on the waitlist for one of the dwellings in this famous “Tent City.” This colony of canvas tens is available for rent all summer. It’s located a little more than an hour from Montclair, and you’ll travel about 57 miles to get there.

Storm King Art Center | 1 Museum Road, New Windsor, NY

storm king art center new windsor ny

As one of the world’s top sculpture parks, it’s a must-visit spot for art and nature enthusiasts. With over 100 sculptures created by renowned artists in a beautiful 500-acre landscape of fields, hills, and woodlands, you won’t be disappointed with what Storm King has to offer.  It will take you about an hour to get here on I-87 from Montclair, and you’ll travel about 53 miles.

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