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Winner 2017 NJ's Best Town for Families
and Best in Hunterdon County
Average Home Price: $364,380
When you picture Hunterdon County, scenic hiking trails, farms and open space likely come to mind, but Clinton, NJ Family’s Best Town for Families, marries its rural setting with a quaint downtown straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.
For that reason, Sean Rogan, father of five, moved his family to Clinton from Franklin Township 14 years ago. “Clinton is essentially the town center for Northern Hunterdon County,” he says. “We’re surrounded by beautiful rolling hills and the protected farmland of Hunterdon County.”
Known for its natural beauty, Clinton is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts due to its proximity to Spruce Run Recreation Area in Clinton Township, a sprawling 1,290-acre park with 15 miles of shoreline. The Round Valley Reservoir in Lebanon, home of NJ’s deepest lake, is a perfect spot for hikers, fishers and cyclists alike. There’s also Columbia Trail, a 15-mile route for walking and biking in High Bridge.
When considering a move, schools are at the top of every parent’s list, and the district in Clinton is top-notch.
“The public school for kids in kindergarten through eighth [grade] is excellent and filled with passionate, caring teachers and administration,” says Rogan. “I love that it’s a kindergarten through eight system; the older kids look after the younger ones, which really fosters a terrific family-like environment.” Once students move on, they attend the highly-touted North Hunterdon High School.
Michael Penyak, a father of two who grew up in Clinton, liked it so much he decided to raise his own family there, and its downtown was a big reason why. “We decided to move our family to Clinton because we loved the community feel,” says Penyak. “It’s nice to be able to walk downtown and know a lot of the local shop owners.”
“There’s never a shortage of things to bring the kids to. There are always programs at the Red Mill Museum, even on rainy days, but my favorite thing to do is sit by the river on Friday nights in the summer. The water is calm enough so the kids can wade in it and almost everyone has an ice cream cone in hand,” says Penyak. “There’s also live music on Friday, so it doesn’t get any better than that. There’s no other place I’d rather be." And the family-friendly fun is year-round, not just in the summer. Rogan recommends watching the St. Patrick’s Day or Christmas parades, checking out the apple and pumpkin harvest festivals or going to the rubber ducky race on the river.
Entertainment options don’t only exist for kids—Clinton has a bustling social scene for grown-ups, too. The Clean Plate Kitchen, a favorite farm-to-table spot among the state’s food critics, serves up seasonal, unprocessed fare that defines clean eating. Locals also love the Clinton House, a popular mainstay that serves up steak and seafood, and has a connected bakery with an assortment of pies, as well as a variety of restaurants, boutiques and ice cream shops on the main drag. And you can always grab a Taylor ham, egg and cheese or a legendary seven-pound burger (dubbed Zeus) at the Clinton Station Diner, an eatery partially housed in a train car.
“But the best aspect of Clinton is the people—everyone is really friendly and looks out for one another,” says Rogan. “I can’t think of a better place to raise a family.” —By Murphy Moroney