The National Park Service has over 390 parks in the National Park System. When we visit (or revisit) a new part of the country, I go to nps.gov to check if there is a NPS park nearby. Even though I had passed near Edison, New Jersey countless times, I had never visited Thomas Edison’s homestead and laboratories.
First thing I learned was the Thomas Edison National Historic Park was NOT in Edison (duh just a town named in his honor), nor Menlo Park (site of his lab where he first achieved fame – I’m glad I remember this from history class), but in West Orange. Thomas Edison National Historic Park includes the Laboratory Complex and the Glenmont Estate. The Visitor Center and parking is located at the Laboratory Complex. Check the website for hours of operation. There is admission to enter the park and out family took the opportunity to invest in a brand new National Park Annual Pass for entry.
We arrived in the afternoon and found the house tour sold out for the day. I was bummed because I wanted to see the home, but once I began walking through the laboratory complex my tuned changed. I learned (or relearned) what a visionary Edison was to not only invent and patent so many devices and technologies, but to develop industries around his inventions. I loved how he saw the importance in research and development, diversification and teamwork. I was honestly surprised how much each family member was inspired by our visit.
- Invest in an Annual Pass: If you plan on visiting a bunch of National Parks within 365 days, invest in the Annual Pass.
- Get there early: If you want to tour Glenmont, get to the Visitor’s Center when the park opens. Tickets are first come first service and “sell out” immediately. We missed out this trip, but plan on a returning soon.
- Budget enough time: Allow 30 minutes to tour the house and 2 hours to tour the laboratory complex. Note tours fill quickly and you might have to return at a later time for the house tour.
- Check the Ranger Schedule: These are always the best presentations. We got to listen to different phonographs play Gold Moulded cylinders.
- Don’t miss the hidden gems: Be sure to check out Edison’s library. It’s 3 stories and beautiful. Right outside you’ll find a time clock where Edison himself insisted on punching in day. You’ll find his desk and his cot where he took quick naps to refresh and recharge.
Thomas Edison National Historical Park is located in West Orange, New Jersey Exit 15W off the New Jersey Turnpike and Exit 125 off the Garden State Parkway. www.nps.gov/edis