Trailside Nature and Science Center, Watchung Reservation, Mountainside, NJ

452 New Providence Road, Mountainside, NJ.

Update: Union county has a great video tour of Trailside check it out, they even repurposed one of our photos:

Also our good friend shared this with us from her IG and beautiful updated photos from 2023: “

This has to be the coolest indoor Nature Center in New Jersey.
The Trailside Nature & Science Center is nestled in the Watching Reservation in Mountainside, NJ. This is a must-see for those who want to learn about all that surrounds us in New Jersey.
This 4500 square foot museum has 3 stories of interactive and educational exhibits involving both living and taxidermy animals that engage those of all ages to learn more about the wildlife in NJ.
The 32 foot “Tree of Life” was the star of the show in this museum. Shooting through each floor, with birds and animals of different species “living” within its branches, this American Beech Tree sits within a beautiful fish tank environment at the base, with a taxidermy fox on the hunt and a living turtle and little Sunnies to greet you at the bottom.
Another fun part of this educational center was the outdoor Play Areas, the Solar System Walk, and their Sensory Trail.
Admission is free but donations are always appreciated. And don’t forget to check out their gift center!
Open: Tuesday-Sunday 10am–4pm
Closed: Monday”

Check out the beautiful photos she took here via her original IG post:

Bonus Perspective:

Wanted to add one more of our collaborators’ post  @memory.making.mama.nj on IG about trailside:

The Trailside Nature and Science Center is a hidden gem, free to everyone, located in Watchung Reservation, Trailside is a three level nature center with a Discovery Room in the lower level (where we took most of our pictures). I highly recommend visiting, as well as picking up literature on future events/classes. Above picture shows the 2nd level, where there is a cool little theater which shows a 7 minute movie, and also a little wigwam equipped with small benches to sit around a “campfire”.

Lower Level:

The lower level was a big hit with our boys, they had some turtles, frogs and fish. Most of our time was spent in the Discovery room which is located opposite to the picture above.  Here are some pictures:

Hours are 10-4pm (Tues-Sun) (Closed Mondays) – as of 9/22/2023 –
For updated information check out the Union county parks website here.

Side note: If you are in luck and the weather is nice, you can easily get to Watchung Reservation’s “The Loop” Playground (we posted this in the Outdoor playground section in Mountainside).  It is one of the biggest I’ve seen, and will be including the link in our Best/Biggest section.  This area has so much to offer.

feeding baby in quiet part of center next to discovery room
feeding baby in quiet part of center next to discovery room