When most people think of winter fun they think of spending the day indoors where it is warm and cozy. But that is not the only way to have fun this winter. In winter, nature is filled with many unique things to see and explore that you can’t see during any other season. The perfect way to do that is to bundle up the family and get outdoors for a nature scavenger hunt at the Frelinghysen Arboretum in Morristown, NJ. The arboretum started as a private residence with a growing garden. When Matilda Frelinghysen passed away she donated the land to the county to be used as a public arboretum. The arboretum is open daily for people to explore and hosts a variety of educational programs for adults, children, and families. One of those activities is their weekend family scavenger hunts.
How the Family Scavenger Hunt Works
- When you arrive, check in at the Haggerty Education Center. The family scavenger hunt is available every weekend from 9:00 AM-3:30 PM.
- When you check in you will pay the entry fee of $10 per family and receive the monthly scavenger hunt list and a map of the property.
- Head outside and start hunting. Some things on the list were easy to find and others were more hidden.
- As you find things on the list take a picture of them with a camera or cell phone.
- After you find at least 12 items on the list head back to the education center.
- Once you return your scavenger hunt list and show that you have completed the challenge your family will receive their prize!
4 Reasons Why My Family LOVED the Scavenger Hunt
- It was challenging!
Before the scavenger hunt I was expecting a straight forward list of things to find that would be right out in the open. That was not the case. Some of the clues were straightforward, but others were almost like riddles. First you had to figure out what the clue was asking for, and then you had to find it in the arboretum. Finding the items was not an easy task – especially with several inches of snow covering most of the grounds! I will admit there were some things my family could not find. My son is still talking about the mystery bamboo that we were unable to find.
2. It was educational!
The scavenger hunt taught everyone in my family some new things about nature, including myself. Did you know that there are plants that bloom in the winter? Did you know that new plants beginning to grow warm up the soil and will even begin to melt the snow? I didn’t know these before the hunt, but now I do! Before the scavenger hunt, my 5 year old did not know what a rhododendron plant was. Now she can not only point out the plant in nature, she can also explain how the branches curl inward when it is cold outside.
3. It was easy enough, so even the smallest members of your family can participate!
I went on this scavenger hunt with my 5 and 2 year old. Both children were equally excited and had things on the list they could find. While some of the items were challenging, others were very easy. One of the things on the list was a red chair. My 2 year old easily spotted that one. Another thing on the list was footprints in the snow. Both kids had fun making those for the picture. This scavenger hunt had items for people with various levels of experience. The map is also helpful because it marks were you can find things on the list.
4. You get a cool prize at the end!
Before we even got out of the car my daughter was talking about the prize. “I wonder what it will be!” “Can I keep it?” “Mommy, do you think we’ll win the prize?” I was unsure what the prize was and if my 5 year old would even like it. I tried to manage her expectations and not get her too excited. But the prize turned out to be pretty awesome! They change the prize each month, but for February the prize was a bird feeder made from a tree branch. The feeder comes with a hook on top to make it easy to hang. It even came with some recipes for winter bird food. We got home and immediately filled and hung our prize outside.
The theme and prize for the scavenger hunt changes monthly, so this is something your family can do over and over again. We will definitely be returning in the spring to explore the new season.
Check out the family scavenger hunts for yourself:
353 East Hanover Ave.
Morris Township, NJ