In New Jersey, a trip down the shore and a hike along the Appalachian Trail can happen on the same day. Pizza is better here than anywhere else in the country, music venues are legendary, downtowns are made for strolling and historic sites and museums are in no short supply. Forget the What Exit jokes … we love the Garden State.
So, for those residents — out-of-staters, too — who are ready to make plans after more than a year of being cooped up, we have some ideas for those who would rather grab their car keys or a mass transit ticket than book a flight.
Consider this an insider’s guide to the state, broken down by counties. It’s not an all-encompassing list, and it’s not meant to be. It’s a jumping-off point and then go do some exploring and let your curiosity — and some help from locals — be your guide.
The latest part of our series takes a look at Passaic County.
The goat name Mica walks around as Gina Papa works on her breath work during class. Totes Goats brings goat yoga to Hazelman Farm in West Milford. Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
In 2014, after nearly two decades of working in computer programming, Rocky Hazelman made a career shift. Looking to spend more time outdoors and increase fresh food production for his family, he founded Hazelman Farms.
“Since our humble beginnings of farming in the backyard of our 1/3 -acre home site, we have been able to expand to 70 acres while remaining in the home where it all started.”
Hazelman Farms (778 Macopin Road, West Milford | 973.545.2172) is home to 1,700 chickens, fruit and vegetable gardens and bees for on-farm pollination and honey production. Hazelman Farms also partners with the National Resource and Conservation Society for the Golden Wing Warbler project. This project meant that eight acres of forest on the property were cut and left to regrow in a measure to provide home to smaller birds.
Recently, goats visited Hazelman. Totes Goats of Warwick, New York, brought their pets to the farm and goat yoga classes were offered to visitors. Hazelman has welcomed the goats to the farm since 2017.
A worker moves corn stalks that will be used for decoration at Farm View farm located in Wayne. Run by the Kuehm family since 1896, the farm grows 60 different types of vegetables and does their baking goods on premises and also grows strawberries and brings in other local fruit to sell in their market. Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
The Kuehm Farm, which dates to 1894, started as a roadside stand with produce displayed on a picnic table. Today, more than 125 years later, the business includes a Farm Market and attached greenhouses.
In 1996, Farms View was awarded The Century Farm Award by the New Jersey Agricultural Society, an award given annually to one farm. The award is presented to a New Jersey farm that has been in the same family and operational for at least 100 years.
Farms View (945 Black Oak Ridge Road, Wayne | 973.839.1212) offers a range of plants, gardening supplies, specialty food items, gifts, and more. For this season, the farm has more than 20 varieties of fresh-picked, locally grown apples. There is fresh-pressed cider, baked goods, pumpkins and gourds, Indian corn, mums and more.
An incredible park and amazing falls
Ryan Gamache, of Garfield, visits Barbour’s Pond with his daughters Matea and Maya and friend Connie Rojas. The pond is stocked with trout. The Garret Mountain Reservation is a 568-acre park located in Paterson and Woodland Park. Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
On any given day, there is plenty to do in the 568-acre Garret Mountain Reservation (8 Mountain Ave., Woodland Park | 973.881.4000), which is located primarily in Woodland Park.
The park features grass fields, miles of walking and running trails, basketball courts, and picnic areas. For those who wish to fish or climb on a horse, there is Barbour’s Pond and an equestrian center.
Garret Mountain – on the list of National Natural Landmarks — also makes a temporary home for migrating songbirds, including warblers, vireos, orioles, sparrows, and thrushes.
If you’re looking for views of the New York City skyline, then head to the site of Lambert Tower, a recently renovated 19th-century castle and home to the Passaic County Museum.
The Great Falls of Paterson at Great Falls National Park. George McNish | For NJ Advance Media
Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park (72 McBride Ave., Paterson | 973.523.0370)
The falls, which drop some 77 feet – making it one of the nation’s largest waterfalls – is important to American history. According to the National Park Foundation, Alexander Hamilton “envisioned Paterson, with its waterpower provided by the Great Falls of the Passaic River, as America’s counterpart and response to the English industrial revolution.”
When writing about the greatest thing about every north Jersey town, nj.com’s Pete Genovese wrote this about the National Historical Park:
“Yeah, yeah, everyone’s heard of the Great Falls, but have you actually been there and stood on the bridge overlooking the state’s greatest natural wonder? Visit it in floodwater stage for maximum magnificent effect. I’m going to keep writing about the Great Falls until every last New Jerseyan visits it. That may take a while — I’m continually astonished how many people have never been there. Go. Now. Or I’m going to pester you until the end of time.”
Unfortunately, the footbridge that crosses the Passaic River is currently closed due to construction; check the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park information page for status updates.
Zapp! Comics in Wayne offers a great selection of comic books for sale. Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
If you’re a comic book collector or you simply like to page through the magazines, Zapp! Comics is the place for you. Zapp! Comics (Valley Ridge Shopping Center, 574 Valley Road, Wayne | 973.628.4500), with a location in Manalapan, too, offers a wide selection of current and back-issue comic books. The selection includes offerings from major and independent publishers.
People can play billiards and arcade games at the Rack N Roll Family Fun Center in Passaic. Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
For 30 years, families have been coming to Rack and Roll Family Fun Center (212 Washington Place, Passaic | 973.365.0020) for arcade games and plenty of other activities. There are video games, racing games, competition games, shooting games and traditional arcade games. Come here for carnival-style games, a bounce house and a billiards area.
Natasha Pena, left, searches for clues with Stephanie Almonte and Lisette Ortiz while in the 1408 Escape Room at the Brighton Asylum. They also host a haunted house starting in late September. Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
It’s the season for scary stuff, right? So then, make your way to the Brighton Asylum (2 Brighton Ave., Passaic | 201.848.2517). This place has been called “the scariest place on earth” by The Today Show. To learn about the Brighton Asylum legend, click here.
If the asylum features other attractions including, The Hack Shack, an axe-throwing experience and escape rooms.
Daniel Koo lets go of an axe while throwing at the The Hack Shack axe throwing club, 2 Brighton Ave., Suite 7b, Passaic. Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Patrons pay tribute to Yogi Berra, New York Yankee and baseball legend who passed away on Tuesday at 90 years old. Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center at Montclair State University in Little Falls. Amanda Marzullo | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
“You can observe a lot by just watching.” – Yogi Berra
You don’t have to be a baseball fan to know the name Yogi Berra. The New York Yankees great who had a legendary way with words, is an American icon; he received the Medal of Freedom posthumously in 2015.
At this museum, permanent and rotating exhibitions tell Berra’s story. The Yogi Berra Museum (8 Yogi Berra Drive, Little Falls | 973.655.2378) also explores the “history, culture, science and society within the larger context of baseball and sports.”
Currently on display at the museum is “Discover Greatness: An Illustrated History of Negro Leagues Baseball.” The exhibit can be viewed in person through the end of the year as well as online. On Oct. 8, there will be screenings of “The Perfect Game” at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m.
The Front Porch restaurant in Hawthorne. Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Front Porch Restaurant and Pub (217 Wagaraw Road, Hawthorne | 973.310.3828)
When naming the 50 must-eat dishes in New Jersey in 2021, Pete Genovese wrote the following about the Front Porch’s Cajun dry rub wings: “Buffalo wing sauce is pretty much the same the world over, so keep it away from my wings. Give me a different kind of sauce, or a dry rub, any day. The Cajun dry rub wings at the Front Porch are proof you don’t need any damn sauce on wings for them to be great. The Front Porch’s wings made my most recent list of the state’s best wing joints.”
Bill Chrisafinis making up the dogs at Rutt’s Hut in Clifton. Ed Murray | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Rutt’s Hut (417 River Road, Clifton | 973.779.8615), which opened in 1928, is well known for its deep-fried hot dogs and its relish; the hotdogs split open and the relish is made with “a secret blend of mustard and spices.”
Rutt’s Hut consistently finds its way to the top of “Best Of” lists. This year, on National Hot Dog Day, nj.com’s Pete Genovese ranked the 40 best spots in New Jersey. Rutt’s Hut placed number 1.
Genovese wrote, “Rutt’s Hut in Clifton is the total hot dog package — a brick-walled roadhouse oozing history and atmosphere. Abe Rutt started the restaurant in 1928 and the current owners bought it in 1975. Nothing has changed over the years — tile floor, fluorescent lighting, guys behind the counter talking hot dog code — ‘traveling’ means it’s a takeout order.
“Get the fabled Ripper, a deep-fried hot dog, so-called because it splits apart while cooking. Brave? Order a Weller, a well-done Ripper, or a Cremator, which is well beyond well-done.”
Genovese is not alone in his adulation. Rutt’s Hut has been featured on the PBS special A Hot Dog Program, USA Today, numerous Food Network shows and the Travel Channel’s Deep-Fried Paradise. It is also listed in the book “1,000 Places to See in the USA and Canada Before You Die.”
Main Street in Paterson is a busy business area. Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Paterson (Main Street and surrounding areas)
There is plenty of eating, shopping and exploring to be done in this historic city.
For more information, visit the city’s website or Facebook page.
The Passaic County arts center at the historic John Rea House holds art exhibits frequently. Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
The Passaic County Arts Center, located at the John Rea House (675 Goffle Road, Hawthorne | 973.706.6640), is “dedicated to providing high quality and accessible arts events and educational programming. Through gallery exhibitions, workshops, art classes and public programs, the arts center promotes an appreciation for visual and performing arts by engaging the community in an environment that nurtures creative expression.”
The New Jersey Botanical Gardens includes 96 acres of gardens surrounded by 1,000 acres of woodlands located in Ringwood State Park. Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Part of Ringwood State Park, the New Jersey Botanical Gardens at Skylands (Morris Road, Ringwood | 973.962.9534) appears on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. It’s heaven for those who love flowers.
Here, there is a crab apple allée and a magnolia walk. Also, there are perennial, peony, azalea, octagonal, wildflower, hosta and rhododendron, summer, annual garden and moraine gardens.
The site also includes Skylands Manor. The manor, with its English Jacobean architecture, was designed by John Russell Pope for Clarence McKenzie Lewis, a stockbroker and civil engineer. The 44-room mansion was built in the 1920s. Constructed of native stone and half-timbers, its weathered stone facade blends into the landscape.
There are events throughout the year that allow for total enjoyment of the site. Come for walks, hikes, guided tours and seasonal workshops. The Harvest Fest on Oct. 2 is for pumpkin painting, applesauce making, hayrides, and games, booths and exhibits.
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Aristide Economopoulos may be reached at [email protected]
Linda O’Brien may be reached at [email protected]