Looking for a way to spend outdoor family time together on a weekend but don’t want to venture
too far? Whether you are a family with young children or young adults, or empty nesters looking for new scenery, I highly recommend the South Mountain Recreation Complex in West Orange. The 36-acre Essex County recreational facility, located at the intersection of Northfield Road and Cherry Lane, has something for everyone.
Let’s start with food. McCloone’s Boathouse, overlooking the South Mountain Reservoir, offers
an extensive American menu for the entire family. Patio seating is available in the warmer months.
For those who like mini golf, the Essex County Safari Mini Golf course next door offers a 19- hole adventure through three distinct regions of Africa, complete with water features and life-sized animals.
Behind McCloone’s lies the waterfront, with a 1.7-mile walking/jogging path, perfect for a post-meal stroll. Leashed pets are permitted on the trail (but not in the restaurant.) Along the path are paddle
boats, some shaped like swans, available for rental by the half hour and a picnic area with a snack bar. A little further along is the children’s Regatta Playground, with climbing structures suitable for multiple aged children.
On the other side of the Reservoir, walkers can see the Zoo train go by. The renowned Turtle Back Zoo, established in 1963 and completely refurbished in 2000, houses a vast
array of exotic animals, birds and aquatic creatures from around the world in their natural habitats. Adjacent to the Zoo is the Treetop Adventure Course, a world-class aerial obstacle course. The Adult Course (Must be 54”) has 30 unique challenge elements and takes approximately 1 to 1.5 hours to complete. The Junior Course (Age 6 and up) takes 30-45 minutes and offers 15 challenge elements. There is also a 40-foot – high zip line about the length of a football field.
The Cody Arena lies in the center of the complex. Public skating and lessons in figure skating, speed skating and ice hockey clinics are available year- round. The Arena also hosts local and national skating competitions, as well as high school, college and professional teams.
I hope that the next sunny Saturday or Sunday that you have no plans, you will lace up your sneakers, grab your sunscreen and pile into the car and head East to West Orange and experience family togetherness and fun at the South Mountain Recreation Complex!