Out & About In Bergen County

Can’t decide on a destination for a winter outing? For outdoor sports, upscale shopping, Hamilton history and family fun, get “out & about” in eclectic Bergen County! Hugging the northeast corner of New Jersey’s Gateway Region, Bergen County extends from Mahwah, home of poet and WWI hero Joyce Kilmer, to the Palisades cliffs, towering over the Hudson River. Here are some seasonal planning tips from New Jersey Travel & Tourism.

Deals & Diners 

The center of shopping nirvana in North Jersey is Paramus, where you can scope out post-holiday sales at the Outlets at Bergen Town Center, Fashion Center Paramus, Paramus Park and Westfield Garden State Plaza. Choose from a vast array of retail options, including the Apple Store, Burberry, Century 21, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, REI and Warby Parker. (Visit websites for store directories.) And that’s not all! Visit The Shops at Riverside in Hackensack for luxury brands like Hermès and Salvatore Ferragamo or check out City Place at the Promenade along the Hudson River in Edgewater. Just remember that Bergen County abides by blue laws, so shopping centers are closed on Sunday. (For more mega shopping opportunities, stay tuned for retail openings at American Dream in East Rutherford. See what’s open now!)
Browsing and bargain hunting can build an appetite. Good thing Bergen County is an epicenter of the iconic New Jersey diner. Yelp serves up a list of Bergen County’s 10 best diners, including Bendix Diner (Teterboro), Chit Chat Diner (Hackensack), Colonial Diner (Lyndhurst), Oakland Diner (Oakland) and Suburban Diner (Paramus). Or go to TripAdvisor’s #1 restaurant in Fort Lee (also a stop on the Anthony Bourdain Food Trail) for a true New Jersey culinary experience: a “ripper-style” hot dog at Hiram’s Roadstand. (A deep-fried hot dog for all of you Hiram’s newbies.)

Ski & Spa

Is this the season you introduce your kids to skiing or snowboarding? Head to the gentle slopes of Mahwah’s Campgaw Mountain, where you’ll find lessons (group, private, semi-private and adaptive), easy trails like Big Magic Carpet, and snow tubing for winter thrills with no learning curve. At Palisades Interstate Park, discover a National Historic Landmark—and exhilarating cross-country skiing. While cross-country skiing is permitted on most hiking trails, the place to go is scenic State Line Lookout, the highest point of the Palisades cliffs. Bring your own skis and make sure there’s a snow base of at least four inches before you set off on five miles of designated cross-country ski trails. Need a break after burning up the trails? Warm up by the fireplaces at Lookout Inn, which was built in 1937 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Grab a sandwich and peruse a tidy assortment of books about the Hudson River Valley. Open most days, it lives up to its name with stellar Hudson River views.
For a dose of relaxation, see why Rachael Ray Every Day magazine included SoJo Spa Club in Edgewater as one of the “Most Outrageous Spa and Wellness Experiences.” This Korean-style spa offers 140,000 square feet of pools, specialty baths, treatment rooms, lounging and dining areas. The expansive spa menu includes Korean body scrubs, massages (try the Heated Salt Stone Massage with Himalayan salt stones), acupressure treatments and more. But the spa experience that made the Rachael Ray editorial team look twice is the Japanese volcanic sand bath. SoJo is the only spa outside Japan to offer this authentic detoxifying bath, importing volcanic sand directly from Ibusuki, Japan!

PAC & Play

One of the missions of Bergen Performing Arts Center (Bergen PAC) is to make live performing arts accessible to its diverse community—and early 2020 is no exception. Upcoming events run the gamut from The Naked Magicians (1/30, mature audiences only) to Grammy Award winners Rick Springfield (2/1), classical pianist Emanuel Ax (2/4) and trumpeter Chris Botti (3/8). For families, Bergen PAC presents Dinosaur World Live (2/9), YouTube sensation Blippi (2/17), and the New Shanghai Circus (2/25).
Playtime continues all winter long in Bergen County. At the Tenafly Nature Center, you can go cross-country skiing or participate in regularly scheduled story times, nature walks and scavenger hunts. Learn how pancake’s favorite companion is made at Maple Sugaring (2/2). Enjoy free admission until May 1 at Bergen County Zoological Park, which focuses on wildlife from the Americas, from the Bald Eagle to the Andean Condor. For a blast from the past, visit Mahwah Museum to view a lovingly restored miniature model of New Jersey’s famous Palisades Amusement Park. The museum also features a permanent exhibit on the legendary guitarist Les Paul.

Hermitage & “Her”story

Wrap up your Bergen County adventure at The Hermitage, a National Historic Landmark in Ho-Ho-Kus. Fans of the Broadway hit Hamilton can learn more about the mother in the song “Dear Theodosia” at an exhibit about the Hermitage’s Revolutionary era resident, Theodosia Prevost, who later married Aaron Burr. It’s a fascinating peek into the life of a woman ahead of her times. (Opening soon. Check website for details.)