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This Camden County borough—just 16 minutes from Philadelphia via the PATCO Speedline—is home to a vibrant theater community and a lively shopping and restaurant district.
Paint your wagon: Find the perfect knickknack for your living room—or purchase the ornate bedroom set you’ve always dreamed of—at the Painted Cottage (719 Haddon Ave, 856-854-0534), which offers a large selection of hand-painted furniture and accessories. With an entrance tucked away in an alley, you’ll know the building by its beautiful glass-decorated exterior.
Take a break: Relax with a mango iced tea at Grooveground (647 Haddon Ave, 856-869-9800), a hip but refreshingly unpretentious corner coffee shop. Those jonesing for a caffeine fix can enjoy a freshly brewed latte while snacking on sandwiches or pastries. Monthly live music performances showcase local singers and songwriters. Many used DVDs and CDs are also available for purchase.
Dress to impress: Find the perfect gown for New Year’s Eve and other special events at Marlene’s Dress Shop (710 Haddon Ave, 856-858-4777), which specializes in elegant designer wear, plus accessories and shoes.
Enjoy the arts: Plan a night on the town every second Saturday of the month. Collingswood holds its Second Saturday extravaganza year-round on Haddon Avenue between Harvard and Lees avenues, where local painters, sculptors, food vendors, and musicians share their talents with the community. Festivities begin at 6 pm.
That’s amore! For a romantic dinner, try the cozy BYO Italian eatery Villa Barone (753 Haddon Ave, 856-858-2999), arguably the most reasonably priced of Collingswood’s upscale restaurants. Try the prosciutto and melted provolone asparagus or the sautéed broccoli rabe with sausage, and then top it off with a slice of triple-layer chocolate moussecake or ricotta-stuffed cannoli. Fair warning, though—wear adjustable-waist pants!
Say cheese: Sample one of over 30 types of grilled cheese sandwiches at the Pop Shop (729 Haddon Ave, 856-869-0111), served on a pretzel or pumpernickel, focaccia, or rye bread. The 1950s-style eatery houses an authentic soda fountain and jukebox—the perfect place for children or the young at heart.
Lights galore: Enjoy a sea of holiday lights on December 8 as the Collingswood Fire Department and local emergency companies decorate their vehicles for the Parade of Lights. The procession kicks off at 7:30 pm, traveling down Haddon Ave between Zane and Homestead avenues.
All that jazz: Discover rising jazz talents at the First Thursday Jazz series held monthly at the Collingswood Community Center (30 Collings Ave, 856-854-4440). On December 7 join pianist Sam Dockery and his band as they celebrate the 88th birthday of Basie and Ellington drummer Butch Ballard. January 4’s performance showcases saxophonist Denis DiBlasio and his Crash Bop trio.
Beyond funky: For the impossible person on your gift list, try Mineralistic (709 Haddon Ave, 856-854-2656), where you’ll find everything from a collection of fossils to gargoyle incense burners and Celtic bracelets.
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If you want to go away Thanksgiving weekend but not too far, Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg has lots of Thanksgiving dining options—and overnight packages. Plus, lots of other New Jersey restaurants will be open on Thanksgiving.
Talk about racking up bragging rights. New Brunswick’s Stage Left Restaurant is giving 20 lucky (and presumably well-heeled) whisky aficionados the opportunity to hand over $1,800 for a single, one-ounce shot of a rare 50-year-old Scotch.
...to the reception for my solo show, my first in nine years and biggest yet—45 pictures, many of them recent. Come for the photographs, stay for the Schnackenberg doughnuts. The best!
At the newly-opened Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen in Morristown, I was handed a cocktail called a Cannon Ball Shrub, named for the restaurant's spirited owner, Chris Cannon. Made with gin, the drink had pungency, fruity sweetness and a tingle from a splash of sparkling wine.
Our popular May shopping issue featured many of the state's best consignment shops. Get your fall fashion fix at DoubleTake boutiques in Red Bank, Short Hills, Englewood and Ridgewood...