If you’re looking for some New Jersey history, and a chance to see what things were like in the 1700-1800s, head over to the Miller-Cory House in Westfield, NJ. (And read on to see what to do in downtown Westfield when you’re done).
The house was built in 1740 – on 100 acres of land. You wouldn’t believe it now, since it’s in the middle of a residential neighborhood where most lots probably don’t exceed .3 acres on average. Inside you’ll find the house with typical period furniture, and kids can see what a kitchen with no electric dishwasher looks like! Pots and pans hang from the walls, the floor is uneven and the walls wood-paneled.
The house is open on Sundays in fall through spring, or for prearranged group programs on weekdays. It’s staffed by volunteers – including a lot of elementary school teachers. They dress up and lead kids in crafts, read stories and talk with kids about the theme of the week. There’s also open-hearth cooking demonstrations in the building next door.
If it’s your first visit, try to go for one of the special 2010 programs, listed below.
September 26 – Antiques Appraisal
October 3 – History of Brewing in Early America
October 16-17 – Union County’s Four Centuries in a Weekend Program
October 24 – Halloween Hocus Pocus
November 7 – Native American Medicine Pouches
November 14 – Crazy for Cranberries
November 21 – Thanksgiving Dinner & Table Customs
December 5 – Gingerbread Sunday
December 11 – Christmas at Mt. Vernon with Martha Washington
Reservations are required for some of the events – check the schedule for times and reservation info. Also some events are geared more for kids – you can probably guess which ones (Antiques! Beer!) but just in case you can’t figure it out, it’s on the schedule.
I’m not usually a gift shop fan, but the Miller-Cory House has a great gift shop with lots of historical information and items that are affordable.
Where: 614 Mountain Avenue, Westfield
Cost: $2.50 for adults, $1 for students, free for kids 4 and under
Hours: The museum is open Sundays (fall to spring) from 2-4 p.m. Check the schedule for timing of special programs, since some have a different timing.
More info: Miller-Cory House – (908) 232-1776
Plan to spend an hour or so at the Miller-Cory House. It’s not very big. After (or even before) head to downtown Westfield. It’s less than a mile away. Broad is the main street, but there are a few streets shooting out in other directions with great shops and restaurants. And just before you get to downtown from the Miller-Cory House, driving or walking on Mountain Ave, you’ll see a graveyard from the 1700s. You usually can’t go in (it’s locked) but it’s easy to look through and see some really old gravestones.
A few family favorites in downtown Westfield:
Kid-friendly downtown Westfield restaurants:
Ferraro’s (14 Elm Street) – Pizza and other Italian food. Outdoor dining when it’s nice!
Five Guys (21 E. Broad) – yes, it’s a chain. But it’s good!
Vicki’s Diner (110 E. Broad) – looks like a real diner with metal-covered walls and a funky diner exterior. Good food too.
The Chocolate Bar (112 Quimby Street) – my personal fave – highly-rated gelato and hand-dipped chocolate desserts (like chocolate brownie on a stick).
Brummers (125 E. Broad) – locally owned candy store. The walls and cases are lined with treats ranging from chocolate truffles to sugar-free delights.
Bovella’s Pastry Shoppe (101 E. Broad) – our favorite Italian pastry shop (that also serves gelato). Kosher too! Try the cookies in the far left case, or get one of the cakes.
The Farmhouse Store (221 E. Broad) – great for unique gifts and housewares. Not so great for young kids who might break things (no strollers allowed).
Trader Joe’s (155 Elm Street) – this is the one in New Jersey that sells wine and beer!
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