Things To Do in Clinton, NJ: Small-Town Charm, History, and Culture
For many locals, one of the most picturesque spots in Hunterdon County is Clinton. This New Jersey town boasts lovely views of the Raritan River running through the historic downtown area, and a majestic red mill that's one of the most-photographed buildings in NJ. Clinton is just 1.5 square miles, but what it loses in size it makes up for in atmosphere—there are great nature spots for hiking, picnicking, and swimming, as well as museums and historic sites, holiday-themed festivals and parades, and family-friendly restaurants.
This charming small town makes for a picture-perfect family day trip all year round. Read on for the highlights.
The Red Mill hosts events all year long. Photo courtesy of the Red Mill
The Red Mill
Once a working grist mill (and then a granite and talc mill), Clinton's famous Red Mill is now a unique historical site—and one of most photographed in buildings in NJ. The 10-acre Red Mill Museum Village is home to the Hunterdon Historical Museum, which has a collection of more than 40,000 agricultural, industrial, and domestic artifacts. Explore the campus on a self-guided tour featuring a log cabin, replica school house, a blacksmith house, and more. Keep an eye on the calendar of events for fun programs like movie nights (free!), summer music shows, a winter village, ghost tours, and, of course, the annual Haunted Red Mill Halloween event.
Grab some friends and head to Just Chill for a sweet treat. Photo courtesy of Just Chill
Downtown Desserts and Dining
Cross the metal bridge outside the mill, and you'll find yourself in a quaint shopping and dining area with lovely historic buildings, many of which have outdoor eating areas overlooking the water or the street. Among the 30 or so businesses are several that will satisfy your sweet tooth. There's the adorable Main Street Candy shop, where kids will go crazy over the bins of taffy, jelly beans, chocolate, and tons of old favorites. And, The Clinton House Bakery is the perfect place for cookies, hand pies, cupcakes, tarts, and other sweets. For frozen sweet treats, JJ Scoops is just the place for ice cream lovers, or get creative and make your perfect fro-yo sundae at Just Chill. This great shop also has crepes and acai bowls.
Clinton Station Diner
If you've ever headed west on I-78 and noticed a blue train car filled with happy diners, you've likely come across the Clinton Station Diner. Have a meal on the Blue Comet's Biela observation car, and if your family is up for an eating challenge, see if you can finish off one of the ginormous burgers on the menu, ranging from 3 to 105 lbs. (No, that's not a typo!)
Hunterdon Art Museum offers classes and workshops where kids can experiment with a variety of materials. Photo courtesy of the museum
Hunterdon Art Museum
The Hunterdon Art Museum has several exhibits to see, but what's really fun are the hands-on programs for kids. The museum hosts more than 300 classes and workshops each year for adults and children in disciplines like drawing, sculpting, painting, photography, glass fusing, and more. Attend camp or have a birthday party here, too.
Spruce Run Reservoir
Totaling 1,290 acres (including 15 miles of shoreline), Spruce Run is the third largest reservoir in NJ, and is perfect for picnics, swimming, fishing, boating, and camping. There are beach areas, too, some of which have showers and concessions.
Round Valley Reservoir
Round Valley is a great spot for hiking, with a 0.5-mile family hiking and biking trail loop through the pinewoods. There's also swimming, camping, and boating. Three areas are designated for picnics; one at each end of the beach, and a third on a hill overlooking the park. Each picnic area has tables and grills, restrooms, and playgrounds.
Cllnton hosts a number of special events like Haunted Red Mill. Photo courtesy of the Red Mill
Festivals and Parades
Tons of seasonal fun happens every year in the downtown area, including the Christmas Parade (held the first Friday in December), the Festival of Trees and Dickens Days weekend, Flag Day Parade, Egg Hunt/Town-Wide Scavenger Hunt, St. Patrick's Day Parade, and Pumpkinfest, where carved and painted pumpkins decorate the street and compete for prizes.
Clinton Area Stage Troupe presents kid-friendly productions like Beauty and the Beast. Photo courtesy of CAST
Clinton Area Stage Troupe
This awesome community theater group often has a summer shows that appeal to children, like Beauty and the Beast in 2019.