Readers' Choice: Mountainside Is THE Place to Staycation in Union County
The Trailside Nature Center and Echo Lake Park — two of the top three places to spend a day in Union County were in Mountainside!
Can't make it to the Poconos or the Shore? Out of cash for that plane ride to Paris?
No worries. Just head for Mountainside.
Two Mountainside destinations came in as the top vote-getters in Patch's Readers' Choice Staycation poll this past week.
The Trailside Nature & Science Center led the pack.
The Center is one of those rarities: an indoor AND outdoor delight that can entertain budding naturalists of all ages. In 2009, local mom Sheila Sayah wrote a glowing review of the Center on Patch:
Minutes away from Cranford and located at 452 New Providence Road in Mountainside, Trailside is in Watchung Reservation. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily, the Trailside Nature Center is open for free.
Of the three levels, the biggest attraction for my kids was the Discovery Room, where kids use binoculars to view nature outside the big picture window. It offers lots of bins with puzzles, books, blocks and nature-related materials for the kids. It's a great little section to sit and read from books about deer, birds and honeybees.
Sayah goes on to tout the glow in the dark rocks, the Night Theater, the Tuesday Guided Nature Walk, Raja Yoga and other workshops, events and programs run at the Center.
Edged out by just one vote, Bowcraft in Scotch Plains was the #2 pick for Union County staycation. A mainstay of local fun that has been around for decades (my husband has fond memories of the rides at Bowcraft from the 1970s), Bowcraft offers nostalgic fun for adults and just plain fun, fun, fun for kids. Here's some more information from their website:
Bowcraft is NJ's Family Amusement Park. We are home to NJ's most awesome array of amusement rides & attractions, with an emphasis on kiddie rides and family rides. Where both children and adults will have a blast and we're located just minutes away! Come and make memories that last forever & bring families closer together!
Bowcraft has so much to offer fun lovers of all ages! We are NJ’s Birthday Fun-Place. As well as children’s birthday parties, we host group events & outings, PTA fundraisers, and much more. Come ride our Crossbow Roller Coaster, or take a spin on the new Muzik Express. In addition to these, we also have many other fun & exciting rides including The Drop Zone, Crazy Submarine, Galleon Pirate Ship, Frog Hopper, and Scrambler just to name a few. We also have old favorites as The Merry Go Round, Train, Bumper Cars, and Tilt-A-Whirl.
Bowcraft is currently promoting a $12.95 summer night special.
The third-place staycation was Echo Lake Park in Mountainside — and Westfield — offering a dog park, fishing, a fitness trail, paddle boating, a picnic area (which is can be reserved), a playground, ice skating and sledding (weather permitting, of course!), a snack bar, soccer field, softball field and those all-important restrooms.
We had a few write-in picks as well. Deven Foskey told Patch: "My favorite place in Union County would have to be Johnston Drive [in Scotch Plains], off of Bonnie Burn Road." Patch contributor Emily Everson directed Foskey to her story on Johnston Drive that ran last fall.
Need more staycation ideas?
There you have it: Stay local and have fun!