Scotch Plains, New Jersey: 10 Things To Do With Kids in This Charming Garden State Town

Ponderosa Park is the destination on hot summer days in Scotch Plains, NJ. Photo courtesy of the park
Ponderosa Park is the destination on hot summer days in Scotch Plains, NJ. Photo courtesy of the park

If you’re looking for a small town full of energy and neighborhood pride, Scotch Plains in Union County fits the bill. Scotch Plains is a family-oriented community with a downtown anchored by a village green, year-round community activities, an abundance of playgrounds, and a mini-golf course.

The town is located off Routes 22 and 78 and accessible from NJ Transit trains at the Fanwood station or via bus lines. Thanks to its walkable downtown, there are tons of family-friendly things to do in Scotch Plains, so now's the time to plan a day trip to this lovely enclave.

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1. Ponderosa Park

This multifaceted playground and splash pad is the town's top summer destination. Kids of all ages can burn energy on the modern playground, complete with a climbing web and tunnel slides, with areas for younger and older children. The padded spray park is the perfect place to cool off in the warmer months. The park also features walking paths and a ball field.

Looking for more playground action? There is no shortage of playgrounds in Scotch Plains. Our other top picks include Kramer Manor Park's recently renovated playground, plus a sledding hill, and Brookside Park's ball fields, tennis courts, and nature trails.

2. St. Bartholomew/UNICO Italian Festival

Brimming with rides, games, Italian food, and more, this lively festival is a must-do event in Scotch Plains every Labor Day weekend. Live music and 50/50 raffle drawings round out the fun.

RELATED: 35+ Family-Friendly Spring Festivals in New Jersey

The Scotch Hills Mini-Golf Course is one of the top things to do in Scotch Plains, New Jersey
The Scotch Hills Mini-Golf Course beckons beginners, while more seasoned golfers can try their hand on the nine-hole course. Photo by the author

3. Scotch Hills Mini-Golf Course

Aim for a hole-in-one at Scotch Plains' own 18-hole miniature-golf facility. The Scotch Hills Mini-Golf Course includes a waterfall, streams, and a pond. More experienced golfers can tackle the adjacent nine-hole golf course.

Vist the Scotch Plains Farmers Market for a family-friendly outing in Scotch Plains, New Jersey
Scoop up some fresh produce at the Scotch Plains Farmers Market. Photo courtesy of the market

4. Scotch Plains Farmers Market

Shop for fresh produce, baked goods, handmade gifts, and more every Saturday morning at the Scotch Plains Farmers Market, located in the center of town. The market runs weekly from May through November, with special events like a holiday pop-up gift market, live music, trick-or-treating, and more fun things to do.

5. Village Green

In the heart of the downtown is the picturesque Alan M. Augustine Village Green, with gardens, a fountain, a gazebo, and a 9/11 Memorial. Aside from holiday celebrations, the green is at the center of the action with summer outdoor movies, concerts, S.T.A.R.S. Theatre outdoor summer productions, Scotch Plains Day, Pride in the Park, and more.

RELATED: Worth The Drive: 12 Destination Playgrounds in NJ

Massa Roman Square Pizza serves up family-friendly eats in Scotch Plains, NJ
Massa Roman Square Pizza. Photo courtesy of the restaurant

6. Family-Friendly Restaurants in Scotch Plains, NJ

Park Avenue in downtown Scotch Plains is home to a slew of family-friendly restaurants, all near FREE municipal parking. The Stage House Tavern serves delicious American fare, such as sandwiches, steaks, and a raw bar, with outdoor and indoor seating. Darby Road Public House & Restaurant is a lively Irish pub and sports bar in one. Irish beef stew, chicken and waffles, and shepherd’s pie are among the comfort foods offered. Seafood, steaks, and weekend brunch are on tap at Grillestone on Route 22, and you can dine indoors or out with a view at Ash Brook Golf Course's Tavern.

For something quick, check out the Scotchwood Diner for reliable diner eats and Massa Roman Square Pizza or Granno Pizzeria for a slice.

Grab dessert at Scoops Ice Cream Shop in Scotch Plains, NJ
Scoops The Ice Creamery serves up delicious creamy, sweet treats. Photo courtesy of the shop

7. Best Dessert Restaurants in Scotch Plains

Bring your sweet tooth to Scotch Plains for delicious homemade ice cream at Scoops, delectable baked goods at the Swiss Pastry Shoppe, a town institution, and fruit bowls plus other healthy concoctions at Soul Bowls.

RELATED: Guide to Kid-Friendly Restaurants in New Jersey

The Stage House Tavern
The Stage House Tavern is both a restaurant and a historical destination. Photo courtesy of the tavern

8. Explore the History of Scotch Plains

Discover the rich history of Scotch Plains, first settled in 1684, and home to Revolutionary War landmarks that can be visited today. Take in a piece of the past at The Osborn Cannonball House, where British and Continental troops marched right past during the Revolutionary War; the Frazee House, a 1700s farmhouse and host to current seasonal events; Shady Rest Golf & Country Club, a former farmhouse that became the country's first black-owned golf and country club and The Stage House Tavern, a Revolutionary War meeting spot for troops and long-standing dining establishment.

Attend a holiday-themed event in Scotch Plains
Celebrate the holidays with outdoor events in Scotch Plains. Photo by the author

9. Holiday Events to Enjoy in Scotch Plains

Holiday celebrations take the stage throughout the year in Scotch Plains. Don't miss the town's annual trunk-or-treat, Easter egg hunt, Christmas tree lighting, menorah lighting, Memorial Day parade, Independence Day fireworks, and Juneteenth celebration.

10. Destinations Near Scotch Plains to Explore

Make a day of downtown hopping near Scotch Plains, and peruse the shops and restaurants of neighboring Cranford and Westfield. While in town, take a nature break at the nearby Watchung Reservation.

This post, originally published in 2014, has since been updated.

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