Day Trip: Storm King Art Center

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We anticipated being out of town this past weekend, but as sometimes happens our plans changed last minute and we woke up at home on Saturday morning to stunning blue skies outside our windows and a full day ahead of us without any obligations whatsoever. Intent on enjoying the beauty of an absolutely perfect fall day, we packed a few snacks, hopped in the car, and headed north out of the city. Ninety minutes later we pulled through the gates of Storm King Art Center, a spot we’ve wanted to visit for years. Now that we’ve been, I’m sorry it took us this long to make the trip. Storm King is such a special place – an outdoor sculpture park that immerses you in a stunning natural setting while presenting as an integral part of the landscape the works of more than 100 modern sculptors. The 500-acre property could not be more perfect for exploring with children, as it allows them to experience art in a very physical way by running, jumping, and playing under and around the sculptures themselves.

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Open to the public since 1960, the park is still evolving as the collection continues to grow, augmented at times by special exhibitions. It’s large enough that you won’t likely see it all in a single visit, and our visit this past weekend focused on making a large circuit of the South Fiends and Museum Hill on foot. We let our daughter set the pace, scanning the open vistas and selecting the next work to make our way toward, and running through open fields warmed by the mid-October sun. She had as much fun exploring the setting as she did exploring the art, and spent much of our visit looking for turtles in one of the ponds, practicing somersaults in the grassy fields, and collecting sticks and leaves in the forest. Had I known about it in time, I would have picked up a ‘Field Guide for Young Explorers,’ offered by the park. An interactive accordion-style booklet, the guide is meant to help children and families explore and engage with the art and nature at Storm King during visits.

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As it was, even without the field guide we had the most lovely day. Several times I stopped myself and consciously tried to soak it all in – perfect October sunshine, fields and hills filled with trees assuming the vibrant colors of autumn, and my favorite people exploring a setting abundant with such beauty in its varied forms. I won’t soon forget it.

A few further details for those considering a visit:

  • The park is open seasonally, from April-November.
  • While we drove to the park, a few options for taking public transit do exist:
    • Coach USA provides bus service to the park from Port Authority Bus Station in Manhattan.
    • Metro North sells a package that includes a train ticket to Beacon and the entrance fee to the park. From the Beacon train station, you can take a taxi to the park.
    • New Jersey Transit/Metro North also operates service out of Penn Station to the Salisbury Mills train station, which is three miles from Storm King by car/taxi.
  • We explored the grounds on foot, but you can also rent a bike or hop on or off the tram that circles the grounds. Some of the walking is along paved or dirt pathways, but much of it is over grassy fields, making a carrier a better choice than a stroller if you have an infant or a toddler who won’t want to walk the whole way.
  • Family programs are available throughout the year. Learn more here.
  • Three designated picnic areas are available for those who pack a lunch to bring along. We also saw a number of visitors sitting and snacking on blankets throughout the grounds, which is allowed as long as you’re not in direct view of the sculptures. For those who prefer to buy lunch or snacks, a café is available, though when we finally took a break for lunch the line was quite imposing.


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