It's officially hot in Scotch Plains and Fanwood. And with that comes the challenge: how to hide from the sun?
"It's getting to the point where everyone is itching to get in the pool," said Ryan Thomas, assistant manager of Willow Grove Swim Club in Scotch Plains.
Indeed, local pools are one of the more obvious places to go to cool off. But where else can you find respite?
Here’s a list of a few local places to stay cool this summer.
Union County’s largest park, the deeply-forested Watchung Reservation offers a number of shaded nooks from which to break from the sun. Trails run throughout the 1,945 acre land, but perhaps the best place to stop is along the sides of Blue Brook and Lake Surprise. Canoers and kayakers take advantage of the water, but the rest of us can surely enjoy the benches that are hidden under nearby trees. Parts of the reservation are located in Scotch Plains, but the heart of the park can be accessed in Summit and Mountainside.
Or, try any of the other numerous parks in Scotch Plains and Fanwood. Brookside Park, for one, offers similarly enjoyable views by its creek. Geese, rabbits and other wildlife can regularly be seen nearby.
It might sound counterproductive to cool off at a place with the word “sun” in the name, but the locals who frequent Sun Tavern will tell you it’s the perfect place to go for a cold drink.
And with a summer drink menu that debuted in early July, manager Linda Byron says there’s lot to choose from.
“Van Gogh Vodka has about 200 different martinis, and they came in and we tried a bunch of them in little shot-glass sizes, then chose a few,” she said. “We’ll probably change them up in a month or two.”
Surfer’s Sunrise, which features Van Gogh pineapple, Van Gogh coconut, orange juice, pineapple juice and a splash of grenadine, and Tropical Storm, which includes Van Gogh blueberry, Blue Curaco, raspberry liquor and a dash of sweet and sour, are just two of about a dozen new drinks available.
“They sound good, don’t they?” Byron said.
McDowell's Heating and Cooling
You may not be able to cool off at McDowell's Heating and Cooling, but you can certainly get the tools to do so.
Owner Jim Nelson said that if homeowners want their air conditioning units to work well this summer, the most important thing to do is properly maintain them.
“When it’s the hottest, that’s when it breaks,” he said.
Nelson says filter repair is particularly important. If they aren’t kept clean, the system will get clogged and cost a lot of money to repair.
“It’s best to turn it on first thing in the morning when the house is still cool, so it takes a load off the air conditioner,” he said. “If it’s going to be consecutively hot, it’s better to leave it running because the biggest load to take off it is cooling the house down.”
Willow Grove Swim Club
This local pool is always filled with children trying to keep cool, while parents enjoy books and magazines under umbrellas nearby.
"I think the great thing about this pool is that it is just a pool," said assistant manager Ryan Thomas. "We don't have a lot of bells and whistles. There's no tennis courts, no snack bar. It's just very relaxed, really laid-back."
Thomas said the pool, which has been open since Memorial Day, has been consistently busy all summer.
"We have some parents who will come and spend most of their week out here," he said.
Similar scenes can be found at the other private pool in town, Highland Swim Club. For information on membership at Willow Grove, call 908-232-2101. Highland Swim Club can be reached at 908-889-4804.
The Double Dipper Cafe
This local dessert shop in downtown Fanwood offers plenty of perfect hot-weather treats.
Surprisingly, though, Double Dipper Cafe manager Jeannie Dejesso says that business slows down in the summer.
“We’re not slow, but our busy quarter has kind of passed,” she said. “Between vacation and summer camp, a lot of kids here go away to camp for the summer.”
DeJesso says that mint chip is still the ice cream of choice for many, but summer flavors like pineapple, peach and banana also fare well.
“And the lemon sorbet is delicious,” she said.
Similar treats can be found at Scoops Ice Creamery on Route 22 and Rita's Ice on Terrill Road.
This recently renamed store in downtown Scotch Plains may just have a chilly name, but the indoor air conditioning helps a little, too. As one of the main places to shop on Park Avenue, Winterhill Antique's variety of unique finds are sure to entertain downtown strollers seeking a break from the outdoors.
While in downtown SP, also be sure to check out Look Twice, Sideline Sports and the many other retail stores in town. Then, swing by Seng Couture, Enchantments and the other retailers across from the Fanwood Train Station.
Got your own ideas of where to escape the heat this summer? Share your thoughts at the bottom of this page, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.