The New Jersey State Museum & Planetarium grants residents and visitors a lifelong education in science, history, and the arts through its collections, exhibitions, programs, publications, and scholarship. Founded in 1895 and accredited by the American Association of Museums, the complex holds more than 2.6 million artifacts, specimens, and works of art in its collections. These pieces pique viewer curiosity in themed exhibits, exploring art periods, relationships between Native Americans and European settlers, natural history, and other topics.
The Archaeology & Ethnography Collection highlights textiles, beads, and hide works from Delaware Indians and other North American–natives. The Fine Art Collection assembles works by American modernists and abstract artists. Massive Trenton-made furnishings, Civil War–flags, and maritime artifacts are among the fascinating objects in the Cultural History exhibits, and the Natural History Collection houses prehistoric fossils—many from New Jersey—and insect, animal, and geological specimens. The museum is also home to the 150-seat Planetarium, which dazzles eyes with images of the solar system, faraway stars, and astronaut training during shows. Audiences witness traditional sky projections and laser-created programs comprised of 6,000 stars on the ceiling of the full 360-degree dome.
The Old Barracks was constructed in 1758 to house British soldiers during the French and Indian War. Since then, the barracks have seen many turbulent times, including serving as a military hospital during the American Revolution. Now converted into a museum, patrons can walk through the barracks, read about colonial and American history, and view 18th-century artifacts and weapons. 45-minute guided tours are also offered on the hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
Conceived as part of sculptor Seward Johnson's impressionistic vision, Rat's Restaurant transports degusting diners into Claude Monet's beloved town of Giverny with cosmopolitan home cooking served overlooking a delicate lily pond. Launch your exploration into head chef Shane Cash's exceptional dinner menu with the petit escargot, featuring lemon verbena, escargot butter, and parsley tortellini ($15). Sophisticated palates can decorate themselves with a delectable selection of entrees, including Scottish halibut, a fresh pan-roasted catch accompanied by cauliflower puree and almond-caper meuniere sauce ($30). Before stepping into the attached Grounds For Sculpture galleries and discovering the secrets of scratch-n-see artwork, enjoy sips from a menu of hand-crafted cocktails and an eclectic wine list.
When John A. Roebling immigrated to America from his native Prussia in the 1830s, he had no idea that he would forever change the face of his adopted country's architecture and economy. After developing a special type of twisted-wire rope for hauling canal boats, the Roebling business boomed with the dawn of the suspension bridge, its cables gracing such monuments as the Brooklyn Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge. During the company's heyday under the management of John Roebling's children and grandchildren, it served as a vital centerpiece of the Trenton region's industry, employing more than 8,000 workers at four factories at its peak.
Though the works shuttered in 1974, an extensive cleanup and restoration of the Roebling Mill site gives visitors a glimpse into the past, showing what life was like for thousands of men and women who worked in the steel mills and labored on the factory grounds. Patrons marvel not only at meticulously preserved industrial artifacts such as photographs, wire ropes, and machine parts, but also remnants of everyday life in the nearby company town. Walking and trolley tours take families and tourists through picturesque views of the early 20th century, while trips to the archives allow researchers to comb through a wealth of primary sources.
In 1754, Richard Stockton, a leading attorney who would go on to be a signer of the Declaration of Independence, acquired land on his grandfather's 5,500-acre tract to build a home. The house later traded hands among Stockton family members until the 20th century, when it served as the state's first Governor's Mansion, eventually housing five governors.
Since its restoration and conversion into the Morven Museum & Garden in 2004, galleries on two floors of the dwelling have housed permanent and temporary exhibitions relating to New Jersey history and culture, as well as the Morven property, now a National Historic Landmark. As guests wander the museum’s halls, Stockton family portraiture and decorative art speaks of past eras while contemporary art and photographs keep visitors grounded in the present day. Meanwhile, 5 more acres outside host a massive garden that includes a recreation of Morven's old Colonial Revival¬–style blooming garden and its charismatic, singing Venus flytrap.
The New Hope & Ivyland Railroad winds through the grassy hills and sweeping valley vistas of Bucks County, much the same as it has since the first tracks were laid more than 100 years ago. Not much has changed in the decades since—except for the fact that today, its passengers likely carry smartphones to commemorate their trips instead of hiring an oil painter to join them on the journey. The railroad has pushed into the modern era with a mission to preserve the "Golden Era of Steam Railroading"—a mission it furthers with public rides on its antique passenger train.
Every hour each Friday–Saturday—and sometimes on other days as well—an authentic steam or diesel locomotive pulls a train of restored 1920s passenger coaches and an antique bar car out of the station for a 9-mile history tour. As the train chugs through the countryside, narration unveils some of the history of the railroad and surrounding county. The railroad also offers special themed holiday train rides, dinner express outings, and a singles' mixer held in the bar car, where riders can connect by discussing the season's hottest conductor hats. Trains depart from Lahaska Station or the original New Hope Station, which has been in operation since 1891.