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New Jersey Townships, Preserves & More
Whether you’ve never explored small-town New Jersey, or if you’re just looking to get out of the Big Apple for a weekend, check out the Garden State’s mountainous northwest for historic sites, golf, microbreweries, and unmatched nature.
A historic little New Jersey town, Ramsey offers a quaint atmosphere for those looking the escape the city, or explore the old ways of the northeast.
Ramsey features plenty of history – most of which is operated by the Ramsey Historical Association. Be sure to visit the Old Stone House – a current museum and educational facility. A Dutch Colonial farmhouse constructed in the 1700s, the Old Stone House is the oldest building in Ramsey. Found on the National Register of Historic Places – and New Jersey Register to boot – the museum also features Open Houses throughout the year, and the “Stone by Stone” documentary.
Ramsey also hosts the year-round Ramsey Farmers' Market – featuring both an indoor and outdoor market depending on the season. Founded by the Ramsey Historical Association in 2010, the market offers local produce and gifts. Ramsey’s outdoor market is held Sundays from June through the end of November at the Ramsey Main Street Train Station – operating from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Running from December to March, the indoor market is found at Eric Smith School each Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
If you’re traveling with little ones or just need a spot to stretch your legs, Finch Park is just a few minutes from downtown Ramsey. Finch Park Creative Playground offers lots of playground equipment, sand, and swings – plus picnic spots and plenty of sunshine.
From Ramsey, hop on Interstate 287 and head south for 15 miles until you reach Pompton Plains – part of the Pequannock Township – on the other side of the Ramapo Mountain State Forest.
This township has roots back to 1695 – which means plenty of historic sites are in store for New Jersey travelers. Check out Ackerson Mead Clark House, Martin Berry House, and Bank Barn – all found on the New Jersey State Historic Register.
For more information on the area, head to the Pompton Plains Railroad Station – a 1872 structure found on the National Register of Historic Places. This historic site also serves as the Pequannock Township Museum – featuring Pequannock Township artifacts and memorabilia. Be sure to call ahead for operating hours.
Pompton Plains is surrounded by dozens of parks worth a visit. Check out Mountainside Park, Hillview Park, Pequannock Valley Park, Washington Park, Cherry Street Park, Rockledge Park, and many more. And for you link lovers, nearby courses include Sunset Valley Golf Course, Golf 23, and North Jersey Country Club.
From Pompton Plains and the Pequannock Township, head south on State Route 23, and hang a right on State Route 46. Fairfield waits about 10 miles away.
For a little break from the road, explore the Willowbrook Mall in nearby Wayne. Open daily, this two-story indoor shopping center offers over 200 stores, plus dining and entertainment. New Jersey’s fourth largest mall, Willowbrook is great place to stop and spoil yourself a little.
If you’re in for the night, enjoy a walk over to the local Cricket Hill Brewery – a one-mile stroll from the BEST WESTERN PLUS Fairfield Executive Inn. A Fairfield microbrewery established in 2002, Cricket Hill offers brewery and taproom tours. Wander the CHB grounds Thursday and Friday form 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. Depending on the season, you can enjoy a sip of the Jersey Summer Breakfast Ale, the Nocturne Chocolate Ale, or the Jersey Devil Imperial Red.
Covering 1,170 acres of northern Fairfield, Great Piece Meadows Preserve is a scenic wetland set on the Passaic River. Great Pierce offers everything from hiking and shore fishing on the Passaic to nature photography, wildlife viewing, and picnicking.
From Fairfield, hop on State Route 46 and head west, then shoot south on I-287 to Morristown. Set about 14 miles southwest of Fairfield, Morristown is another fun city to see in New Jersey.
Known as the Military Capital of the American Revolution, Mo-town is home to the Morristown National Historical Park. Spanning over 1,700 acres, the MNHP is comprised of Jockey Hollow, the Ford Mansion, and Fort Nonsense – all significant players in the Revolutionary War. Visitors can explore the Washington's Headquarters Museum or the Wick House, sign up for tours of the Ford Mansion, or stroll along the 15-mile Jockey Hollow Hiking Trails.
Set in historic Morristown and housed in the Twin Oaks Mansion, the Morris Museum is home to over 40,000 artifacts detailing the dense history of Morris County. Browse permanent exhibits including Dinosaur Den, Guinness Collection of Instruments & Automata, and the American Indian exhibition. The Morris Museum is also home to the Bickford Theatre, art collections, special events, a museum shop, and much more.
For more time in western New Jersey’s unique outdoors, head slightly south to the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Visit the Helen C. Fenske Visitor Center – where you can hop on the Nature Detective Trail – or enjoy hunting, wildlife viewing, and nature photography.