woman bathingThis past weekend was really great. The husband was away, so Jax and I had a mommy-and-me weekend filled with fun activities. The highlight of the weekend was the Mad Hatter Tea Party at the Grounds for Sculpture (in Hamilton, NJ). My mom, my sister, Jax, and I took the 40-minute drive to explore the grounds briefly before the tea party. I wish we’d penciled in a bit more time to explore before our 4:00 reservation, because my mom thinks we saw only an eighth of the grounds–and I was blown away by how beautiful it was. I need to go back as soon as possible, and I hear the time to do it on a winter’s evening when the trees are lit by twinkling white lights.

According to the website:

Grounds For Sculpture is a 42-acre public sculpture park located in Hamilton, NJ. It was founded in 1992 on the site of the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds by J. Seward Johnson to promote an understanding of and appreciation for contemporary sculpture for all people.

Jax apparently LOVES sculpture, just like his momma. I can’t think of a better way to encounter sculpture than this–you’re walking through what feels like a forest and can just barely make out a woman bathing at the far end of a misty pond. You get a little closer and see how beautiful she is. And then you realize she isn’t moving. She’s the product of some artist’s imagination and devotion to his or her craft.

Alas, we had to hurry off to the tea party and didn’t make it back to the woods to see the rest. But we will!

We entered the Acer Courtyard, with tall skinny trees strung with paper lanterns and several large sculptures, and were seated by one of the characters–Alice, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, and the Queen of Hearts (or the Red Queen) were present.

red queenmad hatteraliceAt each place setting at our table for four was a small bottle of liquid, a paper sign tied to it that said “Drink me.” So we did. (It was lemonade. And no, we didn’t shrink.)

drink meOur waitress brought out the tea we selected from a fairly long list; this was Mighty Leaf tea served in a white tea pot for each of us. I chose Ginger Twist, and it was fabulous. Jax had Chamomile Citrus, as did his Nana. My sister had Oolong Orchid. We were then served scones and jam. Jax didn’t like them, even though I’d referred to them as cookies.

Jax at the tea partyHe ran around the courtyard with another little boy, touching the sculptures they were allowed to touch (these were indicated by a little green sign, whereas those not to be touched had a red sign) and splashing in the fountain.

We had tea sandwiches next: cucumber and cream cheese on white, chicken salad and raisins on whole grain, and egg salad on pumpernickel swirl. And then dessert: strawberry mousse tarts, two varieties of brownies, and sugar cookies.

dessertIt was fancy and delicate, simple but gorgeous. The characters visited each table briefly; they were a little strange, but then again so is Alice in Wonderland itself, as well as the entire Grounds for Sculpture. I mean, how else would you define a place that put a room-size glass cube full of doll parts in the middle of the woods:

dolls in the woods

For more information, check out the Grounds for Sculpture’s website.


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  1. It was a magical place and it was fun falling down the rabbit hole with you! Let’s definitely go back.


  2. That looks so awesome. I will have to check it out some time (with you, hopefully!). I’m so glad you and Jax had fun together even if he didn’t like scones.
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