By Taylor Smith

Each year, Scots from around the world gather in the darkest days of winter for a traditional evening meal and celebration to commemorate the birthday of one of their favorite native sons, Robert Burns. Born on a tenant farm on January 25, 1759 in the village of Alloway, near Ayr, Burns’s early life was marked by back-breaking work on a succession of small family farms. With an ear for Scottish folk songs and traditional stories passed down by his mother, Burns grew to become a widely-respected poet and lyricist. more

Photo by Robert Benson Photography 

By Taylor Smith

Experience the season at New York Botanical Garden’s (NYBG) Holiday Train Show, now through Sunday, January 6, 2020. Natural materials such as fruit, seeds, pine cones, twigs, bark, stems, fungus, acorns, lotus pods, and cinnamon recreate a sweeping metropolis designed by Paul Busse of Applied Imagination. more

High Mountain Park

By Taylor Smith

The Nature Conservancy of New Jersey is encouraging Garden State residents to stay active this winter season with the introduction of the High Mountain Challenge, inspired by New Jersey native Jessica Bagley’s running achievements. The Nature Conservancy is also hoping to raise awareness of High Mountain Park Preserve, a protected 1,260-acre tract of forested land in New Jersey’s Piedmont region (near North Haledon and Wayne). more

Images Courtesy of The Asbury 

By Taylor Smith

Learn what makes the vibrant shore town of Asbury Park unique at The Asbury’s Winter Wonderland Weekend, December 7 and 8.

The Asbury is situated just two blocks from Asbury Park’s famous beach and boardwalk and is easily accessible from several NJ Transit lines. Designed with a nod to the shore town’s rock n’ roll past and proximity to the seaside, The Asbury offers upscale lodging, dining, multiple vibrant bars, live music in the lobby, and more. more

Charles Addams

By Taylor Smith

Westfield, New Jersey, transforms into all things Charles Addams this October for AddamsFest — a month-long, family-fun series of events including movie screenings, art exhibits, a masquerade ball, paranormal investigations, a costume contest, and a Halloween House Decorating Contest. more

By Taylor Smith | Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Located approximately 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Nantucket is a compact island popular with generations of vacationers. The island was first sighted by Captain Bartholomew Gosnold of Falmouth, England, on his way to Virginia in 1602. In October 1641, William, Earl of Sterling, deeded the island to Thomas Mayhew of Watertown, Massachusetts Bay. Shares of the island were eventually sold to nine other purchasers. These 10 original owners were eager to attract tradesmen to the island, and the total number of stakeholders gradually expanded to 27 shares among 31 owners. Names like Coffin, Folger, Gardner, Macy, Starbuck, Hussey, and Swain still have a large presence on the island today.

When the Englishmen arrived, the island was already home to an estimated 1,600 Wampanoag Indians. The influence of European disease, alcohol, debt, and servitude took a toll on the native population, and it is chronicled that the last Wampanoag (Abram Quary) on the island died in 1885.

The settlers innately understood the value of the cold waters at their doorstep, and sought the guidance of established New England whaling captains to learn how to hunt whales from a boat. At the time, whale oil was used to light lamps.  more

Image Source: VisitPhilly.com

Coming November 23 & 24

By Taylor Smith

Ranking the nation’s top 10 in terms of large marathons, the Philadelphia Marathon typically attracts more than 30,000 runners, 60,000 spectators, and 3,000 volunteers. The fast and scenic course takes runners past historic landmarks, through urban neighborhoods, and along Philadelphia’s picturesque waterfront. Participants should keep in mind that the November race is a chilly one, with average starting line temperatures around 37 degrees F. The half marathon and 8K races will take place on Saturday, November 23.  The full marathon will begin at 7 a.m. on Sunday, November 24. more

Image Source: www.njskylands.com

By Taylor Smith 

New Jersey offers excellent opportunities for leaf peeping throughout the autumn months. Both farmland and forest come alive during the months of October and November with vibrant, fiery hues. Scenic beauty in picnic spots abounds, so grab your hiking shoes and flannel for a fun-filled weekend.  more

Q&A with Gregory Smith, Executive Director, Park Avenue Club

Interview by Laurie Pellichero

Q.Tell us about Park Avenue Club – its history and its unique mission.
A: Twenty-five years ago, several prominent individuals partnered with 600 businesses and 2,500 caring individuals to transform a dilapidated dairy farm structure into Park Avenue Club. Both the land and the building were donated to the Park Avenue Foundation, which is comprised of several nonprofit organizations. The Park Avenue Club leases the space and operates within those walls.

Park Avenue Club attracts a membership that seeks to enhance their social and business lives and appreciates that our mission supports the Park Avenue Foundation and its 13 nonprofits.

Today, Park Avenue Club is reinventing the private dining club concept. Our Club offers an upscale yet casual dining experience with chef-curated menus rivaling those of the finest Manhattan restaurants.

Q.What charities have benefited from the Park Avenue Foundation?
A: Funds raised support essential human needs, provide emergency housing and shelter in a crisis, facilitate access to education, honor culture and the arts, and preserve history.

The net revenue generated by the Park Avenue Foundation via its relationship with the Park Avenue Club, and dedicated for the exclusive benefit of the Foundation’s nonprofit members exceeds $6 million since the Club’s inception.

These nonprofits currently comprise the Park Avenue Foundation:
Boys & Girls Club of Newark
Boy Scouts of America/Patriots Path Council
Camp Nejeda
Community FoodBank of NJ
The Morris Museum
The Family Resource Network
HartmannRhodes Charities
Museum of Early Trades & Crafts
P.G. Chambers School
Burgdorff Foundation (Beneficiaries are Jersey Battered Women’s Service, Morris
Habitat for Humanity and Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts)

Q.Why do members join Park Avenue Club?
A: Members use the Club for personal, social, and business reasons. It is an oasis with a relaxing yet upscale and elegant, home away from home feel. Members can host important business meetings and receptions knowing our impeccable and highly personalized service will impress their clients and associates. At the same time, the Club is also the ultimate destination for family celebrations from weddings to birthdays and mitzvahs. Our modern, casual, and rustically elegant spaces allow for unique versatility. With two daily and distinct dining venues the Club offers breakfast, lunch,
and dinner service.

Our Club calendar offers many family-themed events such as our Mother’s Day Brunch, Easter Brunch, and the Victorian Candlelight at year’s end. A nice benefit is that spouses of members are automatically members at no additional charge, and we welcome our families with several children’s events including holiday pumpkin carving, ginger bread decorating, and movie nights.

Our culinary offerings are a contemporary interpretation of traditional American cuisine. Fresh, local, and seasonal menus are created to deliver a personalized dining experience. A highly skilled culinary staff, house sommelier, and passionate service team provide an upscale epicurean destination while our members “dine for a cause.”

The social clubs within Park Avenue Club offer unique networking opportunities. Our Wine Enthusiasts Club and Cigar Club meet monthly. We also offer book clubs and a women’s executives club that enjoys robust attendance.

Park Avenue Club offers reciprocal agreements with over 190 other elite clubs worldwide. And, as an added value, a member has access to almost a dozen private country clubs in New Jersey, as well as private club offerings in 39 U.S. states, and even international destinations such as London, France, India, and China.

Park Avenue Club offers incredible value and is accessibly priced for a private
club experience.

Q.What type of events are hosted at the Club?
A:Our newly constructed 14,200-square-foot events wing plays host to memorable weddings, jubilant mitzvahs, and refined corporate meetings. Whether a business event or a major family celebration, the Club has a stunning space with a luxurious and modern aesthetic as well as all the attendant professional staff to fully customize your event and impress your guests.

The Club’s daily member experience includes frequent live entertainment and monthly specialized and seasonally-inspired events such as Lobster Nights, Evening by the Fire (a chef-integrated cooking event), Sunday Brunches, Burger & Beer nights, and so much more.

Q. I understand the Club has undergone a major renovation. What has changed and how does it benefit members and guests?
A:Park Avenue Club is a strikingly handsome facility that embodies rustic elegance at its best. Our brand-new events wing complements the restaurant spaces within the original dairy barn. Our interiors are certainly sophisticated, but also warm and inviting.

We recently refurbished our two daily dining venues, the more casual Charity’s and the upscale Hayloft dining room. Each restaurant offers a unique dining experience and its own specialized menu.

Charity’s also serves as our in-house coffee house during the morning hours. The more formal side of club dining is found in our Hayloft dining room. Each venue has its own patio with fire pits for an inviting alfresco ambiance several months of the year. Our restaurants are appointed with a rustic-luxe design, creating a signature sophisticated but casual setting that honors our history while remaining utterly contemporary.

Q.How do you become a member?
A:The website www.parkavenueclub.com offers preliminary information under the Membership tab, but we love to talk face to face or by phone with anyone interested in membership.

Gregory Smith, CMAA, PGA is the Executive Director of Park Avenue Club. He may be contacted at 973.301.8233.

By Taylor Smith

Tucked away in West Cape May, Beach Plum Farm is a 62-acre working farm that produces over 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables, as well as chickens, eggs, and Berkshire hogs. Produce from Beach Plum Farms is used by a number of popular Cape May restaurants including Blue Pig Tavern, The Ebbitt Room, Louisa’s Cafe, the Boiler Room, and the Rusty Nail. The Farm is also home to a large market, farm kitchen, fine dining, and cottages. Visitors can easily spend an afternoon shopping, eating, and wandering the grounds, or even an entire weekend, to disconnect from the rushed pace of everyday life. Beach Plum also welcomes weddings and private events.  more

By Taylor Smith 

The celebrated 2019 Spring Lake Irish Festival will take place on Saturday, June 15 from noon to 5 p.m. Affectionately dubbed the “Jersey Shore’s Irish Riviera” for its history of Irish culture and immigration, Spring Lake is the spot for this annual event featuring live music, dancing, food, children’s activities, and shopping. Traditions like the Irish Soda Bread Contest, beer and wine garden, and Irish step dancers are favorites. This year’s musical acts are The Snakes and Doubting Toms.  more

By Taylor Smith 

Crayola Experience, located at 30 Centre Square in Easton, Pa., is dedicated to fostering creativity in children (and adults) of all ages. Crayons, markers, and chalk in every hue can be used to create one-of-a-kind pieces of art. Coloring life-size pages and molding clay are also part of the interactive craft room experience.  more

By Taylor Smith 

On May 27, more than 500 professional and amateur cyclists will gather to compete in the 76th Annual Tour of Somerville at Davenport and Main streets in Somerville, N.J. Held rain or shine, the historic event is the oldest bike race in the country. Over 50 U.S. Cycling Hall of Fame inductees have participated in the race, along with Tour de France champion Greg LeMond.  more

By Taylor Smith

During decades of economic decline, Asbury Park was mostly known as the place where musical icon Bruce Springsteen got his start at The Stone Pony nightclub in the mid-1970s. However, since 2000, Asbury has seen a dramatic revitalization and influx of new residents from urban centers like New York City. In fact, modern-day Asbury has been affectionately dubbed “Brooklyn on the Beach” for its large population of artists, musicians, foodies, and creatives. Real estate projects, like the new Asbury Ocean Club, and new restaurants dominate the historic boardwalk, and day trippers flock to the seaside town year-round.

Over 39 bars, several blocks of art galleries, antique shops, restaurants (from traditional Italian to vegan), and an art house cinema lure visitors from the nearby NJ Transit depot. The tradition of live musical acts is still alive and well at venues like The Stone Pony, Wonder Bar, and the vintage bowling alley-music hall Asbury Lanes. Food trucks serving ceviche, empanadas, and Johnny’s Pork Roll gather north of the Convention Center at North Eats. The seasonal Market at Fifth Avenue features independent artisans and designers selling everything from woven leather jewelry to locally-made sunglasses.  more

By Taylor Smith 

Many neighborhoods, one Middletown!

The sprawling township of Middletown borders the Monmouth County communities of Atlantic Highlands, Colts Neck Township, Fair Haven, Hazlet, Highlands, Holmdel, Keansburg, Red Bank, Rumson, Sea Bright and Tinton Falls. The Sandy Hook peninsula is also within Middletown Township, though it is not connected to the township by land, but can be accessed along Raritan Bay by boat.  more

Green spaces to wander and roam during the warmer months

By Taylor Smith 

D&R Canal

Frenchtown along the Delaware River

The Delaware & Raritan Canal stretches more than 77 miles along the Delaware and Raritan Rivers.The park crosses Middlesex, Mercer, Burlington, Somerset, and Hunterdon counties within New Jersey. It is one of the state’s most popular avenues for kayaking, canoeing, running, walking, bicycling, and fishing. It is also a valuable wildlife corridor with recent bird surveys revealing more than 160 species of birds, almost 90 of which nest within its borders. The upper portion of the canal includes stops in charming Frenchtown, Stockton, and Lambertville, which are great weekend destinations for the arts, dining, and shopping.  more

At only 2.4 square miles, the borough of Chatham, New Jersey, is highly walkable and suggestive of a less-hurried time

By Taylor Smith

The quality of Chatham’s public school district, which serves both the borough and Chatham Township, both in Morris County, is frequently mentioned by new residents and real estate agents as a draw to the area. more

Urban Conveniences in a Small-Town Setting

By Taylor Smith

Located in Northern New Jersey’s Union County, Westfield has earned increasing attention in recent years, not only for its convenient public transportation to Manhattan, but also as a place that many New York City transplants call home. more

By Taylor Smith

On view through February 10, “Mickey: The True Original Exhibition” is at 60 10th Avenue in New York City. The 16,000-square-foot space in Chelsea, very close to The High Line, features both nostalgic and modern works from international artists, all of whom are inspired by classic images of the graphic, black-and-white mouse. more

By Taylor Smith 

Looking for a holiday getaway? Makeup mogul Bobbi Brown and her husband, entrepreneur Steven Plofker, have opened a stately and fashionable 32-room inn in the New York City suburb of Montclair. A 35-minute train ride from Midtown Manhattan, The George is the perfect weekend destination for tri-state area residents. more