The Cranford trifecta: Convenient Location, Metro-Downtown and Bucolic Outdoors, Oh My!

Not to mention the top-rated school system…..

Less than an hour from either mid-town New York City or the Jersey shore, Cranford is blessed with it’s own abundance of great restaurants and boutiques, as well as seasonal recreation, outdoor eating, and nightlife. In fact, readers recently named Cranford as having ‘New Jersey’s Best Downtown’. Cranford’s bustling walkable town center is filled with mostly independently-owned stores, and a full variety of eateries, ranging from family-friendly restaurants with multi-national faire, including Italian, Cuban, Asian, Lebanese, Greek, and Mexican; to niche venues, as offered by the trendy Fromage Grillé and Track 5 Coffee; to upscale offerings for foodies found in A Toute Heure, 100 Steps or Pairings. And for those in search of nighttime food and entertainment, there is a choice of pubs with live DJ’s or musicians.

Often described as a down-to-earth community, this captivating, 4.8 square mile, quaint river town, host to the scenic Rahway River, was once a summer resort for the NYC wealthy and referred to as the Venice of New Jersey. Remnants of this resort era can be found in the many remaining grand Victorian homes along the River. Overall, housing in Cranford can be described as both eclectic and relatively affordable, as compared to some neighboring areas that also have much to offer. With minimal newer construction in town, most of the homes in Cranford are either older Victorians or post-war spit-level homes or cape-cods, and the average home price is under $500,000. Few homes are found priced above $800,000.

Things to do in Cranford: Magic is in the Air

Events & Outdoor Recreation

The friendly ambiance and strong sense of community entices residents to stay and Millennials to return. Walking through town you’ll see people enjoying the outdoors- jogging, bike riding or walking their dogs, both in the abundant parks, as well as downtown. Also, there are many yearly events, mostly outdoors, that bring the community together and help foster a palpable sense of camaraderie.

Whatever your interest, Cranford’s got you covered with an incredible number of special events that help bring the community together, including: Classic Car Shows, Street Fair & Craft Shows, a Rubber Duck Derby, The Great Pumpkin Carve-Out and Scarecrow Stroll, Mom Olympics, Yoga in the Streets, Movies Under the Stars, Santa Trolley Rides, the Memorial Day Parade, a 4th of July celebration including an annual Firecracker 5k race and evening firework display, and the iconic Porch Fest, essentially a Progressive Concert, reminiscent of a progressive dinner, featuring local bands, moving around town to different residential porches serving as stages.

Cranford actually has over 400 acres of parkland, with sporting fields, playgrounds places to fish, walk, and bike ride, divided between 15 local and several county parks, largely connected by 13.5 miles of trails. At the recently enhanced 3-acre Hanson Park along the Rahway River, once the homestead of Cranford resident Dr. Hanson, visitors will find a butterfly meadow, a display garden, and open-air theatre used for educational events, storytelling, gardening presentations and yoga classes. The Cranford Canoe Club rents out canoes and kayaks to explore the winding bucolic Rahway River up close. And in Nomahegan Park, made up of 100-acres in the North-west portion of town, there’s a well-used 2-mile jogging trail always in use, any time of day or year, as well as a stocked bucolic pond for those who like to fish.

Other things that Make Cranford Special

Commuting and Education, Theater and History

With NJ Transit Trains and busses right in town, the commute to Manhattan is around 48-minutes whether via the Raritan Valley train line which requires a transfer in Newark; or via the express bus service. Other commuters will appreciate the easy proximity of the Garden State Parkway and US Route 78.

The highly rated public schools, in addition to Cranford High School, include two middle schools, one on each side of town. They housed within the Hillside Avenue Elementary School on the South side, serving Kindergarten through 8th grade, and the Orange Avenue Elementary School on the North Side, serving grades 3 through 8. On the north side of in addition to Orange Avenue School, are two other elementary schools, Bloomingdale Avenue School and Brookside Place School, both serving Kindergarten through fifth grades. On the south side of the township, along with the Hillside Avenue School, there is the Walnut Avenue School, serving pre-K to second grade and the Livingston Avenue School, serving grades 3 through 5.

The Union County College, also located in Cranford, offers the greater community access to their theater productions, art gallery, and astronomical observatory. Supplemental to the College’s theater productions, and started in 1918, for local theater productions Cranford also has it’s own Cranford Dramatic Club Community Theater.

For history buffs, there are several places of interest within town. The Williams-Droescher Mill, circa 1740, is the oldest continually operating commercial building in New Jersey according to the Cranford Historical Society. Also the Crane-Phillips House, a living history museum, showcases what life was like in the 18th century. Dreyers Farm, an operating family farm since 1904, offers for purchase produce, flowers, plants, and homemade doughnuts, jam or pie