By Susan Baldani
Indian summer has begun, and the weather is perfect. This is a great time to get out and explore new places before the cold days of winter set in.
Basking Ridge is a wonderful town to visit, not only now but all year round. Whether it be watching the free plays or movies in the park in the summer, or sledding down the various hills in town in the winter, there’s something for everyone. Located in the Somerset Hills, it is part of Bernards Township, along with Liberty Corner, Lyons, and Millington. Purchased in 1717 from the Lenape Indians, its early occupants were primarily Scotch, Irish, and English.
The town itself is very quaint, and quite a few of the stores and businesses are located in historic homes and small buildings. This gives the town a very homey feeling, and makes you want to stroll around and take your time. If you’re hungry, there are plenty of Japanese, Italian, American and Chinese restaurants to choose from. One of these is Ling Ling, which was voted the Best Chinese restaurant in Central New Jersey by New Jersey Monthly Magazine. Some of their specialties include Honey Chicken, Tangerine Beef, and Velvet Shrimp. Of course, they also have all the standard favorites such as Shrimp Lo Mein, Roast Pork Fried Rice, and Chicken with Broccoli. However, besides restaurants, there are bagel stores and delis if you want something quick and easy for breakfast or lunch.
If you’re in the mood to shop, there are gift stores, jewelry stores, apparel shops, salons, and florists. If you’re looking to get in shape, there’s a fitness center, dance studio, bicycle shop, and a health food store. In the warmer months, there is also a small fruit and vegetable stand with plenty to offer.
If you need work done around the house, check out Douglas Meiner Custom Carpentry. They’re motto is “We Build to Fit Your Needs”, so if you’ve been waiting to remodel your kitchen, finish your basement, or build a deck, give them a call. And, once you’re finished with the inside, why not spruce up the outside of your property. Parker Homescape has been mentioned in magazines for their outstanding work and has also been recognized as one of the best landscape design and build firm in the U.S. So now you can add that patio, pond, pool, or walkway, and feel confident that your yard will be the envy of your neighbors.
For history buffs, one of the largest and oldest trees in New Jersey can be found in the graveyard of the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church right in town. The church itself dates back to the 1830’s, and is listed on the NJ Register of Historic Places. It is said that this 600-year old white oak tree provided the shade for one of George Washington’s picnics in the late 1770s, and under which his troops rested. Speaking of Washington, the original Van Dorn Mill of 1768 located on Child’s Road and Route 202, supplied Washington’s troops with grain, and was operational until World War II.
Another historic landmark is the Basking Ridge Town Hall. Built in 1912, it was owned by four wealthy families before being acquired by the township in 1968. In 1974, a wing was added for the police department, and by 1975 all the township offices were centrally located there.
The Environmental Center, located in the Great Swamp Basin, is a multi-faceted building surrounded by meadows, rivers, swamps, and forests. These, in turn, are home to a large variety of animal and plant life. Frogs, turtles, and birds abound in this area. The center itself holds many events throughout the year for children and adults that strive to educate the public about the wildlife and fauna around them. There are also 8.5 miles of trails open all year round to the public.
There are also many wonderful parks in Basking Ridge. Pleasant Valley Park has a great playground, basketball court, hiking trails, tennis courts, and a fish-laden pond right in the middle of it all. Dunham Park has a playground as well as a roller hockey rink, bocce courts and a Frisbee golf course to keep adults and children occupied for hours on end. There are also plenty of baseball and softballs fields, as well as soccer fields and golf courses. Speaking of golf, there are three golf courses in town. Two are located in country clubs whose restaurants are open to the public. One of these, the Red Oak Grille, has dishes made with premium ingredients and a menu full of the finest cuisine. Join them for brunch, lunch or dinner; you can even book your own private party. Everyone can have a delicious meal while enjoying the beautiful golf course views.
It’s also easy to get in and out of town. Even though it has a country feel, both Routes 287 and 78 are conveniently located. There are also two NJ Transit stations (in Lyons and Basking Ridge) close to the center of town. So come and visit Basking Ridge on your next outing. This charming, beautiful town has plenty to offer the entire family.
Susan Baldani has a MA in Education and a BA in Psychology. She enjoys writing and in addition to writing articles on small town life, is currently working on her first book. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.