My husband and I found Rockefeller State Park Preserve‘s peony gardens by accident. In our pre-kids (city) life, we drove up to the park one afternoon for a hike with our dog. To access the trailhead, we walked past the park’s Art Gallery and encountered hundreds (and I mean, hundreds!) of peony flowers. I freaked, since they were the flowers in my wedding bouquet. Plus, they smelled divine.
If you aren’t familiar with peonies, they’re like enormous puffballs in pretty pinks, purples, and whites. Gardeners wait all year for them, and once they bloom they only last 7 to 10 days, and even less if there’s a lot of rain and the petals get heavy with water.
Rockefeller Park’s peony gardens bloomed for the season on Thursday, so I immediately made a plan to see them. On Saturday, Harper and I and a couple of friends took a trip to Pleasantville to check them out. The gardens were as spectacular as I remembered. There were a few surprises: My friend, Sara, found a two-tone pink and white peony, and who knew there were yellow peonies?! Harper, who is 2, stopped long enough to sniff one. Then he was off running down the trail again.
Once you’ve tired of the peonies (well, you won’t, but your kids might), you can follow a trail down to a 1.1 mile loop around a pretty lake. The kids loved spotting turtles and frogs in the water. We stopped and listened to the knock of a woodpecker. I felt like I could walk these serene carriage trails for hours. Best of all, after our hike, we got to pass by the peony gardens once more. You actually smell them long before you see them.
To get to the peony gardens, you have to enter the park off of Route 117 at 125 Phelps Way in Pleasantville. The flowers line the grounds of the art gallery, which you’ll see on your way down to the trailheads. The park is free, but parking is $6. Trail maps are given at the entrance gate.