The last place some people think to visit when they’re looking for a fun day trip is the Wetlands, but at the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor, volunteers work to make visitors’ trips both fun and educational. The conservation and preservation of coastal ecosystems is the inspiration behind this fun and educational experience for families, school groups and vacationers. They are open year round and have great attractions offered throughout.
Visiting Each visit begins at Marion’s gardens, which surround the parking lot and line the walkway to the building. Hundreds of native plants can be seen, each chosen to attract specific birds and butterflies. This garden resembles an historic English cottage garden. Most of the plants are labeled for visitors.
You can visit Marshview Hall, which has an extensive view of the surrounding marsh (thus the name!). There is a variety of wildlife art and carvings, including several hand-carved wooden bird mobiles, as well as hand-sewn quilts. During the summer, there is a mini camera mounted near an osprey nest that allows for up-close views of nesting osprey.
There’s the Diller Coastal Exhibit Building, which houses the institute's aquarium. It features more than a dozen exhibits with live marsh animals as well as a special “teacher’s tank” with live horseshoe crabs, sea stars and lots more. It also houses hands-on, interactive exhibits designed to immerse visitors in the wetlands life.
There is an exhibit dedicated specifically to the diamondback terrapin. Here, you can learn all about this creature and its importance to the ecosystem. And there’s the Salt Marsh Trail with views incomparable to anything like it. At the end, there’s a 125-foot pier where you can view one of the world’s largest colonies of laughing gulls.
The observation tower is another addition to this institute that provides additional gorgeous views of the wetlands area and, on a good day, the Jersey shore. Even climbing up the spiral steps is an adventure as you pass through the under-the-sea mural.
Events The Wetlands Institute makes a great field trip destination, but it has more to offer than just beautiful sights. They offer summer nature classes for kids of all ages, as well as a variety of speaker and outreach programs.
Sunset Soiree, Saturday July 13, from 6pm to Sunset. Tickets are $75. This “island style” soiree will put you right into the summer spirit as the sounds of a live reggae band echo through the marsh at sunset.
Crabulous Crab Day, Friday July 19, from 9:30am–3pm. Non-Member: $10 Adult, $8 child, $30 family pack of 4; Member: $8 Adult, $6 child, $25 family pack of 4.
Wings ‘N Water Benefit Auction, Saturday August 3, beginning at 6pm. Tickets are $60 and up!
The Institute has many other special events scheduled throughout the year, including Fall Migration Festival, Monarch Madness, Spring Shorebird the Horseshoe Crab Festival, Wings N Water Benefit Auction, Wetland Wonderland, Sunset Soiree and more!
There is a lot going on, so check their calendar for dates and times.
Hours May 3 through October 13: Monday through Sunday: 9:30am to 4:30pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday from June 15 to Labor Day: Special evening hours until 8pm Open Independence Day and Labor Day 9:30am to 4:30pm
Special Hours Notice: It is sometimes necessary to close a building or facility to the public for part or all of a day due to maintenance repairs or special events. Please call ahead to verify hours.
Admission is $8 for ages 13 and up; $6 for ages 3-12. Members are admitted free.
The Wetlands Institute is located at 1075 Stone Harbor Blvd. in Stone Harbor.
For more information about the Wetlands Institute, its programs, or how to get involved as a supporter, please call 609-368-1211, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to www.wetlandsinstitute.org.