BY LAURA D.C. KOLNOSKI Photos By Robert Nuzzi

A true “Jersey Gem,” Cranford, in Union County, has enjoyed a dramatic resurgence over the past decade due in part to its status as a transit hub with its own train station. The leafy township sparkles with new residences, hotspots, and businesses, its vibrant character reignited. Recently improved public spaces include the Eastman Clock and Post Office Plaza, where chairs, tables, and landscaping were added.

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An evening “Sip and Shop” event is held in spring, while fall brings a fun “Scarecrow Stroll” through the business district, for which over 100 imaginative creations line the streets. Cranford was designated a 2018 Great Downtown by the NJ American Planning Association, and was also selected one of the top five NJ Downtowns by NJ.com. Learn more at cranfordnj.org and cranford.com.

Things to do
LET’S GO

CRANE PHILLIPS HOUSE LIVING MUSEUM
This 1791 Victorian cottage at the site of the former Crane’s Mills, maintained by the Cranford Historical Society, offers programs, tours, events, a library, a speakers bureau, and more. Cranford, originally known as Craneville, was named for original owner, Josiah Crane. 124 N. Union Ave., 908.276.0082, cranfordhistoricalsociety.org

CRANFORD CANOE CLUB
A multiple “Best Of” winner, there is nothing like taking a canoe or kayak down the Rahway River at this venerable 105 yearold attraction, and discover why Cranford was once called “The Venice of New Jersey.” Group parties, Annual Rubber Ducky Race in October, snack bar. 250 Springfield Ave., 908.709.7285, cranfordcanoeclub.com

Timepiece Spread

CRANFORD DRAMATIC CLUB
Since 1918, locals have shared their talents and love of theater with audiences, opening their current location in 1957. The musical Mamma Mia!, based on the songs of ABBA, ran through March 2, followed by Disney’s Newsies May 3 18. 78 Winans Ave., 908.276.7611, cdctheatre.org

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DIGIPLEX CRANFORD
The township’s movie theater has been entertaining audiences since the 1920s and is still a fun, small town spot to enjoy first run films. 25 North Ave., 908.276.3070, newvisiontheaters.com

RESTAURANT WEEK
With all the new, exciting dining spots Cranford offers, this gathering of gourmands is worth the trip. Held in August, further information will be available on cranfordnj.org closer to the tasty event.

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STREET FAIR & CRAFT SHOW
Held three times annually on Sundays: April 28, August 25, and October 13. Vendors, artworks, products, services, and more. streetfairs.org

YALE TERRACE BREWERY
The owners have over 35 years combined craft brewing experience. Tours, tastings, and classes are offered. 26 Eastman St., 973.996.8601, ytbrewery.com

Shop
‘TIL YOU DROP

ANTHEM STYLE & GIFT
Exclusive Cranford apparel, name brand women’s clothing and accessories, candles, gifts, and globally inspired merchandise. 100 N. Union Ave., 908.272.6060, anthemstylegift.com

AUGUSTA MAE BOUTIQUE & FINE CONSIGNMENT
It’s hip to recycle! Shoes, accessories, home accents for all. 35 Alden St., 908.370.7748, augustamae.com

DOVETAILS
Artifacts, antiques, cards and gifts, household, small furniture, estate sales, and services. 3 Eastman St., 908.709.1638, dovetailsusa.com

MILK MONEY
Newborn to age 16 boys and girls new and gently used clothing, shoes, toys, and specialty items like dance and sports cleats. 18 North Ave., 908.272.5437, cranfordmilkmoney.com

PERWINKLE’S FINE GIFT & HOME
A kaleidoscope of options including seasonal, special occasion, kids, corporate, personalized. 19 N. Union Ave., 908.276.1300, giftthebest.com

PUFF ’N’ STUFF CIGAR SHOP
Fine and rare cigars for 35 years. Lounge area. 21 North Ave., 908.272.6989, puffnstuffcigarshop.business.site

ROGUE COMICS
More than comics. Buy, sell, “marvel” at the inventory. 105 North Ave., 908.276.9069, roguecomics.com

SWEET N’ FANCY EMPORIUM
A treasure trove of products for baking and candy making including favors, chocolates, molds, and embellishments. Classes, too. 1 South St., 908.272.0848, sweetnfancy.com

SWIMSUIT JUNCTION
Swimwear, cruise wear, and accessories for infants through adults. 29 Alden St., 908.967.6944, downtowncranford.com

THE AMBER FEATHER
New and vintage fashions and accessories. 104 Walnut Ave., 908.324.4922, Facebook

THINK D’SIGN PRINT
Embroidery, screen printing, digital, promotions, and special occasion items. Family owned. 11 North Ave., 908.967.6244, thinkdsignprint.com

VINETTE ROSE BOUTIQUE
Specialty handbags, stylish women’s and men’s goods, and accessories with Italian flair. 25 North Ave., 908.565.2856, vinetterose.com

WASHINGTON ROCK RARE COINS
Silver, gold, collections. 9 Walnut Ave., 908.276.0381, Facebook

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Dining DIG IN!
AMBELI GREEK TAVERNA
Perfected family recipes for authentic, fresh Greek cuisine. Second location in Westfield. BYO. 29 N. Union Ave., 908.272.4111, ambeligreek.com

A TOUTE HEURE
Rising Star Chef Award winner AJ Capella mines New Jersey’s farms and waterways for artisan products to create top shelf food and beverages. 2018 Open Table Diner’s Choice Award. BYO. 232 Centennial Ave., 908.276.6600, atouteheure.com

BAR AMERICANA
Scratch made food from local, sustainable sources is the hallmark of this contemporary gastropub. Outdoor beer garden. 24 North Ave., 908.276.3664, baramericananj.com

CAFÉ PARIS
Opened by a French family since 2001. Authentic dishes in a cozy atmosphere adorned with murals and art reminiscent of their homeland. 106 Walnut Ave., 908.276.8030, thecafeparis.com

CIAO BELLO
Pizza to modernized classics with outdoor patio seating. 220 South Ave., 908.497.0705, ciaobellomenu.com

CRANFORD HOTEL
This 1882 gem remains a favorite for American cuisine and gatherings in a warm atmosphere, with multiple dining areas and an historic rustic wood bar. 1 South Union Ave., 908.276.2121, cranfordhotel.com.

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CRAVEN BBQ
Portuguese barbeque and churrasqueira. BYOB. Catering available. 22 Eastman St., 908.272.2271, cravenbbq.com

GARLIC ROSE BISTRO
This casual eatery with a full bar and garlic related décor obtains its signature herb from Gilroy, California, that “garlic capital of the world.” Owners estimate using 30,000 pounds of it per year. 28 North Ave., 908.276.5749, garlicrose.com

IL GABBIANO
A family owned Italian bistro serving dishes with a twist. Don’t miss the Shrimp fra Diavalo con Linguini! 10 South Ave., 908.497.1990, cranfordbistro.com

KILKENNY HOUSE RESTAURANT & PUB
Named a Top Irish Pub by NJ.com. Front room airs games on six flat screens. Party/dining room in back. 112 South Ave., 908.276.3414, kilkennyhouse.com

LIDIA’S CUBAN KITCHEN
A colorful taste of Havana, serving authentic Cuban cuisine with vegan and gluten free alternatives. BYOB. 117 N. Union Ave., 908.272.8226, lidiascubankitchen.com

OLD CITY CAFÉ AND GRILL
Traditional Middle Eastern and Mediterranean fare in a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. 20 North Union Ave., 908.276.2701, oldcitycafeandgrill.com

100 STEPS SUPPER CLUB & RAW BAR
Oyster bar shuckers prepare primo shellfish, while a talented kitchen team crafts quality seasonal fare at this acclaimed dining spot. BYO. 215 Centennial Ave., 908.276.0153, 100stepsrawbar.com

RIVER AND RAIL CANTINA
Southwestern and Tex Mex in a party atmosphere. Outdoor seating, full bar. 230 South Ave., 908.922.4300, Facebook

ROMOLA’S SEAFOOD & GRILLE
White tablecloth gourmet Mediterranean cuisine created with home cooked family traditions. BYOB. 2 South Ave., 908.272.0045, romolasnj.com

SUB-OLOGY
An upscale deli and sandwich shop in the downtown shopping district, using only top quality meats and fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Homemade roast beef and turkey cooked on premises daily. Inventive sandwiches, superb party platters, and catering. 17 North Ave., 908.276.5250, subology.com

THIRSTY TURTLE Formerly
The Office, this spot remains a go to for contemporary American fare. Second location in Florham Park. 1 7 South Ave., 908.324.4140, thirstyturtle.com/cranford

TRIESTINA RISTORANTE
A perennial favorite for Northern Italian dishes, private parties, and catering. BYOB. 515 Centennial Ave., 908.276.8404, triestinaristorante.com

URBAN BURGER
Fun, funky, imaginative menu offerings and brunch. 13 Eastman St., 908.272.7790, urbanburgercranford.com

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Lights Out WHERE TO STAY

HOMEWOOD SUITES
Located directly off Garden State Parkway, this Hilton property is near businesses, attractions, and office parks. Outdoor pool, fitness room. 2 Jackson Dr., 908.709.1980, homewoodsuites3.hilton.com

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BEST WESTERN WESTFIELD INN
Quaint, charming accommodations housing the renowned Chez Catherine French restaurant. 435 North Ave., 908.654.5600, bestwestern.com

…AND NEARBY

HILTON GARDEN INN SPRINGFIELD
Great American Grill restaurant and bar, fitness room, pool, Oasis Ballroom. 304 Rt. 22 West, 973.232.5300, hiltongardeninn3. hilton.com

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THE 1910 HOUSE BED & BREAKFAST
A “folk Victorian” home recalling the Edwardian era. Breakfast served in an elegant, antique fi lled dining room. 233 Union Ave., Scotch Plains, 908.322.4514, 1910house.com

Swing AWAY!
GALLOPING HILL GOLF COURSE
Designed by Willard G. Wilkinson in 1928. In 2016, it became the first public course to host the New Jersey State Open in 95 years. A stunning resource! 3 Golf Dr,, Kenilworth, gallopinghillgolfcourse.com