An autumn drive through Sussex County would not be complete without a stop in the tiny town of Lafayette (pop. 2,538). Here, you’ll find shopping, eating, pumpkin picking and craft-beer drinking, all in a historic setting.
The town’s main attraction, the Lafayette Mill Antiques Center (12 Morris Farm Road; fall hours: 10 am-5 pm, Wednesday-Sunday) occupies a 23,000-square-foot, 19th-century grist mill featuring all manner of treasures: jewelry, dishes, dolls, toys, furniture, housewares, art, postcards and more. Displays are juried and change often, but the best tend to stick around, like Maria McGale’s Mar-Jan Arts, a 10-year presence on the first floor. Her specialties: antique china, sterling silver and books.
Joe Happle’s Sign of the Times booth on the second floor features holiday collectibles, toys and antique advertising, especially Coca-Cola relics and sports memorabilia. Here, an 1890s French carousel pig sports a wry grin while a clockwork witch and George Washington candy holder wear more unsettling expressions. “In this business,” says Happle, “creepy is good.”
The Old Mill is flanked by other, smaller antique shops. Across the parking lot, the Millside Cafe straddles the Paulinskill River in a former general store. Donna Sisto waited tables at the restaurant for nine years before she and husband Benjamin took ownership in 2016. The Sistos revamped the menu, adding natural-sugar soda options, organic fruits and vegetables, and gluten-free breads and baked goods. “If I won’t eat it, I won’t serve it,” says Sisto.
Next door, in another restored building that dates to the 1830s, the Chocolate Goat offers gifts and sweet treats, including several varieties of chocolate goats—milk, dark and spotted. It is also the local distributor of Neuhaus imported Belgian chocolates.
“In the fall, the weekend traffic is tremendous,” says Jennifer Koza, who runs the store, founded by her father in 1998, with her sister, Stephanie. Inside scoop: In Polish, the word Koza means “goat.”
For still more shopping and food options, stop at the newly refurbished Shoppes at Lafayette on Route 15 (formerly Olde Lafayette Village), home to 19 shops and specialty stores.
Kids in tow? Head north of town to Ideal Farm and Garden Center (222 Route 15). Pumpkin picking begins the last weekend in September and continues on weekends through Halloween, with hayrides from 11 am–5 pm. Kids will enjoy the haunted barn, hay maze and house-made donuts.
Need to slow down? Lorraine’s Cake Shoppe & Tea Room (86 Route 15) offers grab-and-go baked goods and beverages, as well as an elegant afternoon tea in an old-fashioned setting with floral cups and matching saucers.
If stronger beverages are more your style, venture just west of Lafayette to Angry Erik Brewing (2 Camre Drive, Newton), open Thursday–Sunday for tours and tastings. The brewery, launched in 2014 by Erik and Heide Hassing, makes more than 70 different craft beers on a rotating basis. Heide, a biochemist by trade, handles most of the brewing, while Erik, an attorney, pitches in at night and on weekends. “Erik is a former Bronx prosecutor, and you have to be a bit angry to get anything done in that job,” says Heide. “But when he’s here with a beer in his hand, he’s not angry.”Click here to leave a comment