BY LAURA D.C. KOLNOSKI • PHOTOS BY PATTY PIXELS

For a fine fall excursion, follow Route 78 west past the bustling urban burbs of Middlesex and Union counties to where verdant vistas of a greener Garden State come into view. Harkening back to the state’s rural agrarian past, the town of Clinton, in Hunterdon County and with a population 2,719, is perched along the South Branch of the Raritan River, near Spruce Run Reservoir and Spruce Run Recreation Area and not far from its sister water body and park: Round Valley. Its quaint downtown has an 1870-completed iron bridge and a 200-foot-wide waterfall as its centerpieces. The nearby Red Mill Museum (seen above) should look familiar, too; it’s one of New Jersey’s most photographed sites, used in tourist promotions and countless postcards. This is an autumn day trip not to be missed.

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Things to do LET’S GO!
HUNTERDON ART MUSEUM
Legend has it the original 1763 mill on this site ground wheat for General George Washington’s Continental Army during its encampment in Morristown. The 19th century stone mill there today is a hub of contemporary art and design exhibits, events, and community happenings, including over 300 classes and workshops annually for children and adults. 7 Lower Center St., 908.735.8415, hunterdonartmuseum.org

IN FLIGHT BALLOON ADVENTURES
Glide over the rolling hills of scenic Hunterdon County in a hot air balloon and get stunning views of changing fall colors. A variety of flight options and getaway packages are available. Open year ‘round, weather permitting. 888.301.2383, balloonnj.com

LANDSDOWN MEADOWS AND TRAIL
This former spur line of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, linking Clinton to Landsdown, was acquired by the county in 1993 in order to continue the Landsdown Meadows and Trail that adjoins the South Branch of the Raritan River. Recreation, wildlife, wetland habitats. 36 Main Street, 908.782.1158 njfishandwildlife.org, co.hunterdon.nj.us

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Ambassador SPREAD

RED MILL MUSEUM VILLAGE
The ten-acre Red Mill Museum Village is one of New Jersey’s most recognized and visited sites. The four-story gristmill, built in 1810, has served as an industrial mill, a wool processing plant, a peach basket factory, and a textile mill. Today it houses a collection of more than 40,000 artifacts. The historic village surrounding it contains 12 buildings, including a log cabin, an old schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, and dynamite shed. Public programming includes lectures, workshops, living history reenactments, and other special events. In October, the “Haunted Mill” is a regionally popular Halloween scare fest. 56 Main St., 908.735.4101, theredmill.org.

ROUND VALLEY RECREATION AREA
A festival of fall color and wildlife await in adjacent Lebanon, where this 2,000-acre setting offers fishing, boating, wilderness camping, hiking, and swimming. Its lake is the deepest in NJ and stocked with trout, and cross-country skiers and sledding enthusiasts congregate here in winter. 1220 Stanton Lebanon Rd., 908.236.6355, state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests

SPRUCE RUN RESERVOIR
One of New Jersey’s most beautiful spots to view and enjoy nature, Spruce Run covers 1,290 acres and has 15 miles of shoreline frequented by picnickers, swimmers, fishermen, boaters, and campers. Tent and trailer sites available April 1 through October 31. 68 Van Syckles Rd., stateparks.com/spruce_run_ state_park

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31ST HUNTERDON COUNTY BUSINESS EXPO & FOOD SHOWCASE
Come out and meet businesses from a variety of industries in and around Hunterdon County and view their wares from 2:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 7. The Food Showcase runs from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., with tastings from local establishments. Free admission. NexLevel Arena, 426 Case Boulevard, Flemington, web.hunterdon-chamber.org

Shop ‘TIL YOU DROP
BALIC OF CLINTON WINE & GIFTS
Wines here include vintages from Balic Winery of Mays Landing. There are also specialty foods, gifts, baskets, and accessories. Family owned. 20 Main St., 908.713.WINE (9463), balicofclinton.com

BEYOND BIJOUX
Top trends in women’s fashion jewelry, watches, handbags, seasonal, holiday, gift items, and accessories. 12 Main St., 908.200.7721, Facebook

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CHARLIE’S BOOTERY
Traditional shoe repair shop in business since 1930. The current owner began working there in 1965! 40 Main St., 908.735.5020, Facebook

CLINTON BOOTERY
Ample selection of quality name brand footwear for men and women. A pedorthist on site addresses problematic feet. 203 E. Main St., 860.669.2747, clintonbootery.com

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DICKENS JEWELERS & DESIGN STUDIO
A master jeweler/watchmaker with over 40 years of experience—with pieces made by hand on site. There are also repairs and ring sizing services while you wait. Family owned and operated. 22 Main St., 908.730.6644, dickensjewelersnj.com

FOURCHETTE
A husband and wife team opened this shop with “something for every room” in 2013. Home décor and accents, gourmet condiments and cheeses, European imports, antiques, linens, and more. 36 Main St., 908.442.8675, fourchette-fromage.com

HEARTSTRINGS
“Elegant necessities and practical indulgences” describes this eclectic shop packed with gifts, women’s clothing and accessories, and baby/children’s finds. 10 Main St., 908.735.4020, Facebook

KRISTOPHERMARK DESIGNS
Unique pieces, custom jewelry design, and repairs in a comfortable, modern showroom from an owner/operator who graduated from the Joseph Bulova School. 33 Old Highway 22, 908.735.9695, kristophermark.com

MADE TO ORDER
A couple who began selling handmade leather goods in Pennsylvania’s New Hope and Peddler’s Village returned to their hometown of Clinton over 40 years ago and continue to offer stunning works of natureoriented wares, including hand-crafted jewelry, original photographs, pottery, glass, fashion items, and fragrances. 44 Main St., 908.735.4244, madetoorder.net

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Dining DIG IN!
DESIGNER DOGS
Extensive, fun menu of generous gourmet hot dog offerings, plus more comfort favorites. 3 Main St., 908.200.7353, designer-dogs.com DORA RESTAURANT Casual Italian eatery with patio seating in season. 17 Main St., 908.735.4171, Facebook

JJ SCOOPS
Premium frozen treats from a husband and wife team since 1994, including cakes, drinks, doggie ice cream, and more than 38 toppings! Outdoor patio seating in season. 1 Main St., 908.730.0988, jjscoops.com

PROJECT BRUNCH
Bold, imaginative takes and twists on classic breakfast fare. Other locations in Manalapan and Staten Island. 1 Old Hwy 22, 908.323.2346, projectbrunch.com

THE CLEAN PLATE KITCHEN
Locally sourced food and a creative, playful menu. Ideal for the health-conscious, clean eaters, and patrons with food sensitivities, allergies, and other dietary needs. 49 Main St., 908.200.7610, cleanplateclinton.com

THE CLINTON HOUSE
A classic American restaurant and steak house (that began as a stage stop in 1743), with a warm bar hosting live entertainment, its own bakery, a roaring stone fireplace, and cozy historic ambiance. 2 W. Main St., 908.730.9300, theclintonhouse.com

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THE STONE BEAN AT RIVERSIDE COFFEE & TEA
Scenic waterside views outside, and a cozy atmosphere inside with fireplaces make this a favorite stop. 51 Main St., 908.894.5808, Facebook

THE TOWNE RESTAURANT
A family owned and operated classic since 1979, serving elevated menu items made with fresh ingredients in a casual atmosphere. Live entertainment. 31 Main St., 908.735.7559, clintontownerestaurant.com

LIGHTS OUT WHERE TO STAY
COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT
Located in adjacent Lebanon and newly renovated, the Courtyard offers amenities like spacious rooms with lounging and dining space, an indoor pool, lobby bistro with bar, and a Starbucks. 300 Corporate Dr., Lebanon, 908.236.8500, marriott.com

HAMPTON INN
In addition to a hilltop setting just off Routes 31 and 78, this 131-room hotel is an hour’s ride from Manhattan. Suites, a business center, meeting space, and outdoor swimming pool make this pet-friendly accommodation convenient for long and short stays. 16 Frontage Rd., 908.713.4800, hamptoninn3.helton.com

RIVERSIDE VICTORIAN BED & BREAKFAST
Listed on the Historic Registry, the 1882 Mansard-style mansion in the heart of Clinton’s shopping and attractions is a step back in time, whether for business or pleasure. Conveniently located near Routes 31, 78, and 22 and outlet stores in nearby Flemington. The owners have filled the inn with period furnishings, heirlooms, and mood.

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