by Liz Johnson
Whether you’re looking to make a good impression on a first date, just get to know someone or enjoy time with a partner you’ve known for years, there are plenty of novel ways to spend time together in Hunterdon County. Here are a few ideas for a day to remember.
Take a hot air balloon ride
There’s no better way to see Hunterdon County than from the air, hovering above the trees while sailing over farms and fields or along one of the county’s rivers or streams, the sound of the hot air hissing into the balloon while life goes on in miniature below. To make it even more enchanting, time it with a sunrise or sunset. Most flights end with a glass of champagne to cap off the memorable event. Check out Hunterdon Ballooning Inc. in Flemington, Alexandria Balloon Flights which launches from Sky Manor Airport in Alexandria Township or Tewksbury Balloon Adventures in Whitehouse Station. For a divinely romantic evening, check out Clinton-based In Flight Balloon Adventures’ Overnight Romantic Adventure which includes dinner and a stay at a bed and breakfast.
Take in a show at Hunterdon Hills Playhouse
Located on a 90-acre country estate just off of Route 78 in Clinton Township, the Playhouse features both matinee and dinner performances with top-named talent such as Three’s Company star Joyce DeWitt, who will perform in Nunsense and Laverne and Shirley co-star Eddie Meka who will appear in Run for Your Wife. Go early and take a stroll through the meticulously landscaped grounds and enjoy the serenity along the lake.
Who could ever forget a date where you played the hokey pokey or did the limbo on skates? Frenchtown Roller Rink fits the bill, complete with a high-gloss wooden rink that will take you back to your first kiss. If you’re up for something more chill, try the Flemington Ice Arena.
For a perfect rainy day date, try West Hunterdon Lanes on Route 12 just outside Frenchtown. The disco ball and 80s music offset by the sound of bowling balls rolling down wooden alleyways before hitting a group of pins will be as close as you’ll ever get to the movie Back to the Future. If you live a further north in Hunterdon County, cross the county line into Washington in Warren County to check out Oakwood Lanes off Route 31, which has new alley tech plus an arcade.
Have a picnic
With so much breath-taking beauty in Hunterdon County, a picnic is an ideal way to take it all in. The biggest problem: which place to choose? Sunside Picnic Grove along the South Branch River in Annadale is one place to start. While there, check out the grove, a planting of 20 trees in memorial for victims of 9-11. There are also picnic tables along the Delaware River in Frenchtown or fan out with a blanket under trees outside the Red Mill in Clinton. For more picnic place ideas, check out www.co.hunterdon.nj.us/depts/parks which offer a list of more than two-dozen off-the-beaten-path parks worth visiting.
Take in a wine tasting
Hunterdon County is home to four wineries and several neighboring ones. Beneduce Vineyards in Pittstown hosts outdoor music on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons. In case of bad weather, the event is held in the Tropical Oasis. Unionville Vineyards in East Amwell hosts a lobster bake on July 14. Old Cellars Winery in Ringoes hosts music on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights along with occasional dinners, pairings and movie nights. Alba Vineyards offers live music under the arbor on weekends during the summer, along with wood-fired pizza and cheese boards.
Go mountain biking
Have I mentioned that Hunterdon County has more than two-dozen parks? If you and your mate are meant to be, then just the idea of mountain biking has you both saying “Yeah!” (or Nah, and then see the suggestions above). There are biking trails for all skill levels, from one-mile loops at Echo Hill Park in Lebanon to Cushetunk Mountain Preserve in Lebanon, which offers three miles of trails include a challenging climb to the top of the ridge. For more information, visit http://www.co.hunterdon.nj.us/depts/parks/guides/BikeInfo.pdf