It’s crunch time! Summer is slipping away and the kids officially go back to school next week! I always feel like I need to do one last thing before the hustle and bustle of fall arrives. Spontaneous day trips are sometimes the most memorable adventures and there are a ton of fabulous things to do in our wonderful state of New Jersey. I love finding special places to share with everyone! Do one or all of the things listed on this “2017 End of Summer Bucket List” and have a wonderful closing to summer!
Deep Cut Gardens (152 Red Hill Road, Middletown, NJ): Spend the day and bring a picnic lunch/dinner! One Trip Advisor wrote, “Deep Cut Gardens is a treasure and worth going out of the way to visit. Situated on land once owned by crime boss Vito Genovese and only minutes from the Parkway!” Enjoy 52 acres of gardens and greenhouses in this “living catalog of cultivated and native plant materials to be observed throughout the seasons.” You will literally be in awe as you walk through lily ponds, “umbrellas” of hemlocks, meadow walks, natural ponds, rose & boxwood mazes, Japanese gardens, and bonsais! These are just some of the magnificent natural scenes you will experience on this adventure! Oh – and bring some of your painted rocks to hide along the trails – it’s a big deal at these gardens to find hidden rocks! Open 8 a.m. till dusk year-round, FREE admission, FREE parking. Website: Deep Cut Gardens Website
South Mountain Fairy Trail (Entrance at Locust Grove picnic area across from Millburn Public Library – GPS location is 197 Glen Avenue, Millburn): The whimsical world of fairies has taken the country by storm – and it’s not just for girls and small children. Creating “magical worlds” out of natural materials found in the woods and adding a little swing or front door for decoration is enjoyed by all ages! This trail of fairy homes at the beginning of the Rahway Trail of the South Mountain Reservation was created by a special education teacher and mother who began setting up tiny homes at the bases of trees. As the trail became more popular, children and adults come to bring their own materials to set up an individual fairy home to add to the village. You can walk the entire Rahway River Loop (2 ¼ miles) and take in breathtaking sights like the Hemlock Falls and Maple Falls Cascades. You may also choose to take the short cut back to the parking lot! Be prepared to feel a bit of wonderment as you step into the magical forest! Open year-round, parking outside of Rahway Trail area
Swan Paddle Boats and the Regatta Playground (Cherry Lane, West Orange): The entire “Waterfront” at the South Mountain Recreation Complex is new and beautiful! You can enjoy hiking/walking along the 1.7-mile reservoir walking path, picnicking, paddle boating, playing, and taking in the breathtaking water scenes! The Regatta Playground is a vast, nautical-themed play space and has plenty for active younger and older children to enjoy. The entire park is on synthetic grass and rubber safety surface. The playground has a path that leads to the Clipper Pavilion picnic spot. The Swan Paddle Boat launch is located at the shore of the Orange Reservoir and your family (children over 2 years) will delight in paddling around in a swan! Free parking at Oakdale Parking Lot on Cherry Lane. Playground open year-round. Paddle Boats Mon-Fri 12-8 p.m. and Sat-Sun 10a.m. – 8 p.m. Paddle boat rides start at $15 for a 2-person boat.
Silverball Pinball Museum Arcade (100 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park): You also don’t have to be a kid to enjoy an entire museum dedicated to the “living, breathing, blinking tribute to our pinball and video gaming past”! Asbury Park has a ton to offer in terms of restaurants and the beach scene – so you have to stop here on your way back to town. There are 600 games in rotation! Visit their website at http://silverballmuseum.com/asbury-park/ to see the details on pricing, but $12.50 gets you in for one hour! There are no coins – it’s free play with your entry pass. The museum also boasts a café full of your favorite boardwalk eats such as the Jersey Shore Fry Co. and Cluck U Chicken! Spend the day! Open Sun-Thurs 10 a.m. – midnight and Fri-Sat 10 a.m. – 1 a.m.
Holsten’s Brookdale Confectionary (1063 Broad Street, Bloomfield): One of the oldest ice cream shops in New Jersey and just celebrating its 75th Anniversary, Holsten’s is a must-see spot as it takes you back in time to the way ice cream shoppes used to be experienced! Customers will revel in the old-fashioned atmosphere and “take a step back in time”. It was even a hot spot on the hit series, Sopranos! You can find a vast assortment of homemade ice cream flavors such as the popular Butter Pecan, Maple Walnut, Rum Raisin, and Orange Sherbet. Their menu features ice cream sodas, sundaes, and grill favorites such as burgers, hotdogs, and even breakfast! The candy counter is also a hit – eager patrons can purchase homemade chocolates and candies! Open Mon-Sat 11 a.m. – 11:30 pm and Sun 12 – 10 p.m. Website: http://holstens.com/
Shore Fresh Seafood Market and Restaurant (57 Channel Drive, Point Pleasant): You have to visit their beachfront location for the “Best Lobster Roll of the Jersey Shore”. Hailed by hundreds on Yelp reviews – customers from all over the eastern seaboard flock to this site for “overflowing” and delicious lobster for under $12! Celebrating 15 years at the shore, Shore Fresh is located on a fisherman’s co-op – “one of the few remaining in NJ!” Thirteen fishermen return each day with fresh catches and the market serves them right to you from their icy storefront fish case. You know exactly where your dinner originated! They have a shore-eclectic indoor theme and a beautiful outdoor view. It’s “simple, fresh, genuine seafood” all year round and BYOB! Open Sun-Thurs 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Fri-Sat 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. Website: http://www.shorefreshseafood.com/
Cranford Canoe Club (250 Springfield Avenue, Cranford): I could put this day adventure in every year! Before the club cuts back on its hours – you HAVE to visit in the summer and the fall! You will experience the town and the Rahway River in a whole new light! It’s a truly surreal experience whether you are by yourself, a loved one, or with your family! Children are definitely welcome and safe. The Canoe Club supplies life vests and paddles. Starting at $25 you can take a kayak or canoe for 2 hours on the river – going up and down the secret passageways of Cranford! The views are breathtaking all year round but especially during the height of the foliage colors! Open Mon-Fri 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sat-Sun 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Bring a Driver’s License! Website :http://www.cranfordcanoeclub.com/