Day Trips: Ice Cream, Balloons And Castles


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You might remember that last month we posted five day trip ideas that we got from Anderson Electric‘s newsletter. George and Cathy Anderson have sent out a new round of ideas for this month, and they start with an ice cream festival this Saturday, July 17.

It’s the 8th Annual Ice Cream Festival in Tom’s River, and it is well worth the trip. There are ice cream eating contests for both children and adults, games, rides, and entertainment, and ice cream tastings. Admission is free, but if you want to participate in the tastings, you need to buy a tasting ticket, which costs $6 in advance or $7 the day of the festival.

I like it that some of the Andersons’ day trip ideas are spontaneous jaunts and others are tied to specific events. In addition to the ice cream festival, they’ve also picked out the QuickChek Balloon Festival, which takes place the weekend of July 23-25 at Solberg Airport in the central Jersey town of Readington.  In its 28 years of existence, the festival has grown from a few guys and balloons to a major extravaganza with 125 balloons and entertainment for kids and adults, including, this year, George Thorogood & The Destroyers, Emily Osment and Verona’s own Polka Dot. And, of course, you can take a balloon ride. Advance tickets (bought before midnight on July 22) are $7 for kids and $17 for adults. Kids under 3 are free, but the concerts are extra. And you absolutely must heed the festival organizers’ advice to park your car at Raritan Valley Community College and take their free shuttle bus over to the airport.

Now for the day trips that you can do any time. The Andersons recommend Lambert Castle in nearby Paterson. Catholina Lambert made his money in that town’s 19th-century silk mills and built an architecturally surprising home for his family on Garret Mountain. I won’t give away the surprise, except to say that Lambert found an ingenious way to display his art collection in an era before widespread electricity. The Passaic County Historical Society uses the castle as its headquarters now and it often runs exhibits featuring local artists, student and professional. Through Labor Day, the castle is open Wednesday through Friday, 1 to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. If you have kids who are horse lovers, you should know that Garret Mountain is also home to a very reasonably priced equestrian center that offers pony rides and trail rides through the park.

The Andersons’ last three day trip suggestions are new to me, and so I’ll pass them on to you exactly as George and Cathy wrote them:

  • Well-Sweep Herb Farm: This farm is located in the picturesque mountains of Warren County and is home to one of the largest collections of herbs and perennials in the country.  Germinating from the seed of handed down tradition and hobby – to a business that has flourished.  Many special events coming up.  Visit Herb Farm to learn more.
  • Essex County Dog Park: A very nice dog park with two separate areas, one for big dogs and the other for small dogs. There are all sorts of slides and ramps for the dogs to play on and run across, and even water fountains especially for dogs, low to the ground. Entrance to Crest is off of South Orange Avenue in South Orange. Open dusk to dawn.  Click Dog Park, then scroll down to see pictures of the “doggy playground”.
  • Delsea Drive-in Theater: New Jersey’s ONLY drive-in theater. Movies showing this season are: “Karate Kid”, “Toy Story 3”, “Grown Ups”, “Twilight: Eclipse” and “Wall Street”.  College discounts available.  Click Drive-In to learn more.
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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].


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