Your Personal Concierge
Top Holiday Attractions in and near Morristown, N.J.
Although Manhattan’s holiday attractions—from the sparkling tree in Rockefeller Center to the show-stopping performances by the legendary Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall—tend to take center stage this time of year, there is plenty to be said for festive, winter fun in areas surrounding the city, including Morristown, N.J.—just an hour car or train ride from Manhattan. Karen Shor, Chef Concierge at The Madison Hotel in Morristown, shares her top picks for holiday fun in this New Jersey city. “In comparison to Manhattan, Morristown might be ‘small town,’ but it is big in its historical significance,” Shor says, adding that the city served many key roles throughout American history. On the weekends of December 7 and 8 and 14 and 15, visitors are invited to join the festivities when several historical sites in and near the city recreate the holidays just as they were during the mid 1800s. Shor suggests a trip to Fosterfields Living Historical Farm in Morris Township near Morristown. While there, children can experience what Christmas on a 19th-century working farm was like. “After meeting the farm animals and taking a wagon ride, they can see what’s cooking on the wood stove in the farmhouse kitchen and help with chores or decorating in the barnyard,” Shor says. History buffs can experience a “Civil War Christmas” Dec. 7 and 8 in the eight buildings that make up Historic Speedwell. Also of note, Speedwell is the place where Morristown resident Alfred Vail and Samuel F. Morse perfected the telegraph. During the event, outside authentically reproduced huts, soldiers will make a holiday meal over the campfire. Shor adds that the Vail House will look just as it did when Alfred Vail and his family lived there, “with simple, yet elegant, decorations typical of the time.” Enactors will even read actual letters written and sent by Union troops on the battlefield to their loved ones at home. Visitors are also invited to attend an Officer’s Ball in the recreated 1849 Carriage House. “Fiddle music will play and the men will be dressed in their finest uniforms.” Shor says. For fun minus a history lesson, she also recommends stops at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum and Morris Museum. At the arboretum, 200 handcrafted gingerbread houses will be on display from December 6 to 15. On the weekends, a craft show will take place there as well. Starting December 13, the museum will feature a 288-square-foot, interactive model train display. The museum will also feature a vintage dollhouse and tea set display and 30 literature-themed Christmas trees decorated by local school children. “If anyone has any energy left after all that, Santa will be taking children’s toy requests on the Morristown Green,” Shor says.