The 10 Best Things to Do in Clifton!
As I occasionally contribute articles for The Clifton Times, I’ll sometimes get story suggestions from friends and neighbors. Today’s story idea comes courtesy of my friend, Mike, who came across an article about Clifton on travellens.com that needed to be addressed. The article, entitled “15 Best Things to Do in Clifton, NJ” although nicely put together, was clearly written by someone who has probably never set foot in Clifton in their entire life.
The Travellens’ article had a few odd choices on its list. For example, the article suggested shopping at Ploch’s Farm. Since there is now a Storage Unit building on that site, we’d need a time machine to shop Ploch’s Farm.
Although certainly not the final word on Clifton, as a lifelong resident I’m fairly confident that my list of must-do’s in Clifton is a bit more realistic.
So here it goes, my official list of the 10 best things to do in Clifton.
1. Try Some of the Best Hot Dogs Around
New Jersey arguably has the best hot dogs in the country. Period. End of story. Mic drop. And Clifton is blessed with not one, but two of the absolute best. Rutt’s Hutt (named best hot dog in the country more times than I can count), is home to ‘the Ripper,’ a hot dog that’s deep fried until it bursts and then smothered in their very own secret relish that is to die for. Slightly less famous, but equally delicious, is Hot Grill, where mustard, onions, and chili make a perfect ‘all the way’ hot dog treat.
2. Visit the Avenue of Flags
While available only a few days a year, Clifton’s Avenue of Flags display is an awe-inspiring sight to behold. On Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Patriot’s Day, and Veteran’s Day a constantly expanding amount of American flags are placed on display at Clifton City Hall by a dedicated group of volunteers, led by legendary Clifton volunteer, Keith Oakley. At last count, 2,228 American flags, each purchased to honor a Clifton veteran and bearing a plaque with the veteran’s name, fly proudly from sunrise to sunset and is an absolute must see.
3. Order Up Some Wings at Sharky’s Wings and Raw Bar
If you like chicken wings — and who doesn’t — no visit to Clifton is complete without a stop at Sharky’s. A favorite of locals, Sharky’s features a full menu of typical pub foods, but is best known for their incredible chicken wings. Rated the ‘Best Sports Bar in NJ’ by CBS NJ, and the ‘Best Wings in NJ’ by the Star Ledger, Sharky’s offers more than 35 different chicken wing sauce options — with one so hot, it’s call ‘Hell’ (try it if you dare). Fun fact: On Super Bowl Sunday, Sharky’s makes about 30,000 wings, but luckily there are 364 other days that you can try them without fighting a crowd of hungry wing lovers.
4. Buy Locally Grown Plants and Organic Produce at Richfield Farms
Clifton was once mostly farmland, but sadly Richfield Farms is one of the last farms left. Open from March to January, Richfield Farms is the place to go for all your landscape, gardening, and produce needs. From herbs and vegetables, flowers to shrubs, Richfield has everything you need for your yard and garden, plus a seasonal farmer’s market for local produce, honey, and more. When the weather gets colder, you can find mums and pumpkins, Christmas trees and wreaths, at this family-owned business that’s been a fixture in Clifton since 1917 (the very year that Clifton was founded).
5. Learn a New Jersey Catchphrase at a Local Bagel Shop
Jersey has the absolute best bagels around, and if you’re lucky enough to live in or be visiting Clifton you’ll have plenty of great bagel shops to choose from (my personal favorite is Plaza Bagels, affectionately known around town as Heavy Metal Bagels and/or Punk Rock Bagels). Taking your bagels straight up with a slather or butter or cream cheese is one thing, but to really get a Jersey bagel experience you need to try a Taylor ham, egg, and cheese sandwich on a bagel with “saltpepperketchup” (said as a single word).
6. Grab a Beer at Ghost Hawk Brewing Company
The first (and only) brewery in Clifton, Ghost Hawk has come a long way in the three short years they have been in business. A popular destination for enjoying a few drinks with friends, Ghost Hawk beers and ales are also widely available at pubs and restaurants across the state. In addition to making some pretty great hand-crafted beer, the Ghost Hawk team are very civic minded and give back to Clifton and its residents through organized events, sponsorships, and partnerships with other Clifton businesses.
7. Dare to Visit Brighton Asylum
In the weeks leading up to Halloween, there’s no scarier place to be than the Brighton Asylum, an interactive walk-through house of horrors where zombie/serial killer/monster actors reach out and touch you as you make your way through one of three award-winning haunted houses. Located right at the border of Clifton and Passaic, this place is definitely not for the faint-of-heart. It’s a live action terror fest that sells out every single night in the lead-up to Halloween. Off season, Brighton Asylum offers Escape Room challenges, axe throwing, and more scary (and fun) experiences.
8. Experience an Authentic Beefsteak Fundraiser
Haven’t been to a beefsteak? You don’t know what you’re missing, and if you’re not from Clifton or a surrounding town, chances are that you may have never even heard of a beefsteak before. An event with some of its earliest roots in Clifton, beefsteak fundraisers are common in Clifton during the school year, as various sport teams, and other groups host them as a way to support teams and activities. Slices of French bread, topped with beef tenderloin, and drizzled with garlic butter, in an all-you-can-eat, artery-clogging indulgence that everyone needs to experience at least once.
9. Dine Around the World, Without Leaving Clifton
Clifton is exceptionally diverse. In my opinion, it’s one of Clifton’s biggest strengths. One of the many benefits we enjoy because of our diversity, is the variety of fabulous ethnic restaurants in town. On any given day, Cliftonites can enjoy Thai, Italian, Peruvian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Mexican, Columbian, Lebanese, Greek, Turkish, Polish, or Irish foods (and I’m fairly certain I’ve missed a few).
10. Take in the View
Being 13 miles from Midtown Manhattan has its benefits and one of them is a world-class view of the NYC skyline. Plenty of homes in Clifton boast a killer view of the skyline, but if you’re not lucky enough to live in one of those houses (or know someone who does), you can take a quick trip to Garret Mountain and get a spectacular view not only of the famous Manhattan skyline, but also a bird’s eye view of beautiful Clifton, New Jersey.
There’s my list of must-see, must-taste, must-do things in Clifton, NJ. I’m sure everyone has a few of their own that I’ve missed. Why not share yours in the comments?