Day Trip: Westfield

It’s no secret to savvy Union County shoppers: The preppy, Main Street-vibe of downtown Westfield is the perfect alternative to the hassle and drear of the mall. And because it’s a bona fide dining town, refueling is easy—and requires no food court.

Downtown Westfield
James Kirkikis

Shop till you drop: Besides mall-standard chains (Gap, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, to name a few) and a big-name department store (Lord & Taylor), this downtown is full of cute independent boutiques. Fashionable ladies will want to peruse the goods at spots like Menina (27 East Broad St., 908-654-0358) and accessories boutique Rhain (129 East Broad St., 908-518-0700). To really splurge, complete the ensemble with a pair of imported-Italian stilettos from upscale shoe store Sole (201 East Broad St., 908-654-7800, Equally stylish men will appreciate the custom-tailored shirts and suits at John Robert (31 East Broad St., 908-232-9511). And for hip baby and kid gear (think teeny Led Zeppelin tees), check out Pumpkins & Petunias (258 East Broad St., 908-654-1600,, which is way more rock ’n’ roll than its name suggests.

Great for gifts: The Farmhouse Store (221 East Broad St., 908-654-0444, is fun even if you don’t buy a thing. The expansive shop is made for browsing and packed to the gills with handmade furniture, pottery, textiles, art, jewelry, and, naturally, those oh-so-farmhouse-y barn stars. In business since 1934, The Town Book Store (270 East Broad St., 908-233-3535, is the last independent bookstore in the county, and also hosts author meet-and-greets several times a month.

Take a hike:
When you’ve had enough shopping, stroll through picturesque Mindowaskin Park (East Broad St. and Park Dr.), just steps from the main strip. You’ll probably spot prom-goers or brides and grooms taking photos beneath the bandstand, along the bridge or in front of the pond. Kids will love its playground, and everyone loves the summer concert series.

Bring your own: Westfield dining is mostly BYO, and Cool Vines (23 Elm St., 908-232-5050, is your friendly neighborhood sommelier—literally: The first shelves you’ll see are the shop’s “Restaurant Row” picks, bottles they suggest to pair with the cuisine at different local restaurants. Even better, staffers are friendly and unintimidating (whether your wine knowledge tends to novice or oenophile), they host free weekly tastings, and bottles are organized by taste instead of region, for easier browsing. No wonder the place won our award for Best of NJ 2009.

Stay for dinner:
The Brick Oven (BYOB, 117 Quimby St., 908-317-9500) serves up Italian trattoria fare with yummy thin-crust pizza (fresh out of the wood-burning oven, of course), pasta, and lots of daily specials, all at an reasonable price. 16 Prospect (16 Prospect St., 908-232-7320, offers small plates perfect for sampling and sharing (there are full-size entrees, too) and live music most nights. For fancy, authentic French, try the perennially award-winning Chez Catherine (431 North Ave. West, 908-654-4011, Seafood-centric Limani (BYOB, 235 North Ave., 908-233-0052), the Greek word for port, is a local favorite for its raw bar and fresh fish.

Don’t forget dessert: One square block in this downtown is a chocoholic’s dream and a dieter’s nightmare. The proof is in the giant cupcakes at Crumbs Bake Shop (130 East Broad St., 908-232-5527,, the homemade truffles at Brummer’s Chocolates (125 East Broad St., 908-232-1904), the yummy Italian cookies at Bovella’s Pastry Shoppe (101 East Broad St., 908-232-4149), and the best gelato this side of Italy (try the dulce de leche) at The Chocolate Bar (112 Quimby St., 908-389-9000).

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