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What's the Best Spot for a Staycation?

Let us know in this week's Readers' Choice poll!

Where do you go when you want to get out, but not go too far?

This week's Readers' Choice features places to go for a day without traveling outside Morris County (or Hopatcong, the lone Sussex County community served by Patch). We'd like to know—what's your favorite staycation spot? Where do you go for some time "away" without actually going very far away?

Here's the list of local destinations we assembled, so pick one and let us know it's your favorite in the poll below. And if we somehow missed your favorite, let us know in the comments—we'll get it added ASAP.

To get your favorite staycation destination some extra credit, click through to its Patch directory listing, and leave a reader review or rating.

  • : Cooper Gristmill, which was built in 1826 by Nathan Cooper, is a historic site in Chester. Seasonal events and exhibits are available at the mill, such as blacksmithing, stone dressing, and machine demonstrations, among others.
  • : Agricultural history comes to life at Fosterfields Living Historical Farm, where the tools, the equipment and even the farmers' clothes are straight out of the Victorian Era. Visitors experience not just a re-enactment but a true working farm where baby animals are born in the spring, honey comes from beehives and activities like wagon rides, quilting and open-hearth cooking can be experienced firsthand. Special events are held frequently.
  • : The arboretum in Morris Township centers around a palatial home dating back to 1891, the onetime summer residence of a wealthy New York couple. It's a center for all things horticultural in Morris County. Admission is usually free, though fees are charged for some special events and programs.
  • : The center, in Chatham Township, has lots of family-friendly activities, including evening hikes; bird, butterfly and frog-watching; and star-gazing. It's located the 44 acres of the Great Swamp Wildlife Refuge that the Park Commission is responsible for. The refuge consists of 7,600 acres of varied habitats, where over 244 species of birds and other endangered or threatened animal and plant species live and feed.
  • : This Morristown stable is an authentic swath of land preserved from the 19th century. There are buildings with artifacts from the era, as well as a permanent exhibition on inventor Alfred Vail. The site was the location of the first use of a telegraph.
  • : Located on Lake Hopatcong's southwestern side, Hopatcong State Park is a popular summer spot. Featuring a beach, two sand volleyball courts, six basketball half-courts, loads of picnic tables and benches, the park is operated and maintained by the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry. Fishing and swimming are allowed. You can stretch your legs with a hike, or fire up the BBQ and stretch your tummy.
  • : The gallery, in Chester,showcases works from local artists in a variety disciplines. The gallery features original paintings, scupltures and pictures. The facility also has a camera studio for taking personal, family and pet portraits.
  • : This county park in Morris Township encompasses more than 1,100 acres of picturesque recreation space. Sunrise Lake  features swimming, rowboats, pedal boats and an enormous, inflatable, floating obstacle course called the Wibit. In other parts of the park, visitors can hike the trails, enjoy a picnic or give the dog a run in the off-leash dog park. Other activities include cycling, fishing, camping and horseback riding. In the winter, enjoy skating, sledding, snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing.
  • : The reservation, in Jefferson Township, has camping, picnic areas, baseball fields, cabins, a pond, and a wealth of hiking trails with fitness stations. The park is open from dawn till dusk.
  • : The museum, in Morris Township, aspires to raise the cultural awareness of the community through art, exhibitions and performance. And it's home to the , which puts on a range of performances for people of all ages.
  • : The Mountain Valley Park in Mendham Township features hiking trails that connect to Patriot Trail leading to other natural areas, a pond which is used for winter ice skating and picnic areas.
  • : This museum in Madison opened its doors as a library in 1900. The library is still housed upstairs in this beautifully restored building that features 56 stained glass windows, 8 chandeliers, 3 fireplaces and stenciled brick walls. You'll learn about New Jersey history and culture by visiting the museum on your own, or you can arrange for a guided tour conducted by the museum's friendly and knowledgeable staff.
  • : Ralston Recreation Area, opened in Mendham in 2001, has baseball, soccer field and lacrosse fields. Short walking trails and hiking, bicycling and horseback riding trails run adjacent to the park.
  • : The Schiff Nature Preserve, in Mendham, aims to preserve open space and foster environmental and educational stewardship. There is a nature center that is open to the public, offering various recreational and research activities. This organization also provides educational programs for all ages such as nature walks, home-school classes, eco-friendly birthday parties and a variety of other activities. Volunteer opportunities are available as well.
  • : The stables offer something for equestrians of every level. Full and half-day summer camps as well as winter activities are offered. Riders ages eight and older can enjoy guided trail rides through the Loantaka Brook Reservation. Birthday parties and pony rides are also available. Accommodations can be made for special needs riders with certified instructors.
  • : This educational museum in Parsippany offers a step back into time, with lots to do and see. It's the centerpiece of Gustav Stickley’s early 20th century country estate.
  • : Tempe Wick Reserve is a natural area in Mendham that borders the Passaic River. This area is a relatively flat open field and woods, which makes it a nice hiking area with trails that intersect. There is a small parking lot at the entrance of the field.
  • Located in Morris Township, this redesigned 30,000 square foot mansion built at the turn of the 20th Century is this year's "Mansion in May," a fundraiser through the Women's Association of Morristown Medical Center.

Voting in the poll below is open until Friday at 9 a.m. We will announce the winner Friday around noon.

Editor's note: The winner will be selected on a point system based on poll votes and directory ratings. If there is a tie, a winner will be determined by the amount of positive comments posted on this article and positive reviews received on its directory listing. For full contest rules, click on the PDF attached to this article.

This post is shared by several Patch sites serving Morris and Sussex counties. Responses below may be by readers of any of those sites.

Laura Taylor Oostdyk May 08, 2012 at 12:52 PM
On my boat on beautiful Lake Hopatcong!!
Arthur Bonito May 08, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Camp Jefferson Amphitheatre Summer Concerts. Great vibe and VERY affordable for the entire family.
John May 09, 2012 at 02:23 AM
My kids love Historic Speedwell. I've been sending them to the summer camp at the site, and we attend almost all the events they have on weekends. We love the Civil War Encampment and the workshops they hold for the kids over the summer. We can't wait to see the new exhibit that's been installed there. Our neighbors went last week and they couldn't believe how much fun they all had!
Atta May 09, 2012 at 07:42 PM
If it's a one day trip, try Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, NY. I've lived in Parsippany for about 16 years, originally moved from Corona, Queens. There's just so much open space for picnics and walking around. As you walk around, you can't help but see the diversity of the neighborhood surrounding you. Corona is a true melting pot of cultures. If you're a history buff, the 1964 World's Fair attracted the entire world there. 95% of that history is gone, but there is still the main attraction, the Unisphere, that is a site to see! Every year, the tennis US Open takes place there. That time of year is even better, when you can walk around and be in a bodega one minute and then bump into a celebrity the next! The park fountains are all operating during the US Open. If you ever want to just get away (and don't mind paying the GWB and Triboro bridge tolls), take a walk in this hidden NYC gem.
cv May 09, 2012 at 09:14 PM
@Atta r I used to go there when I was in day camp in Brooklyn.

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