What to do in New Jersey?

A Weekend Guide for EBHS Students

May 11, 2023

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Hello everyone, I’m Rabia Mansoor, a junior at EBHS. If you’re a friend of mine or if you take a gander at my search history, you’ll know that I’m always looking for places to spend my weekends, either to study or to hang out. But it’s hard to know whether a hangout spot is good, especially if an acquaintance of yours hasn’t checked it out yet. You’ve got good news then, because I’m your acquaintance now, and I’m dedicating my weekends to checking out different places to spend (y)our free time in Middlesex County.

Unfortunately, at the surface level, Middlesex County’s best hangout spots seem to be within the various and extensive campuses of Rutgers, but visiting Rutgers Gardens and their Geology museum time and time again got a little bit boring for me. Middlesex County is, in fact, one of the most diverse counties in the US (it ranks #22, according to Niche), so how come people aren’t going out to cool places?

Many students say that besides homework, money is the biggest problem in not being able to go out. A quick survey I conducted in a few classrooms showed that on average 64% of EBHS students prefer to use their earned money to save up for something big, so spending $29.99 every so often to hang out at Rock’n Air is out of the question!

Follow along as I scavenge for hole-in-the-walls in Middlesex so I can spend my weekends, and help you, my dear acquaintance, spend yours in an enjoyable way. Check out my first weekend trip here.

The EBHS Student Weekend Guide: Week(end) 1

This weekend (5/6 and 5/7), I went to Boyd Park in New Brunswick, its stretches across the Raritan River and is a nice fishing spot for those who fish. It’s not a busy place, unlike the nearby Johnson Park, which was quite full. It’s a smaller park than Johnson but it’s still unique from it. Boyd has a large amphitheater that overlooks the Raritan and it’s a perfect spot to just chill and talk!

And I didn’t forget my pollen-allergic acquaintances! If you’re an art history nerd, then there’s a secret nestled right next to Johnson Park you need to visit – Cornelius Low House. It’s the house of a wealthy Dutch merchant turned into a museum. From April 1st to June 30th they have the portraits of traveling artist, Micah Williams, who has 272 known paintings (only 30 are on display). There are displays of some of his art materials and you can even make portraits with his most used medium. One thing I especially liked was a carriage safe that you can try to open. You’re given the key, but the lock is hidden, which makes it a wee bit of a challenge.

I recommend going to both places, honestly, since the museum isn’t big. But no matter where you go, be sure to have fun!

Week(end) 2: Hiking and Mata-Rocha

Last weekend (5/13), I went to Cheesequake State Park in Old Bridge for a little hiking trip! Apologies to my pollen-allergic friends but this is a must-visit, there are numerous hiking trails – including a trail for mountain biking. There’s a bit of a beachy area that leads into Hooks Creek Lake, in which you can kayak and fish. If you follow the Blue Trail, then you’d be walking over Hooks Creek, from which you can find crabs. According to a few fishermen I met there, it’s a bit early in the season, but they were able to find quite a few crabs despite that. There are multiple observation decks from which you can gaze over the large fields and forests of Cheesequake, which also make it a perfect place for photography students to get a few pictures of native New Jersey flora and fauna, or for art students to relax and let nature take the hold on their respective art mediums.

This weekend (5/21) I went to an amazing cafe called Cafe Cirino. Located in South River, this Brazilian cafe was so cute and homey, and their pastries were delicious. My favorite of the treats I bought was their Mata-Rocha, which was a coconut and vanilla treat. It was a bun of bread with a creamy filling inside and on top, dusted with coconut flakes. It’s delicately sweet, not too much and not too little either.

I recommend checking out both places, the first for nature lovers such as myself, and the second is really for anyone. No matter where you go, be sure to have fun!

Week(end) 3: Coffee and the Raritan River

This weekend (6/4) I took a little trip to a coffee spot down in Highland Park called Penstock Coffee. I am not the most knowledgeable when it comes to coffee, but for those who are, this is a great place as they have different types of roasts from all around the world. From the inside and out, the cafe aesthetics are gorgeous– rustic and clean– and it’s a perfect date spot in my opinion. I tried their maple syrup iced coffee, and it was delicious. I do admit, it was a little bit more expensive than other coffee shops are, but the experience was definitely worth it.

After making a stop at Penstock, I walked down to Donaldson Park, it took me about ten minutes to get there, Google says it’s thirteen minutes, but if you have the spirit of a New Yorker, you could probably make it in five. The park itself was a little bit wet, there were splotches of mud everywhere, and if you do trek through the trees and onto the shore of the Raritan, do NOT make the same mistake I made and wear flats. Other than the wetness, which I’m sure is a seasonal thing, it’s a nice place to have a picnic with friends or just bask in the wet sand and watch the geese.

This will, unfortunately, be my last post for this school year, perhaps if I can pull a few strings I can continue this series next year. I will try my best to publish a few more of these on the mini-blogging site tumblr, under the user rabiacore, but for now, this is the end of this series. So no matter where you spend your weekend (or summer), make sure to have fun!

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