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
Over 200 food and craft vendors, plus kids’ attractions.
Kenilworth Fire Department Carnival
St. Theresa’s School
540 Washington Ave., Kenilworth
Old-fashioned fun including rides, food vendors, games, beer garden, money wheel, and pay-one-price wristband nights Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday!
St. Bartholomew Italian Festival
This beloved annual festival features exceptional live music nightly, games, Italian food, raffles, and more!
Cranford Canoe Club
250 Springfield Ave., Cranford
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!
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!
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.
There’s just something about watching a flick under the stars! Some of these movie showings will feature food trucks and even free popcorn!
Fanwood: Tuesday 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.
I’m continually blown away by the talent of local musicians. BYO lawn chairs and blankets and listen to great music!
Westfield: Sweet Sounds Downtown Jazz Festival, Tuesday nights through August 30th, 7 pm. Rain cancels.
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.
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
Adorable fenced-in spray area adjacent to a cute playground, plus restrooms. Note: there is zero shade!
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).
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.