Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Clifton, NJ

  • Published 2023/03/24

During its 100 years of existence, Clifton has built a fine reputation as “the city that cares.”

Despite its population of about 85,000 residents, this city maintains a humble, small-town feel with peaceful leisure attractions.

Clifton was first incorporated in 1917, developing as an agricultural hub in New Jersey.

You’ll still see remnants of that phase through local and organic farms in the area.

Likewise, the city houses a diverse collection of scenic spots, historical places, worthwhile restaurants, and a great local shopping scene.

It’s also just a few miles away from neighboring towns.

You might want to start a spontaneous road trip around the county.

If peace and relaxation interest you, Clifton, New Jersey, might be your perfect destination.

Here are the best things to do in Clifton, NJ:

Taste Irish Flavors in the Shannon Rose

Exterior of the Shannon Rose

Rosemarie Mosteller /

The Shannon Rose is an Irish pub with big flavors, hearty meals, and a lively atmosphere.

If you’ve never gone to an Irish pub, the Shannon Rose is a perfect place to try.

It’s one of the most popular restaurants in Clifton and has won awards from several magazines.

It highlights the Irish soul through its inspired whiskey selection and its furniture and decor, all imported from Ireland.

Their menu comprises locally sourced products with changing menus that depend on the season.

They also have live music and entertainment every Friday and Saturday night to boost your evening.

Admire the Architecture of Vanderhoef-Westervelt House

This home-turned-museum represents an authentic piece of Clifton’s old history.

Built in 1720, this home belonged to Gilbert Vanderhoef and was a functioning gristmill for several decades.

Now, it’s a preserved historic home used for gatherings, educational programs, and frequent exhibition tours about the history of Passaic County and Clifton.

The place is most known for its traditional architectural style, a mid-18th century Dutch stone home made primarily of conventional red bricks.

You can find it along Park Drive, which has free admission.

Drop by Vanderhoef-Westervelt House to know more about Clifton’s history.

Taste World-Class Wine at Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas

This local establishment offers a classy dining experience by pairing award-winning wines with elegant Italian small plates.

Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas first opened in 2012.

They began receiving consecutive awards from various publications like Wine Spectator from 2013 onwards.

The name “spuntino” comes from the Italian word meaning small snack, representing what the wine bar offers its customers.

This wine bar boasts of its extensive wine collection, containing over 350 distinct types of wine.

It also features a menu that changes four times a year to maintain a fresh collection, even after frequent visits.

With world-class wines and complimentary small plates, a dining experience in Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas will delight your taste buds.

Explore the Morris Canal Park and Nature Preserve

Morris Canal Park and Nature Preserve may not be the biggest nature preserve out there, but it’s charming in itself.

This nature park is a dreamy, soothing oasis with many vibrant plants, flowers, and a pleasant atmosphere.

Morris Canal Park and Nature Preserve contain a short wooden boardwalk for a leisure trail along Broad Street.

Surround yourself with lush nature while staying in the park’s confines.

There are plenty of benches and picnic tables; you can lounge at their amenities and bask in precious nature.

So, have a picnic, walk the trail, and unwind in the peaceful charm of Morris Canal Park and Nature Preserve.

Shop Local at Historic Ploch’s Farm

Ploch’s Farm is one of the last original farms in Clifton, New Jersey.

Opened in 1867, the farm has become a local favorite for Clifton-sourced fresh fruits and vegetables.

Depending on the season, they feature various fruits and vegetables, from tomatoes, eggplants, and cucumbers to apples, pears, etc.

They also sell homemade products like jams, jellies, and homemade bread.

This farm holds fun interactive events during autumn, such as Corn Mazes and Pick-Your-Own-Pumpkin.

Ploch’s Farm is a one-stop destination for many products related to farm produce and agriculture.

Help keep this historic farm running and drop by Ploch’s Farm.

Explore Clifton Arts Center & Sculpture Park

Established in 2000, Clifton Arts Center cultivates creativity and arts within the local community and contributes to international art.

Its origins also dated back to the 19th century and went through several difficulties before it became a reality.

Now, Clifton Arts Center is a hub for local artworks, while its Sculpture Park is one of New Jersey’s hidden gems.

Find the Sculpture Park outside Clifton Arts Center; it contains more than 30 contemporary sculptures.

Meanwhile, the Clifton Arts Center houses carefully curated local and international art pieces that relate to the museum’s changing themes.

Drop by Clifton Avenue to glimpse the city’s premium art scene.

See the Past in Hamilton House Museum

As part of the National Register of Historic Places, Hamilton House Museum displays a mix of accurate replicas and authentic items from the past.

This museum was once the home of John Vreeland, who built it himself in 1815 until the Hamilton family bought it in 1856.

Peek at people’s lives from the past; see the old machinery, tools, and mechanisms they used every day.

Another interesting historical tidbit is the Great Pearl Hunt that happened there.

One day, someone found a rare pearl while cooking his meal in Hamilton House.

There are many other exciting things to discover in this historical museum.

Explore the home in Valley Road to find out.

Take a Break at Main Memorial Park

Recently renovated, Main Memorial Park has leveled up its facilities to provide a better experience for locals and travelers.

Many facilities have become available: a playground, pond, walking path, and a few sports fields to entice more visitors.

Besides improving facilities, the staff also cleaned up around the area so the park and its nearby surroundings, like the pond, would return to its pristine appearance.

Overall, Main Memorial Park is an easy choice for people who want to relax at a cozy, nature-centric park.

See a Show at Clifton Commons

This shopping mall is one of the largest in the city and paved the way for other retail hubs to open in 1999.

Local shops like Clifton Bagels and Clifton Spirits and Wines sell items unique to the city.

Clifton Commons also holds an AMC Theater, a state-of-the-art cinema with premium screens, an advanced sound system, and soft reclining seats.

The AMC Theater provides customers with a premium movie-watching experience.

Clifton Commons brings convenience by giving diverse establishments a place to stay in a single location.

Enjoy Handcrafted Drinks at Ghost Hawk Brewing Co.

Handcrafted local brews are always exciting because they never use the same ingredients and processes.

Tastes often vary or have at least one distinct feature, which gives you a fresh taste each time.

Ghost Hawk Brewing Co. serves homemade brews with their original recipe.

The brewery opened through the cooperative effort of two Clifton locals—Tom Rachelski and Steve Bauer—who share a passion for brewing.

In 2019, the brewery welcomed lines of people interested in the result of their dedication.

There are 12 different items on their menu with varied flavors to cater to many people’s tastes and preferences.

Stay at La Quinta Inn & Suites

The 3-star La Quinta Inn & Suites is a simple, cozy destination that can feel just like home.

The difference lies in their 24-hour hotel service and collection of open facilities for guests.

Their list of facilities includes fitness centers, a restaurant, a free shuttle service to local attractions, and an indoor pool.

This hotel provides many ways for a more convenient trip around Clifton, New Jersey.

Explore the Promenade Shops at Clifton

The Promenade Shops at Clifton is another premium shopping destination.

Local, regional, and international shops are at the forefront of this outdoor shopping mall.

The establishments are just as diverse, including restaurants, bakeries, jewelry stores, clothing stores, and many other types.

The setting of the mall also makes it so that the buildings are perfectly lined up to form a circle around a public plaza.

You can enjoy a unique tower with special lighting and a few amenities in the plaza.

Likewise, the architecture of the establishments features classic, eye-catching facades.

Enjoy Spa Day in the Salt Cavern

Located along Allwood Road, the Salt Cavern offers an array of spa day necessities.

From nail care and facials to waxing and saunas, the Salt Cavern has several fixings that can let you unwind, relax, and be rejuvenated.

The highlight of this Salt Cavern is halotherapy, where you enter a salt cave and reap health benefits from the dry salt aerosol.

Supposedly, it has the most benefits for people with respiratory and skin problems.

Many clinical trials have reported its success.

Give it a chance!

Get Spooked at Brighton Asylum

Are you looking for a thrill?

Brighton Asylum is a heart-racing, spooky adventure that you must try at least once in your lifetime.

It has appeared in popular shows and news agencies nationwide.

With realistic-looking decor, talented actors, and chilling music, this haunted asylum complex can be a fun, immersive experience with creepy thrills.

Their package options range from haunted destinations to escape rooms and special events, depending on the season.

Try it if you dare.

Have Loads of Fun at Breaker Billiards

You’ll have a great bondingtimewith your family and friends atBreaker Billiards.

This amusement spot on Highway Route 46 West offers hours of fun entertainment for everyone.

They have 16 excellent pool tables including 8-foot and 12-foot tables to get you in the game.

Shoot some pools and choose from Daily Rates, Standard Pool Rates, Flat Rate Pools, and the Daily Pool Specials starting at 6:00 p.m. from Monday to Thursday.

If you’re a beginner, you can also get pool lessons at the shop.

Aside from playing billiards, you can have a friendly game of ping pong; they have regulation ping pong tables great for fun competitions or even tournaments.

You’ll also enjoy a wide selection of classic and modern video games with different game consoles like Nintendo, Sega Genesis, PS2 mini, PS4, Xbox O, and so much more.

If you want to have unique celebrations like birthdays or private parties, you can book your events at Breaker Billiards.

Enjoy Tasty Classic Fares at Tick Tock Diner

Signage of Tick Tock Diner

David Pimborough /

You’re sure to “Eat Heavy” with delicious all-American classicsserved atTick Tock Diner.

They have locations in Clifton’s Allwood Road at Route 3 West and Midtown Manhattan across Penn Station.

This American diner opened in 1948 and has become one of New Jersey’s iconic institutions for over 70 years, with some famous personalities like Mick Jagger and Jerry Seinfeld coming over for breakfast or a snack.

The restaurant is also known for serving hefty casual fares made with high-quality ingredients at reasonable prices; likewise, you’ll enjoy the comfortable and family-friendly ambiance.

Have some plates of Panko Onion Rings, Great Balls of Fire! or Disco Fries for a start, then enjoy bowls of Chicken or French Onion Soup after.

Take your pick of Breakfast All Day items or go for tasty pancake and French Toast flavors; other breakfast delights also include Classic Eggs Benedict, Bagel Deluxe, and tasty Omelet varieties.

Choose from other delicious options like salads, sandwiches, wraps, clubs, and burgers, along with satisfying entrees like Salmon Risotto, Spaghetti Tomato Basil, Chicken Parmigiana, and so much more.

You’ll also enjoy assorted desserts, frosty milkshakes, and juices on the menu.

If you’re looking for wines to pair your meals, you can check their Wine List and sip some Champagne or Sparkling wine or taste samples from their White and Red Wines, and Rose selections.

Likewise, Tick Tock Diner also serves liquors like Irish or Japanese Whiskey, Blended Scotch, American Bourbon, American Rye, Rum, Single Malt Scotch, Brandy or Cognac, and Grappa.

Buy Fresh Produce at Richfield Farms and Garden Center

Whetheryou’re looking for fresh produce, quality plants, or garden supplies, Richfield Farms and Garden Center is the perfect place to get all of these.

The 5-acre farm and garden center is located on Van Houten Avenue and has been in business since 1917.

Green thumbs will find over 10,000 plant varieties from shrubs and trees to flower plants, along with an array of garden supplies at the Garden Store.

Drop by and check out some fresh, organic, local produce in season.

If you need help with landscaping and gardening, they have on-site Master Gardeners you can consult.

For unique finds, holiday treasures, or special occasion gifts, come by the Seasonal Gift Shop to see what you might like.

The farm also holds the annual Harvest Fest during October, with fun activities like Pony Rides, Face Painting, and Photo Ops, along with food and live music.

Get your gardening needs at Richfield Farms and Garden Center.

Enjoy a Good Book and Coffee at Ant Bookstore & Café

Books and coffee have always been a perfect match.

And that’s exactly what you’ll enjoy atAnt Bookstore & Café, just right on Clifton Avenue.

Find a wide range of good book selections and best sellers to read while sipping a hot cup of coffee or a refreshing smoothie on the café’s spacious outdoor patio.

Hot drinks on the menu include freshly Brewed Coffee and Espresso selections; try something unique like Turkish Tea or Coffee, or a deliciously comforting Turkish milky drink called Sahlep.

You can also go for cold drinks like Ice Coffee, Chai Tea Latte, or Iced Caramel Latte.

Likewise, you’ll also enjoy some delectable food items and Turkish fares on the menu.

Have a Mediterranean Breakfast Plate or the Deluxe Buffet for Adults and Kids available every Sunday.

Try the Lentil Soup or Soup of the Day, along with baked items like Tahini Pastry, a plate of Su Borek, or the Turkish bagel Simit.

Their menu also offers delicious sandwiches, wraps, salads, and paninis to tickle your palate, along with yummy desserts like Butternut Squash Dessert, Baklava, Kadaifi, assorted cakes, ice cream scoops, and smoothies.

Ant Bookstore & Café is truly more than your usual book and coffee shop.

Shop for Health and Nutrition Products at NutraSol Natural Center

If you’re looking for alternative health and organic products, you can drop by Nutrasol Natural Center located on Main Avenue.

This one-stop-shop offers you a wide range of nutritional, natural health, and beauty products to help improve your well-being and overall health.

Go for healthier alternatives like organic products, supplements, health foods, and vegan products available at the shop.

Looking for herbs, essential oils, or homeopathy products? Check out their stocks.

You can also find body essentials like fluoride-free toothpaste, natural soaps, shampoos, lotions, oils, and so much more.

Improve your lifestyle and buy organic products at NutraSol Natural Center.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Tour Kingsland Manor

Kingsland Manor is a historic site in Nutley, New Jersey, about 15 minutes away from Clifton.

Built in 1768, the manor was a simple farmhouse until its new owner, Joseph Kingsland, remodeled it into a classier building.

Kingsland Manor is a precious heritage site because most of its features were either restored or preserved as it was in the past.

The Kingsland family also played an essential role in the past.

They turned sawdust waste from the lumber mill into paper, which began their longstanding paper business.

Every month, the manor holds o house tours with varied themes.

Some of their themes include women’s experiences, African American history, and scenic nature, all related to the home’s history.

Final Thoughts

The attractions in Clifton can appeal to those in need of peaceful, small-town vibes.

Scenic nature spots, soulful establishments, historic sites, and vibrant local shops are some of the most prominent destinations in Clifton.

It’s also at the center of nearby cities with famous, heart-racing adventures that you can reach in less than 30 minutes.

Clifton offers a cozy, relaxing getaway with easy access to exciting activities in neighboring towns.

Book your trip today!

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