Category Archives: Parks and Recreation

The Cranford-Westfield Area Makes the Perfect Family Staycation!

 

If you didn’t get to travel anywhere for a vacation this summer, or if you already went somewhere but still have vacation days to take this month, why not enjoy a CHEAP and SUPER FUN STAYCATION before school starts up again? The Cranford-Westfield Area has so many great options for family fun (much of it FREE) … you truly don’t have to go far to have an amazing summer with your family!

Here is a list of just some of the fantastic outings you can take without even leaving Union County. If you know of other interesting places or events nearby, feel free to comment and share!

CARNIVALS & FESTIVALS

It ain’t summer without zeppoles, am I right?? Check out these festivals in our area.

Cranford Street Fair & Craft Show

August 21st, 11am – 5pm

Downtown Cranford

Over 200 food and craft vendors, plus kids’ attractions.

Kenilworth Fire Department Carnival 

August 15th-20th 

St. Theresa’s School

540 Washington Ave., Kenilworth

Hours: 

Old-fashioned fun including rides, food vendors, games, beer garden, money wheel, and pay-one-price wristband nights Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday!

https://m.facebook.com/KenilworthFireRescue/

St. Bartholomew Italian Festival 

2032 Westfield Ave., Scotch Plains

September 2nd-5th

Hours:

This beloved annual festival features exceptional live music nightly, games, Italian food, raffles, and more!

http://www.sbuitalianfestival.com/#2778

Cranford Canoe Club

 A Cranford family launches from the Cranford Canoe Club:


A Cranford family launches from the Cranford Canoe Club:CRANFORD CANOE CLUB

250 Springfield Ave., Cranford

Hours: 

Not just canoes but also kayaks are available for rent at the Canoe Club. Paddle your way through a scenic and very calm stretch of the Rahway River, and you’ll be reminded of why Cranford was once called “The Venice of New Jersey.” Life jackets are included with your rentals. The snack bar serves some seriously yummy ice cream and snacks as well. This should be on everyone’s summer bucket list!

http://www.cranfordcanoeclub.com/

 

A successful fishing day for these girls at Echo Lake Park:

A successful fishing day for these girls at Echo Lake Park:

ECHO LAKE PARK

Enter from Sprinfield Ave. in Westfield or Mountain Ave near Route 22 in Mountainside

You can spend a whole day at this gorgeous park by bringing fishing rods (the pond is well-stocked), renting paddle boats (only $10 for an hour!), visiting the shady playground, and enjoying a picnic (they have BBQ grills available, plus a full snack bar at the boathouse). And if you have a four-legged friend, bring Fido along to the great dog park at Echo Lake! 

Mesmerized by the placid Rahway River:

Mesmerized by the placid Rahway River:

LIBERTY HALL MUSEUM

1003 Morris Ave., Union

Hours: Monday – Sunday 10am to 4pm; closed Sundays 

This is such a fantastic option for a rainy or too-hot day! Liberty Hall is very kid-friendly and always has exhibits that appeal to the younger set. Check out the TOYS THROUGH TIME exhibit, where kids can actually play with toys from decades past! Plus there are frequent family-friendly events going on at the museum grounds. Call the museum to reserve a tour. Admission is $12 per adult, $8 per child age 3-17, FREE for children under 3. Call 908-527-0400.

http://kean.edu/libertyhall

The impressive beech tree that rises up through Trailside Nature Center:

The impressive beech tree that rises up through Trailside Nature Center:

OUTDOOR MOVIES

There’s just something about watching a flick under the stars! Some of these movie showings will feature food trucks and even free popcorn!

FanwoodTuesday August 16th, 8:30pm at LaGrande Park, showing “The Good Dinosaur.”

Scotch Plains: Fridays August 19th (“Up”) and 26th (“Zootopia”) at dusk on the Village Green.

SummitMonday August 22nd at dusk, 356 Broad Street, showing “Alvin and the Chipmunks.”

OUTDOOR MUSIC

I’m continually blown away by the talent of local musicians. BYO lawn chairs and blankets and listen to great music!

Clark: Summer Arts Festival, featuring yoga and live bands at Oak Ridge Park, Wednesdays August 17th and 24th, 6:30 pm. Rain cancels.

Rahway: Summer Concert series, Thursdays August 18th and 25th, 7:30 pm in front of Union County Performing Arts Center. Beer garden on site! If raining, concert is moved inside to the main stage.

Westfield: Sweet Sounds Downtown Jazz Festival, Tuesday nights through August 30th, 7 pm. Rain cancels.

REEVES-REED ARBORETUM

165 Hobart Ave., Summit

Hours: open from dawn till dusk 7 days a week

Admission is free, but donations are encouraged.

This is a hidden gem of Union County–13+ acres of lush gardens and woods, perfect for leisurely hikes and bird-watching. Once inhabited by the Lenni Lenape Native Americans, the arboretum is now listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places. Join a FREE TOUR of the grounds on Saturdays at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm from now until October. Kids will enjoy the DISCOVERY SATURDAYS on August 20thand 27th in the Stackhouse Education Center: drop in anytime from 9 am to 1 pmfor stories, games, crafts, and a mini exploration! Discovery Saturday events are free for members, $5 per non member child; children must be accompanied by an adult. 

Here are THREE different spraygrounds to choose from in our area, and all of them are FREE to visit. Heck, you could probably visit all three in a day! Generally, the sprayers turn on when temps reach 82 degrees.

Mesmerized by the placid Rahway River:

Mesmerized by the placid Rahway River:

Ponderosa Park

Cooper Road, Scotch Plains

Huge spray area and sprawling playground structures for all ages, restrooms, shaded picnic benches, and bike path. The ice-cream truck visits almost daily. Note: there is no shade in the playground area so bring hats and ample sunscreen and beware of hot playground equipment! Water shoes might be a good idea for the kids.

Snyder Ave Park

240 Snyder Ave., Berkeley Heights

Adorable fenced-in spray area adjacent to a cute playground, plus restrooms. Note: there is zero shade!

Warinanco Park

Entrance at St. George’s Ave in Roselle

Such a great park featuring a large, newer sprayground, plus two playgrounds and a pond with paddleboats (which you can rent for $10 per hour). 

The impressive beech tree that rises up through Trailside Nature Center:

The impressive beech tree that rises up through Trailside Nature Center:

TRAILSIDE NATURE CENTER

452 New Providence Road, Mountainside

Hours: Open 12-5pm, 7 days a week

With over 4,000 square feet of nature, history, and animal exhibits, Trailside is a great place to spend a rainy day with the kiddos! And in nice weather you can make a day of it by visiting the ginormous Watchung loop playground or taking a hike into Watchung Reservation.

http://www.ucnj.org/trailside/

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The Westfield Summer Concert Series 2015

I love how our bustling towns still feel like old-fashioned villages when the community comes together for family-friendly events. The Westfield Summer Concert Series is a classic example of that! On select dates throughout the summer, locals gather at Mindowaskin Park for great music under the setting sun.

Westfield NJ Mindowaskin ParkSponsored by the Westfield Recreation Department, the summer concerts will take place at the Mindowaskin bandstand from 7:30 to 9:00 pm on the following Thursdays:

June 25

July 2, 9, 16, 30

The Westfield Community Concert Band will perform at all of the above dates except for July 30, which will feature the Westfield Swing Band (no doubt some people will get up and dance at that one!). Attendees should bring their own lawn chairs or beach blankets. Best of all, the concerts are FREE!

And don’t forget about the Sweet Sounds Downtown Jazz Festival every Tuesday evening from July 7 to August 25: jazz musicians will be scattered throughout downtown Westfield entertaining diners and shoppers from 7-9 pm (rain date is every Wednesday). For more information visit http://www.westfieldtoday.com/jazzfestival.

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Playgrounds in Cranford NJ

Cranford NJ Township Playgrounds

orange ave playground

How can you tell if a town is a “fun town?”  One very good way to make that determination is to look at what the town has to offer its residents and visitors.  And what better commodity to offer than an enticing, safe, playground to spend time at?  It should come as no surprise, then, that Cranford, being the exceptionally friendly town that it is, offers a number of wonderful playgrounds for its citizens to enjoy.

Each elementary school in town has a fully equipped playground, used by students during school day recess, and by area children during non-school hours.  That includes Hillside Avenue School, Lincoln Avenue School, Livingston Avenue School, Walnut Avenue School, Bloomingdale Avenue School, Brookside Avenue School, and Orange Avenue School.  Most of these are wisely devoid of swings.  (Swings are NEVER a good idea for school recess.  Despite fights over who gets the few coveted swing seats, there’s too many children on the playground at one time to avoid the “child who walks in front of or behind the swings” problem.)  Rather, they provide safe climbing, sliding, and gross motor play activities in a well-designed play environment.  The facilities are brightly colored, updated, and well-maintained, with soft mulch flooring to lessen the possibility of injury.

In addition to the schoolyard playgrounds, Cranford also boasts a number of beautiful playgrounds at the public parks.  These playgrounds are equally well-maintained, and include swing sets and basketball courts.  These include the playgrounds at Lincoln Park on Lincoln Avenue and Retford Avenue, Mohawk Park in Indian Village on Mohawk Avenue, and, the largest one, in Nomahegan Park on Springfield Avenue across from Union County Community College. The latter is surrounded by large picnic area, and a beautiful man-made lake with working fountains.  All of these playgrounds provide a safe, fun place for children to play, with comfort and convenience for parents, as well.

And if you have chosen to join the township pools, namely Orange Avenue Pool and Centennial Avenue Pool, then you have access to beautiful playgrounds and play facilities and fields there, as well.

All of the playgrounds are scrupulously maintained by the Cranford Recreation and Parks Department  and/or by the Union County Recreation and Parks Department

It’s nice to know that there are so many safe, accessible, free places to enjoy!

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Parks and Playgrounds in Westfield, NJ

One of the things many people love about Westfield New Jersey is the number of great parks packed into 6.7 square miles of town. Here we list the many public playgrounds of Westfield, where your kiddos can burn off some of their seemingly never-ending energy!

photo 1Mindowaskin Park

North Euclid Ave

This is one of those parks where you could spend all day, between the gorgeous pond (always chock full o’ ducks), walking paths, bandstand, and of course the huge playground that’s great for all ages. There are ample swings, two large climbing structures, toddler bouncers, a beloved tire swing, and many benches, plus a long stretch of flat grass that’s good for picnics. The ice-cream truck likes to visit the playground here regularly, so you might want to keep a couple of bucks handy. Note: there is a stream behind the playground, and the playground is not fenced in, so keep a close eye on your kiddos.

Gumbert Park

Gumbert Park

South Chestnut Street near North Ave

Tucked behind the Garwood shopping district, this little playground is actually Westfield property. There’s one climbing structure and plenty of swings, plus an adjacent basketball court and ball field. Grab a latte from & Grain on the corner and park your buns on a bench here–it’s always shady.

 

 

Westfield Memorial ParkMemorial Park

713 Cumberland Street

You don’t need to be a pool member to enjoy the great playground adjacent to the pool parking lot. It’s a sprawling low structure, great for young kids, with one set of swings, plus tennis courts and a large ball field in the same area.

Lincoln School

728 Westfield Ave

The smaller playground at Lincoln School is gated and open to non-school members only when the kindergarten and camp are not in session, but there is a large playground right next to it that is open to the public (and also mostly fenced in!), with two climbing structures, swings, and lots of shade. You can catch a high school football game or track meet at the adjacent field.

Tamaques Park

1101 Lamberts Mill Road

Another great park where you can while away many hours, Tamaques has two playground areas–a smaller one for young children next to the pond, and a larger structure next to the main fields. Be careful driving through the park, as pedestrians and cyclists travel the same path as the cars.

Sycamore Park

1029 Central Ave

Somewhat hidden behind the firehouse on Central Ave is this playground that’s great for smaller children. The structures are a little worn, but that never seemed to bother any kid I’ve met. There’s also a huge field with soccer goals for games and practice.

Windsor Park

238 Windsor Avenue

I never even knew this tiny park existed! It’s nestled in a residential neighborhood on the south side of town and features one climbing structure, swings, and a basketball court, plus benches for picnics.

In addition to the public playgrounds, kids can enjoy the many school playgrounds throughout town whenever school is out. Like, right now!

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